Tuesday, February 28, 2017

W-4, Where For Art Thou?

One of our entrepreneurial minded QuickBooks students asked in class yesterday about employee W-4 forms.

She is looking to go into business with her son. She wanted to know about the IRS Schedule for withholding and so it gave us an opportunity to explore the W4 form

The W4 form is an excellent opportunity for employers to keep track of what's been going on with their employees an update their information. New boys always fill out the form, but a solid strong accounting practice is to ask all employees to fill out a new form at the beginning of each year.

Why a new W-4 form each year?

Threw out here a lot of changes can take place and people forget to report it to their employers. For example when somebody moves, somebody got married, and older child moving out and is no longer a dependent?

Another reason can be found directly on the instruction page that accompanies the form: Future developments -  Information about any future developments affecting Form W-4 (such as legislation enacted after we release it).

The way Congress works, they can make rule changes at any time and they don’t have to warn you about them.

All of these things can make a big difference on the W4 form.

You don’t have to wait for an employer to supply you with the form, you can also do it yourself.

I had a friend who would intentionally ask for extra withholdings on his W-4 form. Why? Because he wanted a bigger refund on April 15th. When told he was just giving the government a free loan that's interest free, and that he could just put the money in the savings account, he replied that no it wouldn't work that way. He would just spend the money instead of saving it. This way since it was we hell before he got his check his paycheck each. He would not know he had it until it came at the end of the year.

That is definitely not a good smart way to say, but if you know yourself well, perhaps it's better than nothing.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Evaluating The Evaluators at Community Business College

Community Business College is unique in many ways but none more so than the fact that we take a weekly temperature of how our students are doing. We ask our students to evaluate both their course content and their instructors on a weekly basis. We have been doing this for 20 years and it has been especially effective at helping us accommodate an extremely diverse population of students.

Why? Several reasons. The first is because we really do care how our students are progressing and feeling about it. Other organizations pay lip service to caring what their customers think, but aren’t very proactive about it. The best way to know how you're doing and how your customers feel about you is to simply ask them.

Just like we do for our own daily lives (or even as the Gallup organization found, employees at a job) it's good to take a little break as time goes on reflect on what’s working and what needs improvement.

Another reason we constantly check in with our students, is if we do ever do run into any issues, finding out about them early makes them easier to solve. For example, if one or two students feel like the class is moving too quickly for them, finding out early on means we can adjust accordingly and not let any students fall behind.
A caveat to those who might wish to duplicate the process - don't ask people to be honest and blunt in your surveys if you aren't ready for the consequences. Asking people to share their concerns and then not acting on them is the epitome of counter productive efforts.

Here are some examples pulled from the written surveys of our students last week.

“I really like this class because it is explained really well. We’re all working together. It makes class feel comfortable.”

“My instructor, John, has been great. He explains everything very well and helps everyone in class that might be having trouble.”

“Excellent course for a business owner!”

“The instructor is very knowledgeable. Is very personable. I am a visual learner and he teaches ‘hands-on.’”

Community Business College
As you can see, not only do we like to know about problems early on, but we also like to hear the good things that are happening.

Monday, January 16, 2017

CBC Closed for MLK Day 2017

Community Business College will be closed today in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated how the power of words and use of language can change the course of history. As our school is dependent upon the use of language to teach ideas and thoughts to others, it is a suitable time to reflect on how words can inform and inspire.

Our history, our culture, is made up of thoughts and ideas that our turned into ideals for which we can strive.

As lifelong learners, we can take solace that just as our history can change for the better, so can we. All it takes is a little learning, time and thought.

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.