Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What To Do When The Layoffs Hit? Now Even Snoopy Knows The Answer

Layoffs hit every industry, especially in today's "New Normal" economy. Now, according to this Down To Earth comic, it looks like Charlie Brown's favorite dog Snoopy has gotten fired, too.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

September 2016 Graduation

During the last week of September, we graduated another electronic bookkeeping class in Patterson.

Congratualations to all the grads!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Today's Merced Job Fair for Veterans and The Public

Today’s job fair started off with a presentation of the colors by veterans from the VFW - a definite distinction between veteran job fairs and other job fairs.

You can see the presentation ceremony at the CBC YouTube channel here in the next couple of days – https://www.youtube.com/user/CBCUtube

This job fair was well attended, bucking a recent trend of having fewer than the anticipated number of attendees at other employment fairs.

Community Business College was asked to step in and provide workshops when the original presenter canceled at the last minute. We, of course, were more than happy to provide the service.

We pulled out our tried-and-true four most popular presentations:


        10:30      Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

“If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?” That’s just one of the questions that sometimes takes interviewees by surprise.

One of the interesting trends happening in today’s job search world is most employers are using online job boards as a resource as much as job seekers. Sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com have gotten larger. What this means is employers are downloading their interview questions straight form the source that job seekers can access. Practice a few answers to each question and you are more than half way there on what to expect from most interviews.

What’s the answer to the tree question? Just remember when you hear a question like this (sometimes instead of “tree” it’s “animal” or “cookie”) the interviewer is not that interested in trees, but in the qualities you admire of the tree you select. The “why” in this answer is much more important than the “what.”


       11:30     Your Resume - The Right Tool For The Right Job

Someone once said that a good resume is never “finished,” you just stop working on it.

One of the best tips is to customize your resume every time you apply for a job. Do you have a resume designed for clerical jobs but you want to apply for a supervisory position? It’s time to make a copy of the resume and rework it to fit a supervisor. Of course you never lie on a resume but you can phrase your work history and experience more in terms of a supervisor. For example, if you have ever trained fellow employees on new software or new policies, that’s a good thing to put into a resume for a supervisor.

We find this to be a common hurdle for people who sign up for our Groupon resume development.

Here’s one new question that came up regarding filling out job applications – “is it better to write ‘by supervisor died,’ or ‘my supervisor passed away?’” Which do you think? The consensus was “passed away” reads a bit better.


       12:30     Job Hunting In A Tough Economy

Where do you find the job leads if “no one is hiring?” We’ve heard that question a lot at Community Business College and that’s what this seminar is all about.

The secrect? Don’t just rely on newspaper Help Wanted sections or even Internet job boards. You have to go out there and beat the bushes to scare up some new job opportunities.

Try cold calling.

Use your people contacts to spread the word that you’re looking for work.


       1:30 PM   Use Social Media to Turbo Charge Your Job Search


The new technology offered to today’s job seeker is staggering. From smart phone apps to automated resume development systems to access to professional resume critiquers (e.g. Groupon), it is easier now more than ever to get your job search going.

That includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and all the others out there. They can be “double-edged swords” in that they can help supplement your resume to an employer by providing additional information, but sometimes people aren’t careful what they post on these sites and it can be a turn-off to some employers.

Yes, employers are allowed to look.

One way to fix the problem if you post embarrassing things is to set your page settings to “private” while you’re looking for a job. Then you can turn it back to public once you get the job.


The Job Fair Itself

The number of recruiters is up from prior years. Organizers also expect to see an increase in job-seekers. Last year’s fair drew at least 650 people seeking work, which more than doubled the previous year’s turnout.


Having a job fair right now in Merced is timely. Unemployment in Merced County is at 11.9 percent, according to the most recent figures released from California’s EDD. According to the same report, veterans are nationally unemployed at a higher rate than the general public.

The Veterans Affairs office in Fresno will sent a medical and administrative team to help veterans enroll in employment and training assistance programs.

Companies who sent recruiters to the fair include Save Mart, Foster Farms, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Tenet Health, Joseph Farms, the City of Merced, Dole Foods, Quad Graphics, Home Depot, Amie Senior Care, Best Buy, and the National Park Service.


One bit of surprise to many of our job seekers is how many local companies are still accepting paper job applications.

By the end of the job fair the exhibit room was getting a bit warm. The air conditioners were having a challenge keeping up. Luckily it was a milder day than it had been earlier this week and so it was comfortable enough right up till the end.


In addition to finding new employment opportunities at this job fair, one person in one of the workshops joked that you can pick up candy from the vendors just in time for Halloween and save money on your candy budget.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Frana asks, "Do people miss me when I leave the room?"

A GOOD QUESTION:  Do people miss me when I leave the room

I came across an interesting question recently that caused me to do some heart-searching. 

Here it is:  Do people miss me when I leave the room?

That led me to ask myself some other questions, like, what kind of people do I miss when they leave the room?

Here are some of the types of people I miss:

People who bring leadership.  I have had a boss is like that.  He knew how to gives the staff direction and a sense that everything is under control.  Instead of concentrating on problems, he seemed to thrive on finding creative solutions.

People Who Lead And People Who Follow

People who are followers.  Leaders are great, but we also need followers.  These are the people we can count on to quietly get the job done.  They do not ask to be in the limelight; they do not really ask to be noticed; they are content to  serve God in the background.
It is a good idea to acknowledge these quiet workers though, and thank them for their service.

People who are peacemakers.  These people seem to have the ability to pour oil on troubled waters.  Instead of escalating conflicts, they bring harmony and calmness.

People who bring constructive criticism and new ideas.  Even though  we might find these ideas uncomfortable, we know we need to hear them out.  They make us think deeply.

Gentle people who bring sweetness to the situation. A lovely fragrance seems to linger in the wake of these people.  They encourage and affirm us and help us to aspire to be better.

Maybe you can see yourself in these different categories.  I want to be missed when I leave the room. I hope you want that, too.

About Frana Hamilton – Frana is a long time instructor at Community Business College. She is the heart and soul of the school and an inspiration to her students. Many students have come back to the school after graduating many years ago, just to reacquaint themselves with Frana.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Should I Send My Resume In Word Format or As A PDF File?

This morning, one of our Community Business College graduates called and asked for a bit of advice – Should she send her resume to a potential employer in the Microsoft Word format or should she send it as a .pdf file?

Here’s why she asked – She said she first attached it as a Word document for convenience sake but when she tested it and re-opened it, the resume lost some of its formatting. Not bad, mind you, but it did throw some text onto a second page and the margins shifted some.

Our advice to her was to send a second e-mail using the pdf format which does not have the changing formatting issues and offer it to the employer an option with a note to saying something like, “I thought I’d also send you a pdf copy of my resume so that you have a choice to use the format you prefer.”

Now we’ll wait to see if she gets the job interview.

So just what are the rules on file attachment in sending your resume to employers?

First, there’s the

The Golden Rule on resume attachments is – first always do what the employer asks. If the employer asks for resumes but “no attachments,” for example, then do not attach anything, but copy and paste your resume. If the employer asks for “no Word documents,” then do not send word documents.

.doc Document File Type

Advantages of the Microsoft Word Format
1.      One advantage to sending a native Microsoft Word document is the job seeker can just send the most current resume and doesn’t have to worry about different versions.

2.      The second advantage is the employer who receives your Word document can open the document without any additional software (e.g. Adobe Acrobat Reader) and can then copy the data over into either other hiring software or a template used to hire candidates.

Disadvantages of the Microsoft Word Format
1.      One reason employers may ask for “no Word documents” be sent is some Word documents can carry viruses and malicious code that can hurt the recipients computers.

2.      As in our graduate’s case, you probably won’t know which version of Microsoft Word that the employer is using. If you have saved your Word document in a more current version than the employer, the formatting may get a little funky. It’s still going to be legible and the document can still be used but it won’t be perfect. Remember, resumes should be as perfect as possible. Sometimes little imperfections serve as an excuse for a screener to reject a given resume without having to read it further.

Advantages of the Microsoft Adobe PDF Format

PDF File Format
PDF stands for Portable Document Format and is usually used to present and exchange documents reliably and works equally well across different hardware and operating systems. Invented in the 1990s, Adobe’s PDF has become the standard format for document sharing.

1.      Because the PDF format is now an open standard maintained by the International Organization for Standardization, PDFs look the same the world over. The type of machine doesn’t matter and the operating system an employer might be using doesn’t matter either. As long as they have the free Acrobat Reader DC software they can see any pdf document the same way it was sent.
In that sense, this makes it closer to a piece of paper than almost any other digital format.

2.      Most other software programs now recognize the PDF format and will open or import .pdf files without any problem.

Disadvantages of the Microsoft Adobe PDF Format

1.      Sending in PDF takes an extra step and requires you to track more than one document. When you convert your resume from Microsoft Word to a .pdf document, you are creating one more file to keep track of.
Say, for example, you’re applying for a job today and you convert your resume to a .pdf format and send it off. Next week, another job opportunity comes along and you want to make some changes and send it again. Now you’ll have another version of your resume. After a few times of this, you can end up with a whole bunch of versions of your resume that can get confusing.
A simple way to fix this is to always create a new pdf before sending it. Then, delete it from your storage file after you’ve submitted it. This way the Microsoft Word document is always the most current form of your resume.
Another option is to use the same file name when saving your .pdf document. Here’s an example: BenFranklinResume.pdf. Then, the new .pdf file replaces the old one and you’ll only have one file to worry about.
2.      Although most pdf documents can allow for text to be copied in the document, some are locked. If, instead converting the Microsoft Word document to .pdf, you scanned it off a printed copy, it might even be more difficult to extract text.

Unless otherwise directed (remember the Golden Rule), Community Business College recommends using the .pdf format when submitting resumes.

Community Business College

Need to learn more Microsoft Word tricks?  Take a Microsoft Word class with us. You can purchase a short course  directly from Community Business College at http://www.cbcwebcollege.com/shopcart/

 Get a Professional Looking Resume From ExpertsDo you find the job search process frustrating?  Try taking a class on finding a job with our six-week, instructor-led online course at:  http://www.ed2go.com/cbc123/online-courses/12-steps-to-successful-job-search


Friday, July 29, 2016

Earning A Microsoft Outlook Certification

What is a Microsoft Certification Exam?
Microsoft Outlook

As you may have heard, Microsoft provides a certification exam for users of its software to demonstrate their skills through an independently administered exam. Community Business College has been selected as an official Microsoft Certification Testing Center. As of July, 2016 the college is helping Microsoft beta test the 2016 version of the Outlook exam.

The current Outlook exam code number is Microsoft Outlook exam number 77-423. This description covers the basic functions of what is asked on the exam. Community Business College offers a free study guide to all potential test takers. A summary of that study guide is listed below at the end of this blog.

So the question that comes to mind to a lot of people is:  why go to all the effort and expense to pass the certification?

Why Go For The Outlook Certification?
 5 Good Reasons

 Here are 5 good reasons to obtain an Outlook user certification:

1.      Achieve industry-recognized certification;

2.      Learn the computing skills companies want. Microsoft Outlook is an industry standard program;

3.      Boost your resume - Since most employers who are casual users of Outlook are not aware that a certification exists, you can describe your certificate during the job interview;

4.      Differentiate yourself from other Microsoft Outlook users;

5.      Increase your earning potential.
At Community Business College we’ve yet to hear of anyone who got a raise by just passing the exam but the testing author suggests it can be an additional justification when asking for a raise. Here are a couple of other uses along those lines:
-          Continuing Education Units. Whether your employer requires these or not they are good to have because they demonstrate continuous improvement.
-          Be the office Outlook expert.  Every office needs somebody who can help when a coworker gets stuck. By getting certified, you have a better chance about filling that roll.

 Microsoft Outlook Screen

What Are The New Exams Like?

A.MOS 2010 and earlier versions provide a variety of brief tasks to complete using Office application tools and functions. The new exam format for MOS 2013 presents a short project that the candidate must complete, using the specifications provided. This creates a real-world testing experience for candidates. For more information, check out the View the MOS 2013 demo video.

Skills Measured In the Microsoft Outlook 77-423 Exam
This exam measures your ability to accomplish the technical tasks listed below. The percentages indicate the relative weight of each major topic area on the exam. The higher the percentage, the more questions you are likely to see on that content area on the exam.
Here are the categories on the Microsoft Outlook exam:
Manage the Outlook environment (25–30% of the exam)
·         Customize Outlook settings
o    Set outlook to include original messages with all reply messages, change text formats for all outgoing messages, customize the Navigation pane, block specific addresses, configure views, manage multiple accounts, set Outlook options
·         Automate Outlook
o    Change quoted text colors, create and assign signatures, use “Quick Steps,” create and manage rules, create auto-replies
·         Print and save information in Outlook
o    Print messages, print calendars, save message attachments, preview attachments, print contacts, print tasks, save messages in alternate formats, create data files
·         Search in Outlook
o    Create new search folders, search for messages, search for tasks, search for contacts, search calendars, use advanced find, use “Search by Location”
Preparation resources
Manage messages (25–30% of the exam)
·         Create a message
o    Create messages, forward messages, delete messages, add/remove message attachments, add Cc and Bcc to messages, add voting options to messages, reply to all, reply to sender only, prioritize messages, mark as private, request delivery/read receipt, redirect replies, delegate access
·         Format messages
o    Format text, insert hyperlinks, apply themes and styles, insert images, add a signature to specific messages, format signatures, create and use “Quick Parts”
·         Organize and manage messages
o    Sort messages, move messages between folders, add new local folders, apply categories, configure junk email settings, clean up messages, mark as read/unread, flag messages, ignore messages, sort by conversation, set attachment reminder options
Preparation resources
·         Basic tasks in Outlook 2013
·         Configure junk email settings in Outlook
Manage schedules (30–35% of the exam)
·         Create and manage calendars
o    Adjust viewing details for calendars, modify calendar time zones, delete calendars, set calendar work times, use multiple calendars, manage calendar groups, overlay calendars, share calendars
·         Create appointments, meetings, and events
o    Create calendar items, create recurring calendar items, cancel calendar items, create calendar items from messages, set calendar item times, categorize calendar items, use the scheduling assistant, change availability status, schedule resources, utilize Room Finder
·         Organize and manage appointments, meetings, and events
o    Set calendar item importance, forward calendar items, configure reminders, add participants, respond to invitations, update calendar items, share meeting notes
·         Create and manage notes, tasks, and journals
o    Create and manage tasks, create and manage notes, attach notes to contacts, create journal entries, update task status
Manage contacts and groups (15–20% of the exam)
·         Create and manage contacts
o    Create new contacts, delete contacts, import contacts from external sources, edit contact information, attach an image to contacts, add tags to contacts, share contacts, manage multiple address books
·         Create and manage groups
o    Create new contact groups, add contacts to existing groups, add notes to a group, update contacts within groups, delete groups, delete group members

How much does the Microsoft Outlook exam (77-423) cost? The voucher prices range from $89 to $130 depending upon whether you choose the single exam voucher or the voucher with the retake. The retake voucher is a bit more expensive but is handy, especially for first-time test takers because it gives you a second attempt at the exam if you fail the first time, without having to pay the full price for a whole new exam voucher. It kind of gives you a de facto practice test.

 Microsoft Outlook at Community Business College


Need a voucher to take the Microsoft Outlook exam? Community Business College offers discounts on vouchers. A voucher purchased through our college can be used at any Microsoft testing center throughout the United States. You can purchase an exam voucher through our Amazon store or directly from Community Business College at http://www.cbcwebcollege.com/shopcart/

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What Not To Ask In Job Interviews

July 28, 2016

During job interviews, you will often be given the opportunity to ask the interviewer if you have any questions.

A famous aphorism we hear a lot is, “there is no such thing as a dumb question.” But when you are an interviewee in a job interview, is that always true?

There are questions you might want to ask but try to remember, not every question is appropriate during the job interview.

Here are some examples of what to NOT ask:

1. When can I take my first vacation?

Believe it or not, we’ve had an instance of somebody asking that very question at a first job interview.

Why it’s wrong: It makes you sound like a mercenary or, worse, a clock-watcher that cares less about the work and more about getting more personal time. Also the focus is immediately shifted to what can this company do for you instead of what you can do for this company that other candidates can’t or won’t.
How/when to ask: Wait until you’re hired. When you are doing all the human resources paperwork you can ask questions about all of the employer’s benefits and vacation policies. One suggestion is to ask it in the form of “can you tell me how vacation time is requested?” And be sure to ask other questions.
It is always a good idea to ask a lot of questions during the human resources orientation.  By the way, when asking these questions take notes on a pad of paper (or, yes, even a tablet and notepad on your smartphone are acceptable).  This not only gives you the appearance of looking professional but during orientation, you are probably going to bombarded with a lot of information all at once. Having notes gives you something to refer back to later when you have time to really absorb everything.

FYI: The person who asked that question did not get the job.

2. "What would my salary be for this job"

Of course this is the question to which you really want to know the answer. But you shouldn’t ask it now. There’s a much better time.

 Why it’s wrong:  Asking about salary gives the impression of being a mercenary. Certainly, the unspoken truth that everybody in the room knows is you wouldn’t be sitting there listening to all those questions unless there was the possibility of some money down the road for you.
At this point in your professional relationship, the interviewer probably wants to talk about you rather than the company. If you have the opportunity to ask questions, pick ones that help focus on your skills and abilities. This question should wait for later.
Thanks to Herman
How/when to ask:  Absolutely be ready to talk salary after you are given the job offer. Think about what you’d really like for a salary for a particular position. When you get the call offering you the job, the answer to this question can be a crucial one in making your decision on whether to take the job.

The “Exception:” Here’s a caveat about not asking this question at the job interview. As the interviewee, it is wise to hold back on this question, however always be prepared to start talking salaries if the interviewer brings it up first. Sometimes you will be asked this because the company wants to know if they can afford you. Other times it might be to get you to commit to a figure. So, before going into the interview, be ready with an answer, only don’t be the one to ask the question.
If you are asked your idea for a salary, and you are unsure, there are two easy answers to use. One is to ask a question, such as, “can you tell me what someone starting in a position like this typically makes?” That swings the onus back on the interviewer to give the first number. The other is to provide a range, such as “I was thinking about something between $18 and $22 an hour,” or whatever you feel is a good fit for you. By giving a range, you allow yourself some flexibility when you get the job offer and you know a little more about the duties and activities you are expected to perform.

3. Would you like to see my letters of recommendation?

You’ve got some good letters of recommendation or other references that you think will help make your case for the job, so you want to provide them to the interviewer.

 Why it’s wrong:  Never ask a question where you don’t like 50% of the answers. If the interviewer answers, “no, thank you,” you’ll feel rejected.

How/when to ask:  This is one question you never want to ask. You should, instead, consider making a statement, such as, “here are some references which might help you make your decision,” and then hand them over without asking. Most people will reflexively accept something handed to them and the interviewer will probably take them from you.
If, however, you ask the question, it gives the interviewer the opportunity to say, “no.” There’s enough rejection in the job search process, why ask for one more?
Another good opportunity to “play” your references letters are in the middle of an interview when you’re asked a question like, “how would your last supervisor describe your work?” If one of your recommendation letters is from that person, it’s a perfect time to pull out a copy and hand it over. That way, it’s not just your word, it’s from somebody who has nothing to gain and is in writing, which makes it seem that much more ingenuous.

4. Do you look at social media (or credit scores) when deciding on the final candidate?

Why it’s wrong:  This question is too leading. It would make anybody listening to it wonder why the question is being asked and possibly assume that something is wrong.

Thanks to Daily Dose
How/when to ask:  This is one of those as an interviewee you probably will never ask until you’ve been actually hired. Many employers will ask your permission if they can check your credit score, social media, references, etc. on the application you initially complete for the position. If they don’t ask, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t check those things, but you don’t want to upset the apple cart by asking about it.
If you’re really worried about it, by the time you get to the job interview, it’s more than likely already too late. The good news is if they have checked something

5.  Any question that makes the interviewer think you haven’t been paying attention.

The stress of being asked question after question by a stranger sometimes feels like an interrogation, and it can be difficult to remember exactly what the interviewer told you before and during the interview. This is why it’s a good idea to practice your interviewing skills, and one thing in particular to focus on is listening to clues the interviewer is giving you about the job.
One example might be the interviewer compliments you on the formality of how you dressed for the interview and says that it is exactly what the company expects every day. It’s a bad idea to ask at the end of the interview if casual attire is okay.

Why it’s wrong:  Questions like these make the interviewer think you’re not a serious candidate. Also , remember, being a job interviewer can be a tedious task and when an interviewee asks a question that gives an impression of detachment, it’s just going to work against you.

How/when to ask:  If you do get stuck for a question to ask, ask ones that are likely to be always safe, such as, “where do you see this position five years from now?” Even if the interviewer touched on the changes expected in the position, it’s unlikely that a specific time like five years is discussed. The interviewer will then have an opportunity to get into specifics and you’ll look like you’re completely engaged.

These are some of the tips we have used at Community Business College to help our students get the jobs they want. There are a lot more and, like anything, good practice makes better results. We offer a successful job search six-week class which can be taken on our campus or online. - http://www.ed2go.com/cbc123/online-courses/12-steps-to-successful-job-search

You can also get expert assistance on putting together a job application package through the Community Business College Groupon resume deal - https://www.groupon.com/deals/community-business-college/

Thanks to Dilbert.com