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Unemployment still above 8%, Small Biz Tax Cut Act could help

Although unemployment numbers show signs of improving, in order to fall below the 8.0 percent barrier, more than just a weak spring of hiring could be necessary, but in an election year, it is unlikely the nation will see much action on the Hill.

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Unemployment making slight improvements

As a measure of the pace of layoffs, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits slid slightly last week by 1,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department who also reports that the four week average experienced its first decline since late March, marking a drop of 5,250 applications which many believe is a less volatile indicator than the weekly numbers.

When applications for unemployment benefits stay below 375,000 consistently, the implication is that job growth is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate, which has dropped a full percentage since August, but unemployment for April sits at 8.1 percent, still unable to break the 8.0 percent barrier.

This winter saw improvements in hiring, and the weak April has some worried that the gains from previous months may be lost as hiring remains weak this spring.

The Small Business Tax Cut Act

Representative Joe Bonner (R-AL) opined1, “Even as President Obama continues to push questionable government spending as the cure for an anemic job market, the House of Representatives has prescribed a robust treatment targeted to stimulate the country’s principal employers, small businesses. On April 19, the House passed the Small Business Tax Cut Act – the latest in more than two dozen bills also passed by the House since January 2011 to spur job growth.”

Rep. Bonner added, “Small businesses are the heart and soul of America’s economy — they are everywhere and form the backbone of our local communities. Collectively, they represent 99.9 percent of the country’s 28 million businesses and employ half of all private sector employees. Small businesses with less than 500 workers created 65 percent of all new jobs in America during the last 17 years.”

Concluding, Rep. Bonner said, “The Republican House’s latest effort to restore small business confidence is the passage of a 20 percent tax cut for businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The Small Business Tax Cut Act, which I supported, allows employers of less than 500 workers to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their active business income.”

Job openings at four year high

Business Week reports2that the number of open job positions in America grew by 172,000 in April to 3.74 million, the most since July 2008, and that small companies were more optimistic on their outlook. BW notes that “more vacancies are a sign American companies were planning to expand at the end of the first quarter, undaunted by the jump in fuel costs or concerns that global economic growth will slow.”

Economist Lou Crandall told BW that the pickup is a “positive” development after a report last week showed payrolls in April grew at the slowest pace in six months.

“Businesses were becoming a bit more willing to commit to new hires,” Crandall told BW. “The progress is incremental at best and the levels are still very low.”

1 Rep. Bonner’s statement
2 Business Week report

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business News

Startup seeks to streamline your software shopping search

(BUSINESS) This startup with a waitlist wants to help you shop for software without having to tear your hair out, become an expert, or hire a consultant.

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software shopping with testbox

Software shopping is, undoubtedly, one of the most crucial aspects of any successful business: Choose correctly, and you’ll find yourself seamlessly moving through daily operations, while a poor choice often results in a lack of efficiency. Unfortunately, the shopping aspect is anything but efficient, with demos and sales meetings lasting for unnecessarily long periods of time. That’s where TestBox comes into play.

TestBox is a tool born out of frustrated necessity. According to creator Sam Senior, “The inspiration for TestBox came from repeatedly hearing just how incredibly frustrating the software buying experience is…I heard similar stories where buyers felt that the process was all on the sales team’s terms, often taking many months, and without all the information and access they needed to be truly confident in their decision.”

It’s a tale as old as time: Sales teams effectively hold your time hostage, planning meetings and tech demos in controlled environments; you, in turn, receive a partial truth regarding the product you’re considering, and at the end of the process, you feel pressured into purchasing the product–if for no other reason than you’ve already dedicated a full workweek (or, heaven forbid, month) to it.

TestBox offers a simple, elegant solution to this problem: the ability to compare multiple tools that have been selected for your needs. One need only specify their software requirements in the TestBox menu to receive a list of software that fits those requirements, complete with “guided walkthroughs for each software and use case.”

There’s also a side-by-side comparison feature for different software types, allowing you to make a truly informed decision using your data and interfaces rather than relying on a scripted demo.

Finally, TestBox provides graphics to show pros and cons from an efficiency standpoint for each tool you test; once you make a decision, TestBox connects you with the software provider to complete your purchase.

It should be noted that TestBox is free to use. According to their website, their revenue comes via commission for facilitating a software purchase, and since that commission is fairly uniform rather than varying per tool, TestBox assures you that their presentation of each option is not swayed in the process.

TestBox also partners with ZenDesk, HubSpot, and FreshDesk, so make of that what you will.

Currently, TestBox has a waitlist for use. They plan on adding a variety of CRM and Customer Success options to their client list soon.

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Asking the wrong questions can ruin your job opportunity

(BUSINESS NEWS) An HR expert discusses the best (and worst) questions she’s experienced during candidate interviews. it’s best to learn from others mistakes.

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interview candidates answers

When talking to hiring managers outside of an interview setting, I always find myself asking about their horror stories as they’re usually good for a laugh (and a crash course in what not to do in an interview). A good friend of mine has worked in HR for the last decade and has sat in on her fair share of interviews, so naturally I asked her what some of her most notable experiences were with candidates – the good and the bad, in her own words…

“Let’s see, I think the worst questions I’ve ever had are typically related to benefits or vacation as it demonstrates that their priorities are not focused on the actual job they will be performing. I’ve had candidates ask how much vacation time they’ll receive during an initial phone screen (as their only question!). I’ve also had them ask about benefits and make comparisons to me over the phone about how our benefits compare to their current employer.

I once had a candidate ask me about the age demographics of our office, which was very uncomfortable and inappropriate! They were trying to determine if the attorneys at our law firm were older than the ones they were currently supporting. It was quite strange!

I also once had a candidate ask me about the work environment, which was fine, but they then launched into a story about how they are in a terrible environment and are planning on suing their company. While I understand that candidates may have faced challenges in their previous roles or worked for companies that had toxic working environments, it is important that you do not disparage them.

In all honesty, the worst is when they do not have any questions at all. In my opinion, it shows that they are not really invested in the position or have not put enough thought into their decision to change jobs. Moving to a new company is not a decision that should be made lightly and it’s important for me as an employer to make sure I am hiring employees who are genuinely interesting in the work they will be doing.

The best questions that I’ve been asked typically demonstrate that they’re interested in the position and have a strong understanding of the work they would be doing if they were hired. My personal favorite question that I’ve been asked is if there are any hesitations or concerns that I may have based on the information they’ve provided that they can address on the spot. To me, this demonstrates that they care about the impression that they’ve made. I’ve asked this question in interviews and been able to clarify information that I did not properly explain when answering a question. It was really important to me that I was able to correct the misinformation as it may have stopped me from moving forward in the process!

Also, questions that demonstrate their knowledge base about the role in which they’re applying for is always a good sign. I particularly like when candidates reference items that I’ve touched on and weave them into a question.

A few other good questions:
• Asking about what it takes to succeed in the position
• Asking about what areas or issues may need to be addressed when first joining the company
• Asking about challenges that may be faced if you were to be hired
• Asking the employer what they enjoy most about the company
• I am also self-centered, so I always like when candidates ask about my background and how my current company compares to previous employers that I’ve worked for. Bonus points if they’ve actually looked me up on LinkedIn and reference specifics :)”

Think about the best and worst experiences you’ve had during an interview – and talk to others about the same topic – and see how that can help you with future interviews.

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Business News

How to stop reeking of desperation when you job hunt

(CAREER) Hunting for a job can come with infinite pressures and rejection, sometimes you just want it to be over – here’s how to avoid reeking of desperation.

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desperation when job hunting

Whether you were one of the millions of people who quit their job this year in The Great Resignation or you’ve been unemployed since the pandemic began, when you’re looking for work, it can feel hopeless after a while. Just like that student in class who raises their hand at every question, you don’t want to come across as desperate, “pick me, pick me!” Money might be tight. You want to be eager, but you don’t want to be so anxious that you sabotage your job search.

Right now, job seekers have the upper hand, but you want to show off your skills and professionalism, not your neediness.

5 ways you come across as overly desperate for a job:

  1. Applying for multiple positions at the same company. Employers want you to be a fit for a particular job. Instead, tell the hiring manager that you’re open to other positions that might be a good fit.
  2. Checking in with the hiring manager too much. Follow up after an interview, but don’t keep checking in. If they have news, they’ll share it.
  3. Talking about how much you need a job. Don’t bring up your personal issues in an interview. Stay focused on why you are the best person for the job.
  4. Being willing to accept any offer. You should negotiate and go to bat for yourself when you get an offer. Explain why you’re worth more money because you probably are.
  5. Forgetting to ask questions about the bigger picture. You don’t want to be so eager to impress that you don’t think about the company culture and perks. You might be desperate, but getting into a job that doesn’t fit your needs and personality won’t help your situation.

Desperation can make you appear to be in the clearance bin at the store. Sure, you may get something for a great price, but will you actually be able to fully use it when you get it home? As a job seeker, you want to be the premium brand on the shelf. Maybe not every buyer (employer) can appreciate you or even afford you, but when the right one comes along, it’s a good fit.

Employers want team members who will be assets for their company. Your job search needs to start with a strong resume and impressive cover letter. Instead of going for quantity, choose job openings for quality, where you can bring something to the table for the company.

Ask a Manager’s Alison Green has some great resources for getting a job, including a free guide to preparing for interviews. Practice interviewing. Make a great first impression. Know that there is a job out there for you.

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