Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Presenting Yourself in a Resume

by M. J. Joachim
Resumes are documents that represent the people behind them. Creating a resume that depicts an accurate portrayal of yourself when making your own resume is vital. You can use your resume to showcase confidence, drive and skills. More importantly, you can set yourself apart with your resume, giving you more opportunity to be noticed.

Be Specific When Listing Your Past Job History
Instead of generalizing your background in education, provide clear detail about what you did, including your exact job description. For example, you could list yourself as a teacher, or you can list yourself as a child development specialist for special education students. Details should be listed right in the title, and not delegated to your job description after the fact.

Keep Your Resume Focused
Use your resume to prove your ability to be detail oriented. Prospective employers will not take the time to sift through a bunch of job descriptions and words that don’t apply to the position you are seeking. Their first impression needs to be one that shows you know what they want and can easily deliver it.

Sell Your Skills in Your Resume
This is your opportunity to shine. You have one or two pages to let someone see you on paper. Make it count by using your bragging rights. You’ve earned them. All those accomplishments and awards need to be on display right there in your resume, especially if they match the job description you are applying for.

Study the Marketplace and Employers
Be knowledgeable about the jobs you are applying for. Research company histories, retail competitors, who else is applying for the same jobs, financial status, and everything else you can discover. Use this information to personalize your resume. You may even find out a prospective employer isn’t really a prospect for you in this process. Always do your homework to learn which companies are the best to work for.

Think Outside the Box
Employers want people who can generate new ideas and help their businesses grow. They need employees who are willing to brainstorm and try to make a difference. Most companies realize that for every ten ideas, only one will go the distance. Show your prospective bosses that you bring new ideas and energy to their firm. Let them know that you’re willing to work hard and try new things that will set them apart in the corporate world.

Develop an Active, Accomplishment Driven Image of Yourself
Write your resume in the present tense, showing that you strive for results now, not in the past. Energize your resume with relevant keywords that provide a sense of urgency to prospective employers, creating a defined sense of loss if they push your resume aside.

When you write your resume, be honest and bold about who you are. Avoid being “in your face”, but don’t sell yourself short either. Keep your resume as brief and to the point as possible. This document is a tool that will help you get the interview. Save some surprises for your face to face meeting where you will close the deal with a smile and a handshake.

Resume writing isn’t always easy. Hopefully these tips will help you make your resume shine. Speaking of sharing accomplishments, a friend of mine started a new craft blog. I’m over there showing you how to make beaded ornaments today, so if you’d like to learn some fun crafts, Craftie Annie has some very neat ideas and tutorials. Please check it out and give her some support with her brand new blog.

Only a few more days until Christmas…ah the rush of the season! Here’s hoping we all find time to breathe and enjoy it this year.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: PlaySpace Job Search Platform, GNU Free Documentation License - I know it’s not in English, but the facial expressions say it all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

10 Ways to Have More Money at the End of the Month

by M. J. Joachim

With Christmas right around the corner, I thought this article might be helpful for a lot of us.

It's that time of the month again! You know the one, beginning, middle, or end, when money seems to be just a little bit less, and you still have to pay for so many things. We've all been there at one time or another. Too many times, we've wished for a few simple ideas that would make getting into the habit of saving just a bit more fun, or at least not so difficult.

Using the resources of experts and ordinary people, you now have access to some very easy money saving tips that can readily turn into good habits. Feel free to try as many of them as you like. Then watch those pennies multiply, giving you less stress, and more financial freedom.

1. Make lists of your necessities and wants. Your entire family could participate in this activity, allowing younger members to learn about saving before they end up paying bills. The trick is to be honest, and not complain about giving up things that no one really needs.

2. Create opportunities and incentives to save. Place change jars strategically around your home. Mark them with a line, and when the change reaches it, give your family a well deserved reward. Have a larger jar available to combine change from the little jars as they reach their mark. The money collected in this jar goes straight to your savings account.

3. Shop wisely. Check prices against amounts in containers. Too often you will save more by buying several smaller packages, as opposed to a larger one. Use coupons, and don't waste gas travelling across town to save a few pennies on a single loaf of bread. Instead, head to the bank and deposit the money you saved in your savings account.

4. Spend within your budget. If you don't have the money, don't spend it. Put away the credit cards. Read a book instead of renting a movie. Prepare a home cooked meal instead of eating out. It is far too easy to get into debt, and next to impossible to get out of it.

5. Divide your money into categories. Give each category a monthly allowance. Once it's spent, there is no more. Anything left over at the end of the month gets deposited into your savings account, or helps pay other bills.

6. Pay off your bills. Don't just make payments every month. Make a point to work at paying them off. Keep track of your success, and make adjustments when necessary. As each bill gets paid off, put the money you save into your savings account or toward another bill that needs to get paid off.

7. Set reasonable goals for yourself. If you know it's going to take 6 months to pay off your Visa card, don't try to do it in 3. This will only lead to frustration, and probably more spending. Of course, if you come into some extra cash that enables you to pay it off in 3 months, don't hesitate to do so.

8. Practice using less and saving the money. This might sound obvious, but it is a little harder than you might think. Saving money is exciting; a lot of people take their savings and immediately spend it on something else out of sheer joy. It is important to practice putting that money away. Avoid spending it at all costs, until saving it becomes second nature through practice.

9. Play money saving games. Turn saving money into a fun activity. Give each family member a piggy bank, and compete to see who fills theirs first. Get into the routine of playing "Put It Back" with your kids at the store. Practice math skills when making purchases, determining the best value for your money. These ideas will save you money, while teaching your children better spending habits.

10. Know your numbers. Request your credit report. Keep track of your taxes. Understand you bank and mortgage statements. Question things that don't make sense, and be responsible for where your money ends up. If you are paying too much interest on something, do the research to get a better deal. Take responsibility for the money you pay, and put aside your savings.

Spending money is easy. That's why so many of us think it is difficult to save. Yet, if we put as much effort into saving our hard earned dollars, as we do into spending them, it wouldn't be difficult at all. With a little practice and perseverance, we would all have a little more cash at the end of the month.

If you have some easy and fun money saving tips, please share them in the comments and join the discussion. It’s all in the name of being effectively human and helping each other live the best lives possible, after all.

Thanks so much for visiting, commenting and sharing my post today.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: U. S. Currency, PD-US

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Creative Process and How You Can Improve Yours

by M. J. Joachim
Jack did it, and so did Ronald McDonald. Wendy even came along with square hamburgers. Before we knew it, we were plagued with fast food franchises on just about every corner, until Starbucks decided coffee was in order. All it took was a little creative thinking to change the appearance of our world.

Once we used to casually walk down Main Street. Then we began rushing in our cars from place to place, until the gas prices caught up with us, of course. A few brave people dared to face the elements again, pulling out those two wheeled contraptions known as bicycles. Others opted to try their hand at public transportation. And finally, there were those who chose to work from home.

It wasn't genius that inspired Gates to develop Microsoft into a multi-billion dollar company. Nor can credit be given solely to Obama for being elected the first black president of the United States. Opportunity and willingness to achieve greatness by thinking outside the box came into play, not just through the efforts of one mastermind, but with the participation of a team ready to challenge the norm.

Creative thinking is often an individual activity, but creative genius requires finesse. You must be willing to not only think outside the box, but act accordingly, as if your ideas are already the reality. There are risks involved, sure. What great obstacle should be avoided for fear of a few complications? You must decide your course of action, and then challenge the norm, in an effort to discover something better, by thinking outside the box. This requires gathering your troops of supporters who will help you achieve the ultimate goal.

Limiting yourself is defeat, and stifling your creative genius is never an option. You were born for this moment, whether it's to introduce square burgers or fancy coffee, influence the age in which we live, or be an actor on the world stage. Your time has come, and with the help of your supporters, you too can achieve greatness by thinking outside the box.

So how do you achieve the ultimate success in whatever you were born to do? Therein is the simplicity of the answer. You see, without your perseverance, and willingness to spend countless hours practicing the task you need to do, you will never be able to truly appreciate the creative process of your own personal genius.

Creative thinking is the beginning of something bigger. It is the seed that needs to be planted and grown. You will be able to achieve personal and financial success, just like those who started fast food restaurants, became leaders in the age of technology, and world leaders voted into office, if you take the time to practice your goals, join forces with your team, and think outside the limits of your own box.

Here’s to the creative genius in all of us!

Thanks so much for visiting, commenting and sharing this post today!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Creation of Abstract Mural, LaurMG, CCA Attribution - Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Colon Cancer Prevention and Screening

by M. J. Joachim

Colon cancer is a silent killer, rarely diagnosed in its early stages. Screening is important, but not as important as being aware of your own physical body. You know yourself better than any doctor, and it is up to you to persist in getting tested and treated when you have warning signs that something is wrong. Just like women who are constantly encouraged to do self breast exams to avoid getting breast cancer, you must take note of your own personal bathroom habits and seek testing and treatment when things just aren't right.

I personally avoided getting colon cancer several years ago, after a few months of testing for other things. If I hadn't been so persistent, I might have never gone through the colonoscopy that found two precancerous polyps in my large intestine. But there they were, mutating and changing, while we were looking for other causes to my pain and symptoms. At the time of their removal, the doctor noted that they looked completely benign. A few days later, I received the call that they were precancerous and I was very lucky to have found them in time.

So what is the difference between benign, precancerous, and cancerous? How does it affect your symptoms? What do you need to do to decrease your own colon cancer chances? Benign polyps are not threatening in any way. They are extra tissue that causes no real health risks or problems. Precancerous polyps are tissue that is changing and mutating into what could become cancer if not removed. Polyps containing cells that have mutated into cancer can cause a lot of problems, especially if the cells multiply and invade other parts of the body.

My symptoms were easy to ignore and deny, as is the case with most people at risk of getting colon cancer. It started out as a persistent belly ache, the kind that tells you you're hungry, but when you eat, you feel like you want to get sick. As my eating habits changed, so did my bathroom habits. This was the reason I used to explain away my irritated colon for a couple of months. Still, something wasn't quite right, and I knew I needed to get thoroughly checked out.

I went to my doctor to discuss all of my symptoms. Honestly, I thought it might be a kidney stone that couldn't pass. The tests came back negative for kidney stones, but my pain and eating discomfort persisted. More tests were given, all of which came back negative too. I continued working with my doctor, asking lots of questions, and tracking symptoms. In the process, I learned more about my physical body than I was prepared to accept, but hey, it was worth it in the long run, right?

One of the easiest ways to decrease your chances of getting colon cancer is to eat a high fiber diet. This includes lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. A word of caution is in order though. While bran muffins contain a lot of fiber, depending on the recipe, you may be minimizing their effect, especially if they are loaded with unnecessary fats and sugars. It is better to eat natural, raw foods as opposed to prepared, processed foods when increasing your fiber intake.

Another way to decrease colon cancer is to go for regular health screenings. Hemoccult tests are done for this purpose. It's a simple three day process in which you take a chemically treated card home and lightly paste a small bit of personal waste in tiny windows for each day. The lab then tests the card for any signs of blood or abnormalities that indicate a need for follow-up care and treatment.

The easiest way to decrease your own colon cancer chances is to know your body and seek medical attention when things just aren't right. More often than not, it will be an easy fix. On those rare occasions when it's not, you'll be better off dealing with the problem in the earliest possible stages.

I hope this article inspires you to listen to your body and take good care of yourself. Health is something we often take for granted, until something goes wrong. Here’s to staying healthy everyone. Thanks so much for visiting, commenting and sharing my posts.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: National Cancer Institute, US Dept. of Health and Human Services, PD-US

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Homelessness, The Night Ministry in Chicago and A Reason to Care

by Debra R. Borys

There is no introduction I can give that will prepare you for what you are about to read. It is strong, powerful and real. It is the work of Debra R. Borys, author of Street Stories, a series that highlights the plight of homeless youth in a very raw and heart wrenching way. I wrote a post on my Writing Tips blog last week that discussed the need to be responsible with our writing and perform our duty with it accordingly. Today’s post is an excellent example of how this is done. Thank you so much for sharing this story with my audience, Debra.

Looking for a Reason by Debra R. Borys

Homelessness isn’t just a social issue. It’s a personal, ongoing, every day way of life for thousands of people of all ages, race, and circumstance. When I first started volunteering with The Night Ministry in Chicago, I had some vague notion in my head that I wanted to do something to help the homeless. What I found on the street, however, was personal relationships with men, women and children who touched my life more powerfully than I could touch theirs. People like Eric.

The reason is there in Eric's eyes. You can see it, too, if you look past the half moons like bruises against his jaundiced skin, past the watery sheen and dilated pupils of an addict. If you set aside prejudice and righteousness, suspend judgment, block out political arguments, you can see the same thing I do. A reason to care.

When I look into Eric's eyes I see him at five-years-old, eight maybe, ten, sitting in the front pew at church listening to his father preach. He would probably wear a white shirt, stiff collar slightly crooked, poking him in the ear. He is fidgety, as usual, drawing curlicues of blue ink snowballs in the margins of the bulletin with a pen from his mother's purse, the ballpoint rough against the textured hard cover of the hymn book.

I don't know how Eric grew from that boy into the young man he is today, ball cap low over his eyes, strands of dark hair escaping from the rubber band at the nape of his neck. His hands are shoved deep into his pockets because we have no gloves on the Night Ministry bus tonight. The snow has turned to dirty slush; the leather of his shoes have soaked it in, dust and salt and cinders mottle the toes, make white uneven marks along the heel.

I wonder what circumstances, what choices, led him to this corner of Chicago, selling his self respect for a short respite from reality. What little piece is missing, what part of his life went wrong that the ten year old boy drawing snowballs became a young adult shooting heroin? Unhealthy relationships? Child abuse? Problems at school? A reckless joyride that went out of control? Did his addiction start out slowly? Peer pressure. Pot. Drop some acid here, score some coke there. Pierce the vein and watch the poison pollute the blood flow. Oblivion.

I can tell you what I do know. His father is a minister and his mom teaches Sunday school. Last summer, his cousin got married. Someone in his family picked him up, got him a tux to wear, drove him to the wedding and reception, and brought him back ¬when the festivities finished. No mention of how they contacted him to tell him the wedding plans, or their apparent willingness to return the homeless Eric to the street corner to buy more dope.

He trusts women more than men and doesn't have a lot to say. His first visits to the bus were tentative: on and off again without making eye contact. Toothpaste, soap, a session with the nurse. Constantly watchful of the space around him. Now, if he stays long enough to sit down, he often drifts in and out, head nodding with fatigue and dope drowsiness.

One night he asked for clean socks. He'd just been in the hospital with hepatitis and had a cut on his foot that the nurse treated. We had no socks. The next day, I bought a package of thick, bright white stockings with gray toes and heels. The kind my sons like to wear. Since Eric didn't come to the bus the next time I worked, I gave the socks to the night minister for the Lakeview neighborhood and asked him to give them to Eric when he saw the boy.

A Saturday or two later, I was making coffee inside the bus when Eric came on board with another young man. He thanked me for the socks. His health was improving. He introduced me to the youth who'd come in with him. "This is my friend," he told the boy, leaning a little to tap my shoulder with his. "Yeah," I agreed, touching shoulders again. "Good friends."

Maybe the question I need to answer is not what went wrong, but what might go wrong. How long before the young boy's eyes in the young man's face grow cold? Will the day come when he will look at me with a glazed gaze: wild, cruel, daring someone for a reason to vent his anger and frustration at what he has become? He will sit on our stained blue couch and I will mix hot cocoa for him, or maybe pour coffee, extra cream and extra sugar. He will stuff packages of cookies in his pockets and ask if we have any clean socks, any hygiene kits, any sandwiches, any more coffee. Anything? The dark hair will be streaked with gray, the zipper on his coat will not quite close and he will carry a plastic shopping bag with the corner of a frayed airline blanket poking out from its tightly packed interior. 

If this is Eric's future, will I find courage enough then to look past his rage to find the human being inside? Will there be one there? Which would be the worst case scenario: a cardboard box or a coffin?

A cardboard box, and then a coffin?

No, I think. The worst case scenario would be not looking for the human being. If I stop looking, if everyone stops looking, the human being dies while the body continues to breathe. And the little boy in the church pew, the face he makes as he tugs at his tight top shirt button, the wide-eyed dream of someday drawing comic books, or pitching for the Yankees, or winning the Indy 500, dies also.

It’s about us. People matter, and we all deserve love, dignity and respect. Debra spent time getting to know those she served; now she writes about them to help the rest of us understand that these are real people, not society rejects and discards undeserving of our care. These people live real lives on the streets, and while we may never know or understand all the complications that led to their existence there, we can never turn a blind eye to who they are as human beings either. Thanks again, Debra, for being a valued guest on Effectively Human today. Your story touches our hearts and makes us think.

I hope you will take the time to share your thoughts on this post in the comments. I hope you will pass this post along, so others might be touched by Debra’s story and see the homeless with new lenses. Thank you for visiting Effectively Human and joining in our effort to make the world a better place.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Debra R. Borys ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 5, 2014

Day 2 for the 2nd Annual Holiday Food Drive

by M. J. Joachim

It’s barely 5:30 a.m. here. I woke up early from all the chatter in my brain. Yesterday, the first day of our Annual Holiday Food Drive, was such a happy surprise. Buzz is happening and people are making some noise about hunger in our world and how to feed the hungry. That’s all I wanted. That’s all any of us in this online food drive want. We want to raise awareness and inspire people to act.

I dove in full bore, writing three pretty intense articles, two that required some heavy reading and vigorous research. As I made my way around the web reading and sharing things I found, I couldn’t help but smile. People are talking, they’re thinking and acting. They’re stepping back and stepping up, affirming everything we are doing and why we are doing it.

We’ll never know the impact we have for our efforts. One of the things I realized yesterday is that though this event has been planned to raise awareness in our online community, many of the comments I’m reading are about collecting food, gathering people and volunteering to help at food banks and soup kitchens. The articles are being read, commented on and passed around. The people are taking it one step further. They’re going grocery shopping, talking to their families, friends and neighbors and becoming more active than they already were in their own communities.

It’s Day 2 and #feedthehungryeh is making its impact. We’re doing our small part on a world stage to say starvation and malnutrition matter. No one should go hungry or be malnourished in our world. For that I am extremely grateful. I’m so proud to call all of you my friends and work on such a worthy cause with you. Our work matters and we really do make a difference!

On that note, keep going strong. It’s Day 2 and tomorrow is our final push to sound the alarm, tweet the birdies and make some noise on the web. Continue writing and sharing the articles, promoting those already written and learning about organizations making a difference. Our Annual Food Drive will finish tomorrow, but our work doesn’t end there. Stay strong and remain an active voice for the cause, because we really do make a difference.

With deepest and most sincere appreciation and respect,

M. J.

©214 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Jeremy Hawkins

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hunger in the United States of America

by M. J. Joachim

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “Falling unemployment from early post-recession (2009-10) to 2012, absent any other changes, would suggest a modest decline in the prevalence of food insecurity. However, this report finds that potential improvement was almost exactly offset by the effects of higher inflation and the higher relative price of food in 2012.”

The title of the report, Prevalence of U.S. Food Insecurity Is Related to Changes in Unemployment, Inflation, and the Price of Food speaks for itself.

American citizens have basic needs. When food prices rise at a rate beyond our needs to meet them, because income levels don’t rise accordingly, people in America do without, oftentimes going hungry.

According to the report, “The price of food relative to the price of all goods and services was 4.37 percentage points higher in 2012 than in 2005-07, and this factor is estimated to have increased the prevalence of food insecurity by 2.55 percentage points. Changes in those two factors were partially offset by a lower rate of CPI inflation in 2012, which is estimated to have reduced the prevalence of food insecurity by 0.51 percentage point. Given the changes in these three factors, the prevalences of food insecurity was predicted to be 3.73 percentage points higher in 2012 than in 2005-07 - slightly more than the observed increase of 3.49 percentage points.”

So for all our individual efforts, the price of food still weighs us down, causing many in the United States to eat (junk food - it’s cheaper), not enough food or go without food altogether. Even though employment rates and incomes appear to be on the rise in the U.S. since the recent recession, these increases are not keeping up with the increasing rise of food prices.

The US Government calls it food insecurity. Effectively Human calls it people going hungry in the United States of America. Regardless of what you call it or why it is so prevalent today, our government and its citizens need to come together and take action to address the problem of people going hungry here. 

“Some people think that rising food prices are a good sign because historically this has meant the economy is in recovery. But that isn't necessarily true anymore. Rising prices in the U.S. are less driven by the economy here and more driven by the economic recovery and growth elsewhere. The result is a slowly recovering economy in the U.S but higher inflation than usual.” (Forbes Magazine)

Biofuels play a contributing role in higher food prices. “The primary impact of biofuels on food inflation is from increases in the farm prices of commodities that contribute to producing our food supply, like corn, soybean meal, soybean oil, wheat, barley, and oats.” (Purdue Extension University)

US Bureau of Labor and Statistics
Consumer Price Index Data for October 2014

The food index rose 0.1 percent in October, its smallest increase since June. The index for food at home also rose 0.1 percent, with four of the six major grocery store food groups posting increases. The fruits and vegetables index rose the most, increasing 0.9 percent in October after rising 0.1 percent in September. The index for nonalcoholic beverages rose 0.6 percent, its largest increase since September 2012. The index for dairy and related products increased 0.5 percent, and the cereals and bakery products index rose 0.3 percent. In contrast to these increases, the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, which had been rising sharply in recent months, declined 0.4 percent. The beef and veal index rose 0.3 percent, but the indexes for pork, poultry, and eggs all declined. The index for other food at home also fell 0.4 percent in October. The index for food at home has risen 3.3 percent over the last 12 months, the largest 12-month increase since April 2012. All six major grocery store food groups increased over the span. The index for food away from home rose 0.2 percent in October and has increased 2.8 percent over the last 12 months.

We’re paying more, but we’re not necessarily earning enough to keep up with food inflation prices. It’s not about pointing fingers at this point, but about doing what we can to help our neighbors in need, reaching out and filling those food bank shelves. Feed America makes it easy to find a local food bank near you. 

This post is part of 2nd Annual Holiday Food Drive taking place everywhere online. I hope and encourage you to join us. Even if all you can do is promote a link, that’s still raising awareness and helping to make a difference, one that might help a hungry person in need. Thank you!

M. J.


©2014 All Rights Reserved