Pre-Employment Testing

As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, many employers are resorting to pre-employment testing to determine the best candidate for the job. While resumes provide employers with some insight into the capability of applicants, a relevant test can really help narrow the field. Unfortunately, there are also several disadvantages to pre-employment testing. Additionally, there are strict laws prohibiting discriminatory or disrespectful questions from being asked.

Advantages

Pre-employment tests provide employers with a number of advantages. Some such perks, include:

• Employers can identify positive traits within candidates, such as integrity, competence, motivation, and reliability

• Employers can identify negative traits within candidates, such as substance dependency and inclinations toward theft

• Provides further insight into candidates

• Can help determine differences between candidates who seemed equal after evaluating their resumes and undergoing an interview.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, pre-employment testing is also disadvantageous for many employers. Some drawbacks include:

• Test results are only one factor of the hiring process. Employers should base their decision on other factors, such as their experience, qualifications, and interview.

• All tests administered by employers must be certified for validity and reliability

• Test results are not necessarily indicative of applicants’ ability to perform their job. Instead, tests focus on applicants’ potential.

• Testing conditions must be fair and consistent for every candidate

• Testing may eliminate some candidates who are highly qualified, but do not perform well on tests

• Applicants may react poorly to the test. Additionally, if they believe the test was discriminatory, they can legally challenge the test.

Discrimination

When writing tests, employers must be aware of the laws pertaining to employment testing. Any questions which require applicants to divulge something about themselves that could result in discrimination is illegal. For example, employers cannot ask about an applicant’s:

• Age-Some employers discriminate against older applicants because they assume that the older they are, the more pay they will request.

• Race/Ethnicity-Race and ethnicity are irrelevant factors when applying for a job. This law protects minorities from discrimination.

• Disability status-Some employers will discriminate against persons with disabilities, even if they will not impede the applicant’s job performance. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from asking questions pertaining to an applicant’s disability status.

• Sexual preference-Because sexual preference is private and irrelevant to one’s job performance, employers are prohibited from inquiring. This law protects members of the LGBT community who might otherwise be discriminated against.

Is a House a Good Investment For You?

Are you among the crowd who is still thinking of where to invest the money they earned from years of working hard? There may have been unsolicited advises convincing you to put your share on various networking companies. Some may have even told you to put up a startup company. But is this the most practical thing you could probably do to your money? Perhaps, yes, if its your choice.

However, investing has its ups and downs depending on the industry you’re going to delve into. Yet, do you know that buying a house or owning one is one of the most intelligent investments you would probably make. Why?

Homes can be turned into rental properties. With necessary adjustments and with proper leasing or rental documents, you can turn your house into an additional income stream. What’s even good is rental fees tend to increase on regular intervals. There are persons who often move because of job changes. They constantly look for homes which they can rent, and yours can be their next rental homes.

Depending on a home’s location, it can also be a perfect vacation house. Typically, families, especially those with children, and those which embrace the concept of extended families – do love to have vacation houses. During specific periods of the year, the house can serve as a reunion spot for relatives to gather. So, thinking of having a vacation house? Should it be near a beach, the woods, or perhaps one that offers mountainview or cityview otherwise?

Home values typically increase. Thus, if you’re going to put your house for a resale – chances are you’re going to get good profits. So you better ask your local real estate agent which areas have markets in which home prices experience surges. Commonly, these areas include those where professionals flock because of employment opportunities.

Buying a house is also seen by financial houses as a better investment than credit cards. This is one reason why there are many lenders that charge low-interest rates on home mortgages.

Are these reasons still not enough to convince you how good of an investment is owning a house? Another bonus benefit of owning a house is the local community attachment you’re going to build. You’re start to have acquaintances who’ll later become your friends. Your neighbors will likely become close to you like family. There will be some sort of emotional attachment.

Man-Made Diamonds; A Buyer's Guide

It seems almost impossible to watch TV or open a newspaper without seeing something about man-made diamonds. For centuries of years science has tested to create a perfect synthetic diamond. Finally, 21st-century technology has made that prospect a reality.

There are many reasons to purchase synthetic diamonds instead of the mined variety. The prices charged for mined diamonds are, in the very best verbiage, an illusion. To put it more bluntly, Cecil Adams, in his award-winning newspaper column "The Straight Dope" says: "Diamonds are a con, pure and simple." Diamond prices are largely controlled by the DeBeers diamond cartel, and they are not a fair reflection of diamond scarcity. Additionally, studies show that one out of three diamonds sold in the US today has been altered to artificially increase its value. Further studies have shown that on average a couple pays 40% too much for their diamond engagement ring.

Beyond deceiving pricing, there are the issues of "blood diamonds", forced child labor, and a myriad of other disturbing diamond facts.

Recently, socially conscious celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Minnie Driver, and Angelina Jolie have made a vocal issue of wearing only synthetic diamonds to the many gala events they attend.

Good synthetic diamonds are naturally indistinguishable from the mined variety, but without the baggage, and additionally, they cost thousands of dollars less. But, which synthetic diamond is the best choice?

There are many types of man-made or synthetic diamonds available. The choices are numerous, but unbiased information is scarce. Here is an overview and comparison of the synthetic diamonds currently unavailable on the market:

Cubic Zirconia

The grandfather of simulated diamonds, Zircons are available wide. In their best examples, CZ's are actually a fairly decent diamond replica. Unfortunately, the commodity-like availability and vast differences in quality have made the stone synonymous with low-cost fashion jewelry. Perhaps a good choice for cheap bling, but not for fine jewelry. Many sources are available, a decent one is: http://www.czfantasy.com

Russian Diamonds

Including Russian Brilliants, Russian Stars and others, they are in fact nothing but high quality cubic zirconias. This is not mentioned prominently on their web sites and they will only cop to it when pressed, but that is the fact. Russian diamond simulates are priced around $ 280 per carat.

Russian Diamonds are a fine jewelry selection and are usually mounted in quality precious metal settings.

Russian Brilliants are one of the best and oldest sellers of "Russian Diamonds" available at: http://www.russianbrilliants.net

Moissanite

Moissanite is a lab-created mineral that is a very good diamond simulant. Moissanite has been on the market as a fine jewelry choice since the early 90s and has picked up quite a few fans. Moissanite is a hard mineral that, like diamond, will cut glass. There are a couple of minor downsides to moissanite however. First, it is quite expensive, (though still cheaper compared to diamonds) usually priced about $ 500 per carat for good samples.

Secondly, moissanite does not have the same optical qualities as diamond and there are several indicators that make them easy to spot with the naked eye for an experienced practitioner. It is difficult to produce a pure white moissanite and they often appear slowly green when viewed in natural light. Also, moissanite has significantly higher radiance and brilliance factors then natural diamond, causing them to appear "too sparkly" to some. Overall though, moissanite is a beautiful synthetic diamond choice.

"Moissanite From the Sky" at http://www.fromthesky.com is a good source of fine moissanite jewelry.

Diamond Nexus

Diamond Nexus gemstones are the result of a fairly new scientific advancement in processing technique, and have only recently been available in the United States.

Diamond Nexus gemstones are excellent diamond simulants and come very close to matching the properties of mined diamonds at many different comparison points. They cut glass, being virtually identical to diamond on the Mohs (hardness) scale. They refract perfect "hearts and arrows" and have radiance and brilliance statements very close to flawless diamond.

Best of all, they are currently introductory pricing for the US market, and are a steal at $ 79 per caret. Diamond Nexus gemstones are only available in precious metal, solid-gold settings.

Diamond Nexus is only available from Diamond Nexus Labs at: http://www.DiamondNexusLabs.com

White Sapphire

Sapphire is the second hardest natural mineral on the Mohs scale, surpassed only by diamond. They are, unlike the others in this review, a natural stone. Their radiance and brilliance are not up to the standards of diamond however. Neverheless, quality white sapphires priced at around $ 220 per carat are a good diamond alternative.

A quality source is: http://www.TheNaturalSapphireCompany.com

Gemisis Cultured Diamond

Gemisis diamonds are beautiful and almost perfect diamond replicas. Unfortunately, they are not available in a clear, white color, so they are not a good choice for traditional diamond settings. However, if a yellow, orange or pink diamond is what you crave, Gemisis offers stunning choices in beautiful precious metal, fine-jewelry settings.

Gemisis Cultured Diamonds are only available at: http://www.gemisis.com

Recap:

Synthetic diamonds offer many advantages over the mined variety. You can buy with confidence, knowing that you are getting exactly what you paid for, and have not been the victim of diamond pricing chicanery. If you are concerned with the world around you, you can have a clear conscience, knowing that your money has not contributed to the support of an unethical and abusive industry.

However, there are many choices of synthetic diamonds, with varying degrees of quality. Take a little time to review the seller's information to get a clear idea of ​​what the science is behind the gemstones you are buying.

For my money, I believe the best choices are quality Moissanite stones or the new diamond simulant gemstones available from Diamond Nexus Labs.

Living in the Philippines – Best "Passive" Businesses to Start

For those OFW’s and foreigners wishing to start a business, but not wishing to involve themselves with the stress of a business involving day-to-day operations, employees, landlords, inventory, and so forth, there are several available opportunities for foreigners living in the Philippines. Buy fixer upper properties, improve them, then rent or sell them.

1. Buy Fixer Upper Properties, Improve Them, Then Rent or Sell Them. This is a great business for those of you who have experience in your home country in buying, fixing up and renting or selling properties. Over the past 10 years, a lot of people got involved in this kind of business in their homeland.

With the overall economic problems in the world the past couple of years, the Philippines has not been immune, and there are a lot of properties in a state of disrepair, as well as lot of distressed and foreclosed properties.

2. Build An Apartelle. An Apartelle is an apartment building where all but one of the units are rented out long term, and you are left to operate on a nightly or weekly basis, like a hotel – hence the combined name of apartelle. These are common in the Philippines.

This business will require a heavier capital investment, yet with the right property and by focusing in the more rural areas or smaller cities, you can construct a small 4 unit apartment building for Peso 3,000,000 – not counting cost of the land.

You would want to rent out 3 units on a long term rental basis, and keep one for short term rentals – for the many traveling salesmen that frequent the countryside. They like booking into such short term apartelle units rather than the much more expensive hotels in the area.

3. Condotels. I have not given this business my “thumbs up” in all instances. Condotels have been heavily touted and promoted the past several years and there have been many, many new condominiums built in Manila, and now even in Cebu and starting in Davao.

The problem is that although the developers offer great down payment terms (usually around 30% down financed over 3 years) and in some cases carry back the mortgage and finance for perhaps 10 years, the interest rates are incredibly high, and the split of rentals with the management team runs around 50%/50%. There is also always a nominal monthly maintenance fee.

What looks like “cheap” entry point and cash flow out each month, in many cases simply becomes a bet on long term property appreciation – finding someone willing to pay you more for it than you paid for it.

This is because with all the inventory on hand, there is a surplus of condos which have been into hotel type rental pools, but not enough visitors to rent them all.

Consequently, what an investor thought would be a good positive cash cow, turns out to be a continuous negative cash flow – not what a new retiree to the Philippines is looking for to supplement his pension or annuity! This type investment will only drain you pension.

However, having written all this, I HAVE FOUND the past several month two exceptional condotel investments which DO meet my criteria of creating good ongoing rental income.

4. Farming. The likely cessation of the Agrarian Land Reform Program (CARP) will give the rural sector renewed confidence to invest in agricultural production capacity. CARP has held back investment in both production capacity as well as farm acquisition. An end to CARP will mean higher land prices since land will be valued for its higher income producing potential.

However, higher land prices are simply a “serendipity”, an added value, to the type of farming business I am writing about. I have found an extremely unique business opportunity, which will generate a great ROI (return on investment) and is completely passive. It has been structured by the developers (all foreigners) to be a one turnkey investment price. The price includes cost of the land, plus all

Clearing, planting, cultivation and harvesting for the first 5 years.

The business has been priced to fit the capital investment budget of the average foreigner retiree, and all landowners will be members of a cooperative which will share the farming equipment (tractors, equipment shed, and others). The farm will be “farmed” by the developer’s management team

The hottest trend now is in organic farming, and yet it is only in its infancy stage in the Philippines. There is one export product in particular which has caught my attention – the pili nut. The Philippines is the ONLY country with which produces and processes this nut in commercial quantity.

The current status of the pili is equivalent to that of the macadamia some 30 years ago. It has huge potential to develop into a major industry. They are in demand not only in Hong Kong and Taiwan but also in Singapore, Korea and Austria.