What Everyone Should Know About Accounting

So you want to tackle accounting, but you aren’t sure what it entails? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Accounting is one of the most misunderstood fields out there, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. There’s a real sense of gratification in knowing that you, yes you, can save a business from impending doom. You can also save yourself from a life of debt. However, in order to reap these rewards, you should get familiar with the following items.

The Disciplines of Accounting: Financial and Managerial

Accounting isn’t just accounting. Contrary to what you see in the movies, accounting doesn’t surmount to one long sheet of paper chalked full of numbers and symbols. It’s all broken down into categories, then divided into two forms: financial and managerial. Managerial forms are used to log all things financial. The financial form is what outsiders like financial institutions will see. The managerial form is painfully long since it has to show the ins and outs of every penny, while the financial form summarizes this information for easy reading. To be a good accountant you definitely need to have a handle on creating detailed and easy to understand managerial forms. To be a great accountant, you should master both.

Accounting Is Based on Two Foundations: Assets & Liabilities

While managerial and financial are the two disciplines of accounting, assets and liabilities are the two foundations. In summary, an asset is what you or your client owns, a liability is what you owe. If your car is paid in full, it’s an asset. If you’re still paying the car loan, it’s a liability. Most loans are liabilities (even if you think of the money itself as an asset). However, some loans double as assets, like a house purchase. Houses can be revamped to increase in value, thus changing from a liability to an asset-liability.

A Ledger Is the Accounting Holy Grail

If you’ve never seen a ledger, you’ve never done accounting. A ledger is a kind of financial graph that contains 5 basic fields: amount deducted (debited), amount added (credited), description, date and balance. Understanding how to keep a ledger is crucial to accounting. There are three types of ledgers that any accountant should be familiar with: General Ledger (tracks liabilities, assets, income, etc.), Sales Ledger (people who made purchases that haven’t been paid in full) and Purchase Ledger (purchases that haven’t been paid).

The Accounting Process Isn’t Written in Stone

There are dozens of programs out there claiming to be “the only program you’ll ever need.” Many accountants fall for this statement and soon realize that ‘the only program’ differs from client to client. To be honest, there isn’t any fail-safe program that can guarantee accurate reports. The reason? Accounting isn’t an exact science. It involves actions that can’t be quantified, like knowing when to strike a customer from the accounts receivable list or ‘estimating’ a cost that wasn’t accurately reported. You’ll also come to know that the tax requirements for each of your clients will differ greatly — even if they’re in the same industry. If there’s room for guessing, there’s room for error — so a good eye for detail and exceptional critical thinking skills are crucial in accounting.

Accounting Software Makes Life Easier

Handwritten records are a must for any accountant, but accounting software is necessary for easy access and safe keeping. Instead of loading everything onto a Disc or flash drive, most accountants use cloud-accessible accounting software. This software allows you to access your books anytime, anywhere (as long as you have a PC and Wi-Fi connectivity). These programs are secure and can only be accessed by authorized individuals with verified login credentials.

Instead of carrying around a ledger book, cash flow records, balance sheets, income statements, etc., from each of your clients, they can log their information directly into these programs. They can also set up their financial accounts to automatically sync. This saves you from chasing down receipts and allows you to have more accuracy in your final report.


If you want to do accounting right, you have to understand that it isn’t as exact as it seems. There’s a lot of educated guesswork involved so you should have some background in business and math. With careful study, practice and of course patience, you’ll be well on your way to being the best accountant on the block.

– For this post, we would like to thank Parker Hansen.

Professional Resume Critique

Each week we review a resume in need of some help. Our comments are authentic, straightforward and 100% tailored to the particular document you will see. We aren’t necessarily re-writing the resume, rather marking it up and giving tips for improvement.

Considering the vast mix of cultures and backgrounds of the American population, global experience is an absolute advantage for professionals in any industry. Yet, day after day we see so many clients undervalue their international experience or bilingual abilities when it comes time to highlight them on a resume.

The marked-up document below is a prime example of this. This client is a senior manager in the hospitality industry, which by nature facilitates collaboration between diverse populations. Our client mentions the fact that he has global experience and can speak two languages, but he doesn’t explain why those attributes make him a must-hire!

It is vitally important that the client rewrite his opening summary to shine a spotlight on his ability to interact and converse with people of various backgrounds. Another aspect missing from the top third of page one – the most critical section of resume real estate – is any focus on guest relations. This is a major misstep considering his industry.

Yes, it is important to highlight your ability to cut costs, automate operations and lead teams to success, but not at the risk of downplaying the importance of guest satisfaction and your multicultural experience. We rewrote the document to this client’s delight, but below is our initial critique that helped shape the overhaul process.

Reading the in-document critique may leave you questioning the quality of your resume but please note we are not out to scare, but prepare you for future career success. A professional writer is ready to critique your resume today – FOR FREE.  Get started here.

7 Ways to Ruin Your Job Interview

You’ve applied for dozens of jobs and followed up with every application. Finally, after a few weeks of hard work and waiting, you receive an email asking for an interview.

Securing an interview is very exciting and overwhelming at the same time. In fact, 92 percent of U.S. adults fear something about the interview process. Whether it’s not being qualified enough for the position or not impressing the hiring manager, there’s a lot to worry about when preparing for a job interview.

Unfortunately, there are some things you can do during the interview that can cost you the job. But if you are aware of the mistakes you can make during the interview process, you’ll be more prepared for success:

1. You apologize for showing up late.

The No. 1 worst way to ruin your job interview is to arrive late. Regardless of your excuse, there’s no reason for you to be tardy for a job interview.

To avoid showing up late for an interview, give yourself more than enough time to arrive to the interview. If you think traffic is going to be heavy or parking will be difficult to find, don’t hesitate to give yourself an extra 30 minutes to get to your interview. It’s also a good idea to call ahead of time to find out where the closest parking is and if you’ll need a pass.

2. You say the wrong things.

What you say during an interview greatly impacts your success. If you say the wrong things, you can hurt your chances at landing the job.

For example, avoid saying negative phrases during the interview such as, “I don’t have experience in XYZ” or “I don’t know.” This can give the interviewer the impression you aren’t confident in your skills or experience.

3. You forget what’s on your resume.

Believe it or not, you should actually study your resume before heading into an interview. Although you may think you know everything about your previous experience, hiring managers are bound to ask for the specifics during your interview.

Be sure to study every position you held in the past inside and out. Have an accomplishment story prepared for each job, and be sure you can explain what you learned from each experience.

4. You don’t prepare questions for the interviewer.

There’s nothing worse than wrapping up an interview and sitting in silence.

Every hiring manager expects candidates to have at least one question prepared for them at the conclusion of the interview. This shows you are genuinely interested in the position and were engaged throughout the entire interview.

5. You tell a white lie.

Although lying about something such as your GPA doesn’t seem harmful, it could actually hurt your chances at landing a job. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 58 percent of employers have caught a lie on a resume.

The best way to impress employers is to be completely transparent during the hiring process. Even if you’re discouraged by something such as your low GPA, it’s unnecessary to lie about it. Even the smallest white lie can send a red flag to employers.

6. You ask the wrong questions.

Although vacations and salary are important things to most job seekers, these are questions you should save for the hiring manager to ask you. Asking about perks before the employer brings up the conversation can give the wrong impression.

7. You failed to research the company.

Never, ever walk into a job interview without doing research first. Regardless of how confident you are in your skills and experience, if you don’t know how your skills apply to the job, you might miss out on your opportunity to shine.

Before your interview, study the company’s mission statement and values, learn about their clients and services, and follow them on social media. This will make you more knowledgeable during the interview.

What things should job seekers avoid doing during the interview process?

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

What If You’re Asked Illegal Questions During An Interview?

Photo Source: Flickr

One of the most important things job candidates can do for their job search is prepare for interviews. Going through a list of the most asked questions can help job seekers formulate answers according to their strengths and skills. But what happens when an interviewer takes the questioning to a more personal place that makes job candidates feel uncomfortable?

Martin Yate, author of the book, Knock ‘em Dead, suggests remaining polite, being straightforward, and moving the conversation in a more appropriate direction by redirecting back to how you can do the job you’re interviewing for.

Yate also lists some key discriminatory items an interviewer may or may not ask about, which may sound illegal but the way it’s asked will leave the question fair game:

  1. Your religion, church, synagogue, parish, the religious holidays you observe, or your political beliefs/affiliations. But, the interviewer may ask if you are available to work on weekends.
  2. Your ancestry, national origin, parentage, birthplace, or the naturalization status of your parents, spouse, or children. Yet, an interviewer may ask whether you are a U.S. citizen or a resident alien with the ability to work in the United States.
  3. Your native language, the language you speak at home, or how you acquired the ability to read, write, or speak a foreign language. But, it is appropriate for the interviewer to ask about the languages in which you are fluent if it is pertinent to the job.
  4. Your age, your date of birth, whether you are married or pregnant, or the ages of your children. However, he or she may ask if you are over 18.
  5. Your maiden name, your marital status, number of children or dependents, your spouse’s occupation, or how you wish to be addressed (i.e. “Miss,” “Mrs.,” or “Ms.”). Yet, the interviewer may ask whether or not you have worked for the company before under a different name.

In addition to the above mentioned areas, I would add questions related to physical disabilities, health, medical history, and criminal records to the list of items that should not be addressed by interviewers. Although these topics are off limits, this does not mean that employers do not utilize indirect methods to ask about these areas.

While the employer may not ask you directly, “Does your religion allow you to work on Saturdays and/or Sundays?” He or she may state, “This job requires work on Saturdays and/or Sundays. Is that a problem?”  In this instance, the employer’s question is acceptable, but what is an appropriate response?

Yate provides a few suggestions:

First, if you do not actively practice a religion, you could say, “I have a set of personal beliefs that are important to me, but I do not attend any organized services. And I do not mix such beliefs with my work, if that’s what you mean.” On the flipside, an applicant might state, “I attend my church/synagogue/mosque regularly, but I am intentional about not making it my practice to involve my personal beliefs at my job. My career and work for the company are far too important for that.”

In the end, as you are pondering the legality of questions, keep in mind, not all interviewers will be asking them intentionally. Some may not be aware of the laws on the matter; however, this does not justify their behavior. As a result, Yate suggests that you should be polite and straightforward, while attempting to move the conversation to discuss your skills and abilities, rather than focusing on your status. In the end, you can always decide that a company is not for you, leaving no obligation to accept the position.

Yates, M. (2010). Knock ‘em dead: The ultimate job search guide. Avon, MA: Adams Media.

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at OnlineCareerTips.

About the Author: Kristen Carter is a career services contributor for OnlineCareerTips.com. OnlineCareerTips provides advice and resources for advancing your career or successfully transitioning to a new one. Explore OnlineCareerTips for great resources including salary wizard, resumè tips, career focused webcasts, podcasts, and office survival tips.

What to Do If Injured on the Job

Injuries can be frightening, especially if they are severe. When an injury takes place on the job, our panic levels can rise exponentially higher. We can find ourselves trapped in a spiral of questions. Is this injury serious, or should I ignore it? What happens if I ignore it and it gets worse? Will I lose my job? Should I file for worker’s compensation? Will my boss be mad if I do? Will my co-workers think less of me?

Between the pain of the injury and the stress of the unknown, injured workers can easily find themselves so focused on what could happen in the future that they forget to take any action in the present.

Report It Right Away

If you find yourself injured on the job, your first step should be to report your injury, and you should do it immediately. Even if you think it may be minor and even if it happens at the very end of the day, don’t put it off. Failing to report a work injury right away may hinder your chances of receiving worker’s compensation should your injury turn out to be serious.

If you think your injury requires medical treatment, discuss that with your boss, HR representative, or other applicable staff member. Each state and each company vary in their approach to work injuries and compensation. Your company or state may utilize specific doctors for work injuries. No matter how you choose a doctor, make sure that each doctor you see is made aware of, and makes note of, the fact that your injury was work related. Just like a failure to report an injury, not noting that the cause of the injury was work related is another common reason worker’s compensation claims are denied.

Don’t Be A Hero 

My biggest problem I faced when suffering a work-related injury was myself. I tend to think of myself as being pretty darn good at my job… irreplaceable even. Meaning, if I’m out for a month, the whole place might just fall apart. Sound familiar?

It can be extremely difficult to let yourself take some time off. If you’re like me, you might decide to “work through the pain” and tell yourself that you’re hurting the company by going home. This is a dangerous way of thinking and can lead to further and more serious injury. Trust your doctors and don’t take it upon yourself to “take one for the team” by showing up to work when you should be in recovery.

Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back

Many employees fail to report their injury or make a claim out of fear of what might happen, or what others might think. However, you shouldn’t let such worries hold you back.

If you are afraid of being fired for filing a worker’s compensation claim, don’t be. It is illegal to be fired for filing for worker’s comp. If you feel you have good reason to fear harassment, retaliation, or termination for reporting your injury, make sure you document the entire process from the beginning. Get as much in writing as possible, whether that means you conduct all your reporting/interaction via email or that you simply send follow-up emails recapping your latest interaction. For example, if you report your injury in person, send a quick follow up email thanking your boss/HR rep for their help and understanding. If they promised to handle a specific aspect of filing for you, be sure to include that in your thank you.

Whatever happens and whatever you do, stay informed. Know your rights. Most importantly, be your own advocate and don’t let fear stop you from getting the help that you need.

No one expects to get injured on the job, but it happens. Staying informed of the proper procedures will help you get through that difficult time with as few complications as possible.

About the Author:  Scott Huntington is a writer, and blogger, and career specialist. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington or check out his blog, blogspike.com


Networking Skills: Why They Matter and How to Build Them


Networking skills are extremely important if you are planning to be in it for the long haul. Knowing the right people in the right places may just land you a dream job, a coveted client or a crucial bit of information which your competitor would give his right arm for. Intelligent networking gives you an unfair advantage, and may prove to be a game-changer when the chips are down for you.

Networking is a desirable skill and everyone from the CEO to the junior intern is very well aware of that. The harder you try to master it, the more difficult and painful it becomes. So what does one do to master the one skill that is so very critical in pushing you up the career ladder?

For starters, forget the urgent need to be a good networker and focus on building some basic people skills.

Learn New Social Skills

If you are fresh out of college and have a very active social life, this may appear too silly. You are social-media savvy, a born ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ acquirer, and probably enjoy living a very visible and public online life. But land your first job and you realize that people are not the same anymore.

What may have been hilarious and funny when in college is looked down upon and met with frowns. Finding friends or building relationships is not easy when you live a 9-5 job with back-breaking deadlines and stiff competition. So how do you cope?

You will have to appear focused on your work, deliver results and meet deadlines. Once you have proved you are up to the demanding professional work environment, you can take baby steps toward establishing a solid and bankable professional network.

Be Genuine

This is easier said than done, and will require conscious effort on your part.

Relate to the person you are having a conversation with. Don’t judge and weigh the benefits that his business card and contact number will bring you, since this will make it difficult for you to be involved in the interaction.

Men are generally expected to be more outgoing and proactive in reaching out to new people and thereby reap better results out of their networking skills.  But surprisingly this is not the case.

Women connect to people on a more emotional and personal level, and are less bothered about deriving business gains out of budding professional relationships. But they report to having higher career or business-related gains from their professional network, as compared to men.

You need to be more relational and less transactional. You need to focus on the person sitting before you and have less calculations running in your mind.

Be Involved in Office Activities

While building your professional network, it is better you start at the basics. Make friends in your workplace. Most office friendships grow organically, but you can make an effort to work things out for you. And once you set the ball rolling in your own workplace it will not be very difficult to grow and expand your network beyond your cubicle and organization.

Participate in after-work events. Most of us hate the crappy company picnics and weekend get-togethers, but they will help you learn the ropes as far as business networking goes.

Try to participate in team lunches and do join in for coffee breaks when invited. However tempting it may be, don’t hide behind your keyboard. Once you get the hang of it, socializing with your colleagues will not be a pain. What’s more, in due course of time it may prove to be enjoyable and easy as well.

Your job may be temporary but the friendships you build will last long, so work on them.

Be Helpful

Your professional network is made up of the friends you have made in your workplace or industry. And what are friends for if you don’t help each other grow?

You need not do anything out of the way or bend over backwards to please someone, but you can do a world of good if you introduce a friend or a former colleague to someone you know who is looking out for a new hire.

Job opportunities need to be shared among your circle of friends so that someone benefits. This will make your group or network active, rewarding and engaging.

Also, people tend to remember someone who tried to help them in a time of need. Your genuine concern will certainly be appreciated and the goodwill you gather will last far longer than you can possibly imagine now.

Work on Your Network and Be Intentional

As you grow older in your career, you will begin to notice the multiple benefits and possibilities a full-fledged and thriving professional network offers.

You know the right man to get a difficult job done, you have the insider giving you piping hot gossip from the inner circles of power in your industry, you have a trusted man to give you best advice when you are down, you have a partner (not your spouse) to share your dreams and woes with, and you have a best friend to enjoy a chilled beer with after work on Friday.

So if you want to age gracefully in your job build your network carefully and tenaciously.

Make sure you have a mentor in your network, who is someone you can look up to and feel inspired by. When you see him surmounting challenges and obstacles to achieve success, you will feel brave enough to strive for the same.

Try to build contacts in the right places in your industry. Once you identify the people you would like to network with, try to get more information about them. Scout on LinkedIn for shared connections and get a friend to introduce you to the person. Request for an opportunity to chat up with the person, offer lunch or coffee and be earnest in your attempts to solicit a meeting.

Join Professional Organizations

Don’t attempt to be a member of as many professional or trade organizations as possible. Join a few and participate actively in all functions and activities. Attend conferences, meetings, events and classes aimed at professionals in your industry. This will help you get introduced to influential people and build contacts.

Be Patient

Professional networking is no different from other relationships. They take time to run deep, grow roots and flower.

You need to remain in touch with your friends and not just fall off the communication radar after some time or with a job change.

Do not be the person who calls only when they need something. You can always sense when someone is chatting you up with an aim of getting something out of you. Do not be that annoyance to someone else.

LinkedIn and other social networks let you know when someone has just switched his job, earned a degree or moved to a new city. Make sure you send a congratulatory message and renew your friendship.


The secret to developing a successful professional network is realizing, accepting and dealing with the ‘human’ face of your network. Your professional networking is not something you need to tick off on the monthly to-do list. The more genuine, warm and involved you are with your work friends, the better networker you become.

Author Bio: Laura Moses is the founder of JD Main, an accounting firm outside Chicago which offers accounting, bookkeeping, and part time controller services. Prior to this, Laura was a Corporate Controller for several privately held companies thereby gaining supervisory and controller level experience in all facets of accounting.

How to Negotiate Your First Salary



Negotiating your first salary can be tricky, as you can’t benchmark from your current or previous compensation.  However, you can, and should negotiate your first offer. Be realistic about what an appropriate compensation package is, but don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve.

Keep these tips in mind when negotiating your first salary.

Do Your Research

“Research available data regarding your major, and the position. There are plenty of sources of salary data for entry level positions. Use these numbers to keep your offer in perspective: The National Association of Colleges and Employers can give you some very good reference points

Research the company. Glassdoor and Vault are popular posting sites for employees to share information about individual companies, and may give you an idea about how they treat entry level employees relative to the rest of your industry.”

-Vinnie Dicks, CEO, Career Gaudium

Know Your Value

“Be ready with a list of your accomplishment, academic or otherwise, all the reasons why you’re worth the figure you want. Don’t just tell me about your amazing potential. Give me the reasons why that potential should be obvious. (This is much more important than why you NEED that amount, which is what most people stress.).

Be ready to discuss how you’ll be able to advance the interests of not just of the company, but of your boss, the one who may well recommend (or not recommend) the salary figure. “

Barry Maher, Consultant, Author, Speaker 

Be Strategic

“Don’t mention money too early – Let the employer bring up the subject first. If you ask about salary too early in the process, it will seem as though this is your primary interest. Focus on getting the offer first! Some interviewers bring the topic up early to use it as a screening tool. In that case, you can respond with an honest answer about what you’re currently earning and what your hopes are, but you should also stress how important it is to you to find a rewarding job.”

-Frank Gentile, Director, Professional Staffing Group

Negotiate the Whole Package

“Don’t focus only salary, an area for which an employer may be constrained; there may be other areas that can have a lot of value that might be added to the negotiation. Examples include tuition reimbursement, moving expenses, flextime, severance pay, other benefits. Pay a lot of attention to benefits; these can be quite valuable. A great health plan may offset some disappointment in a salary offer. Don’t negotiate each item at a time; negotiate a whole package. Tradeoffs can work to your advantage.”

-Ed Wertheim, Associate Professor, Management and Organizational Development at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University

4 Creative Ways to Engage New Recruits


Today’s entry and mid-level employees are motivated by different things than the generations before them. According to a study by Sparks & Honey, 60 percent of the millennial generation want to make a difference in the world and many expect work hour flexibility and creative outlets in every position they are hired into.

To make sure you’re motivating and engaging your younger hires right away, it’s important to think outside of the box and get creative. Here are some ideas you can easily implement:

Don’t Wait Until They Walk Into the Office

In an ideal world, every new employee that walks into the office on their first day would be sincerely pumped and ready to go. When going through the hiring process, consider how you’re instilling the company’s mission, values, vision and culture even before the offer letter is signed.

If you set realistic expectations from the very first conversation, they should walk in truly excited to be a part of something they already believe in and are aligned with. Keep up the same level of enthusiasm and cultural style that your employees possess throughout each step of the hiring process. This way, new hires will know if they can match it before even accepting and they will more clearly understand the culture and what it takes to succeed within the organization.

Offer Early-On Career Paths

Giving new hires a glimpse into where they could be five years, one year, or even six months from their date of hire can be a powerful motivator to work hard. Giving them this clear picture of their bright future within the company is a great way to get them to work harder to reach those milestones even faster.

Companies that have a less clear growth path for its employees because of the sporadic and innovative nature of the business, should try having successful employees meet with the new recruits to share their story and path. This may not give them a path that they can personally follow, but it provides them with inspiration and motivation of certain milestones that they can aspire to achieve along the way.

Provide Welcome Meals

It is not uncommon for managers to take their new hires out to lunch as a way to get to know them on a more personal level. In addition to this, offer a welcome meal that you can invite the entire department or even company. If your company has a lot of hires, it may be more appropriate to set up a monthly welcome meal in which employees are able to chat with and get to know the new hires.

Depending on what works best, this could be breakfast, lunch, or even dessert. More informal and fun gatherings like these will not only make the new hires feel special and a part of the team, but also give them a chance to interact with people they may not otherwise interact with on a regular basis. Take the personalization up a notch by asking the new recruits what their favorite foods are and try to incorporate that into the meal.

Develop A “Mentor-Friend” Program

Mentorship programs that pair new hires with more tenured employees have long been used as a way to engage and motivate new employees. They allow new hires to ask questions to someone that has been there and done that, while providing a great resources to learn the business and company processes.

However, putting a slight spin on the mentorship program by pairing individuals that could get along outside of work as well can make it a great way to allow new hires to acclimate themselves with the team. This type of program is not meant to bring another manager figure onto the new hire, but rather a friend that can introduce them to the happenings within the company and make them quickly feel like they have friends and aren’t an outsider.

Motivating and engaging your new entry and mid-level hires should inspire you to think outside of the box. Try to enjoy the opportunity to change things up a bit and get everyone involved, rather than just those who are a part of the hiring process. New hires affect the success and failure of the entire company, so it’s important that everyone understand how important they are in acclimating new hires with the rest of the team.

What creative things have you implemented within your organization to engage new recruits? Leave a comment and share your ideas!

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.


3 Difficult Conversations You Need To Have With Your Boss


There are certain conversations with your boss that are tempting to avoid, but these are often the ones that are most crucial to your career.  It’s difficult having to admit to a mistake or to ask for something that you just aren’t getting in your current work environment, but open communication on these matters ensures that everyone can do their job correctly and is happier in the long run.

Here are a few examples of conversations with your boss that are difficult to have and why they are so important.

1. Admitting You Made a Mistake

Why is this important?  Because if you try to hide from it, you will ultimately hurt the company by failing to bring it to anyone’s attention; and if you try to blame it on someone else, you will hurt others and, very likely, yourself.  The reality is, whenever you are working for or with others, and even when you are in charge, it’s imperative that you maintain open communication with all involved parties so that everyone can do their best possible job.  Trying to cover up your tracks impedes progress and creates the possibility of further oversights.  Admitting a mistake is never easy, and that’s why people respect you more when you’re able to do so.  It becomes an occasion where you can reevaluate where you’re at, and move forward in a positive way.  Moreover, the consequences will likely be far less severe when you come clean right away, rather than let others discover the blunder later on.

2. Lightening the Workload

People are often terrified of having this conversation with their boss, because they feel that asking for a lighter workload will make them appear weak or serve as grounds for their superior to find someone else to do the job.  These fears aren’t groundless, and before you go to your boss with your concerns, you should do your best to determine if you are being reasonable.

There is really nothing wrong with taking a step back and going over your priorities with your boss.  The last thing your boss wants is for you to give a subpar performance or to let projects slip through the cracks because you lacked the time or energy that your work required.  Sometimes it’s necessary to pause and go over deadlines and expectations.  You’ll be able to work out a plan with your boss that works for you both, and he or she may have some suggestions for you on how to more efficiently complete your work.

3. Asking for a Raise

Many employees hesitate asking for a raise, either because they feel they will appear unreasonable or because they worry that their boss might opt to hire someone else who will do the job for less money.  Before you have this conversation, make sure you put together a few talking points that will allow you to explain why you need and deserve a raise.  Remember that timing is key as well – you’re probably not going to get a bigger pay day after your first couple months at a company, but once you put in the hard work, your boss is more likely see it your way and feel that you deserve what you’re asking for.  Employers want to keep their workers happy, and they understand that this often means offering competitive salaries.

(Here’s some helpful advice on what NOT to do when asking for a raise.)

Don’t let tough conversations leave you with a pit in your stomach.  Just think through what you’re going to say, and be ready to accept what your boss has to offer in return.  Working together and maintaining open communication will take you far.

What are your experiences broaching these subjects with employers?

Making the Move to Management – How to Move Up

You may be thinking about moving up the scale in terms of a manager’s position and wondering if you have the necessary skills to do it. Maybe you’ve been offered a favorable promotion but you’re unsure if you should take it. Keep in mind that even if somebody else sees you as management material, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to accept the position if it’s not truly what you want to do. Not everybody is meant to be a boss. And that’s okay if your decision isn’t fear-based. Feeling intimidation or fear of being in a position of power despite wanting it and actually being qualified, shouldn’t keep you from moving up the corporate ladder. If the ‘higher ups’ have offered you a desirable position, or if you’re thinking about making a move towards management, ask yourself the following key questions first:

1. Are you willing and able to work many more hours without any compensation for putting in the overtime?

Even though a promotion to a position in management likely comes with a significant salary increase, it also comes with a bigger time commitment. A higher position often means getting to work earlier and staying later.

2. Are you willing to be accountable for not only your mistakes, but for the mistakes of your subordinates as well?

Naturally, you’ll carefully explain to your employee how to do a certain task you want him to carry out. But that doesn’t mean he won’t make a mistake. Even though everyone is liable for his own mistakes and actions, as a person in power, the responsibility is ultimately yours.

3. How good are you at offering constructive criticism?

When a member of your staff performs poorly or makes a huge mistake, your first instinct may be to either walk away and say nothing, or start yelling at the person. Neither of these approaches will benefit your staff member or you. It’s your job as the boss to properly coach your employee so that they can do better the next time. Clearly explain the problem and what’s not acceptable. In the end, as a manager you have to trust that when you assign another task to someone who previously failed that they will eventually succeed.

4. Can you assign work for people to do? 

If you don’t learn to properly distribute work to others even though you have more responsibility as a manager, it will just make your job that much harder. As the boss, you will share burdens with your staff, some of them undoubtedly unpleasant. That may mean sacrificing things you normally enjoy doing so you can show others how to do certain tasks or projects. You will ultimately be responsible for the work of your subordinates

5. When the time comes, will you be able to fire an employee who has done their job well but must be laid off?

This is likely one of the worst parts of being a manager, especially during tough financial times. However, it must be done. Firing someone for any reason is hard, but it’s particularly difficult when the worker is a great employee.

6. Will you be capable of reprimanding a staff worker for doing something wrong?

Some employees repeatedly arrive late everyday, generally misbehave, or spend entirely too much of their working time online. Nobody wants to be the bad guy, but it is indeed the job of the manager to ensure that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

7. Can you fire a staff member for not doing their job well?

It may sound easy to fire someone who isn’t doing their job well. However, in spite of their lack of performance, you may start to think about their mortgage, family, and bills they have to pay. Suddenly, it seems more complicated, but you are the boss and it must be done. If you’ve tried to help someone improve their overall performance and it didn’t work, then it’s your responsibility to let them go. Period.

Moving up to management involves careful consideration as it’s a lot to handle. Consider these questions and answer them honestly before you make your next move.

About the Author: this post comes from Sarah, a writer and consultant with Naked Business Consulting, a company that focuses on franchise consulting, raising capital and international expansions. Apart from reading books on management every week, Sarah likes to practice her golf swing when she gets a chance, as well as learning more about the internet.