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Don’t be surprised if your note goes the way of the dryer sock. So, how does a proactive job seeker get noticed? Take heart, you don’t have to resign yourself to staring bleary-eyed at Monster.com.
1. Identify the Decision Maker
Channel your inner detective. Who calls the hiring shots at your dream employer? (Heads up: It is highly unlikely this person works in the HR department). You want to talk to someone with the power to give you, or help you get, what you want. It’s often easy to figure this out with 10 minutes of “Google-Fu“; other times you’ll need to ask for help (see below). It’s also smart not to aim too high or low on the company totem pole: The CEO isn’t a good target unless she’s the hiring manager (or the two of you share mutual friends).
2. Work Your Network for a “Warm” Lead
You have more connections than you think you do, and it’s time to rally the troops. In “The Strength of Weak Ties,” a ground-breaking paper illustrating the startling power of extended networks, Mark S. Granovetter argues that friends-of-friends offer you more resources than your closest buddies, because each “weak tie” acts as a bridge to untapped social and professional groups. New people = new opportunities.
The best part is that it doesn’t take much to uncover your own personal hidden network — spend an hour spying on your friends’ LinkedIn and Facebook connections, and you might be surprised to discover who knows whom.
3. Write Clearly, Briefly and Memorably
There’s enough material in this section alone to fill an entire class. But before you hit the Send button, at least make sure you’ve written something you wouldn’t ignore or delete. Common email pet peeves include missing subject lines (who would bother opening those?) and messages that go on … and on. Send a crazy long email, and you’re telling the recipient you don’t respect her time.
4. Spell Out the Next Step
Cold emailing is a bit like dating: You can scare off a promising prospect by coming on too strong. Instead of declaring your love for your dream company in the first email (and attaching your resume), introduce yourself and express a sincere desire to learn more about the job (if there is one) or department (if there isn’t a specific job posted). You’ll earn bonus points by peppering your note with sentences that demonstrate you know a thing for two about the company’s operation — say, you read a recent article about its launch in Mashable, or you’re excited by what it’s doing with new product X, because Y. Then, close with a specific call to action. Tell this person exactly what you want, whether it’s answers to your (thoughtful!) questions, or a (very) short informational interview.
5. Follow up, Follow up, Follow up!
Okay: so it’s been a week (or two), and you’ve heard nada? Send another email. Many job seekers are wary of appearing pushy for good reason: No one likes a nag. But take it from a former journalist — there’s a big difference between persistence and insistence. Follow up in reasonable increments of time (at least a week), contribute something new to the conversation (“Here’s what I’ve been working on”), and use a friendly, but not desperate, tone. Employers are grownups, which means they’ll eventually let you know if they want you to go away, usually in the form of a polite brush-off. Until you get the red light, keep trying.
There you have it, the “secret email sauce.” If five steps for one email looks like overkill, remember that it’s ultimately more efficient to send 10 researched and carefully written messages instead of 100 generic copy-and-paste jobs. Add this practice to your job hunting arsenal, and you’ll soon stick out from the ocean of candidates — in a good way. (Mashable 4/6/13)
1. File a tax return
Whatever you do, don’t ignore Uncle Sam. You must file a tax return. The penalty for not filing is 10 times more than the penalty for not paying.
If you fail to file by the April 15th deadline, you could face a penalty of 5 percent of your unpaid tax bill, plus interest, for each month the return is late – until the penalty hits 25 percent of what you owe.
If you file, but fail to pay your taxes, the penalty is only half a percent of your unpaid tax bill, plus interest, each month.
2. File for an extension
If you need more time to gather paperwork, file for an extension. Last year, more than 11 million taxpayers requested an extension. File for an extension by April 15th and you’ll have until Oct. 15 to submit your tax return. By filing an extension, you’ve cut down on the penalties you’d pay by not filing at all, plus you’ll get an automatic extension for six months to get your tax return in. Just remember, it’s an extension to file — not an extension to pay. Starting April 16, if you have a tax liability and owe money to the IRS, interest and penalty begin to accrue on your tax bill.
3. Contact IRS to find out about payment options
To minimize the effects of interest and penalties on unpaid balances on your taxes, begin by exploring your options with the IRS.
About one in six taxpayers who file their returns has a balance due on their return, according to the IRS. For many people, their tax bill is a big burden. But if you can’t pay what you owe, or you can’t pay all of what they owe, the IRS will work with you to get the money. Taxpayers can call the IRS at 1800 829 1040 — or go to the IRS website at http://www.IRS.gov.
4. Set up payment agreement online
Setting up a payment agreement with the IRS is often the answer. As long as you owe $50,000 or less and have already filed your return, the easiest and fastest way to apply for an installment plan is to do so directly on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov. You can also use Form 9465 to request an installment plan. In the payment agreement, you set the terms and figure out the largest monthly payment you can make. Once approved, you’ll be charged a $105 fee — or $52 if you make direct debit payments from your bank account.
5. Be careful paying tax bill with credit card
You may find it easiest to just pay your taxes with plastic. But it’ll cost you in other ways. The IRS will let you pay by debit or credit card through one of five online payment processors — OfficialPayments.com, ChoicePay.com, Pay1040.com, Businesstaxpayment.com, and PayUSAtax.com. There’s usually a flat fee for using a debit card, ranging from $2.99 to $3.49 per transaction. But online payment processers charge a fee of 1.88 percent to 2.35 percent of your tax bill for using a credit card — and some tack that fee on to debit card transactions as well. If you don’t pay your credit card balance in full in the next billing cycle, you’ll pay interest each month until you do. That’s another 15 percent interest on the average variable rate, according to Bankrate.com.
If you don’t like paying fees, there are free e-pay options available, such as electronic funds withdrawal and the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, which allows you to pay via the Internet or by phone.
In the end, if you can’t pay your full tax bill, setting up a payment plan with the IRS is probably the best way to go. Just remember, don’t take too long to pay. Penalties and interest will continue to accrue until the full tax bill is paid. However, the late-payment penalty is cut in half for any month an installment agreement is in effect.