Austin For Your Next Move

Well, it seems that whatever you’re looking for in a city, Austin not only has it, but Austin has it the best! Yes, if you are searching for a place with good business opportunities, lots of sustainable living practices, career opportunities or just a great place to live, then Austin is the declared winner.

Recently, Austin has been winning so many awards for so many different attributes that it seems it could be used as a role model for other cities. On top of all these brilliant awards, Austin has been told that the real estate market is also amongst the top markets all across USA.

This real estate news was projected by P.M.I. (Private Mortgage Insurance Co.) who quoted ten US cities as having less than a one percent chance of declining realty prices in the next eighteen months. The list was compiled to help PMI decide which areas would likely be bad housing risks for their mortgage insurance business. Ten cities tied for top place and Austin was one of them.

This projection is backed up by actual statistics published by First American Loan Performance who state that the average Austin home listed at 8% more, and sold for 5% more, than at this time last year.

It is not surprising that Austin was voted ‘Greenest City in America’ by MSN, as the city has been making genuine attempts to become ‘greener’. The ‘Green Building Program’ developed and watched over by Austin Energy is one example of this.

The largest (so far) retail outlet in the Catellus Development Group’s new Mueller redevelopment has implemented the recommended guidelines. The 141,000 square foot Home Depot is the first Home Depot to be built that has followed a specific ‘green’ guide.

Austin’s foresight in having these guidelines put in place has deservedly earned it the title of ‘Greenest City’. To their credit, Home Depot took up the challenge and is aiming for the three star rating from Austin Energy.

In terms of ‘Economic Vitality’, Moody’s Economy awarded the #1 spot in their index to Austin and they chose from 400 different American cities.

From a business viewpoint, just last month, Austin ranked #1 in the ‘The Best Places for Business and Careers’ by Forbes magazine. However, this has interesting implications for the average family that may be thinking of moving to Austin.

When Forbes magazine designed their survey, they realized that other factors come into play for businesses looking to re-locate. Many of them are social factors. To this end, Forbes magazine took into account a broad selection of indicators.

After including the usual statistics about the price of office space, labor, energy and taxes, they looked into the social side of Austin. Rankings were taken on crime rates, net migration and housing costs as well as the quality of the pool of labor.

The fact that Austin ranked as #1 must mean that it is simply a great place to live. Money Magazine conducted research into the ‘Best Big City’ in which to live; surprisingly, Austin came in second place – do you think it was a typing error?

What The Sequester REALLY Means For Your Job Search (And 7 Tips On What You Can Do About It)

A recent Gallup poll* states that 51% of Americans don’t know enough about the sequester to judge if it’s a good or bad thing for the economy or for themselves personally. I tend to take a more negative view. As a layperson, and a veteran resume writer, I hear from many people who feel the effects of the sequester and believe it’s a bad thing, even if those changes have not already taken place in society. It’s like waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop: You know something bad is about to happen, you just don’t know when.

This article spells out in layperson’s terms what the sequester actually is and how it affects you as a job seeker.

By definition, the sequester is a series of automatic spending cuts by the federal government that take place across the board. Some cuts will be to the military and defense, while some will be for “discretionary” or social programs such as Medicaid and Social Security. These cuts are designed to reign in the ballooning federal deficit (now at approximately $16 trillion).

The problem: Congressional Republicans and Democrats (who else?) cannot agree on how to reduce the deficit. Democrats generally want tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations closed in order to raise revenue, while Republicans generally want to “reform entitlements,” which really means that cuts to social safety net programs such as Social Security and Medicaid will take place.

Ironically, the sequester was never supposed to happen. President Obama signed it into law under the guise that the cuts would be so painful and catastrophic that Congress would never let it happen.

So much for good planning.

These conflicting ideas of how to control and reduce the deficit have kept the American government operating on a “crisis-by-crisis” basis for a while now.

It has made the best of us nervous, and even those of us employed in “good” jobs worried about the see-saw effect, weighted down by the uncertainty in governmental priorities and diligently wondering what it will take to finally get the United States on a solid road to financial recovery.

Well, you can’t control politics and you certainly can’t control the economy, but we feel there are things you can do to maintain your sanity in an insecure job hunter’s market.

We already know it’s a buyer’s market when it comes to getting a job these days, but these are some keys you can control in order to put the odds in your favor.

1) Stay focused. As much as possible, tune out the negative noise. After a while, it just all seems to blend in to the background, and pretty soon you just feel it’s all bad… Stay focused. Remain aware of the facts, of course, about the economy, the job market and factors affecting it, but remain focused on your job search even more so.

2) Have a plan. It seems obvious, but nothing beats the job search blues when dark clouds are all around you, like having a job search plan. Know what types of jobs you’re going for. Are you in marketing or sales? Technology or business? Know who you are in relation to the jobs that are out there. Know your specific job titles and the industries that work well for you.

3) Stick with it. It’s so easy to get derailed when it seems like everyone you know is facing either a job loss or a reduction in hours. Be the example and stick with your plan. I believe as a job seeker, that if you’re not working, your full-time job, barring other circumstances, should be looking for work. That means “doing the doings.” The little things that we sometimes want to forget because times get hard and it gets discouraging. To help you out: Make a schedule of all the employers you’re supposed to follow up on each day. Make a list of promising opportunities that you see online and apply for them right away (within 24 hours if possible). Follow up appropriately after interviews to make sure you stand out in the right person’s mind. It’s these little things that will make the difference. It gives you accountability. It’ll also keep your mind off the negativity.

4) If you’re a federal worker, prepare for possible furlough days. They are scheduled to happen in the upcoming months, but make a plan now. That means, for example, rather than stay home on furlough days, use that time to actually go for interviews, rewrite that resume or improve your computer skills (especially if you’re a worker over 50 or someone who isn’t comfortable with technology that’s commonly used in your field.)

5) Keep learning. As this economy switches from an information age to a knowledge-based workplace, keep your skills fresh. That means taking that class you might have been putting off, learning that new skill that all the whipper-snappers in your industry know. If you’re stuck on how to get there, here’s a link to some free classes you can take at the world’s largest and best universities

6) Use (or create) your support network. This is perhaps the best of ALL keys available to you to get ahead in this economy. Use the power of the network. Need babysitting on Thursday in order to go job hunting? Ask a trusted friend, family member or neighbor. Car in disrepair and need to get to work on time? Find folks in your neighborhood or from your job with whom you can carpool and save on gas and expenses together. Simply put, trade favors and services with people you know and trust to make the best of limited resources. Whatever you lack, find others to fill in the gap so you can give and get what you need to make your income stretch. Besides being a creative and wise way to handle finances and life’s challenges, it’s also an excellent way to make potential job contacts.

7) Research industries that are actually hiring and see how you can transfer your skills there if need be. Industries such as “sin” jobs (alcohol, tobacco, gambling), entertainment, DIY (think Home Depot), education, certain areas of healthcare and anything that takes advantage of the economy, such as pawn/loan/consignment will often have more openings than others.

This certainly is not an exhaustive list, but by keeping your mind focused on the essentials and the things you can control, you’ll find you’ll have more presence and peace of mind to weather the current storm and continue forward as you reach toward your job search goals.

Is Going to Law School Still Worth the Cost?

Attending law school is generally believed to be a very wise investment. While the experience itself can be extremely costly, students are generally able to pay off their loans because of the lucrativeness of their career. Furthermore, it is argued that the lessons one learns in law school are invaluable, because they change the way one thinks and sees the world. However, several articles have been published in major media outlets since the onset of the recent economic depression that depict a different story. Lawyers are not immune to the high unemployment rate, and many are finding that they are unable to earn enough money to pay off their loans.

Two recently published articles depict the effects of the unemployment rate on those who have chosen law as a career route. Both articles come to the conclusion that aiming to become a lawyer may no longer be the investment it once was, and applying to law school might not be the wisest choice. An article on Slate.com titled “A Case of Supply v. Demand” depicts the gloomy situation for recent graduates, who face too much competition for too few jobs. The article cites Richard Matasar, the dean of New York Law School, who claims that students “cannot earn enough income after graduation to support the debt they incur.” The article concludes that the situation will only be resolved if fewer students attend law school, which ultimately will help supply to meet demand.

Similarly, The New York Times’ “Is Law School a Losing Game?” addresses the contradiction that, while many reports show the bleak job market for new lawyers, law schools continue to claim that their graduates have no problem finding work. The article describes that this contradiction occurs because these schools are not only including jobs that are specifically law-oriented in their statistics, but rather, they are including any type of employment. According to the article, this could include “waiting tables at Applebees” or “stocking aisles at Home Depot.” Clearly, these jobs make it nearly impossible for students to pay back the hefty loans they have incurred after attending law school.

These and other similar articles beg the question: if law school is an unreliable investment for recent college graduates, then what is left to do? Is medical school the only other equally prestigious option? Or is the world changing and our studies should change to meet the new economic setting? What are other ways to wisely invest one’s time after graduating college? What do you think?

The Best Car Insurance Rates

If your car insurance is due for renewal and you are considering buying another policy then this article will provide you with important facts that you should know about. Car insurance policies are getting increasingly expensive and you should do all that you can to reduce your costs. How much you have to pay for your car insurance is dictated by a variety of factors as they apply to you and your vehicle.

In this article we will examine coverage limits, your age, gender and marital status, your location and insuring other household members. All of these factors will have a great influence on how much you will have to pay for your policy.

Coverage limits are generally dictated by the price that you are willing to pay for your insurance. A higher level of coverage will generally result in higher premiums. The best way to find a good value policy is to comparison shop. Nowadays it is generally accepted that the best way to do this is by using a car insurance comparison website.

Your age, gender and marital status will have a great effect on the auto insurance rates that you are offered. Insurers rate drivers using a variety of criteria, if you are a young single male driver you will usually have to pay higher rates. If you are a middle-aged female married driver then your rates will be lower. Insurers calculate the best car insurance rates for you by comparing levels of risk. Those groups which are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident have to pay correspondingly higher rates.

Location plays an important part in deciding how much your premiums will cost. Drivers who live in an urban environment will usually pay more than those from a rural area. This is because drivers who live in cities and heavily populated areas are more likely to be involved in an accident, or to have their car stolen or vandalized. Insurers generally offer better rates if you’re able to demonstrate that you keep your vehicle in a garage at night. You may also be able to improve the security arrangements of your automobile by fitting an alarm, immobilizer and steering wheel lock.

Insuring other household members will have an influence on the cost of your policy and the best car insurance rates that you offered. If you have teenage family members living with you and they are added to your policy, then your costs will increase. This may still work out cheaper than if your teenage driver were to have a separate policy in their own name.

In conclusion, there are a variety of different factors which can affect your ability to be offered the best insurance rates. Some of these are coverage limits, how old you are, whether you are male or female and whether you are married or single. Your rates will also be affected by the area where you live and whether other household members are included in your policy.