Calling all job seekers: a solution for the frustrated and long-term unemployed

Are you unemployed? Have you been unemployed for months or years? Have your benefits subsided? Have you turned over every leaf and stone, contacted everyone you know? Are you feeling discouraged about the job market and getting back out there? I don’t blame you one bit. But I’d like to offer a solution that’s a bit outside of the box:

Have you considered working for yourself?

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Looking for a few energetic peeps!

I was in a similar position last year after having my son. Even though I had plentiful experience and considered myself well-connected, opportunities seemed to simply disappear. That old adage “it’s all who you know” doesn’t necessarily stand true any longer. Being a single mom with a small child, I needed more than minimum wage. So I started researching telecommuting opportunities and stumbled across the healthcare company I now represent, AmeriPlan USA.

Now that I’ve been with them about a year, I feel comfortable shouting from the rooftops that this is a well-established company that offers a reputable way to earn a living from home. It’s not a get-rich-quick scenario: in my experience, if you’ve signed up for one of those, you likely have a long, disappointing journey ahead.

The beauty about telecommuting with us is anyone can do it. You don’t need to interview 7 times with different contacts within the company; you don’t have to go through a credit check; we don’t have to call an extensive list of references. You simply need to *want* to work for yourself, commit yourself to training and doing your best, and following the path you and your trainers establish. If you have been searching fruitlessly for that perfect telecommuting job with no results, I encourage you to learn more about working with AmeriPlan.

Want to know more or schedule an interview? Check out our career overview page and then request an interview. Or email me at LLevaas@ameriplan.net. It’s really that easy! What do you have to lose? Take a few minutes to learn about an opportunity that could change your life.

Tuesday inspiration: climb over (or blow up) those roadblocks

Moving-Mountains

How do you move mountains?

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would move mountains to get it?

Sure! We all have.

What was that thing you wanted? Why did you want it so much? And what did you do to get it?

I’m discovering this is the mentality you need to be successful, no matter what your endeavor. Isn’t it a daily challenge to stay on task, remain productive, and keep your energy and enthusiasm high? How do those highly-successful people do it?

This post today is mainly a reminder to myself that it takes time to achieve goals. I remind myself that slow and steady wins the race (= raise??) It takes time to undo and rebuild years of habits and learned behaviors from both the positive and negative influencers in our lives. Keep on keeping on! And remember your WHY when things get tough.

Peeps: how do you jumpstart your enthusiasm when you’re feeling stuck? I wanna know!

Attention Job Seekers: Be Professional!

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Being professional counts!

Some of you may know that I began working from home for this awesome healthcare company called AmeriPlan last summer. I love it for a million reasons I won’t go into here! One of the many things I do is call prospective team members who also want to work from home and have requested interviews to learn more about what it’s like working for the company. After countless phone calls and interviews, I’d like to offer prospective job seekers a few tips.

  1. Answer the phone with enthusiasm. If you are tired, grumpy, angry, sad or any derivative of the above, let your messages go to voicemail and return the call later. Answering a phone call with tension, anger or fatigue is not the way to make a great first impression. I would say the same goes for the interviewers placing those calls as well! I never pick up the phone if I’m any mood other than enthusiastic. If I’m feeling off, I get happy before I approach my phone.
  2. Use a professional e-mail address on your resume. First name, last name and a number if those two are already taken.
  3. Be courteous. I’m actually very surprised by people who hang up on me when I call to conduct an interview or folks who send unprofessional e-mails. AmeriPlan is a professional company, I am a recruiter, and you have requested that I call you. In my personal life, if I receive a phone call that is unwanted, I simply reply that I’m not interested and to take me off their list. If I get an email I don’t remember signing up for, I unsubscribe. I would never dream about hanging up on someone when I’m conducting professional business. I’m curious why people think this is an acceptable practice. Also, I’m not a telemarketer. If I have your number, it’s because you asked me to phone you.
  4. Texting a prospective employer is not appropriate.

Employers out there: do you have anything to add? This advice is dispensed with love! Some of this is common sense but I think it’s good to be reminded that people are watching what you do. A little bit of professionalism goes a very long way and it’s a small world.

Simplify your life: avoid avoiding

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Nopenopenope.

Why do we avoid what needs to be done the most?

When I say we of course I mean me. And I say this after two consecutive sleepless nights due to stress, which was completely caused by my own actions and lousy recordkeeping. On a high note: at least there were records! It’s my actual keeping of them that needs improvement.

One of my colleagues shared something brilliant on a training call recently.

The thing we are willing and eager to do is almost never what we need to do.”

How oh-so-very-true is this? How easy is it to expend energy on the tasks we enjoy doing (or that just waste time) and then when it’s time to grind the axe, we’re exhausted? This goes for both your work life and your personal life.

I don’t have a solution for this conundrum other than to avoid avoiding. Every day we make choices. We always have choices! If your priorities are clearly defined, it should be easy to make those choices and sort out our tough decisions. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t enjoy your life. That’s why we’re here! But we complicate our lives by overcommitting, feeling guilty because we’ve neglected something, changing plans, rinse and repeat.

When is the last time you wrote down your priorities? I did this little exercise last week, and honestly, I don’t think I had ever done this before. This is different from goal-setting, which is a defined series of actionable steps. Really dig down deep and define your priorities. Family? Friends? Health? Personal Development? Once you define these, your choices should naturally fall into line and clear the chaos: if something doesn’t fit into one of your priorities, let it go. Conserve your energy for your priorities.

How do you follow through in your life and work? Help us time management freaks out.

What’s your recipe for motivation?

you-can-do-anything-but-not-everythingHow do you stay motivated?

After keeping close tabs on my own motivation for the past month or so, I’ve come to a few realizations.

1) Motivation is directly tied to the company you keep. There’s a reason why accountability groups are so popular: when you share your goal (in writing, on the phone, with a skywriter, whatever you choose), you’re more likely to keep working toward that goal and stay on track. Want to stay motivated? Surround yourself with motivated people!

2) You are what you eat. Nobody makes good decisions when they’re hangry. I, for one, am easily defeated by plummeting blood sugar. I have to avoid coffee completely (it makes me stabby), ensure I have healthy snacks on hand and that I don’t let myself get too hungry. Otherwise all bets are off. P.S. Have you ever heard of Spark? It’s such an awesome substitute for coffee, I can’t believe I didn’t start drinking this years ago.

3) Quit quitting. Be consistent! Look at your goals every day. Every day. Even if you can only work toward your goals for an hour a day (or 15 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever) do it, and do it every day. Don’t let small upsets and obstacles steer you away from your goal. Keep going.

Ever heard of the 1% rule? You don’t have to move forward 100% every day. That’s crazy talk. But if you can improve just 1% over what you did yesterday, and do that consistently over time…well, you can see where I’m going.

And as the great Larry Winget says, do it today. Not tomorrow, today. Whatever it is, today is better than tomorrow. So do it now, whatever it is!

How do you keep your motivation up? Tell, tell!

Got Baby?

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Me (L) and my sister Cindy in 2012

Are you pregnant and uninsured or know anyone who is? Do you know your options?

I was in this situation in 2012 and had no clue what my options were. Backstory: After working abroad for a year, I returned to the U.S. with a bebe on board. Truth be told, this kiddo wasn’t planned but in hindsight turned out to be one of the best things that has happened to me!

How was I going to pay for this kid to be born? I was unemployed — having just completed a 1-year teaching contract in South Korea — and was having a heck of a time getting hired. I did find full-time work very late in my pregnancy, but unfortunately I didn’t qualify for any maternity “benefits” because I was too close to my due date. At that time coverage varied by employer and state, and maternity benefits wouldn’t have kicked in until I’d had insurance coverage for 6 months. Additionally, even if I had signed on for insurance with that particular employer, I was only making minimum wage. My out-of-pocket costs would have been far more than I was making!

So the quest to find maternity insurance was born. No pun intended. And what was the result?

There is no such thing as maternity insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, you can no longer be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition (pregnancy) and prenatal benefits have increased. But you must have a health insurance plan. What if you can’t afford health insurance, even under the ACA? By the way, you can visit Health Sherpa to compare insurance rates in your area. I frequently send folks to this site, since you aren’t required to input sensitive personal information that has been compromised under the health care exchange website. This is for plan pricing purposes only but you will find links to the healthcare exchange or for contacting insurance companies directly to purchase.

If you are uninsured at the time you become pregnant, and can’t afford insurance (even under the ACA) your options are:

  1. Pay out-of-pocket: You may attempt to negotiate your bills with your physicians and doctors but a majority of projected expenses must be pre-paid (or at least it was in my case). You can also hire a company to negotiate for you.
  2. Enroll in Medicaid: You must provide all your financial information, including that of your entire household, and the application may take up 2 months.

Option #1 is how I stumbled upon AmeriPlan while browsing on the American Pregnancy Association website. Once you are a member of their healthcare program, an advocate will be assigned to you to help negotiate your bills based on what you are able to pay once your tab has exceeded $2500. I think we can all agree that’s an easy number to exceed. Of course, you must be a member of AmeriPlan’s healthcare program ($49.95/month) in order to get the advocacy, but if you don’t have insurance this is a feasible option. Do your research – I’m sure there may be other advocacy programs out there.

Option #2 is eventually how I ended up paying for my son’s birth. Obviously, this was not the most desirable option and I wasn’t even sure I would qualify. If you meet the financial requirements, you may also qualify for WIC or food stamps. The Colorado company that managed my enrollment application has been a bit problematic (another post altogether) and I’ve been unable to get out of the system, even though I now exceed the income requirements. I’m really curious to see what happens when I file my taxes this year. I’m sure another blog post will be forthcoming on that topic!

Do you need help figuring out how to pay for maternity costs? I’d love to help. Message me at LLevaas@ameriplan.net.

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With our one-year-olds in January 2014!

Is telecommuting really as marvelous as everyone says it is? (Yes.)

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. “I looove working from home!” Really? Tell me more.

In many of my previous jobs, “teleworking” was secret code for: Wooohooo! Sleep in! Watch TV! Be lazy! Wear your pj’s all day! This work isn’t that important…I can finish it when I’m back in the office again.

But these days, my telecommuting work is my only source of income. There’s no time for goofing off, although lately I’ve been pretty successful in dodging chores. There are countless articles online about why working from home is wonderful, how to maximize efficiency, etc, etc, ad nauseum. But here is my .02.

First, you should really like – or better yet, love – what you are doing. If that crucial ingredient is missing, then you probably won’t ever be successful working from home! If you haven’t figured out your why, take a few minutes and do it now.

The pros to working from home:

  • No meetings to attend so you can set your own schedule.
  • No commuting.
  • No one breathing down your neck (unless you want them to).
  • If you own your own business, as I do, you get some awesome tax breaks.
  • Need to do a load of laundry while you’re writing a report? No biggie. Multitask. But really focus when you need to complete a project or you could spend 8 hours on one simple task.

The cons to working from home:

  • Isolation.
  • Goofing off = lost income.
  • Negative Nancies.

So what do I actually miss about working in an office?

1) Dressing up. This is a love/hate thing because trust me, I usually only wear comfy clothes. Ask anyone who has seen me wearing the same jeans and dark shirt since last summer!

2) Holiday parties. Is it wrong to miss these forced-fun-functions? If so, I don’t want to be right.

What do I not miss?

1) Traffic. I met a friend for dinner recently but first dropped my son with his dad, who happens to work in the Denver city/county building. Fifteen minutes in downtown traffic and I wished I were driving a bumper car so I could legally smash into other people. Also, I use a lot less gas working from home.

2) Tech support. Oh, tech support, how I miss you!

So what do you full-time telecommuters out there miss about office life? Inquiring minds want to know!