May 212014
 

Talking heads often say that young adults are struggling more than older generations in this economy. But a recent BMO report suggests that millennials are doing just fine compared to what their parents went through at their age. The study compares the financial situations of young adults today (age 25 – 34) to that of young adults from 3 decades ago.

Millennials looking for jobs today have a 93% chance of finding one (not bad,) compared to only 90% for those in the mid-1980s due to a higher unemployment rate back then. So don’t feel discouraged if you can’t find a job right away :) Just remember that your parents probably had it worse.

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The median income of people between 25 to 34 rose from $33,900 in 1984-1988, to $34,700 in 2011, after adjusting for inflation. This means we can buy 2% more goods and services than our parents could in 1984 haha :) #feelingrich. Median net worth of households of generation Y was $52,000 in 2012, almost double that in 1984 ($28,752 in 2012 constant dollars.) Wow.

I understand where the older generation comes from when they say “Kids these days. They don’t know how good they have it.” The recession they experienced in the 80s must have been pretty bad :( But then again, maybe it’s not a fair comparison because the world was such a different place back then :?

While many baby boomers prospered financially in the past thirty years, one could say that their children are starting new careers and families on an equal, if not firmer, footing in most regions.”
~Sal Guatieri, BMO economist.

As a millennial I realize that on average we do have more debts today than our parents did 30 years ago. And the costs of education and real estate have outpaced inflation so certain things are definitely less affordable to us. But we have better job opportunities than our parents did. We are better educated. We have higher incomes and more purchasing power. We have almost twice as much wealth (net worth) than they had. We even have access to new innovations like the internet and smart phones, which make our lives so much easier. So I’m just glad things aren’t worse for us right now :D

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Random Useless Fact: Sometimes evolution can backfire.

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May 122014
 

I read an article recently which suggests that single women make more money than single men in the U.S.

According to a study by Reach Advisors, in most major American cities the median income for single, childless women between 22 and 30 is 8% higher than that of their male counterparts :)

Research has shown that young women tend to be more educated than men, and are more likely to get degrees in the knowledge-based fields. Last year women earned the majority of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and the same results are expected for this year. Young women also appear to be more career driven. About 67% of females between 18 and 34 rank their professionals goals as top priority, compared with only 59% for young men.

Looks like all the efforts by society to encourage gender equality, elevate female status and their economic independence is really paying off :) It’s no surprise that more and more women are becoming the primary breadwinner for their households. It looks like young men like myself should be careful lest we get left behind in the job market, lol.

But earlier this year the U.S. president came out with the following statement.

Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.
~Barack Obama

Hm, this seems to contradict the other study. Nevertheless, assuming this was true, why aren’t there more female employees working on Wall St and other knowledge-based industries?

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Jan 152014
 

The Canada Pension Plan is a retirement plan that all working Canadians must pay into. It’s similar to Social Security in the U.S.

Right now roughly 5% of my gross salary up to ~$50K goes to pay for my CPP premium, and my employer matches this amount. If I work all the way to 65 years old and retire then I would receive about $12,000 a year of CPP benefits in today’s dollars because the payout is indexed to inflation. CPP benefits are not income tested, so how much income I make in retirement from other sources does not affect my CPP payments :) This is different than Old Age Security (OAS)

With an aging population in Canada, many are concerned about poverty in the senior community. A few provinces are starting to talk about expanding the CPP. They want current workers to pay more into the CPP system so when they retire they will receive more benefits. I think a lot of Canadians can benefit by increasing their pension plan. But I’m not sure expanding the CPP is the right way to do it.

For example, if I want to retire at age 45 then I have to wait another 15 years before I can apply for CPP benefits. The earliest someone can receive CPP payments is at age 60 so it’s not up to the individual when they want to retire. The other issue is since employers have to match their worker’s contributions, higher CPP premiums will mean a higher payroll tax for businesses.

Perhaps the best solution is a voluntary government pension system on top of the current system without increasing CPP. I suppose we shall see what happens in time.

Nov 182013
 

We have come a long way in society to narrow the wage gap between men and women. We are also seeing more women in executive level positions in large companies :D But females are still disproportionately represented in corporate leadership roles :-| For example, compare the Senior Management team to the other staff members of the company below. Click image to enlarge.

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Coincidence or sexism?

I read an article recently that suggests part of the reason it’s still more difficult for women to climb the corporate ladder than men, is because of women themselves 8-O  A recent Gallup poll in the U.S. shows that 41% of Americans don’t have a preference which gender their boss is. However 35% preferred a male boss, and only 23% prefer a female boss. What’s surprising to me is that more women in the poll (40%) than men (29%) said they would prefer a male boss. I thought girls would want to stick together, but the research says otherwise ( ・_・)

There appears to be some kind of conflict of emotions when women witness other women get into positions of power and authority. On the one hand everyone celebrates the accomplishments of hard working women as they achieve success in the corporate world, much of which is still dominated by men. Yeah! girl power! :D But on the other hand, it’s often women who perpetuate the worst stereotypes about working for other women. As one editorial director puts it “Everyone applauds when they shatter that glass ceiling. Then they pick up the shards, and start cutting away.” Yikes :-?

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But why do female bosses get such a bad reputation? According to Doctor Robi Ludwig, a woman, bad female bosses may have Queen Bee Syndrome, which describes the “actions of the alpha female in the workplace who tries to preserve power at all costs.” She explains how this is a very real and common thing.

Instead of promoting her younger counterparts, she feels threatened by them, judges them, talks about them and, in many cases, ends up obstructing their attempts to climb the corporate ladder…. According to one group of German researchers, women who reported to female supervisors had higher cases of depression, headaches, heartburn and insomnia than if their bosses were men. ~Dr. Robi Ludwig

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Oct 022013
 

Today’s article is a guest post about how to improve one’s customer service skills which is important in many fields of work.

What does it take to work in customer relations?

Working in customer relations is one of the toughest roles in any business, but can be an incredibly rewarding career path. Dealing with a business’ client base requires a certain type of employee that most companies struggle to find among applicants for customer relations positions. This is largely due to the way in which such positions necessitate an employee to possess a unique and demanding set of key skills. Here we take a look at exactly what those essential skills are.

Good communication

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Image source: Renjith Krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Those working in customer relations have to direct a great deal of their focus towards customers; ensuring their complaints, inquiries and needs are dealt with quickly and efficiently. This means that good communication skills are essential to the position, and that the ability to discuss matters confidently and succinctly with fellow workers and customers alike will be highly valued.

This is particularly true if you are looking at call centre jobs with firms like DLG Careers, or want to hold a position that involves communicating directly with customers in this way.

Practical problem solving

Customer relations jobs don’t always involve direct communication with customers. There are also a number of positions that deal with enhancing the customer experience and establishing just why people may be complaining or feeling unsatisfied with their interactions with a business. This aspect of customer relations will demand a better grasp of figures than other positions, an ability to understand cause and effect and isolate problematic practices, and the capacity to draft and institute remedial measures. In this sense, such positions are very different from the traditional call centre jobs.

Approachability

The field of customer relations is actually incredibly diverse, incorporating a number of different positions. Your role will naturally be customer-facing but there are also colleagues and clients who you’ll need to talk to, and being approachable is a key part of that. Remember that in a professional capacity you’ll need to liaise with those both above and below you in the pecking order while clients and customers will be from a range of backgrounds and positions too. Being approachable and non-discriminating to all these groups is therefore essential but you can also take inspiration from these top 15 customer service skills which are beneficial to all employees.