Not so long ago, interviewing a job applicant was a straightforward matter but, according to Nation's Business, July, "today's interview is a minefield of potential legal liability." Topics to avoid include: Children, age, disabilities, physical characteristics, maiden name, citizenship, lawsuits, arrest records, smoking, AIDS and HIV." The article, "Topics to Avoid With Applicants," is worth reading.
WORKPLACE WORRIES: "What are businesses' biggest woes? Asked to cite the most worrisome problems they face, 1,300 business leaders replied, in order: Rapid rise of non-wage costs, such as health care; quality of the labor force; high cost of capital; developing new products and services; foreign competition. Conclusion: Health care and other spiraling costs topped the list, emerging as a far bigger bogyman than foreign competition." (U.S. News & World Report, dated today.)
WORKPLACE WISDOM: "Keeping a customer happy costs one-fifth of what it takes to get a new one, says Gail Sundling. Her approach aimed at keeping customers might work well for other small businesses. The only 'policies' that owner Ms. Sundling keeps at The Delmar Bootery, Albany, N.Y., are those aimed at keeping customers coming back. . . . Anyone who buys a pair of shoes at the store gets free shines for the life of the shoes. 'Because we're selling the finest shoes there are,' she says, 'people don't buy them all the time, but when they come in for their routine polishings they pick up a lot of extras.' " (Nation's Business, July.)
HOPEFULLY HELPFUL: "The ad or mailer looks enticing. A credit card issuer is offering a low interest rate or no annual fee. But before you make the switch, be sure to check out the way the card issuer calculates your interest. Otherwise, you might end up paying twice as much in interest as you're paying now." (Write Bankcard Holders of America, Herndon, Va., for details.) . . . "Although business travelers often pack hurriedly, they should remember to carry medicines for diarrhea, pain, nasal congestion, etc., with them on planes, rather than leave them in checked luggage." (Phyllis Barrier, dietitian, Washington, D.C.)
FASTEN SEAT BELT: Do you have a new child or grandchild? Do you know what things will cost when the baby reaches age 65? If inflation averages 3.1 percent over 65 years -- the same pace as over the past 65 years -- $1 will have the purchasing power of 14 cents. Put another way, it will take $7.27 to buy what $1 buys now. Here are present prices and (in parentheses) what costs will be in 65 years: McDonald's Big Mac $1.79 ($13); toy fire truck $34 ($247); movie ticket $6.50 ($47); set of golf clubs $550 ($4,000); Honda Accord $17,160 ($124,000) and median-priced home $103,000 ($750,000).
HOW TO COPE: Regarding the above, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, August, says, "If someone gives the baby a $10,000 check, that money, thanks to the power of compounding, will grow to a cool $1 million by age 65, assuming it earns an average of 7.7 percent a year. And, if the money compounds at an annual 10.4 percent rate -- the average return since 1926 for the S&P; 500-stock index -- he'll get to crack a nest egg worth $4,600,000." Suggestion: If no one gives the baby 10 grand, borrow it.
MARYLAND & MORE: "The Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area has learned a hard lesson. What Uncle Sam giveth, Uncle Sam taketh away. Cuts at military installations let the air out of the Maryland and Virginia economies last year and while South Atlantic states will start to improve with the national recovery, they will perform much worse than the U.S.," (Fortune, July 27) . . . Potomac Savings, Md., (301-445-2000) is listed under "Top-Yielding CDs" in Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, August . . . U.S. Surgical, a stock widely held in this area thanks to the advice of local philanthropist Zanvyl Krieger, is listed under "Companies With Strong Earnings Momentum" in S&P; Outlook, July 15 . . . Procter & Gamble, with a Baltimore manufacturing unit, is featured in the same publication. ("New products and international expansion bode well for the stock.")