Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tips for successful conference calling

Isn't it weird--but you never hear of conference calling between friends. It's a business thing--made more popular in recent years by the cost of travel. It's quicker, cheaper.

According to Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, 29% of workers participate in at least one conference call a week.

So here are some tips on how to make it work for you.

--First introduce yourself before you speak--the most common mistake made is to not let others on the call know who is speaking.

--The person who leads the call should introduce the people present. Then this leader needs to keep the call on track, pay attention to time, and sum up and delegate action items.

--If you need to cough, drink, type or something else, mute your phone.

--Do not even "yes" or "uh-huh" if there are a lot of people on the call.

--Try to give the call your undivided attention. Only 29% said they did this. One in five gave half or less of their attention--checking email, texting, working on another project, surfing the internet, even leaving the room. Fifteen percent made fun of people on the call!

Be brief, be bold, be done is the motto.

If an issue comes up that involves only two people on the call--tag up later.

I don't care what you call it, it's still a meeting. Not a fan.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tips for getting a decent home loan rate

Housing is creeping back up--not like a house afire (heh) but in the right direction.

Mortgage rates are still low, but come June, the Federal Reserve may ease govt subsidies to the financial system and rates may climb.

The rate you can get depends on your credit score and the amount you put "down."

--First size up your credit, writes Alex Vega, AP.You need good credit and proof of income these days, in addition to the down payment (which used to be zero). A FICO of 750 out of 850 should nail you a decent rate.

--Ask a lender to assess you. You will get a pre-approval letter if you pass muster.

--Keep an eye on fees, such as closing costs.

--Negotiate--Sometimes these fees are negotiable.

There is a lot to this--it is best to get a buyer's agent--worth the percentage. They will walk you through this.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Think of one thing you could do today to....

Is this little guy a boring cliche?
....Jumpstart your career. Work gurus Dale Dauten and JT O'Donnell talk to a guy who says he has made bad career choices and is now 50 and feels stagnant.

Dauten points out that stagnation can happen at any age--even the twenties. Many are in this boat by their 30s of 40s.

If you try to reignite your career then you may run into "age" issues--Dauten says so what, forget it.

You just have to work harder.

Get refreshers or new training.

Learn how to relate to and network with younger people.

Research your industry even if you've been it for years. Subscribe to the paper--read the biz sections.

Go to conferences if you can.

Get a new wardrobe or a couple of items.

And my advice is do one thing a day--just one--to blast through the glums and stagnation. Call someone, write a memo on an idea, ask someone to lunch, something...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Where does the day go?

Speaker Diana St. Lifer writes about time management.

See calls it "choice management."

When you let events manage you, she says, it's like a frantic video game--aliens coming at you from every direction, do this, no that, think about this, answer this...

Try to think of time as space to be filled with your choices and in the order you want.

Know your goals--finish a project, think of solutions, make friends, network...whatever it is. Each will result in different use of time.

Have a to-do list, don't jump from thing to thing.

Learn to say no--if something does not fit your taste or goal, bag it.

Keep checking your priorities--if you don't know which ones the boss wants first, second, third--ask.

I am a huge jumper-arounder. I need to do better.

Friday, March 20, 2015

How about a certification instead of a degree?

Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder, writes about some growing occupations that require or offer a certification to increase your appeal and pay.

One recruiter says you can never go wrong getting a certification.

Audio and video tech. Projected growth rate through 2022--9% (average). Society of Broadcast Engineers offers 8 certifications. Median pay--$41,200.

Court reporter. 10% growth rate (average). National Court Reporters Assn offers certifications in several areas. Median: $48,160.

Dental assistant. 25% growth (faster than average). National Dental Assisting Board. $34,500.

Emergency medical tech and paramedic. 23% growth (fast). National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. $31,020.

Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic and installer. Many courses and certifications. $43,640 a yr.

Heavy equipment and tractor-railer driver. 11% growth (average). Commercial driver's license.  $36,200.

Licensed practical and vocational nurse. 25% growth (fast). State programs leading to National Council Licensure Exam. $41,540.

Manicurist/pedicurist. 23% growth (fast).  License through state boards.

Massage therapist. 23% growth (fast). State exam or one of two national tests. $35,160.

Phlebotomist. 27% growth (fast). National Center for Competency Training, American Society for Clinical Pathology and American Medical Technologists offer certifications.

Skincare specialist. 40% growth (fast!). State licensing. $28,640.

Surgical technologist.  20% growth. National Board of Surgical Technology and Assisting offers a certification. $41,790.

These are just some--see if you can score a piece of paper that will make you more money.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cheers across America

I should have done this on St Pat's--but forgot. St Pat's is Amateur Hour in drinking world anyway.

I like bars. I like bartenders. But now I am too laid up to hang out, so this is a fond memory.

Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder, writes that there are 580,000 bartenders in the US. That is under two bartenders per 1000 people. So tip, people!

But--of course--in some cities it's easier to get a drink than in others.  The best places--New Orleans and Las Vegas, naturally. There are five innkeepers per 1000 in LV, 3+ in NO.

Next--Buffalo with 3 bartenders per 1000 people. Cleveland--same--three.

Milwaukee has almost three.

But then look at poor Key West--with 75K people, only 13 bartenders.

Spearfish, SD, 8 bartenders for 23K people.

Oh, this is too sad...I can't go on.

We need more bartenders!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Is March Madness work madness?

Lee Igel, writing on, says tens of millions of people come to work and then spend some time on their brackets.

Many companies accept this and know their bandwidth will be turned over to this pursuit.

This amounts to $1.9 billion in lost wages, according to one estimate.

But it seems so endemic and intense, it is hard or even impossible to prevent.

This is a short-term tradeoff for a long-term gain in morale. People who are happier at work tend to stay and work harder.

Still, some employers begrudge time spent watching games. Igel says this is a throwback to manufacturing days--when a line would have been stopped.

Knowledge workers can allot their time and are given more leeway.

Quashing March Madness may lead to grumpy Aprils...and who wants that?