What Do Employers Look For: Experience Or A Degree?

According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center of college graduates, 86% believe that their education was a valuable investment. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that college graduates had an income $19,000 greater than those with just high school educations. But in today’s job market, does a college degree carry more weight than skills or work experience?
There are many successful people who don’t have college degrees, most notably Bill Gates. As the CEO of Microsoft, he led the company in many record breaking years, including grossing more than $70 billion dollars in 2011. So don’t be discouraged, a degree doesn’t guarantee a top salary at any company.
Binghamton University in New York, recently released a report about transferable skills. Simply put, these are the skills that you have accumulated and improved upon that apply to numerous jobs and tasks. They could include efficiency in communication, teamwork, and organization, all of which can be gained through work experience. But how do you get your foot in the door without a degree?
Convincing an employer to hire you can be tricky regardless of your level of education. But, focusing on the transferrable skills in your resume can help your chances.  To get ahead of the competition you have to focus on your strengths. If you don’t have a degree, list the skills you’ve gained from your previous employers that are applicable to the job you are looking for. Be specific about your skill level and give quantifying examples.
A college degree may seem to make finding a job easier, but there are ways to find a career without a college degree and there are great jobs that can be earned with hard work and diligence, whether it’s through scholarly pursuits or just good ole’ fashioned dedication. Are there skills that you have found that made you more valuable to your current or previous employer, let us know what you think in our poll.


Cell Phone Don’ts At Work

According to a recent report from the United Nations, “six billion of the world’s seven billion people have mobile phones,” even though “only 4.5 billion have a toilet.” And to narrow it down, Pew Research found that as of May 2013, 91% of American adults have a cell phone and 56% have a smartphone. Those are some incredible statistics that prove how much mobile technology has impacted every aspect of life – and the workplace is not immune.

Cell phones can have many positive benefits, but they have a dark side too. Unfortunately, that dark side can quite often be seen at work, and it could affect your job more than you realize. Take a look at these cell phone don’ts to make sure you’re maintaining proper workplace etiquette and not hurting your career.

Don’t Leave the Ringer On
While you may have a good reason to keep your cell phone on you at work, there is no reason not to turn it on silent. No one wants to hear your duck-quack ringtone or a shortened version of “Call Me Maybe” multiple times a day, day-in and day-out. Plus, chances are it will go off at the most inopportune time, like when the company president is walking by.

Don’t Conference Call
If you have a conference call on your calendar, then plan to be at work, on a land line. And this is especially true if you’re the one hosting the call. It can be very distracting to all the other people on the call if they can hear loud road noise or lunch orders being yelled out in the background.

Don’t bring It to Meetings
Just because almost everyone else takes their phone with them into meetings doesn’t mean you need to. Unless you’re expecting an important call that really can’t wait, leave it at your desk. But, if you think you might need it to check your calendar for future meeting dates or to verify information online, keep it out of sight.

Don’t Text (or Call) and Drive
Most companies probably have a policy by now for rules on cell phone usage for business while you’re driving, and most likely it will err on the side of safety. It’s always a good idea, though, to not use your phone at all while driving, whether you’re in your own car or a company car. Should an accident happen due to you being distracted, your employer and even your job could be negatively impacted.

When In Doubt, Don’t Use It At All
Common sense is always a good thing to use, and it applies to your cell phone usage at work too. Remember why you’re there and focus on getting the job done. And if you find yourself in a situation where you feel even slightly uncomfortable about being on your phone, it’s always a good call to just put it away.

What are some other good guidelines for cell phone usage at work? Let us know how you handle your cell phone while at work by sharing in the comments section.

3 Ways to Prove Your Integrity on Your Cover Letter

A recent report from Express Employment Professionals showed that employers value work ethic and integrity over education when considering candidates for open positions, but how can you demonstrate integrity during the interview process? Cover letters have been known as a way to show off your soft skills and personality, but can also be great way to give some insight into your integrity. With the average read time of cover letters at less than one minute, you’ll want to keep your cover letter brief, but still take advantage of the opportunity to stand out. 

Here are three options for demonstrating your integrity in your cover letter. 

  1. I’m Trusted.
    After you read the job description or job posting, include a brief story in your cover letter of when you have been trusted in the past to take care of a related task. State how you handled the request and the pride you felt in completing the project. If you have specific measurements for the success of the project, include those or provide a quote from a note you received thanking you for your hard work on the project. 
  2. I’m Knowledgeable.
    Share a quote or thought from an industry article or training, and explain what you learned from it. Explain how you stay informed on trends and changes in your industry and why you believe it’s important. 
  3. I Have my Own Values.
    If you have your own personal values or mission statement, share that. Then explain why the job or company aligns with that. “The Leadership Challenge” by Kouzes and Posner, offers great advice in creating a personal values statement and how you can use that to guide decision making. If you don’t have your own values statement, review the values of the company you are applying at and select one that resonates with you and expound on that. 

Taking the time to craft a cover letter that demonstrates your integrity can be one more way to stand out in the job applicant pool.

How do you demonstrate your work ethic/integrity during the application process? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

3 Ways to Stay All Ears: Protecting Yourself from Hearing Hazards

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly 30 million people annually are exposed to hazardous noise levels and since 2004, 125,000 workers have suffered significant and permanent hearing loss.

Loud noises, the constant drone of machines, as well as hazardous poisons referred to as ototoxic chemicals can cause significant and irreparable hearing damage. Hearing loss can result in many workplace complications including an increase in stress, reduced productivity, and an increased risk of workplace injuries. Fortunately, hearing loss can be preventable. So how do you protect yourself from losing such a valuable faculty? Here are three prevention and safety suggestions to ensure that you stay all ears.

  1. Wearing proper ear protection
    Hearing protection devices (HPD’s) are a simple way to put a barrier between your ears and the ruckus of the workplace. OSHA requires employers to have an “effective hearing conservation program“ available to employees. This program requires employers to provide sound level sampling, informational material to inform workers of the hazards, and appropriate protective gear.
  2. Regular Hearing Checkups
    Another requirement for applicable employers is the implementation and maintenance of continual audiometric testing. These checkups are important and allow for employees to monitor their hearing and the effects that workplace noise has on it. By keeping an eye on your ears you can take preventative measures if hearing loss begins to develop.
  3. Read the Materials Safety Data Sheets
    Ototoxic chemicals are substances that can permanently damage the inner ear if you’re exposed to them. Industries that have potential exposure to dangerous chemicals should have materials safety data sheets available to employees in the form of a book or online. If you’re concerned that the chemicals you handle everyday may have an adverse effect on you, review the safety materials provided by your employer.

Hearing is important and without it, many daily tasks can be hindered by an impairment. Hearing loss is preventable but you have to do your part. If you have tips on how you protect your ears, share them in the comment section below.

5 Signs a Job Post Might Be a Fake

5facts_July2013_webJob seeking can be an arduous task. No matter what your skill level or experience, the job search can be scary or frustrating. To make matters worse, web villains maliciously place fake job postings on commonly trafficked job sites to lure job seekers into multi-level marketing scams or to entice them to provide valuable personal information that could compromise one’s identity.

The potential to be scammed may seem intimidating, but don’t let the possibility of being duped deter you from seeking the job of your dreams. Spotting a scam can be easy with a little insight from someone who has been a victim so here are five signs to look out for.

  1. It sounds too good to be true.
    Job postings are supposed to sound enticing and be informative. But, if a posting makes big promises like high salary with “no experience necessary” or big starting bonuses for entry level positions, as the saying goes, “It might be too good to be true.” Starting salaries are based on the job’s pay range and the applicant’s skills and experience. Entry level jobs usually mean entry level pay.
  2. The job description is vague.
    If the job is poorly defined, this can be a sign that the position isn’t real. A fake posting might say things like B2B sales which could translate to door to door solicitation. A legitimate company knows what they are hiring for and exactly what the job entails. A clearly defined description can help a company narrow down the candidate pool by providing information the jobseeker will need to decide whether or not they are qualified. If you don’t feel like you have a good understanding of what the job is from the description, follow up with a question before applying.
  3. The job description has typos and grammatical errors.
    Job descriptions and postings are often written by hiring managers and HR personnel. As a representative of their organization, it is their responsibility to ensure that outgoing communication portrays the professionalism of the company. If a job description is littered with grammatical errors, you might think twice before applying.  Also look at the email address, if the email URL is not an organization’s website but something strange from a free email provider, use caution.
  4. The company asks for credit card information.
    A company should never need a credit card number to hire you and you should never pay for training unless the industry is regulated by the government and requires a license. Providing personal information can expose you to identity theft. So if the job posting has a form to fill out that doesn’t appear to be legitimate or asks for more than just simple contact information, be aware this could be a phishing scam.
  5. The company name is ambiguous or missing.
    If the post doesn’t contain a company name or has very little information, it might not exist. Always do research on a company before submitting your resume. A good way to find information is to type in the name of the company into a popular search engine and look for reviews from other job seekers. An important exception is staffing companies, the clients that use staffing companies often want to stay anonymous so the name may be withheld. However, the staffing company name and contact information should be verified as credible. In some contract and temporary positions you will work for and paid by the staffing company, making them the employer

Don’t let scammers get you down. Job seeking may seem like a lot of work but a safe job search can be simple by just being cautious. If you have a bad feeling, trust your gut.
Have you been a victim of a job scam? Let us know in the comment section below.

3 Ways Gamers are Revolutionizing the Work Place

gamers_June2013_webSome people think that video games are simply child’s play but according to a recent AP-AOL Games poll shows, 40% of American adults play video games, and according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reports nearly 70% are between the ages of 18 and 35. So, it is safe to say many Gen Xers and Millennials in the workplace likely spend their off hours in front of a gaming console or computer.

Video games of the 21st century are expansive and intricate, have a broad spectrum of themes and objectives, and have graphics so realistic that it’s almost a direct reflection of reality. Not only is it entertainment but if you look closely playing them can lead to some beneficial traits for the work place. Here are a few skills that can be gained from picking up a controller.

Games often require strategy and teamwork to accomplish objectives or win competitive matches, especially those that pit two teams of six live players against each other. As the other team changes tactics many gamers step up and communicate the change and devise a solution. Or in the instance Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing games (MMORPG) the leader is often established as a leader of a group of players. These individuals direct sometimes more than 150 people to complete quests or battles. Communication, critical thinking, and planning can all be gained from this type of play.

Each leader needs a team that works together effectively. Working together like a well-oiled machine can make or break the outcome of a match or battle. And, since gaming isn’t strictly limited to one region, a player often works with a diverse group of people from other ethnicities and cultures causing them to work through common barriers that global organizations encounter every day. Learning how to play well with others digitally can easily translate to working better with co-workers in the office.

Gamers are innately physically disconnected from those that they play with. They are separated by miles and are limited usually to verbal communication. Despite this assumed constraint gamers actually excel at effectively communicating through a microphone. Being an adept communicator on the phone and interpersonally can be crucial in the advancement of your career.
These are only a few of the learning opportunities offered to gamers. If you’re a gamer and have learned skills that have allowed you to take command of your career, let us know by commenting below.