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5 favorite workplace tips of 2012

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(MoneyWatch) The Great Recession may have officially ended several years ago, but the job market continues to look grim. With roughly 23 million Americans either unemployed or underemployed, career guidance and job advice is especially valuable.

Enter CBS MoneyWatch's human resources insider Suzanne Lucas, a.k.a. "The Evil HR Lady," who not only answers reader letters on dicey workplace situations, but also offers tips on finding a new job.

The MoneyWatch team looked at Suzanne's posts from 2012 and chose five of our favorite ones.

5 favorite workplace tips of 2012

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My company fires pregnant women: Is it legal?

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Our first pick involved a reader who was fired from her job after announcing that she was expecting a child.

"I notified my employer I was pregnant this February... My employer came to me last week saying he needs to talk to me about my future with the company and my intentions after pregnancy. I assured him I expect to return full time after my leave is over. The next day he said my position is being terminated," the reader wrote.

Was this move on the company's part legal, the reader (and the MoneyWatch team) wondered?

It turns out it is perfectly legal to fire a woman who is pregnant, but with an important caveat. Check out Suzanne's response here.

5 favorite workplace tips of 2012

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How to fight a bad vacation policy

On the beach

Our second pick was a reader letter about a company's less-than-desirable vacation policy.

"Our firm just implemented a new policy stating that vacation days must now be taken in increments of one week. The managing partner's (who seems to be the only one that feels this way) reasoning is that taking a day here or a day there is disruptive to the lawyers work," the reader wrote.

It's a common complaint, and Suzanne's advice included fighting the problem as a group. Click here to read her full reply.

5 favorite workplace tips of 2012

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Can you be fired for skipping lunch?

If you've ever worked through your lunch break, read this column. Our third pick looks at the case of a Chicago woman who was terminated for working through her break.

Is it legal? It turns out you can indeed be fired for working during lunch, and there are other similar scenarios that can land you in hot water.

Read Suzanne's explanation of the law and what you need to know to stay clear of violations.

5 favorite workplace tips of 2012

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How to bounce back after being fired

One reader reached out to Suzanne for advice on what to do after being fired.

"I am 57 years old and I am afraid that I am now unemployable, and have a difficult time trying to "spin" my situation to a prospective employer, when I know I was hosed. I guess I just want your insight. I'm sure this stuff happens all the time," the reader wrote.

Many folks, especially those who have been employed with the same company for a long time, might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of starting the job hunt from scratch.

From freshening up or establishing your online profile to reaching out to former direct reports, our fourth pick offers step-by-step advice.

5 favorite workplace tips of 2012


5 mistakes you may be making on your resume

For our fifth pick, we chose something that is key to landing your next job: A flawless resume.

Typos and factual errors are common (and embarrassing) faux pas, but there are some mistakes that are harder to spot. From your resume reading like a job description to its length, there are several important pitfalls you need to avoid.

See Suzanne's tips to have a vibrant, current resume that will help you land a new job.

The following posts didn't make our top five list, but are intriguing reads nonetheless:

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