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

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. -

You can also get expert assistance on putting together a job application package through the Community Business College Groupon resume deal -

Thanks to

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Making QuickBooks Quicker – Top 5 Tips for Quickerbooks

The programmers at Intuit have designed into the QuickBooks program certain Keyboard Key Combination Shortcuts (sometimes called “Access Keys”) that, once memorized, can make you a lot more efficient.
Technically, keyboard shortcuts are typically a means for invoking commands using the keyboard that would otherwise be accessible only through a menu, a pointing device, different levels of a user interface, or via a command-line interface. Keyboard shortcuts are generally used to speed up common operations by reducing input sequences to a few keystrokes, hence the term "shortcut".

As with most programs, QuickBooks has always used shortcut keys. Pressing the CTRL key and pressing A, for example, will always bring up the chart of accounts, no matter which version you’re using.

If you’re right handed, the best keyboard short cuts for QuickBooks are found on the left hand side of the keyboard. Why the left side? Because that way you don’t have to take your right hand off the mouse of the item you’ve selected in order to engage the shortcut key.

We teach these in our QuickBooks classes. They are usually a big hit.

Making QuickBooks Quicker – Top 5 Tips for Quickerbooks 

The Magic of Shortcuts
PC Version

CTRL+ R Use the Register.  No  matter where you’re at in QuickBooks, this shortcut will bring up your checking, savings and other bank accounts so that you can view and interact with their registers.

Ctrl+Q brings up a Quick Report for any thing you have selected (examples are a customer, an account in the chart of accounts, an item or service, and a vendor). Quick reports are handy ways of easily seeing how the data is coming along in QuickBooks.

   CTRL + I Need to make an invoice?  This keyboard shortcut will immediately pop up a new invoice screen.

Ctrl+E  Edit a selected transaction this can be a customer, item, vendor or any other selected item that you are allowed to edit.
This shortcut is a twofer. You going to get two shortcut keys for one tip. Strongly related to the Ctrl+E edit shortcut is the Ctrl+N:
Ctrl+N  Create a new entry whether it be a new customer, new vendor or new account. You must first open the main window before this becomes available (for example, the customer center).

F3  Pressing the Function 3 key (also known as the F3 key) on the top row of your keyboard pops open a search window to search your entire QuickBooks file.
This one is another twofer. Very closely related to the global search of the F3 key is the Ctrl+F shortcut:
Ctrl+F  Find a transaction in the active window. This differs from the F3 function above in that it Ctrl-F is specific to searching only the active window and its related transactions.

BONUS TIP – If you are used to using the standard Ctrl+A shortcut in Windows to select whole blocks of text or even numbers, it will not work in QuickBooks. QuickBooks reassigns Ctrl+A to activate the Chart of Accounts. Whereas the rest of our shortcut tips are ones you have to learn, this one you have to unlearn. It can be quite annoying when trying to select a description by pressing Ctrl+A and instead having a window with all of your accounts pop up. You have to close the chart of accounts window and then use the mouse to select the text.

Want to really master QuickBooks? Become a QuickBooks Certified User by taking the official exam. We offer study guides and classes to help people pass. Click here for more details.

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