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Is That Free Offer Legit? Tips that Can Help Everyone loves the chance to cash in some great free stuff, but navigating the world of freebie offers, especially online, can be like navigating a minefield. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there use the love others have of taking advantage of free deals to scam them out of money or personal details that can be used in identity theft scams. All of this gloom and doom doesn’t mean that you have to give up on free things altogether, however. The good news is that there are some simple, common sense steps you can take protect yourself from online freebie scammers. These tips will help give you the confidence that you can enjoy taking advantage of free offers without the fear of ending up facing some negative consequences. First and foremost, when you are checking out a free offer on the Internet, take a closer look at the website, beyond just reading the words and figuring out what you have to do get the free goods. Does the website look like it was made by a professional, with some consideration, or does it look like a five minute amateur job? Are typos and clip art the order of the day, or does it look like a website any business would be proud to call its own? What about the web address – is a domain name that matches the business the website claims to represent, or is a “free” domain address that includes the name of the domain company in the address? All of these factors can be red flags that determine the difference between a scam and a legitimate free offer. If the website looks half hearted or doesn’t seem to exactly “match” the company it purports to represent, then don’t even think about trying to get anything from it. When you’re reasonably sure that the website is actually the front of a legitimate business, it’s time to turn your attention to the privacy policy of the website. The best privacy policies guarantee you that the email address you use to sign up for this offer will not be shared with any other companies – but when it comes to free stuff, those kinds of privacy policies are few and far between. Many companies cover the costs of the free things you get by selling your email address to other companies that may have offers you they think you might be interested in. If you can’t find a privacy policy that lets you opt out of getting unwanted solicitations, at least make sure the site is secure and that any personal information can’t be obtained by hackers. Other things to look out for when you’re looking for freebies is products that are free but that require you to pay a shipping charge that seems beyond the pale for what it should cost to ship and freebie offers that seem to ask for way more information than needed for what the product actually is. Twenty pages of personal information for a travel size bottle of shampoo? That doesn’t make sense, and it should set off warning bells in your head. All of these red flags aside, giving out some amount of personal information comes part and parcel with freebie offers. There are a few things you can do to make life easier on yourself. Set up an email account that you will use specifically for freebie offers so all of the inevitable spam doesn’t clog up your main account. Use a phony phone number (preferably one that can’t be anyone else’s, like one that starts with 555). Last but not least, if you’re unsure about an offer, keep on moving. Better safe than sorry.

Explaining How Credit Scores are Used in the Hiring Process You might be wondering why credit scores are used in hiring processes. While you may have never heard about it, it is actually a more common practice than you might think. Companies and institutions such as banks, universities, retail stores, financial institutions across the United States use credit scores to determine whether an applicant is good for the open position or not. Even though you might think that this is illegal, it is not. In general, it is a legal undertaking for companies to look at your credit score. This is yet another reason why you should make sure that your credit scores are good and up to date. So why would they be using your credit information in a hiring process? For some of these companies, employees will be exposed to a lot of money and have a financially responsible position. Your credit information can actually help them determine whether you are a financially responsible person or not. Companies think that if you cannot handle your own money, why you would be qualified to handle their money? On the one side, if you think about it, it is a very valid thought. On the other side, the credit history will not tell the company how you might have gotten all the debt. What if one of your family members is really badly sick or a similar situation? In this case, you have not been irresponsible with your money, but you saved a family members life. You might have been willing to take on all this debt and then work from there. Sometimes numbers are just not an accurate representation of your life. Companies that do use your credit are not only determining whether you can handle money, in some instances they use it as an indicator for your character. It will tell them if you are responsible with your money and finances you are a responsible person. A person that will not be tempted by money or certain situations in a workplace is a person they can securely trust with their funds, their tasks or their great projects. One thing is for sure, the company needs to let you know that they are going to check your credit history in their hiring process and they also need to let you know what they are checking for. The criteria they are looking is the criteria they have to tell you about before you give them the permission. Unless they tell you and have a signature of permission from you, they are not allowed to check and use your credit history. If they miss these above mentioned steps, you do have a case in you hands that you can bring to the court. In some instances, some of the people that were not told about the credit check and have been denied have had a good case in their hands. But as with so many things in life in the United States it pays off to have a good credit history and such a check will not ruin your career moves. Check your credit history every year since once a year the big credit companies do have to give you a free credit report. In the case that you find any wrong or dubious items on your account go ahead and dispute them. Oftentimes companies might just have put a claim against your account that is not really caused by you. Why do companies do that? Money has caused many bad things in the world and a company that wants their money back is going to run after any lead they have. Therefore disputing your case and putting your credit score back to normal can be an essential part in your application and hiring process with some companies.

The Job Interview – How to Handle Getting Around a Negatively Asked Question Many dread that day that they have to go for an interview. Looking professionally dressed, acting professional and displaying the knowledge is all important. Employers and interviewers test you for anything and everything that you can think about--from your likes and dislikes to the actual experiences with this type of work to the facts. Most of these questions you can dodge and answer safely and securely. But how about those negatively asked questions, how could you professionally dodge those questions? Often times a reaction to a negative question is what can make or break the deal. Sometimes employers ask these questions on purpose to see what your reaction might be and to be able to determine first of all your character and second of all, if the negative event in your life is related to a good or bad character. So how can you master these questions and possibly pass the tests? One of the most important factors when getting prepared to dodge difficult questions is to be secure and knowledgeable about any points on your résumé and in your life. If you have a good answer prepared for difficult situations that happened in your life, it will be an ease for you to get around negatively asked questions. Whenever an interviewer asks you a negative question, make sure you stay calm and do not answer hastily. Sometimes it is enough to give a very short answer and it does not necessarily need a complete explanation that might get you stuck. The longer the answer you try to make up, the easier you might stumble over something and then fall hard. When trying to get around a negatively asked question, besides that fact that you need to stay calm and give a short answer, try to get to a different topic. Strike up a conversation about your more positive skills and accomplishments and therefore get around that question that might have bothered you otherwise. In some instances, depending on the content of the question, it might even be best to answer truthfully. What if you were asked about staying home for no obvious reason? At least according to your résumé there is no job, no new degree or similar mentioned. Maybe it was for a sick relative or the birth of a baby? Why not use the truth in these cases as an answer. When answering difficult questions you might have to decide often on the spot how to answer. In any case, it will almost never help you to make up a lie for a negatively asked question. A lie can get you into a situation you cannot get out of, but the truth can never get you in a worth situation than you are in by answering the questions truthfully. If you do not want to answer truthfully because you think it can hurt your image, sometimes it then is better not to answer the questions. Try to divert the attention successfully to another more positive topic such as your achievements, earlier project or similar other experiences that led to a positive result. Keep in mind that the interviewer is testing to see if you are a good fit for the company and they do not exactly know you. They know a few facts about you, but the do not know the whole picture and especially not about the more negative things they might want to find moiré information about. So when going for a an interview and trying to get around a negatively question, make sure to be honest or to not get into details if you do not want to discuss the issue, but mainly make sure that you stay calm, do not get excited about it. A calm confident person can easily answer any and all questions that might be posed to him or her.

Important Networking Follow-Ups: How to Get Those Job Leads Calling When you leave a networking event, you may be buzzing at the prospects offered by all of those new contacts you made, but soon, the cold reality sets in. How will you be able to convert those contacts you made over a glass of wine into valuable business opportunities for you? Successful networking is all in the follow-up. If you’re looking for a job, following up is all the more crucial. Without touching base after a networking event, you become just another face in the crowd of job hunting hopefuls. The first important rule for following-up with networking contacts is to lay the foundations for the follow-up during the initial meeting. At networking events, there can be a lot of empty promises thrown around. Use that first meeting to convey the message that you haven’t gotten caught up in “networking fever” but instead that you are very serious about exploring the job opportunity that you’re discussing with your new contact. Ask the contact when would be a good time to follow-up with them, and then reiterate the information back to them at the end of your conversation: “I look forward to speaking with you Friday at 2 p.m.” If they don’t give you a specific time, then suggest one to them. This rule holds true even if your contact is giving you a lead on a job not with them but with another contact of their own. Let them know you appreciate the information by saying, “Thanks. I will plan on calling Mary on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m.” Not only will this convey your seriousness about the opportunity presented to you, but it may also get you some handy inside information, as the contact may reply, “Oh, no, Mary will be out of town until Thursday – call her then.” The next important rule to networking follow-ups is to follow up with EVERY lead a contact gives you. If a contact suggests that you call someone whom you know won’t really be able to help you in your job search, call him or her anyway. Otherwise, when your contact finds out you aren’t taking their advice, they may just decide not to give you any more the future and any business person can tell you that you never know from whom the most valuable lead will come some day. Keep the lines of communication open by giving any and all suggestions a whirl. Last but not least, do the actual following-up. Follow up with your contact exactly when you said you would, and in the exact manner you said you would (phone, email, letter, etc). If for some reason you can’t make contact at the arranged time, keep trying. If you haven’t made arrangements for a follow-up with a contact, then the rule of thumb is to follow-up with them as soon as possible after meeting them. Try to at least send an email or letter the next day saying what a pleasure it was to meet and that you look forward to talking more in the future, and then say in that note when you plan to follow-up with your contact by phone. Then, of course, stick to that new follow-up obligation. Even if the promises made by a contact while networking don’t pan out for you on the job front, don’t cross them off of your contact list. Keep them in the loop about your job search and your career goals. While they may not have been able to make if happen for you this time, you never know what they might be able to do for you in the future. Your most promising business contact may be someone you already know.