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How To Calculate Your Tax Refund

February 2nd, 2012 · Leave A Comment

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Many years ago, when I first started this blog, I wrote a popular post about tax refunds. Since I posted about taxes earlier this week (and since most of you probably didn’t see it because the blog was young) I thought it would be worth pointing out again.

So if you’re expecting a tax refund, it turns out you can calculate exactly how much of a refund you’re going to get. For free.

There are several calculators that will do it all for you online. Just answer a series of questions, and have some recent pay stubs handy. Hopefully you’ll see some money coming your way:

efile 2012 Tax Calculator

Here’s one from H&R Block.

Here’s one from

And finally, here’s the offical IRS withholding calculator. If you don’t get your withholding right, you’re not going to get any refund! So use this tool to make sure you’ve got your W-4 set up properly!


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The Quickest Way To Get A Tax Refund

January 30th, 2012 · Leave A Comment

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quick tax returnsIt’s that time of year again, if you can believe it.

I just started working on my taxes this weekend, so I thought I’d do a bit of research for a nice worker/job-seeker friendly tax post.

It occurred to me that we’re all pining away for refunds aren’t we?

Did you know that 3/4ths of Americans get tax refunds every year? And the average refund is around $3000? That’s not chump change!

If you think you could do something useful with an extra few grand in your pocket, then you’re probably also wondering what might be the the fastest way to make that happen.

Well, once again, the IRS is pointing out that the quickest way to get your tax refund money is to choose direct deposit when you file. The IRS has been on this direct deposit kick for many years now. It saves them money. It saves trees. [Read more →]

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How To Print On Both Sides Of The Paper

January 16th, 2012 · Leave A Comment

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How To Print On Both Sides Of The PaperHere’s something that seems like a very plain vanilla job search trick, but it’s pretty useful if you don’t know how to do it.

When we print resumes on heavy resume paper for our clients, we will very often print on both sides of the paper. Thus, a 2-page resume can sit on one sheet of paper, front and back.

This weekend, I had a client ask if we used any sort of fancy printer to do it. She wanted to know if she could do this herself going forward. I said no. In fact, we use a very basic HP laser printer to do our printing, and I figure that a lot of modern printers can do what we do. So, if your printer is, say, less than 5 years old, you can print your resume on both sides of the paper as well.

Here’s how to do it:

How To Print Your Resume On Both Sides Of The Paper

Check and see if your printer handles “duplex printing.”

What is duplex printing? It’s the fancy term for… you guessed it… printing on both sides of the paper. If you have this feature, then the process is pretty straight forward and automated. [Read more →]

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How to Handle a Performance Review

January 9th, 2012 · 1 Comment

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Performance ReviewMost people look forward to job reviews about as much as they do a root canal. No matter how well you think you’re doing, there’s always the possibility that your supervisor will see things differently and call you on the carpet for your actions-or inactions. But there are steps you can take before, during, and after your evaluation to boost your career and actually help you look forward to reviews in the future.

Before the Review

Get on the boss’ calendar. While most people don’t enjoy a performance review, they are crucial to your career. So if your boss doesn’t conduct them on a regular basis (annually or semi-annually), the best thing you can do is ask for one. Why? First, you really do need to know what your supervisor thinks of your performance so that you can continue the good stuff and change the bad stuff. Unless you want to spend the rest of your career exactly where you are, that is. Second, reviews are typically when employers hand out raises and promotions. Not a bad incentive to schedule one today.

Come prepared. Sure, performance evaluations mostly consist of your manager telling you how she thinks you’re doing, but it should include some two-way communication. You should be prepared to share important information-such as your sales numbers, praise from satisfied clients, and projects you’ve spearheaded-so that you can lay out the positive contributions you’ve made. [Read more →]

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Is There A “Best” Time To Answer A Job Ad? Some Statistical Data…

January 4th, 2012 · 1 Comment

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For years people have asked me if there’s a “best” time to respond to a job ad? Should you watch the job boards like a hawk, obsessively refreshing so that you can get your resume in first? Or is there some other window of time when, statistically speaking, your resume is more likely to be seen?

I actually never knew the answer to that question.

In fact, I had never seen a good answer to that question anywhere, since I don’t think anyone had ever bothered to research it.

So, I did it myself. It took me 6 months to get 200 job seekers to share their real world results with me, but I finally have some solid, anecdotal data. And that data says: YES. If you want to play the odds, there are some times when you are more likely to hear back after responding to a job opening. In fact, there are four distinct times when the odds seem to be more in your favor.

I have all the data, including the chart above, my methodology, and some conclusions, all posted over at our sister-blog:

When Is The Best Time To Apply For A Job – Some Data

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The Number One Cover Letter Mistake

December 29th, 2011 · 1 Comment

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Last week, I told you what should be in a cover letter. That post was prompted by the realization that I had never really written much about cover letters on this blog. But it was also born out of some professional frustration I’ve been having lately. The long and short of it is, I’ve seen some terrible cover letters from clients lately.

The weird thing is, they’ve all been making the same fundamental cover letter error. So, I wanted to address the one mistake that everyone makes, leading to a plague of bad cover letters.

Don’t Try To Run The Interview In Your Cover Letter

The number one mistake people make when writing a cover letter is to make it way too long. Again, a cover letter should only be 3 paragraphs… 4 paragraphs tops. And it absolutely should be no more than one page. [Read more →]

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What Should Be In A Cover Letter

December 19th, 2011 · Leave A Comment

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what should be in a cover letter?Someone tweeted me the other day that I had plenty of content on this blog relating to resumes, but not much regarding cover letters. So, I’d like to change that this week.

Let’s start with the basics: what should be in a cover letter?

To be really honest with you, cover letters aren’t complicated things. In fact, in my opinion, when it comes to cover letters, simplicity is key. If there’s one mistake I see time and time again, it’s that people try to write a novel in their cover letters. That is simply not necessary. A cover letter is a little bit formality and a little bit promotional tool. All you really need to do is say who you are, say what you want, thank the reader, and get out.

The 6 Things That Should Be In Every Cover Letter

A cover letter only needs 6 main components: [Read more →]

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Are The Holidays A Good Time To Job Search?

December 13th, 2011 · 1 Comment

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Quite simply, the answer is: absolutely yes!

I write one of these posts almost every year around this time. I don’t know why it is, but people just assume that the holidays aren’t a good time for job searching. I guess it’s human nature: you’re putting things off until the new year, so you assume employers are too. I guess we’ve all worked at jobs where things really slowed down in the month of December, and not much work got done.

But I assure you that the Holidays ARE a good time for job searching. In fact, I often tell clients that December is one of the best months for job search.

So, this year, I’ll give you my top 3 reasons why I think that is:

  1. Less Competition. I’m telling you. We see it every year. The volume of clients dries up in December, only to more than triple a few weeks later in January. Simply put, January is the most popular month for people to look for a job. So, if you wait for January to start your job search, you’ll by facing twice, even triple the competition. Why not start now when other people are procrastinating.
  2. If You Wait, You Could Miss Out Entirely. I won’t deny that a lot of hiring gets done in January. New projects, new start, all of that. But that doesn’t mean that the interviewing process starts in January. Think about it, if a company needs a bunch of new people to start January 2nd, they’re probably lining up those people now, aren’t they? That means they’re probably advertising the positions now and interviewing for the positions before Christmas so that they’ll have people ready to go when the holidays end. If you’re assuming that the hiring might not be starting until next month, you could be right. But if you’re assuming the interviewing won’t be starting until then, you could very well be wrong.
  3. The Hiring May Be Seasonal, But The Foot In The Door Is Forever. If you think about it, there is quite a bit of hiring done FOR the holiday season. All those stores need extra hands. And there are numerous industries that have to ramp up with extra help to handle the holiday surge. But Brian, you say, those jobs are just temporary! That might be true. But even temporary jobs are an opportunity. If you get a temp job and show an employer how good you are, that’s the best “interview” there is for any full time work that might be coming up.

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How to Change Jobs

December 11th, 2011 · 2 Comments

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Step 1 – Detach Yourself from your Current Job

To move on and change jobs you need to detach yourself from your existing job. The more emotionally attached you are to your role, your environment and its traits the more difficult it is to move forward. This emotional baggage is like heavy weights on your shoulder which can paralyse you from making a decision.

The decision is either to remain in the job or to change jobs, a decision in between means you will continue to remain attached to the current job.

Before making the big decision to change jobs, it is recommended that you list the compelling reasons WHY you should change jobs (find the positive reasons) and why you should stay. If the reasons for the change outweighs the reasons against the change this should work as a tipping point to change jobs. HOW to change jobs will then miraculously follow.

Is it a combination of boredom, lack of challenge, working environment, stress, remuneration, misaligned values, other? Take some time to assess your current situation.

Step 2 – The Destination as a Motivation

If you have made up your mind to change jobs, you will now need to know or have an idea of where you want to go that is, a destination, without a destination there is no clear action.

Do some research on where and what your next job could be. If you can find and narrow in on a job or industry that interest, challenges and excites you, this will motivate you further to make that change into your desired career. [Read more →]

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How To Use Google Voice As A Job Search Tool

November 30th, 2011 · Leave A Comment

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In many ways, I think that Google Voice is the best job search tool to become available in the last several years. How can you use Google Voice to help find a job? I have 5 great ways over at my blog!

Google Voice Is The Best New Job Search Tool In Years! (

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