Monthly Archive for March, 2019

Is going to University Going to Benefit your Career?

Making the decision to go to university is not easy to say the least. You may feel as though it’s expensive and that you have to quit work as well. That being said university can open up a ton of new options for you, and it may even mean that your life is better as a result. If you are wrestling with the decision of whether to go back to university or not, then these tips should help you to know for sure.

Specialist Jobs

One of the main benefits of going to university is that it gives you the chance to access more specialist jobs. It can also act as a passport to other jobs that you might not have thought about pursuing yet. That being said, there are a lot of different ways for you to qualify for a job. For example, if you want to become a lawyer then you don’t have to do a law degree. You can go on a training program instead. By doing this, you can get a foothold in the industry and you can also kickstart your career. You should note however that you will require a university education if you want to keep on advancing in this type of career, so it really does depend on where you want to be later on in life.

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Earning Potential

You are much more likely to earn more money in your life by having a degree. 76% of billionaires are educated at a university level. 6% have a doctorate, 47% have a bachelors and 23% have a master’s degree. If earning money is a core concept for your future, then a university course can most certainly help you to get to where you need to be. If you are stuck as to what university course you need to take, then science is always a solid option. The skills you learn can easily be transferred to another industry, and there are so many options available as well. If you want to find out more about this then check out this post from the University of Southern California.

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Transferrable Skills

University isn’t always about getting a degree. It’s about building and developing your skills. When you go to university, you will develop your social skills and you will also become way more independent. Of course, you will also be in control of your own finances as well. This combined with writing essays, meeting deadlines and even working as a team can all help you to succeed in your career, regardless of the topic you choose to study. You may even find that you learn self-discipline, time management and even intuitiveness, which can really help you in the workplace. Employers find all of these skills very valuable, and university can help you to develop them to the point where you become a valuable asset in the workplace.

So as you can see, going to university can really help you to become better at your career and it can also open up a ton of new doors for you as well.

Create a Much Safer Office

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Most people assume that offices are very safe places to work in. However, this is not always the case as they come with dangers and hazards all of their own. They might not be as obvious as in factories or on construction site, but they are there nevertheless.

It appears that around 100,000 office workers are injured while at work every year in the US, but many of those could have been prevented if more attention was paid to safety and health regulations.

Slips, Trips, And Falls

Slips, trips, and falls are the most common cause of injuries by far worldwide, and businesses in the US are no exception.  There can be several hazards that contribute to them all of which can be avoided.

Walkways should always be kept free of clutter and staff should be aware that they must not leave bags or boxes where people have to walk. Wires across walkways are another common cause of these types of accidents.

Standing on chairs should be forbidden, especially as most office chairs have wheels on them. There should be stepladders for the workers use, but they should always make sure these are fully open and on level ground.

Loose or wet flooring is another reason that slips, trips, and falls happen in offices. If there is some carpet or tiles that have started to lift it becomes a real tripping hazard. Wet floors should always have warning signs until they have dried.

Hidden Dangers

Most of the causes of slips, trips, and falls are obvious and can be put right. However, there are dangers that are not so easily seen. For instance, a fire could be caused by an electrical fault in a storeroom or a faulty piece of equipment could give a worker an electric shock. All electrical appliances should be checked on a regular basis, but still, accidents happen with these things.

The severity of such scenarios can be reduced if security cameras are fitted, as a problem will be spotted sooner. They will also help to protect the staff from unwanted intruders, which will make them feel more secure while they are at work.

Job-Related Problems

It is not unusual for office workers to suffer injuries because of their job. It could be that they are working in poor lighting, which will strain their eyes. In the short-term, this will cause them to have headaches but over a longer period can damage their eyesight permanently.

If they have to bend and twist too much to reach the different pieces of equipment they are using, this can cause injuries to their muscles. Using a keyboard for hours every day can be the cause of problems in the wrist. Supplying them with a wrist rest that sits just in front of the keyboard and helps to relieve the strain can easily prevent this. Anti-glare screen covers are also a good addition for workers that spend a long time on computers. Excessive use of photocopying machines is bad for your worker’s eyes and their use should be restricted.

These are just some of the dangers office workers face and although they may seem to pale in comparison to many other industries, if someone falls and hits their head on the corner of a piece of office furniture, they could suffer a permanent brain injury.

Recruit Better Employees With These Job Interviewing Tips

Image Source. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Job interviewers are a chance to meet an applicant in person and assess whether you could really picture them working successfully within your company. Conduct poor interviews and you’re likely to make poor hiring decisions. To ensure that you get the best out of your interviews and end up recruiting the best candidate, consider some of these interviewing tips.

Schedule time solely for interviews

It’s important that you’ve freed up time solely to focus on interviewing and that you’re not trying to do other tasks too. Make sure that you’re waiting for your applicants at the agreed time when they arrive – don’t make them wait as this could show disorganisation and they may change their mind about working for your company. Allocate enough time for each applicant so that you can ask all the questions you need and really get to know each person. Companies that are hiring tend to be understandably short-staffed and there could be a lot of other tasks to take care of, but interviews should take priority and shouldn’t be rushed or delayed.

Try to put your applicants at ease

Anyone who’s been through an interview as an applicant knows that they can be nerve-wracking events. Don’t try to make your applicants uncomfortable just to test them, as this is likely to backfire and they may hate the experience so much that they don’t want to work for you. Aim instead to put your applicants at ease by offering them a drink and being friendly and polite. This will also allow a more natural conversation and you’ll get more honest answers from them as a result. You could even consider taking extra steps to accommodate for their needs such as hosting the interview via videoconference to save them travelling to the interview or even paying for their travel.

Research your candidates

It’s important to do your research so that you can ask the right questions. Don’t just rely on what’s written on their application – do some background investigation such as looking them up on social media to get an idea of their character as well as possibly contacting previous employers for references. Bring any notes and documents you need to the interview so that you can refer to these if you need them.

Ask meaningful questions

Avoid generic questions that you already know the answer to. Only ask them to repeat information on their CV if you want to test their honest – otherwise try to ask questions that aren’t answered on the applications such as specific tasks they may have done in a previous role or situational questions to get an idea of how they respond to problems. If you need to write down these questions, you should do so.

Consider scorecards

If you’re interviewing lots of different candidates, it could be worth keeping interview score cards to help tick off each requirement that each applicant meets. Any requirements that are a must are likely to be filtered out during the application phase, so focus on scoring preferential requirements. You may also use score cards to assess how well a candidate answers certain questions. At the end the end you can use this data to make a calculated decision as to who to hire rather than just relying on who gave the best general impression (although this is an important factor to consider too).

Get a second opinion

It could be worth get someone else to help you with the interviewing so that you have the benefit of a second opinion. This could be a senior employee or an outsourced recruitment professional. They may be able to provide insights about candidates that you hasn’t considered allowing you to make a better decision as to who to hire. They may also have different perspectives to offer – a fellow employee may be able to assess candidates as a fellow colleague, helping you to get an idea as to how well they’re likely to integrate with the team, whilst a recruiter may be able to approach things more logically and assess how well they’re likely to stick around in the long run.

Sell yourself and your company

Your candidates aren’t the only people that need to sell themselves during an interview. This process is also a chance for you to sell your company and all its perks to them. Your best candidates may have multiple interviews lined up and may receive multiple offers – they then have the power as to which company they choose to work for. Take the interview as an opportunity to show how great your company is by telling them all the benefits they could receive and by being friendly and enthusiastic. You may also want to tidy your office if you’re hosting the interview there as well as keeping yourself presentable.

Getting The Most Out of Your Sales Team

It’s not just one department in your company that defines whether it’s going to be successful or not. Everyone plays a role. If all of your employees are working at full capacity, then the business is going to do well! However, it’s also true that not all areas of your business have equal weight. It’s much better for the sales team to be performing at their peak capacity, rather than the HR team. If your sales staff are delivering the goods, the company can afford some blows in other departments. As such, you’ll want to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your sales team, that they have everything they need to perform well. But how do you do this? We take a look at some tried and tested tips below.

Source: Pexels.com

Assemble The Right Team

It all begins with your hiring process. If you’ve taken the time to develop a process that brings in the best candidates, and weeds out the duds at the earliest opportunity, then you’ll find that everything becomes much easier. When it comes to hiring employees, be sure to know what you’re looking for. It’s not just about their background or resume; it’s about how they fit in with your overall company culture. You’ll get a feel for this side of the potential employee by chatting, not their resume. If you do this with all of your hires, you’ll have a team who can work as individuals and together.

Train Well

It’s important to remember, however, that simply hiring a talented employee isn’t enough. You need to make sure you’re training them well. Don’t think of your hire as the finished article; they’re not. Instead, they’re simply potential. They’ll have all the ingredients that are needed to do great things for your business, but you’re the one who needs to water those seeds. Give them all the information they need about the company, the best practices, and so on — and make it an ongoing process, too. Even a superstar employee can make more sales if they’re taught how!

Strong Leaders

Every team needs a captain. Take a look back at the greatest sports teams in history, and you’ll notice something — while they all had talented individuals, there was one standout star, the captain, the leader, who propelled the team forward. If your team is going to deliver their best, then there needs to be a manager who is excellent at their job. This will be a manager who has done the job before, is approachable, can offer advice, and — perhaps most importantly — works just as hard as anyone on the team. It’ll be much better for everything to come together if there’s a leader at the front of the pack, keeping everyone on course.

The Right Tools

You want your sales staff to be in the business of doing only one thing — selling. Your staff wants that too! Alas, all too often, they’re spending their time doing things that, when it comes to sales, simply waste time. They’re looking for contacts, or filling in data, or waiting around for prospects to get back to them. This isn’t what you hired them to do, and it’s not they want to do, either. As such, it’s important that you’re providing them with the tools they need to get on with their job, such as the Spiro sales automation CRM. If you provide the right frameworks and structures for your team, they’ll be off the leash, not tied to annoying, time-consuming tasks.

Acknowledge and Reward

It’s a rare person who is truly self-motivated. Indeed, it’s these people who usually set up their own company. For everyone else, it’s important that you find something to inspire and motivate. This can involve recognizing them within the company for a job well done, to rewarding them with gifts and other bonuses. A team that feels valued is going to carry on doing their best for your business — don’t take their hard work for granted!

Treat as Individuals

Your sales team aren’t just a collection of your sales employees. They’re also individuals. As such, it’s important that you’re treating your employees as not only a member of the team, but as their own person, too. Taking some time to get to know them on a personal basis can only lead to good things, especially as it opens up the door for better communication. If they’ve got an issue, they’ll be more likely to come to your door and share it, if you’ve already developed some rapport.

Using The Right Safety Devices For Your Manufacturing Facility

Manufacturing is the part where your ideas come to life. Your business success hinges on the fact that everything runs smoothly in your facility. This of course should also include making sure that you are not polluting and sticking to the various environmental safety guidelines and laws. The thing is, if you do become negligent whether on purpose or by accident, the authorities can actually stop production until you have fixed the problem improper safety devices. So it’s in your interest to make sure that your facility has all the right practical means to achieve this. Usually however, where the best prevention techniques are put in place you will need the best devices. Proper practice goes hand in hand with state of the art devices.

Safety doors or fire exit doors are needed in every manufacturing facility. This is enforced by the law as safety inspectors will first come and see the exit doors for themselves in order to approve production. Using modern safety doors, you can monitor when and who uses them using modern CCTV and video capture. The sensors on the doors can also detect when their handles are pressed. Nobody should be playing around with the door, or using it as shortcut. It’s wise to hook your alarm system to the exit door system. This is so that when the building needs to be cleared, the managers can activate the alarm while opening and holding the door open for everyone to get out safely.

A cold waste

If your business is in a colder climate such as in Canada, Alaska or Greenland for example, you environmental pollution safety has to be changed. The colder climate makes liquids freeze or stick together, making it difficult to differentiate what is safe and what isn’t. Using Stainless Steel Extended Valves for an oil and water separator, whatever kind of waste you’re pumping out of the facility will catch the oil molecules. Waste water is often created by the use of tools, which need gas to run. However water is often used for cooling purposes so the two can get mixed together. When leaving the facility the oil should be separated so as to not pollute the water.

Fire detectors

In a manufacturing facility, it’s very common for all kinds of gases to be in the air. Steam is very common as tool and indeed products are heated and then cooled. However, smoke is also normal sometimes such as during welding. This is to be expected but fires are not. A modern fire detecting system can determine all three and only go off when flame is detected in the air. They also cannot be fooled so easily such as putting a lit match in front of the sensor. They can also be hooked to a sprinkler system if you wish.

Manufacturing is incredibly complex but exciting. You will be dealing with a lot of hazards along the way. Making sure you are adhering to a oil pollution prevention scheme is paramount to obeying the law. However, proper exit doors are also something to take seriously for everyone’s safety.

Great Teams Created Here

When you’ve reached capacity in your daily workload, you know it’s time to start the recruitment process but as a solopreneur this is brand new territory. How can you make sure that the hires you make are going to work out and not leave you stuck with employees that fall far short of the mark?

Here we take a look at what you can do to create a team that ticks every box and helps take your business from a one-person effort to a fully-fledged empire.

Review your own job

What is it that you’re doing that you need to drop and have someone else pick up? What are you concentrating on that takes you away from your core goals? Whether that’s too many admin tasks, managing stock or keeping track of your accounts, the time you spend on them is taking you away from generating sales and leads through your marketing plan.

Once you’ve decided what you need to hand over, it’s time to create a job specification. You may find that one job role isn’t going to cut it and instead you need to hire in several people to make this really work. It’s a big decision, when previously you’ve only ever worked for yourself and can feel a little daunting. After all, being responsible for other staff was not something you’d factored in when you set up on your own.

However, a growing business is a healthy business so this need for extra staff is a good sign in the long run.

Image from Pixabay

Job specification

Not really much more than a list of tasks that you expect your hire to carry out but make them as specific as possible. Rather than just admin tasks, think what that person will be doing day-to-day. If chasing up and generating invoices is part of that, make it clear. The more specific you are, the more chance you have of finding someone who has those specific skills.

Then you’ll need to think about the kind of person you want in the role. How much experience and education do they need as a minimum to work for you? What soft skills should they bring to the table? You might be looking for someone who can communicate specifically with clients or someone who can organise your other team members, either way make this clear in your online advertisement.

The interviewing process

This can be just as daunting for the interviewer as the interviewee, but don’t let that put you off. You will find your candidates are a little nervous but that’s fine. Your role is not only to find out as much about them as possible but also to see how they perform under pressure.

As a rule of thumb, for every skill you’ve advertised tease out from your candidate an example of a  time when they’ve used that skill and what outcomes it produced. Everything else, including their ability to do the day to day tasks you specified, should be clear in their resume.

Whether you’re a Truck Accident Lawyer or a clothes designer, you need to have staff around you who you gel with. Listen to your instinct when interviewing people. If you find it hard to communicate and connect with one of your interviewees, try and figure out why. Great qualifications don’t necessarily mean they’re the right fit so keep an open mind during the interview process.

Finally, when you’ve made your decision bring your candidate back in to discuss and negotiate salary and any other benefits you might be offering.  Until that contract is signed, the ball is very much in your court so if you do have a change of heart it’s not too late.

Work a six-month probationary period into the contract giving both parties the option of walking away after the period with no hard feelings or complicated legal mechanisms.

Working for yourself means you take on the role of so many other jobs in your organisation as well as the job you originally planned on doing day-to-day.

It’s not easy to create a team but when you do find that winning formula of a hard-working team who you get along well with and who support your goals and objectives, you’ve struck gold.

Take your time in the recruitment process. Getting it wrong can mean a frustrating and fruitless six months spent trying to figure out why it’s not working and what you can do about it. Find your people and your business will go from walking to soaring.

Business Shortcuts to Make Life Easier

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As a business owner, you have many plates that you need to keep spinning. It’s incredibly difficult- you work long hours and put in all the effort you have to make things a success. Finding ways to take shortcuts without compromising on quality is essential for getting things done quickly and efficiently, and can also stop you from burning out from taking on too much. Here are some ideas for going about it.

Hire an accountant

In the beginning, you might have sorted your accounting yourself with the help of some software. When your company is smaller, it’s fairly simple to be able to keep track of things fill in forms for tax and provide the right information. However, the bigger you get the more complex it becomes. You have more expenses that you want to claim back, there are different rules for VAT, more employees to pay and much more. Hire a professional accounting firm like https://www.qdosaccounting.com/ to do the job for you, it’s something you need to get right since there are so many legal implications in getting your business finances wrong.

Utilise freelancers for blog content

In business there are so many different areas to keep running and get right, it’s easy to overlook seemingly smaller jobs like a business blog. However, when it comes to blogging for business there are so many benefits that you simply can’t afford to miss out on. Integrating a blog onto your website can improve search rankings and domain authority, not to mention makes you look more trustworthy as a brand. It’s another way to market and promote yourself, and can help you to stand out from your competitors. However, creating relevant, interesting and informative content can take time. One way to get around this is to hire a blogger or content writer to create it for you. They will be experienced and know what your audience is looking for, and how to add the best keywords so your content will rank as high as possible when people are searching for businesses like yours. You don’t have to hire another employee, or ask any your existing employees to take on the role. Take a shortcut and hire a freelancer, there are plenty of talented individuals on freelancing sites ready to get started

Have bespoke software created

Business software is no longer a shortcut, but absolutely essential if you want success. Old, manual methods are out- since all of your competitors will be using business software, you need to as well to be able to keep up. However, you can go one step further and actually have software custom designed for your business. It allows all departments to link together seamlessly, and while the initial costs will be expensive it can save you time and money overall. Good software enables you to completely automate some areas of your business saving you labour costs and making everything as efficient as possible. If you’ve been in business for a while and are noticing issues with the different softwares you use, approach a software engineer and have them create something custom for you.

Is Your Business Safe?

It’s National Ladder Safety Month which makes it a very appropriate time to talk about safety at work. Some companies are really aware of this and make health and safety a big priority. But to everybody does. And sometimes, that can just be down to a lack of knowledge. Yet keeping your business safe and secure is important if you want it to keep running. So let’s take a look at the key areas you need to cover off when working on health and safety.

1. Premises Security

The very first area that you’re going to want to cover off is the physical security of your office or business space. So, do you have locks n place? Are you keeping your equipment safe? It may even be the case that you need to get CCTV as a backup too.

2. Online Security

In this day and age, every business should be aware of online security. Hackers and fraudsters are everywhere and always looking for an opportunity to encroach on your business. So make sure that you have firewalls in place and maybe even an IT team to look after your interests too.

3. Physical Safety

And, of course, there’s then also the physical safety of people in your business too. Now, this could be down to manual handling and maneuvering with ladders, as covered off in the infographic below. But it’s to just that. You’ll want to have a health and safety policy in place even if you’re in an office with no obvious risks, just to keep your company and its staff protected.


Infographic Design By Ceiling Outfitters

Why I get people to write their own letters of reference

If you’ve subscribed or followed my blogs, you know by now about my concept of antimimeticisomorphism – Doing out-of-the-ordinary things to create extra-ordinary results with the least amount of effort and lowest cost.

Early in my career, a mentor got me to write my own letter of reference. He explained that as the requestor and benefactor, it was up to me to do the “heavy lifting”. I was quite taken aback, but what he said next made a lot of sense. Since he hired and worked with a lot of people, if he acquiesced to all the people who made the request, he would spend dozens and maybe even hundreds of hours a year… Doing people “a favour”.

Instead, he cut back the letters to +/- half and spent that time saved to edit and personalise the ones that were submitted to him to a much greater level of detail and relevance.

I have followed this wise approach in my 30+ year-long career realising that there are other benefits. First, I too have found half of the people won’t come back with a letter to be edited. Second, their self-perception of what they think they did can be quite shockingly distorted or pleasantly insightful and revealing. In the former instance, it can be quite awkward (but necessary) to make the edits and in the former I can further highlight those elements that I would otherwise not have considered.

Letters of reference are not worth much since we all know we get them from people who like and appreciate what we did for or with them. There is some credence to accumulating them in large numbers since the volume of positive references is, by itself testimony to excellence and consistency. Someone who can convince 10, 20 or 30 people to provide a letter of reference has to be better than one who cannot or has not had the initiative or forethought to do so.

Of course, when the first draft comes to you, it’s your responsibility to edit it, re-write and edit it in your own voice and style – ensuring it is both accurate and representative of the person you are attaching to your name and reputation.

Yes, sometimes I have refused to write a letter – even for someone who did an “OK” job because for me, “OK” is not good enough for me to associate myself with that person.

One last comment worthy to note – some people will take offence to this approach. You need to “own this approach” to overcome that response. My view is anyone who takes offence has made that choice and as such doesn’t understand what I have explained above. Explaining why is absolutely necessary.

What is also necessary is to no accept the guilt trip many people will try to bestow on you. The most common comments include:

  • “But I worked for you for X years and it’s the least you could do.”
  • “It will only take you 10 minutes…”
  • “Everyone else I asked did it for me, why won’t you?”
  • “I wouldn’t know where to start and I am not comfortable blowing my one trumpet.”
  • “You know me better than I know myself and you’re written more references letters than I have.”
Admittedly, sticking to this “principle” is not easy – but I believe it’s necessary if you want to elevate your relationships to a higher level of character and integrity – especially in this superficial world of false friendships and the proliferation of fake “testimonials and reviews”.
Of course I match the person’s contribution with my own. I once had someone submit a one-liner, which I edited and sent back as a one-liner…!
As a referrer, you’re either part of the problem (perpetuating it with a quick, worthless letter) or part of the solution with a well-developed and meaningful assessment that transcends the standard letter of reference. Something the reader will acknowledge is “different”.
But please let be known, I am biased. I have seen the differences in my 30+ year career. The longest letters I created were for people who are still friends or acquaintances and anecdotally they’ve been considerably more ‘successful’ in their careers. Part of it might be their flexibility to adapt to new situations and circumstances, like this one.

Are There Advantages of Hiring Freelancers and Contractors over Full Time Employees?

More than ever today’s workforce is shifting away from the standard nine to five and becoming much more flexible. Through the use of the internet it has made many more businesses more easily become global, as they can work with people all around the world at the touch of a button. And as a result, it makes it easier than ever to save month through the people that you work with, as you don’t have to have as many full-time employees when you can hire contractors or freelancers to work there for you. Basically, if your business needs experts but it is lacking the resources required for a full-time employee, freelancers and contractors could be your way to go.

So with all of that in mind, here are some of the reasons why it makes great sense to use freelancers and contractors over full-time employees. Have you ever thought about this for your business before? It would be great to hear what you think.

Image from Pixabay, under creative commons license

Affordability

When you have an employee there can be a lot of associated costs, such as health insurance or a pension perhaps. Not to mention paid holiday and so on. A freelancer doesn’t need any of that kind of thing. If they are working from home they won’t have a lot of overhead costs, so their rate can be low in comparison, saving the business quite a bit of money.

Experts

When you have your own business you do play a lot of roles, and in some of them, you may not have much experience or expertise. But when you use a freelancer, whether that be a freelance accountant or roofing contractors for a client’s building project, it means that you get the people that know exactly how to do the thing you need, rather than you trying to muddle through and waste time. They know what to do and can be quite quick about doing it too, which is another selling point.

Flexibility

Because a freelancer or contractor doesn’t work the traditional hours that you might think, it means that they can work at all different times. If you need someone to be posting on your social media at certain times of the day or when something like the Superbowl is happening, out of traditional office hours, a freelancer can be the person that is able to do that. Plus, as they can work flexibly it means that they are more likely to meet deadlines as they can set their own hours and work through the night if need be, to get it done.

Innovation

As you are hiring experts in their field, they may come at a project or task from a completely different angle to you. They could offer new insight and innovation on how to get things done that you might not have thought about before. So it can be a great way to get new ideas; they want to impress you, and jaded employees can sometimes just do the bare minimum to get a job done.