Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Time to Petition the Government

Readers of the Center for Effective Government’s blogs will know that in the past two weeks, a significant and wonderful community of people has been communicating through the comments section of our site. We hope you all saw Jessica Schieder’s recent post announcing a new Google group for those of you that want to carry on the discussion.

Since Jessica wrote last week, another 72,000 Americans have lost their unemployment benefits because emergency unemployment compensation has not been extended. More than two million unemployed Americans, including more than 200,000 veterans, have been left out in the cold. The ranks of the long-term unemployed (in most states, people out of work for more than 27 weeks) jumped by 203,000 last month. More than 2.5 percent of the labor force has now been out of work more than six months, the highest percentage since World War II. Never in the past have extended unemployment benefits been allowed to expire when more than 1.3 percent of the workforce had been out of work for 27 weeks or more. Democrats and Republicans remain gridlocked over how to “pay for” reinstating emergency unemployment benefits. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) has launched a “discharge petition” that would force a House vote on extending emergency unemployment benefits if it garners 218 signatures. At this point, that seems unlikely.

As of this writing there’s still no timeline for Congress to act before they leave at the end of this week for their March vacation. They officially call this a “state work break,” and some of them will spend the week in their districts, so you might want to call their district offices and try to set up a meeting to share your stories directly.

We also created a new web form that allows you to send in your stories of how the expiration of emergency unemployment insurance has affected you, your families, and your communities. We will share these stories when we meet with members of Congress and their staffs and share them with journalists who we hope will bring more attention to this largely invisible crisis.

Through your comments, we also learned of an additional action opportunity that was not initially included in our list last week. Our friends at the Center for American Progress launched a petition on the White House’s We the People website calling for immediate reinstatement of emergency unemployment benefits. If you are not familiar with this website, President Obama established it shortly after coming into office as a way for citizens to organize themselves and call attention to important issues that the government is not acting on but should. The White House promises it will respond to any petition that garners more than 100,000 signatures. The petitions don’t directly lead to changes in the law, but they give added visibility to causes that the media may be ignoring.

One of the current leading petitions on the White House site calls upon the U.S. to ban Canadian citizen and pop star Justin Bieber from the United States following several acts of alleged criminal activity. That petition has drawn more than 266,000 signatures and made headlines throughout the world.

There are more than two million Americans who have lost their emergency unemployment benefits and millions more who have suffered as these dollars are removed from communities across the land. When those who have lost their benefits no longer are able go to the grocery store or the gas station, local businesses suffer along with the unemployed. The White House petition on extending unemployment insurance has fewer than 700 signers. Can’t we spread the word to our friends and families and gin up more local people to sign this petition? If Congress sees this petition take off, it can be a clear sign to them that this issue is generating significant concern from their constituents. We need to swing one Senator to change his or her vote to move this through the Senate. If that happens, it will greatly increase pressure on the House to take action.

The petition process – which the Obama administration has sought to resurrect – has a long and important role in American history. When the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1789, the newly formed republic didn’t have a road map of how to govern itself. Leaders didn’t know how to set an agenda for legislative action. It was hard even for elected officials to get to the new capital in Washington, DC. For constituents, it was darn near impossible to get to Washington to talk to their legislators. So those early Americans, believing that the new government was their government, adopted the old English practice of petitioning their representatives to act and pass legislation. During the First Congress, more than 600 citizen petitions were presented to Congress, including ones calling for the abolition of slavery. During the first 12 years of Congress, nearly 3,000 petitions arrived at the Washington offices of House members. (See Gordon Wood’s Empire of Liberty.)

The Constitution of the United States begins with the famous words, ”We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect union….” Our Founding Fathers and Mothers wanted for us to have a government that was ours. They recognized that government was not perfect, but it could continually improve with each passing generation with an active citizenry.

We know many of you are desperate, hanging on by your fingernails, and understandably angry. We know you are struggling to keep your families going. Your stories are important! They touch people. They can move the media, your representatives, and your fellow Americans.

We encourage you to continue to act, to speak out, to organize. There’s an election this fall – all 435 House members and one-third of the senators are up for re-election, including 10 senators who voted against extending emergency unemployment. Get involved in an election and help send those who truly represent your interests to Washington.

We’ve been through other difficult times in America, but people haven’t taken it lying down. They’ve banded together and demanded change. It is time for us to do the same.


For Further Reading:

Emergency Unemployment Benefits Are Not ForgottenThe Fine Print blog, Feb. 26, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Ways to Take ActionThe Fine Print blog, March 6, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Time to Petition the GovernmentThe Fine Print blog, March 12, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Compromise in the SenateThe Fine Print blog, March 14, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Boehner Signals Reluctance in the HouseThe Fine Printblog, March 21, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits Extension Clears First Hurdle in the SenateThe Fine Printblog, March 28, 2014

Extending Emergency Unemployment: Senate Finally Expected to Vote to Extend Benefits   and Rush through Corporate Tax CutsThe Fine Print blog, April 2, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits Bill Passes the Senate, Increasing Pressure on the HouseThe Fine Print blog, April 8, 2014

Stories of Americans Cut Off of Emergency Unemployment CompensationGovernment Matters, April 22, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Extension Expected to Take Back Seat to Tax ExtendersThe Fine Print blog, April 25, 2014

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Why can't they see that AMERICANS who put them in office are suffering! We are legion! Just because historically, the incumbents were reflected does not mean they will be this year in November! Don't they care about us? Historically benefits were automatically reinstated when unemployment was far below what it is now! Do you not care, Mr. President? We who have worked and paid taxes are losing everything! You will be blamed for this .... Not Congress. This is a disaster of scandalous proportions. Your administration will be remembered as one that could care less about people. You know that unemployment numbers are dropping because people are no longer being counted when they fall off the unemployment dole, right? They are approximately 75,000 each week. We aren't going away!
Thank you Scott for writing this article and keeping this issue "relevant!"
People need to eat
Does anyone with C-Span know what is happening?
This is what I don't get these people we elect are eating just fine.there kids aren't suffer they not suffering and mean while we begin them for help it is discussing and it is time to vote out both Republican and democrates. It's e way to blame the president but it's not the president blocking it's the republicans, even though I fell democrates and rep are the same shirt and they just playing games with our lives. And since it seems that we have no representation we should stop paying taxes. Many people lost there homes lives they have kids they can't support and these assholes are going on vacation and we the people are on with thaat. I can almost promise u they have no plan or intention on voting on shit before they go on vacation this is the games they playing I say vote them all out rep and demand alike if they go on vacation without our benefits being restored vote them all out its time the games stop
Extending the Emergency Unemployment Benefits (EUC) is not a Republican, Democrat, or Independent issue! It is EVERYONE's issue! Most of the "bloggers" on here don't even know one another's political affiliation! Guess what, we don't care either! What difference does it make if you voted for Obama or not? Our president is not the issue here! He has said he will sign the EUC bill once it gets to his desk! I do agree come November, make your vote count in elections! If you didn't like how a politician voted or a certain party has not worked for you, then vote them out! There is a word in this bill that is important.....EMERGENCY! People are tired of the parties fighting one another! We want them to fight for US! This bill should not have expired on 12/28/13 (the date that will live in infamy)! While unemployed, people have had to use their savings to pay for what unemployment didn't (unemployment only pays about 1/3 of what a person made while working). More savings had to be used the last 3-months Congress has been bickering about the bill! The average person unemployed in the U.S. is 9-months (much higher in some states)! The average state unemployment benefits span 6-months. The state benefits should be raised to mirror the need of the people it serves! If unemployment is high, then the state benefits should extent to the unemployment average. The regular state unemployment benefits should be atleast 9-months! It should be raised in states that have higher than average unemployment! Until our country has a lower unemployment rate, the EUC should automatically be added to each budget for a minimum of 12 months! No one will disagree that we need jobs in addition to EUC! The whole unemployment system in each state needs to be overhauled! Let that discussion and following bills come AFTER we get EUC passed! The plans for improving the job situation in our country should not be attached to the EUC bill! Let the politicians debate that at a later date. The most important issue is WE NEED THE EUC BILL PASSED NOW!
Its sad that my husband is working 50_60 hours so we dont lose our car and home, i called heating asst and snap to help me we can not get help cause of hos overtime, im extremly up set with this. Im a hard working mother that lost her job in 2013 after 14 years, my son is 6 and if i was on my own left my husband i could get free housing, foodstamps ect.... my husband takez out 150 week for health insurance 1440 mortgage 337.00 car bill credit cards maxed and all other bills leave us 40 left end of week gas food on table, never mind my dogs i will not get rid of, so im loyal hard working american, not scwreing the system and cant get help, im sorry i will never vote again i am so angry a our system poor and rich middle class is no longer there..... actually i really hope not to see our country crumble but everything goes overseas our miltary dies for out country but our congress just sit back enyjoy everyday life and is worried about them selfs. God bless america good thing i have faith!
Obviously there is no help. I am fortunate and accepted a job offer yesterday, and I have nothing, so I don't know how I will keep the job. I'm posting to help others possibly survive a little longer, and find a job. I wish you all well, and it's been weeks of wishing and hoping, and disappointment at the end of each week. Our government representatives should be tried for crimes against humanity. Her are some helpful tips for employed and unemployed, as it can happen to anyone. Love you all, but even an optimistic person I have been has given up! What Matters Most: Helpful “Tips” for the unemployed & being proactive for a better quality of life for your family It is absolutely sickening that our government has forgotten about the American citizens that are struggling due to the loss of Unemployment Benefits. There are many issues that are critical to life, and may take precedence over the Extended Unemployment Benefit issue, but it should still be a top priority that must be resolved. For those unemployed that are suffering and struggling, it is the “flip-side” of the American Dream, where people are losing their families, their homes, their possessions, and many, their lives. Why do we need a “death toll” for something that could have been resolved? Why do we put a price on life in such an advanced country (society)? Why do we allow our own people to suffer and to struggle like many did in the Great Depression? Will it take tent camps in Central Park or in front of the White House to get our government to take action? Even the media has given up and moved onto much more important events like the millions of dollars spent on the Oscars (yes, that is sarcasm). I don’t have much left, just my pride, and a little dignity that’s left, as I am unemployed after 25 years (working since I was 15 years old) of working with never before collecting unemployment until June 2013 when I filed. No need to go on with my story, as it DOES NOT MATTER, NO ONE CARES, as I was EXPENDABLE to my company of 25 years, and I am expendable (my life means nothing) to our government as well. Unlike our politicians I care about others, and I am writing to help others who are struggling, and the many more that could be in the future, as anyone can be in our unemployed situation at any time. Maybe for the employed (lower class/middle class), it can be a pro-active approach to help their families to prepare, or just to have a better quality of life, and enjoy a vacation, or a few luxuries if they are able to save some money. Below, is plenty of information on how to put your health before all, so you can take care of your family, how to save by “dissecting” our every day lives, to be conservative and make intelligent decisions with finances. Save on utilities, necessities, food, and to get the entire family involved by setting financial goals to survive (unemployed), or to have a better quality of life with vacations, and having some of the luxuries of the wealthy. Health & Taking Care of Yourself: To take care of your family, you must take care of yourself. For those that are struggling, it is difficult, with stress, worry, and difficult to have the simple necessities that are needed to survive. You MUST be strong, not give up, and reach out for help if you if you are suicidal or ill (or can help someone who is suicidal). National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). For both employed and unemployed, it’s that time to minimize the risk, and finally stop the vices. Quit smoking, quit or reduce your drinking, drugs are not the answer, as reality may be bad, but addiction and that same reality is worse. Take control of your life back, have the will-power to quit, reach out for help for alcohol and drug addiction (there is no better time to do this then when you are unemployed). Don’t look at this terrible time as the end, but a new beginning, and fresh start. You have a choice to be a “loser” or to take control of your destiny. Your health is critical to your success, your future, and to your family’s success and future. If not for you…DO IT FOR THEM! If you are unemployed, make some of your time for exercise, even if you do not have gym equipment you still can. Run, push-ups, sit-ups, or even walking. It makes you feel better, it helps your mind, and you will see a difference if you create a routine and stick to it for a few weeks and you will be a believer. If you are employed or unemployed, wake up a little earlier, and start exercising in the morning, and start eating healthy, and less. Being unemployed (or working), it’s a great time to start a diet, which will cut down on food bills, as well as keep you from having health problems. We will get into food below, but my recommendation is a small investment for you as well as family and loved ones. A daily multi-vitamin, and healthy eating to go along with it. Save your money by not buying soda, snacks, and chips, and YES YOU CAN AFFORD A MULTI-VITAMIN! You do not realize how much we waste on “junk-food”, snacks, and things that hurt our bodies. Food & Shopping: Cameron Diaz, and many other celebrities and diet plans are adding to their millions of dollars by promoting healthy eating through good nutrition (I don’t want your money, just to help). Fruits, vegetables, reducing many processed foods, reading labels, and simply cutting out the snacks (chips, cookies, soda, high-in-sugar snacks, high sodium snacks, etc.). EVERY successful diet and exercise plan you see info-mercial on, showing results of weight loss put focus on their plan, their product, or exercise device. When you order it, you find the instructions revolve around nutrition, healthy eating, and reducing portions along with exercise. Trust me, I just saved you thousands of worthless drugs, and equipment for the remainder of your life. Utilize your computer to read about nutrition, what your body needs, daily vitamins needed, and how fruits vegetables, low-fat dairy products, are what keeps you healthy. TREAT YOURSELF once a week, as you deserve it, but NOT your daily choices with fatty/unhealthy foods and snacks. Some thoughts on shopping: • Be organized, and make a list of “key” foods (milk, bread, butter, eggs, cheese, and meats), and plan your meals around those, such as cereal, pasta, etc. Plan your meals out, so you can see how far you can get through the week without excess and waste. • Buy the freshest dates (look at the date codes), and take your food from the back as most grocery stores practice FIFO (first-in-first-out) to rotate the food for proper “turns” and lost sales due to expired food. The longer the food lasts, the less waste you may have (“stretch” your food longer) • Don’t shop with your children if you do not have to! They want candy, snacks, chips, and whatever looks appealing. We Love them and give-in (or they wear-us-out), and we SPEND! Just think of the snacks, and just how much we spend to help our children have tooth decay, obesity, and even health problems. • Don’t go to the grocery store hungry! You may do more damage then when taking the children. Eat a good meal before shopping, and think about what you can buy by not spending that snack money (fight the temptation). • Fruits and vegetables are sold by the pound, so portion what you can eat, and be conservative when buying. Buy other ingredients to make soup, stew, or stir-fry, so you don’t waste. AGAIN, make sure you get the freshest product and DON’T BUY any soon to expire product, unless you plan to eat it that day (check it thoroughly as well). YOU DO NOT EVER WANT TO COMPROMISE YOUR HEALTH for a good price or to save from throwing away “bad” food. Medical/prescription expense, and loss of work/job searching is not worth the waste of expired food. • The health & nutrition book/internet research can help you prepare your shopping list, and to plan your meals, so utilize the information when making your list. Make sure you look at the daily nutrition values, and plan the week out. • Shop wisely for the best prices, and join all store memberships, clip coupons, review the free coupon app’s on your smart phone, and be prepared with all of that when you shop. • “Bunch” your travel plans to reduce fuel expense, as plan to stop at the store, shopping for necessities, school activities, work activities/job searching, to shop when you are in the area to avoid numerous trips/fuel expense. THE SHOPPING LIST will also help you with a thorough list and avoid extra trips as well. • When you are out, be picky when it comes to price, as there are certain items that you can buy in a grocery store (food and sale items), and certain items to avoid the grocery store, and may have to stop at the “dollar stores” or the big retailers for better pricing on items. Example: Best pricing on dish liquid (use a name brand), aluminum foil, plastic wrap, kitchen items is Dollar tree and dollar stores (compare quantity vs. price to get the best deal on some items). Coffee, detergent, paper plates, party goods, household items, Walgreens (sale items), or Walmart, Kmart, Target (on sales). Be a picky, choosy, shopper, and use coupons. Most of these stores are grouped together to avoid travel (again make a list of these items as well). • YOUR GOAL is to SAVE as much as you can, and it may be the difference of your family having food to last the week, or that little extra to have for that “priceless” vacation you spend with your family. • Share your savings plan with your family, and let them know “why” and get them involved…It will take a team effort and it will require some sacrificing, but with a great “return” on that sacrifice. Keep in mind you can live a longer-healthier life for you and your family, survive a tough financial time, or save for a priceless vacation or something you need, want and deserve! Fuel & Vehicle Maintenance: Fuel, vehicle maintenance, and repair can be a devastating financial burden if you are not careful. Vehicle purchase is the next single largest expense for average Americans in the U.S., other than home owners, and it has many expenses involved from vehicle payment, insurance, registration, emissions testing, maintenance, and repair. Take the time to focus on how you can save without creating an issue with safety, repairs , collision insurance/liability insurance, and fuel economy. Some helpful ideas are as follows: • Tire pressure is one way to improve gas mileage with minimal effort, as you can check it weekly, and utilize many gas stations and mini-marts for free air and maintain the proper tire pressure. You can get quite a few miles on a tank of gas if tire pressure is as stated on the side of your tire. Tire pressure can also prolong the life of your tires. Weather, hot and cold affect this, so, be aware with changes in climate. • Oil changes at proper intervals (utilizing proper oil viscosity per recommended temperatures as per owner’s manual) will help prolong engine life & fuel economy. • Air filter recommended replacements, and fuel system cleaner as recommended can improve fuel economy and prolong engine life. • Take the time to compare insurance policies, rates, and coverage as many insurance companies have an option to quote you on-line. Many times, you can call your insurance agent and let them know you received a lower quote and if they value your business will lower their price to match a competitor (most do if you are polite but persistent when requesting the change). • If you save from a few areas above (or below), pay a little extra against the PRINCIPAL of your car loan (when possible), you can save yourself plenty, and possibly re-finance in the future with a lower interest rate. • Shop around when repairs are needed, and there is plenty of competition within the auto repair field. Get the best price, warranty on the parts, and keep all the paperwork in the glove box in case of a break-down. • Many simple repairs can be done by auto parts stores (I DO NOT RECOMMEND Advance Auto Parts!). So, “check-engine” lights scans/diagnostics, non-labor intensive bulb replacement, battery installs/charging, charging system checks, air filter installs, and wiper replacement are FREE at AutoZone (highly recommend them). Ask, and save. • Some repairs can be done and YouTube can be a great tool along with repair help, repair manuals from AutoZone/auto stores as well. Do it yourself if you can, without risk of injury, or creating a safety issue with your vehicle. You can save, but be safe & smart! • Consumer Reports, and internet research on vehicle makes and models before buying a car/SUV/truck or motorcycle. It’s a large expenditure, and you need to make sure you will be satisfied with the least amount of problems and expense for the length of your loan. Be cautious when buying first year newly designed models. • Sell your car outright, and align a private party to buy your vehicle to maximize it’s value. Compare “trade in price” verses “Private Seller” values. KBB.com will give you values, and then take it to your dealer to see what they will offer on a trade-in. NEVER pay window price or recommended retail on a vehicle, as there is always some negotiating and car dealers that will negotiate. It’s a highly competitive market. Be aware of what you are paying by loan-end with interest, as a $12,000 vehicle maybe costing you $25,000 plus dollars with a high interest rate and you’re seeing a percentage, not a “roll-up” dollar amount • Not only review book value on the vehicle you are trading or selling, but the book value of the vehicle you are buying. A sign you are paying too much is with “gap” insurance, as an addition insurance, as that is a sign you need to have additional coverage because your insurance company will pay “book value” or market value on your vehicle if it is totaled, and the amount they will pay will NOT cover your pay-off on the vehicle. • When buying a used vehicle, check it, request they change the oil, inspect all safety areas (brakes, tires, etc.), as these are “wear” items and are not replaceable in a few months if they go bad. You’re the customer and save a few bucks and have them wash it as well! Get all you can when you buy. Utilities & Savings: • We all have left fans, lights or appliances on at night while we sleep, but doing so wastes increasingly expensive energy. To save money, do a nightly sweep through the house to make sure all your electric devices are turned off before you go to bed. It may be a pain, but the savings from simply turning everything off can add up quickly. It takes about $9 per year to run just one compact fluorescent light bulb through the night, $21 for a conventional bulb and $35 for a big ceiling fan on high, according to the energy calculator. • Get the entire family involved and challenge them to see how much you can save by being aware of reducing electricity, water usage, and or natural gas/propane. Rather than complain, yell, or get upset, make it a positive family challenge, and offer the “what’s in it for them” with saving for a vacation, something needed or wanted for the house, or simply to make it through the tough times of unemployment with less debt. Recognize them with a “thank you” or “great job” when children and family members are conservative (catch them doing something right). Share the success when you see the lower utility bills. • Sleep timers on TV’s, opening the shades or curtains when it’s sunny out will help with vitamin D absorption/mood enhancer, as well as reduce the amount of lights you need on. Charge the cell phone at work if it is not a violation of policy, or in the car on your travels, and save on charging devices at home. Just making a quick check of the house before leaving for the day, and turning off un-needed electronics, can make a difference. • Increase water usage can impact your monthly utility expense drastically. Maintenance with leaking toilets, dripping faucets, and outdoors hose/water left on can save you plenty if you can do the handy-work yourself (YouTube and internet can make a repair easy from start to finish). Safety is always first, so make sure it is a safe repair. On average, 10 gallons per day of your water usage (or 14% of your indoor use) is lost to leaks. Short of installing new water-efficient fixtures, one of the easiest, most effective ways to cut your water usage is by repairing leaky faucets and toilets • Exercising, and a good healthy breakfast can shorten your shower time, as you will be wide awake, and have time used wisely, rather than a half-hour or more shower to wake up. A simple “tweak” and effort to minimize water usage in the shower is to mark with a small decal, dab of paint (multiple colors for numerous family members) as when you set the hot and cold water to perfection, mark the location of the hot and cold handle, and when you start your shower in the morning, move the handles to those marked locations, and let it warm up, and it’s your personal- perfect temperature without using additional water to get it to the right temperature over and over again. This will also help with gas or electric used to heat your water as well. Every time you shave minutes off your use of hot water, you also save energy and keep dollars in your pocket • Nearly 22% of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size • Energy saving dishwashers use about 4 gallons of water per load, and even standard machines use only about 6 gallons. Hand washing generally uses about 2 gallons of water each time. • It takes about 40 gallons of water to fill a bathtub, so showers are generally the more water-efficient way to bathe. Heating Savings: • Reduce thermostat setting to 68 degrees. Reducing your thermostat setting can substantially lower your heating costs. Putting on those extra layers will help you stay comfortable while saving on your heating bill. • Set back thermostat at night and when you leave home. Setting the thermostat back 10 degrees at night or when the house will be unoccupied can save up to 15% on heating costs. The furnace will have to run more to reheat the house, but the energy saved while the home is cooler more than offsets the extra run time to reheat the home. • Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to reduce your home's temperature at night and during the day and still have the home warm when you wake up or come home from work. Some programmable thermostats cost less than $50 and can be installed by homeowners. • Change/clean furnace filter monthly. Clogged furnace filters lower the heater's efficiency by preventing proper airflow through the furnace. Low-cost filters are available from your local hardware store. Check filters monthly to see if they need changing. • Have furnace "tuned up" annually. Having your furnace cleaned and tuned annually helps the heating system operate safely and efficiently. Tuning may involve resetting the fuel-air mixture for proper combustion as well as cleaning of the blower and burners to assure maximum airflow and complete combustion. New furnaces don't need to be cleaned and tuned for the first few years. • Let sunshine in south windows. Open drapes on the south side of your home during winter days and close them at night. Sun angles are low in winter, allowing substantial solar heating through all south windows. You may want to trim vegetation that shades south windows. • Check and replace weather stripping on doors and windows. Air leaks around faulty weather stripping on doors and windows not only make your home drafty but they also increase heating costs. Check for drafts, and repair or replace worn stripping. Make sure you remove window mounted air conditioner units before winter, as you will lose heat rapidly with AC units left in. • Close storm windows and doors. Storm windows installed over primary windows are almost as good as double-pane windows for reducing heat loss, but they only work if they are kept closed. Be sure all your storm windows are properly closed when cold weather arrives. • Operate kitchen and bath vents minimally. Bath and kitchen vents exhaust moisture, along with heated air, to the outside. If your home is dry during the winter, you may not need to operate these vents at all. However, if you have condensation on windows, operate the vents as needed to remove cooking and bathing moisture. • Lower the thermostat set point on your water heater. Keep water temperatures at about 120 degrees. You can check your water temperature by carefully placing the back of your hand under a steady stream of hot water—if you can't keep your hand there, your water is too hot. • Install a water heater blanket. Older water heaters may not have adequate insulation. Installing an insulating water heater jacket can save energy costs. Be careful to follow manufacturers' recommendations and don't cover the thermostat. Cell Phone: • Look for lower dollar plans but compare your actual usage as per the plan. Make sure you do not “fall-into-the-trap” where you a paying extra every month due to overage. • I highly recommend a NO CONTRACT plan as you can finish your contract, keep your old phone and in many cases, get the same services (and provider) for half the price. They cannot “hit” you with hidden charges, and if you have a usage plan, it reminds you, and does not allow you to go over creating additional expense. • Be smart and compare. Many providers can lower your plan amount if they are having a special promotion. Not renewing your plan can give you some leverage when it comes to savings, as well as switching providers with the best plan. Give “smart phone” new meaning! Bills in General: • For those that are unemployed, I know it is difficult, but if possible, make sure you pay on-time, as it will save you late fees ($50-$100 a month on utilities), as well as shut-off fees/restoration fees. • Credit cards will continue, and fees will continue even if they turn-your-card off. Pay cash if you can, and try to stay on top of the bills. • Avoid retailer offers to save you a percentage on your purchase by signing up for a card. The temptation will be there to use it, and the interest you pay will exceed most discount savings. • Pay cash and avoid credit card use at all costs. Visa/Master Card backed ATM/Bank cards will do the same. Keep the credit card for extreme emergency and pay the balance if possible when you are forced to use it. Build credit…Not debt! Finding The Job or Career: Helpful application and Interview “Tips” The Application: It’s critical that you take this very seriously, and with correct dates, no missing information as if there are employment “gaps”, it is looked at as if you are hiding something. Example: 2002 to 2004 you worked for a company, then, you started working in 2006 for a new company (what happened in 2005?). Need to explain, or fill in the “gap”. The application is looked over and scrutinized. Fill out all information, and make sure it’s all accurate. If you left a position because you didn’t get along with your boss or co-workers, DO NOT state that, as you may not even get an interview. The thought process from many Recruiters and Human Resource Managers is past behaviors predict future behaviors (you did not like your boss or other employees in the past, you probably will not get along with them now/in the future). The “we want the best of the best” starts with the application process. Spelling, grammar, and no abbreviation (you’re not texting). Salary/Hourly rate, do your research prior, and have a rough idea of what the employer pays for the position and leave it as negotiable, as once again, the Recruiter or Human Resource Manager may feel you are outside of their pay guidelines, or you don’t value yourself well, if you “aim” too low (they may not contact you). Focus on getting a job offer, then, negotiate with them (you can always say no, or be offered more because the interview went well). Try and keep “negativity” out of the application process, as it’s the first attempt to “sell yourself” when seeking employment. Get some help from intelligent friends or family if you are not 100% comfortable, but do not do this other then on-line at home applications (no help in person or on site). Availability, and over-time, should be listed as anytime, and yes to OT. Discuss any time constraints/scheduling needs in person (interview), unless it is something you cannot do. Companies like flexibility, and there is always change. Most companies have an assessment, that is part of the application process, and if you fail the assessment, you fail to go forward to the interview process. It is CRITICAL you read information “about” the company, on line, in pamphlets, etc., as you will understand their “Mission Statement”, their “Values”, how and what their business is about. Be a detective, as this may be a career, or you may realize the company is not a “fit” for you. This will help you with their assessment(s). Some are numerous questions with differ situations/scenarios, and many questions are the same, just different ways of asking the same question (looking for consistency with answers, to see if you telling the truth). Take these seriously as well, or your opportunity may end with a failure. Keep in mind, you must know about the job description where you are applying for. Example: Coach, teaching and training, in supervisory positions, empathy to a point, as it cannot violate policy and procedure. These positions involve goal setting, team work, follow-up, your accountability, and Leadership (not harsh “rule by fear”). Look at job descriptions if available, as this will help with the assessments. The Interview: Always dress your BEST (clean, pressed, dress or business attire (ladies), and clean, ironed, suit and tie for the men). From your hair, clean shaven, to cut clean nails, to polished shoes. It shows respect to your interviewer(s), and shows you are meticulous and care about getting the job. Most companies want to have their company represented with clean, professional looking employees. This maybe the difference between you and an internal candidate (who is already employed) getting the job as they usually do not put the effort in to their appearance due to the “entitlement” thought. You NEED the job…They may want a promotion or a different position. ALWAYS polite and professional and BE PREPARED! Make sure you know all about the company (history, recent changes/press release, stock price if applicable, recent news articles, company Leadership, etc.). If it’s a retailer or business you can visit or observe, it will be worth the visit to see what you can learn as a customer or visitor. Never, not know about the company you are applying for, as the first question maybe “What brought you here today to apply for this position?” or “Have you ever been to one of our locations?”. You could be “finished” before you get started. Bring copies of your Resume (at least 5 for a panel interview) if applicable to that job (most will require a resume other then entry level). Be polite, professional, confident (not arrogant), use proper terminology to the business, but do not use “big” words just to use “big” words. NEVER EVER use obscenities (regardless if the interviewer does), be serious, but not “stiff” or come across as an introvert (quiet, shy, not showing any emotion). Be exciting, but do not make it a comedy act, or out of control/over-the-top actions. Keep in mind they are looking for dedicated, dependable, customer focused, polite & professional individuals to represent their company (look at the pictures of their team members on their company website…Make sure you look even better!). They may ask you for a brief review of your job history “Tell us about you?” Keep it to the “Readers Digest” version of your history. Keep it brief for the early jobs (PT/early career), and focus on the experience/education that is critical to the position you are applying for. NO NEGATIVITY when recapping your history, as you want to keep it positive when discussing yourself. They don’t want to hear complaints, nor problems (they have their own, and they don’t want more). Know your Interviewer: When they plan your interview, they will usually tell you who is going to interview you. Human Resource Manager, Recruiter, Operations Manager, Asset Protection/Risk Management, etc. Below is what you need to know about a few: • Human Resource Managers are focused on attaining & retaining high performance employees, policy and procedures enforced regarding diversity, no discrimination, non-hostile work environment, retention/low turnover. Coaching/developing, training, employees for future “bench” strength/promotion, labor laws, and State & Federal labor policies and procedures. Simply about people. • Recruiters are focused on people as well, filling vacancies, finding talent, on-boarding, as well as retaining good people. • Asset Protection/Risk Management are focused on protecting company assets, safety (customer and employee), safe working environment, theft (internal/external), policy, procedure, and paperwork that can impact company loss, and or liability. • Management (Operations, RVP, SVP, to CEO) are responsibility for Leadership, motivating and inspiring a team/employees, sales/budgets, cost control, Profit & Loss statement (P & L) accountability, which incorporate all of the above job descriptions/responsibilities) **If it’s a publically traded company you can view their prior year P & L information on line if you search. It’s important you know who will be interviewing you, as you will need to keep this in mind, along with your research on the company. This will help you focus on “what matters most” to these individuals. The Structured Behavior Based panel Interview: As stated above, companies look at behaviors as a prediction of future behaviors. They ask questions that are non-hypothetical, and are looking for “true” stories. You can use names, and give stories of a real-life situation. Example: “Tell me a time when you provided a customer with exceptional service”…..The wrong answer: I was very polite and professional, I got them everything they needed, and thanked them for their business…They left happy. Correct answer: Mr. Jones who is now a frequent customer of ours, was in our store last year for a pair of dress pants, he found a pair he really liked, but not in his size. I apologized for not having the size, and asked him if he would give me a few minutes to call our other stores to find his size, and have them shipped to us, and I would call him when they arrived. I did, and he was extremely thankful when they came in and said he would be a customer for life, and he shops with us all the time, and has referred customers to see me. The “WOW” factor. A structured behavioral based interview is looking for real life stories in regard to their questions, but, they must be a positive result. Example: S.T.A.R. Situation-They ask a specific question to find out how you handled a situation in your past. Task-What task was involved related to the question. Action-The action you had taken to resolve or handle the problem. **Keep in mind the action you had taken must be ethical, accepted, and within policy and procedure (most are common sense), as it must be a good action. Result-The result of the action you had to take. The result MUST be positive. Another example: “Tell me about a time when you had to mentor a team member who lacked confidence…What did you do?” I had a sales associate name Johnny who was struggling with closing a sale. He was very friendly, and knowledgeable, but observing him, I had noticed Johnny would continue on with features and benefits, and sales presentation, when the customer was ready to buy, and would lose the sale due to his frustrating the customer. I pulled him aside when we had some “down” time, and told him all the great things he was doing, and also explained what was causing him to lose the sales. I did this in a positive way and asked him what he could do differently. He realized what he was doing, but, I asked him to observe me, and he did. Then I had him “role-play” with me a customer transaction, as I was the customer. It took some time, and he became one of my top sales team members, and he was recently promoted to lead sales manager. THE RESULT HAS TO BE A POSITIVE RESULT. To say well Johnny didn’t do well, he was terminated would not be a good example. Be prepared for some good stories with good content, specific to the question (not gruesome detail), but specifics. Don’t utilize last names if it revolves around medical (HIPAA laws), or something that may cause embarrassment/defame the individual you are discussing (someone that maybe known to the interviewer(s)) ***Have some good stories to tell that are true (good examples ready and prepared if possible). Don’t lie, as you may have a trained intelligent interviewer that understands the mind….When your eyes look to your right, and your telling a story or answering a question, it usually means you are creating/constructing (using the creative part of your brain), looking to your left is utilizing memory recall (remembering what happened). Be prepared, and be honest! Most panels consist of a question “Tell me about some of your weakness & about your strength’s?” Make sure your weakness is not a direct expectation of the job description! A good one for that is “I’m very thorough and a perfectionist, and I often double check my work as I strive for perfection…I’m working on that at doing it right the first time as I focus on getting things done ahead of schedule, and having that time to make sure it is 100%!” You need to know your own strengths and MAKE SURE they are in direct correlation to the job description you are applying for. Customer Service: Very Customer Focused, Admin. Assistant: Very Organized & great with Excel, Microsoft, etc. When they ask you “Are there any questions for us?” Make sure you are prepared with one or two, and MAKE SURE they are NOT “What’s in it for me questions”….What kind of company car will I get?....How much will I make (let the offer come first or have an idea prior)? A question I found to be the best, as it sets a mood for the person doing the interview, and inspires them is “How long have you been with the company, and how did you get to the level you are at? It usually follows with a great story, and you may get to know your future boss before you are hired. Based on that story, ask who was that person who influenced your career and made you the success person you are today? Who gave you the opportunity? And finally, is there an opportunity for advancement, as if given the opportunity, I would like to make this my career? If they ask you a trick question as some do “How many sick days do you feel is acceptable in a 90 day period? The answer is zero. Don’t talk about or ask about sick time…It will be in the employee hand book when you get hired! It’s an “Employers Market” and they want the best! Always think about what you are going to say before you say it, and how it will be perceived. Good luck, and feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions or to correct me if you disagree. Let’s share and help one another through this tough time. I do care…I want nothing, other than a success story of how you got the job and or helped someone else find a job! Toddeagleton5150@gmail.com