Tops 6 Proven Ways to Negotiate a Higher Salary

ahJob seekers spend so much time fine-tuning résumés and preparing for interviews that they are often unprepared for the salary proposal that accompanies a job offer. The company has made a significant investment in filling that vacancy and may be willing to come to more attractive terms, but many candidates fail to realize that employers are open to salary negotiation.

A 2013 study by The Creative Group revealed that professionals who accept an initial job offer may be leaving money on the table. More than 60 percent of the executives surveyed are at least somewhat willing to negotiate compensation when extending a job offer to a top candidate.

“Job seekers often have more leverage than they realize when negotiating a starting salary,” Donna Farrugia, then-executive director of The Creative Group and now CEO of Nelson Cos., said in a statement. “Businesses that have gone through the process of selecting a top candidate are motivated to hire that person, even if they have to sweeten the deal.”
Because salary conversations are delicate and can easily go off track, Farrugia said job candidates who are thoroughly prepared for negotiations are the ones who have the most success. The key to a good, mutually respectful negotiation is informed and honest communication. Here are six tips to help you get the salary you deserve. [7 Salary Negotiation Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)]

1. Prepare for your negotiation
Research a reasonable salary for the position considering your education and experience. Do not base your counteroffer solely on the wage you would like to make. By approaching the negotiation with appropriate information and a reasonable expectation, you will make a better impression on the employer as well as position yourself reasonably from the start. In an article on The Ladders, career expert Amanda Augustine suggested looking up how your current role compares to the market rate, and then changing some of the variables to match those of the companies you’re applying to.

“If the roles you are targeting are in different industries or locations, or the size of the company is very different, this could have an impact on what salary you can expect to make,” Augustine wrote.

2. Keep personal issues out of it
Do not use your mortgage payment or other bills as a reason you should be paid more. Employers may be sympathetic, but that is not a reason to provide more compensation. Instead, focus on the increased value you bring to the organization. Stress your unique qualities, experience, education or some other feature to demonstrate benefit to the company’s goals, vision or purpose.

3. Be honest
Honesty is always the best policy. If asked what your previous salary was, don’t lie about it. While you may fear that it will weaken your position, it instead provides a strong foundation for your future working relationship. A reference check will reveal a lie, which could result in the offer being withdrawn altogether.

4. Remember that compensation is more than money
Salary offers include benefits such as vacation time, sick days and other work-life-balance options like a flexible schedule or telecommuting. Those items may also be negotiated. Depending on their importance to you, maybe an extra week of vacation is worth a little less in pay throughout the year. Consider the offer as a whole, and be open to negotiating aspects other than money.

5. Be willing to compromise
How you conduct yourself during a negotiation is as important as what you say. Be kind but firm, confident yet compromising. Your tone and demeanor will keep the conversation going or shut it down completely. Delivering ultimatums seldom works, and if it does, it can result in a negative atmosphere for future interactions.

6. Don’t lowball yourself
Many employers will ask you for a salary range on your application, during your interview or when they first contact you with a job offer. Whatever your very bottom number is, make sure the lowest number in your salary range is still above that (but within a reasonable range based on your research). If you go in with your minimum acceptable offer, the final number may be dangerously close to that.

Tips to Choose the Best Job for You

images-46Choosing a career can be a difficult task. College students and seasoned professionals alike often seek out the advice of career counselors to get them on track for a fulfilling and enjoyable occupation. You might have an idea of what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about, but where do you begin the search for a job that lets you do both?

Whether you’re an entry-level candidate who’s unsure of where to apply or an older worker who wants a career change, follow these steps to help you decide your ideal path.

Determine if you’re really in the wrong career
If you’re considering a career change, chances are you already know you may be on the wrong track. You first need to determine if you’re in the wrong field or just the wrong environment.

“Many people who contact me don’t need a career change but just a move to another company,” said career coach Phyllis Mufson of Catalyst for Growth. “What was bothering them was their relationship with their supervisor, or the need for a new challenge, or perhaps they need a change of culture.”

However, if you frequently find yourself feeling anxious, bored or stressed at your current job and struggle with or dislike your daily tasks, a career transition may be necessary. Dreading going to work, constantly watching the clock and daydreaming about leaving your job are other telltale signs that you’re not where you should be.

People end up on the wrong career path for many reasons. They may choose a job to please a friend or family member, to achieve a certain status or salary, or simply because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

“We are taught that if we are good at something, we should do it as a career,” said Joanne Sperans, owner of Volo Coaching. “The problem is, we’re often good at several things, and we’re passionate about several things. It’s where those two meet that we should look. I know many people who followed a career because they were told they were good at it, and 20 years down the line, they found themselves miserable.”

Figure out what you want — and don’t want
Once you arrive at the decision to change careers, your next step is to ask yourself what you really want from your next job. Jane Sunley, CEO of employee engagement company Purple Cubed and author of “It’s Never OK to Kiss the Interviewer” (LID Publishing, 2014), said it’s best to be specific about your end goals when deciding on a new career direction. You can discover those goals by asking yourself questions such as:

What do you enjoy doing?
What skills do you use when doing the things you enjoy?
What means a lot to you?
What are you good at?
What do others admire about you and why?
What things do you do that you’re better at than others?
Once you’ve answered these questions, where you want to be and what you need to do to get there will become clearer, Sunley said.

You also need to consider what type of role you want. David DiMartile, president and managing director of DiMartile HR, said there are three generic roles in any given career: individual contributor, manager of people and executive. Based on your individual preferences and capabilities, you should determine which of these roles best suits you before settling on a specific career discipline.

“Each path requires different competencies, and not everyone is skilled in or can develop the required competencies,” DiMartile told Business News Daily. “Some of the questions that individuals need to ask themselves related to their competency skill level and job fit are: Am I most comfortable when others rely on me to solve problems, or when I am given solutions to implement? Would I rather lead a team or be a team member? Do I want recognition for my personal accomplishments or for the accomplishments of my team? Would I prefer dealing with the here and now or anticipating what challenges are ahead?”

Assess your background and personality
When you know what you want out of your career, evaluate your qualifications for jobs in that field. Two of the most important factors in choosing your ideal path are your background (education, previous experience, practical skills) and your personality (character traits, interests, values). Both should be taken into consideration, but depending on your desired career, your personality may be more important than what’s on your résumé.

“Obviously, for highly technical careers like engineering, medicine and law, training is very important,” Sperans said. “However, for the ‘softer’ roles, including executive management, personality traits — like a commitment to one’s workplace and employees, a strong work ethic and empathy — are as important if not more so. You can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude and ethics.”

Holding a degree in your chosen field can certainly help, but not having one won’t necessarily bar you from getting a job. A person with the right aptitudes and a willingness to learn can be a good fit for a position, without having formal education in that field. Ideally, your career should be a place where your personality and background intersect.

“People who are thriving in their careers are easy to spot because there is such consistency — they are living what they do, and it shows,” said Lisa Severy, career services director at the University of Colorado and past president of the National Career Development Association. “People who are dissatisfied and stuck in their careers are usually experiencing some disconnect between what they are doing and who they are.”

Before you search for potential workplaces, Sunley advised defining your own personal values, so you can find an employer whose values align with yours.

“If you’re looking for a workplace where you can progress, make a contribution and enjoy yourself, it will help if you know in advance what the employer stands for and how they do things,” Sunley said. “If you know your own personal values, then you can compare these to those of the employers, telling you how they run their business and whether there will be any conflict. You can learn a lot by looking at [an employer’s] website, [but you can also] ask interviewers what’s important to their company. If you find that they don’t have an answer, then that should tell you a lot.”

Ask for advice, but don’t always take it
The people closest to you often take an interest in your success and want to offer their advice when you’re taking your life in a new direction. These individuals may know you fairly well and have nothing but good intentions, but ultimately, the decision about your career needs to be based on your own self-assessment.

“Suggestions can always be welcomed as a courtesy, but it is unlikely for friends and family to know all the dimensions of the person who is making a career choice,” said Jane Roqueplot, owner of JaneCo’s Sensible Solutions. “Most people don’t even realize their own total person until [they are] assessed to reveal the information about their style, aptitude and values. Family and friends can be far more important in helping one get a job after the appropriate career path has been determined.”

Similarly, Mufson noted that outside advice can be very helpful, but only if you take control and ask specific questions that will assist in your self-discovery and career research.

Be open to all possibilities
No matter what stage of your life or career you are in, the most important thing to remember when choosing a job is to keep your options open. If you’re just entering the job market, take the time to explore your interests and learn about different career paths.

“Trust your own instincts, and refrain from being swayed by naysayers,” said Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, owner of The Career Success Coach. “Know that trial and error in choosing a career path is part of the process.”

The same can be said for individuals making a career change. It’s never too late to achieve your professional goals. Even if you’ve been on the wrong path, you can still switch to a job that you may not have considered but that will make you far happier than the one you have now.

“Career development is a lengthy, deep process,” Severy said. “I think of it like writing an autobiography from the present, rather than looking from the past. The person in career transition is the author, taking all of the themes in his or her life and crafting the next chapter.

Tips to Give Better Employee Performance Reviews

xccConducting regular performance reviews is an important and constructive way to evaluate the contributions an employee is making to the company. But the traditional practice of sitting down once or twice a year to discuss what an employee has done well and needs to improve on simply isn’t cutting it anymore.

In a recent study, employee engagement company TINYpulse polled over 1,000 professionals to find out what they thought about their reviews. The results showed that employees are generally dissatisfied with traditional performance reviews: 37 percent said they think the process is outdated, and 42 percent said they think managers leave important elements out of their review due to bias. Nearly a quarter of respondents even said they “feared” their performance review, especially those in the millennial generation.

“Traditional annual performance reviews are inadequate,” said Matt Hulett, chief product officer of TINYpulse. “They’re biased towards recent work, goals aren’t communicated clearly, there’s misalignment in objectives between organizations and employees, and quite simply, the whole process just takes too long. With more and more … workers wanting change, the time for a performance review system upgrade is now.”

In a recent article for The Washington Post, Cliff Stevenson, a senior recent analyst for the Institute for Corporate Productivity, said that, to date, nearly 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have done away with annual employee performance reviews. Many large companies — such as The Gap, Adobe, Costco, GE and Microsoft, to name a few — have scrapped their traditional review programs in favor of systems that incorporate newer technology and immediate feedback to employees after assignments while still maintaining documentation of performance.

1. Embrace technology. There is an increasing trend in the development and use of employee engagement apps, such as TINYpulse, Impraise and Workday. These apps give employees and managers a chance to communicate regarding assignments daily, tracking progress, providing feedback and incorporating other business aspects so that each member of the team is on track and on the same page.

2. Institute performance-related pay increases. Sixty-four percent of the people polled by TINYpulse wanted pay increases tied to their performance reviews. Consider quarterly bonuses or increases to positively reinforce good work as well as the employee’s confidence that you value him or her as both an individual and a contributor.

3. Make reviews more frequent. With immediate feedback provided on social media sites like Facebook, people are increasingly used to hearing the good and bad on our thoughts and actions in real time. TINYpulse found that employees are in favor of more frequent reviews, so consider conducting evaluations at key milestones, such as at the end of a major project, or quarterly. These meetings do not have to be long, but they should highlight the highs and lows of the project or time frame. Such reviews give managers a chance to stay engaged with their direct reports, and also provide an opportunity for continuous improvement by receiving feedback from the employee on what could be improved for the next cycle.

“If you put this new generation in the box of the performance management we’ve used the last 30 years, you lose them,” Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme told The Washington Post. “People want to know on an ongoing basis, ‘Am I doing right? Am I moving in the right direction? Do you think I’m progressing?’ Nobody’s going to wait for an annual cycle to get that feedback.”

Initiating informal performance reviews
When giving informal feedback, managers should avoid general comments, such as “nice work” or “good job,” said Brigette McInnis-Day, executive vice president of human resources at SAP. Instead, they should cite specific examples, such as “Great job leading that meeting,” so the employee knows exactly what behaviors to repeat or change in the future, she said.

Another way to provide ongoing feedback to employees is by collecting and sharing a “crowdsourced” review from other staff members, said Eric Mosley, CEO and co-founder of employee recognition and rewards solution Globoforce. The results of the TINYpulse survey support that suggestion, finding that more than a quarter of respondents would like to have co-workers involved in the review process.

“Managers should crowdsource reviews about an employee’s work from their entire staff, so they can get a complete and accurate picture of an employee’s performance throughout the entire year,” Mosley said. “It provides constant feedback to both individuals and their managers, while informing the community at large of progress. It harnesses the wisdom of the crowds to give accurate and specific feedback on individual performance, and it will harness the power of data analysis to connect performance to profits. More than anything, it continuously drives company behavior toward a deliberate, strategic culture.”

Written evaluations: Why words matter
Written feedback is an important component of performance evaluations, but many managers find it difficult to complete this task effectively. If positive comments aren’t phrased well, they can sound trite and insincere, and any suggestions for improvement might sound too critical.

Richard Grote, author of “How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), said that instead of using terms such as “good” or “excellent” in a review, employers should opt for more measurement-oriented language. In an interview with HRCareers.com, Grote noted that action words — such as “excels,” “exhibits,” “demonstrates,” “grasps,” “generates,” “manages,” “possesses,” “communicates,” “monitors,” “directs” and “achieves” — are more meaningful.

Ken Lloyd, author of “Performance Appraisals & Phrases for Dummies” (For Dummies, 2009), offered a range of words and phrases managers could use for each type of employee responsibility:

Quality and quantity of work: accuracy, thoroughness, productivity and goal attainment
Communication and interpersonal skills: teamwork, cooperation, listening, persuasion and empathy
Planning, administration and organization: goal setting, prioritizing and profit orientation
Leadership: accessibility, responsiveness, decisiveness, collaboration and delegating
Job knowledge and expertise: knowledge base, training, mentoring, modeling and researching
Attitude: dedication, loyalty, reliability, flexibility, initiative, energy and volunteering
Ethics: diversity, sustainability, honesty, integrity, fairness and professionalism
Creative thinking: innovation, receptiveness, problem solving and originality
Self-development and growth: learning, education, advancement, skill building and career planning

How to Keeping Employees Happy

Want to retain your best employees? Your first thought may be to offer them a raise, but as it turns out, the old adage is right: Money doesn’t buy happiness.

“Bonuses, company perks and paid days off aren’t enough to keep employees happy,” said Pete Pedone, president and founder of home audio/video system design firm Interactive Home. “Showing an employee how much the company appreciates, respects and values them on a personal level is much more gratifying.”

Many studies have shown that employees with high job satisfaction are generally more productive, engaged and loyal to their companies. Hiring managers, HR experts and business leaders weighed in on the best ways to keep employees satisfied when salary isn’t the driving factor.

Be transparent
“Our employee engagement survey found that the No. 1 contributor to employee happiness is transparency. Money and promotions are important, but what people want to know is the truth about the state of the company. The cost of improving transparency is almost zero, but it requires an ongoing dialogue between management and staff.” – B.J. Shannon, manager of customer happiness at TINYpulse

Make work-life balance a priority
“To engage the workforce and remain competitive, it’s no longer sufficient to focus solely on benefits. Top employers create an environment where employees feel connected to the organization and have a positive work experience that’s part of a rich, fulfilling life. – David Ballard, assistant executive director for organizational excellence at the American Psychological Association

Encourage communication in common areas
“Businesses should take steps to create spaces where employees can easily communicate and share ideas. Casual conversations in the break room can become collaborative conversations. Make it inviting and effective, with nice furniture, tables, and snacks and beverages, if possible.” – Tom Heisroth, senior vice president at Staples Advantage

Create a career pathway
“[Our research] found that providing developmental support, such as training opportunities and career mentoring, to employees who do not believe there are attractive career opportunities for them within the company led to such employees leaving the organization. It’s critical for businesses to have regular career planning discussions with their employees. As part of training and development, make sure employees are aware of the different types of career paths or job opportunities throughout the company.” – Maria Kraimer, business professor at the University of Iowa

Recognize and reward employees
“Achievement and recognition are high motivators for employees. If they take risks, reward them. Give them a coupon to go out for dinner, an extra day off, tickets to a show, etc. The small stuff adds up.” – Charley Polachi, managing partner at Polachi Access Executive Search

Help employees be healthier
“We are seeing employers increasingly realize the importance that health and productivity programs can play in their efforts to control health care costs and maintain a productive workforce. While the outcomes of any one tactic can’t be guaranteed, high-effectiveness companies with thoughtful, multifaceted programs are reaping clear returns on their investments in workforce health.” – Wendy Poirier, health and group benefits leader at Towers Watson

Offer benefits beyond the basics
“There are many ways to supplement salary by assisting employees in other areas of their lives. You can offer an extra level of life insurance or disability insurance for employees to protect their incomes. Other ancillary benefits, such as dental, optical [and] wellness, are all well received by employees. And gym memberships and transit benefits are great perks to keep employees happy and healthy. It is important to [provide] higher benefits so your employees know that you truly care about them and their families.” – Bobby Hotaling, president and CEO of The Hotaling Group

Cut back on emails and meetings
“Many employees feel that a flooded inbox and a constant string of meetings waste time and hinder productivity. Replace some of those emails and meetings with technology that helps them save time and collaborate more efficiently.” – Sydney Sloan, director of customer and social marketing at Jive

Make employees part of the big picture
“The best benefit you can provide to your employees is the opportunity to make a difference through their work and help guide the course of the company. Benefits such as clear and frequent communication on company happenings, individual and department direction, and big-picture company direction make all the difference in employee happiness.” – Anthony Smith, CEO and founder of Insightly

Keep in touch
“A one-on-one conversation with an employee or group dinner goes a long way. Whether it be a private conversation at the start of the day, taking them out to lunch or even a beer after work, [it] helps keep that bond. Once you stop ‘showing the love,’ you begin to lose employees. A small company has to go the extra step.” – Pete Pedone

Ask employees for their input
“Companies should consider surveying their own workforce to gauge their satisfaction levels. Insights from employees themselves can point employers in the right direction for shaping a more a positive and creative work environment, and for developing more formal career development programs. By partnering with employees to improve their satisfaction levels, employers will reap business benefits today and tomorrow.” – Sandy Mazur, president of Spherion

Tips to Make A Sample Cover Letters for Job Seekers

Your resume may be the first thing hiring managers look at when you apply for a job, but many candidates tend to forget about another important part of the application process: the cover letter.

Matthew Rowles, business development manager at staffing firm Kavaliro, noted that employers don’t always read cover letters due to the massive volume of applications received for each job opening. However, some will use it as the next step in candidate screening after reading resumes.

“People [who read cover letters] do it after the fact,” added Jeff Oddo, president of building maintenance management company City Wide Maintenance. “They look at your skills first on your resume, and then read the cover letter [to decide] if they want to bring you in for an interview.”

Oddo, who is involved in the hiring process for his company, noted that cover letters tend to be ignored when they’re generic and template-style. Rowles agreed, noting that each new application should come with a new, unique cover letter outlining why you are qualified and the best fit for that specific position. [See Related Story: 4 Simple Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired]

“Do not simply send the same generic cover letter for every position,” Rowles told Business News Daily. “Recruiters and HR managers will recognize those cover letters and skip right over them. If you want your cover letter to be read, make it uniquely suited for that particular role.”

In addition to using your cover letter to expand on your key qualifications, you can also address unique topics, such as employment gaps on your resume, a willingness to relocation or the desire for a career change, said Crystal Wittman, head of global recruitment center at talent acquisition and management firm Alexander Mann Solutions.

“If there’s a need to relocate, use the cover letter as an opportunity to point out that you’re open to relocation, especially if you already have a connection to the area through family or school,” Wittman said. “This will help alleviate any apprehensions that a hiring manager has about hiring someone who is new to the area. If you’re changing careers or industries, relate examples of your experience that will help you prepare [for the change] and are relevant to the new job.”

Wittman also advised including information about any internal connections or referrals from current employees at the company early on in the letter. Do this by including the person’s name and department. For example, you could write, “A former colleague of mine, (name), is a director in your marketing department. She alerted me to a new role in your sales organization for which my skills and experience would be very well-suited,” Wittman said.

Finally, before you submit your cover letter, be sure to check it over for spelling and grammatical errors and take the time to convert the document to PDF format, which makes it easier for the hiring manager to access and forward your letter.

“We like PDFs,” Oddo said. “Often, I am mobile when I’m reading these applications, and sometimes phones don’t open documents the same way a tablet or computer would.”

Cover letter examples
Based on these tips, here are two sample cover letters that you can customize to suit your particular needs and situation. Before you apply for any job, be sure to thoroughly read the job listing, as they may ask you to address specific things in your cover letter.

Traditional cover letter
Here is an example of a traditional cover letter that outlines your skills and qualifications. This type of letter does best for highly professional occupations that value straightforward, to-the-point information.

Dear [hiring manager’s name],

I spotted your LinkedIn posting about the assistant editor opening at Business News Daily, and I am thrilled to submit my application for the position. During my career in the media industry, I have gained a great deal of editorial experience that would make me a strong asset to your team.

During my time at New York University, I held several internships and freelance writing jobs that introduced me to the world of modern journalism. After graduation, I landed a managing editor position at [publication name] that helped me develop and hone the leadership, organization and strategic planning skills that will help me succeed as your assistant editor. With the assistance of the interns and freelancers I supervise, I have raised the monthly web traffic of [publication] by more than 50 percent and nearly tripled its overall social media following.

In addition to having the necessary background for this position, I also feel that working for Business News Daily would be an excellent next step in my career. I have been following your articles on social media, and I think your publication adds a unique and valuable perspective on entrepreneurship, small business issues and careers. As a millennial myself, I especially enjoy the pieces you’ve published on Generation Y in the workforce.

I would love the opportunity to be a part of Business News Daily’s impressive continued growth. If you feel my qualifications are a good match, I’d be happy to meet with you and further discuss what I can do for your company. Please feel free to contact me at any time by email at [email address] or by phone at [phone number] to schedule a time.

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Best regards,

Nicole Taylor

Narrative cover letter
Like the traditional letter, a narrative-style cover letter still touches on your skills and qualifications, but frames it in a more personal, engaging way. This type of cover letter does best for creative positions that are looking for an applicant’s personality and style.

Dear [hiring manager’s name],

When I was in preschool, my teacher asked the class to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. While my classmates gave typical little kid answers like “cowboy” and “firefighter,” I proudly proclaimed that I wanted to be an author. While my younger self never realized her dream of being a best-selling novelist, I have managed to turn my love of writing into a career.

Right now, I’m working as the managing editor of [publication], where I create the majority of the site’s content, as well as assign and edit articles to our company’s shared editorial interns and freelancers. I love the work, but I feel it’s time to make the next move in my career and take my talents to a publication where there’s room for me to grow. After reading the job description for Business News Daily’s assistant editor position, I am confident that it would be a perfect next step for me.

I’ve been following BND for a while now, and I love the refreshing approach you take to entrepreneurship, leadership and workplace topics. I can tell that your staff are truly passionate about their work, and genuinely want to help people from all walks of life start a business or advance their career. I’m hoping to start my own business someday, and would love the opportunity to get a hands-on education by learning about and sharing the experiences of real-life successful entrepreneurs.

It seems that Business News Daily is headed for great things, and between my professional editorial experience and my passion for journalism, I believe I could help your team achieve their growth goals. If you’d like to learn more about what I can do for you, please feel free to contact me at any time via email at [email address] or phone at [phone number].

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Best regards,

Nicole Taylor

Tips About Job Interview the Right Way

When you go on a job interview, sometimes it takes a while for the hiring manager or human resources department to get back to you. Waiting to hear the next steps or whether you’ll be offered the job can often be more stressful than the interview itself.

To ease your anxiety about the situation, you may consider following up with the interviewer or HR rep to find out where they are in the hiring process. But you don’t want to appear pushy or overbearing; it might ruin the good impression you already made.

Business News Daily spoke with hiring and HR experts about the polite, professional and proper way to follow up after a job interview.

Start with a thank-you
Following up post-interview is a key component of the job search. Reaching out “projects your level of interest and commitment to the position at hand,” Jill Gaynor, an employee engagement and training expert, said in an interview with The Ladders.

“A call [or email] to the hiring manager can bring your name and resume to his or her attention, and separate you from the [other applicants],” she said.

A good first step is to send a thank-you note to the person who interviewed you, preferably via email within 24 hours.

“A job candidate should always send thank-you emails right after an interview,” said Kristen Kenny, vice president of people and talent at car search website CarGurus.

Sending the note gives candidates an opportunity to express their interest in the position and company, as well as share any additional information that they may have forgotten to mention during the interview, Kenny added. [See Related Story: After the Interview: Sample Thank You Letters]

Patience is your friend
While interviewing, candidates should ask about the next steps and timeline for the hiring process as a way to understand when they should reconnect with a hiring manager.

If no time frame is specified, JD Conway, senior talent acquisition partner at BambooHR, suggested waiting four to seven days after your initial thank you note before contacting the company again.

“Every company’s hiring process is completely different,” Conway said.”Most [recruiters] are trying to keep in contact with anywhere from around 50 to hundreds of candidates at that same time. Just because it’s been a few days doesn’t mean they aren’t planning on considering you [for the job].”

If a timeline is discussed during the initial interview process, candidates should respect what the interviewer told them.

“An applicant should not follow up within five days if they’re told that a hiring decision is going to be made within two weeks,” Kenny said. “Instead, they should show patience and an understanding of deadlines by waiting closer to the two-week mark before reconnecting.”

Don’t be shy
Following up can be uncomfortable. It can be hard to gauge where you stand, and if you’re getting radio silence from the hiring manager, you might second-guess yourself.

Conway said candidates often have trepidation about reaching out and “bothering” someone. And sometimes, recruiters don’t have updates of their own to give, which causes a natural delay that can feel awkward, he said.

At the same time, “there are also recruiters that are too passive in telling candidates ‘no,'” Conway added. However, the best recruiters won’t let having to tell a candidate “no” hold them back from swift, transparent communication.

It’s also good to keep in mind that it’s not always you — sometimes, it’s them.

“When you’re not hearing something [from a hiring manager], often it has more to do with internal decisions and processes than it does you,” said Maxie McCoy, a career expert. “Remember, this is professional, and put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. Checking in is a good thing. Just make sure to do it in a way that is respectful of someone’s time.”

“It’s all about being sweetly persistent,” Conway added. “And if the HR team seems annoyed that you’re (kindly) holding them accountable, you might want to rethink whether that’s a company you want to work for.”

Top 10 Tech Tasks Small Businesses Should Outsource

Outsourcing can be a great way for small businesses and startups to take care of tedious tasks while also boosting productivity and saving money. By outsourcing technology-related necessities, small business owners and employees can focus on more important responsibilities, like sales, customer service and more, without hiring more in-house employees.

However, not every area of the business should be outsourced. Handing off the wrong tasks to a third party can hurt your business more than it can help. Here are the 10 tech tasks experts say small businesses should outsource.

1. Infrastructure
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) — outsourcing equipment such as hardware, servers and network systems to an infrastructure provider — can save businesses millions of dollars in costs and labor.

Constructing your own infrastructure is neither cheap nor easy. It will require not only a large budget to purchase and house the equipment, but also heavy maintenance by highly skilled IT staff. By outsourcing IaaS, startups and small businesses can cut their budgets, as the infrastructure service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for running and troubleshooting the systems; users simply have to pay on a per-use or subscription basis.

“Transitioning from a data center to an infrastructure-as-a-service provider proved to be one of the best moves we made for our business,” said Tim Maliyil, founder and CEO of AlertBoot Mobile Security, a global service provider for mobile device management and end-point protection. IaaS made it easier for AlertBoot to deploy new services without facing a huge financial barrier. Maliyil also estimates that AlertBoot would have saved more than $7 million if IaaS had existed when the company was founded.

Maliyil, who often speaks about how he and his clients handle technology challenges in their companies, added that the transition to IaaS has freed up valuable resources that have helped to grow his business. “This evolution allows our engineering and customer-engagement teams to be more nimble and more focused on improving our product, instead of maintaining a large, cumbersome system,” he said.

2. Cloud hosting
Cloud computing allows businesses to access information anywhere, anytime, using any compatible device. Hosting a cloud system in-house is costly, and can pose security risks if the technology is outdated. By outsourcing cloud technology, small businesses can focus on using the cloud, as opposed to maintaining it. Outsourcing cloud services has helped AlertBoot stay competitive, Maliyil said. “In an effort to remain financially independent and profitable, all the technology we use for our operations changed with the times,” he noted.

AlertBoot initially hosted its servers via colocation services (where businesses can rent space for servers) but eventually made the transition to cloud infrastructure services, eliminating the need to buy its own servers. The company hasn’t purchased its own equipment in years, which has led to a huge savings for a bootstrapped operation that has 30 employees worldwide.

“This move also saves us over $85,000 in monthly hosting expenses,” Maliyil said. “I wouldn’t host our servers any other way.”

3. E-commerce site design
If you’re not already seriously skilled at website development, you should definitely consider outsourcing the design of your e-commerce site to ensure that it looks great and runs smoothly and efficiently. Doing so can keep customers from experiencing problems while browsing and purchasing items they like — an issue that could keep customers from returning to your online store.

“The No. 1 tech task small business owners should outsource is their e-commerce website design development,” said Lisa Chu, owner of kids’ formalwear retailer Black N Bianco. “Designing and developing a professional and reliable modern e-commerce website takes years to learn.”

Chu noted that although you may be able to build a functional site yourself, if you
want a legitimate e-commerce business, your website needs to be top-notch.

“A new business owner should never invest all of their time ensuring the HTML, JavaScript and CSS are integrated correctly,” Chu said.” It’s very time-consuming, and your morale will be dead by the time you have a working website. Outsourcing your website design and development is the best option because it will cost you a lot less than hiring from your local website design firm.”

Chu recommended hiring a separate coder and graphic designer if you choose to outsource your website design.

“You do not want to be reliant on one outsourced freelancer, because if they bail or something goes wrong, you will need to find new freelancers to fix the issue,” Chu said. “Not only that, [but] you will be hiring freelancers that specialize in their department, giving your site a more refined result.”

4. Website updates
Along with building a well-crafted site in the first place, it’s important that businesses keep up with their websites, too, which can be an entirely different job. There’s a lot to monitor to ensure that your site stays up to date with the latest tech trends and changes, so outsourcing these tasks can help you maintain a strong Web presence without getting in the way of other important tasks you need to complete, said Michelle Colon-Johnson, founder of book publicity company 2 Dream Productions.

“One of the most important tasks that I suggest that a small business
owner [or] startup outsources is the updating of their websites,” Colon-Johnson said. “Every day, people are creating and improving systems to run more efficiently.”

While it may seem simple to update your site yourself, problems can arise easily, she said.

“Despite what some seem to believe, it is not as easy as pushing a button to update
your plugins or applications,” Colon-Johnson said. “In the event that new applications are not compatible with a template you might have in place, you need to back up and store your systems. These steps and tasks take time. For business owners and startups, time is often something that is very much in demand.” [Building Your Own Business Website? 4 Mistakes to Avoid ]

5. Cybersecurity
IT service providers will usually tell you that your data is safe, but businesses should also outsource additional cybersecurity, according to Cedric Leighton, founder and president of Cedric Leighton Associates, a strategic risk and leadership management consultancy.

Leighton said it’s smarter for businesses to outsource cybersecurity experts than to rely on IT vendors’ guarantees, because no single company can truly guarantee data safety. ­

“IT vendors are not cybersecurity experts,” he said. “Their job is to sell you IT services, and you have to remember that many IT networks were built with security as an afterthought.”

Simply put, there are IT vendors that provide services, and then there are cybersecurity experts who specialize in anticipating and mitigating threats. Although IT vendors have tight security measures in place, cybersecurity experts provide an extra layer of protection that can prevent disasters and quickly resolve security issues.

6. Two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is a type of security that requires users to have two forms of identification in order to access data, bank accounts and other confidential information. Typically, it’s in the form of physical identification and a security code, or a combination of two completely separate security codes, such as a password only you know and an access code given to you.

Leighton recommends that anyone who deals with sensitive data, such as bank accounts or patentable technologies, implement two-factor authentication to help IT providers govern access and keep their systems better protected.

“Two-factor authentication is also something that should be set up by a professional who knows the software applications the business wants to protect,” Leighton said.

7. QA testing
When your team is spending all of its time developing products and apps, it can be tedious to test every little aspect to make sure it’s perfect. Outsourcing is a great way to keep your products and apps the best they can be without burning out your developers.

“Having a third-party firm or contractor help with QA [quality assurance] and test for bugs before the product goes out to a customer is a big opportunity,” said Amrit Kirpalani, CEO and founder of marketing personalization platform nectarOM. “A rock star developer doesn’t want to spend his or her days writing test cases, even if they are developing for them.”

These test cases may not be the most desirable tasks, but they’re vital in ensuring your product works, Kirpalani said.

8. Business applications
App development is not cheap. It may seem like a good idea to create apps that are customized to your business operations and staff, but hiring a developer to build business apps requires a considerable investment of time, money and patience. In the meantime, there are plenty of comprehensive business apps available to do just about anything you need to get done.

“There is a good choice of business suites available on the market, like MS Office 365 and Google Apps,” said Dmitry Yakovlev, software architect at DataArt, a custom software development firm. “Businesses should outsource these types of infrastructures as much as they can, especially those that don’t have IT people in-house.”

These are feature-rich applications used by many other businesses, so they are frequently updated with the latest technology to keep your business agile and competitive, and they don’t require the extra costs of hiring developers.

9. Projects outside your scope of expertise
IT professionals are not experts in all types of technologies. They may be knowledgeable in a particular area, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they can work on a related project without having the requisite training to gain expertise. With this example in mind, consider that if a task requires skills and time that your company just doesn’t have in-house, it’s time to outsource, Yakovlev said.

“Development projects which are out of the team core expertise are good candidates to be passed to vendors,” Yakovlev noted.

Although some projects will require vendor autonomy, many vendors are open to collaboration, which can keep your employees involved in the project while giving them exposure to the new technology and the processes involved.

For businesses to perform quality control and ensure that everyone is on the same page, business owners should have a clear vision of exactly what they want and assign a point person with a vested interest in the project, Yakovlev advised.

“The project should have an accountable stakeholder in-house, well-defined scope and clear acceptance criteria,” he said.

10. Anything that can’t be automated
If you have tedious tasks to take care of, taking them on yourself can be too time-consuming, and hiring an in-house employee would likely be a waste of resources. In some cases, you may be able to simply automate those tasks, but if not, you should definitely consider outsourcing, said Terra Andersen, CEO and founder of online development and marketing consultancy TCA Media.

“Can it be automated?” Andersen said. “If so, there is likely a piece of software or script that can automate the task that you may initially be thinking of outsourcing. If it cannot be automated, then it is safe to say that it needs to be delegated.”

However, if you decide to outsource tasks like this, it’s important to be clear about what you need done and how to do it. You need to have proper, detailed documentation and training in place, Andersen said.

“What most outsourcing experts often fail to disclose is that up-front training of these outsourced workers will absolutely require care and effort,” Andersen said. “Instead of an overall view of what you need to be done, you must break it down into a very detailed step-by-step training. This will require you to know exactly what you will have your outsourced help working on. Nothing should be vague.”

Andersen suggested creating PDF guides and reference videos, as well as staying on top of the training materials and refining them as your outsourced team asks certain questions or struggles in certain areas.

“Your training materials will become just as valuable as your outsourced assistance,” Andersen said. “Outsourcing requires patience, but I can attest to the fact that the initial work required is more than worth the cost savings.”

Best Tips to Ensure You’re Recruiting the Best Talent

Building a great team is high on the priority list for nearly every company. But employers no longer have the upper hand when hiring. Today’s most talented professionals have their choice, with companies fighting for their attention and services. Attracting that talent to your organization is a challenge that must be met head-on, in innovative ways.

The key is selling potential employees on the benefits of working with you. This makes recruiting almost a marketing effort, and in truth, the best recruiting techniques have their roots in the most effective marketing tactics. Here’s how to recruit the best of the best in a job market that favors the candidate.

Take advantage of social media
Social media profiles have become standard tools for researching and evaluating talent. Instead of looking only at candidates’ résumés, thoroughly vet them by looking at their LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media profiles.

“Candidates’ social media profiles [can highlight] personal experiences and interests that tie into professional lives and skills, and may show the person is a perfect fit,” said Pete Kazanjy, founder of Modern Sales Salon and recruiter search engine TalentBin. “[Depending] on the type of job you’re recruiting for, make sure you’re looking at the right social networking sites to find candidates who may be off your radar.”

Kazanjy noted that engaging with potential candidates on social media can be to your advantage, regardless of whether they are interested in the position you’re offering right now.

“Although the person may be content where they are now, you never know what the future has in store,” he said. “Engaging with candidates on their personal profiles allows you to form a relationship.”

Don’t forget to have an active social presence as an employer, too. Beyond just posting job openings and interacting with candidates, post snippets about good things happening to and for the workforce in your organization. Get current employees to participate by joining in on the conversation, shooting short workplace videos and generally spreading the word about the beneficial features of working there.

Your social media channels can also serve as a great place to showcase your corporate mission, which can help hook like-minded candidates.

“People want to think they’re doing something meaningful and valuable,” said Charley Polachi, managing partner of Polachi Access Executive Search. “They want to change the world one day at a time. [A great] company mission will align with candidates’ own personal values.”

Editor’s Note: Considering outsourcing your company’s HR responsibilities? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the human resources service that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, Buyer Zone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free

Market your compensation package (beyond salary)
Money is important, but it’s not the only thing top talent wants. They want a work environment that challenges them, allows for innovation, makes work fun but also provides work-life balance. This could mean paid time off (PTO), the ability to work from home, time to volunteer in their communities or the ability to take unpaid leave to pursue interests, to name a few.

Personal finance writer Kevin Mulligan said your company needs to create an employee value proposition (EVP) to use as a selling point with candidates. This should describe what sets your organization apart and why people should want to work there.

“The more attractive your EVP is, the more likely you will be attracting the cream of the crop to your company,” Mulligan wrote in a BusinessDictionary article.

Optimize for mobile
One of the best ways to draw candidates in is a mobile-friendly hiring process. Dr. John Sullivan, a Silicon Valley-based author and HR expert, said that more than 43 percent of job seekers use their mobile phones in their job searches.

“That number will continue to rise until the mobile phone is dominant in recruiting,” he wrote in an article on EREMedia.com.

To that end, your app or website should allow candidates to accept offers, hold live video interviews, complete referral tasks and self-schedule interviews. For retention purposes, you can also build in functions for new employees: an interactive employee handbook, benefit registration, access to PTO balances and more.

Expand your search area
Even just a decade ago, it might have seemed like a distant dream to have full-time, off-site employees with the same exact technological capabilities as workers in the office. Today, advancements in cloud computing and videoconferencing have opened the doors to hiring remote staff members, so recruiters are no longer limited to candidates in close geographic proximity to the company’s headquarters.

“If your company is located in a competitive hiring market, you’d be better off searching for top talent in a less competitive area,” said Anthony Smith, founder and CEO of CRM software company Insightly. “Technology allows for smooth collaboration and communication no matter where employees are located, so you don’t need to lose out on experts in your field because of where your company is based.”

Increase your hiring speed
This goes back to the workforce’s “immediate” expectations. Top talent will move quickly, because it is in high demand. Be ahead of the curve by investigating ways to speed up your hiring process while still demanding high-quality candidates reach a high standard.

“Others may view your slow hiring as a mirror of the speed in which you make business decisions, and drop out because they expect faster decision making,” Sullivan wrote.

You can speed up hiring by prioritizing hires for revenue-generating or key positions, surveying past candidates for their perception of what worked and what didn’t, and identifying other unnecessary delays that seem to be common in each vacancy-fulfillment effort.

Use existing employees to market your company
Sometimes the best way to attract a candidate to your organization is to show off the people he or she will join there. Taso Du Val, founder and CEO of global tech industry network Toptal, advised highlighting your company’s existing talent during the recruiting process.

“Talented individuals want to work with top talent, so showcasing the all-stars already on your team can help validate why other high-quality candidates should hop on board,” Du Val said.

You can also use your current employees as a recruiting tool by sharing their positive testimonials with prospective candidates.

“Ask employees why they like working for your company,” said Sandy Mazur, president of staffing firm Spherion. “When you’re vetting talent, share some of the feedback and anecdotes that your workers shared with you, as those may resonate with candidates and attract them to the job.”

– See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6252-tips-for-recruiters.html#sthash.VsLbHzlY.dpuf

Tips to Create an Employee Performance Improvement Plan

Sooner or later, every manager is going to face a situation where a team member isn’t performing well. This person may be slacking off, or simply failing to complete his or her basic job duties week after week. Either way, it’s frustrating for the whole team, especially if the situation impedes the progress of the group.

But firing this employee may not be the answer just yet. Gerry David, CEO of beverage company Celsius Holdings, said it’s important to try to get to the bottom of why the employee is underperforming — it may turn out not to be his or her fault, he said.

“There can be many good reasons for an employee to not meet expectations, and only through good communication with the employee will you have a chance to correct the shortfall,” David said. “You, as the employer, may learn of deficiencies within your corporate expectations and management system.”

If, after this conversation, the employee is still missing the mark, it may be time for a more impactful approach. One commonly used tactic is the performance improvement plan (PIP), a formal agreement outlining the employee’s goals and what he or she can do to meet them more effectively. Not all organizations use PIPs, but those that do often use them as a wakeup call for the underperforming team member: Continued failure to live up to expectations after the PIP could result in termination. [See Related Story: Should I Fire an Underperforming Employee?]

Of course, a PIP is not your only option. If your organization is exceptionally good at ongoing feedback, you may not need to use one at all. Lisa Sterling, EVP and chief people officer of human capital management technology company Ceridian, said her company favors constant coaching and learning opportunities over PIPs.

“We have found PIPs to be used as a way for managers to communicate difficult feedback,” Sterling said. “If you train your leaders to provide ongoing feedback and deal with performance issues as they arise, the need for a PIP is gone.”

However, in some cases, a PIP is the best course of action to help get an employee back on track. If you decide to implement one for one of your staff members, here’s what you need to know about making it fair and beneficial for both parties.

Developing the plan
A good PIP should include four key elements, said Clarissa Cyrus, senior business HR partner at human resources software company SilkRoad:

The performance deficiencies.
Measurable improvement expectations.
A reasonable, appropriate time frame for the employee to improve his or her performance.
Detailed consequences of continued underperformance.
It’s critical to document absolutely everything, every step of the way, and get the employee to sign off on the plan in case the end result is termination. As the manager, you should check in with your HR business partner to make sure the plan meets company criteria and the language used in the plan is appropriate to the situation, Cyrus said.

Sterling reminded employers that having the necessary documentation, taking the appropriate steps and getting the individual engaged doesn’t necessarily protect you from a lawsuit, but it will help mitigate any wrongful-termination claims the employee may try to make after the fact.

Part 1: Cite objective instances of performance issues
If you’ve reached a point where you feel a PIP is necessary, it’s likely that you’ve already given plenty of informal feedback to your employee about what he or she is doing wrong. Sterling noted that documentation of this feedback is important, as well as whether or not the individual was given ample time to improve. She also emphasized the need for unbiased, objective feedback, which may include validation from other managers, colleagues or peers.

Similarly, Cyrus said your personal feelings about the employee must remain separate from anything that goes into the PIP.

“It’s human nature for managers to become frustrated with an employee who is failing to reach [his or her] performance potential,” Cyrus said. “As difficult as it may seem, they must keep personal feelings or frustrations from affecting their evaluation of the employee’s performance.”

Managers should understand that PIPs should never be used to address behavioral issues like poor attendance or inappropriate communications, said Jennifer Lasater, vice president of employer and career services at Kaplan University. Instead, the issues documented in the PIP should be related to skills or knowledge the employee is lacking, or specific job functions he or she is not completing properly on a regular basis.

“Stay away from [phrases] like, ‘you always,'” Lasater added. “Instead state [facts, such as], ‘reports are due at 10 am on Monday and on X date, you did not submit a report.'”

Part 2: Provide clear expectations, actions and metrics for improvement
Once you’ve stated the employee’s performance problems, you should work with the employee to develop a plan of action that encompasses training (if necessary) and clear benchmarks to meet. Decide what tasks should be accomplished and how to best measure them. Lasater noted that creating this plan together with the employee in question will ensure understanding and create commitment on the employee’s part.

Cyrus said the PIP should identify any internal resources available to assist the employee in meeting his or her performance goals (training programs, mentoring, etc.). She also said the expectations set forth in the plan should be consistent with the company’s policies and past practices.

“Managers must ensure that performance expectations and goals are appropriate, and their method for measuring improvement is fair and consistent with similar situations,” Cyrus said.

Part 3: Determine a reasonable time frame for the plan
Most PIPs are measured in increments between 30 and 90 days. The appropriate time frame to make the agreed-upon improvements depends on the employee’s job duties and the nature of your business, David said. It’s important to consider the surrounding circumstances and what improvements you’re asking the employee to make when deciding on a fair and reasonable period.

“If you are selling nuclear power plants, 30 days may not be enough time to have a meaningful outcome. If you are a clerk in the mail room, 30 days may be more than enough time,” David told Business News Daily. “Each situation is different and must be structured fairly.”

You should also establish certain points throughout the plan to check in with the employee about his or her progress, Lasater said. If the employee is not meeting the criteria specifically mentioned in the plan, this should be discussed with the employee during the check-in meetings, she said.

“Give specific information on how often the manager and employee will meet to discuss the employee’s progress while on the performance improvement plan,” she said. “It’s important for the manager to stick to the plan. The manager’s commitment to meeting with the employee on a regular basis emphasizes to the employee that the manager is committed to the [his or her] improvement.”

Part 4: Outline the consequences
Your PIP must be crystal clear on what happens if the set expectations aren’t met. This may be a loss of certain privileges, temporary job suspension or, as is most common, termination of employment.

While the employee does need to understand the gravity of the situation, focusing too heavily on the negative consequences will only further discourage and demotivate him or her. Instead, David said your employee should understand that you are implementing the plan because you are genuinely invested in his or her success at the company.

“Make it clear that your intent is that through this process, they will be able to be a part of the team going forward,” he told Business News Daily. “The PIP has to be specific and allow for a reasonable chance for success.”

Next steps: Should the employee be let go?
If, at the end of the PIP period, the employee has successfully met the plan’s expectations, move forward and continue to make him or her feel like a valued member of the team. David reminded managers to keep the lines of communication open, and advised scheduling a follow-up meeting to ensure that the employee is still performing at satisfactory levels.

However, if the employee has still not made any marked improvements (or has only gotten worse), you may be faced with the difficult decision of letting him or her go. Before any dismissal, you should discuss the progress that was made or not made by the employee with HR, and review the plan documentation to make sure it supports a “for cause” termination, Cyrus said.

“The decision will become clearer to the manager and should not be a surprise to the employee,” Lasater added.

If it is determined that termination is the right answer, David noted that your decision must be final and agreed upon by management and HR.

“If you did your job properly as a manager in the development of the PIP, you must be prepared to abide by what consequences were defined in the PIP for failure,” he said.

It’s never easy to fire someone, especially if you have a good personal relationship with that person. However, by completing a PIP, you offered the employee assistance in improving and gave him or her the opportunity to course-correct. For the good of the organization, you must let the employee go, and hopefully gain some insights about how to prevent similar issues with existing and future employees.

– See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8997-performance-improvement-plan.html#sthash.Ukw2ngvD.dpuf

Lest Learn About Accounting

Accounting is vital to a strong company, keeping track of the business’s finances and its continued profitability. Without accounting, a business owner would not know what money was coming in or going out, or how to plan for the future. The actions taken by accounting professionals — from bookkeepers to certified public accountants (CPAs) — make it possible to monitor the company’s financial status and provide reports and projections that affect the organization’s decisions.

What do accountants do?
The American Accounting Association defines accounting as “the process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information to permit informed judgments and decisions by users of the information.” This is often done by logging a business’s accounts payable, accounts receivable and other financial transactions, typically using accounting software.

While bookkeepers tend to focus on the details, recording transactions in an efficient and organized manner, they may or may not see the overall picture like accountants do, said CPA Stan Snyder.
“Accountants use the work done by bookkeepers to produce and analyze financial reports,” Snyder said. “Although accounting follows the same principles and rules as bookkeeping, an accountant can design a system that will capture all of the details necessary to satisfy the needs of the business — managerial, financial reporting, projection, analysis and tax reporting.”

One part of accounting focuses on presenting the company’s financial information in the required ways to those outside of the company. In order to present this information in a format everyone can understand, accountants follow a set of guidelines. In the United States, most accountants abide by the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. There are different sets of accounting standards for companies that operate overseas, as well as for local and state government entities.

CPA Harold Averkamp said accounts also provide a company’s internal management team with the information it needs to keep the business financially healthy. Some of the information will originate from the recorded transactions, while some will consist of estimates and projections based on various assumptions, he said.

To come up with a company’s status and projections, accountants rely on various formulas. Accounting ratios help uncover conditions and trends that are difficult to find by inspecting individual components that make up the ratio. Accounting ratios are divided into five main categories:

Liquidity ratios measure the liquid assets of the company versus its liabilities.
Profitability ratios measure the organization’s ability to turn a profit after paying expenses.
Leverage ratios measure total debt versus total assets, and gauge equity.
Turnover ratios measure efficiency by comparing the cost of goods sold over a period of time against the amount of inventory that was on hand during that same time.
Market-value ratios measure the company’s economic status compared with others in the industry.
Accounting careers
Many accountants within the industry choose to become CPAs, a title they achieve by passing an exam and getting work experience. According to the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, CPAs audit financial statements of public and private companies; serve as consultants in many areas, including tax, accounting and financial planning; and are well-respected strategic business advisors and decision-makers. Their roles range from accountants to controllers and from chief financial officers of Fortune 500 companies to advisors for small neighborhood businesses.

According to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s Career Center, there are countless other jobs that require accounting proficiency, including auditor, financial investment analyst, claims adjustor, loan administrator, tax lawyer, underwriter and stockbroker.