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How to Change Careers in 3 Simple Steps

If you’ve found yourself wondering how to change careers, you’re in good company. Walt Disney was working at The Kansas City Star in 1919 when he was fired because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas,” according to his editor. It’s easy to being thinking about a career change, especially if your current career has left you needing extra money time after time.

Instead of moping, or even trying to find another newspaper job, Disney decided to take the opportunity to follow his dreams of animating a little mouse, and you know the rest of the story.

Americans are changing career paths throughout their lives now more than ever before. Industries are rapidly changing, and jobs that were previously thought to be well-established are disappearing fast with brand new ones popping up in their place.

If you are wondering how to change careers, or want to pursue a career path that you’re more passionate about, here are 3 tips to help you along the way:

1.Redefine the meaning of success in your life

What exactly does it mean to you to be successful? Is it making lots of money? Is it doing what you love?
If what you’re looking for is a fat paycheck, then you’ll probably be less motivated to do what you love. However, if you redefine your personal definition of success, then you open yourself up to more possibilities. Suddenly you’re free to pursue what makes you happy, instead of constantly searching for that higher paycheck.
Obviously you’ll need to be able to make enough money to meet your basic needs, but when you put personal satisfaction and happiness above material gains, you’ll be much more likely to find “success” in your life.

2.Educate yourself as much as possible

When you switch to a new career you’ll probably be inexperienced compared to your new peers. You can make up for this relative inexperience by learning as much about your new career as possible.
Don’t wait around to dive deep into research and training. If you need a specific certification, seek it out. Read trade publications, follow blogs from industry experts, or attend a trade show or convention. Try to get an insider’s knowledge of your new industry, because it will help you when you transition into making it your full-time career.

3.Don’t forget to take care of yourself

If you’ve been wondering how to change careers for a while you might make the mistake of rushing into the first opportunity that comes your way. Switching to a new career can be a huge change in your life, and that change can bring uncertainty and unwanted stress. It’s easy to get caught up in the necessary steps involved in changing careers, and ignore the things that are important for your health.

Try different techniques for managing your stress, like meditation or planning for relaxation time. Do your best to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep each night, and exercise regularly.

Don’t let these things take a backseat in your life just because you’re going through a significant change. In fact, taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial for finding success on your new path.

These tips on how to change careers are just three ways to successfully navigate a career change. Always remember that you are unique, and the path you choose is for you and you alone. So you better make the most of it!

When you’re going through a career transition, and you’re in need of some fast cash, just step into a Check City location near you to take advantage of our friendly financial services!

How to Ask for a Raise

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There’s a right way—and a wrong way—to approach your boss when asking for a raise. The right way is the proven way to go; the wrong way will… well, it will likely leave you without that raise. The “right way” is based on your timing, proposal and preparation.

When Asking for a Raise, Timing is almost everything.

Timing matters—a lot. As you prepare to ask your for a raise, choose the “right” time. In some cases, the answer—yes or no—to your request for a raise can be entirely decided based on timing. Choosing the right time is based on:

  • Your performance. Be honest with yourself about your performance and the value you’re providing your company. Make sure you’re delivering value and building equity with your company.
    It is smart to time your request for a raise following a major success or accomplishment on your part, when your contributions are crystal clear to your boss and other senior-level leaders.
  • Company performance. For many years following the economic downturn in 2009, and even now to a big extent, many companies implemented a freeze across the board on raises. While the tides have turned and more companies are jumping back in the “black,” your company’s performance is a major factor in the timing of your request for a raise.
    While you may not know the exact financial state of your company, do your best to make your request at a time when you feel or believe the company can actually afford to give you a raise.
  • Fiscal/calendar years. Many companies distribute incentives and offer raises around certain key dates in their fiscal year (which varies by company, whether or not the budget is on a calendar year or on a different fiscal calendar).
    Do your best to find out how your company operates, and when it has typically given raises in the past. If there seems to be a trend or pattern, use this in determining your timing.

Make a strong proposal to which they can’t say no.

We’ve talked a lot about “How” to ask for a raise, but this section covers the “why” you are deserving of a raise, and the burden of “proof” is all on you. When making your case for a raise, base it on:

  • The value you provide the company. Asking for a raise is a lot easier when you can show what you bring to your company. Why are you an indispensable asset to the company? Build your case for a raise on this.
  • What you’ve done to earn an increase. Note recent successes and achievements. Make these about the company—how you delivered X that resulted in Y increase in sales and Z new customers. Show a trend of improvement and accomplishment to make the case for your raise.

Because you know your company, your boss and your situation better than anyone else, there may be a few other reasons “why” to factor in. Evaluate your current position and your company’s current situation, if possible try to project the future of the company and include any key findings or notable items in your proposal.

If you’re asking your boss for a raise, the presentation matters.

Once you’ve chosen the right time and developed a solid proposal, it all comes down to the presentation. Take time to properly prepare before asking your boss for a raise.
Tips for making the best presentation include:

    >Practice. Go through your presentation ahead of time. Walk through your key points and practice asking the “big” question. Remember to speak slowly, clearly and confidently.
    Also use your practice time to anticipate potential questions and comments from your boss, and come up with answers and responses to those, so you’re ready for anything that might come your way.
  • Schedule a time with your boss. This ensures you have time carved out to speak with your boss, rather than having to guess when he or she is available.
  • Have a number in mind. Just as you develop answers and responses to potential questions and comments from your boss, have the dollar figure in mind that you would like to see your pay increased to, and a date by which you would like to see this raise in effect. Include this in your presentation as part of your “ask.”

Additional Financial Resources

Even if you land that big raise, you still need to keep your house in order with proper budgeting and financial planning. Check back with the Check City Blog for more financial tips and tricks, updated daily. We also offer many financial services at our Check City locations, including tax services and bill pay.

What happened the last time you asked your boss for a raise? Let us know in the comment section below!

New Year, New Job

Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get a better income this upcoming year. This probably means finding a better job (or a job at all) this January. If you are thinking about switching jobs or need help finding your first job after December graduation, here are few tips to help you succeed!

Fix Up Your Resume

First of all, you’ll want to make sure your resume looks the best that it can. That doesn’t mean lie – you should NEVER fabricate or exaggerate information on you resume. Update your resume with the most recent activities, accomplishments, and contact information. Make sure it is clear, easy to read, succinct, and informative. You may need to tweak your resume for each job, highlighting past experiences or skills that are most applicable to the needs of the job. If you need help, advisement centers at your college might offer free services to alumni, or many cities also offer free resume consultation.

Always Build Experience

Get experience anywhere you can. This can mean full-time jobs, but also part-time jobs, volunteer opportunities, internships, shadowing, informational interviews, and other forms of networking. Don’t discount any opportunity that has taught you a skill, principle, or more about any given industry.

Follow Directions

When you are applying for jobs, especially online, make sure you follow the application instructions EXACTLY. Do not provide unwanted information or leave out anything they asked for. Many companies eliminate any candidates that have not followed their instructions accurately.

Apply Promptly

Apply as soon as you can. Don’t put off sending in resumes or spend weeks putting together a portfolio or cover letter. Often times, companies will simply take the first suitable candidate they have. Take a little time to write a proper cover letter, free of spelling or grammatical errors, but try not to waste any unnecessary time.

Apply Everywhere

Getting a job is not easy. Apply everywhere you can. Don’t worry about minor issues such as preferred skills or desired backgrounds (the key words being preferred and desired, not required). If you think you can do what they are asking, or at least learn how to do it in a timely manner, go for it! If it’s ok with you, you may also disregard location, starting dates, and other factors.

Practice Interviews

Sooner or later, you will probably be offered a chance for an interview. Practice answering common questions and prepare questions of your own. You can find a list of common interview questions online or come up with any you think they might ask.

This will help shake off the nerves and arm you with well-thought-out answers. Practice looking and feeling both comfortable and confident. Avoid excessive pride or humility, as well as extreme chattiness or shyness. Go in with the attitude of “this is what I can do for you,” not “what can you do for me.” No one likes hiring selfish people. You can find additional interview tips online.

If you feel like a new job and a pay raise is in order this New Year, work hard and you can achieve it!

Negotiating Salaries to Help Your Budget

If you are in the position that many Americans are, where you feel like you just aren’t making the amount that you are worth, then you have probably thought about renegotiating your salary before. There are a lot of fears about renegotiating. In today’s post we’ll cover some of the top fears that people have when they go into a negotiation and how to overcome them.

Some of The Top Fears

What if my boss thinks I’m greedy? What if they tear me apart after looking over all of my past work? What about all of the other employees who have gone without any pay increase for years and years?

It is important to get all of these concerns out of your head first, before you head to the bosses office. When you get there you need to have a clear mind and a resolved focus on what your goal is. Here are some ideas as to what you should say when you get in there though.

Focus on what would make the company want to pay you more. A company will definitely be more ready to raise your salary if they see that you are adding more value as an employee. This is really where you share with your employer what sets you apart. Focus on how you getting paid more really makes sense and will actually be beneficial for the company.

Don’t make things awkward for your employer. Make him or her understand that you are not putting too much pressure on them but that you believe that you are worth more. It is important to understand their feelings as well. There are times when an employer can be very unreasonable though and this is where you should use your judgment and decide whether you should put more pressure on them.

Have a written record of all that you have been able to do for the company. Be proactive at keeping up-to-date on all of the things you have done to make the company better. If it is in writing it makes things much more convincing. Especially if it is easy to decipher, like graphs or anything else that is visually appealing.

Don’t beg or assume that you deserve a raise.

These both show attitude whether it is a needy one or just an arrogant attitude. There is nobody in the office that wants to have to work with someone with attitude so it is much better to just keep your composure and be humble but logical about all of your achievements.

Make sure it is the right time.

Don’t go in asking for a raise during the busiest time of the season when your boss has a hundred things on his mind. Definitely don’t ask for a raise right after you just received one or right before you are about to receive one. It is much better to choose a time between where there is more reason to give you the raise.

Keep a positive attitude and mindset

Many times bosses are going to see if you really want it and they may test you and my point out some things that you aren’t so good at. It is important to point out how you are counteracting those certain weaknesses so that they are able to have more reason to reward you. Your attitude will reflect in your words and ultimately show your confidence.

Show that you are invested in the company.

This will make it so that your boss feels like an investment in you is a direct investment in his company and overall goals. If the boss feels like this is just more money for you to lavish your life with then he may be more reluctant to reward you. One of the ways for you to help your boss understand that you are worth your weight in gold is to show what your plans are in the future as well. If there is a strong amount of evidence from the past proving that you can do it, then he will be much more inclined to take your raise into consideration.

Make a Game Plan

So before you head into your bosses office make sure that you have a game plan and that you know what you are going to say. There is nothing worse than going in there and being tongue tied when the boss starts asking hard questions that make you feel uncomfortable.

Lastly, if you don’t get that raise don’t give up and don’t be awkward after that. Just make sure that you understand why that way you can improve on what you are struggling with. Criticism can be your greatest ally in the work place.

Poor Job-Hunting Habits that Many Fall For

Looking for a new job can be one of the most stressful and tiring aspects in life. Because seemingly everything else, or in other words providing for a family, paying bills, furnishing various needs and desires, all hangs upon landing a well-paying job, the process of finding such a job can be extremely anxiety inducing for the individual.

Locating a worthwhile job can be hard enough as it is, but when a person accidentally falls into one of the common bad habits of finding a job, that process can become even more difficult. There are many common habits that people naturally operate under once they have switched into job hunt mode, and while some of these are good, others can be detrimental to the efforts of the individual.

One of the good habits of those who are looking for a job includes being determined. Often times, when people begin their search for a new job, there is a very powerful inner drive or motivation to keep looking until one has found the job that will fit best for them.

Keep a Positive Attitude

This is a great and productive habit or mental attitude for those who are search out a job. But the opposite feelings, feelings of negativity and despair, are just as common among individuals who are looking for a new job.

Harboring negative feelings while looking for new job can create a personal mentality and atmosphere of failure, wherein it is extremely unlikely that a person will even allow themselves to succeed if the opportunity does present itself. Because the mental outlook and attitude of a job seeker so closely tied to their success, it is vitally important that a person who is looking for more money from their job, better hours, and an overall comfortable fit from their job keep their positive attitude about them even in times of rejection and despair.

It’s a Job Interview, Not Improv!

Along with harboring negative feelings and a dim outlook on one’s prospects of success while looking for a job, another poor habit that some job hunters often fall into while on the search is deciding that they can just improvise during the interview phase of a job application. The interview phase of any job application is perhaps the most important aspect

that decides if a person gets hired for the position or passed over for another applicant.

Interviewing well is its own topic of discussion, but a far too frequent habit of those who are looking for a new job is deciding to just “wing it” when it comes to the interview. Because an interview is the final exam, as it were, for a job applicant, it is the best and last time to really impress the hiring manager of the company or organization.

Because of the interview’s great importance and weight in determining the outcome of one’s job search, those who would traditionally settle on winging it should commit to themselves now that they will never go into an interview room unprepared again. As soon as they do, they will notice an immediate change in the way they go about searching for jobs and a likewise immediate change in the effectiveness of their application interviews.

Do Your Research

Preparing for an interview is simple. One only needs to do their homework so that they will know what to say, what questions to ask, and so that they can respond intelligently to any questions they are asked by the hiring authority.
By doing research into the company beforehand, as well as research into the open position and its daily duties, a person will be able to enter the interview room prepared to both answer and ask meaningful questions. By responding intelligently and with informed knowledge to the questions of the hiring manager, and by asking in turn additional intelligent questions regarding the open position, a person will be able to stand out in the minds of the hiring authorities and elevate themselves above the rest of the applicants.

Be Confident, Not Cocky

The last major habit that people searching for a new job should avoid is really two, or rather a double edge sword of ineffectiveness in job hunting with one bad habit on either end of the spectrum. Those two bad habits that are connected yet opposite each other are acting too informal in the presence of the hiring manager and acting too arrogant in the same situation.

By swinging one way or the other in either appearing too relaxed and unprofessional or too cocky and arrogant, a person will immediately put off the person doing the interview by their conflicting personalities. Avoiding bad habits like these and others will greatly increase the ability of a job seeker to find the employment they desire.

Surviving Unemployment

The Recession may be on its way out, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t finding themselves unemployed every day in America. With so many people in the country, it’s hard not for one or two people to be laid off every day. It’s an unfortunate truth, but it’s how the business world works.

For those that recently found themselves unemployed, the following are a few good tips to help you survive unemployment.

Check Your Budget

First, reevaluate your current budget. Take an assessment of all of your assets. This means checking into your savings accounts, security bonds, stocks, gold, etc. What assets do you have available to you right now?
Once you’ve counted up the assets currently available, figure out how long those assets could last you without the help of a steady income. With the amount you have available, how long could you survive? One month? Three? Maybe a whole year? This is your threshold of survival.
After you’ve figured out how long you could last, take a look at your expenses. What are you currently spending money on that isn’t absolutely necessary? Are you paying for cable? You eat out every day? Identify the expenses that are more for comfort and convenience rather than of necessity and commit to cut them. Watch normal TV and movies instead. Take lunch with you and cook all of your meals. Although these may not seem like “large” financial commitments, they are sufficient to make a difference over several months. You may even see your threshold of survival increase by a few months, buying you more time to job search if nothing has come up.
Make a new financial plan to get you through the coming months of difficulty.

Find Work

Second, find work. Even if you can no more than secure a job at McDonald’s flipping burgers, find some form of income to help you get through this difficult time. If it’s not your dream job, then consider just working part-time, that way you can continue to apply for jobs in the morning and work in the afternoons (or vice-versa). Just because it’s not a career job doesn’t mean it can’t help you supplement income until you can get your career job. Many of those part-time positions can be quit at a moment’s notice. You may burn a bridge with the company, but you’ll be back in a better career job again.

Supplement Your Income

Third, another option to supplement income is to sell a hobby or skill. There’s a way to make money with almost anything you like to do on the side. The key is to find out how to do it. Avid bloggers can open up their blog to advertisements or by placing links to affiliate programs. Another great way to make some fast money is by joining referral programs where you can make money by simply referring your friends and families to services they already need. Garage junkies can often help with minor vehicle repairs. Math teachers can tutor. Marathoners can become personal trainers. There’s something you’re doing that could be a source of income for the time being. The trick is finding a creative way to sell it and spreading the news.

Stay Disciplined

Fourth, discipline your free time. It’s easy to get into a comfortable habit of getting up late and making a half-hearted effort to look for a job. Too many people have fallen into that kind of unemployment. Set a schedule for yourself. For example, from 8-12 every day, be dressed and applying to jobs. Take lunch between 12 and 1. From 1-5 make phone calls and personal visits to employers. Keep to a schedule. You’ll (1) find work faster, (2) keep up your work ethic, and (3) stave off depression that comes with unemployment.

Enjoy the Process

Fifth and finally, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Stay sane during this time. Find free ways to feel fulfilled and enjoy life. You could volunteer at a hospital, pursue a bucket-list item (like run a marathon), or get a library card. There are a ton of free activities to occupy your time. Find those opportunities and take advantage of them. You’ll save money and keep your mind clear. Not to mention that if you’re living a happier life, you’ll make a better impression on potential employers when applying for jobs.
Unemployment can affect anyone at any time. It’s not something that anyone but professors with tenure is truly safe from. Survival is possible. The key is just knowing what to do should the time every come for you. Be prepared to reevaluate what you spend your money on. Reevaluate and set a new budget. Pick up a side job so that you have at least a small portion of income coming in. You never know how many days this can buy you. In addition, sell a talent, stick to a schedule, and find ways to have fun. You’ll make it through.

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