Monday, January 30, 2012

Resume Revamp: Making Your Resume Shine With Accomplishments

By Amy Michalenko, Career Expert at
Fresh Start Women's Foundation

You often hear that your resume should list your accomplishments, not your job duties. And it’s true—accomplishment statements are the best way to showcase the amazing things you’ve done at your past jobs, plus show prospective employers what you can do for them. Your list of weekly assignments? Not so much.

So why do the majority of resumes out there still look like job descriptions? Well, because turning job duties into accomplishments is a tough concept to grasp. But once you get it—I promise, you’ll have smooth sailing in your resume-writing future. So grab your resume, and sit down with our step-by-step guide to ditching the duties and making those bullet points sing your praises.

1. Know the Difference

Plain and simple, a duty describes what you did and an accomplishment describes how well you did it. For example, “planned events” would be considered a job duty, whereas “raised $100,000 by selling out tickets to a 200-person charity event” is an accomplishment.

Why is this so important? You want to tell the person reading your resume something she doesn’t already know. For the most part, hiring managers will understand what duties are associated with your job titles. It’s common knowledge that, for example, an Executive Assistant will answer phones, manage files, and provide customer service. So, putting those statements as bullets on your resume only uses up valuable space. On the other hand, by including accomplishments, you paint a picture of your abilities—one that will sell yourself.

So now that we understand the difference, how do you make the change?

2. Make a List

Get started by compiling a list of all the things that set you apart. For each of the positions on your resume, ask yourself the following:

• What did I do that was above and beyond my normal job duties?
• How did I stand out among other employees?
• Was I ever recognized by a supervisor for a job well done? When and why?
• Did I win any awards or accolades?
• What new processes did I implement to improve things?
• What problems did I solve?
• Did I ever consistently meet or exceed goals or quotas?
• Did I save the company money?
• What made me really great at my job?

3. Paint the Picture with Numbers

Then, take your list, and add in as many facts, figures, and numbers as you can. How many people were impacted by your work? By what percentage did you exceed your goals? Instead of saying you effectively managed a budget, list how much money you managed, and how much money you saved.

By quantifying your accomplishments, you not only make them easier to understand, you really allow the hiring manager to picture the level of work or responsibility you needed to achieve this accomplishment.

4. Add the Benefit

Then, take each statement one step further and add in what the benefit was to your boss or your company. By doing this, you clearly communicate not only what you’re capable of, but also the direct benefit the employer will receive by hiring you. And let’s face it, everyone wants to know what’s is it for them!

So, say you have “created 20 client reports each month” on your list. Instead, write something like “created and prepared 20 weekly and monthly status reports to ensure clients consistently received timely and complete information.” Reading that, a hiring manager will automatically see that, if she hires you, you’ll be able to develop ways to provide great service to their clients. When you include the benefit, you more effectively sell the tangible things you can bring to the company.

A resume full of accomplishments is the best way to show off what you can do and set you up for your next success: landing a great new job.

Do you want more helpful advice on job searching or career advancement? Become a member of the Fresh Start Community of women today: Membership gives you exclusive access to all of the exciting & interactive workshops, webinars and special offers.

Amy Michalenko is a Career Expert who works as the National Strategy Officer at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human resource management and a master’s in instructional leadership and corporate training from Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA. She has more than 10 years of experience in the areas of human resources, career services, corporate training and development.

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Next Husband Will Not Be a Vampire

Fun food for thought

By Laura Browne, Author & Corporate Trainer

No matter what Stephenie Meyer, author of the fabulous Twilight series, says - I do not want to marry a vampire. First there is the obvious reason, I don’t know any vampires. And there’s the other problem: he would probably want to suck my blood and kill me, which apparently is just a minor detail if you’re in love.

My pals and I were discussing the Twilight books and the new Breaking Dawn movie coming out in November and we decided one of the main draws of Ms. Meyer’s vampires is that when they fall in love, they do so for life. Wow, talk about tapping into one of women’s greatest fantasies. There are no mid-life crises to worry about and no concern about other women; they simply adore you no matter what. Even so, I just don’t think vampires are good marriage material.

Being a modern woman in the middle of a divorce, I’m just a teeny bit cynical (okay, very cynical and a little envious). Loving you forever sounds great, but vampires never die so that’s a lot of time.

In the years I was married, my soon-to-be-ex-husband and I both managed to build up plenty of resentment. Imagine what that would be like after 400 years of marriage. You’d be sitting around with your sparkly vampire husband and you’d bring up how you didn’t like the way he looked at that waitress 200 years ago. Suddenly forever seems a whole lot longer.

I know, I know, vampires are also supposed to be gorgeous. That might be enough to get you through the first 100 years, but I need more than a pretty face after that.

So, I’ve crossed vampires off my list of who I want to date. Instead I’m going to spend my time looking for a truly mythological creature – a nice, sweet, smart, fun, single guy who is interested in a relationship. I realize I probably have a better chance of finding a unicorn prancing in my front yard, but that won’t stop me from looking. After all, I may not have forever, but I’m willing to wait so I can find the right leading male character in my own version of a romance story.

Laura Browne is author of Raise Rules for Women: How To Make More Money At Work and Why Can’t You Communicate Like Me? How Smart Women Get Results At Work. Both are now available in paperback and for the Kindle at

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Detecting Menopause

By E, Author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness

Your journey through perimenopause and menopause (I call it PM&M) may be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to hold you back. When you think of menopause, you probably envision night sweats, insomnia, exhaustion, hot flashes, and weight gain. Let’s rethink the daunting menopause journey as an opportunity to function at 100%. If Dorothy was looking to go home and the Cowardly Lion was looking for courage, you are following the yellow brick road to hormone happiness, no matter what flying monkeys get in your way!

First, it’s helpful to understand that perimenopause is the symptom-laden 6-10 years before you reach menopause. You are in menopause when you have been without a period for 12 consecutive months. The average age of menopause is 51.

You might we be wondering, “How do I know if I am in perimenopause or menopause?”

I have put together a list of tests that I found helpful during my PM&M journey in Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. In addition to your yearly Pap smear and mammogram, these will help you and your PM&M specialist (find one here) determine where you are on your PM&M trek, and most can be done with one blood draw. Always ask your doctor’s office for a copy of your lab results and keep them in a notebook or folder as you might need to refer back to them during the course of your journey. Everyone operates differently. It is important to understand that your test scores are only half of the story—the other half is how you feel. I put together a Daily Symptoms Chart on pages 168-9 to make it simple and convenient for you to track your symptoms. Be sure to take your filled-out chart with you to your doctor’s appointment. This will enable your doctor to successfully fine-tune your personalized path to “Emerald City.”

Hormone panel: If you’re still menstruating, have your hormone panel (blood test) done during the first three days of your period.

DHEAS: DHEA sulfate is a hormone that easily converts into other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. This adrenal hormone triggers puberty and is of the highest concentration of the hormones in the body. DHEAS is the sulfated form of DHEA in the blood. While DHEA levels fluctuate throughout the day, DHEAS blood levels are steadier and more reliable.

Estradiol: is the main type of estrogen produced in the body, secreted by the ovaries. Low levels can cause memory lapses resulting in sticky notes aplenty, anxiety, depression, uncontrollable bursts of anger, sleeplessness, night drenches and much more.

Free and Total Testosterone: Free testosterone is unbound and metabolically active, and total testosterone includes both free and bound testosterone. In women, the ovaries’ production of testosterone maintains a healthy libido, strong bones, muscle mass and mental stability.

FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone): is a pituitary hormone that stimulates the growth of the ovum (the egg and surrounding cells that produce ovarian hormones). This test can help indicate whether you’ve entered menopause. However, the suggested normal ranges need to be examined along with your Daily Symptoms Chart so that your doctor can properly evaluate the test results. There is no one-size-fits-all correct test result. What is normal for your best friend, sister or mother may not be normal for you.

Progesterone is a hormone that stimulates the uterus and prepares it for pregnancy. It also regulates the menstrual cycle, and low levels of progesterone can cause irritability. Results will vary depending on when the test is done.

Thyroid workups usually include checking your TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). If there is an irregularity with your TSH, you may need to get your Total T3 and Free T4 checked as well. (Free means it won’t be affected by your estrogen status, not free of charge!) Remember that the symptoms for PM&M and a thyroid disorder can be very similar.

Other important tests for women in PM&M:

Bone density
is a measure of calcium and other materials in your bones. Also called a DEXA scan, the bone density test can determine whether you have or are susceptible to osteoporosis. When you enter PM&M, the decline in estrogen can trigger a rapid loss of bone mass, so it’s important to check. The test measures the strength of the hip and spine. It takes only minutes and exposes you to very little radiation.

CA-125 (cancer antigen 125) is a protein best known as a blood marker for ovarian cancer. It may be elevated with other malignant cancer, including those originating in the endometrium, fallopian tubes, lungs, breasts and gastrointestinal tract. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of this test, as the normal value range varies among laboratories and the CA-125 test can result in false positives.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the body. It makes hormones, skin cells, and digestive fluids. Cholesterol levels change in PM&M. Too much cholesterol can build up artery plaque, narrowing blood vessels and potentially causing a heart attack. A cholesterol panel usually includes checking your HDL (high-density lipoprotein or the good cholesterol), LDL (low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) and

Triglycerides (molecules of fatty acids), and gives you your total cholesterol/HDL ratio. You’ll need to fast for this test, so don’t eat or drink for 12 hours beforehand.

Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) is the vitamin that helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, keeping your bones nice and strong.

For a full list of suggested test ranges check out Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. This book can be purchased at for just the cost of shipping and handling. Email for details.

Knowing and understanding these levels in your body, in conjunction with tracking your symptoms on your chart, will help you and your doctor determine the right approach to finding hormone happiness. If you are suffering from sleeplessness, hot flashes, or an emotional roller coaster and your doctor looks at your blood tests and tells you, “You are fine. You are not in PM&M,” do not go home and suffer! Push the wicked witch aside (It may be time for a new PM&M specialist) and trust how you feel—you know your body better than anyone. Once you finally reach the end of the yellow brick road, you’ll find you had the courage, knowledge and love for yourself to get the help that you deserved all along!

About “E”
"E" is the pen name of Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness—a cut-to-the-chase book on perimenopause and menopause that's filled with crucial information, helpful guides, and hilarious and heartfelt stories. Known for her humor, compassion, and sassy personality, E has appeared on numerous television and radio broadcasts, including: the “Rachael Ray Show,” “The Doctors,” Oprah Radio, Playboy Radio, “Tell Me More” on NPR, Doctor Radio, and dozens of other regional and national media outlets. She appears monthly as a menopause and women's wellness guest on KSWB Fox 5 Morning News San Diego and is a regular guest on the popular radio show, “Broadminded,” on Sirius XM Radio (Stars XM 107). E is also one of the first regular contributors to debut on the Huffington Post’s latest site, Huff/Post50. When E isn’t promoting women’s health and wellness, she’s busy trying her best not to eat all the ice cream in the freezer.

About Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness

The book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness is your perimenopause and menopause (PM&M) toolkit. It condenses a confusing and daunting medical topic into an easy-to-understand, purse-sized guide that can be used as a reference throughout your PM&M experience. Reading Shmirshky is like getting a big, comforting hug from a dear friend who happens to know a lot about menopause!

Oh, and by the way, "shmirshky" (pronounced SHMERSH-KEY) is a playful name for vagina and the women who possess them. Visit for everything you wanted to know about perimenopause and menopause but were afraid to ask!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Places for Coupons!

By Renee Hanson, Private Wealth Advisor, Ameriprise Financial

Don’t be surprised if you begin to see coupons for the places you frequently shop on your online bank or credit card statements. Available in the coming weeks to more than 8 million bank and credit card customers, Statement Rewards is a new service that is both a loyalty program and a daily deal.

How it works

When you view your online bank or credit card statement, you’ll see links to participating vendors where you can redeem coupons and loyalty rewards. These offers are based on the frequency with which you’ve shopped and the amount you’ve spent at a particular store. For example, if you’re a regular at Starbucks, you may receive a $5 coupon if you’ve spent $100 there in the past month.

When you click on the reward link, an expanded window with full reward details will appear. Then, you’ll have the option to “purchase” the reward with the card that corresponds to your Statement Rewards account. If you choose to take advantage of the offer, you’ll receive a receipt for the reward and instructions explaining how to redeem it.

In addition, you can choose to be notified on your smart phone of how close you are to receiving a discount when you’re at or near your favorite stores. The smart phone opportunities may offer even greater savings than the online reward because you’re closer to the store.

Pros and cons

The obvious benefit for marketers is that Statement Rewards enables businesses to target known customers with relevant and personalized deals.

As a consumer you’ll benefit by having opportunities to save at the places you already shop. Plus, the rewards may be available from small local businesses you frequent, not just large national retailers. What’s more, instead of multiple rewards cards, your debit or credit card becomes your master loyalty card.

Yet, if you are wary of aggressive marketing techniques, advertisements on your bank and credit card statements may seem intrusive. If this is the case, you can opt out of the program.

Other considerations

A deal is only a deal if it saves you money on something you already planned to purchase. In other words, if you find yourself purchasing more than you regularly would to earn the reward, it’s probably not money well spent.

Do you want more helpful financial tips? Log-on to to take our interactive courses on everything from budgeting, saving and living rich on a small budget.

Renée A. Hanson, CFP®, CEP®, CDFA™, CFS, is a private wealth advisor with Hanson, Ayala & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Her passion is in helping women achieve their dreams and financial goals, regardless of life’s many obstacles. Renée is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, IL, MI, MN, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, WI. Please visit: to learn more. Ameriprise Financial does not provide tax or legal advice. Consult your tax advisor or attorney. Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.

© 2011 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 23, 2012

5 Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence

Republished from AZ Magazine

IN THE DARKNESS of an August night in 2008, Joelle Hadley couldn’t see much, but she could hear the roaring.

She was camping on the Havasupai Reservation deep in the Grand Canyon when a summer thunderstorm set off raging floods that came crashing down Havasu Creek and the falls, destroying one, diverting another and creating two new ones.

The fast-moving, foaming waters threatened Hadley’s life and those of the people she was with, all frantic to find the quickest way to safety.

But one man changed the mood from frenzy to focus. The situation was dire, he told them. But when he did, he did so calmly. His demeanor allowed Hadley and her fellow campers to become calm and focus on surviving, which they did.

“One person’s calming effects allowed all of us to work better as a team,” Hadley said, reflecting recently on the devastating flash flood that reworked the landscape near Supai, a tiny town west of Grand Canyon National Park.

Hadley, now 43, had previously studied a concept called emotional intelligence, and she knew immediately that the man was relying on his emotional intelligence to get through a harrowing, desperate situation. And she did the same.

Emotional intelligence, first coined in a doctoral thesis in the mid-’80s, has made its way into mainstream literature over the years. It means different things to different people, but generally, emotional intelligence is a measure of how well someone identifies, assesses and controls his emotions and those of others.

The idea of emotional intelligence is rooted in science. It suggests that when the emotional part of our brain, the amygdala, feels threatened, it triggers a fight-or-flight response that can cause people to act irrationally. Acting in an emotionally intelligent way, one that is self-aware, and aware of the emotions and motives of others, can help to rewire our physiological responses in times of stress and crisis.

Hadley describes the effects of crisis — be it work stress, family drama or physical injury — as “shutting down” the best part of our brains.

“Pressure, stress, high demands, these are things that end up making us not be our best selves,” Hadley said. “That really is the heart of emotional intelligence. We’re all hardwired to kind of go into protection mode when we’re under stress and pressure, and when we do that, we turn off the ‘Captain of our Ship.’ That’s when we don’t do our best work.”

A man’s emotional intelligence once helped save Hadley’s life, and now it’s Hadley’s life work.
A onetime publisher for Phoenix Business Journal, Hadley, of Phoenix, splits her professional life between two companies. One, the Culture Coaches, is a management consulting group that strives to improve work¬place culture.

The other, the Southwest Institute of Emotional Intelligence, coaches people on how to manage their emotions in an effort to maximize leadership and performance, both personally and professionally.

“My mission is to have a grass-roots effort and spread this concept,” Hadley said. “It’s so great. It really does make people happier and makes them interact better.”

For Hadley, lives don’t hang in the balance. But, sometimes companies and careers do.
Hadley has seen that when people interact better in a workplace, it creates a more positive and creative working environment, allowing employees to flourish and companies to find success. Of course, the opposite is also true.

In the boardroom, one of her mantras is that soft skills produce hard results. This means that a manager’s interpersonal touch, her attitude and personality, can motivate or disenfranchise co-workers. Similarly, Hadley is also fond of saying that one’s IQ will get an employee in the door, but his EQ, or emotional intelligence, will keep him there.

Companies, including DMB Realty, Dial Corp., BlueCross BlueShield Association and Republic Media, which publishes this magazine, have brought in Hadley to teach seminars on topics including conflict management, team building and the “Three Es of Extraordinary Customer Experience.”

Bobi Seredich, Hadley’s business partner and longtime friend, said Hadley is a natural for this type of consulting. “She’s passionate about it,” Seredich, 41, of Phoenix, said. “She just has the right combination of being able to inspire, entertain and educate.”

But Hadley doesn’t just teach emotional intelligence. During her seminars, she openly discusses her personal struggles to become more emotionally intelligent, and she notes on her website that she is trying to become more flexible and adaptable.

She knows she’ll never be perfect. But she has also seen firsthand the difference emotional intelligence can make — both in an office and on a rapidly flooding campground in the middle of the night.

“It’s a journey where you’re always getting better,” Hadley said. “Part of being emotionally intelligent is being aware of that.”

5 ways to boost your emotional intelligence

Joelle Hadley is most often called upon by corporate clients who hope to raise their company’s collective emotional intelligence. She’s often confronted with leaders who don’t understand the negative impact their management style is having on their em-ployees — or with employees who don’t do a good job of handling the tasks and obsta¬cles that come their way.

But all kinds of people can benefit from improving their emotional intelligence, a phrase that describes a person’s ability to understand and control his or her own emotions and to understand and respond to the emotions of others.

Hadley has a few general tips on how to handle adversity with grace — to be able to acknowledge it, move past it and remain centered.

KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS. Everyone has people and situations that trigger negative emotions. Know them and anticipate them.

STEM YOUR JUDGEMENT. Hadley said most people judge themselves by their intentions and others by their actions. Employ more patience and understanding. Give people the benefit of the doubt.

CARE FOR YOURSELF. Hadley uses the mnemonic HALT as a way to remember that when people are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, they are more easily irritated by things that would not normally be triggers. Proactively care for yourself and look for signs of those issues in others when you’re having a conflict.

GO AHEAD AND SOSS. For people in the middle of a crisis, Hadley recommends going through a series of steps to reduce stress. First, Stop and disengage from the activity or conversation. Oxygenate, or breathe. Strengthen your heart by thinking about something you’re grateful for in the moment. Then Seek information by asking powerful, open-ended questions.

LET SOME THINGS GO. Hadley advises letting go of the right to be right. She suggests that instead of convincing someone of your rightness, focus on the best possible outcome for both of you and put your energy into making it a reality.

Want to learn more from Joelle? Check out her amazing interactive course, Me Inc, at Click here to get started with this course.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don't Spend a Million to Look Like a Million!

By Diane McLelland, Our Resident Fashionista

As another New Year begins, many of us make our crafting our New Year’s resolutions, which of course we plan to stick to all year long – right?! One particular resolution that I intend to implement in my life is to maintain a stricter clothing budget, and stick with it-this year.

Clearance shopping is the only way to shop, in my opinion. Getting more for less is a skill that I have honed over the years and one that I love to share with others. If complimented on an outfit or piece of jewelry, you can be sure that I offer up every detail of the shopping spree!

I’m proud to be recycling and saving money. I don’t need to pay several hundred dollars for a piece of clothing to feel good in it. In fact I feel sometimes even more amazing when I am wearing a great dress that only cost me $10 bucks! I consider myself the guru of fashion bargains and I am happy to share my inside tips on how to look like a million without spending a million.

Thrift Stores and Resale Boutiques are Goldmines
Some of my favorite places to shop include resale shops and Goodwill. They’re found in every community and often can even benefit local non-profit organizations. And trust me thrift and resale stores have upped their game. Gently used and sometimes even new and unworn clothing (I have found tons of pieces with original tags on them) can be found for a steal. Many times you don’t even have to sort through a stack of questionable items to find the good stuff. Stores are now doing it for you by requiring that donated items are either dry cleaned or laundered, and free of stains.

Where to find the goods!
Want a great trick of the trade? Shop in the more upscale areas of town where they often land designer clothing and handbags for a mere fraction of their original price.
Coupons, coupons, coupons

Some stores even offer 50% off days, so check with your local shops. On my most recent ‘research’ trip to my neighborhood Goodwill, a shopper in line offered me a 20% off coupon that she had printed online. Score!

Bidding online
My friend Roberta, a single mom, just insists that that I’ve opened up a whole new world of possibilities for her by introducing her to Goodwill and resale clothing stores. I look forward to her usually weekly report, citing a $5 or $6 haul, consisting of perhaps a blazer, skirt, and a belt. She, in turn, has become quite good at bidding for items, and has taught me about buying items online.

Outlet stores have amazing deals
Outlet stores can be another great source of inexpensive clothing. The clothing may be from a previous season, but unless you’re a top model, no one will know. Outlets are great to acquire staple pieces but beware of outrageous items. Sometimes there is a reason why there are 60 of the same shirt.

Refresh Your Wardrobe with a clothing exchange
You might even try a clothing exchange with some friends or coworkers. It gives you a great way to easily refresh your wardrobe and can even help you score that great dress of your friends that you have been eyeing! Just bring all items you no longer wear, make it fun with some drinks and appetizers and swap away. Even if your friends’ clothing sizes vary, you can still score a great necklace or pair of earrings in exchange for that blouse you no longer wear.

Watch for Signs of bargain fever
It’s so easy to pick up an item simply because it’s on ‘clearance’. Don’t be tempted to do so, as you can soon find your closet packed with bargains that you don’t wear, and that don’t seem to match anything you already own. Trust me I have learned from experience! Too often I have cleaned bargains out of my closet that I was certain I would wear but ended up collecting dust because they were the right price but simply weren’t right for me.

If you can afford to, buy completed outfits instead of individual pieces that you will need to try to match up later. This can help to keep the bargain fever clutter out of your closet.

There are many ways to save money, and still dress well. So happy bargain hunting and get ready to look like a million bucks!

Looking for more support and resources? Check out all of the exciting courses, webinars and tools at! Take our free assessment and get started today with personalized courses to meet you needs!

About the Author
Diane Sheridan McLelland has been called a ‘fashionista’ from a young age, acquiring her love of fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl. After earning her degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business, she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials, and magazine layouts in the Phoenix area, and worked as a flight attendant for over 15 years. Diane considers herself to be a ‘personal shopper’ as she shops for family and friends whenever possible. She has written for a travel publication and numerous newsletters and currently works as a Career Services Advisor, assisting students in finding viable work in their chosen fields. In addition, she volunteers at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation as a workshop facilitator. She has two grown sons, and along with dog Cooper & ‘his’ two cats, resides in the Valley of the Sun- Phoenix, AZ.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Year, New Voice: Tips to Speak Up for Yourself

By April Fischer, Public Relations,

Why do we choose just one time a year to reinvent ourselves? The stress of our daily lives and commitments often leaves us little time to focus on ourselves. No matter what your New Year’s resolution is, one of the most important changes you can make is learning to speak up for yourself.

Assertiveness can make you a stronger person in both your personal and professional life. It doesn’t mean being rude or inconsiderate of others, but instead learning your values and morals and making those known.

People can confuse being aggressive with being assertive. Aggressiveness is defined as, “behavior between people that is intended to cause pain or harm.” On the contrary, assertiveness is a behavior that displays confidence on your part while giving equal respect to the other person.

There are numerous benefits to being assertive. In the professional world, it will help you deal successfully with difficult people. In your personal life, it can lead to calm discussions with friends, spouses or children about your wants and needs in the relationship.

Being assertive is a process. The first step to making it a successful one is figuring out what you would like to convey to the other person. Say for example that you’re angry with your spouse because he is continually coming home later than promised and spending less time with you. Instead of getting angry and yelling, take five minutes during your day to write down how this scenario makes you feel.

After you have your list of feelings, tell your spouse that you would like to sit down and talk when both of you are free from distractions. The key to assertiveness is discussing how a situation makes you feel rather than blaming the other person. Say things like:
• “I feel angry when you do this…”
• “It hurts me when you…”
• “I want you too….”

Using these phrases successfully conveys how you feel while still acknowledging that others may have a different opinion. Through calm discussions and introspection, you can realize more about how you feel and even discover the reason behind those feelings.

Oftentimes people aren’t assertive because we are afraid of hurting feelings or of being hurt ourselves. In order to start standing up for yourself, you have to remember that everyone in this world has a different opinion and it is not your job to agree with him or her.

Being assertive will open a world of possibilities. It will help you to become more confident and comfortable with yourself, improve your relationships, and even lead to that big pay raise you’ve been dreaming about at the workplace.

Want more tips on communicating more effectivley at both work and at home? Check out our fabulous courses including Communicating With Difficult People, Developing Healthy Boundaries and What is Your Body Language Communicating. Log-on to to take our free assessment and access these amazing courses.

About the Author:
April Fischer is junior at Arizona State University. She is majoring in journalism with an emphasis in public relations and hopes to do PR for athletes after she graduates. She is currently a communications & PR intern for Fresh Start Women’s Foundation and is an active member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. April also has written for a local teen magazine, AZTeen, and has articles published in ASU’s student newspaper, The State Press.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Speak No Evil, Read No Evil, Write No Evil

By: Dr. Ellen Diana, Ph.D., Psychologist &
Co-Author of the
Charge Up Your Life series of books

Make the resolution of positivity this New Year!

Michael A Stusser’s article, Speak No Evil, Tweet No Evil, in the January edition of Shambala Sun Magazine offers food for thought in this time of New Year’s resolutions. A humor columnist, Stusser makes his living through sarcasm and satire, which leaked into his personal life and affected his relationships.

He made a commitment not to speak, hear, or tweet evil for four weeks, a daunting task, with interesting results. He used the “four gates of speech” as his guidelines – before speaking determine if the statement is true, is kind, is necessary, and if it’s the right moment to say it.

One day, Stusser complimented every person he met and found people opening up to him and sharing in unexpected ways. He learned that negativity breeds distrust, withdrawal, and disdain while positivity yields honesty, optimism, and community.

Notice how often you are drawn to negativity: tempted to make the unkind remark, entertained by the story that mocks another individual, or drawn to websites and television programs that criticize and ridicule. Consider that the quality of your life is determined by the elements in it: if negativity is a big ingredient, then you are apt to feel anxious, angry, and sad. A life where positive thoughts, feelings, and actions predominate has the potential to yield more security, harmony, and joy.

Take Michael Stusser’s experiment one step further and reflect back on your activities, day by day. Notice how your feelings match your thoughts and actions. At the end of the day, take a few moments to jot down your observations. Notice…

• Who you spoke to and what you said
• Your browsing history
• Your thoughts about people and situations
• TV programs you watched
• Emails you sent and received

Rate your days on a scale from 1-5 for positive content and for positive feelings. Notice the match! Days with high positive content will yield a higher degree of positive feelings.

Add "increase the positive" to your list of New Year's resolutions and allow more love, happiness, and success into your life.

Looking for more support to set positive resolutions? Well then take our free assessment and get connected with today to get the resources you are looking for!

About the Author:
Ellen Diana is a licensed psychologist, co-author of the Charge up Your Life Book Series and certified school psychologist with 30 years’ experience working with children, adults, couples, and families in schools and in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona. She has published a number of articles in scholarly journals on psychology and education, and co-authored five self-help books in the Charge Up Your Life series. Helping women to evolve into their best selves through personal growth and self-awareness is a passion of hers. Ellen raised three successful children as a single parent and so has special interests in mentoring other women in transition and helping parents to raise resilient children. Contact Ellen at or through her website

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Facing Your Fears of Returning to School

Republished from

The increasing availability of career colleges offering online programs is making it easier and more convenient for working professionals to finish college or earn more degrees. Re-enrolling in college is a great way to make a career transition, learn new skills, study subjects of personal interest, and enhance marketability in the job market.

Unfortunately, many people wanting to make a career change or return to college do not do so because of fear.

The First Step is Admitting It

The following concerns are voiced by many working professionals reluctant to return to school:

Many working professionals are concerned about the cost of returning to college, the time commitment involved, and attending classes with younger students. Many adults considering a return to college are concerned that their employers will be unimpressed with their new degrees or certifications.

However, most working adults re-enrolling in career college, regardless of whether they attend or complete classes online, fit-in well and do not have the aforementioned problems. These students usually enroll with fears and concerns only later to realize that they were overreacting.

Because of the benefits of returning to college, many working professionals that have re-enrolled in college are glad that their fears did not prevent them from obtaining more education.

I'm Afraid I Won't Fit In

Many middle-aged adult returning to college are concerned about standing out and not fitting in with younger students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, college students 25 years or older comprise 40 percentage of all students enrolled in college. Likewise, in 2001, close to 3 million people 35 years or older were enrolled in college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Middle-aged adults with concerns about fitting in at college should consider the following factors:

Many classes can be completed online for those with concerns about attending classes with younger adults. However, increasing numbers of adults not in their twenties are attending college. In fact, many adults enjoy interacting and learning with younger students enthusiastic about education.

I'm Afraid It Will Be Too Expensive

It can be expensive returning to college. The expense alone is enough to cause many working adults to reconsider their decision to return to school. However, when education is viewed as an investment, the costs of attending college do not seem as large of an obstacle. It’s best to have a long term rather than short term perspective. In fact, salary increases associated with obtaining more education often offset the costs of returning to school. Many colleges, including those offering online courses, are inexpensive to attend. Before deciding against returning to school, consider how a return will help you achieve your long-term career and educational goals.

I'm Afraid It Will Take Up Too Much Time

It’s not unreasonable for working professionals to feel overwhelmed with their current responsibilities. As a result, returning to school can be very intimidating. Working full-time, raising a family, and fulfilling other responsibilities are enough to occupy already full schedules.

However, it’s possible to make time to return to school. It may require sacrificing time spent enjoying leisurely activities, but it is possible to make the time. If you set a goal and have unwavering commitment to reach it, you can develop the ability to make sacrifices.

Working professionals wanting to return to school but concerned about the time commitment should consider enrolling in online classes. These classes can be completed whenever students have time, whether it be early in the morning or late in the evening. Students are not required to attend classes and course requirements can be completed at home.

I'm Afraid It Will Take Forever To Complete My Degree

It usually requires four years to obtain a bachelor’s degrees, two years to obtain a master’s degree, and nearly eight years to complete a doctorate program as a full-time student. That may not seem as an impossible task for a young adult with the time, but it can be very intimidating for someone with a full-time job and family responsibilities.

However, most colleges offer accelerated learning programs. As a result, these programs require less time than would be required if one pursued their degree the traditional way. Semesters are shorter, usually 5 weeks, and educational quality is not sacrificed to speed through course material. Many students obtain degrees in under a year.

I'm Afraid That Employers Won't Take My Degree Seriously

People often decide against going back to school because they cannot attend an ivy league or other well respected institution. These people frequently assume that their employers will be unimpressed if they earn a degree from a lesser known institution.

However, most companies consider degrees obtained from career colleges as acceptable and of the same quality as degrees obtained through traditional programs. In the past, employers may have not considered online degrees from career colleges in the same way as they viewed programs obtained through traditional colleges, but the quality of online programs continues to improve and offers the type of training and education available at a traditional college. Likewise, students completing online programs will develop, or further develop, technology skills highly sought after by many companies, and they may impress their employers by taking initiative to broaden their knowledge and acquire new skills.

I'm Afraid I Won't Learn Anything New Or Valuable

Working professionals often become concerned that returning to school will not significantly benefit them. In other words, they feel that they will not learn anything new they haven’t learned working or develop skills that will improve their marketability in the workforce.

However, most people who’ve completed online career college programs will attest to the exact opposite. College classes at accredited schools are taught by qualified individuals with expertise and experience in the subject they teach, and classes at most career colleges are full of working professionals from various backgrounds. If students decide to attend classrooms or complete classes online, they will still learn new things they never considered and benefit from the opportunity of interacting with other professionals.

Likewise, programs offered at many career colleges emphasize group learning and team work. In these programs, students work closely with instructors and their fellow classmates. Group work and interaction enables students to learn from other professionals with various work experiences. New knowledge acquired from group interaction can immediately be applied to work situations.

Why Make The Move?

Since many online colleges cater exclusively to working professionals, there are few, if any, reasons why an adult should hesitate returning to school. They can greatly benefit from deciding to pursue more education. The following are benefits of returning to school as a working professional:
  • Promotion or career advancement opportunities: Returning to school is one way to improve your chances to get promoted, or it is one strategy for beginning a career transition.
  • Finish a started degree: Many college students find opportunities in the workforce before completing college. However, it is never too late to return and finish a degree.
  • Demonstrate to your children and future generations the importance of education: If you set an example for your children, they are more than likely to attend college and enjoy the benefits of earning a degree.
  • Gain the necessary knowledge and prepare for managing your own business: It is very challenging to successfully run a small business, so developing skills and acquiring business knowledge will be very beneficial.
It can seem intimidating to re-enroll in college, but this should not be a reason for missing out on the benefits of acquiring more education. Adults or working professionals with a plan can smoothly make the transition back to school.

Looking for support and assistance in order to set goals and follow your dreams? Log on to to take our free life assessment and become a member!

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Career

By Sherri Thomas, Author & Career Coach

Want 3 simple tips to help you make a faster and easier career change…?

As a Career Coach, I’m seeing that many professionals make the mistake of posting their resume on a job board, or handing their resume to a recruiter, and then just sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring. In today’s tough job market, you need to be much more strategic in making a career change. My clients have had great success including doubling their opportunities and cutting their search time in half by following my three simple job hunting rules…

1. Think Up, Down and Sideways.

The biggest mistake job hunting professionals make is looking for a position with the exact same title they had in their last job. Instead, consider looking at smaller companies and going one-level up, as well as larger companies and going one-level down.

Since many companies don’t require you to have industry experience, only expertise in a specific job function, you can double your opportunities by applying for jobs in different industries.
For example, if you’ve been working in advertising agencies, then also include businesses that have in-house advertising, marketing, or communications departments. Or, if you’ve been in sales, finance, engineering, or administration in a certain industry (such as health care, high tech, or construction), start applying for those same jobs in other industries.

Also, it’s not mandatory that you meet 100-percent of the requirements in the job description. Attitude and confidence are also key factors! A good rule of thumb is to have at least 75-percent of the skills and experience required, and express in your cover letter and interviews that you’re a quick learner, flexible, and passionate about the position and the company.

2. Create a strategic job search plan.

You want to fish where the fish are, so find out where your potential employers are by reading job boards(,,, etc.), as well as industry publications, business journals, and company websites. You’ll be able to learn which industries are hiring, which companies are hiring and what the hot jobs are!

•Company websites. Create a list of companies where you would like to work. Visit their website weekly for on-line job postings, and announcements for departments expanding.

•On-line job boards. Some job search sites are notorious for listing outdated jobs, or jobs with no contact information. Why waste your time?

Instead, make a list of job search sites that offer high quality jobs. Conduct a search on Google or Yahoo for the job role and the city you want (example: marketing director, Portland). Review all the sites listed on the top three or four pages, and bookmark only those sites that list promising job opportunities.

You’ll find that each site varies in the quality of positions listed (lower-level to senior-level, as well as salary ranges), plus the type of industries, or vertical sectors, listed. Some sites may also do a better job than others updating their lists, or publicizing openings in your city.
Focus your attention only on those sites. Once you’ve created a list of your top job search sites, make a commitment to review those sites weekly.

3. Work your NetWORK.

Make it a priority to get connected, and stay connected, to people who could hire you, or introduce you to others who could potentially hire you. Get re-connected with past employers, customers, and colleagues. Meet new contacts by attending industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events, and association meetings that target the industry (high tech, health care, etc.), or the job role (marketing, finance, management, etc.) you want. Try to attend a couple of events each week.

Finally, never give the impression that you’re hungry for a job. Instead, you want to be seen as someone who’s resourceful, knowledgeable, and has a wide network. Send out personalized notes and e-mails with links to reports, case studies, press releases, videos, and websites that you think may interest them. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers. Influencers are drawn to those who are resourceful.

The goal is to create a pull relationship with your network so that they are drawn towards you (not running away from you!)

When you’re searching for a new job, remember to stay focused in what you want, stay positive, and believe in yourself. It takes persistence and patience – but you WILL find those companies who jump at the opportunity to hire you!!

Your Assignment…
Create your “job search strategy.”

Expand your career opportunities by researching job openings in various industries advertised on company websites and job boards (such as and Read a variety of job descriptions to determine if you have the right mix of skills, experience and expertise. If you match at least 75% of the job requirements – then apply! (Nobody meets 100% of the job qualifications)

After you find a job you want to apply for, then customize your resume to meet the job description and ask your network for recommendations, referrals and job leads.
By following these three (3) strategies you’ll be well on your way to a new career!

Want more tips on how to get moving in a new career direction? Check out the interactive career courses on! Take our free assessment and become a member today.

Sherri Thomas is author of Career Smart - 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand - on AMAZON's TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books. She is also founder of Career Coaching 360 which provides resume help, interviewing support, and personal career coaching packages to help professionals change careers quickly and easily.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Start Your Financial Makeover

By Alden Wicker, Republished from LearnVest

Know Your Starting Point
Before you start on the road to financial fitness, you need to know exactly where you stand. A good place to start is your net worth. This number indicates, for instance, whether you’re likely to meet your retirement goals or whether you have a cushion against unexpected life disruptions like job loss or a medical emergency.

Your net worth is constantly changing, so you can think of it as your starting point at any given moment. It’s calculated by adding up your assets (like savings, investments, real estate or other valuable possessions you own) and subtracting your liabilities (any debts or loans you owe from credit cards, student loans or anything else).

Separate the Good From Bad
Your next step is dividing your liabilities into “good” and “bad” debt. Although it should come as no surprise that we don’t like debt, some debts are definitely worse than others.

Good Debt
The biggest difference between good and bad debt is the interest rate. Good debt has a low rate, 6% or less, whereas bad debt can come with much higher rates. Generally, people take on good debt as an investment for the future.

This category often includes:
• Student loans
• Mortgages
• Business loans

A rule of thumb is that good debt is borrowing to buy something that will grow in value over time, like a house or an education (which can bring you more earning power). Better yet, this kind of debt is usually tax-deductible. Just note that good debt can easily become bad debt if you don’t have a solid plan for repaying the loan. As we saw in the housing market crash, a mortgage can be very bad debt if a homeowner can’t afford her payments.

Bad Debt
“Bad debt” usually includes:
• Credit card debt
• Car loans
• Consumer loans with high interest rates that are not tax-deductible

Following the same principle, this is the sort of debt that doesn’t grow in value over time: Unlike a college degree that increases your earning potential or a home that may grow in value over time, a car loses value once you drive it off the lot, and credit card debt just keeps racking up.
While having any amount of bad debt is a challenge, if it amounts to more than 20% of your annual income, you might need a serious debt reduction plan.

Calculating Your Top Financial Priority
We can quickly assess your debt load by analyzing how much bad debt you have relative to your annual income; this figure tells us if it’s going to take you a very long time to pay off your debts, and what your next move should be. The tool below, taken from our Take Control Bootcamp, will analyze both your net worth and your bad-debt-to-income ratio to come up with your personal “financial makeover” next steps.

To use our calculator, input the amount for your assets, which you can find here (or add up the value of your checking, savings, investment and business accounts, if you have them). If you own your home, add its current value, which you can find on, and if you own a car, add its current Kelley Blue Book value.

Next, add up your good debts in one pile and your bad debts in another. (If you haven’t linked your accounts, you can still do this exercise by adding up your assets, good debts and bad debts on your own.)

Where to Go From Here
We’ve given you customized recommendations on how to get started on your own financial makeover. Make sure you write down these steps and tackle them as soon as possible. With each task you accomplish, you’ll gain more momentum toward reaching your financial goals.
You might have been told in your advice that you would learn more about this subject in the next few days. That’s because this tool and advice has been excerpted from our Take Control Bootcamp. If you found it useful and want to find out more about these concepts, sign up today to get ten days of easy-to-understand financial advice, delivered straight to your inbox, and continue your financial makeover (

Want more financial advice? Check out our budgeting 101 or savings courses at They are easy to complete and will get you on the road to financial success!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Check Out Our Newest Class! What is Your Body Language Communicating

If you have not checked out our newest
class than you better get going!

Have you ever heard the expression you can say a whole lot without saying a word? Our body language is a key component to consider in any interaction we have. If you feel like your communication skills could use a little tweak then you are in luck! This course gives you easy to implement tips that will allow you to communicate more effectively at both the office and at home.

What is Your Body Language Communicating it presented by world-renowned speaker, coach, fashion designer and communication expert, Debra Davenport. Check out our site for more information on Debra.

Already a member? Log into your account and visit the course catalog to take this course.

Not a member yet? It is easy to get started! Log on to, click on "Take Free Assessment", complete the simple questions to receive your personalized course recommendations and then sign up to be a member. Members have unlimited access to all interactive courses, archived webinars, resources and special offers & coupons. Memberships cost only $5.99 per month or save money and get a yearly membership for $59.99.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Getting Your Resume Recruiter Ready

By Amy Michalenko, Career Expert @ Fresh Start Women's Resource Center

As of late, my job of helping other people find work has not been the easiest task. Certainly in a tougher economy, there tends to be less hiring and more competition for positions. I regularly hear job seekers lament about how they’ve submitted resume after resume to no avail.

To get the skinny on the current hiring processes and what makes candidates stand out, I’ve reached out to several Human Resource professionals that do the hiring for companies. What they shared was surprising: even today, standing out among the competition isn’t that tough—if you know what to do.

Hundreds of Applicants, Not Hundreds of Candidates
A 30-day job posting, on average, can attract 150 to 200 applicants, and that can sky rocket upwards of 700. However, these numbers should not discourage you: most recruiters indicate that, from 200 résumés, they’re lucky to find 15-20 really good candidates that fit the requirements.

Judy Weiler, a contract HR professional for various technology companies throughout the U.S., shared how she posted a Technical Project Manager position, and received multiple résumés from cashiers at fast food restaurants. So don’t let the numbers fool you: there are not 200 Technical Project Managers out there—just a lot of people who will apply for anything and everything. In most, cases your competition ends up being only that 15-20 people.

The Top Résumé Deal-Breakers Are Easy To Avoid
The most glaring error that will quickly eliminate you from the running is having spelling and grammar mistakes on your résumé or cover letter, as well as typos! These are so easily avoidable—yet they’re the number one reason candidates are passed by.

Other red flags that recruiters use to narrow down the competition include lack of stability or a history of several short-term positions, too much personal information on the résumé, or a résumé that is not targeted to the job posting or lacks a consistent and professional format.

Yes, Format Matters
It is important to keep your résumé concise and of an appropriate length (1 page for most). Recruiters consistently said that format stands out first, and you as a job seeker will typically get past a first scan if your résumé is formatted professionally and seems well organized.

Further, by only including those details of your experience that specifically pertain to the position you’re applying to, your résumé will be tailored to the recruiter and show why you’re best suited to the job—a key to landing you an interview.

Practical Advice from Recruiters to Job Seekers
With all that in mind, here are a few tips, straight from the HR experts, to help get your résumé into that “must interview” pile:

1. Use the job description from the job posting to target your résumé. Be sure to include the specific skills that were in the job description, and eliminate information that does not pertain to the position you’re applying for.

2. Make it interesting to read: use accomplishment statements as opposed to listing your duties. For example, “Reduced turnover by 10% which saved the company $100,000 per year.”

3. Make yourself stand out! Use the top of the résumé to provide a summary of what makes you unique and why you love what you do.

4. Always have at least one other person, if not more, review your résumé. This will help you catch silly typos and formatting inconsistencies.

5. Follow up! Don’t just submit your résumé and sit back and wait. Nothing will make you stand out more than taking the time and initiative to follow-up with the hiring manager.

Every single recruiter I spoke with indicated the importance of this step, and most pointed out that it rarely happens. Even if the contact information is not included in the posting, take the extra time to do research and seek out the correct individual. The only time you should avoid following up is if the posting specifically states "no phone calls please".

There is not some big secret you need to know in order to get your résumé noticed. You simply must provide employers with a good, clean, concise and well-organized document that highlights what you bring to the table. Take this invaluable feedback from today’s hiring professionals, and get the interviews you’re looking for!

Do you want more helpful advice on job searching or career advancement? Become a member of the Fresh Start Community of women today: Membership gives you exclusive access to all of the exciting & interactive workshops, webinars and special offers.

Amy Michalenko is a Career Expert who works as the National Strategy Officer at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human resource management and a master’s in instructional leadership and corporate training from Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA. She has more than 10 years of experience in the areas of human resources, career services, corporate training and development.