7 Ways To Handle To Deceptive Collegues

Larry Buhl
Lying is something we all must watch out for, especially in the workplace. Sometimes the fib is small, such as a boss fudging on an expense report or a coworker taking credit for your work. But a lie covering up a company's financial health can bring down a giant corporation, as ex-Enron employees can attest.

"Even though lying doesn't have the negative connotations it once did, telling lies in the workplace is not a trivial matter," according to professor Pier Forni, cofounder of the Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University and author of "Choosing Civility, the 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct."

The Fallout Reaches Far

Even small lies can have a dramatic effect on the quality of life in the workplace, including:

* Lower morale, especially when the boss does it
* Increased stress, due to uncertainty
* Decreased loyalty to the company, making workers feel unimportant

What's more, discovering a lie, big or small, can put you in an ethical quandary and even career jeopardy. Whether to ignore it or report it is a highly personal decision, according to etiquette expert Sue Fox, author of "Business Etiquette for Dummies."

"Unfortunately there are no blanket rules that apply to all incidents of lying and misinformation in the workplace," Fox says. "How to deal with it depends on the unique circumstances, as well as your own values."

Staying Out of Harm's Way

Fox and Forni give some general pointers, outlined below, for dealing with lies in the office.

Be a sleuth. Verify a lie before you do anything. If you don't have time to do some sleuthing, let it go.

Determine the importance of the lie. "When the lie clearly hurts the company by ignoring it, then there is a probability that it will have a snowball effect and the damage will grow," Forni said.

Consult the company's handbook. Larger companies will have policies and procedures documents for combating unethical behavior. If your company has them, follow them.

Keep records. Fox urges recording all incidents of unethical behavior with coworkers, especially when your boss demands an employee to do something unethical. "Keep your responses to those requests, and keep your records at home, where they can't be discovered or stolen."

Divest yourself. "Direct your concerns to either your boss or HR, so that correcting the problem is the supervisor's (or the company's) responsibility, not yours," Fox says. Forni recommends cultivating smart and trustworthy mentors in the organization who can deal with the issue for you.

Protect yourself. "Find an attorney if your boss' ethical breaches are very large," Forni says.

Consider the ramifications. Remember, whistle blowers could be rewarded, and they could be punished. Both Forni and Fox agree that it's a personal decision, but they come down on the side of disclosing a lie. "We sometimes have to decide between the easy thing and the right thing, but the latter is often more satisfying," Forni said.

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7 Tips For Success For Job Hunting In A Recessive Economy

Tom Musbach
Whether or not the U.S. economy has hit a recession, one thing is clear these days: Uncertainty is in the air, and it affects nearly every economic sector, including the job market.

The recent rise in the U.S. unemployment rate -- 4.9% in January -- indicates that fewer jobs are being created, but the shrinkage may not affect job-seekers in some fields, such as technology or health care. Nonetheless, experts say job seekers should pay attention to current economic conditions and expect that the job-search process may take longer.

Adjust Your Approach?

"The unemployment rate has risen, but it is not at a point that should cause job seekers to panic," says John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. "Even at 5.2% or 5.3%, there is still demand for workers. Those seeking jobs in construction or mortgage lending might have a more difficult time finding employment, but we have not seen a significant downturn in hiring in other sectors."

Alexandra Levit, author of "They Don't Teach Corporate in College," suggests job seekers may want to alter their approach due to economic uncertainties.

"Perhaps this means earning a paycheck at your current job while conducting interviews over your lunch break or doing volunteer work on the weekend that might lead to a paid gig," she says. "If you are currently unemployed, you may have to settle for a situation that's not 100% ideal in order to keep yourself afloat through the downturn."

David Bach, a workforce development specialist in San Francisco, says job seekers can "improve their competitive edge by becoming more aware of the top ongoing employers." Fields that are less affected by the evolving economy -- such as education, health care, and energy -- make an ideal focus right now, he adds.

Tips for Reaching Your Goal

Experts recommend the following actions to increase your job-search success in an uncertain economic climate.

* Tailor your presentations; don't be generic. "In developing a resume and other promotions materials, think about how your current skills and talents apply directly to the responsibilities you'll hold in the new job," says Levit.

* "Create a target list of companies," says career coach Julie Jansen, author of "You Want Me to Work with Who?" She suggests sending the list to 25 people, asking them if they can put you in touch with an employee at one of the listed companies.

* "Make yourself and your skills more visible," says Bach. He suggests posting and refreshing your resume in more places, such as online job boards, and going to job fairs.

* "Create an advisory board of smart and empathetic people and confer with them regularly about your job search," says Jansen.

* "Hone and utilize your 'elevator pitch' as often as possible," says Bach, referring to a 30-second summary of your professional assets.

* Keep your spirits high. Don't let the process overwhelm you or weigh you down. Jansen advises, "Make a list of your five favorite things to do, and do them!"

* Make an effort daily. "Do one thing each day -- like emailing a new contact or attending a networking event -- that moves your job search forward," says Levit. "Your worst enemy is inertia."

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Money Market Mutual Funds Rises

Total money market mutual fund assets rose by $20.86 billion to $3.408 trillion for the week, the Investment Company Institute said Thursday.

Assets of the nation's retail money market mutual funds rose by $9.75 billion in the latest week to $1.233 trillion.

Assets of taxable money market funds in the retail category rose by $10.74 billion to $941.51 billion for the week ended Wednesday, the Washington-based mutual fund trade group said. Tax-exempt fund assets fell by $988 million to $291.69 billion.

Assets of institutional money market funds rose by $11.11 billion to $2.175 trillion for the same period. Among institutional funds, taxable money market fund assets rose by $19.76 billion to $1.999 trillion; assets of tax-exempt funds fell by $8.65 billion to $176.30 billion.

The seven-day average yield on money market mutual funds fell in the week ended Tuesday to 3.05 percent from 3.07 percent the previous week, said Money Fund Report, a service of iMoneyNet Inc. in Westboro, Mass. The 30-day average yield fell to 3.20 percent from 3.39 percent, according to Money Fund Report.

The seven-day compounded yield fell to 3.10 percent from 3.12 percent the previous week, and the 30-day compounded yield fell to 3.26 percent from 3.45 percent, Money Fund Report said.

The average maturity of the portfolios held by money funds was 41 days, unchanged from the previous week, said Money Fund.

The online service Bankrate.com said its survey of 100 leading commercial banks, savings and loan associations and savings banks in the nation's 10 largest markets showed the annual percentage yield available on money market accounts fell to 0.74 percent as of Wednesday from 0.75 percent week earlier.

The North Palm Beach, Fla.-based unit of Bankrate Inc. said the annual percentage yield available on interest-bearing checking accounts was unchanged at 0.26 percent.

Bankrate.com said the annual percentage yield was 2.48 percent on six-month certificates of deposit, down from 2.55 percent the previous week. Yields were 2.43 percent on 1-year CDs, down from 2.47 percent; 2.40 percent on 2 1/2-year CDs, down from 2.44 percent; and 2.82 percent on 5-year CDs, down from 2.86 percent.

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European Central Bank, Refinances To Ease Tension In The Money Market

The European Central Bank allocated 60 billion euros (88 billion dollars) during an exceptional three month refinancing operation marked by easing tensions on eurozone money markets, ECB figures showed Wednesday.

The operation, which was reserved essentially for mid-sized banks, resulted in an average lending rate of 4.26 percent and a marginal, or lowest, rate of 4.15 percent, the ECB said in a statement.

During its last three-month refinancing operation, the average rate was 4.33 percent and the marginal rate 4.21 percent, suggesting there was less pressure on banks to borrow ECB funds this time around.

In early February, ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet announced that two exceptional longer-term refinancing operations would be renewed, in addition to regular transactions, to encourage a "normalisation" of eurozone money markets.

They had been marked by rising tension at the end of 2007 as banks became wary of lending to each other amid a persistent credit crunch that followed the collapse of the US market for high-risk, or subprime, mortgages.

Banks were unable to determine how exposed borrowers might be to potentially huge subprime-related losses and were thus more reluctant to lend money among themselves.

But the ECB's most recent refinancing operations, which allow commercial banks to maintain minimum cash requirements for daily operations, suggest that the situation has begun to ease.

Market expectations that the ECB will soon lower its benchmark interest rates have also decreased tension on the money markets.

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How Youths or Immigrants Can Build A Credit History

Back in our grandparent's day business was conducted in cash and a handshake was all the credit you needed but today you have got to have a good credit history if you want to obtain the best interest rates or credit in the amounts you might need for an emergency. If you have no reported credit history lenders are likely to consider you "high risk". This is because there is no past record for them to look back on. It's kind of like applying for a job. If you apply for a position higher up in the company but have no previous on-the-job experience, they aren't likely to hire you but if you apply for an entry-level job and work your way up. You get the point. You need credit history.

Certain types of people have more problems in this area than others. Generally, young people just starting their careers, older people who've always paid cash, and divorced or widowed women and immigrants to the United States tend to have more problems than others. There often is no credit history for them.

The first thing to do is to find out what's in your credit file and credit history. Sometimes errors can be reported in your credit history or there can be some reports that you didn't realize would show up or that you had forgotten were there. Make sure, if you've had a different name or lived in a different location, that those past records were merged with your current record. Also, if you shared accounts with a former spouse, ask the credit bureau to list these accounts under your name as well. Many will perform these services for a small fee.

Remember that creditors are not required to report any account history information to the credit bureaus. However, if you have a joint account and the creditor does report it - it must be reported under both your names under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The best way to make sure this is done is to contact your creditor in writing (make sure to include account numbers and keep a copy).

If you do not have a credit history (or have a sparse one), you should start to work on one immediately. First, you must have a steady income and should live in the same area for at least a year. Then you can try applying for credit with a local department store or applying for a small loan amount from your bank. Often a local department store or bank will approve credit applications when larger ones will reject them due to a lack of credit history. Most importantly, before you apply, ask if they report credit history information to credit bureaus. If at all possible, you should strive to obtain credit that will be reported, as this will build your credit history.

If you are rejected ask for the reason why. There are often other reasons for a denial than lack of a credit history. For instance, your income may not meet the minimum or you may not have worked at your current job long enough. You can usually solve these problems with time or by simply applying with another creditor. In almost all cases, it is best to wait at least 6 months before making each new application because credit bureaus record every inquiry about you and inquiries can damage your credit by making it look like you are trying to obtain too much credit too quickly.

If you still are having problems developing credit, you may want to ask a person who has an established credit history to act as your cosigner. A cosigner guarantees that you'll pay and that if you don't - they will. This makes you look like a better risk for creditors. Once you have paid off this debt, try again to get credit on your own.

Specific Ways to Build Credit

It is actually pretty easy to build credit. Try one of the following ideas:

* Ask your bank or credit union about a secured credit card. You can make a deposit to your account and have a credit limit in the amount of your deposit. The bank takes little risk and you build credit slowly.
* Use a co-signer on your first few credit accounts. Lenders will consider the co-signer’s existing credit. The co-signer essentially ‘vouches’ for you while you build credit. Note that this is a big responsibility – you can cause major headaches for the co-signer if you don’t pay as agreed (see our page on How Co-Signing Works for details).
* Use retailer programs for modestly large purchases like furniture. For example, you may buy a television on the “$40/Month Payment Plan”. Gas station cards may work as well. These programs can be easier to qualify for and they certainly help you build credit. Be sure that the retailer will report your loan to the major credit reporting companies.
* Get a credit card with any reputable institution that will give you one. Again, you have to make sure they’ll report your timely payments to the credit reporting companies. Of course, you have to always pay at least the minimum before the due date.

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