Tag Archives: career

Foolproof Conference Calls: 3 How To Tips

Conferencecall_Jan_2012_webIf you’ve ever been asked to set up a conference call, you know first hand the anxiety that comes with meetings conducted this way. So many things can go wrong, from the phone conferencing system, or web conferencing software not working to attendees not calling in on time. Conference calls are normally necessary when a question is complex, a decision is trying to be reached, or an idea is being pitched, which can all be stressful conversations in person, without the added challenges conference calls can bring. Here are a few tips to take control of the situation, help you plan for the call, and conduct a successful meeting. 

1. Plan in Advance

When it comes to setting up a conference call, don’t leave anything to chance. Before you set up the call make sure you understand what is expected. Some technical questions to ask are:

  • Will you need to be able to share a slideshow or your computer screen?
  • How many people will be on the line and will you need to be able to mute the lines?
  • Will the audio call and/or the visual presentation need to be recorded?
  • How long will the call take?

You’ll want to schedule the call like you would schedule a meeting, using your calendar software to make sure that everyone involved will be available. Resist the urge to send an email with the details, instead send a meeting request containing the conference call logistics to ensure that it will show up on the calendars of the attendees and not be lost in their email inboxes. Prior to sending the meeting request, confirm the phone number, access codes, and online presentation link so that all of the information is included in the initial meeting invite. Don’t make it difficult to find the log-in information by sending separate emails and meeting requests – communicate clearly in one message. Also, include an agenda or list of questions that will be addressed. Giving your attendees time to gather information they need prior to the call will help you achieve your objectives and have a better discussion on the call. Conference calls can be effective ways to clear up confusion and seek direction, as opposed to several email threads or discussion threads trying to seek a resolution, if people are prepared in advance for the conversation .

2. Rehearse

If several individuals on your team will be involved in a call to make a presentation to a client, make sure everyone knows in advance who will be taking the lead. As the initiator of the call, you are expected to start the discussion and ensure all necessary items are communicated and decided upon with the meeting time. Again, if several of you will be talking during the call its best to rehearse the presentation to make sure everything flows together and the transition among speakers is a smooth transition. It’s important to keep callers engaged and a smooth presentation is a good step in doing that. When a call seems disorganized and lacks an agenda attendees can start to tune out and focus on the work at their desk instead of engaging in the conversation.

3. Set Up in Advance

About 30 minutes prior to the call, confirm the phone number and access codes of the call and make sure that was the information sent in the meeting request. Check to make sure your conference call was set up for the right date, in the right time zone, and for a.m. or p.m. With some conference bridges, an error in one of those fields will block callers from dialing in. If you’re hosting the meeting in a conference room, make sure the web conferencing and phone conferencing lines are all in working order and turned on 15 minutes before the call begins. If you have to download any software for the call, make sure you’ve done that the day before the call on the machines you’ll be using. You’ll reduce the stress of your fellow participants if everything is flowing smoothly before the call even begins. Prior to the call beginning, make sure you know how to mute/unmute callers and how to record the presentation and/or audio portion. One last trick for success is to dial-in with the call participant information from your cell phone after you’ve activated the call to make sure everything is working correctly. Also, let a teammate that is not on the call know the log-in information so they can direct anyone who has misplaced the information how to join.

All of the time you’ve invested prior to the call will pay off in a successful call, saving you time in the long-run. And your participants will appreciate your respect for their time with your attention to detail in hosting a successful conference call.

 

By Rachel Rudisill

4 Ways to Background Check a Potential Employer

Backgroundcheck_Jan2012_webAll right, super-sleuths. You sent a strong résumé, and the employer has called you for an interview. What do you do now? It’s almost certain the prospective company is already starting to research who you are and what you’re like outside of work, so it’s just as important that you thoroughly background check them too.

Even with slow economic conditions, choosing the right employer is imperative because you will be relying on them for continuous employment, a steady paycheck, and challenging work to help you develop and grow your skills.

Where do you start? Where do you go other than the main website? What do you look for? Don’t fear, job gumshoes, the Movin’ On Up Detective Agency will help you hit the street, put the finger on available sources, and get the information you need so you can put the screws on your potential employer and get hired.

Direct Approach

Even with the internet giving you more information at your disposal than ever before, some of the best information can be gathered on foot.

Bigger companies or nonprofits generally have an abundance of pamphlets, fliers, and other sources of information available at the front desk if requested. You’d be surprised how many organizations don’t put many details on their websites. Smaller companies and nonprofits are harder to find information for and can require outside sources.

Another old-fashioned way of finding information is through public resources like libraries.  Many public libraries subscribe to databases that aren’t generally available to the public, and those can open up riches of information on companies and non-profits. If you aren’t sure where to look, ask one of the librarians for assistance.

Online Sources

You should be finding out if your employer is a public or private organization. If it’s public, you can use all the sources from the library at your disposal, but if it’s a smaller, private organization, you’ll have to try different methods.

If you don’t have access to a college library and your public library is lacking, there are several websites out there to help you gather intel on potential employers.

Try looking for their new products and services, potential mergers, and their general financial future. Also, look into what their competition is doing to see how the employer is separating itself. Try using websites like Vault or GlassDoor to get general information and opinions on your potential employer.

Social Media Savvy

If you can’t find information on the organization’s website, try looking on their Facebook or Twitter pages. Many times, a company’s social media site will not only have more company information, but will have contact information for you to call or email if you feel like you need more data.

It’s also a good idea to check out the potential employer’s blog as well. This will give great insight to their feel, identity, what it’s about, and what’s important to it. Seeing what is on the company’s mind will give you some topics to discuss when you interview.

Man on the Inside

If you’ve graduated from college, don’t underestimate the value of your school’s alumni association. Try finding out if any of your school’s alumni work for your potential employer and see if they can give you any insight into the company, how the hiring went, and any other useful information they can give. Also, try looking at your LinkedIn connection levels to see if you have connections with anyone associated with that particular company.

If you don’t have access to any graduates or contacts from inside the company, you can always make connections by calling them to find out more information. Try calling the HR department or any recruiters to get more information or promotional material. Start conversing with them, and see if you can get any extra tidbits that aren’t listed in the promotional material.

You may feel like you’re behind the eight ball when it comes to giving your potential employer an up-and-down, but with these helpful hints, you’ll be ready for anything the employer can throw at you. What are some ways you have learned more about a potential company?

That Was Close! How Reporting Near Misses Can Keep you Safe

Nearmiss_Jan2012_webYou know what you can do to protect yourself from and to prevent injuries, but there is an often overlooked threat that lurks behind the scenes at the workplace. There’s a high probability that it’s happened to you, but you don’t really think about the implications it can have on you and those working around you.

Ever have something fall off a shelf, a shirt caught on a piece of equipment, or your ladder narrowly misses a power line?  To err is human. We all make mistakes from time to time, but incidents like those examples can not only put you in danger, but also endanger your co-workers down the line if not reported. It’s easy to shake-off near misses and chalk it up to good luck, but what was an avoided catastrophe now, might not be in the future. Here is some advice to help you learn the value of reporting near misses to your employer and what they mean to your safety.

No, Really. What is a Near Miss?

A near miss is an unintentional, unsafe occurrence that didn’t result in injury, fatality, or property damage, but had the potential to do so. These types of situations can happen at any time, no matter what field or industry you work in. Near misses often precede real accidents that can result in injury or death. Your employer won’t be aware of these potential threats on their own. It’s up to you to report these dangers to keep everyone safe.

It’s Your Early Warning System

Reporting near misses is one of the best ways to avoid serious injuries or even death in the workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported nearly 3.1 million nonfatal work-related injuries in the private sector, and according to the National Research Council, nearly 6,000 Americans die from workplace injures every year.

Making sure you inform your managers about near misses is a learning tool for you and your company. When near misses occur they can be regarded as early warnings that something is wrong somewhere in the system. You wouldn’t want to work in an environment that wasn’t as safe as possible, so be sure to inform your supervisors of any potential hazards before you or your co-workers are put in danger.

You’re Not Causing Problems

Many near misses go unreported because workers feel their supervisors don’t appreciate having to stop what they are doing to investigate the issue. It may feel like management doesn’t encourage these kinds of reports and it’s just a hassle, but you and your co-workers safety and security should be the biggest priority at work. Don’t ever feel like reporting a near miss would be a distraction, inconvenience, or annoyance.

When reporting near misses, you’re showing initiative. You are keeping your colleagues and employer in mind by saving money and time when avoiding accidents. This type of investment in your company is what management looks for when promoting their workers. If your employer has a weak or non-existent near miss reporting policy, showcase your leadership skills by working with them to create an improved system. 

Don’t wait for the accident to happen before letting your supervisors know about it. It could be your life on the line. What are some ways you’ve stepped up to promote a safe work place?

Three Things to Do When You Land Your Career Job



Landjob_April2011_web 
Individuals entering the workforce for the first time share similar ideas about what a new job will mean to their life. Most hope for competitive pay, meaningful work, and independence. While all that is obtainable, it is difficult to gain immediately. But by keeping a few thoughts in mind, young professionals can enter their first year in a new career with as much ease, and success, as possible.

Spend Wisely.
First things first, realize that although you may be making more money, you don’t have to act like it. Remember that with your new paycheck comes a great opportunity to spend the money you earn wisely. Work toward paying off loans, investing in a suitable work wardrobe, and saving. Practicing discretion with your cash flow from the beginning is a great step in your future financial planning.

Prove Yourself.
Secondly, understand that although you are now in the workforce, you still have a long way to go. Young professionals must continue to prove themselves to employers and coworkers, even after they’ve been given a job. Persevere despite others questioning your ability. Challenge yourself, and your coworkers, by sharing ideas, being proactive, and offering others help when you can. Once you show your boss you are reliable, you will be well on your way to gaining more respect and responsibility from those around you.

Prioritize.
The biggest surprise many young professionals face is the amount of time a new career can take. If your job has traditional 8 to 5 business hours this can be quite a change from a flexible retail or school schedule. The first year in a career often demands more time and energy than your schoolwork or entry-level jobs required. Learning to prioritize can be a challenge. You must learn your own limits and not be afraid to share those boundaries with your leader. Although it is important to be dedicated to work, it is also important to take time for yourself.  Finding a balance between work and life outside of it will take some time, but is important to keep you from burning out. 

The first year in the real world is undoubtedly tough. Learning how to manage money, balance time, and prove yourself is no easy feat. However, the first year can be pivotal to your career’s journey. Remember that we’ve all made mistakes, especially during our first year, and that every wrong move provides ample opportunities to learn valuable lessons for the future.

What to Do About Work Gaps

WEB10MSC_RESUME-BOOT-CAMP_W2 Whatever the reason is you’re looking for a new job, you’re going to need a résumé. And, you want one to stand out to an employer and make them take notice of you in a positive way. So, what do you do if your work history has a few gaps along the way? With typically only one minute to grab someone’s attention with your résumé, prospective employers sometimes don’t take the time to investigate little potholes along a job seeker’s workforce journey. Employers see work gaps frequently, but what they really want to see is an individual’s career growth and progression. So, if you’re currently experiencing a few of those gaps in your work history, what can you do now to help your résumé compete with the elite?

Format your résumé into a functional format. The functional format focuses on your actual skills and accomplishments rather than on the dates you worked at a job or your job titles. When you arrange your résumé by your skills, you’re highlighting the main points of why an employer should hire you.

Align your skills with the job you’re applying for. Be specific about your skills and relate them to the job you’re applying for. It’s important to keep things relevant. If you’re applying for a job as an administrative assistant, the prospective employer probably doesn’t want to know that you also have a knack for laying concrete. Instead, list out relevant skills like your knowledge of Microsoft Office, the ability to book meetings using Outlook, and experience in coordinating multiple events or meetings at a time.

Include your accomplishments. You’re trying to tell an employer why they should choose you over the other job applicants. This is your time to wow a potential employer about what you have achieved during your work history. Listing these helps combat a work gap by showcasing that you do have experience and good skills that achieved results. This showcases you as a more serious job candidate. Again, keep your accomplishments relevant to the job you’re applying for, but be sure to target your proudest achievements.

List your volunteer experience. Do you volunteer for an organization? If so, include that in your work history section. It doesn’t matter if you got paid or not. It’s still work experience you can include to show you haven’t been sitting around during your time away from a job.

These are a few tips to help you out. Sometimes an employment gap cannot be avoided, but that doesn’t mean you’re not qualified for the job. In addition, one more piece of advice is to create a cover letter to go along with your résumé. In your cover letter, be succinct about your work gap, but use this as an opportunity to better explain your work history. Apply these tips to help your job search, and don’t let a work history gap derail your career plans.

My Entry-Level Life: That’s a Wrap!

EntryLevelLifeButton_D We hope you’ve enjoyed the series on My Entry-Level Life. You’ve gotten some valuable information to help you with your job search. My Entry-Level Life covered the basics of how to interview, create and update your résumé, dress for success, handle office politics, schedule meetings, and much more. Whether you’re looking for an internship, your first full-time job, or you’re switching industries to start a brand new career, you can always reference the great tips and advice this series covered.

Do you have success stories to share about an entry-level job you had this summer? We would like to hear them!

Also, be on the lookout for our upcoming series, Résumé Boot Camp: Tips to help you whip your résumé into shape.

Things Your Mom Didn’t Tell You About the Work World

Think back to when you were in elementary school and got jitters on the first day back from summer vacation. Maybe it was your mom or another loved one who helped calm your nerves. They probably gave you advice like, “Don’t worry, just be yourself and everyone’s going to love you.” Now, fast forward to today and your working career. Does that advice still apply? To help you gain some perspective and clarity during those times when you need it, here is some advice your mom didn’t tell you about being in the workplace.

Not everyone’s going to love you. In the workplace, everyone has different personalities. Not everyone is always going to want to be your best friend, and that’s OK. You’re going to run into people you don’t get along with. But, be nice and polite with everyone you work with and focus on being a good employee who produces great work.

Be responsible for yourself. In the working world, you are responsible for you. No one else is going to baby you. You have to pick up after yourself and keep your workstation clean and organized. Also, your manager will provide you with direction on your projects, but getting them done is up to you. And, you need to prioritize what’s important as a worker and manage your time wisely to get your work completed on time. Check out these tips on organization and prioritizing. And, remember that It’s OK to talk with your co-workers, but keep the chatting to a minimum so you can be productive throughout the day.

Don’t just do the best you can. Workplaces today are competitive and many are looking for employees who are willing to go the extra mile on projects. Your mom might have been fine with you getting a C on a project or in a class when you were in school, but employers are looking for A+ effort when it comes to work. 

There’s no nap time or recess at work. Gone are the days when you got to take a nap at noon or go outside and climb around on the monkey bars to work off some energy. Your employer pays you to be productive throughout your work day, so make sure you get enough rest prior to coming to work. Set a time each night to be in bed and a time each morning to wake up. When you’re rested, you will have more energy, allowing you to cross more off your to-do list.

Life’s not fair. In your working career, you will probably run into events that aren’t fair, but in some situations, you won’t be able to do anything about them besides just accept them. Titles, raises, salaries – these are a few things in the workplace that sometimes seem unfair. Instead of dwelling on things you don’t have, look for the positive in what you do have. Continue working hard and don’t let “unfair” things slow down your progress or cloud your vision.

Everyone has those days when they wish they could have mom or someone else there to lend some advice when it’s needed. Instead, keep these tips close by for the next time you feel you need a reality check.