Book Review: Overcoming Underearning

​In the opening parable of Barbara Stanny’s Overcoming Underearning, the fairy godmother says, “When you learn to face what makes you fearful, it need never control you again.”  I cannot think of a more liberating opening.

the voice of experience

Stanny states, “if you don’t deal with your money, your money will deal with you…often in ways you’d never expect.”  She experienced this maxim first hand when her husband lost “a substantial portion of [her] inheritance”. She blatantly says that “staying stupid was not an option”, but when confronted by her financial counselor about being an underearner, she insisted she was not. She ignored her financial counselor’s advice until she “research[ed] financially savvy women” and interviewed “154 high-earners, several of whom were writers” she discovered to be “supremely confident.” She shattered her mental block holding her back, that people who make a lot of money are “cold, aloof, designer-dressed snobs.”  Her pivotal confession was that “they didn’t let self-doubt stop them” like she did.  Then Stanny miraculously earned six figures.  “Without even realizing it, I had seamlessly incorporated their strategies into my life, which I’ll share with you throughout this book.”

planning the life you want

The purpose of this book is to help you achieve financial independence. This process begins with one simple question:  What do you want? Stanny asks, if you had only six months to live:

  • “What would you be doing?”
  • “Where would you be living?”
  • “Who would you be with?”
  • “What would you change?  What would you add?  What would you eliminate?”

Based on your answers to these questions, you can formulate plans for how to change your life. “Make your plans as fantastic as you like, because twenty-five years from now they will seem mediocre.  You will wonder why you didn’t make them 50 times as great.”

the psychology of underearning

Stanny explains, “The problem we’re dealing with isn’t really about money at all.  Money is simply a metaphor.  In fact, the problem isn’t even about overcoming underearning.  Underearning is merely a symptom.  Lasting change never occurs by treating the symptom.  My belief is that you’ve kept yourself an underearner for a reason. Bottom line:  Underearning is a condition of low self-esteem.  Inside every underearner lies some degree of hopelessness or helplessness brought on by a perceived lack of self-worth or absence of self-love.” Stanny follows this insight with a Self Esteem Inventory designed to help readers identify their self-esteem roadblocks.

Stanny now counteracts the voices in our heads that tell us we cannot be anything.  “Those voices may never shut up.  Mine haven’t.”  She talks about how she has learned to ignore them.  “So should you.  Just because you hear voices in your head doesn’t mean you have to listen to them.” Defiantly she encourages us to “Start replacing the voices with different, more positive statements, a personal mantra or affirmation.”

Section Two:  Taking the Steps

The second portion of the book outlines the steps you can take to begin changing your financial state and achieving success. This begins with a five-part plan, each step of which contains detailed plans and exercises:

  • Step 1:  Tell the Truth-The Defining Truth:  No one is doing this to me.  I am doing this to myself.  Therefore, I have the ability to change it.
  • Step 2:  Make a Decision-profit motive.  THE GRAND CONUNDRUM:  You get what you really want, not what you ask for.
  • Step 3:  Stretch:  Your biggest barrier is fear.  And it’s usually that which we’re most afraid to let go of that is the very thing we need to release.
  • Step 4:  Create Community-who are your true believers, confidants, way showers, messengers, and naysayers?
  • Step 5:  Respect and Appreciate Money-The Big Must for Overcoming Underearning: Stop Debting Now!

This book can be placed on hold from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Andre de la Fuente

August 2021 YouTube Video Roundup

Our hearts go out to all those, in Louisiana and beyond, who are suffering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Ida. If you’ve been affected by the storm and are seeking assistance, please feel free to call the East Baton Rouge Parish Library at 225-231-3750 for information, or check out their infoguide to disaster recovery resources here.

If, on the other hand, you’re here for information about job search and career advice videos, read on:

job search mastery

how to research employers for cultural fit

Have you ever started a new job. . .and then realized that the working environment is completely wrong for you? Careful research can prevent you from walking into a bad situation. In this video, Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak discusses the different aspects of company culture, as well as strategies for researching company culture before you accept a job offer.

job interview questions

How teens can answer “Tell me about a conflict with a co-worker”

If you’ve never had a conflict with a co-worker, how can you answer this question? Interview questions about conflict are tricky for all jobseekers. The problem becomes much more complicated for young people with little work experience. In this video, Career Specialist Lynnette Lee and guest star Aaliyah Newton discuss the right (and wrong) things to say.

how to answer, “why didn’t your previous job last very long?”

Having an unstable work history – such as a short-term job – can be a red flag to employers. This is especially true if you were let go. In this video, Lynnette Lee and Anne Nowak demonstrate how you can answer this question in such a way that it reassures employers.

how teens can answer, “what is your proudest accomplishment?”

Every jobseeker, no matter how young, has accomplished something they can be proud of. Your academic, extracurricular, community, and personal achievements can showcase your best skills and abilities. In this video, Lynnette Lee and guest star Jessica Budd demonstrate how to wow your interviewer with your answer to this question.

Common Job Application Tutorials

how to apply for a job at rouse’s

Rouse’s is a fast-growing Louisiana-based grocery chain. In this video, Career Specialist Cynthia Payton will demonstrate how to complete their online job application.

Written by Lynnette Lee

What You Should Know about Online Job Applications, Part II

More and more employers are moving their application process entirely online, so it’s important that you know the basics of filling out online applications. While every job application is a little different, there are a few things that are basically the same across most of them. In this thrilling conclusion to the blog series, we’ll discuss which documents to include with your online application, and the assessments you’ll have to take.

If you missed Part I, you can read it here.

1 Documents to include

Most online applications will allow you to upload supporting documents with your application. We recommend including at least a Resumé, though a Cover letter, and a list of References are also helpful, especially if the employer asks for them.

1.1 Resumé

A resumé is a short overview of your professional history and qualifications. Employers use resumés to quickly filter through candidates to narrow down the applicant pool. Since a resumé is so short, and so important, it should be your top priority. If you can only work on one of these documents, work on your resumé.

1.1.1 Structure

Your resumé needs three main sections: a header with your name and contact information, an education section, and an experience section. In addition, you might want to include other sections for job-relevant certifications, skills, extracurriculars, classes, or volunteer work. You can also check out our YouTube videos Creating a Winning Resumé or Creating Your First Resumé for more information.

1.1.2 Formatting

Your resume should be typeset in an easy-to-read font – think Times New Roman, Cousine, or Helvetica – at a standard size, like 10, 11, or 12 pt. The margins should be comfortable, around 1 inch from each side. While it is your resumé, so you can format it how you like, it’s also a representation of your personality, style, and qualifications. We suggest you make it easy to read.

Some resumé templates online or in resumé builders have colors, backgrounds, images, or fancy formatting. Our resumé templates don’t include any of those, but again, it’s your personal choice. Make sure the formatting fits the job you’re applying for, however – you wouldn’t want to apply to a bank with a four-color resumé in Comic Sans, for example.

1.1.3 Further reading

1.2 Cover letter

A cover letter is almost as important to include as a resumé. A cover letter is your opportunity to explain why you’re applying for this job, with this company, and why they should want to hire you. It’s an act of salesmanship, so you should take the time to write a fresh one with each new application.

Cover letters become more important the higher-paying or more-specialized the job is. While it might not be super important to write a full cover letter for a minimum-wage or entry-level position, it’s vitally important to write one for any job with a salary.

For more information on cover letter writing, including tips on what to write, and how to format it, see our blog posts Structuring and Formatting a Cover Letter and When and Why Do I Need a Cover Letter?, as well as our YouTube videos Introduction to Cover Letters and Cover Letters 2.0.

1.3 References

References are professional contacts that can speak to your efficacy as an employee. Many employers will contact references in the late stages of the hiring process, when they’ve narrowed the list of applicants down to two or three. Because of this, you shouldn’t include your references with your resumé, but as a separate document that you might even send later.

Make sure to ask your references before you write them down, and let them know when you’re using them. Include their name, business phone number and email address, and their relationship to you.

For more information, see our YouTube video Reference Ready.

2 Assessment

It’s important to remember that every aspect of an online application serves a screening purpose: employers use the data they glean about you to determine whether they’ll bring you along to the next round of hiring, and possibly to a job. Skills and Personality Assessments are an important tool for employers to narrow their hiring pool, so it’s important to take them seriously.

2.1 Personality Assessments

Employers use personality assessments to see if you’d be a good fit to the culture of their company, or if you’ll tend to act according to their policies in various situations. They’ll ask questions relating to interactions with troublesome customers or coworkers, and various others designed to determine whether you’re honest, hardworking, open to criticism, a team player, and self-sufficient. They’ll ask the same question with different wordings multiple times, to see if you’re paying attention or just clicking buttons.

Make sure to read through each question fully, and consider your answer before marking it. Some personality assessments let you go back and change answers, and some don’t – so be prepared.

2.2 Skills Assessments

A good number of employers, especially those looking for entry-level positions, use skills assessments to screen for applicants who can do the basic requirements of the job. As an example, Wal-Mart’s assessment has you make change for a customer using the fewest number of coins. Others include logic puzzles, scheduling problems, and computer skills.

When working through a skills assessment, make sure to read each question fully, and consider your answer. However, be wary of taking too long – many skills assessments are also timed. Good luck!

3 Conclusion

Part II concludes our series on What You Should Know about Online Job Applications. We at the Career Center wish you the best of luck on your job search! If you have any other questions or ideas for another blog post, feel free to contact us by email or phone: (225) 231-3733.

We also have a number of Online Application walkthroughs on our YouTube channel, and we’re adding more all the time.

Monday Motivation

‘In every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.’ I have followed that advice assiduously, and not only at home. I have employed it as well in every workplace, including the Supreme Court of the United States. When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

What You Should Know About Online Job Applications: Part I

More and more employers are moving their application process entirely online, so it’s important that you know the basics of filling out online applications. While every job application is a little different, there are a few things that are basically the same across most of them. In this blog series, we’ll discuss some of those similarities.

Before you start

Before you start on your online job search, you need some information handy to make applying easier. We recommend keeping a job search notebook, where you can jot down information like what jobs you’ve already applied for and whether you’ve heard back from them; usernames, emails, and passwords for various job search and application websites; and lists of your professional experience, as well as possible references and their contact information.

Passwords

One of the first things a new job application will ask you to do is create an account. I like to think of passwords as a sort of “magic key” to websites that you can make yourself. They’re much easier to copy than a regular key though – and in fact, they can even be guessed! Here at the Career Center, we encourage patrons to think of a password that’s easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess. Ideally, you’ll have a separate password for each website you use, and that includes job search websites, too. You can write down your passwords, along with other information about each website, in your job search notebook.

If you want to know more about good passwords and how to make them, watch our video on the subject.

Legal mumbo jumbo

Almost all employment portals have a legal disclaimer or Terms of Service page that you need to agree to continue. We always recommend reading, or at least skimming, through the Terms of Service, and making sure you agree with how they’ll use your information, before continuing.

However, the fact of the matter is that you won’t be able to apply for the position without indicating that you agree to their terms (usually there’s a check box you can click) and clicking Continue. So read through the Terms, think about it, and make your own decision.

Required fields

This is generally-applicable advice for almost any web forms you fill out, not just online applications. Some web form fields are required, meaning they must be filled out to continue in the form. Most application forms we’ve come across have marked those with an asterisk, like this: *. Much of the time, that asterisk is red, as well. However, these are conventions, and some websites might indicate required elements differently! Be on the look out for instructions that let you know how the employer has marked required fields, and make sure to answer those. Otherwise, the application won’t let you continue.

If a field isn’t required, you don’t have to fill it out – and in fact, for some fields it’s better not to. These include questions like these:

  • What do you expect to be paid for this position?
  • What were you paid in your previous position?
  • May we contact your current employer? (See below for more information on this question and the next one.)
  • Why did you leave a previous position?

Personal questions

Demographic information

Demographic information includes data like your age, sex, and ethnicity. It is illegal to discriminate against these parts of your identity, and in many cases, for the actual employers to even see the data before making a hiring decision. Most of the time, when employers ask you for demographic information, it’s actually a third party they hire to compile that information for later analysis, or more recently, to apply for a federal tax break. You should never be required to input demographic data in a job application form.

Legal authorization to work in the U.S.

While companies can get in trouble for discriminating based on demographic information such as ethnicity, they can also get in trouble for employing someone without the authorization to work in the United States – so while this question may seem personal, they need to ask it. However, it can be confusing to know for sure if you are authorized to work in the U.S. Here are a few tips.

  • If you were born in the United States, you are legally authorized to work in the U.S. You can answer Yes.
  • If you were not born in the United States, but you are a permanent resident – that is, you have a green card – you are legally authorized to work in the U.S. You can answer Yes.
  • If neither of the above are true: you should (hopefully) know about your immigration or naturalization status.

Previous employers

Companies love to ask about your previous employers and whether they can contact them. Unless you were fired for gross misbehavior from a previous job, it’s fine to put the employers’ number down here. Usually, prospective employers are routed to HR, where they’re only told that you did work there and your dates of employment.

Reason for leaving

Especially with your most recent employer, you might get asked about why you left. If you can leave this blank, we recommend it. Otherwise, try to think of the most neutral- or positive-sounding, while still being honest, version of why you left the company. An answer like, “I wanted more money,” is not a good answer, no matter how true it is. Try an answer more along the lines of, “A better opportunity presented itself.”

Criminal record

If you have a criminal record, it can be especially hard to get a job. Check out our video Special Resumé Rules for Ex-Offenders for some resumé tips.

Social Media

Make any social media your employer may see as private as you can, or keep your feed as professional as possible. Imagine your boss (or prospective boss) is standing behind you and can see the posts you make and reply to. While it’s a breach of privacy, in our opinion, for employers to comb through applicants’ social media, they do and they’re completely allowed to. Plan accordingly. For more detailed information on this topic, check out our video Social Media Etiquette for the Job Search.


Make sure to keep an eye out for Part II of this series, where we’ll discuss which documents you should attach to online applications, as well as the dreaded Assessments!

Written by Case Duckworth

Monday Motivation

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

July 2021 YouTube Video Roundup

Welcome to the dog days of summer, replete with sweltering temperatures and sticky humid air. If you’d like a respite from the fun in the sun, why not find a nice shady spot to cool down with some YouTube videos? We can heartily recommend the following:

Small business services

Introduction to Data Axle

If you’re starting a business, you need information about your competition and your consumer base. Data Axle (formerly called Reference USA) can be a great resource for finding that information. In this video, Career Specialist Case Duckworth demonstrates how to use the Data Axle database, available for free to East Baton Rouge Parish Library cardholders.

job search websites

how to Use ziprecruiter for the job search

ZipRecruiter offers a streamlined approach to the job search. In this video, Case Duckworth demonstrates how to build a profile and apply for jobs on ZipRecruiter.

job interview questions

how teens can answer “tell me about yourself”

The job interview can be especially challenging for teenagers, who may not have much experience speaking about themselves in a professional setting. In this video, Certified Resume Writer Lynnette Lee and special guest Jessica Budd demonstrate ways that teens can handle the first and most important interview question.

Common Job Application Tutorials

how to apply for a job at wendy’s

If you’ve always dreamed of saying, “Sir, this is a Wendy’s,” here’s your chance. In this video, Career Specialist Cynthia Payton walks you step-by-step through the process of applying for a job at fast-food chain Wendy’s.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Monday Motivation

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

Marianne Williamson

Book Review: Stillness Is the Key

Maybe the pandemic forced you to rethink your life or career. Maybe you had arrived at the point of change regardless. But how to let go of the old and focus on and strategize about the new? According to Ryan Holiday, Stillness is the Key.

distracted and distressed

This book echoes similar sentiments to those of a popular Rascal Flatts’ song: “Sunday was a day of rest, Now, it’s one more day for progress.”  The author states that we “are pulled in countless directions by competing priorities and beliefs.  In those battles, in that war, stillness is the river and the railroad junction through which so much depends.  It is the key…”  Holiday gives several obstacles that present us with so many distractions.  For instance: “We are afraid of the silence.  We are afraid of looking stupid.  We are afraid of missing out. We are afraid of being the bad guy who says, “Nope, not interested.”  The author adds a quote from John Cage: “If the mind is disciplined, the heart turns quickly from fear to love.”

finding peace through stillness

Holiday divides the book into three domains: The Mind, Spirit, and Body. The head, the heart and the flesh.  It is in these three areas the author encourages us to focus and develop methods for stillness.  The author references a wide range of the world’s greatest thinkers to show us what stillness is and how we can achieve it.  The objective is to reduce the disturbances that make stillness impossible. To be at peace within ourselves, and to establish a lasting inner and outer peace.

It is critical that the mind domain is mastered in order to find success in stillness.  That will involve managing the amount and type of information you allow in and to properly appreciate being present in the moment. Protect yourself and your mind by managing your thoughts.  Invest time and mental energy to find truth and solution to problems you face.

tips and techniques

One effective method for stillness is to journal.  Journaling allows you to transfer some of the thoughts that are floating around in your head to another medium and to clarify your thoughts. Seeking wise counsel is another proven method for gaining stillness along with receiving constructive criticism.  Cultivating a flexible attitude will allow you to grow and experience situations in a whole new light.

Holiday gives a laundry list of goals one must meet in order to find stillness, some of which include…

  • Developing a strong moral compass,
  • Steering clear of envy and jealousy and harmful desires, and
  • Coming to terms with the painful wounds of childhood.

The author instructs us to take responsibility for our own emotions and impulses.  To strengthen our bodies as the physical vessel of our minds and spirit by developing a routine and investing in ourselves through personal hobbies.  Holiday states that “when the body is busy with the familiar, the mind can relax.  The monotony becomes muscle memory.”

Holiday insists that we “Get out from under all your stuff.  Get rid of it.  Give away what you don’t need.  Declutter.

In the midst of stillness, you can find peace. And with peace of mind you can better find your new career or life’s purpose.

This book can be placed on hold from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Cynthia Payton