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Retention

HUMAN RESOURCES 

The Retention Riddle: What Does It Take to Keep Your People?

BY NATALIE ROONEY

How can the accounting profession encourage its best and brightest talent to stay when so many other options exist today?

Since April 2021, more than 19 million U.S. workers have quit their jobs – a record pace. According to a September 2021 global study by McKinsey & Company, 53 percent of employers

say they’re experiencing greater voluntary turnover than in previous years, and 64 percent expect the problem to continue or worsen over the next six months. In fact, 40 percent of employees say they’re at least somewhat likely to quit in the next three to six months.

Why should you care about employee retention instead of just letting them go? First and foremost, it’s expensive. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it costs an average of six to nine months’ salary to replace a worker.

COCPA Chair Angela Roberts, CPA, managing director of Aclivity, sees firsthand how much money employee departures cost employ- ers. First, there’s the time it takes for a new hire to get up to speed and produce at the same level as current employees. Additionally, employers also likely are overworking their other people during a job search. Clients may not have anyone to contact. “That burden costs reputation, time, and money,” she says. “There is an additional risk when the other people start to think about leaving.”

WHAT DO THEY REALLY WANT?

It’s not always about the money. “Money is enticing, but when you ask young professionals why they’re leaving, it’s about their time,” Roberts says. “This newest generation is plugged in all day, and they don’t want to work overtime or around the clock because they don’t see the benefit or value in it. They have hobbies. They have side hustles. They don’t believe their career is the only way to make money. They are smart and can do different things.”

So, beyond money, what do today’s young professionals want? A remote work option. “No one wants to work 10 to 15 hour days; they don’t even want to come into the office two days a week,” Roberts says. “They want the flexibility to live in different cities or even countries. People want to enjoy their jobs and their hobbies.”

According to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report 2021, nearly 28 percent of respondents are expected to be fully remote in the next five years. That increased from 22.9 percent in November 2020.

Roberts says she still hears that people want to believe in a company’s mission. “They want to know what you are doing, how you are doing it, and that yours is a company they can stand behind,” she emphasizes.

HOW ORGANIZATIONS ARE FLEXING

To address employees’ interest in working in a flexible workstyle, BDO introduced BDO Flex more than a decade ago. Partner Erin Breit, CPA, says the program has formally evolved through discussions from the national level down through the local offices. “The workstyle and strategy encompass everything,” she explains.

BDO Flex addresses not only part-time employees who have different hours but also where employees want to work. “We trust our employees to get all our work finished. We prioritize outcomes rather than where or when they’re working,” Breit says. “We train

our teams to communicate to let everybody do what they need to do to have a good work + life fit.”

Local offices can make changes as needed, as can individual teams like audit and tax. “They just have to communicate their needs, when and where they’ll be working, and put a plan together,” Breit says. “We encourage robust, open communication. It allows team members to prioritize their work outcomes over the hours they’re putting in and where they’re working. It leads to a less stressful work environment. Being able to do everything in your life that you enjoy outside of work while still having a career is important.”

CREATING A SUSTAINABLE EXPERIENCE

Doug Slaybaugh, CPA, CGMA, PCC, CPCC, founder of The CPA Coach, says evening out what he calls the pendulum of public accounting is key to attracting and retaining good people. “Firms swing hard in the direction of the moment,” he explains. “You have an opportunity to create sustainability in the middle. What can you proactively do for the good of your people to create a place that lands the pendulum in a viable and intentional state?”

Last September, Slaybaugh wrote a LinkedIn blog post: A public accounting experience to stay for. It was actually written for a mentor and public accounting firm partner to offer ideas to help create a better experience for firms and their people.

One idea came from the automotive industry: Toyota is famously known for asking “why” five times to uncover the cause and effect of a concern. Slaybaugh recommends asking your team five “what” questions to better understand their circumstances and the roots of their concerns. He provided some examples: What is on your mind? What would be better? What more can you tell me? What else?

“‘Why’ creates a position of defensiveness,” Slaybaugh explains. “Why did you do that? Why did you think that? So much more is possible with ‘what.’ It doesn’t imply judgment and allows your team to do the thinking. It leaves a wide berth to be curious. By asking those ‘what’ questions and really digging in, you can move from general and conversational to specific and impactful.”

JOB CRAFTING FOR RETENTION

Slaybaugh says people often leave jobs without ever asking for what they really want or knowing what they could have had from the current employer. Job crafting can help prevent that from happening. It involves three components:

Task Crafting: Changing up responsibilities. Changing the nature of certain responsibilities or dedicating different amounts of time to what you currently do.

Relationship Crafting: Changing up interactions. Changing up who we work with on different tasks, who we communicate and engage with regularly.

Cognitive Crafting: Changing up your mindset. By changing perspective on what we’re doing, we can find or create more meaning about what might otherwise be seen as ‘busy work.’ Sweeping floors at a hospital might sound like it isn’t fun and is just dirty work, but someone sweeping the floors might also love the job because it helps save lives by keeping a clean room and environment for patients to recover.

“You can job craft a better reason to be doing what you’re doing,” Slaybaugh says. “It’s a process to go through these retention steps, and it’s usually skipped. You find out in an exit interview when you hear things like: ‘If only you’d given me more challenging tasks, a different team, or a different manager, or if I understood the impact of my work.’ But by then, it’s too late.”

Slaybaugh recommends conducting stay interviews with your team. A stay interview is an exit interview designed to happen before some- one quits. “Ask the tough questions. Ask what would make the job better? What would make you leave? Have you thought about leaving? What can we do to improve? Find out what’s going on and then use job crafting to better align with the employee’s expectations.”

Roberts says stay interviews also can be helpful to determine if a potential move is simply about money. “If it is about money, pay it,” she asserts. “If you don’t, you’ll just end up paying a recruiter a

percentage of the new base salary to find someone else. If you think someone is at risk of looking for a new position, have the conversation and make the investment.”

THE THREE BIGGEST THINGS

Slaybaugh says firms are reacting to these circumstances in three major ways:

  • Cash remains Whether it’s end of season bonuses, bigger raises or spot bonuses, money usually talks.
  • More time This could be PTO, an extra day off, or just more time off in general.
  • Some form of hybrid flexible working arrangement in some or all

He believes what really can have an impact on the profession and its people is better conversations, especially around the public accounting experience and well-being. Slaybaugh says accounting leaders know how to be mentors, but the soft skills needed to get in touch with what’s important to their teams might not be in their playbook. He suggests training to build those skills. “Because of our problem-solving reflex as CPAs, we don’t go deep enough,” he observes. “What we really need to do is listen, create situations for people to be heard, and ask the right questions so we can gain a better under- standing of what’s going on.”

People often leave jobs without ever asking for what they really want or knowing what they could have had.

Ultimately, Slaybaugh suggests opening your mind to all possibilities for retention. “Don’t be so worried about finding the right answer,” he encourages. “Be creative! Seek options that are original, personal, or aren’t typically offered. Do something that grabs the attention of your people or that you hadn’t thought possible.”

THE EMPLOYEE WISH LIST

Every time Roberts works with a candidate, she asks what he or she would like from the next job or employer. These direct quotes from candidates are enlightening:

  • Work life balance is very important to me. I would love to work at a company that doesn’t just parrot that it promotes/encourages work life balance. I would like to work where people at all levels of the company live it. I understand that accounting/tax is dead- line driven, and there will be weeks throughout the year where I will be required to work more hours than usual. However, I don’t want to work somewhere if this is the case all year. I don’t want to feel I constantly have to put out fires.
  • I want an employer who invests resources in employees and wants to see them grow within the Ideally, I will be at the next company for years. I am not interested in job hopping. Good/healthy company culture where management/higher ups want to see employees grow with the company and help to facilitate that. I would like my employer to support my efforts to learn and improve by offering in depth training/training opportunities, goal setting, regular feedback, and skill building.
  • I see myself working in a mid-size to large company. I am not interested in working in public accounting. Any industry is fine if it is stable and has good long-term potential. I want to work at a company that has a sustainable business and can provide growth for its employees.
  • I am not picky about my job title as long as the company I work for, and the job, meet the other items on my list.
  • With the world being so volatile (which I don’t anticipate changing anytime soon), I would like to work for a company that is financially healthy/stable and in an industry that has long-term potential. I want to feel confident that the company I work for – and my role – is secure and that I have job security (assuming that I am a dedicated, hard worker and high performer in my role, which I am confident I will be no matter where I work).
  • I am open to working in office, hybrid, and/or I would prefer that if the job requires employees to be in office it will be within walking distance from where I live or conveniently accessible via public transit. I am open to job opportunities that are outside of Denver and Colorado if they are remote and/or if they only require in-office work (i.e., travel to their office/head- quarters for big meetings and/or projects) sporadically throughout the entire year.
  • A company that has systems, processes in place, and provides to its employees the resources to do the job. I don’t want to be put- ting out fires every day.

“This generation is telling us, ‘I’m here, and I’m smart enough,’ so let’s figure out ways to do things better,” Roberts says. “Telling them we’ve always done something a certain way won’t fly. They have ideas for new ways of doing things and can contribute. We gave this generation a seat at the table when they were being reared, so they’ve always had a voice. Now, they expect it when they go to work. If you don’t listen, they feel disrespected and walk away.”

WHAT’S AT RISK?

What’s at risk if organizations don’t change how they think about retention?

“The profession as a whole is at risk,” Slaybaugh cautions. He points to an English study that revealed people consider accounting the second most boring profession. The most recent AICPA Trends report shows accounting firms continue to hire more non-accounting graduates as work continues to be realigned, outsourced, or replaced by technology. “That’s all fine unless we’re not creating other opportunities for accountants,” he says. “Think of it like a movie. How do we get people in seats? We put out something people want to see. If we’re not going to do that, we’ll lose them. The experience itself is where it’s at – creating the best experience for accountants.”

TRUST YOUR PEOPLE

Above all, Breit says trust your employees to do their work. “Most organizations can have some version of a flex work environment where the priority is completing quality work by the deadline,” she says. “If you’re in management, it boils down to trust. Without it, the flex work arrangements won’t go well because you’ll always question what people are doing.”

Breit says she cannot emphasize enough the importance of communication between team members and establishing clear guidelines and expectations. To that end, several years ago, BDO’s Denver office hired an outside consultant to provide communication training. “That served as our foundation,” Breit says. “Trusting your employees helps with motivation and achieving the outcomes you want. Management, trust your people!”

News Account  |  Summer 2022

 

Chair Column

CHAIR COLUMN

The Importance of Leadership

BY ANGELA ROBERTS, CPA

In May, I attended my first AICPA Spring Council as COCPA Chair. Net- working and exchanging ideas with our profession’s leaders from all over the country reminded me how important leadership is not only

to make sure we’re growing our profession’s future leaders but also for us as current leaders to continue to evolve on our own leadership path.

Last year, I had the opportunity to connect with COCPA’s future leaders through a virtual four-course series. We focused on four key areas:

Leadership and environment: We discussed and defined what leadership means to each of us, evaluated where we are on our journeys, and determined our personal paths to becoming the most successful and effective leaders we can be.

Power of choice and collaboration: We learned the process of defining success, building a collective roadmap, and achieving the desired outcome whether you are working one-on-one or with a team.

Trust and credibility: We discussed the details of building and maintaining trust – day in and day out.

Effective resolution: Having a difficult conversation can maintain or foster a better relationship – and even build trust. We learned detailed guidelines and a process to help prepare for these types of conversations.

CONTINUING TO EVOLVE AS LEADERS

Becoming a leader is a life-long process. I see this every day in the candidates I interview and in my own personal and professional life. It takes time to learn and navigate the path to being effective. We can continue to build our own leadership qualities and skills, but we need to take definitive action to make it happen. Some ideas:

Identify your motivation. Before you can grow as a leader, you must know the “why” behind your drive.

Identify your flaws. Everyone has flaws, but when you understand your own you can embrace all of who you are. Maybe you need to listen more, show more empathy, or even share your flaws with others and lead by example.

Learn from your failures. Growing as a leader means developing the ability and willingness to have your failures shape you. Failure is instructive; it allows you as a leader to learn.

Appreciate feedback. View all feedback as a gift and an opportunity to develop. The best leaders realize feedback helps them improve so they can do better.

Listen to those with more experience. Even leaders can find someone with more experience. When you connect with more senior leaders, they can teach you to listen when you want to speak, to stop and think when you want to react, to keep trying when you want to quit.

Invest in yourself. Create an environment in which you can invest in yourself so you can be at your best. Make time to read; surround yourself with smart people and experts.

A BRIGHT FUTURE

As I interact with our profession’s up and coming leaders, I’m excited. These younger professionals are smart, enthusiastic, and ready to learn. Let’s continue to share our journeys with them and welcome what they’re bringing to the table. We all can grow together and lead this profession into the future.

Email Angela Roberts at angela@aclivity.com.

A New Chair

Meet Your New COCPA Chair

Angela Roberts, CPA

BY NATALIE ROONEY

We officially welcome Angela Roberts, CPA, Managing Director of Aclivity, to her new role as COCPA Chair.

After building her career in public accounting and the private sector as a CFO, Angela founded Aclivity, a Denver-based executive recruiting, staffing, and consulting firm designed to help build great teams and support individuals in their career goals with a particular focus on account- ing and finance professionals. Here, she shares her journey thus far, what she loves about the accounting profession, and what she is looking forward to as COCPA chair. Welcome, Angela!

HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE A CAREER IN ACCOUNTING AND TO BECOME A CPA?

I grew up on the south side of Denver and attended Littleton Public Schools. My father did not support my college aspirations, yet I had dreams for a future that would make a difference and a desire to learn. I found work as a full-time receptionist, enrolled in community college night classes, and obtained a paralegal certificate to pursue a career in law. My first position was with Blinder Robinson’s underwriting attorney team, collaborating closely with the firm’s accountants. I soon realized I fit in better with the CPAs than the JDs of the world, so I decided to go back to school to pursue a degree in accounting.

Along the way I got married and followed my Marine husband to North Carolina, continuing my education during his Desert Storm deployment. Life took an unexpected detour, and I found myself a single parent of my 18-month-old daughter. I returned to Colorado to be close to family for support and enrolled in the University of Colorado Denver’s accounting program as a non-traditional student. I continued to work fulltime making progress on my goals and moving closer to my dreams.

My amazing mother was my saving grace and in my corner the entire time. I am eternally grateful for her love and support. May every individual have that one person in her or his life who is the believer in your dreams and supports you along the journey.

After graduating from CU Denver, I started my CPA career with Deloitte in audit, later progressing to a controller position. But I missed the fast pace of public accounting. I joined the consulting division at Arthur Andersen, and later became CFO for The Magness Company. Those nine years were packed with incredible growth opportunities, in a demanding, and at times,

exhausting environment. In February 2002, I decided to shift my priorities and stay home with my new son and young daughter for some much needed family focus.

I want to share with our members and speaking from firsthand experience, you can take time off to focus on family, and it will not harm your career. I guarantee the reporting standards will still be there, and the market does respect your decision.

WHAT CHANGED IN YOUR CAREER TRAJECTORY THAT EVENTUALLY LED YOU TO FOUND ACLIVITY?

I was presented with an opportunity to join a Deloitte spin-off called Resources Global Professionals, RGP, as a Client Services Director providing high end staffing services. I remember reaching out to Mary Medley and asking her thoughts on the potential significant change to my career path. Mary said, “Angela, CPAs need someone like you to represent them, and I believe you are perfect for that position.” Hearing her words of confidence in me,

I took the position. I will be honest; I chased my tail a bit as I learned the field of business development. This critical skill for CPAs is often expected, but we are not trained for it. I was determined and was not going to let my colleagues or myself down. As I progressed in my career, I was at the right place at the right time, and SOX was the big play. My network grew, my skills grew, and my career took a new trajectory.

I have been representing the CPA profession ever since. I love working with various subject matter experts, finding them projects, building teams, and connecting people. I have overseen all levels of employment from temporary staffing and contract-to-hire to permanent placement. I build great teams to meet the unique needs of each company and project, ensuring success for the clients and the individual goals.

In 2006, with the COCPA’s support, I founded and continue to chair the COCPA CFO and Controllers Roundtable, building a network

of incredible individuals and serving as a place where finance and accounting professionals can connect, exchange ideas, support, and learn from each other. We have held more than 120 roundtables focused on current industry topics affecting the day-to-day requirements we all face.

In 2009, I started my entrepreneurial journey right when the Great Recession hit. I named the company Aclivity (typically spelled Acclivity, meaning “to ascend”). At the time, I felt we had nowhere to go but up. I stayed with that vision – keep moving the profession up! I stayed true to my network and continued to connect people when they had lost their jobs. Many were open to trying something new, taking on special projects, or consulting for my clients. Many found themselves staying on permanently with those companies.

I was grateful to be able to help my colleagues in the field during a challenging time. Those same people support my recruiting and employment business today – what a blessing!

Aclivity is registered as a CPA firm, yet we do not provide assurance services. I stay actively involved in the CPA community. I continue to work with CU Denver, serve on the Accounting Advisory Council, and mentor young professionals every chance I get. I may not be on the ground closing books or preparing the financial reporting packages any longer, but I stay current on the standards to better serve and represent my clients. Being involved and understanding the field through CPE helps me to provide guidance and meet the goals of those who come to me looking for a new opportunity. I am passionate about our profession, supporting individual growth, and building great teams.

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING THE PROFESSION? HOW WILL YOUR UNIQUE CAREER ARC BENEFIT THE MEMBERSHIP?

Without a doubt, the number one challenge we face is the professional supply chain, and by that, I mean the nationwide decline, not just for new CPAs, but also universities’ accounting enrollment numbers. Historically, earning the CPA credential has been encouraged by the profession and considered a respected credential for demonstrating knowledge and competence. According to the AICPA Trends Report published in 2019, projected Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. accounting enrollments were down 4 percent, 6 percent, and 23 percent in 2018, and the number of new CPA exam candidates

hit a 10-year low. The 2022 report saw continuing downward trends. Maintaining the relevance of our credential is an issue we need to address collectively.

When people hear “CPA,” they tend to think of audit and/or tax. After speaking to over 20 individuals seeking a new position every week for the past 20 years, I have a pulse on our profession in a different capacity. CPAs have unlimited career path options. More than 50 percent of the CPAs I meet are not in either audit or tax. The CPA credential can elevate anyone professionally, and I like to share those stories and encourage young people to understand the value it offers them. The future of the profession is in the value we place on it, and we need to help people understand that value. We talk about thinking outside the box, and now is the time to start. This is not for the future of the organizations we work for, but for the future of our CPA profession.

I am excited to represent all CPAs – audit, tax, entrepreneurs, and every subject matter expert on their journey. I want to represent this great profession and encourage young professionals to pursue this valuable certification. I will be an active listener supporting membership and their ideas for the profession and our state CPA Society of the future.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A CPA?

It is a blessing to work with so many smart and interesting people. My colleagues are amazing, and their support of one another always impresses me. Our profession is consistently evolving, and the ability to pivot and change provides insight into the foundation of every business.

HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR LEISURE TIME?

I am a third-generation Colorado native and a Lifetime Girl Scout. I serve on the Girl Scouts of Colorado Board and am the current

Treasurer. Mentoring young women as they pursue their Gold Award is another way I am involved in Girl Scouts. Being outdoors is in

my blood; I grew up camping in the Rockies most weekends with my family. My husband, Mark Pougnet, a CPA and CA, and I have a blended family of four – three sons and one daughter who can hold her own. At this time, it seems only one of the kids will be following us into the finance space. Mark and I have spent the past 13 years traveling to more than 27 countries and 42 states. We always look forward to meeting new people and making lasting friendships. I am an avid reader, love to learn, and recently my mom gave me a drone. I always look forward to mastering something new, and it might just be the drone. My other loves are family first, yoga, kayaking, and of course people – sharing wine and a great meal with them, connecting people in my network, or having a good laugh. Cheers to this awesome profession!

BEST PRACTICES FOR VIDEO-CONFERENCING

 

All, as we move into the new normal, its important that we enhance our videoconferencing skills. It’s shocking the basic mistakes being made and the poor operating knowledge of the tools. Here are some thoughts. They are more focused on external calls and those more formal in nature vs. internal status/inform type calls. But a lot of the same rules apply.

 

Prior to a meeting:

  • Make sure you or your company deploys a good service. Some are much better than others.
  • Publish the agenda and meeting objective in the invite.
  • Generally, keep meetings to no more than an hour. Allow time for Q&A.
  • Try to schedule the meeting at least one day in advance.  Being able to grab 2-3 people in an ad hoc fashion in the office is now impossible.
  • Try to keep the meetings to 5-7 participants so that everyone can contribute.  Nothing different from in person meetings except it is much harder to read faces.
  • Ask the audience to be on the video camera as well.
  • You face on the video-conference is very important.
  • Make sure the invite has an easy series of clicks to connect. Attendees should not have to re-enter a meeting ID. It should be single click.
  • When using equipment or locations not regularly used, test your meeting connections in advance.
  • Make sure you know how to use the mute/unmute button – it’s shocking how many people fumble with this.
  • Make sure you know how to use the “share” feature in case you are called upon to share something. (and make sure you don’t have any other apps open that users could see when you share!).
  • If you are the leader or key participant, join 5-10 minutes in advance of the scheduled time. Have the camera on as well. If others join you should have some useful banter before the meeting.
  • Create a backup communication plan in case you have trouble connecting with remote participants.
  • Ensure microphones and/or your headpiece works.
  • Be at your desk in front of your computer. Only join by cellphone if the former is impossible.
  • Ensure location lighting does not limit a participant’s visibility (e.g., avoid backlighting from windows or lamps).
  • No untidy bookshelves or clothes lying around in the background.
  • Be in a quiet place in your home (no dogs barking, family distractions, home delivery interruptions etc.)
  • If its impossible to prevent distractions from young kids, inform the group up front. People will understand and you won’t be embarrassed if a kid makes “an appearance”.
  • Pay attention to what’s in the background of your video-frame (use good judgement – you are communicating based on what is hanging on the wall behind you!)
  • You need to look presentable (hair done, nice shirt, no baseball caps etc.). Avoid clothes with sport’s team logos. Dress as if you were meeting in their offices.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror in advance to be sure you are projecting the image you intend.
  • Drinking coffee or water is ok. Eating is not.
  • A “front-on” camera positioning is preferred vs a “side angle” when you can easily be seen to be doing something else on your computer.
  • Practice and have a dry run based on the level of importance.
  • If there are dual presenters, know who is covering what slide/topic. Nothing more irritating than two people, who should be in alignment, taking over each other. Also, dilutes the message.

 

During a meeting:

  • Ask all participants share their video and audio. No lurkers.
  • Turn the camera off if you need to use the bathroom.
  • Remember when you stand up, we can see what you are wearing below your waist.
  • Announce everyone and/or ask each person to identify themselves.
  • Ensure all participants can see and hear all others.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to use the chat function.
  • Ask all participants mute their microphones when not talking.
  • Turn notifications off if you are presenting.  Nothing like an ill-timed Slack message to embarrass someone.
  • Make sure browser tabs are kept to a minimum.  Or at least none for Amazon or LinkedIn!
  • Have a meeting facilitator — often the person who called the meeting. The facilitator is responsible for:
    • Briefly restating the provided agenda and desired outcome;
    • recognizing the visual or verbal cues to indicate when someone wants to contribute;
    • engaging participants (making sure each participant says something is a good goal);
    • limiting “side conversations” and multitasking;
    • when two people are talking at once asking that one continue and then coming back to the other;
    • avoiding “rat-holes” or “off topic” conversations (park for another time);
    • leaving time for Q&A;
    • ending on time;
    • Making sure follow up tasks, owners and timelines are identified;
    • If necessary, scheduling follow on meeting while everyone is on with their calendars in front of them.
  • Do not type or multi-task when you are on the meeting – its surprisingly easy to spot
  • Ask for feedback especially if someone is not engaged (not asking questions/not on camera)
  • Presentations should be generally 50% shorter (vs. in person)
  • Ask questions more regularly to engage the audience
  • Content provided must be more graphical and make sure it’s in large enough font for your audience to see
  • Presentations need to be more engaging because it’s very easy for the audience to be distracted or multi-task
  • Remember you are on camera – be mindful of what you are doing – particularly your hands.

 

After the Meeting

  • Publish meeting minutes and the action items with owners and dates
  • Send the invite for the next meeting right away
  • Send follow up notes
  • Ensure others follow up on their agreed upon actions
  • Check in by phone with anyone who did not appear to be engaged

Cancel timeshare legally reviews

You’ve probably noticed advertisements for timeshare cancellation services on major media outlets promising to help you cancel your timeshare legally. Many of these companies offer a money back guarantee in case their services don’t work out for you. Timeshare owners often assume that money-back guarantees will protect their ownership rights.

Resolution Timeshare Cancellation

When it comes to timeshare cancellation, Resolution Timeshare Cancellation takes a completely different approach from most other firms. First and foremost, they offer free advice – not a sales pitch. Secondly, their flat-rate fees are fully disclosed on their website. This is significantly different from most other timeshare exit companies, which charge based on the cost of the timeshare purchase or monthly fees. Additionally, Resolution does not charge until the timeshare contract is released.

Resolution Timeshare Cancellation prides itself on staying within the letter of the law. First, they will check whether a particular timeshare resort has an exit plan. If not, you’ll have to wait for 10 to 14 months until the contract is fully cancelled.

Sapphire Cancellation

When looking for a cancellation service, it is essential to know about your rights as a consumer. The laws governing timeshare cancellation differ from state to state, so it is important to know what your rights are before you sign anything. In the case of Sapphire Cancellation, there are specific laws regarding how to cancel a timeshare.

This company offers legal services to help people get rid of timeshare contracts. They have attorneys who are certified by the Florida Bar. Moreover, they offer a 100% Money-Back Guarantee and credit protection services. Since the company has been around for less than two years, there aren’t any complaints on the BBB.

Timeshare Termination Team

The Timeshare Termination Team is an American company specializing in getting timeshare clients out of contracts. They are able to legally review contracts and help clients get out of them quickly and legally. In order to get a timeshare termination, the team must first review your contract and obtain all of the necessary documentation. This will include your mortgage documents, original timeshare purchasing agreement, and any recent maintenance fee statements. Additionally, you must have your timeshare deed and points certificate.

The team’s website includes a Learning Center and Blog where you can learn more about timeshare contracts. There are also helpful tools available, such as a Mortgage Cost Calculator, which will help you estimate how much your mortgage will cost. Check on cancel timeshare legally reviews.

Job Searching When the Unemployment Rate is Low

By Roberta Gamza, JCTC, JST, CEI 
 Founder, CAREER INK (www.careerink.com)

When the unemployment rate low, it’s a job seekers market. There are fewer people looking for jobs, so the competition is reduced. However, in a tight labor market, employees tend to job hop, so it is even more important for employers to make good hires – ones that not only have the right skills, but are also a good cultural fit. Employers are looking for hires they think will stay around and make a lasting contribution. They are taking longer to hire and putting candidates through extra interviews to ensure they’ve got the right candidate. And they are willing to sweeten the pot to entice the right candidate in a tight labor market.

Most employers have robust internal employee referral programs to assist with recruiting. In tight labor market, the employee referral system is even more important and so is your professional network. However, people have a tendency to ignore their network when the economy is strong and jobs are plentiful and only turn to it when the economy tanks, jobs are scarce, or when they are actively in the job market.

Your professional network is a living system. It is a great source of advice, information sharing, and personal introductions. It is a critical asset that must be nurtured and never neglected. If you have neglected your network, revive it and sustain it. Strengthen your LinkedIn profile and connections. Get and give recommendations and endorsements. Join and participate in groups. LinkedIn is the number one place recruiters look for candidates. Potential employers will Google you and look at your LinkedIn profile. They want to know how well you worked with your teams, peers, and customers.

When the unemployment rate is low, it’s a job seekers market. Now is the time to stretch and aim high!

You Have an interview, Now the Question is How Should You Dress?

 

Shenia Ivey MBA, CPC, Ivey Concepts & Solutions (www.ivey-solutions.com) | © 2018

What you wear to the interview will demonstrate how serious you are about the position.  It does not matter if  the recruiter, hiring manager, or the CEO has called you in for the initial interview it is your immediate task to get off to a great start.  Here are some key elements that will not let you down.

  • Be on time
  • Be prepared
  • Take notes
  • Ask Questions
  • Have done your homework about the company
  • Know how you are going to be instrumental
  • Dress professionally

Just because the employer set an interview does not mean you have the job in the bag.  Remember you never get a second chance to make that first impression. So now you need to impress the decision maker with what you know, and basically you should treat your interview as if it is an audition.  What are you auditioning for you might ask? The interview or job audition is usually to determine if you are a good fit for the culture of the organization, the office, the team or all the above.  It could be the first of many, so take a deep breath and be yourself.

  • Do Not over dress.
  • Do Not wear jeans.
  • Do Not wear flip flops.
  • Do not wear shorts.
  • Do Not wear anything with holes in it.
  • Do Not wear tennis shoes or sneakers.
  • Do Not wear tank tops.
  • Do Not wear clothes with profanity on it.
  • Do Not wear anything too revealing.
  • Do Not wear strong cologne or perfume as it may offend the decision maker.

Have you ever heard the saying “Dress for the position you want, not the position you have?”

Keep in mind that being called in for an interview is wonderful and gives the decision maker a great deal of power and being successful in the outcome of an interview requires that you feel confident with yourself. Confidence is portrayed in a number of methods, knowledge, communication skills, and appearance.  Allow your confidence to give you back some of the power.

  • Do choose attire that is clean.
  • Do choose slacks that are not too tight.
  • Do choose a dress or skirt that is of appropriate length.
  • Do choose wrinkle free clothing.
  • Do choose a nice shirt (possibly a button down collared shirt).
  • Do choose closed-toe shoes.
  • Do wear appropriate make-up.
  • Do manicure nails and or facial hair.
  • Do try to cover up body parts that have been tattooed.

Women do not have to wear a dress to an interview, however a nice pair of slacks that fit appropriately will do.  Do not wear anything too low cut or revealing as you do not want to offend anyone.  If you have body piercings or tattoos you may want to keep them covered (if possible) until you understand the climate of the organization.  Men: a tie is not always necessary; however, it does provide the professional look that most corporations are looking towards.

Keep in mind that you may be given leverage to wear more casual attire once hired and tattoos or body piercings may not be against company dress code.  What we are talking about is how you should dress for is the interview.  It is about the initial impression you are sending to your potential new company when asking them to embark on a journey with you.

Good luck!

Seven Tips for Temps – How to Keep the Job

Congratulations, you have landed a temporary position! Now that you have gotten your foot in the door, is it time to coast? Nope! It is time to think about being a valued temporary employee and improving the odds that you will be offered permanent placement.

In today’s employment marketplace there are many skilled, educated candidates vying for open positions. Employers have the freedom to choose from a large pool of qualified candidates. Once you have been selected for a temporary assignment, it’s important to start thinking about how NOT to lose the job. Putting into action the seven tips below can improve your odds of being kept on, given a great recommendation, or offered permanent employment.

  1. Be on time! Employers see tardiness as a sign of disrespect, or worse – inability to conform to expectations. If you must be late, make contact as early as possible and have a good reason.
  2. Present yourself well. Do not let go of your professional manners or behave casually in a professional environment. Remember that, at work, there are always unique, and sometimes lofty, expectations. Be willing to meet those expectations and present yourself as a willing, courteous and engaged employee.
  3. Know your culture. Before you accept a position, ask your recruiter about the type of company culture you will be working in. If the temporary position is short-term, it might not matter as much to you, but if you are taking a temp-to-permanent position, it is important that you know what type of work environment you are expected to fit into. Fitting well into your company’s culture is a key determinant of longevity in a position – and increases the odds of you being happy to go to work every day.
  4. Learn willingly and take notes. All new jobs come with a learning curve. Chances are good that you will make mistakes as you come up to speed on the requirements of your position. Own up to your mistakes and learn from them. Coming into a position with a “beginner’s mind” and a willingness to learn as you go will make it easier for others to work with you – and will help you develop your skills, making you a more useful member of the team. Always have a notepad on hand, and take notes on “who, what, where and when”. This will not only help you remember important details but show the client you are serious about learning and mastering your position.
  5. Remain productive and volunteer. You have worked with the type – the paycheck-focused employee that takes any and every opportunity to use their “down time” to check Facebook or Twitter, email friends or make personal phone calls. If you want your employer to see you as a valued employee, do not be that type. When you are on the clock, there is no real “down time”- there is always something to do to add value. If you are at a loss and feel there is time to twiddle your thumbs, ask someone in charge how you can make yourself useful. Do not just sit there surfing the web.
  6. Be part of the team. A workplace is a small, specific community. Even as a temporary employee, you are part of that community. You can increase your comfort and communicate your willingness to continue in the company by getting to know the people you work with and letting them get to know you. No matter the role a person is playing on the team, you are on equal footing – because you are human too. Try not diminish, or let others diminish, your value as if you are “just a temp.” You have a part to play, and it is easier to play that part if you are willing to be a friendly, interested and engaged part of the team. Establishing rapport with the people you work with does not just improve your chances of being made a permanent part of the team; it is also a great way to expand your personal and professional network by practicing your interpersonal communication skills.
  7. Take care of your health and wellness. Your physical and mental state has the potential to affect everyone around you. Take good care of your body and mind – make time for lunch breaks, get enough sleep and exercise, voice any concerns you have about your work environment, and communicate any personal problems you might be experiencing to your supervisor or recruiter. There are often resources made available for people working through loss, depression or other personal challenges. If you speak up when you are not feeling physically or mentally well, you will be seen with understanding. If you keep quiet, you might be viewed as unproductive, moody, or unable to meet the requirements of your position.

It can be challenging to be a temporary employee. You have been pre-approved for a job, but you are also on probation the minute you walk in the door. Your actions in the workplace will determine if the employer trades you for another temporary employee, or if they bring you on board permanently. Be willing to bring your best self to your work. Use the tips above to become a better employee and a more considerate person.

Top 10 Tips for Writing A Great Resume

Does your resume grab the attention and hit home with employers? Does it generate responses? A resume is not just a history of your career, a listing of jobs you held and the tasks you performed. It’s a future-oriented marketing piece positioning you as the most qualified candidate for a position. To do that, the content must be based on the position you are seeking, not just the ones you held. The content needs to be meaningful and relevant to the employer. It must demonstrate initiative, problem-solving, and value to previous employers.

Know what’s important to the employer. Begin with a strongly focused introduction. Concisely summarize responsibilities and focus on your accomplishments. Be very strategic; paint the right picture with your words. Use formatting to enhance readability and drive your message home. Write tight; trim and polish at least three times. Take these 10 tips to heart when preparing your resume.

  1. Get into the right mindset. Overcome procrastination and don’t lose sight of the real goal. It may seem like your goal is to write your resume, but your real goal is to capture the employer’s attention and land a job.
  2. Start fresh. Get rid of old resume baggage. Keep your eye on the job you are seeking. Approach your resume with today’s perspective.
  3. Assume the employer’s perspective. It’s not the story you want to tell, but the story the employer wants to hear. Demonstrate you can solve problems, save money, and make money.
  4. Don’t tell me, sell me! Job hunting is a sales job. Your resume is a sales tool, marketing brochure, and calling card. In sales features attract, but benefits sell. Load your resume with benefits. Articulate your value, previous contributions, and successes.
  5. Use industry keywords liberally and appropriately. Don’t just dump them in the resume, use them in context throughout the resume.
  6. Capture attention with a combination style that includes an introduction, career history, short job descriptions, bulleted accomplishments, education/professional development, specialized training, credentials, and certifications as well as affiliations, memberships, and community involvement.
  7. Distinguish responsibilities from accomplishments. Responsibilities are the tasks they hired you to do; anyone with your same title has the same responsibilities. Accomplishments tell us how well you performed those tasks and how valuable you were to your employer. Accomplishments are unique to you. They differentiate you from other candidates.

Avoid weak responsibilities; they do more harm than good. Ineffective resumes include long laundry lists of bulleted responsibilities. They tend to be passive, uninspiring, and make you look like every other candidate. (i.e., troubleshoot networking components, install, configure, and maintain computer equipment). Do not just repeat your job description.

Use strong responsibilities that paint a robust picture of what you did. (i.e., Service Manager. Managed a 7-member team repairing an average of 390 warranty and non-warranty repair orders per month.)

  1. Make accomplishments strong. Maximize the most powerful content on your resume. Quantify or explain the impact of your work on the organization. Frame your results with context. State how you improved or streamlined something, mentored someone, avoided a crisis, helped a customer, increased productivity, saved money, and so on. (i.e., Consistently beat annual profit target of $1.5M by at least 2X. Delivered 20% of company’s total 2015 revenue with 15% profit margin.)
  2. Avoid standard templates that make you look like every other candidate and follow good resume writing practices. Be generous with white space; select a common font; vary sentence structure and employ parallel construction; use emphasis sparingly; be consistent in capitalization, punctuation, spelling, type, and line spacing.
  3. Edit, proof, and polish at least twice, then walk away and look it over with fresh eyes in a day or so.
Written by: Roberta Gamza (www.careerink.com)

Writing A Cover Letter

Your cover letter is just as important as your resume. Cover letters offer you an early opportunity to highlight your experience specific to a position or company. Any time you are responding to an advertised opening, inquiring with a company about possible opportunities, or asking to do some networking within a company of interest, you should include a cover letter.

All cover letters should:

Explain why you are sending a resume:

  • Introduce yourself and let the reader know what you are asking for. Be specific: are you responding to a specific ad for an open position? Are you inquiring about future opportunities? Are you looking for an internship?

Indicate how you learned about the position or the company:

  • Reference the location of a job posting, or name a networking connection or current employee. If you were referred by someone, mention their name to solidify the referral.
  • State why you are interested in the position and/or company.
  • If you are not responding to a specific position, indicate the types of positions you are interested in.

Convince the reader to view your resume:

  • The cover letter forms a recruiter’s first impression of you. Take the time to write a detailed letter that demonstrates your communication skills and reflects your personality.
  • This is your opportunity to “sell yourself.” Call attention to any skills and experiences that directly relate to the job or company.
  • Let the reader know why you are a perfect fit for the position.
  • Provide any information requested in the job advertisement, especially if the information is not on your resume.

Indicate your plans for a follow-up:

  • Do not assume the company’s contact will call you. Provide your contact information as well as a statement about your intent to follow-up.
  • If you are applying for an advertised or open position, take the initiative! Say something like, “I will follow up with you in the next two weeks to arrange a time to meet and discuss my qualifications.”
  • If your cover letter is expressing an interest in the company, but not for a particular position, say something like, “I look forward to contacting you in the next couple of weeks to learn more about your organization and possible opportunities.”

Our Career Services can help you find and land the right job. Contact Aclivity today! We’re here to help!

Don’t Forget the Resignation Letter

A resignation letter is more than an official notice that you are terminating your employment with your company, it is also a professional means of ensuring that you will leave your employer on good terms. When it’s time to move on to another position, don’t forget to resign at least two weeks in advance with a tactful, diplomatic letter. You will show respect for your employer and better your odds of a positive reference in the future.

To create a resignation letter, use the basic elements below (or search online for a template):

[Company Name] [Supervisor Name] [Supervisor Title] [Supervisor Department] [Company Address] [Company City, State, Zip Code]

Dear [Mr./Ms. Supervisor Name],

As of [Date], I will be resigning my position as [Your Title] at [Company Name].

I am very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had during my employment with [Company Name] and offer my best wishes for your continued success.

[Conclude by providing summary information relevant to the next steps that you will take; i.e. offering to help with the transition, or terms for return of key cards or company equipment.]

Respectfully yours,

[Handwritten Signature] [Typed Signature]

Though you could resign verbally (or leave a Post-It on the computer saying “Goodbye!”), it’s a good idea to take the time to tactfully end your relationship with your current employer. It will give you good practice at communicating in a potentially difficult situation, and will remind your employer that you are a respectful employee.

Need help with your resignation letter? Want to find a new career?

Call us! We’re here to help!

How to Write Your First Resume

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2017

Hot Not to Lose the Job

Congratulations Graduate!  You’ve earned that degree; now is the time to put it to work and land your first job. You’re going to need a resume!

Sounds intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The goal of a resume is to generate interest and interviews, so your resume must position you as a valuable candidate. As a new grad, you may feel you lack the experience necessary to do that, but you have more experience than you think.

Resume writing must start with a goal and that goal is to land a desirable job with a desirable employer, not just any job with any employer. Make a list of companies and positions that are of interest. Then look for job postings that align with your choices. Carefully examine those postings and look for keywords. Keywords are the words applicant tracking systems are going to use to filter online applicants; they are industry buzzwords and terminology, the names of applications and tools you use in performing the job, action verbs, and hard skills you need to perform the job. Job postings are loaded with keywords and your resume needs to contain about 70% of the keywords the hiring manager selected to pass the filter. Now that you have your targeted employers and positions, you can work on your resume content strategy. Resumes are future-focused marketing documents intended to position you as the best candidate for the job. They must contain content that is meaningful and relevant to the hiring manager and demonstrate your potential to learn and perform. To gather content, take a fresh look at your classes and class projects, extracurricular activities, volunteer experiences, and jobs, even the menial jobs you’ve held. There’s a lot more there than you think.

There are 3 resume sections that are a must for new grads: Education and Relevant Coursework, Work Experience (paid and unpaid), and Extracurricular Activities.

Education and Relevant Coursework

  • Coursework and projects often simulate real-world work and can add valuable experience to the resume just like internships and fellowships.
  • Academic or project competitions can highlight your contributions, teamwork, and accomplishments.
  • Participation in special academic programs and international studies speak highly of you.

Work Experience

  • Summer jobs demonstrate dependability, trustworthiness, accomplishment, and growth in responsibility.
  • On-campus and off-campus jobs while attending classes demonstrate time management, organization, and prioritization skills while revealing your motivation and determination.
  • Internships

Extracurricular Activities

  • Volunteer roles, working with community charities and fundraisers can show everything from leadership, commitment, and problem-solving skills to passion and kindness.
  • Roles and responsibilities in fraternities, sororities, as well as student clubs and organizations show your commitment, initiative, and often teamwork and/or leadership qualities. If you’ve planned and led a special event, you have experience in project planning, logistics, leadership, and fiscal management.

Be sure to write powerfully and concisely; use active tense. Allow sufficient time for this part of the process. It takes much more time to write tight, concise, and targeted content. Be prepared to write and rewrite a few iterations of your resume. Remember format is equally as important as content. You must make it easy for the reader to consume this content, so forget gimmicks, slick fonts, and brightly colored paper unless you are a graphic artist. Stick to tried and true, common fonts and use plenty of white space and bold judiciously. Don’t use templates unless you want to look like everyone else. Most importantly, never determine length before you have your content. Your resume may fit on one page, but don’t try to cram it onto one page. If your content demands more than one page, go to two pages. Just be sure all content is meaningful and relevant to the position you seek.

Turn Your Age Into An Asset

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2018

If you’re an experienced professional above 50, you’ve likely had a few concerns about age discrimination in the workplace. Going out into the job market at any point in your career increases anxiety levels and adding age discrimination just makes the task even more daunting.

Age discrimination is illegal, but we all know it happens, so how can you counter it and land an interview where you can show them what you can do?

It starts with a powerful, compelling resume that gets you the interview. It is imperative that your resume is targeted to the job and the company – the content must be meaningful and relevant to the employer. It must demonstrate your knowledge and skills. Pack your resume with keywords and display accomplishments that are powerful, quantified, and state the benefit the company derived.

Don’t go back to the beginning of time with your resume, 10-15 years should do it. It’s not a history of your career, but rather a marketing brochure demonstrating the value you were to previous employers while predicting your future value to employers. An earlier experience that is relevant can be included on the resume, but it does not need to be dated. It can be mentioned in a profile, summary, or an early career section.

If you are job hunting, you are going to be googled. It is an absolute must that you have a LinkedIn profile today that aligns with your resume. Just because LinkedIn will always ask for more information, does not mean you have to fill in earlier and earlier jobs. Use a flattering picture that judiciously shaves off a few years, but don’t get extreme here by using a picture that shows you 20 years younger.

We live in a social media world and while millennials may be finding jobs with Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram, if you are not comfortable doing so, don’t. But certainly, educate yourself on these social media platforms and get comfortable talking about them.

Keep yourself technologically savvy — up to date with technology in general, but most importantly the technology and trends in your profession and industry. Stay current, get necessary certifications, or take refreshers if your certifications or any of your training is dated.

Don’t forget about current software and applications. Consider enrolling in local classes or take the online classes (LinkedIn Learning), look at the software’s demonstrations, take their tutorials, or download free trials to boost your knowledge.

If you demonstrate that you are continuing to learn and getting better every day on your resume, in phone screenings, and during the interview, your extensive experience can become an asset.

Conducting a Successful Job Search

Thanks to the Internet, searching for a job today is vastly different than it used to be. Until fairly recently, a job seeker browsed local classified ads, found a compatible-sounding job listing, prepared an elegant résumé on bond paper, and sent it out by fax or U.S. mail. That has changed. Today, finding and landing a great job comes with the challenge of learning how to utilize the many available Internet resources to aid in your search.

Searching for a Job on Internet Job Boards
Searching for a job online has become a common, but not always fruitful, approach. With all the publicity given to Internet-based job boards and career sites, you might think that online job searching makes finding a job easy. Job board sites such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com list millions of jobs, but actually landing a position is much harder than just clicking your mouse and waiting for a reply; it takes perseverance and wise use of online job boards.

  • Career Builder (careerbuilder.com)CareerBuilder claims to be the nation’s largest employment network. Users can search millions of jobs by category, geographic location, keyword, industry, or job type (full-time, part-time, internship).
  • Indeed (indeed.com)One of the newest and fastest growing job search sites on the Internet, Indeed.com is a metasearch engine that uses a Google-like interface to search the Internet for open job listings.
  • Monster (monster.com): Monster.com offers access to information on millions of jobs worldwide using a search technology called 6Sense that matches applicants with the best job opportunities for their skills. Because of this cutting-edge search system, many consider Monster.com to be the Internet’s premier job site.
  • College Grad (collegegrad.com)CollegeGrad advertises itself as the “number one entry-level job site” for students and recent graduates. In addition to searching for entry-level jobs, users can also search for undergraduate and graduate degree programs to help them develop marketable skills.
  • Career JournalPart of The Wall Street Journal; CareerJournal provides listings for high-level executive and finance positions.

Beyond the Big Internet Job Boards
Many job seekers may turn their backs on job boards but not on online job-searching tactics. Savvy candidates know to search for jobs in other ways. Some examples are:

  • Company Web Sites: Probably the best way to find a job online is at a company’s own website. Many companies now post job openings only on their own websites to avoid inundation by the volume of applicants that respond to postings via online job boards. Many job seekers find that they are more likely to obtain an interview if they post their résumés on company sites. This allows a more direct connection to decision makers, and job seekers can keep their job searches (and personal information!) more private than on job boards.
  • Professional Organization Web sites: Online job listings have proven to be the single-most popular feature of many professional organizations, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Sales Professionals, the National Association of Legal Assistants, and the Association of Information Technology Professionals. Although you pay a fee to join, the benefits of being a member of a professional association in your career field are enormous. Remember that it is never too early to start networking. If you join a professional organization while you are still in college, you will be setting yourself up for future success as you build a network of professional connections.
  • JobCentral National Labor Exchange: JobCentral is a public service website provided by the DirectEmployers Association, a nonprofit consortium of Fortune 500 and other leading U.S. corporations. Many companies now use jobcentral.com as a gateway to job listings on their own websites, which results in the advertising of millions of jobs. Best of all, this service is free and bypasses the big commercial job boards. You can search for a job description or job title, and apply directly on the website of the hiring company.
  • Local Employment Web Sites: Although many of the big job boards allow you to search for jobs geographically, many job seekers have more luck using local employment websites such as CraigslistCumulus Jobs and JobStar.
  • Niche Web Sites: If you want a job in a specialized field, look for a niche website, such as Dice (dice.com) for technology jobs, Advance for Health Care (www.advanceweb.com/jobs/healthcare/index.html) for jobs in the medical field, and Accountemps (www.accountemps.com) for accounting positions. Niche websites also exist for job seekers with special backgrounds or needs, such as older workers (www.workforce50.com) and veterans (www.veteranjoblistings.com).

Social Media Sites
Perhaps you already use sites such as Facebook or Twitter to communicate with family and friends. Did you know that users are-increasingly tapping into social media sites to prospect for jobs, and that recruiters use these sites to find potential employees? Linkedln is currently the top site for job seekers, with over 200 million users, including job seekers and recruiters. Other popular sites include Plaxo, TheLadders, BlueSteps and Jobster. Twitter has created a job search engine called TwitJobSearch (www.twitjobsearch.com), and many companies now post recruitment videos on YouTube. Savvy job seekers use these tools to network and to search for available positions. Of course, the most successful job seekers understand the necessity of maintaining a professional online appearance and taking the time to connect personally with recruiters.

Use Caution
Be aware of dangers associated with using Internet job boards and other employment websites. Not only could your current boss see your résumé posted online, a fraudster could use your information to steal your identity. The following tips can help you safely conduct an online job search:

  • Use reputable sites: Stick to the well-known, reputable job boards. Never use a site that makes you pay to post your résumé or a site that makes you feel uneasy.
  • Be selective: Limit the number of sites on which you post your résumé. Employers dislike “résumé spammers.”
  • Use a dedicated e-mail address: Set up a separate e-mail account with a professional-sounding e-mail address for sending and receiving emails related to your job search.
  • Limit personal information: Never include your social security or other identification numbers on your résumé. Consider omitting your home address and home phone number to protect your privacy when posting on big job boards.
  • Post privately: If given an option, choose to post your résumé privately. Doing so means that you can control who has access to your e-mail address and other contact information.
  • Count the days: Renew your résumé posting every 14 days. If you keep it up longer, it will look as if employers have no interest in you. If you have not received a response in 45 days, pull your résumé from the site and post it somewhere else.
  • Keep careful records: Keep a record of every site on which you post your résumé. At the end of your job search, remove all posted résumés.
  • Protect your references: If you post your résumé online, do not include your references. It is unethical for job seekers to post their references’ personal contact information online without the references’ knowledge.
  • Do not respond to a “blind” job posting: Respond only to job postings that include a company name and contact information. It is unfortunate that many scammers use online job boards to post fake job ads as a way to gather your personal information.

Finding the Perfect Job (For Students)
A successful job search requires an early start and a determined effort. Students with proactive personalities are the most successful in securing interviews and jobs during and after college. These successful candidates are not passive; they are driven and “make things happen.” Recruiters respond to a proactive nature. They will also consider your education, life experience, grade point averages and internships when reviewing your qualifications. Communicating what you have learned inside and outside the classroom—and connecting with other—people will continue to be critical elements in landing a great job. Traditional job search techniques, such as those below, can help you find a position that fits your interests and skills, while building your professional and personal network.

  • Check announcements in publications of professional organizations: If you do not have a student membership to professional organizations, ask your instructors (or librarian) to share current copies of professional journals, newsletters, and other industry resources.
  • Contact companies in which you are interested, even if you know of no current opening: Write an unsolicited letter and include your résumé. Follow up with a telephone call. Check the company’s website for employment possibilities and application procedures.
  • To learn immediately of job openings, use Twitter to follow companies that interest you.
  • Sign up for campus interviews with visiting company representatives: Campus recruiters can open your eyes to exciting companies, job locations and positions. They can also help you prepare by offering mock interviews.
  • Ask for advice from your instructors: Your teachers often have contacts and ideas for conducting and expanding your job search and growing your skills.
  • Develop your own network of contacts: Networking still accounts for most of the jobs found by candidates. Therefore, plan to spend a considerable portion of your job search developing a personal network.
  • Attend career fairs: Job fairs are invaluable in the quest to learn about specific companies and future career options. The more you know about the company and its representatives, the more comfortable you will be soliciting a position and giving a great interview.

For information on conducting a successful search for a job, creating a standout resume or performing well in your interviews, contact us. Our Career Services can help you succeed!

Getting Most out of Your Resume

Does your resume grab the attention and hit home with employers? Does it generate responses? A resume is not just a history of your career, a listing of jobs you held and the tasks you performed. It’s a future-oriented marketing piece positioning you as the most qualified candidate for a position. To do that, the content must be based on the position you are seeking, not just the ones you held. The content needs to be meaningful and relevant to the employer. It must demonstrate initiative, problem-solving, and value to previous employers.

Know what’s important to the employer. Begin with a strongly focused introduction. Concisely summarize responsibilities and focus on your accomplishments. Be very strategic; paint the right picture with your words. Use formatting to enhance readability and drive your message home. Write tight; trim and polish at least three times. Take these 10 tips to heart when preparing your resume.

  1. Get into the right mindset. Overcome procrastination and don’t lose sight of the real goal. It may seem like your goal is to write your resume, but your real goal is to capture the employer’s attention and land a job.
  2. Start fresh. Get rid of old resume baggage. Keep your eye on the job you are seeking. Approach your resume with today’s perspective.
  3. Assume the employer’s perspective. It’s not the story you want to tell, but the story the employer wants to hear. Demonstrate you can solve problems, save money, and make money.
  4. Don’t tell me, sell me! Job hunting is a sales job. Your resume is a sales tool, marketing brochure, and calling card. In sales features attract, but benefits sell. Load your resume with benefits. Articulate your value, previous contributions, and successes.
  5. Use industry keywords liberally and appropriately. Don’t just dump them in the resume, use them in context throughout the resume.
  6. Capture attention with a combination style that includes an introduction, career history, short job descriptions, bulleted accomplishments, education/professional development, specialized training, credentials, and certifications as well as affiliations, memberships, and community involvement.
  7. Distinguish responsibilities from accomplishments. Responsibilities are the tasks they hired you to do; anyone with your same title has the same responsibilities. Accomplishments tell us how well you performed those tasks and how valuable you were to your employer. Accomplishments are unique to you. They differentiate you from other candidates.

Avoid weak responsibilities; they do more harm than good. Ineffective resumes include long laundry lists of bulleted responsibilities. They tend to be passive, uninspiring, and make you look like every other candidate. (i.e., troubleshoot networking components, install, configure, and maintain computer equipment). Do not just repeat your job description.

Use strong responsibilities that paint a robust picture of what you did. (i.e., Service Manager. Managed a 7-member team repairing an average of 390 warranty and non-warranty repair orders per month.)

  1. Make accomplishments strong. Maximize the most powerful content on your resume. Quantify or explain the impact of your work on the organization. Frame your results with context. State how you improved or streamlined something, mentored someone, avoided a crisis, helped a customer, increased productivity, saved money, and so on. (i.e., Consistently beat annual profit target of $1.5M by at least 2X. Delivered 20% of company’s total 2015 revenue with 15% profit margin.)
  2. Avoid standard templates that make you look like every other candidate and follow good resume writing practices. Be generous with white space; select a common font; vary sentence structure and employ parallel construction; use emphasis sparingly; be consistent in capitalization, punctuation, spelling, type, and line spacing.
  3. Edit, proof, and polish at least twice, then walk away and look it over with fresh eyes in a day or so.
Written by: Roberta Gamza (www.careerink.com)

How To Negotiate A Raise

Most Finance and Accounting professionals are well versed in the technical side of their jobs but are not as skilled at the behavioral and interpersonal side of business. Many employers assume technical skills are a given, so employee skills can quickly become an overlooked commodity. In this culture, Finance and Accounting professionals must develop effective communication and negotiation skills in order to receive performance-based pay increases.

“In business you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”

Negotiating your salary with your employer is a good test of your negotiation and communication skills. Many people dread this often-intimidating process. However, it is important develop these skills for two key reasons:

  1. You would like more money and;
  2. You will be judged by your employer based on how you handle yourself during the negotiations. Most savvy employers are able to make quick, accurate judgments about your value to the company based on how you negotiate.

So how do you negotiate your salary? Consider these tips to demonstrate your masterful negotiation skills and improve your chances of getting an increase:

  • Understand the macro financial constraints that exist:How is your organization doing vs. the overall plan? How is your department perceived? Is your organization’s market growing? How is the organization’s performance vs. its peer group?
  • Remember that there is always budget for salary increases for great employees: Just keep in mind that there is seldom a reason to mention this to your employer!
  • Be able to quantify the value have you added to the company over the last year: What real, tangible cost savings or revenue enhancements can be directly attributed to your performance? It only counts if it has a real dollar impact, not if it “made us more efficient.”
  • Know how your boss is perceived in the organization and how much authority they have: Can they approve a raise without anyone else’s input or do they need to get approval? Are they going to go to bat for you? Why would they?
  • Consider your relationship with your boss: If it’s not great, it needs to be rebuilt before you request an increase. If there is no trust between you and your employer, odds are that you aren’t going to get anywhere in a salary negotiation.
  • Step into the shoes of your boss as you prepare for your negotiation: If you were them how would you respond to such a request? Your chances of success are greatly enhanced if your employer agrees that an increase is fair.
  • Be yourself in discussions: Prepare what you are going to say but make sure it’s in your own words and comes from the heart. If you are new to negotiating, tell your boss that you are nervous. Your honesty will melt all but the most hardened hearts. In certain situations, you could improve your bargaining position by asking for help. Getting your boss on your side of the table when negotiating with the organization can improve your chances of being heard.
  • Keep the negotiations face to face: Don’t use email or text, as these means are useless when trying to convince people to do anything for you. Using text or email will simply demonstrate that you’re not being direct; you’re actually avoiding face to face interaction.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal signals you are giving: Eye contact and hand movements are the most common means of non-verbal communication. Take a pen and notepad into the meeting and take notes if you need to keep your hands busy. Be sure to make eye contact.
  • Talk slowly and ask questions: Be prepared for questions that your boss might ask about why you think you deserve an increase. Answer the specific question that’s asked and listen well to responses that indicate you need to improve (or more clearly demonstrate!) your performance.
  • Plan the timing of your request: What day of the week and time of the day is best for your boss? Drop hints before your request to let your boss know what’s coming. Mention that you would “like to find a convenient time to discuss your compensation” so they can take time to think about it before you meet.
  • Prepare for your scheduled meeting: Do some industry comparisons as a guide or get some coaching from Aclivity or another trusted resource. Talk to colleagues and find out what tactics have worked for them. Write down your thoughts in advance and practice your negotiation with your trusted advisor. Be brief. Make your points and stress that you are seeking fair compensation for the value you provide to the company. If possible, don’t rely too heavily on your notes in the meeting. If you are trying to make more than 5 points, it’s too many.
  • Own your perspective: Truth is a matter of perspective. If you are going to make a point in the discussion that is subjective, be clear that you’re conveying “how you feel.” No one can argue about how you feel and it sounds less threatening than telling your boss what’s “true.”
  • Don’t compare your salary with others’: Don’t use comparisons of your compensation vs. other internal employees as a bargaining tactic. This argument will make you look petty since it attempts to justify your increase by comparing yourself with other people. It also reveals that you have had conversations about confidential topics with other employees, suggesting that you may not be trustworthy. Focus on the value that you bring to the table.
  • Don’t make threats: Don’t threaten to quit or say you will be forced to start looking for another job; your boss will know that’s a possible outcome if they turn you down. Listen and take feedback. Being told “No” this time will make it easier to get a “Yes” next time. If your negotiation is trending negative you could ask to defer the conversation and request their agreement to bring the topic back up again at a specified time. Ask your boss what behaviors, skills or contributions would necessary for them to consider giving you an increase in the future.
  • Don’t justify the raise by talking about your personal expenses: Bringing up your personal finances will be interpreted as a request for your company to compensate for the fact that you cannot manage your own affairs. Focus the negotiation on your tangible value to the company (how you personally make or save them money).
  • Remember that there are other types of “increases:There are a number of other things that you can ask for other than a pay increase which may be easier for your boss to grant. Consider asking for an increase in bonus potential, an extra week of paid vacation, tuition assistance, expense reimbursements like cell phone or home office, a spot bonus for specific tasks well done, or a 401(k) match.
  • Do your research: Communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills can be learned. We all have weaknesses in these areas, but we can compensate for them with a little effort. Learning about effective communication and negotiation methods will also help you “read” your boss—and adapt to limitations in their communication skills!

Negotiating a raise is a process, not an event. Introduce the topic and plan on having a number of discussions. Be patient and demonstrate your value without getting defensive. Let the other party warm to your point of view. Rarely will you go in, ask for a raise, and get it without a bit of negotiation. And, remember that we’re here for you if you’d like advice (or practice!) before your negotiation!

Good luck!

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