Tuesday

How to get a Clerical or Customer Service Job

They are communicators, have extensive computer experience, trained in data entry, research the Internet, market, business write, and run errands, who are they? Office workers. They answer the phone, greet the visitor, file, organize events, schedule meetings, and take notes. You may not think much of their title when you visit the doctor’s office, meet with the attorney, visit a non-profit organization, or wait for the principal at your child’s school, but there job is significant and usually if it wasn’t for them, you would have never got in the door to see who you wanted to see. You may be seeking an administrative assistant, secretarial, or clerical worker position, but may not know how to put your experience altogether to land the position. Here is what you will need to do.

Get organized.

Very detailed and organized people usually work these types of jobs. They are the ones who maintain order in the office. You will want to be sure that you are great with staying organized. It may make you cringe when someone does the following: not put something back in its rightful place, fail to keep documents organized, ignore answering the phone, forget about deadlines, don’t bother to proof and edit documents, and show up for work late! Have you done the total opposite? Then list your skills on your resume. You may have personally or professionally organized an event as well, mention what kind of event it was and what was its purpose on your resume.

Creativity.

Office workers tend to be creative in their own way. They may have experience with desktop publishing and are responsible for creating fliers, company newsletters, and other documents that showcase the company’s image. They may have also been responsible for decorating the office during holidays and displaying other creative works, add that experience to your resume.

Team-oriented.

Clerical staff may not work individually, but as a group. They may have to handle a variety of tasks collectively which means being able to get along with other workers. From color coding files to rearranging furniture, if there is something that needs to be done in the office, at a meeting, or at a large event, an office worker has something to do with it. Communicating with other staff is crucial and usually he or she has to report to more than one person. Sometimes there is only one secretary or administrative assistant for an entire department!

Timesheets.

Some clerical workers are responsible for entering information into a computer software program that tracks hours worked. Being able to tabulate this information accurately while answering the phone and handling other responsibilities is definitely for those who can multi-task extremely well.

Accounts Payables and Receivables.

This is where the courses you took in accounting will be extremely helpful. Some clerical workers are responsible for making sure bills are paid and checks are deposited in a timely fashion. Experience with creating and maintaining spreadsheets are a must, more on this later. Clerical workers may also have to assist with collection calls, processing letters, and updating or reconciling a customer’s account. Most assistants have basic math, accounting and/or book keeping experience.

Quality Control.

If you ever had to look over someone else’s work, then you know what focus this takes to ensure that there are zero errors. You may be the one responsible for looking over your supervisor or manager’s work before it’s sent out. You may also have to review reports, spreadsheets, and other documents for accurate details and make corrections.

Telephone.

Although this wasn’t listed first, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t significant. If you can’t handle a ringing phone don’t apply for a position that says, “High call volume.” You will most likely have to handle 10 plus phone lines ringing all at once. You will be responsible for directing calls and taking detailed messages either by hand or typed into a computer and routed to the staff.

Duplicating documents, filing, and faxing.

Some clerical jobs are primarily made of stapling documents, filing them, copying them, or sending them electronically all day every day. The work can be redundant and just plain boring. But if you don’t mind a day where you know what to expect and you are careful about what you do, a file clerk, clerical assistant, office assistant and other similar titles should be great for you. You will experience the occasional copier and fax machine jams, have to reload paper often, and will need to be focus on where you place documents alphabetically or numerically while protecting yourself from painful paper cuts.

Data entry.

Some clerical jobs may also have a lot of alphabetical and numerical data entry work. You may spend the majority of an eight hour day seated in front of a computer screen typing. If you are a quick typist with a high accuracy rate then this job shouldn’t be challenging for you, but woe to the person who types below 70 wpm and doesn’t do to well catching errors, this job may be over before you get started.

Spreadsheets, charts, slideshows, and tables.

Whether you have to prepare these documents for your manager’s presentation or just to help with efficiency, it helps to have some experience creating them. You will need to know how to take the information he or she gives you and convert it into a computer software system that will make things easier for the viewer to understand. It also helps to be able to look at the way things are normally done in the office and find a better way to do them, so if you see your manager viewing a complicated spreadsheet maybe you might want to create a pie chart which gives him or her a quick glance at the latest figures. Instead of your manager boring staff yet again with a mouth full of words, you may want to utilize slideshow presentation software complete with clip art and music to help wake up staff attending your manager’s meeting. This is an excellent skill to have and definitely helps with your job security efforts!

Mail

Most office workers are the first to get the mail. They usually have a good idea what their manager likes to keep and what he or she likes to throw away. Being able to sort mail as instructed, call his or her attention to priority mail, and respond when necessary is essential to this position.

You may also be responsible for outgoing mail tasks as well. Your manager may need you to create a mass mailing which includes being able to merge letters, create labels, stuff envelopes, and correctly select postage.

Problem Solve

Your manager will not always be available to answer questions from those calling the office. You will need to know how to handle issues and satisfy the one speaking to you over the phone or in-person. Sometimes you may find yourself in a position to put out fires. Patience, self-control, and wisdom helps!

Marketing

Sometimes you may be told to help with advertising the business that may include maintaining a media clipping file of all the companies press coverage, making arrangements for advertisements, working a table at a conference, or posting fliers in the community. There are many other marketing endeavors he or she may include you in on, so it helps to have some experience with marketing if you intend to go above and beyond your job title. You may be required to maintain the company website and send press releases via the Internet.

Vacuum, dusting, getting coffee, and taking out trash

Are office workers expected to do this too? Sometimes. Not every company is so privileged to have a maintenance crew who will do all of these things. When you see the carpet is looking shabby, your work area is making everyone sneeze, the trash is running over, and visitors could use refreshments, you may be asked to perform such tasks. Of course, you may feel like this isn’t in your job description, but at some point someone will ask, “Would you mind…?” It’s inevitable.

Computer and Software Experience

By now you know that extensive computer experience is a must. There is no way of getting around it unless you plan on working in an environment that being able to type on a computer is not required. With technology becoming more and more advanced, office workers will be expected to do more especially when it comes to the Internet. Understanding how a website is created, learning how to market and research via the Internet, upload and download documents, convert files and other Internet related tasks will be viable skills to a company that is still living in the stone age.

In summary, if you are considering a position in clerical or customer service work and don’t feel confident with your existing experience, try obtaining a job with a temporary agency first and develop your skills more that way. Once you are more skilled at clerical and customer service work, start researching companies that are hiring. Review the details of what might be required of you then tailor your resume to fit their needs.

By Nicholl McGuire

Friday

8 Defenses People Will Use When They Don't Want You to be Right About Something


Some people you just don’t want to talk to anyone who can possibly improve their lives, because they think the following: they know everything and think their important. Others are just too stubborn or lazy to want to change so personal relationships fail, business endeavors sink, and bills fall behind. Sometimes you don’t bother to talk to individuals like this simply because you know that if you do, it will end up being a conversation that sounds something like this, “I know that already…I don’t do that…I would never do that…I hear what you are saying, but we aren’t like that…” The “don’ts” and “nevers” are endless and so are the lies too! Basically what they are saying is, “Leave me alone and let me mess up!” There is nothing wrong with allowing people to wallow in their messes, just so long as they aren’t expecting anyone to bail them out of situations they have caused, right? It’s okay to back off from giving them advice, just so long as they aren’t taking you to hell with them, right? Of course, but the problem with the “I never…” type is they get into trouble and then they try to get others on board to help them in sneaky ways. They may be a little nicer to family and friends or offer to do helpful things while hoping you have mercy on them.

When dealing with the “I can never do wrong” type, be prepared for what they might do if you should advise or question them about their obvious wrongdoings.

One. They will accuse you of acting jealous.

“You are just jealous…” how many times have we heard this one on just about every reality show on TV! A warning to someone about the scandalous way he or she is living is not someone acting jealous about the person’s lifestyle. If anything, it should be a red flag for the person to re-evaluate his or her negative actions. Instead, the fool makes a false accusation of jealousy. When someone is sincerely jealous of another, they usually aren’t interested in helping the person; rather he or she would encourage the person they are jealous of to keep on living foolishly until he or she falls flat on his or her face.

Two. They will act like they don’t care about the advice you are giving them.

“I don’t care…so what…” Well they may not act like they care, but you can almost guarantee that what you said affected them in some way, because why do they feel the need to tell you, “I don’t care?” We will see how much they care when things don’t turn out like they expected.

Three. They will call you a trouble-maker.

“You are just starting trouble!” Maybe in some ways you are if it means getting them out of a potentially disastrous or dangerous situation. However, the problem with the “trouble-maker accusation” is that it is a lie! The person being warned of a pending disaster is convincing his or her self that you are a liar, so he or she doesn’t have to do anything different with his or her actions. Will problems arise as a result of making right choices, maybe, but would this person rather go through the trial to get to peace or stay in the trial?

Four. They will accuse you of not knowing what it is that you are talking about.

“You don’t know what you are talking about! I know someone who has a degree in…and they told me…” None of this matters when this person has got his or her self in a bit of trouble that they have yet to get out of, now does it? If they knew so many professionals, then why didn’t they take their advice? Why is it that it has taken them so long to fix their own problems? No one needs a degree in making mistakes; therefore, learning from them and then advising others. So that argument of “who I know and what you don’t know” is invalid.

Five. They will find faults with you.

“Well what about you? Didn’t you use to do that too?” Bringing up the past is the best that they can do at this point, because they refuse to listen to advice that is so cutting they wish they had never met you. So, out of their mouths comes, hurtful remarks about what they know concerning you; rather than looking inward and making changes. You can always reverse this argument on them and include your personal testimony, “I made my bed, got out of it, now what about you?”

Six. They will go back and tell the person what you said.

This is a good way to rally up support for wrong-doing from the hard-headed. Get others on their team that is in the same mess. Even worse, you might mention a relative or friend, who is also messing up their lives, and the person you are advising will go back and tell that person too. “I told my friend what you said and she told me that you were stupid.” Everyone has a right to their opinion even if what they say is stupid! This is yet another attempt to attack your credibility, because the baby who refuses to become an adult has hurt feelings. Not only that, the people, who he or she is reporting back to are most likely in the group of the blind leading the blind.

Seven. They will call you names including a liar.

One of the quickest ways to shut a person down who means well, is to call him or her a bunch of names and that is what our “I can do no wrong” person will do when he or she refuses to change his or her evil ways. “That’s not true! You are a liar!” When the truth hurts someone who you are trying to help, they will attempt to hurt you with a lie.

Eight. They will warn others about you.

“I told my friend not to come around you because you are crazy.” When someone is upset with you about what they are or aren’t doing to better themselves, then they don’t want you to talk to others. They do this because they fear what you might say to others about them, so they attempt to get to others before you get to them first. This way, other people can already formulate a negative opinion about you before you get a chance to talk to them. They also fear that others will change for the better and leave them behind.

When you are speaking to that hard-headed daughter or son, a stubborn spouse or partner, or a self-righteous sibling or friend, understand that they may use any or all of these tactics whenever you speak truth into their lives. For example, you may be speaking to them about a certain false religion, a bad business opportunity, a destructive habit or a quack doctor, and this person may give you grief about what you are saying using any one of the different points previously discussed. Don’t worry about the person you are trying to help, you said all there is to say, so move on!

Find others both online and offline who will gladly take your words of wisdom and do something with them. Hopefully, if you have tried to talk to this person in a respectful way, he or she may come to you for information in the future; otherwise don’t hold your breath, keep it moving!

By Nicholl McGuire

Tuesday

What to Do When You Lost Your Job?

Shock, devastation, anger, confusion, depressed these are the emotions one feels when recently faced with a job dismissal.

The former employee walks away questioning what went wrong? He or she may not have felt at peace with the administration's answer. The company may have been vague about their reasons or extremely detailed. All the while, the dismissed employee may be thinking what went wrong? Questioning whether his or her actions were that bad for it to come to this. Others may feel as if there was a conspiracy to get rid of them all along. Despite the reasons, it is now an unwelcoming reality that one has to face. Therefore, how does one get past the upset and on to looking for another job?

First, find a place of solitude after you have received the bad news. Take control of every negative emotion you must be feeling, before you share it with anyone. You do not want to discuss the recent events upset, emotional and confused. Tell yourself, “Everything happens for a reason, although I may not know exactly why, somehow I am going to make the best of this.”

Second, make a phone call to meet with a confidant. This will provide you with the opportunity to vent (get what is off your chest.) He or she may be a good listener and adviser, consider what he or she is saying. State how you feel, but don't wallow in your anger, sadness or any other emotion for too long. You don't need your situation to dominate a good time with a friend. Also, consider your friends may have their own frustrations they may want to talk about too. While you're venting, there will be the temptation to say something about your former employer that even your closest confidant may have to scold you for and that is the last thing you will want to hear is an admonition or what seems to be well-meaning advice. The reality is your buddies aren't experiencing what you are going through and your situation is not up for debate or criticism. Avoid people who you know have been un-supportive in the past no matter how desperate you are to make contact with someone. This is not the time to defend your thoughts, or get angry with the person whom you are confiding in; otherwise, that will only result in a heated argument. Later, you may feel even worse for blowing up at your confidant and will have to apologize. Remember you may need this person to help you financially, physically and/or mentally in the future; therefore watch what you say and how you say it.

Lastly, once you have confided in everyone you have chosen, you may be tempted to wallow in your firing, don't. You may not start looking for a job immediately; instead, you may want to take a needed break. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that if you are doing something productive other than sitting on the couch thinking about the job, calling up former co-workers gossiping or mentioning your dismissal every time someone makes contact with you. Utilize your free time to apply for unemployment, catch up on all doctor's appointments (before your insurance runs out), meet with family and friends you haven't seen in awhile, take a class in your career field or in one you may desire. Consider taking up a hobby such as reading books, writing, singing, dancing, painting, watching TV (if you haven't been doing much of that in the past), aerobics, hiking, running and many others. However, if you aren't ready for the intense physical activity, then browse stores, walk the beach, tour museums and other places to take your mind off of things. Noticed shopping was not listed? That is because spending money is only a temporary fix and since you have no income coming in the last thing you need to do is have a lot of money going out. Be sure to take care of your necessities and save as much money as you can, because unemployment doesn't last forever and can be cut off before you know it.

During this time of rest and relaxation, your motivation to get back in the workforce will be challenged. Who wants to return back to work, when someone is helping you financially, the beach keeps calling your name and you have enjoyed waking up without an alarm clock? As nice as all of this sounds, it is only temporary and if you don't want your free time to come to a crashing halt, dedicate hours each day, like you would working a part-time job, applying for jobs. However, before you begin your search you will need to know whether you would like to stay in the same career field, switch to another or just find a job that is not challenging in the least and will only provide you with a paycheck.

Find out how much others are making in your occupation, what are the latest skills in demand, create your cover letters and tailor your resume for each job that isn't in your career field. Too often people will send the same general resume to every employer and wonder why no one is calling them back. You may have too much information on your resume for what is required or not enough. Consider the following as your job search checklist:

Have different resumes for different career fields.

Join on-line databases that send employment classifieds directly to your email.

Sign up for a subscription to a newspaper.

Register with a temporary agency.

Check with family and friends to see what they know.

Purchase office supplies such as ink for your printer and/or fax machine, mailing labels, impressive envelopes and quality white paper, and stamps.

Create a mailing list of employers that may or may not be hiring. Print addresses on mailing labels.

Send a letter along with your resume requesting that they consider including you in their database for a future job opening. Of course, you can always pick a great location nearby your neighborhood and work one or two part-time jobs. The advantage to this is you will not be stuck at one location everyday, more money can be made this way, and some stores offer great perks.

Depending on how much money you have in savings, you may think about starting a business from home. A successful business doesn't become that way if you don't have the necessary tools to make it happen. Spend the time reading about what type of business you would like to start, how to develop a business plan so that you will know what to expect in the future, where you can get additional money to get it started, and any other information that will help you make a determination on whether this is a good time to start it or not.

Lastly, while you wait for responses from employers, be sure that you can be contacted. If you have a single phone line with no call waiting, you may want to have your cell phone number and email address on every cover letter, resume and/or business card you send out. Don't become discouraged when week three passes by and you still haven't heard from anyone. Instead, you will need to change the way you have been marketing yourself. Request a person knowledgeable in writing cover letters and resumes to review yours. Search the Internet, ask for comments from a job headhunter, or purchase a book that will provide you with tips on how to best edit your cover-letter and resume. Asking a family member or friend isn't the best way to get an unbiased opinion; therefore don't request their opinions unless they know about your industry. Be sure that you have tried every way to market yourself. Have you posted a classified of the services you can offer to your community? Have you sent a mass mailing out to employers rather than just two or three resumes? Did you include yourself in a variety of databases both on and offline such as visiting temporary agencies also known as headhunters? Did you send copies of your resumes to people who would be willing to help you market yourself? When did you last follow up with an employer about your resume (are you keeping record)? Are you allowing yourself to be reachable?

When you do hear from a prospective employer, be sure that you are prepared! You have the business attire picked out that you will be wearing, updated copies of your resume (error free and readable,) list of references, a social security card and an updated id or driver's license, copies of any necessary certification or medical information, samples of your work that is related to the position, and a nice briefcase or similar business accessory.

Think about the kinds of questions you may be asked during the interview, and turn every negative event you have ever had at any job into a positive one. For instance, when asked what would you consider one of your weaknesses? Your answer may be, “Not knowing when to go home, I become very engrossed in my projects and my former bosses have had to cut the lights off on me.” The employer will be watching for signs of mental stability, whether you are responsible, truthful, positive, professional, goal oriented, loyal, and many other attributes that will convince them that you will be an asset to their organization. Put your best foot forward!

By Nicholl McGuire

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