Tips for Job Hunters

If you’ve ever had to look for a job you know that it can be a rough task sometimes.  It either seems like no one is hiring for the type of work you are looking for, or people are hiring, but no one is hiring you.  Job hunting can be time consuming and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are some tips for a smoother and more efficient job hunt.

Polish Your Resume

First things first, make sure your resume is up-to-date and polished.  With all the technology available now, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your resume is tailored to the specific job you are applying for.  If you are submitting an online job application, using keywords that specifically apply to the job description will help you get past the first round of automatic filters that it goes through before someone actually reads it.  If you have a lot of things to put on your resume, consider shrinking it down to the things you think will make the most impact for this specific job you are applying for.  If you are applying for several different types of jobs, your resume could look slightly different for each one depending on what kind of job it is.

Google Yourself

The next thing you want to consider is how you appear online to someone who has never met you.  You do this by simply running a Google search on yourself.  See if you look like someone you would want to hire from your pictures, social media posts, and news articles.  If you don’t necessarily like what you see, remove those items or set your social media profiles to private.  You can be assured most employers looking to hire are going to be stalking candidates online, so it’s best to get ahead of the game.

Network, Network, Network

Networking is vitally important in a job search.  The old saying, “It’s all about who you know,” is absolutely correct.  It’s always been this way, but now there are more tools for job hunters to take advantage of when it comes to networking.  Social media is a big tool for networking.  Simply make social posts announcing that you are looking for a job, tell what kind of job and where you are looking and more than likely, someone will give you a contact they know.  

Additionally, there are also online places where recruiters go to specifically look for new hires.  Job sites like Indeed.com, ZipRecruiter, Simply Hired, Monster, Career Builder, Mighty Recruiter, and even LinkedIn are sites where you can search available jobs in your area of interest and even apply online for some of them.  Employers will scour these sites looking for promising candidates, so it is important to make sure that you are looking at them too.

Another way to network is just by good old fashioned cold calling.  Call up a place you would like to work and question them about their job openings and employees.  Get to know someone in the organization that will vouch for you if a job becomes available and you apply.  Usually, if you know someone on the inside, your chances of getting hired improve.

Always Follow Up

When you send a cover letter and resume and don’t hear back within a week or so, follow up with the company.  Don’t be shy to contact them. It will show that you care about the position and that you take initiative.  If the position has been filled or they aren’t interested, they will let you know.  It’s important to keep track of where you applied and how long it’s been since you submitted your application so you can remember to follow up.  Also, if you get an interview, follow up the next day with a thank you note.  It can be an email or a written note, but leave them with a good taste in their mouth by being polite and thanking them for their time.

Finding a great job takes being proactive and putting yourself out there.  It can be tough, but it’s well worth the reward of landing a great job.  So, next time you are on a job hunt, try out some of these basic tips and see if they can help you find your dream job.

 

5 Ways to Get Started Eliminating Debt


For some people, debt can be a very big burden.  They get to a point where they feel like no matter what they do, they can’t get out.  So many people carry around this burden, paying only the minimum payment, and they don’t know how to get ahead enough to get the ball rolling on their debt situation.  But there is good news!  With a little bit of planning and a whole lot of self-discipline, you can get out of your debt.  Here’s five steps to take to start paying off debt quicker.

Stop the Debt

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the first step to getting out of debt is to stop adding to the debt.  For some people, this may be easier said than done.  A lot of people are in debt because they use credit cards or personal loans to make ends meet when their paychecks fail to do so.  They have more expenses than money, so they just get by on credit.  If this is your situation, you are going to to have to start living below your means.  Cut out as much expenses as you can to get your expenses to where you can cover them with your income, and stop adding to your debt.

Other people might live beyond their means, not out of necessity, but because they like extra things or experiences.  If this is your situation, just stop spending the extra money.  If you are truly serious about getting out of debt, you have to stop adding to it.  Just stick to this rule: if you have to charge it on credit, you can’t afford it.

Establish a Budget

Now that you have stopped adding to your debt, it’s time to take a look at your finances.  Setting up a budget and sticking to it will be your key to debt elimination.  Budgeting doesn’t have to be a complicated process, just write down your income and subtract your expenses from it.  If you find that you don’t have enough at the end, it’s time to start figuring out how to take out some expenses until you reach a total you can work with.  Make sure to schedule some extra money towards debt repayment in your budget if you can.  Sure, you can pay the minimum payments and still get out of debt, but the process will take a lot longer than if you were to find room to schedule extra payments toward debt in your budget.

Snowball It

If you’ve heard of Dave Ramsey then you know what the debt snowball method is.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, a debt snowball is where you write down your debts starting with the smallest amount and going up to the largest.  Once you have assessed the totals of all of your debts, you work toward paying the smallest off as quick as possible.  In the process of paying off that debt, you are still paying off the minimum payment on the other debts.  So then, when that debt is paid off, you add what you were paying on that previous debt to the next one along with the minimum payment you’ve been paying.  So with each larger debt, you are tacking on the previous payment amount plus the minimum on that debt.  By the time you reach your larger debt, you are paying way more than the minimum amount, thus you will pay off your debt faster.  It’s a very simple way to get a hold of your debt without actually spending extra money out of your budget.

Windfalls

A “windfall” is a term used for a time when you may come into an unexpected or unplanned amount of money.  Say you get a large income tax refund, a settlement from a will, or even just finding a $20 bill on the street.  Anytime you get some money that you weren’t planning for in your budget counts as a windfall.  The most tempting thing to do with a windfall is treat yourself to something fun.  A vacation, a special meal out, or an item you may not normally buy yourself–that’s what most people like to do with the extra money. But what if you put all that extra money towards your debt repayment plan?  Sure, it’s boring now, but think about how good it will feel to get out of your debt you’ve been working so hard on.  A windfall, even a small one, can help you get to your goal faster by speeding up the debt snowball.

Making Extra Income

If windfalls aren’t really in your immediate future, the next best way to speed up the debt repayment process is to make a little extra money.  This can happen in many different ways.  If you are hard core, you can get a part-time job to make extra.  If time doesn’t allow that, then look at what you have to work with.  Can you de-clutter your home and sell the extra clothes, toys or furniture you no longer need?  Do you have any special skills or talents that you could use to work a little from home to get some extra money?  If you play a musical instrument you could teach lessons.  You could tutor kids after school, become a virtual assistant or do data entry from home, or even start your own photography business.  Whatever your hobbies or passions are, see if you can turn them into a way to make a little money on the side.  Take all this extra income and put it all on your debt.  When you are debt free, then you can assess the situation and see if you want to continue your money making efforts for fun or if you want to call it a day on your side hustle.

These tips are just a few of the things you can do to get going on your debt repayment plan. If you can find ways to pay more than the minimum payment and stay self-disciplined enough to stick to the budget and the pay-off plan, you will be out of debt in no time.  

5 Benefits of Being a Member of WCU

What are the benefits of being a member of a credit union?  Many people don’t understand the advantage being a member of a credit union has over being a customer at a bank.  We’ve written about the differences between banks and credit unions before, but today we are going to highlight 5 benefits of being a member of WCU.

Eager to Please

When you join a credit union, you become a member and a shareholder.  This means that you are co-owners with all the other members of the credit union.  Like any other business, credit unions want to please their shareholders.  This means they are more willing to work with you on issues you may have, and you will find that your credit union has friendlier policies than those of bank.  It’s a democracy, where you have a say.  

Branches, Branches Everywhere

Who says that your small community credit union isn’t accessible everywhere?  Co-op Shared Branching gives you nearly 5,000 branches and over 2,000 self-service locations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and military bases around the globe. You are never far from your money when you need it. Whether face-to-face, over the phone, or self-service, there are full-service locations and a toll-free member service center number you can call that have you covered as an extension of your credit union. Simply have your credit union name, account number, and government ID, and you’ll have access to your accounts.  It’s that simple!

Rates and Fees That Are Different

WCU, like all credit unions, are not-for-profit.  That means whenever a profit is made, it is passed down to all the members of the credit union.  This usually takes the form of lower interest rates on loans, lower service fees, and higher deposit interest rates.  We offer some of the lowest rates you can find around our area on car loans, starting at just 2.0%!  You will notice that your checking, savings, retirement funds, and other accounts will make a little more in accrued interest than the typical bank account.  These are our profits being given back to you! We like to make life a little easier on our members if at all possible, and this is just one benefit that comes with your membership.

Free ATMS

Being a credit union member also gives you access to thousands of free ATM’s in the United States.  Through our credit union network, you can safely use any of the participating ATM’s all over the country for free.  So no matter where you go, there will be no pesky ATM fees following closely behind.  To find an ATM near you, go to the WCU homepage and click “Find an ATM” at the top of the page.  

Rewards for All

Another fun benefit for credit union members is the “I love My Credit Union Rewards Program”.  It gives you special discounts on goods and services just for being a Credit Union Member.  Log on to their site, lovemycreditunion.org, with your email and receive special promotions and coupon codes for all sorts of stores and businesses.  A little discount never hurt anyone, and you have access to a whole database full of them!

So, as you can see, being a member of WCU certainly has its benefits.  Credit unions offer a lot more than just a place to hold your money.  If you let them, they will become part of your community and a name you can trust.

5 Things Your Kids Should Know About Cyber Security

Kids today use the internet for everything, and why wouldn’t they?  There is information for every subject known to man at their fingertips!  While it’s wonderful that the younger generations now have access to so much knowledge; it doesn’t come without risks to their security.  

Most adults know that there are certain rules of the online world that need to be taken seriously, but how do you teach your kids these rules in ways they understand?  Here are just a few tips about cyber security that your kids need to know to stay safe online.

Sharing Isn’t Always Caring

The first rule of thumb about online safety kids need to know is to never share your passwords with anyone.  Kids like to talk, and if they don’t know that sharing passwords with their friends is not smart, that’s exactly what they are going to do.  It’s important to teach your kids that passwords are private and meant to be kept to yourself.  Additionally, it’s just as important to teach them how to set up a unique password that no one can guess.  Also, enforce the rule of changing passwords every few months so that it will form a habit that will hopefully stick with them for their entire lives.

Keep Your Devices Close

Most kids are notorious for leaving things behind and forgetting their belongings.  It’s crucial to teach your kids to be extra careful not to leave their phones, tablets, or other mobile devices out in public unattended.  Malicious people are always on the lookout to steal devices because when they get one, they have unlimited access to personal information.  Teach your kids the importance of keeping their mobile device in a secure place.

Keep Social Media in Check

Social Media outlets can be great for many things, but only if they can be used with responsibility.  Many social media platforms don’t let kids under the age of 13 have an account, but some parents give permission to younger children anyway.  The major social media concerns for kids usually revolve around some sort of bullying or stalking.  It’s important to teach your kids not to accept friend requests or followers if you don’t personally know them.  Also, as a parent keep a close check on all your child’s accounts by logging into them every few days.  Set their privacy settings on all of their accounts to the highest possible.  

Another tip is to turn off the locations on all their devices so people can’t track them.  Likewise, teach them not to give out their location when they are posting so people can’t follow them.  Kids don’t realize the dangers of social media, they just see it as a fun way to interact with people.  It’s a crazy world out there–help keep them safe by teaching them the dangers of social media.

Know What You Are Clicking

We’ve talked about “phishing” scams on email before, but do your kids know what that means?  Teach them not to click every link that comes through their email or social media page.  Show them the importance of knowing where and who the link came from before clicking.  Randomly clicking unknown links can open your child (and you!) up to a whole world of leaked personal information and possibly a stolen identity.  It’s best to be aware of emails that sound scam-my or too good to be true.

Being Kind Will Get You Far

As with anything in life, being a good steward, being kind, and being respectful will get you far.  The same is true for the online world.  Teach your kids to treat others with respect online by not participating in cyber bullying or any other sort of negative post.  Show them how to be very, very selective with what they post on their personal social media channels, because what they put out on the internet lasts forever.

These tips are just a few of the ways to get the online safety conversation started with your kids and teens. If you teach them these few basic tips, they will be set up to continue practicing online safety when they become adults.  

Cyber Security Tips for Your Mobile Devices

Over the past few weeks we have talked about ways to keep your computer safe from cyber attacks.  So what about your mobile devices?  In the past couple of years, cyber security threats have majorly increased in smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.  Just like your computer, you have to take certain security measures to keep safe online.  Here are some ways to make sure your mobile devices stay on top of the security game.

Encrypt Everything

If someone stole your smartphone, would they be able to download all the contents?  If your answer is yes, that means you need to use your encryption features to keep your identity safe.  Encrypting the contents will ensure that your files and information can’t be opened, even if someone illegally obtained them.  Encrypting your mobile devices can be as simple as going to your settings and enabling a password that you will enter every time you power on your device.  It keeps your identity safe, and it only takes a few minutes to activate.  

Stay On Top of Your Software

Staying on top of software updates to your mobile devices can get annoying, but that minor annoyance is worth knowing you are doing all you can to stay secure online.  When you get a software update, don’t delay in installing it.  When you install it, not only are you getting up-to-date features from your installed apps, but you are getting all the newest security features that are available.  Keeping up-to-date will help keep you safe.

Put It on Lock-down

Similar to encrypting your the contents of your device, you want to make sure you have a lock screen activated.  Usually smartphones and tablets have several different ways of providing this feature such as pass-codes, pattern codes, fingerprint recognition and even facial recognition.  It’s important to enable this feature, especially if you are prone to leaving your devices out in the open where anyone could get to them.  

Download Carefully

In these times we live in there is literally an app for almost anything you can think of.  While it is enticing to want to download tons of apps, be sure you know where it comes from before you install it.  Apps from unknown sources can have viruses built in them that can harm your device and steal your information.  Be sure you read about the apps and make sure they come from a reputable source before you download.

Connect Wisely

Just as we talked about with your computers, don’t connect your mobile devices to public Wi-Fi if you can help it.  Public Wi-Fi is not secure, and if you have your phone or tablet connected, your information is easily accessible to anyone who can get it.  If you need to use public Wi-Fi, at least don’t use your email or online banking while you are connected.

It’s important to take the same precautions with your phone or tablet as you would with your computer when it comes to cyber security.  Even though it may seem like overkill sometimes, you will be better off in the long run with these safety tips.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry!