Sunday, August 20, 2017

Happy Anniversary! Join Me in Celebrating 5 Years of Blogging!



This August, I am celebrating 5 years of blogging! 

In that time, I have written almost 300 articles covering everything from hiring, workplace issues, employment discrimination, and even business marketing. Through it all, I have shared my knowledge, my thoughts and opinions, and, even learned a lot myself. 

However, the most important thing I have gained through my blogging journey is the connections I have made. 


I have grown my client and reader base, “met” (both off and online) other business owners, and forged relationships with other bloggers. These connections have not only been invaluable to my business, but also to my mental well-being!

Running a “solo” business can be a lonely venture. All decisions rest on your shoulders and second guessing yourself often comes with the territory. Having real-life and online friends to reach out to can make all the difference.

They have been there. They know the ins and outs and can give advice or just lend an ear.

Blogging has given me the opportunity to reach them in ways I don’t believe would have been open to me if I hadn’t started writing.

For that I will always be thankful.


So, in celebration of these past 5 blogging years, I am sharing my favorite articles. 


While not all of them may have gotten the most traction, these have been a pleasure for me to write ~ and many have found their own audience who sees in them what I do.

First up is an article I wrote way back in 2012! “Why You Should Run a Background Check on Yourself", speaks to my desire to help both employers and job seekers. 


Knowing what is “out there”, and prepping your resume BEFORE you even apply, makes sense. It puts you in the best position to land the job and helps the employer easily do the screening they need. Anytime you can save an employer time and money, you are ahead of the game! 

Find out more by visiting my article here!

Since Hiring and Background Checks is my primary business focus, I have written many articles dealing with this subject. But this particular one has always stood out to me. It dealt with a subject that I truly believe in ~ the need for people to be given a second chance!

In my article, “Once a Criminal Always a Criminal, Why We need to Believe in Second Chances”, I discuss the very real problem of recidivism and hiring ex-offenders. My solution focuses on balancing cautiousness with fairness. I explore how employers can find a happy medium between giving people a chance and keeping their company safe. Check it out here!


Sharing what other “at home” business owners have to say about what it really takes to run a business from home was a pleasure. In this article, I polled some of my “work from home” entrepreneur friends for their tips, suggestions, and concerns. 

Read more in “The Challenges and Rewards of Running a Business from Home!”.






The next few choices focus on my love for Small Business and Small Business Owners!


This favorite is really a collection of 5! It was my Small Business tips from “People in the Know” series. It was the first long “series” type of blog article I had ever written and it got a lot of feedback and interest. It’s success illustrated the power to be found in the blog “series” and the people it could reach. 

Most importantly, however, it fostered my love of sharing tips from real business owners about what has worked for them and the challenges they faced. I covered everything from set-up, finances, hiring, marketing, and more.

Check out Part 1 (Set Up & Finances), Part 2 (Hiring, Outsourcing, & Background Checks), Part 3 (Social Media & Marketing), Part 4 (Networking), and Part 5 (General Tips & Tricks) to discover what they had to say!  


Throughout many of my blog articles, there has been a recurring theme ~ the Power of Small Business! 

Here I shared the reasons we should all be “shopping small”. But the real focus was on why, as a group of small business owners, it makes sense for us to Band Together!

Building a Small Business Community helps us all “tap into the power of support and collaboration” we get from joining forces. This is something I really believe in. It drives me to help other entrepreneurs whenever I can. That is why this article has continued to be a favorite of mine!

Learn more about how to foster and grow the strength of Small Business in "Small Businesses Need to Band Together"!


I am closing with my #1 Favorite Article ~ 

It is this article that truly sums up everything I want to share about myself and my business.

I found my “Why” by taking a hard look at my core values and what was truly important to me. These values then became the cornerstone of my business.

Knowing“Why” has also helped me really focus. Simply said, it drives everything else I do. From how I treat my clients, the kind of services I offer, my social media presence, and, of course, my blogging!

While these 6 articles sum up a lot about me and my business, and have continued to be my favorites, I don't intend for it to stop here.

I am intend to share more tips and news in the years to come. I hope they will help You succeed while I continue to share my take on all things business. 

I hope you will join me! Subscribe Now and receive one new article each week, and no spam!

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

How You can Achieve Your Entrepreneurial WIN!



We all want to succeed. For some, success may mean finding your dream job or owning your own home. For others, it can be as simple, and as truly fulfilling, as finding someone to love who loves them back.

But if you have the drive to become your own boss, then your ultimate triumph is to create your own viable and successful business!

And while that may seem like an easy and straightforward feat at first, more often than not the road to entrepreneurial success is fraught with roadblocks and detours.

I often find that it is those challenges that hold the biggest lessons. They help us focus and discover what really works for us and our businesses.

There is no doubt that you will learn a lot along the way. To help you get a jumpstart on your own journey, I share some tips that have not only helped me but also my entrepreneurial friends! 




Here are my Top 10 Business Lessons:

  1. Be Focused & Find Your Business Niche
  2. Have a Business Plan ~ and Write it Down!
  3. Be Smart & Market Wisely
  4. Understand that Time is Money
  5. Be Willing to Outsource or Hire Others 
  6. Find Ways to Stay Motivated
  7. Forge Your Own Path & Do What Works for You
  8. Be Honest in Your Business Dealings
  9. Don't Shy Away from Being a "Solopreneur"
  10. Find Time for a Personal Life & Remember to "Unplug"

Learn more about each of these tips and what they can do for you in "10 Lessons to Help You Find Success in Your Small Business".




Over time, I have found two other tips that I believe will also help you realize your business goals.

Number 1, Get Your Family and Friends Onboard. Let them in on everything that you are doing and what you hope to achieve.

They can be your best cheerleaders and your biggest support system. No one can make a go of it truly alone.

Number 2, Never Stop Learning! No one knows it all. But keeping your mind and eyes wide open to all the resources around you will help your business stay current and succeed. As in most things in life, curiosity and a thirst for knowledge is never a bad thing!


Running your own business can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. The key is to put in the work, know when you need help, and strive for a well-rounded life.

Accomplish that and you will truly be a success!

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Monday, August 7, 2017

What You Need to Do to Hire and Keep the Best Employees in Your High Turnover Business

Hiring for any business can be stressful. But when it comes to hiring in a “high turnover” industry, it can be even more challenging!

When you own a business that experiences a lot of employee turnover, you may find your initial hires to be quite easy. You have a lot of applicants and it seems that it is a “buyer’s market” with you, as the employer, in the driver’s seat.

That feeling of control over your employment situation, however, soon ends. Then it becomes a question as to how long you can actually keep them!

Retaining employees in some industries is much easier than in others. While a universal “ideal” turnover rate hovers around 10% or lower, some types of businesses routinely exceed that.

According to a CompData Survey that compiled data from over 30,000 organizations, industries with notoriously high Voluntary and Total Turnover rates include (Source1):

Hospitality ~ 20.7% / 28.6%
Healthcare ~ 15.3% / 18.1%
Banking & Finance ~ 15.3%  18.1%
Non-Profit Businesses ~ 12.2% / 15.7%
Service Industry ~  11.4% / 16.8%
Manufacturing & Distribution ~ 10.1% / 16.0%

According to this survey, a couple other industries fare marginally better:

Insurance ~ 8.8% / 12.2%
Utilities ~ 5.9% / 8.8%


For these companies, and their owners, it can feel like they are in the middle of an employment revolving door.  

Employers worry about the time it takes to hire and train each employee, only to have a number of them turn around and leave. They may also question how they can continue to fill the needs of their customers when so many of their employees come and go. A lack of consistency is definitely a cause for concern. 


So, if your type of company is on this high-turnover list, what do you do?

Your first step should be to understand “Why”. Why is your type of business more likely to be plagued by high turnover than other industries?

Often, the types of businesses on this turnover list offer lower than average pay and benefits, especially at the entry level. Limited opportunities to advance within these companies is also a factor. Restaurants, hotels and motels, and hospitals or care facilities fall into this category. 

Others, like retail and service industries, are effected by seasonal fluctuations, think things like “Black Friday”, holiday shopping, and even weather sensitive services like landscaping. These spikes in business require employers to increase their workforce to meet the demand. Then, when the busy season is over, many of those workers are no longer needed.  

Another reason for higher than average turnover in these industries is their amount of younger hires. Fast food restaurants often employ workers that are still in high school or who are on college break. The same goes for many in the hospitality industry. The majority of these hires are also part-time. These types of workers are rarely in it for the long haul. They are there to make some money and gain some work experience ~ then they move on. 





A less obvious, but just as impactful, reason for high turnover is that some employers in these industries don’t do background checks. 

Skipping the background check may seem like the cost-effective, smart thing to do. After all, your new hires won’t be there for long, so why bother?

This way of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth!

Not screening these employees won’t save you money in the long run. Incidents of employee theft and, more seriously, workplace violence, will cost you more in the end.


Screening every employee will not only help protect your workplace, it will also preserve the integrity of your workforce, your brand, and the reputation you have worked so hard to build.

You should, at the minimum, run a criminal history check. Finding out if your potential new hire has been convicted of violent crimes or theft is crucial. In addition, if a certain level of skill is necessary to complete their duties, then verifying those skills are also in your best interest.

What employers need to keep in mind is that as with any hire, protecting your company, your employees, and your customers must come first. Using a background check as a tool to that end is always in a company’s best interest, even if it is on temporary employee”.

Find out more tips about hiring seasonal, temp workers, or interns here!

Bottom line ~ Companies that screen every new hire are more likely to retain more and better employees than those who don’t.

So, if you are now willing to take the time and expense to screen your employees, it then makes sense to find ways to keep them. 






What can You Do to lower your Employee Turnover rate?

Changing the trend of “job hopping”, or high turnover, needs to start with you, the employer. Creating a work environment that offers real incentives for good employees to stay is the key.

To accomplish this goal, you should:

  • Enable your Employees to develop strong, marketable skills
  • Offer Your Employees real opportunities to progress 
  • Be as flexible as possible when scheduling work hours 
  • Encourage Employee Input 
  • Make your Employees feel Appreciated and Heard


Find out more about what you can do to keep your top talent in; “Tips to Help You Hire and Keep the Right Employees”!


Even taking these steps is not enough to entirely eliminate employee turnover.

The nature of many of these industries dictate that their hires will only stay a short while. Seasonal businesses, for example, will never overcome the ebb and flow.

However, addressing employee needs and offering incentives for good workers to stay, can make a difference.


Be the place people want to work. Treat your employees right. Do everything you can to build a strong relationship with all your workforce.


Taking the time to empower and engage your employees is good for you and your business. You will soon find that your hires are more invested in their work and in being a part of your business success! 


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Source1: Compensation Force Turnover Rates by Industry 

Monday, July 31, 2017

What can You Do to Combat Background Check Delays?



You Want it and You Want it Now!

After all, who wouldn't love having their wants and needs instantly fulfilled?

What a wonderful world it would be if that were only possible!


And, if you happen to own your own business, this sentiment couldn't be more true ~ especially when it comes time to hire or expand your business. 



Unfortunately, it doesn't often work that way.

Just when you need to get some new talent or additional help in to jump start or keep you business running smoothly, you hit snags! 
Maybe you aren't finding the "right" person? Maybe the quality of your applicants isn't what you had hoped it would be?

But it can be even worse when you think you have actually found the right hire and delays in your background check are getting in the way!

These obstacles are just as problematic if you happen to be the one applying for the job!


Background Check delays frustrate you, your applicant, and even your screening company.



That is why it makes sense to do what you can both before and during the screening process to combat potential background check delays.


Your first course of action is to both recognize and identify potential delays. 


The Top 10 Obstacles than can Delay Your Background Check are:

  1. Resume/Application Mistakes, Errors, & Fabrications
  2. Timing of Your Request
  3. Manual Court Checks
  4. Individual Court Dynamics
  5. Employment and Reference Checks
  6. Incomplete Case Information
  7. Power Outages or System Maintenance
  8. International Requests
  9. Government Shutdowns
  10. Changing Legislation

Learn more about these potential delays, and how to develop a plan to deal with them, in "10 Obstacles that can Delay Your Background Check"!







In Employment Background Checks, Quality should be King! "Tweet This"

Once you have identified these potential delays, then you can create a sound plan to help eliminate, or at least alleviate, their impact on your hiring process.

When any of these obstacles hit, it can seem to throw a wrench in your hiring works.

A good background check company can help you overcome these delays and keep you on the right track. After looking at your candidate's resume or application, they are there to identify potential problems and suggest sound solutions. Your screening company will also keep you informed when a problem occurs along the way and what can be done to get past it.


But it is also important that you do your part!


As an employer, you should:

  • Stay up to date on compliance issues (your screening company can help).
  • Develop easy to fill out applications that require your candidate to supply information pertinent to your background check. Examples of this are: strong identifying information, education information including name and location of institution and type of degree and date earned, employers' names, locations, dates and job title, and accurate contact information.  



Making sure you, in conjunction with your background check company, have taken all the necessary steps and have all the information you need before even starting your background checks simply makes good business sense! And it can go a long way towards lessening the impact of any potential obstacles.


You also need to remember that when it comes to employment screening, the accuracy of the background information must be more important than the speed in getting it!



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Monday, July 24, 2017

Tips to Help You Use Your Background Check Report to Hire!



Do You know WHAT to do with the information found in your employment background check report? 

By now you know "Why" employment screening is so important to a quality hiring process.  You also know "How" to choose the best background check company for you.


And in case you missed them, here are links to Parts 1and 2 in this series on "Why" Do Background Checks and Part 2 on "How" to Pick the Right Screening Company for You!


But when it comes to actually USING the information you receive in your background check reports, many employers are stymied!


Employers and Hiring managers often worry about running afoul of local, state, and federal employment laws. Even ever changing EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) regulations cause angst.


The bottom line is ~ it doesn't have to be that way!


While I addressed how finding the right screening company solves some of these issues in Part 2 of this series, that does not mean that is where it ends.

As an employer, you also need to take into account how these laws and regulations impact your hiring policies and process.


This is where knowing "WHAT" information contained in your background check report you can legally consider when making your hiring decision is vital!


Before even considering making a new hire, you should work in conjunction with your background check provider to make sure your hiring policies are compliant. Avoiding and eliminating anything that could be considered discriminatory is key.

Any references in your job descriptions, help wanted postings, or anywhere within your hiring policies to age, sex, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or anything else considered a "protected class" are taboo.  







Your dedication to hiring fairly and in compliance is even more important when it comes time to use your background check to make your final hiring decision.


Your background check report should be treated like your best friend. It is there to give you the honest truth and to help you make hiring decisions that are best for you and your company.


That is why it makes sense to use the information contained in that report wisely.


At the very least you will want to cross-check the information in your report with what was supplied by your applicant.


Do dates and title of employment mesh? Was the degree stated in their resume actually earned?

If you find that your applicant was honest about the information listed in their resume or application it can go a long way towards getting the employer / employee relationship off to the right start.

But it doesn't stop there.

The majority of employment screenings include criminal court record checks. And this is where you need to tread carefully. 

If you find that one of your favorite applicants has a prior criminal record, then there are definite guidelines you need to follow! 

Only under specific circumstances (where an industry is prohibited by law from hiring an ex-offender for example) can you simply dismiss from consideration anyone with a criminal record.

Instead, if your applicant has a criminal past, you need to first ask yourself the following:


  1. How recent was/were the conviction(s)? 
  2. How is this record relevant to your open position?

Your answers to these questions will help determine your next steps.

You can find more details on these questions and about how you can safely use your employment background check results in "You Have Your Background Check Report, Now What?"!


But what do you do if you decide that what you learn may keep you from offering your candidate the job?

This is where you need to understand your applicant's rights. If adverse information found in your candidate's background check report may prevent them from being hired, you must:

  • Notify the applicant, in writing, of your determination and provide them a copy of the Background Check Report.
  • Give the applicant the opportunity to correct the information in the Background Check Report or for them to offer information to mitigate the report’s findings.
  • Determine whether any additional information you receive from the applicant will reverse your initial decision to exclude the applicant from hire or promotion.
  • Notify the applicant of your final determination.

Only after you have complied with these steps can you legally make your final hiring decision.

In addition, it is vital that you document this entire process! You need to keep detailed notes as to what decisions you made concerning the hiring of your applicant and when you made them. Good records will help protect your company in the event of litigation.

You will find more information on safe hiring in "Tips to Help Your Business Fly Under the EEOC Radar".


Remember ~ Your background check report is there to help you. What you find there can help determine your applicant's honesty and decide whether they are qualified for the job.


It is knowing in advance "What" you can legally do with the information in that report that makes all the difference!


Want to learn more about how Background Checks can help You and Your Business Succeed? Contact Us!



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Monday, July 17, 2017

How to Pick the Right Background Check Company!



Choosing the best background check company for you may seem like a daunting task. It is easy to question yourself and your decisions. 


Will the company you are considering do the job right? Will they be easy to work with? What kind of information can they find, and is it quality information? And of course, you are always worried about cost.

But most importantly, you may wonder if a background check company is really on the up and up. 

How do you really know who you can trust?


Here I take a look back at the second installment of a three part series I wrote when launching my blog. I wanted to focus on the 3 common and confusing questions that many employers have about background checks

  1. Why should I use background checks to hire? 
  2. How can I choose a quality background check company? 
  3. What can do with the information in the background check report to help me hire?

I covered the "Why" in, "What You Need to Know about Background Checks".


Now you need to know "How" ~ specifically, How to pick the right background check company for you!

When choosing a screening company, it is important that you do your research and ask the right questions.


My advice is to focus on finding a company that will with WITH you, not just for you! They should be a true partner in your quest to find the right employees that will help your company succeed.

Now you just need to know what to look for!

A good Background Check Provider should:

  1. Focus on Your Needs
  2. Use Direct, Reliable Sources for their Information
  3. Take the Time to Do It Right
  4. Stay Informed on Hiring Laws and Regulations
  5. Not Put Cost over Quality

You can find out more about these tips in; "5 Tips to Help You Choose the Best Background Check Company for You"!





In addition to these suggestions, I would add the following:

Word of Mouth
Ask other business owners you know. Who do they use for their employment screenings? If they are satisfied with that company's work, chances are you will be too!

Reviews / Customer Referrals
Find out what their clients are saying about them. Search for them online and see what is posted. While you can't take every review as gospel, it is possible to look for a trend.

Pay Attention to the Company's "Vibe"  
How do you feel when you are talking with them? Are they showing genuine interest in you are does it feel like they are just in it for the sell? Your gut feelings can go a long way towards picking the right screener. Having a comfortable working relationship with any company you do business with often takes time, but your initial impression should be given some weight.

Choosing the right background check company doesn't have to be difficult. All it takes is asking the right questions and using your instincts. And when done right, you will find that your hiring process is easier and more productive than ever! 

Be sure to check back next week when I revisit the final article in this series on how you can use your background check report to hire right! 

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Monday, July 10, 2017

What You Need to Know about Background Checks



Why, When, and How Should You be Using Background Checks in Your Business?

This is the one big question that drove me to start my blog, and one that continues to stymy many business owners! 

Back in 2012, when I was just getting started with the whole social media marketing thing, I found that so many companies were confused and unsure about background checks. They really didn't understand how using them to help make hiring decisions was good for them and their business.

Many cited money reasons ~ after all, they were looking at spending their hard earned funds on someone that they may not even end up hiring. Others didn't think that the information they could find during an employment screening would really be of any value.

Then there were these 3 big questions ~ 

  1. Why should I use background checks to hire? 
  2. How can I choose a quality background check company? 
  3. What can do with the information in the background check report to help me hire?





This confusion prompted me to start off my blog with a 3 part series of articles designed to answer these questions and help alleviate the confusion ~ a lofty undertaking if I do say so myself!


I began by focusing my first article on the question of "Why" using screening potential employees makes sense.



I believe in this as a fundamental truth ~ employment background checks are a crucial step in helping you hire the most qualified and safest employees for your business.



Employment Screening will Help You:

  • Determine Your Applicant's honesty
  • Create a Safer Workplace
  • Protect Company Assets
  • Keep Compliant
  • Increase Your Protection from Lawsuits 

Discover more about the "why" of background checks in "5 Reasons Why You Need to Use Employment Background Checks".


In the next few weeks I will take a look back at the rest of this series and touch on "How" to choose the best background check company for you and "What" you can do with your background check report during your hiring process.


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Monday, July 3, 2017

Celebrating Our Small Business Independence!



Business Owners value our Independence!

Other than the love and dedication to our families, our businesses are what drives us, worries us, and sustains us.

Daily, we celebrate our ability to create something that is ours and to take it in the direction we want to go. 

We relish the idea that we are able to build a company that speaks to our core values and fulfills our biggest goals.

For me, that has always meant creating a company that is dedicated to helping others achieve their own entrepreneurial dreams ~ and that is still my ultimate goal today.


So this 4th of July, I am celebrating my, 
and my fellow entrepreneurs, own Independence Day!


I am celebrating our independent spirit and embracing our entrepreneurial freedoms. 


That is why I believe that Independence Day really speaks to Small Business Owners.

We believe in and appreciate the rights we have in this country to pursue our dreams ~ and owning our own businesses are a large part of those dreams!

We recognize and continue to fight for those freedoms. We cherish the opportunities that allow us to reach our goals and build something of our own we can be proud of.


I believe Small Business Owners are trailblazers, and nothing says “independence” more!


"I personally celebrate the freedom and independence I feel in running my own business.  The ability to pursue my own dreams is unequaled.  To me, this is true independence", quote from "Independence and What it Really Means to Your Small Business"!
  
  



I leave you with one last thought from my article on Independence and Small Business,

"This 4th of July, while we celebrate the independence of our nation, let us also remember that it is alive and well in the hearts, minds, and businesses of our Small Business Owners - our innovators, our inventors, and our instigators!".


Happy Independence Day!


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Monday, June 26, 2017

Is Your Online Degree Valid?



Are Online Degrees Valid?

I was recently asked this question on Quora.com (a question and answer site) and think that the whole subject of online degrees is one of confusion and concern.

Some are skeptical of anything done solely "online". While others question how academically sound getting a degree online can be.

And there are also proponents of online learning that applaud its accessibility and flexibility. There are many who without online options would be unable to pursue a degree.

Now is the time that new graduates are making decisions about their futures. There are also a good number of those already employed who are considering a job upgrade or career change.

For many of these, getting their degree online seems to make sense.

There are those that want or need to hold a job while going to school. Others may have families and taking classes during non-traditional hours is appealing.

But instead of jumping right in, this is when I say "Do Your Homework"!

The truth is, not all online degrees are created equal. Just as there are good and bad when it comes to traditional colleges and universities, the same can be said of those that are online.

That is why before you commit to any online school, it pays to Do Your Homework!




Your best tactic in making sure the institution you choose is legitimate and will meet your needs is to ask yourself these 3 questions first.


3 Questions to Ask before You enroll for courses or pursue your degree online:

Will Your Online Degree come from an Accredited Institution?
You should only consider schools who have met the strict standards it takes to achieve accreditation. Otherwise, your degree may not be worth the paper it is printed on. Employers will give weight to an school's reputation and quality.  

Will Your Online Degree be Easy to Verify?
Making it difficult for potential employers to verify your degree is counterproductive. A credible institution will have an easy-to-find phone number, or other contact information, making it simple to validate your education information. To make it even easier, be sure to include this contact information in your application or resume. Your potential employer (and any background check company they hire) will thank you! 

Does the Online Program Fit Your Career Goals?
Only those schools that can give you the skills necessary to achieve your career goals should be considered. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and money. This advice fits if you are choosing a traditional university too! 

Find out more about what to look for in an online university, and how online learning can even be beneficial, in Warning, Check for these 3 Criteria Before You Pursue Your Online Degree!







So, what should be Your Takeaway when it comes to Online Degrees? 


Do your homework and make sure that your online degree will be worth the time and money you spend on achieving it!

Now, to get back to the original question, "Are Online Degrees Valid?", here is the answer I posted:

"I will answer this question from the perspective of someone who does employment background checks for a living ~ online degrees can be problematic. When trying to verify them, I have consistently run into problems. No clear cut person or department to contact. Trouble finding a valid contact phone number. When verifiers run into these kinds of problems, it is not only frustrating for them, but also for the employer. Then there is also the question of accreditation. Bottom line ~ not all online universities are created equal. However, those online courses and degrees that are linked to a traditional “brick and mortar” school are easy to verify and carry with them a weight of credibility that is not questioned."

(To see this answer, and those of others, to this question on Quora.com, click here!)


That is why it is crucial that you take the time needed to do your homework. Only then can you be assured that the degree you earn online will work for you, not against you!



What Do You Think? Pay it Forward and Share your opinions and experiences with getting a degree online!


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