• News You Can Use

    E-mail Privacy? Fuggedaboutit!

    If the director of the CIA can't keep his e-mail secure, what does that say for the rest of us? Nothing good.

    E-mails carry "metadata," packets of information about an electronic document's origin. Metadata can help investigators locate an e-mail's sender even if the account was anonymous, which makes it almost impossible to avoid leaving a digital footprint. Some e-mail users try to get around this issue by saving drafts on a joint account. However, experts say this tactic is ineffective.

    Privacy laws that impact e-mail do not provide much protection, either. They were last updated in 1986, before e-mail was prevalent, and offer ambiguous protection at best. To add to the problem, powerful lobbyists hired by tech companies want to make it harder for law enforcement to read e-mails, not easier.

    But the biggest privacy threat actually comes from search engines, not e-mail. Google and its web crawling tentacles, for instance, may know more about its users than their best friends do.

    Discussion: Why should you avoid using work equipment for personal communication? Do you think lawmakers should try to better protect Internet users' privacy? What is the best way to avoid embarrassing Internet-use situations?

    Source: Sutter, J. (2012, November 14). What the Petraeus scandal says about digital spying and your e-mail. cnn.com. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com

    Hot Tip: Prep Before New Job

    Instead of taking a vacation before starting a job, new hires should spend time preparing to enter the organization. The founder of a Connecticut-based firm that helps executives acclimate to a new position before their first day offers advice that is helpful to anyone about to begin a new job.

    1. Jump-start relationships. Try to identify soon-to-be colleagues who can help when you arrive at your new job. Don't overlook suppliers or customers who may provide insight into the way a firm operates. Make a lunch or coffee date and try to connect with new co-workers (but not your new supervisor.)

    2. Research the firm. Now that you're on board, ask the firm for reading material that was unavailable to you before you were hired. This will show your commitment to the new position and will help you be more engaged when you arrive.

    3. Catch up on life tasks. New jobs require a lot of energy. Make sure to take care of all the chores you may not have time for once you begin the new position.

    Discussion: What tools can you use to help identify new colleagues you'd like to get to know before starting a new job? How can you show eagerness at a new job without being pushy? Why do experts say personal relationships with co-workers can be beneficial?

    Source: Weber, L. (2012, November 15). The magic weeks that can make you a star at work. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from www.wsj.com

    Money Woes Affect Student Performance

    College students are increasingly citing financial concerns as the reason for not purchasing textbooks and other required academic materials, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement.

    School expenses are not students' only money worry. Nearly 60 percent express concern about having enough funds for daily expenses. Over a third report that financial issues interfere with their academic performance.

    The research was gathered from 546 U.S. colleges. It found that many of the students surveyed work to supplement their funds. About 20 percent have jobs on campus; 30 percent work off campus. Some 20 percent of seniors work 30 or more hours per week, a noteworthy fact because prior research has shown that working in excess of 20 hours per week has a detrimental effect on academic performance.

    Discussion: If you are unable to purchase your textbooks, what can you do so you do not fall behind? Why do you suppose that students who work up to 20 hours per week actually perform better in school? What resources are available on your campus to help you cope with stress?

    Source: Sander, L. (2012, November 15). Economy affects students' academic performance as well as spending decisions. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from www.chronicle.com

    If You Can't Fight Social Media, Use It

    A new survey by Chicago-based software firm SilkRoad has found that a large percentage of workers send Tweets, log on to Facebook, and use other forms of social media throughout the workday. Three-fourths of employees use their own devices to access social media at least once daily; sixty percent use them more than once a day. The responses came from 1100 employees in many fields, including NGOs, health care, and retail.

    But SilkRoad COO Brian Platz says the news is not all bad. He suggests that instead of trying to stop social media use, employers should encourage it. Platz says that employees' social media know-how can be used to engage with customers and discover what they are saying in the public domain. He also promotes using social media both as a recruiting tool and a way to foster cooperation between co-workers.

    Since social media use is so prevalent, the adage "If you can't beat them, join them" seems to make sense.

    Discussion: How might social media between co-workers be helpful in the workplace? How might social media use during the workday obstruct productivity? What can you learn by following an organization's social media?

    Source: Ladika, S. (2012, October 3). Worker social media usage high in the workplace, survey shows. Workforce. Retrieved from www.workplace.com

    Improve Job Offer Chances by Not Lying

    Hirers are seeing an uptick in the number of people falsifying their résumés in both large and small ways. From fudging on employment dates to producing counterfeit certificates, candidates desperate to be hired are becoming more brash. But lying to land a job always ends badly. Experts say it's up to the individual to take measures that will assure a future employer that the candidate is on the up and up. They offer the following pointers.

    1. Quantify and qualify accomplishments. Be specific about achievements at previous jobs, especially during an interview. Have facts on hand that quantify what you have done.
    2. Assure positive references by leaving a job on good terms and doing a great job while you are there.
    3. Provide complete contact information of references. Recruiters prefer to phone an actual place of business rather than personal cellular devices.

    Discussion: Why would someone checking your references be suspicious if you give a cell phone rather than a business phone? How can you tell a current employer about your plans to seek new employment without affecting your position? In what ways can lying about your abilities catch up with you?

    Source: Schiavone, K. (2012, November 11). False witness. Los Angeles Times, p. B4.