Monthly Archives: July 2016

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 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.”

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