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Archive for August, 2006

Signing bonuses were offer letter staples before you started college.  Then came 9/11 and the following recession, and starting bonuses became more and more rare.

Fortunately, just in time for graduation, signing bonuses are starting to creep back into compensation packages – but don’t get greedy just yet.  The decision to offer a sign-on bonus often boils down to supply and demand.  Working in a hot industry or an in-demand position (think nursing) can boost a candidate’s likelihood of getting a bonus upfront. 

To improve your chances of pocketing a signing bonus, heed the following tips:

1. Know what to expect.
Research the company and your industry to see whether your position or company frequently awards hiring bonuses. The Internet, industry contacts and current workers at your future employer are valuable sources of information.

2. Delay the money talk until after you get an offer.

Wait until you have a written job offer before negotiating a sign-on bonus. Asking too early could make you appear difficult or greedy.

3. Be upfront.
Employers are more likely to offer a sign-on bonus if accepting the offer would cause a candidate financial hardship. If you would have to forgo your year-end bonus or triple your commuting costs, say so.

4. Make sure you understand the terms.

Employers are increasingly tying a longevity clause to hiring bonuses. Find out if you will need to pay back part or all of the signing bonus if you leave before a specified period of time.


5. Remember that a signing bonus is a one-time deal.

If a company is offering a salary that seems too low, a signing bonus will only make up the difference for one year. Negotiating a more reasonable salary will have a long-term impact.

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Move over, freshman 15:  Your waistline worries won’t end after graduation.  Forty-six percent of workers say they have gained weight since starting their current jobs, according to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey.  One-in-ten workers say they are at least 10 pounds heavier, and one-in-ten say they’ve packed on at least 20 pounds.

To prevent getting pudgy when you start your nine-to-five, here are a few tips:

  • Don’t be lazy.  Instead of circling around the lot looking for the closest parking spot, park as far away as possible to log some walking time.  If you commute by train or bus, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way.

  • Brown bag it.  Instead of eating out, pack a lunch.  You’ll lessen the strain and your waistband and your wallet.

  • Snack smart.  Skip the vending machines and pack healthier snacks like crackers or carrot sticks.

  • Just say no.  With dozens of birthdays, engagement celebrations, baby showers and the like, you will be offered plenty of cake, cookies and other goodies.  You don’t have to indulge every time.

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Still looking for a job?  Try out these tips to become a savvier job seeker:

Get Motivated. While some people may look at the prospect of finding a new job as similar to getting a root canal — without anesthesia — job change is a fact of life. So get over it and get moving.

Determine What You Really Want… Besides a Bigger Paycheck. You need to sit down and identify what it is you do particularly well and what you truly enjoy. This will help lead you to a targeted market of potential employers.

Revamp That Résumé. Companies are looking for tangible skills and talents from their job candidates. Your résumé must show measurable successes, such as increased profitability or departmental savings.

Shift the Focus. Potential employers are interested in more than merely a litany of past companies and titles on your résumé. The fact that you are organized, persuasive and an excellent manager may best be exhibited by that successful community fundraiser you volunteered to head up.

Network. Looking for a job without contacting former colleagues and current business contacts is like setting up Internet access strictly for e-mail services — you’re excluding an entire body of useful information that could help you in your search.

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Want a job that pays more than $50,000 in salary alone straight out of college?  You’d better enroll in some math or engineering classes.  Students who major in numbers-based fields can yield starting salaries $25,000 higher than their liberal arts counterparts, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The following are the 10 jobs offering the highest average starting salaries, according to NACE data:

1.  Investment banking (sales and trading) – $56,534

2.  Chemical process engineering – $55,405

3.  Hardware design and development – $54,804

4.  Software design and development – $53,592

5.  Production engineering – $53,242

6.  Systems engineering – $52,486

7.  Research and development engineering – $51,927

8.  Investment banking (corporate finance) – $51,436

9.  Manufacturing/industrial engineering – $51,342

10. Systems analysis and design – $51,167

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