What’s Next in HD

Postage in the Nick of Time

When To Form An HR Department

Sexual Harassment Is Still a Problem

Toastmasters: Speaking with Ease

New Career Boosters at MCCC

For Jobseekers, Holidays Are Good

Corrections or additions?

These articles were prepared for the December 15, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide

Top Of Page
What’s Next in HD

Feeling constrained by the 4.7 GB capacity of today’s DVDs? Are you

getting into high-definition video production with the new HDV format,

and wondering how to deliver HD content? Don’t fear – hope is here

with high-def DVD on blue-laser disc. Capacities of 20+ GB may be on

the street as early as next year.

However, just when you thought you had all the competing DVD formats

figured out – R/RW/RAM-dash vs. plus and the new double-layer DL, a

high-def DVD format war is about to begin between Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

But why wait for new disc formats? Microsoft’s Windows Media HD can

deliver HD video at standard-definition rates today, playable on

standard PCs. And the WM HD DVD format even can package HD productions

on standard DVD discs, complete with a DVD-like interface.

Confused yet? It gets worse-these next-generation HD formats will

require dramatic changes to today’s DVD authoring tools and processes.

These formats blow away the limitations of today’s DVD specification,

moving from basic menus and links to a fully programmable interface,

requiring new authoring skills more like multimedia and Web

programming.

Doug Dixon attempts to make sense of it all on Wednesday, December 15,

at 6:30 p.m. at a meeting of the Princeton Media Communications

Association (PMCA) at Princeton Theological Seminary’s Templeton Hall

Basement Studio. Cost: $15. Call 609-466-2828, ext. 20.

Dixon, a noted technologist and author – and U.S. 1 contributor –

provides a heads-up on how to begin preparing for these new

developments for delivering HD content on DVD discs. Come learn about

the technology behind these new formats, and the market forces that

ultimately will determine their successes. See how the Windows Media

HD format can be used today to deliver full HD/surround-sound

productions. And get a preview of how DVD authoring will change in

this new world.

Get ready, in short, to take your holiday home movies, and, yes, your

work presentations, too, to the next level.

Top Of Page
Postage in the Nick of Time

Many post offices in Central New Jersey have a new mailing elf – a

self-service kiosk that you can use to send your holiday packages.

Just plunk your package or envelope on the scale and follow the

prompts on the touch screen.

The official name of the mailing elf is the Automated Postal Center,

and 2,400 of them have been installed nationwide, 24 of them in

lobbies in Central New Jersey, and their availability extends the

hours during which you can do your mailing. In the Carnegie Center on

Roszel Road, the lobby is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. In Plainsboro on

Schalks Crossing Road, the hours are from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. On

Livingston Avenue in North Brunswick, it is 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Others APCs are in Brick, Bridgewater, East Brunswick, the Kilmer

office in Edison, the main branch in Edison, Englishtown, Freehold,

Hillsborough, Howell, Jackson, Kendall Park, Lakehurst, Middletown,

Milltown, Monroe, Old Bridge, Piscataway, Red Bank, Somerset, and Toms

River.

If you can use an ATM machine or sign yourself onto an airplane

flight, you can mail packages with the APC. But for now, a staff

person in the lobby will coach you through it. Put your package or

letter on the scale. Then, using a touch screen, you answer questions

(no liquids or firearms are enclosed), are given choices (first class,

Priority, parcel post, or Express Mail), and are offered extra

services, like insurance or delivery notification.

You pay with a debit or credit card – no cash. The machine prints out

the electronic label and a receipt, and you stuff your package in the

adjoining bin. Naturally you can buy bulk stamps here as well, and you

can also look up zip codes.

Our reporter lugged 8 packages, ranging from one ounce to six pounds,

into the Roszel Road lobby on Monday, December 13. About eight people

were waiting in line for the counter. In the time that it took her to

follow the prompts, print out the labels, and deposit her packages in

the giant maw of the mailing receptacle, she would have worked her way

almost to the head of the counter line.

What’s missing with the APC? You can’t send international mailings,

use Registered Mail, or purchase money orders on it. You can’t ask a

clerk to add Priority Mail tape to help seal the package or whether

she thinks the package rattles too much.

And during the busy holiday mailing season, you may still have to

stand in line. If you don’t like waiting in a bank line while some

idiot procrastinates with an ATM machine, you’ll hate cooling your

heels while someone fiddles with their zip codes. The "live person"

line may not be available at 6 in the morning, but during regular

hours it might be quicker.

– Barbara Fox

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When To Form An HR Department

The employer’s road is not one for sissies. Long gone is the simple

handshake that once solidified the bond between the company owner and

the individual who drew a salary. Now both sit befuddled across a desk

wading through paper – revolving healthcare selections, benefit and

severance plans. Constrained by layers of paper, they must deal with

additional constraints imposed by state, federal, and Department of

Labor strictures. An employer must confirm a job candidate’s national

origin but cannot dare ask about his childcare arrangements.

Some days it almost seems it would be easier for the employer to

forget the staff and do all the work himself. It would be nice to get

a really efficient human resource team or even one professional, but

the problem is that there are so many aspects to modern HR that it is

difficult to even start to delegate the tasks. In hopes of guiding

besieged business owners through this maze, the Employers Association

of New Jersey (EANJ) hosts a seminar, "Establishing/Expanding a Human

Resource Department," on Friday, December 17, at 9 a.m. at the

Middlesex County College campus in Edison. Cost: $10. Call

609-393-7100 or visit www.EANJ.org.

This roundtable features John Sarno, executive director of the

Employers Association of New Jersey; Becky Dent, an EANJ trainer

specializing in family and medical leave laws; and representatives

from the U.S. Department of Labor.

"I can honestly say that every aspect of my education gets called upon

in my work almost every day," says Sarno. A native Garden Stater,

Sarno was raised in Elmwood Park. He graduated with a degree in

psychology from Ramapo College (Class of 1977) and earned a master’s

degree in counseling and education, as well as a law degree, from

Seton Hall. "All this allows me to not only teach employers

compliance, but to understand what and why they want to learn," he

says.

Outsourcing has become the thrift-seeking buzzword these days for

everything from maintenance to medical diagnosis. But with this lower

price tag comes a risky loss of control. Employees’ personal records

and their various withholding escrows are the owner’s sole

responsibility; a responsibility enforced by an astoundingly

unforgiving government. Besides, even for the small firm, in-house

human resource handling is nor necessarily more costly.

The question is: when do you move up to one full-time professional or

from one up to a full department?

Role revolution. The traditional tasks of the folks in personnel have

been to hire, fire, and figure out the payroll. But with an increasing

buffer of legalities and compliance procedures engulfing each worker,

Sarno views human resource people primarily as risk managers. They are

the ones who can see a possible disability or gender grievance coming.

They know the employees. They know what work practices benefits will

breed contentment and production – or the opposite. They know what

kind of paper needs to get generated when.

Further, the human resource professional may now be the best person to

take on the job of training in compliance and procedural necessities.

"Do not count on your general company lawyer to keep up on all the

latest labor law," says Sarno. "The laws are endless and almost

impossible to ingest unless yours is a big corporation, which has

hired a specialized labor attorney."

Beyond numbers. There is no precise formula for definitely determining

how many employees a company should reach before it starts – or

increases – a human resource department. But Sarno does point out that

50 has become a very magic employment number. Firms with 50 or more

workers become subject to conditions of the Federal Family Medical

Leave Act, the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and a host of other

regulated programs and practices. If your business is about to grow

across the 50-person line, you might want to plan for the extra

expense and staff time in your human resource department.

Several factors beyond size may add to the human resource department’s

burden. Does your company have or plan to seek government contracts?

Not only have government jobs traditionally added reams more

worker-centered paperwork, but in this climate you may be responsible

for providing security checks as well. For the business that deals

with heavily regulated materials or requires random drug testing, a

fully staffed human resource team can prove a godsend, preventing

production slow downs and poor morale.

Going public. An extra layer of employee concern comes when the

business is finally ready to go public. Immediately a third party must

be ever appeased: the stockholders. This very sensitive and very

powerful group of folks reacts quite waspishly to the slightest whiff

of a problem. "Reputation maintenance and shareholder communication

suddenly become the job of the human resource department," says Sarno.

He gives the examples of whistle blowing and sexual harassment;

problems that the private company can handle in a strictly legal

fashion, but that can blow into a stock-plummeting disaster for the

publicly-held firm.

Handling healthcare. The 21st century has kicked off with innumerable

problems for the human resource worker, but none is greater than

healthcare. While providing healthcare has severely wounded profits of

many large corporations, it has broken the back of countless small and

mid-size companies. To survive at all, human resource executives must

become creative hunters. They have to wade through all the possible

plans. They must team up with other businesses and broaden their

numerical advantage. The days of merely dialing up an insurance

company and accepting a quote are long gone. Ferreting out affordable

coverage takes substantial expertise.

Wage/hour legislation. In theory, says Sarno, the state and federal

laws regarding wage and hours worked laws are now streamlined. But New

Jersey has always demanded more than the federal minimum. In instances

such as overtime, the regulations are strictly governed by job

categories. For example, an assistant manager must spend 80 percent of

his actual time on management tasks outlined in his job description.

If he unloads trucks, or performs other tasks for more than 20

percent, he loses his exempt status and his employer is liable for

overtime. But in the retail trade, the overtime percentage changes to

60 percent. Tricky, and potentially costly.

One-of-a-kind benefits. EANJ’s latest survey of its employer members

indicates that there will be little rise in the actual size of

benefits packages. This is not the employee’s primary concern anyway.

What workers really want is a customized benefits package. They want

to choose from a menu containing everything from day care to elder

care reimbursement, tuition to tooth whitening. And with the national

wave of job insecurity, many hiring candidates are inquiring about

what bridge training and employment pickup plan is included upon

termination of the position they do not even yet hold.

Probably the only trend that remains sure is that maintaining each

employee will become even more costly and require more staff labor.

Once you face this cold hard fact, it becomes not a question of if

your human resource capabilities should expand – but how often.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Sexual Harassment Is Still a Problem

The office Holiday Party (re-christened to replace "Christmas" with a

more politically-correct term) is famous for what? Sure, everyone

knows. It’s not festive decorations or gourmet spreads that first

spring to mind. In fact it’s hard to suppress titters at the very

mention of the annual event, at which the major entertainment is

seeing who will corner whom behind the egg nog table.

Used to be that the chief fall-out was unnatural quiet around the

office for a week or so after the event as the giddy gropers kept a

low profile, hoping that no one had noticed their indiscretions, and

everyone else whispered about who had observed what. Now, however,

such untoward conduct can have legal ramifications. Everyone should

know better than to mix sexual hijinks and work – but not everyone

does. And, yes, whether held in the office cafeteria or the hottest

night club in town, the annual company holiday party is considered to

be an extension of the workplace.

"Sexual harassment in the workplace has been illegal for over 40

years, but we still keep having problems with it," says Angela Deitch.

While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the first law to make sexual

harassment illegal, there have been many amendments and changes to

both state and federal laws concerning harassment over the years. One

recent change in California law forecasts coming changes in other

states, including New Jersey, Deitch says.

Deitch, through her company, Angela Deitch Consulting, offers training

programs to businesses on sexual harassment and other types of

discrimination. The new California law, which takes affect in 2005,

requires California companies with 50 or more employees to give sexual

harassment training to supervisors and managers.

The goal of her 10-year-old company, says Deitch, is "to help

businesses to thrive by increasing the effectiveness of human

capital." She offers training programs on avoiding sexual and other

forms of harassment. Deitch began her work in the harassment area

several years ago when she worked with the State of New Jersey to

design a sexual harassment program for state employees.

The new California law is "an exciting and interesting change," says

Deitch, because companies often put training on the back burner,

"particularly if the economy is not at its best, until the training

becomes absolutely necessary."

While current federal law does not mandate training for supervisors or

employees, the United States Supreme Court "advises" employers on ways

to defend against sexual harassment claims. Training is a large part

of that defense.

There are two basic types of sexual harassment, says Deitch:

Quid pro quo harassment. This type of harassment occurs when a

supervisor or manager requires sexual favors for hiring or other job

benefits. "When quid pro quo harassment occurs, the company has

absolute liability according to the law," says Deitch, "because the

supervisor is an agent of the company, and when the supervisor speaks,

the company speaks."

However, the Supreme Court does say that companies can defend

themselves in other types of sexual harassment cases where they can

show "reasonable care to prevent and correct harassment and

discrimination," Deitch says.

Hostile environment harassment. This second type of sexual harassment

includes a variety of behaviors, such as "unwelcome requests for

sexual favors or dates, demeaning comments or ethnic slurs, leering or

comments about a person’s body, suggestive conversations, jokes,

graphics, and E-mails and faxes," Deitch says.

Hostile environment sexual harassment can occur not only between two

co-workers or employees, but between a non-employee and employee. This

might include a workman or repairman who is making repairs in the

workplace or a contract worker. Sexual harassment can also take place

between a customer or client and employee, Deitch says. It can occur

in a number of places, including the workplace itself, the workplace

parking lot, at a company event, or at an off-site seminar or

conference.

How does an employer protect himself against claims of sexual

harassment? "Mounting an affirmative defense," is the best protection,

Deitch says. The "affirmative defense" is carefully spelled out by the

Supreme Court. "The best way to defend against a sexual harassment

suit is by having and distributing a sexual harassment policy, by

training supervisors in that policy, and by showing evidence of

appropriate handling of situations that may have occurred," Deitch

says.

"If an employee harasses a co-worker through hostile environment

sexual harassment, then it is the employer’s responsibility to take

appropriate action as soon as the employer knows about it. The

affirmative defense can also be used by the employer if the target of

the harassment does not report it to a company manager or supervisor,"

she adds.

What should sexual harassment training include? It is important for

supervisors to have information on current federal and state laws,

Deitch says, as well as a discussion of "what sexual harassment looks

like." This may include role playing and scenarios to help supervisors

better understand the issues, she explains. Supervisors also need to

know "what to do if they see or hear about sexual harassment. Most

organizations want the supervisor to involve the human relations

office," she adds. "It takes skill to investigate a sexual harassment

claim and it is not to be taken lightly."

Supervisors also should know that retaliation against someone making a

sexual harassment claim, or against someone participating in an

investigation (such as a witness to the harassment) is also illegal.

"The most important thing for supervisors to understand is that the

first line of defense against a sexual harassment suit is to be

pro-active," says Deitch. "Informal and formal training for staff

members should occur and managers need to keep an open door policy" so

that their employees feel they can come to them if there is a problem,

says Deitch. In addition, supervisors should "always remember to treat

people with respect. If someone comes to you with a sexual harassment

claim, don’t jump to conclusions."

Another important point for employers to remember is that supervisors

cannot take sides in a sexual harassment complaint between two

co-workers. "They also can’t allow other co-workers to become

partisans," she said. "Supervisors need to lead by example"

In general, the current federal laws regarding sexual harassment apply

to companies with 15 or more employees or smaller companies that hold

contracts with the government, says Deitch. And while the new

California law requiring mandatory training for supervisors is a state

law, not federal, it will have both direct and indirect effects on New

Jersey companies, she says. "New Jersey companies who have employees

in California will be affected by the law. Also, California companies

with employees in other states, such as New Jersey, will need to have

training for all of their supervisors, no matter where they are

located."

Connecticut has already had mandatory sexual harassment training for

several years. Now California also has it. "New Jersey has always been

at the forefront on issues like this. It is only a matter of time

before training is mandatory in New Jersey, also," Deitch predicts.

Her work also requires that she keep in touch with area attorneys who

deal in sexual harassment cases. "I’ve talked to attorneys about

recent cases in the state and many of them see New Jersey moving in

the direction (of mandatory training)," she says.

Companies should not look on mandatory training for supervisors as a

burden. "Mandating training is very helpful to companies," says

Deitch, because a company "can’t protect itself legally if its

supervisors have not had training. Companies need to seriously

thinking about taking sexual harassment training off the back burner

now, because it is just a matter of time before it becomes the law

here."

-Karen Hodges Miller

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Toastmasters: Speaking with Ease

Studies have reported that public speaking is the number one fear of

most people, even ahead of death. Or, as Jerry Seinfeld put it: "That

means that at a funeral, the average American would rather be in the

casket than doing the eulogy."

Quite possible. The average American, in the safety and comfort of the

weekly department meeting may challenge, persuade, or try to convince

his business colleagues that one course of action is better than

another without even thinking about it. But put that same soul in

front of a room to challenge, persuade, and convince, and he may be

become overwhelmed by nervous ticks, stammers, and um, well, let’s

see, they’ll, uh…forget their name, the blood will…um, rush to

their faces and they’ll, um, be a quivering mess.

If you’re in business and you fear public speaking over death (or if

speaking is running a close second to death), the cost to you can be

immeasurable. The ability to give an effective presentation, run

committee meetings, represent the company, and explain to clients why

they should sign on with you or your company is a key leadership

competency, and without it, you might find yourself suffering a death

of another sort. The death of your career aspirations.

Most experts agree that the way to confront a fear is to face it, and

Toastmasters(www.toastmasters.org) is a well respected place to face

the number one fear. Toastmasters is a non-profit educational

organization whose mission "is to provide a mutually supportive and

positive learning environment in which every member has the

opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in

turn foster self-confidence and personal growth." With seven Princeton

area open-to-the-public Toastmaster’s groups (known by TMs as "clubs")

to choose from, and a number of in-corporation employee-only clubs as

well, the Route 1 area is bursting with opportunities to confront that

number one fear and turn it on its head.

Eddie Donohue, a reporter for McGraw-Hill in Hightstown, is vice

president of education for Kingston’s Singles Speak Up group, a member

of Princeton Toastmasters, and a visitor to the corporate club at

McGraw-Hill in Hightstown.

"I’d heard about Toastmasters, but I’d never actually sought it out,"

Donohue says. Unlike the majority of the population, this brave soul

thought he might actually enjoy public speaking, so when the McGraw

Hill club had a membership drive, Donohue took the plunge. However,

when he got up in front of the room, "I found I was terrified," he

laughs. "But now it’s different. I still get anxious, but it’s sort of

like basketball. It’s the last quarter, the game’s close, but I still

want the ball."

Speaking is not a slam dunk for Donohue, but Toastmasters’

learn-while-doing style has helped him to make progress, as it has for

beginners and seasoned speakers for 80 years. (Toastmasters

International just celebrated its 80th year in October.)

"There’s something unique about every club," says Donohue, but each

meeting follows a similar pattern, so a meeting in Princeton would

look very similar to a meeting in Nebraska, Luxembourg, Zimbabwe or

Fiji (all places where Toastmasters has clubs).

At first glance the meetings feel pretty formal, particularly when

"Thank you Mr./Madame Toastmaster, members, and welcome guests" is

being said by just about every person who winds up at the podium, but

the formality and structure serves the safety and learning of the

group. At each meeting, members either give prepared speeches on

topics of their choice, or they are chosen to speak "off the cuff" for

brief "table topics," which are usually themed – sometimes according

to national events or holidays.

Table topics are the "wind sprints" of Toastmasters, helping members

develop their impromptu speaking skills, because however important it

may be to deliver a prepared presentation to a group, the ability to

collect your thoughts and speak coherently without breaking out into a

cold sweat is a great skill to have too.

New members of the group receive a manual that walks them through the

basics of composing and presenting a successful speech, beginning with

an "Icebreaker," which is a six-minute talk in which the speaker

introduces himself to the group. More experienced Toastmasters, called

"evaluators," provide feedback to the featured speakers on their

strengths and how to improve. But don’t start quaking in your shoes

about the evaluations; although members can get slightly zealous about

catching speakers who mutter too many "um’s" and "uh’s", the general

mood at a Toastmasters meeting is incredibly supportive and helpful.

"People all around you are actively engaged in your advancement,"

Donohue says.

The Singles Speak Up group in Kingston is unique, according to

Donohue. Composed primarily of singles (but not exclusively), the

group meets on Friday nights and the atmosphere is casual and laid

back. After most meetings, "members usually go out for a late dinner

at Good Time Charlie’s." Although "it’s a great place to meet people,"

Donohue doesn’t think any Singles Speak Up members have found their

perfect match through the group, but he’s quick to point out that that

isn’t its purpose. "It’s friendly and relaxed, and it’s a great social

network," he says, "but it’s not designed as a dating group." Members

may be single, but they’re there primarily to improve their public

speaking and leadership skills.

Once a member has delivered the 10 speeches in the beginners manual,

he receives a CTM, or Competent Toastmaster distinction. After that, a

member moves on to an advanced manual where he can work on more

complex skills, such as presenting longer speeches with a humorous or

dramatic bent, or speeches that center on business presentation skills

with a focus on public relations, educational, or technical issues.

Donohue has been involved in Toastmasters for five years, and he has

received his ATM (Advanced Toastmaster) Silver distinction – which

means he’s delivered over 30 speeches – and he is working towards his

ATM Gold. The highest level of distinction a Toastmaster can achieve

is a DTM, or distinguished toastmaster, and to do that, he needs to

have achieved ATM Gold, and also to have completed the Toastmasters

Leadership series.

A lot of people come to Toastmasters because they’ve been promoted and

their new job requires making presentations, says Donohue. Or they may

have been downsized and are trying to develop a new skill during their

job hunt. But for Donohue, the big test came last year, when he was

the best man at his brother’s wedding. "I had to deliver a toast. I

was critical of myself, but my brother and sister-in-law couldn’t

believe it. The people closest to me were surprised by my skill."

Donohue cites these positive benefits of Toastmasters:

Social networking. "Everybody talks about a declining sense of

community," he says, "but Toastmasters groups are a real community. It

gives you the sense of a small town. You get to know these people and

they get to know you because you get up in front of them week after

week." Sharing stories about your life, and delivering speeches about

things that matter to you is a great way to shortcut through small

talk, he says. "It’s consistently exhilarating being in front of

people, and reaching out to them."

Personal and professional development. Membership in Toastmasters

costs under $60 a year and the professional development is

extraordinary, says Donohue. "You learn skills, you gain confidence;

it’s like going to college and the tuition is minimal."

Developing entrepreneurial skills/creating a learning environment.

"There’s a real sense of entrepreneurship about the clubs," Donohue

says. Every member is responsible for creating the environment of the

club, and each member takes on roles to keep the club growing and

thriving. "We belong to an international organization and you have to

maintain club goals and support people in their advancement," he says.

Toastmasters "teaches the art of motivating people." By being involved

in the organization, he says, you gain in leadership skills, marketing

and teamwork skills.

And you learn how to wow crowds at weddings.

If you want to go, Princeton area Toastmaster groups, all of which are

open to the public, are:

Singles Speak-Up Club. Kingston Presbyterian Church, 4565

Route 27. 609-448-6434. First and third Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Princeton Club. Princeton United Methodist Church,

Vandeventer Avenue and Nassau Street. 609-799-4445. First, third and

fifth Thursday. 7:30 p.m.

Lawrenceville Club. Bristol Myers Squibb, 206 & Province

Line Road. Debra Pillo-Plank, 609-252-4000. First and third Tuesday.

Noon

ETS Club. Educational Testing Service, Rosedale Road.

609- 734-5157. Twice per month, varies. Noon

CUH2A Toastmasters Club. CUH2A, 1000 Lenox Drive,

Lawrenceville. 609-791-7255 First Tuesday and third Thursday. Noon.

Becoming Masterful Speakers. Bristol-Myers Squibb,

Building 2, 777 Scudders Mill Road, Plainsboro. 609-897-5149 Second

and forth Tuesday. Noon.

Union Public Speaker’s Club. Mercer County Community

College, James Kerney Campus, South Broad Street, Trenton.

609-731-1880. First and third Wednesday. 6 p.m.

– Deb Cooperman

Top Of Page
New Career Boosters at MCCC

Mercer County Community College’s Center for Continuing Studies is now

enrolling for its non-credit Spring Semester business classes.

According to Yvonne Chang, director of Community Education, these

programs are designed for a variety of audiences, including small and

large businesses and career changers. Areas of focus include nonprofit

management, marketing, business communications, real estate, project

management, human resources, small business management, financial

planning, and computer literacy – from the basics to advanced courses

in programming.

New this January is "Human Performance Improvement (HPI) in the

Workplace," which outlines the principles of this systemic approach to

solving organizational problems, and is a prerequisite for subsequent

HPI courses. The five full-day sessions meet on Tuesdays from 9 a.m.

to 4 p.m. beginning January 18. Tuition and fees of $795 include

course material, breakfast, and lunch.

Another course offered for the first time will be "Know Thy Enemy &

Thy Ally," taught by Mary Evslin of Evslin Consulting, which explores

business competitors and customers. The class meets two Tuesday

evenings beginning February 1. Tuition $84.

In the computer realm, new certification prep classes will be offered

in "Microsoft Word XP" and "Microsoft Excel." These daytime courses

will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for six

sessions each, and are taught by a Microsoft-certified instructor.

Word begins on February 15; Excel begins April 5.

The "Certified Financial Planner" program will be taught by Brett

Danko, CFP, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. The program

has two components: "Investment Planning" and "Retirement Planning &

Employee Benefits." Classes meet on Monday evenings beginning January

24. Fees for tuition and testing are $360; course materials are $400.

The registration deadline for noncredit classes is two weeks before

the course start date. For more information call 609-586-9446 or visit

www.mccc.edu.

Top Of Page
For Jobseekers, Holidays Are Good

If you are unemployed – or stuck in a job you dislike – the holiday

season may be the best time of year to find a new job, according to

CareerJournal.com (www.CareerJournal.com), the executive career site

from The Wall Street Journal.

"Don’t stop job hunting because you assume that no one is hiring

between Thanksgiving and New Year’s," says Tony Lee, editor in chief

of CareerJournal.com. "When their work load declines in December, many

managers use the down time to interview candidates. And thanks to the

new budget year that begins in January, those managers often have the

money to hire candidates again to fill positions that have been open

for many months."

Full-time positions also open up as transitioning employees quit their

jobs to move to new positions that start just after the New Year. And

competition is lighter as many other job hunters focus on

holiday-related activities.

CareerJournal.com offers these tips for job-hunting over the holiday

season:

Be social. Accept every social and business invitation to attend as

many holiday parties as you can, since networking is the key to

finding a job.

Send out holiday greeting cards. And enclose an update letter about

your job search. You also can thank people who have been helpful in

your career through the past year and let them know the status of your

job hunt.

Be your own postal service. Hand-deliver resumes so they don’t get

lost in the holiday rush.

Research new developments. Track news of companies’ 2005 plans that

may indicate job openings.

Keep on keeping up. Don’t stop your job search, even for a couple of

weeks.

"Searching for a new job is a full-time job in itself when done right,

so use holiday vacation time and a slower workload to network in

person and by phone," Lee says. "It’s a great way to make sure that

you start the New Year in a new job." For more job search information

and guidance, visit www.CareerJournal.com.


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