Poll Question: How Should Your Company Give Back?

Most companies today understand corporate citizenship not only makes a difference in their bottom lines and communities, but also helps build a more engaged workforce. Employees like to give back, and it’s always great to see your company doing something for the greater good—that they’re committed to improving the community.

In fact, when companies make giving back a key focus of their business strategy, they often see less turnover and greater success overall.

For our May question of the month, we want to know which company-sponsored outreach programs you prefer. Let us know by voting in our poll.

Job Spotlight: Medical Secretary

Could this position heal your job search pains?

Despite already having experience with several jobs, many working adults are unable to answer that age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Our Job Spotlight monthly blog series is designed to help with that. In this series, we review all the basics of specific job types, from salary and duties to why people do the jobs they do.

Medical Secretary

For this month’s Job Spotlight, we’re checking in at the doctor’s office to look at medical secretaries. Although administrative assistants and medical secretaries share some responsibilities, the overall environment is completely different. Medical secretaries ensure the smooth workflow of medical facilities while simultaneously interacting with patients, many of whom may be irritable or emotional due to medical problems.

Required Education

Associate’s degree or certification program

Salary

Although it varies depending on a variety of factors (e.g. experience, industry, geographic area, etc.), medical secretaries can make as much as $40,000 a year.

What Medical Secretaries Do

Medical secretaries handle a variety of responsibilities, which may include:

  • Managing patient flow and data
  • Responding to general patient questions and processing inquiries
  • General office organization
  • Processing medical claims
  • Scheduling, coding, and billing
  • Transcribing medical reports
  • Recording of simple medical histories, arranging hospitalizations, and ordering supplies

What Companies Look for in Medical Secretaries

Every medical secretary is different, but many need the following skills:

  • A desire to serve and care for patients
  • Depending on the office, an acceptance of what could be a casual work environment (some offices are closed on Fridays or Friday afternoons)
  • A willingness to work in one of the following:
    • Doctor’s office, clinic, nursing home, hospital, or insurance company
  • Kind and pleasant demeanor
  • Recognition and understanding of medical and scientific terminology
  • A good team player

Are you a medical secretary? What else should people know about your position? Let us know in the comments below!

Employers Optimistic About Hiring in Second Quarter 2018

Showcase Your Soft SkillsTo provide accurate and timely employment forecasts for business leaders, Express Employment Professionals International Headquarters conducts an ongoing Job Insights survey to track quarterly hiring trends across a wide range of industries.

Express surveyed business owners, decision makers, and human resource professionals about the overall hiring trends in their markets and how they impact their hiring decisions.

First quarter 2018 optimism carries over into the second quarter.
Quarter over quarter, optimism for 2018 remains steady with 91% of respondents who expect either an upward trend in hiring needs or to at least maintain current levels during the second quarter. Only 8% expect employment activity to go down—the lowest percentage in four quarters. In fact, 93% of companies that took the survey don’t plan to eliminate any positions in the surveyed segments during second quarter.

The top segments hiring in the second quarter include general labor (industrial), skilled Labor (industrial), administrative/office clerical, and accounting/finance. Additionally, the segments creating the most new positions include engineering, marketing, IT, accounting and finance, and skilled labor.

Talent with the right mix of experience and expertise is at a premium.
A recurring theme across the past four quarters—access to skilled workers—continues to plague businesses. In a job seekers’ market, businesses must go the extra mile and be more creative in the way they recruit top talent. Only 18% of respondents said all their positions are filled—a 2% decrease quarter over quarter. Additionally, since the second quarter of 2017, the number of businesses that say it is “somewhat” or “very” difficult to fill positions has increased from 65% to 75%.

Businesses noted that the top reasons their jobs go unfilled include:

  1. Lack of applicants in general (37%)
  2. Lack of applicants with experience (36%)
  3. Lack of applicants with hard skills (24%)

Year over year, the challenge of finding skilled workers is only becoming more difficult. Although the economy appears to be growing healthier every day, if we don’t find a practical way to address the ever-widening skills gap, that forward momentum could come to an abrupt stop.

Economic indicators show signs of improvement for stagnant wages.
Despite the improving health of the economy during the past several years, wages for most segments of the workforce have remained stagnant. However, the tide is beginning to turn as a tighter labor market, economic confidence, and lower taxes may finally help drive higher wages for many workers.

Over the next three months, 40% of business leaders expect wages to go up, an 8% increase over the second quarter 2017, and 59% expect wages to stay the same. Only 1% of companies expect wages to decrease over the next three months.

Overcoming Barriers to Employment

What’s keeping you from your dream job?

Usually when we talk about how hard the job search is, we focus on resumes, interviews, or the best websites to check out. Today, we’ll discuss logistical concerns.

What does “logistical” mean when it comes to the job search? Think of it as all that fun stuff that comes with being an adult: transportation, child care, elder care, and more.

Transportation

If you don’t have a car, it can mean having to cut yourself off from job opportunities outside of your local area. And if you can find a way to work using public transportation, even the slightest change in plans (a child’s illness or other family issue) can become a huge time commitment.

Although Uber and Lyft are great ridesharing services, they aren’t always do-able on a budget.

Luckily, other transportation options are available. Don’t say no to a job opportunity until you’ve exhausted these options:

  • Carpooling. Numerous apps, such as Rideshare and Waze, allow for a carpooling option. This can cut down on costs. You’re also free to seek out others that work near your new job and ride with them. If you’re working with a staffing agency, ask them if they offer carpooling options.
  • Public transportation. If you’ve had bad experiences with public transportation in the past, try not to let that keep you from checking it out for each new job opportunity. You might find out there’s a route available that makes sense for your commute.
  • A bicycle. Although this may seem like a ridiculous suggestion, if your job is within biking distance, you can ride there until you’ve saved up enough money for a used vehicle.

Childcare

This is a huge challenge for working parents, both married and single, especially during the summer months. On average, infant child care can cost $10,000 a year, which is just under 20 percent of the median family income of $55,000.

Other opportunities for childcare include:

  • Family (In-Home) Day Care. A family daycare is run out of an individual’s home, and subject to certain state regulations. As noted by csmonitor.com, according to ChildCare Aware of America, “full-time family childcare for infants ranges from an average of $4,544 in South Carolina to $10,358 a year in New York. For a 4-year-old, the numbers dip only to $4,095 and $9,620.”
  • A Nanny. Although nannies are traditionally thought of as high-end expenses, there are different types of nannies for a wide variety of purposes. These range from live-in to part-time, and more. Some are available for $10 to $20 an hour, while others are much more expensive. You may also nanny share—pooling funds together with other parents, and hosting the nanny and other children at your home. However, it is up to you to research a prospective nanny’s experience and background.
  • Family Members. Although this is a common option, we wanted to include it. This is because some individuals feel that burdening their parents with childcare is rude or impolite. Although situations do vary, many grandparents are more than happy to care for their grandchildren. If you find yourself in dire straits, don’t be afraid of having that conversation.

Lack of Resources

Although it can frequently feel like your numerous responsibilities are keeping you from a job, there are ways to overcome these barriers. Nonprofits are available to help with many common struggles, including medical expenses, clothing, shelter, food, rehabilitation, and 24/7 support.

Check out the Express nonprofit guide for specific resources.

Asking Relevant Questions After an Interview

Does your interviewer keep answering your questions before you can ask them? We’ve got you covered.

Last month we asked what parts of the job interview process you need help with. You all agreed that asking relevant questions was your top pick, so that’s what we’re covering today!

During your interview preparation journey, you’ve no doubt come across the tip that you absolutely must ask questions at the end of an interview. This is true. Asking great questions shows your interest in the position and helps you stand out against the competition. However, what do you do if your interviewer already answered the questions you had prepared?

The key lies in your question preparation. You need to come up with multiple insightful questions so you have backups at the end of the interview. However, avoid asking questions just to ask them—everything you prepare should be relevant to the position.

We realize it’s hard to come up with these questions on your own, so we’ve prepared a few of our favorites. Feel free to customize them to suit your unique interview situation.

1. A question asking for more information about the job.

For example: If I were hired for this position, how would my performance be measured?

This question shows that you’re interested in the intricacies of the position beyond the job description. It also shows that you’re goal-oriented and are already thinking about how you can be the best employee possible.

2. Something specific about the company’s culture that wasn’t covered online.

For example: What factors were considered when designing your logo? How did you settle on your current mission statement?

Although this question will change depending on the company, showing an interest in the company’s culture is always a great idea. Such a question displays your passion and interest in the company as something more than a place where your job is.

3. A question specifically tailored for your interviewer.

For example: I saw on LinkedIn that you oversaw [project name]. What was that experience like?

Or: Have you ever had an experience at [company] that really made you think ‘this is what it means to work at [company]? What was that like?

These questions show that you’re curious not only about the company, but about your interviewer as well. A slightly more personal question can get an interviewer to lower their defenses and see you as an individual, not just a job applicant. You can also get great answers from these questions that provide a behind-the-scenes look at the company. Just make sure not to ask about any failed projects or hard financial times.

4. A question regarding the recent history of the company.

For example: I saw that the company recently overcame [problem]. Would it be alright if we discussed how that was achieved?

Be careful with this one. Although showing that you’re interested in how your skills can solve a past company problem, you don’t always know how an interviewer is going to react. Some companies keep these problems close to their vest, while others love to see brave interviewees take on problems before they even get an offer. Research online, get a feel for the culture, and only then decide if you want to take the plunge. Avoid any emotional issues like layoffs or company reorganization.

5. And if it wasn’t covered, always ask:

What will the next steps look like?

This one is more for your benefit than the interviewer’s, but it does show that that you care about what happens next. And you’d be surprised how many interviewers fail to cover it during the interview!

Have any question you’ve had success with in interviews? Let us know in the comments section below.

Job Spotlight: Administrative Assistant

Are you ready for an admin adventure?

Despite already having experience with several jobs, many working adults are unable to answer that age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Our Job Spotlight monthly blog series is designed to help with that. In this series, we review all the basics of specific job types, from salary and duties to why people do the jobs they do.

Administrative Assistant

For this month’s Job Spotlight, we’ve chosen to focus on administrative assistants, since tomorrow is Administrative Professionals Day.

Administrative assistants do more than answer the phone. They keep the office running, act as gatekeepers, distribute mail, and master spreadsheets. A perpetually positive disposition and an organized mind are must-have qualities.

Many administrative assistants work with a variety of coworkers from different departments, from accounting and sales to marketing and more. Every day is different—you never know who might walk through the door or call on the phone.

Required Education

High school diploma or GED certificate.

Salary

Although it varies depending on a variety of factors (e.g. experience, industry, geographic area, etc.) administrative assistants can make as much as $40,000 per year.

What Administrative Assistants Do

Administrative assistants handle a variety of responsibilities, which may include:

  • Managing the boss’s calendar.
  • Processing and distributing mail.
  • Data-entry and typing.
  • Answering/screening phone calls.
  • Interacting with clients or customers daily.
  • Acting as the liaison between multiple departments.
  • Preparing conference rooms for meetings.
  • Taking minutes during meetings.
  • And more, depending on the position in question.

What Companies Look for in Administrative Assistants

Although every position is different, a few key skills include:

  • Two or more years of experience in an office setting.
  • Basic understanding of Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Type 30+ words per minute.
  • Being a self-motivated multitasker.
  • Verbal and written communication skills.
  • A friendly, outgoing demeanor.
  • Organizational skills.
  • The ability to solve problems skillfully and quickly.

Are you an administrative assistant? How do you feel about your position? Let us know in the comments below!

On the Job Podcast with Radio Host Enrique Santos

Enrique Santos loves his job as the popular host of 2 nationally syndicated radio shows. But his path to radio was not a traditional one. Listen to why Enrique devotes his career to remaining open to the opportunities often sitting right in front of him.

Jobs give us a connection to our communities and the ability to provide for ourselves and our families. Your work may be your passion or it could just be the way you make ends meet. Each week, On the Job will share stories about the pursuit of work by delving into the employment situations people from all walks of life face each day.

Don’t miss an episode!
Download the On the Job podcast on iTunes or anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts.