Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day ~ What Small Business can Do to Make a Difference

Earth Day - What Small Business can do to Make a Difference

April 22nd is Earth Day!
What began 22 years ago as a protest against the negative environmental impacts of our nation’s industrial development has now morphed into a global movement to save our planet.

According to the official Earth Day site*, over “1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads”.

Businesses and governments also pledge to make efforts to help. 

And if you own a Small Business, you can also take steps to Make a Difference!

As Small Business Owners, we are increasingly focusing on our communities and our environment. We recognize the impact that even small changes can make, especially when we all band together. 

And “going green” may even help improve our image and our business by appealing to environmentally conscientious consumers! 

But sometimes we just don’t know where to start!

A great first step is to understand what changes we can make in our daily business operations to help.

Small Businesses can:

Control Energy Use
We can start by tracking our energy and water use. This information will help find areas of waste and develop a plan to help you improve. And there are apps to help with that. Contact your local utility companies to find out more. We can also make it company policy to turn off or “hibernate” electronics and shut off lights when not in use.

Use Environmentally Friendly Products
Switching to laptops and other small electronic devices over desk tops is a start. We can also use rechargeable batteries, recycle paper, and try to reuse packaging material like boxes and folders whenever possible. Donating or recycling our old electronics is good practice.

Allow Remote Working 
If it is at all possible, giving your employees the flexibility to work from home, at least periodically, is a great way to cut down on the environmental impact of driving, or even using public transportation, to work. As an added benefit, It is also a welcome perk that can help you attract quality hires to your small business. Find out more in “4 Reasons Why Job Seekers will want to Work for Your Small Business!”.

Shop Local
Supporting other local, small businesses can also help our environment. Buying your supplies from local merchants helps cut down on fuel used in delivery. The same goes for buying your supplies locally. Even outsourcing or contracting work to local companies can help.

What You and Your Small Business can do to Help Our Planet!

But to really have an impact, it is important that you and your small business make your efforts to “Go Green” a part of the way you do business everyday!

And while it is certainly important that our Small Businesses do what they can to make a difference when it comes to helping our environment, it is also important that we, as consumers, do our part.

And one significant way we can help is to also Shop Local!

Shopping local is good for our communities and our environment!

When we Shop Local, we have the opportunity to make a huge impact on our environment and in our community. It is also a great way to promote Small Business.

Shopping Local uses less fuel. 
The markets and shops we visit are right in our own neighborhood. The fuel used by trucks that carry the goods from the local farmer or manufacturer is also lessened. When we buy local, we conserve that energy.

Local goods use less packaging. 
Whether it is the produce from a local farmer’s market or some other good from a neighborhood store, the packaging is often minimal when compared to nationally sold goods.

Shopping Local helps our Community.  
By frequenting local merchants, we become active and important members of our neighborhoods. We become acquainted with the owners of those businesses and they get to know us. This creates a real sense of “community” and connection.

Shopping local keeps our money “in town”. 
Money we spend at a local storefront or farmer’s market is a true reinvestment in our community. In this way we can have a real economic impact in helping support and grow local business”.

Learn more about how Shopping “Small” pairs perfectly with Earth Day in “Save Our Environment ~ Shop Local!”.

Protecting and Improving our environment needs to be a group effort. 

We must recognize that we are all in this together. Our government, our businesses, and our people need to all do our part to save our planet and our resources.

We can Do it Together!

Authored by   

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*Source 1:

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Are Your Release Forms all they Should Be? What You Need to Know!

What You Need to Know about Your Background Check Release Forms!
Hiring employees is a top goal for many companies.

It is a way to grow and open up new business potential. It is also a way to give back to the community.

But hiring comes with responsibilities.

To really be a benefit to your company, it must be done right.

That means establishing a sound hiring process and screening all potential new hires. Both are an important step in keeping your company safe and viable.

The entire hiring process, however, cannot and should not begin before you create a compliant background check authorization and applicant rights disclosure form.  

It is required that these forms are given to your applicant after a conditional offer of employment and before you begin screening. They ensure that your applicants understand that a background check will be done, that they consent to the background check, and that they know their rights in the event that a “red flag” is found during the investigation. This information must be given to each applicant, in writing, before the background check begins either in person or electronically.

That is why creating a compliant background check authorization form is so important”, except from “Stop, Don’t Even Think of Hiring Before You Do This!” 

Besides informing the applicant, compliant background check release and disclosure forms also protect your company. 

There are companies who have faced significant lawsuits for violations regarding these forms under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).

That is why you must educate yourself about what can be and should be included in these forms, and what cannot! Remember, a good background check company can help you with this!

Get Your Background Check Forms Compliant Now!

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the FCRA offer sound guidance to help companies achieve compliance and avoid costly litigation.

You should first understand that the FCRA considers background check reports as “consumer reports”. These reports are used as a way to determine a person’s eligibility for employment and include information on your applicant’s “character, general reputation, and personal characteristics”.

In order to be compliant with FCRA guidelines concerning these background checks, employers must:

  • Disclose to your applicant that a background check will be done.
  • Obtain a signed authorization allowing the background check.
  • Notify your applicant if adverse information is found that might affect your hiring decision.
  • Provide your applicant with a copy of the report.
  • Give your applicant sufficient time to review the report and challenge or mitigate the findings.
  • Notify your applicant if you decide to rescind your offer of employment.

These guidelines are designed to make the entire employment background check process fair and transparent.

Using compliant disclosure and background check authorization forms is the first, and best, start to this process.

Under FCRA guidelines, you can combine your disclosure and the background check release in one form. However, your wording must be completely clear and easy to understand. Excessive or complicated legal terms should be eliminated.

In addition, waivers releasing your company from liability for conducting and/or using the background check to determine employment must also be excluded.

Bottom Line ~ your authorization / disclosure form needs to be a completely “Stand Alone” document! 

Some examples of language that the FTC recommends you avoid on your disclosure / release forms are:

  • Any statement requiring that your prospective employee certify that all information their application is accurate.
  • Wording that asks your prospective employee to acknowledge that all hiring decisions are based on non-discriminatory criteria.
  • Broad authorizations that permit the release of information that the FCRA recommends be excluded from a background screening report (for example, convictions over 10 years old).
  • Any additional mentions of authorization, disclosures, or waivers (instead these should be listed in a completely separate document).

But despite these clear-cut guidelines, there are still some companies who have not taken action.

Instead, they continue to use their existing outdated, non-compliant forms. 

Some may not have really taken notice of the new compliance regulations. They may have a small business and take on the employment screening duties themselves ~ without the guidance of a good background check firm.

Others may simply not see the urgency. They may think their forms are just fine and have been working well for them for years.

No matter what the reason, this course of action is not good business. 

It makes your company vulnerable and exposes it, and you, to potential litigation ~ something that should concern every company!

That is why the time is NOW to get your employment background check release and disclosure forms compliant and in order.

We can help you update your forms and your hiring practices so you can safely hire the quality employees you need!

Authored by     

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Do You have what it Takes to be a Good Leader?

Do You have what it takes to be a Good Leader?

To answer that question, it is important that you first consider this….What are the top traits that the most inspirational leaders you know really have?

When I think about the best people I have known in my life, I often look to my parents, teachers, friends, and my business connections.

Many of them have had great impact on me personally and in my professional career.

But when it comes to who among them I believe is a good leader, my list becomes more selective. I find myself looking for qualities in these people that bring out the best in those around them. 

Soon a pattern emerges and I discover that there are traits that all the best leaders have in common

Whether these leaders are found in business, our personal lives, or among our nation’s government, I believe the characteristics of a Strong Leader are:

They Lead by Example, not Force
Instead of demanding things from those around them, the best leaders demand the most from themselves. They “walk the walk, not just talk the talk”.
These leaders persuade instead of command and control.

They Inspire Others
A true leader must a driving force. They must embody the strength of character and ideals that others want to emulate.

They Practice Mutual Respect
Mutual Respect is when people are given the freedom to share their opinions and ideas without being dismissed. Good leaders consider all these opinions, even if those ideas are different than their own. Practicing mutual respect also means that everyone’s rights are protected and they feel safe and valued.  

They are Fair, Kind, and Honest
Good leaders are strong believers in fair play, right from wrong. They are completely honest with themselves and others but, most importantly, that honesty is tempered with kindness. 

They Act with Humility 
The best leaders don’t believe they are better or smarter than everyone else. They understand that they don’t know and can't do everything. They are willing to own their mistakes and learn from them.

They Recognize Strengths, Weaknesses, and Know how to Delegate
Whether it is individuals or the team as a whole, good leaders are able to pin point what is working and what is not. They also recognize what each member of the team brings to the whole. Because of this, good leaders recognize the best person for the job and then empower them to get things done.

But perhaps the most important trait of a Good Leader is that they are comfortable placing their focus more on how they can help others than on how they can get ahead themselves. 

In business, there are those who think that to get ahead you need to be cutthroat and focused squarely on your own goals.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Instead, the very best leaders find ways to make a difference in the lives of those around them and to help them unselfishly reach their own goals.

This ideal is called being a “Servant Leader”.

In 1970, Robert K. Greenleaf coined the phrase “Servant Leadership”. This concept focused on the importance of good leaders being a “servant” first.

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” *Source1

Servant leaders value and encourage diverse opinions, cultivate an atmosphere of trust, and selflessness. They also focus on developing future leaders out of those around them.

These types of leaders are not afraid of the success of others. They consistently help and support those around them in order to help others achieve their own goals.

But, to be a true Servant Leader, compassion is the key. 

These leaders create strong relationships and show true caring through their actions, not their words. They actively look for ways that they can benefit others, and they work hard to help solve their problems and listen to their concerns.  

Many times this willingness to help another person succeed takes the form of mentoring. 

“Being a Mentor requires that you be genuinely interested in another person’s growth, with no real expectation of tangible personal gain. Invite the mentee into your “inner circle”. Introduce them to who you know and include them in your professional groups. In other words, “Pay it Forward”, “Make A Difference”, and Pave the Way”!”, excerpt from “Are You Ready to be a Mentor?”.

Good leadership should not be about demanding. When you have to demand respect, loyalty, or dedication, then you are doing something wrong. 

Instead, the really great leaders lead by example. Day in and day out they act in the way they want those around them to act. They work hard, build relationships, and value others.  

So, to get back to my original question, “Do you have what it takes to be a Good Leader”?

You do if you have the drive to inspire, a strong sense of fair play, true compassion, and the willingness to be a positive force in the lives of others. Then you are ready to be the kind of Leader that can truly Make a Difference! 

Authored by  

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Source *1 ~ “What is Servant Leadership”

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Considering Growing Your Business? What You Need to Know Before You Start!

Don't Expand Your Business Before You ask Yourself These Questions!

Are You Ready to Grow Your Business?
When you start a business, you have a lot of hopes and dreams about where it will take you. You imagine things like financial security, doing something you love, and even just being your own boss.

Running your own business also comes with a lot of responsibilities. There are important decisions that need to be made concerning your business. There are the day to day tasks such as dealing with customers, overseeing inventory, invoicing, and paying bills.

But perhaps one of the most important decisions you will ever make is deciding if and when it is time to grow your business!

When it comes to growing and expanding your business, it is never wise to go in blindly. There are things you need to carefully consider before taking that step, and tips to help you if you ultimately decide to proceed.

If you get to the point where you start thinking about making that leap, then it is crucial that you take a good long look at your business first. And the best way to do that is to ask yourself some hard questions!

Before Deciding to Grow or Expand Your Business, Ask Yourself:

  • Are your existing products and services effective, or would you need to provide new ones?
  • Is your brand established?
  • Does your business have a strong and recognizable presence?

But perhaps the most important question you can ask yourself is….
Can You handle the Risks that come with Growing Your Business?

Growing your business comes with certain risks ~ if it didn’t, everyone would do it! These risks can effect both your Personal and Professional lives.

Personal Risks
It is important that you realize that in your quest to grow your business, you will not be the only one to feel the strain. Increased stress, health issues, time commitments and a seeming lack of control can all effect not just you but your personal relationships and commitments too.

Professional Risks
When you choose to expand your business, you open it up to potential business risks. These can impact your finances, customers, and employees.

That is why it is important to consider the following:

Your Business “Health”
Is Your Business Healthy enough to Sustain Growth? Making sure you really know the ins and outs of your company’s finances is essential. Do you have the capital, or will you need to borrow to fund your expansion? Have your profits continued to grow to the level where growth makes sense and are they consistent? Will the potentially altered timing of money in and money out create too much of a financial strain? 

Your Clients and Customers
Are you able to keep your current customer service up to par during the expansion? Will the increased demand on your time cause your customer service to go downhill? Without attention to this potential problem, your customers may begin to feel neglected.

Your Employees
Are you and your workforce up to the challenge? Do you have the necessary manpower to cover the expansion or would you need to hire? If you need to hire, will you consider temp or seasonal hires instead of committing to full-time ones?

Change is hard. You may find that your employees are uncertain or even fearful about the expansion. They may not even have the skills necessary to be successful during this transition. Growing your business can put a strain on your existing workforce that you have not foreseen.

So, before you commit to the expansion, it is essential that you dig deep and be completely honest with yourself about your company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Taking the time now to identify and understand the personal and professional risks associated with expanding your business, and whether you and you company is ready for them, makes you better informed on whether it is the right time to proceed. It also gives you the opportunity to come up with solutions to solve, or at least mitigate, these risks. 

However, it is important to remember that while there are risks in deciding to grow your business, there are also great rewards.

Expanding your business brings the potential for greater revenue, a larger voice in your market, and the personal and professional satisfaction of taking your business to the next level. It can give you a pride of accomplishment that is hard to match.

The key is to go in with your eyes wide open. 

Only after understanding the risks and rewards can you then think about going forward with your business expansion plan ~ and taking these steps will help!

Before You Begin:

Consider consulting an intellectual property attorney
Make sure your tagline and brand are trademarked and that any patents and / or copyrights are in place. 

Develop a Detailed and Precise plan
Decide what kind of business growth makes sense for you and your company and what you need to do to get there.

Here are 5 options you should consider:

DiversifyYou could add to your existing products or services, or choose to offer something completely new. Just make sure whatever you do is in line with your brand and your business goals.

Target New MarketsWhile you are currently having success with the market(s) you now serve, it might be time to consider something new. Focusing on a completely new market can give you just the growth push your company needs.

Buy, Merge, or Partner with another BusinessWhen you buy, merge, or partner with another business, you are immediately pooling your resources, services, and your markets. This grows your customer base and your collective skills and experience.

Open Another LocationThis can be risky but, if done right, can yield great rewards. It is important that you first consider the additional costs involved in acquiring the new location and the additional employees needed to run it. 

Increase Your Social Media PresenceThis can be a great “first step” for many businesses looking to grow and expand. Having a broader online presence can get you noticed and help you build credibility and recognition.

Learn more about how these tips can work for you in “
5 Steps to Help You Grow Your Business”.

No matter what you choose, the key is to pick the business growth options that work for you and your business. Focus on the ones that take into consideration both the risks and rewards that make sense.

There is no doubt that Growth and Expansion are ultimate goals for most business owners and entrepreneurs. But you must not go in blindly. 

Taking the time to ask yourself the hard questions, being honest with yourself about the risks, and ready with solutions to potential problems will go a long way towards making your quest to grow your business successful.

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

It’s Time to Stop the Bullying in our Schools

The time is now to stop School Bullying!

The horrific and violent tragedies that have been happening in our schools, both recently and in the past, need to be our wake-up call ~ and if not now, when?

And while there are multiple reasons why these tragedies occur, I believe that dealing with school bullying needs to be on the list. 

There are very real ramifications to school bullying that we should all face. The victims of this type of bullying often become alienated from their peers and begin to feel inferior. And what we feel about ourselves when we are children often continues on into adulthood.

There are even some school-yard bullies who go on to continue their bullying as adults.

Neither scenario is good for us or our society. 

These continuing behaviors can even be seen in our workplaces. That is why I addressed the consequences of workplace bullying in one of my previous articles. 

When adults are bullied, their health and work productivity plummet. It also “takes away from the environment most business owners are trying to create – an environment where each employee is encouraged and rewarded” and feels safe.

Find out more about the consequences and solutions to Workplace Bullying in “Bullying ~ Adults do it To!”.

The effects and practice of bullying starts early. It happens on our playgrounds and in our schools ~ often from the elementary level on.

And if we truly want it to stop, we first need to take the issue of bullying seriously.

We can no longer encounter bullying and say things like “kids will be kids” or think it is simply childhood “teasing”. We can’t blame the victim or tell them they need to “toughen up”.

But, most importantly, we can’t continue to base our lack of action in stopping the bullying on the belief that “it happened to me when I was a kid and I turned out fine”!

These are simply excuses for inaction and counter-productive sentiments that get us no where.

Instead, we need to address the behavior of the bully, not the victim, square on. We need to get students, teachers, parents, and administrators on board. We all need to be in on the solution.

We need Students to:

  • Create and participate in more peer mediation and student groups to address the problem.
  • Be willing and encouraged to stand up for the victims of bullying.
  • Practice the idea of “see something, say something”.
  • Strive for inclusion.
  • Let no one sit alone at lunch! 

For children who feel alienated and bullied, lunch time is a time of loneliness and isolation. It is only exacerbated when they see the rest of their peers sitting with their friends and having fun.

But there are ways for students to help. 

I recently came across an article about a program started by Denis Estimon, a former high school student, to help solve the problem.

Along with some of his friends, Estimon started a club called “We Dine Together”. Each day group members would seek out anyone who was alone at lunch and simply sit down with them. Before long, these students, who may not have ever connected without the program, would get to know each other and form real friendships.

Estimon, who has graduated since starting the group, has dedicated himself to taking the program nationwide. Find out more about “We Dine Together” here!

And while getting the students themselves involved in stopping school bullying is good, it is not enough. Adults must take on the biggest role for finding a solution!

Teachers, Administrators, and especially Parents, must join together and help put an end to bullying in our schools.

Teachers need to:

  • Keep an eye open for instances of bullying.
  • Look for students who are loners, who are feeling alienated, or are being bullied.
  • Act quickly on observed instances and accusations of bullying.
  • Place their focus squarely on stopping the bully.

Administrators need to:

  • Take bullying seriously.
  • Establish a strong, detailed anti-bullying policy.
  • Equip teachers with the training and tools to spot bullying.
  • Act on allegations of bullying from teachers, students, and parents.
  • Establish clear consequences for both bullying and retaliation against those that report bullying.

The focus needs to be placed entirely on stopping the bully. The victim should never be made to feel that they have somehow brought the bullying on themselves. They should never be told to simply ignore it and it will stop or that it is part of growing up.

We must all take a stand and say “Bullying is never okay”!

However, the most important piece to solving the school bullying puzzle lies with the parents. How parents address the issue of bullying at home carries over into our schools. 

Parents need to: 

  • Never tolerate bullying at home.
  • Never be a bully themselves.
  • Promptly address any bullying behavior from your own children, other children, or even adults.
  • Cooperate with the school or other authorities if your child is bullying or the victim of bullying.
  • Monitor your child’s social media for bullying and mentions of bullying. Be aware of both things they post and share and posts they see from others.
  • Cultivate an atmosphere of open communication with your child.
  • Encourage empathy and compassion.
  • Lead by example.

Acting as an anti-bullying example is the most important thing a parent can do. How we treat our children, our spouse, other family members, friends, and even strangers has a great impact on our children. If we act with kindness and compassion, our children will learn to do the same.

But, if instead, we are critical, rude, and bullying ourselves, our children will learn by our example and think that is how they are allowed to behave. 

The bottom line is that bullying is not acceptable and it should not happen in our homes or in our schools. We must do what we can to stop it early. 

Ending bullying will go a long way towards making our schools safer and more focused on what they should be ~ the teaching of our children and helping to develop strong, caring adults. This should be our ultimate goal.

But, to truly stop school bullying, we cannot continue to place the burden mainly on our students. We must, as adults, do everything we can to identify and help those who are left out, ignored, and bullied.

Remember, children who bully often grow up to be adults who bully. And children who are the victim of bullying can grow up to be fearful or angry adults. Neither is good for them as individuals or for the safety of our society. Stopping bullying early can help save us from the future ramifications caused by allowing it to continue.

The time is now for us to work together to find a solution and, for once and for all, stop the bullying of our children.

Authored by  

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Should You Pay Your Interns? The New Guidelines You Need to Know Now!

Are You Paying Your Interns?

It is once again the time of year that many high school and college students and soon-to-be grads are looking for internships. All know that being an intern can be a great way to explore or jump start their career.

However, in recent years a debate has surfaced as to whether interns should be paid. Those on the “pro” side say that interns are doing the work so deserve the money. Those against paying interns say it is a learning experience and does not warrant a salary.

So, what is an employer to do?

The Department of Labor set out to aid companies in answering that question. They established a “6 Factor Test” to help employers determine if their interns were entitled to receive the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In order for an internship to be unpaid, the DOL stated that the following criteria had to be met:

1.  The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.

2.  The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.

3.  The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.

4.  The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.

5.  The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.

6.  The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
Many employers believed these guidelines to be too restrictive and limiting.

Early in 2018 the Department of Labor revised this test to answer these concerns. The new test is designed to give employers more flexibility to hire unpaid interns. 

It is called the “Primary Beneficiary” test. In order for companies to hire unpaid interns, the intern must be the “primary beneficiary” of the internship, not the company. 

This new test is thought to be more flexible. It allows for the determination to not pay an intern to be based on more than one factor and can be decided on a case by case basis

The new factors to determine paid versus unpaid interns now are decided by the following criteria:

  • Whether an intern clearly understands that there is to be no compensation and that any promise of compensation implies that the intern is an employee.
  • Whether the training provided during the internship is similar to what would be learned in an academic setting, including hands-on training and clinics.
  • Whether the intern receives academic credits and/or the internship is closely related to the intern’s course work.
  • Whether the internship follows and accommodates the intern’s academic calendar.
  • Whether the internship is limited to the time it takes to provide the intern with “beneficial learning”.
  • Whether the intern is doing the actual work of paid employees instead of simply complementing the work of the company’s paid employees.
  • Whether the intern and the employer fully understand that the intern is not entitled to a paid job after the internship ends.

Despite these updated guidelines, I believe there are very real benefits for companies that pay their interns.

A Paying Internship will Attract a Larger Number of Quality Interns
One of the main problems with unpaid internships is that despite the incentive of increasing their experience, many need the money. Most college students and graduates are in debt.  They simply can’t afford to work for nothing.  

Their options are to forgo applying for your internship in favor of one that pays, applying for your internship and taking a paying part-time job to make ends meet, or deciding to avoid interning at all and find a paid position.

When you opt to pay your interns, your internship will become much more attractive.  This will ultimately increase your applicants and provide you with a wider range of talented applicants from which to choose.

A Payed Internship Helps You Avoid Litigation
An increasing number of unpaid interns have been successful in suing the companies that hired them. Citing unfair labor practices, these interns have not only won their suits, but the companies have suffered unwanted negative publicity.

In addition, following the Department of Labor’s internship guidelines, even the newly revised ones, might not always be easy. Opting to pay your interns instead eliminates you from having to worry about them.

Pay Equals Professionalism
For Interns ~ Pay Equals Professionalism! This is my Top Reason Why Paying Your Interns Makes Sense!

An intern that gets paid will take their internship more seriously. There is a fundamental feeling of satisfaction and professionalism that comes with getting paid for your work.  This is part of the experience an intern craves.  

In contrast, an unpaid intern may feel like nothing more than an observer instead of an active and important part of your team. They may feel “less than” and will be hesitant to jump in and offer their insights or even ask questions.

Paying your interns will also give them a better feeling about you and your company.  And this bodes well in the event you want to hire your best interns now or in the future.
The Bottom Line - Getting Paid will give Your Intern more confidence and a better stake in both the internship and your company! 

Discover more about why you should consider paying your interns here!

No matter whether you choose to pay your interns or not, employers need to be savvy when it comes to the existing internship guidelines, and any to stay abreast of any changes. Understanding how these rules impact how you treat your interns is crucial to keeping your company compliant and safe.

Authored by   

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Will a Background Check find every Job I ever had ~ even if I don’t list them on my resume?

"Can the average employer reveal work history that I don’t provide through a background check?".

I was recently asked to weigh in on this question, and here is my answer

"A good background check will uncover your entire work history ~ even jobs you didn’t include in your resume or application. The typical time span covered by most employment background checks is 7 - 10 years, so any positions you held during that time are likely to be found. Not including every job you ever had may not necessarily be held against you. Many applicants are now tailoring their resumes to highlight those jobs that relate to the position to which they are applying. This helps showcase your relevant skills. 

However, if you are eliminating jobs because you fear that what will be found could keep you from getting hired, then that is another story. Best practice is to highlight the jobs that are relevant to the position first, then make a bullet type list of any others. Then, during the interview, be forthcoming about any issues at these past employments that may put you in a bad light. Being proactive and upfront in this situation will help your potential new employers see you in a good light. 

That is why I recommend that before you ever even apply for a job, you find out exactly what former employers will reveal about you first! A good background check company can help you. This way you will be completely prepared long before you are put on the spot by something found during your background check! Good luck!".

The above question is not uncommon. 

Job seekers often wonder what an employment background check will find. And while it certainly depends on the scope of the check requested, it is always best for anyone applying for a job to expect it will find it all!

When it comes specifically to work history, a good background check will find your previous employments whether you list it on your resume or not!

So, instead of thinking, or even hoping, that a prior job won’t be found, it is best to expect it will be. That is why being truthful on your resume or application is your best strategy!

Start by creating an honest list of your past jobs at least for the past 10 years, or longer if relevant. Contact each of these former employers and verify what information they will release to prospective employers asking for verifications. Is it limited to job title and dates of employment? Will they verify your reason for leaving or comment on work performance?

Take careful note of their answers. Then, based on that information, make any necessary corrections to your resume.

Keep in mind that when it comes to employment verifications, most potential employers are looking for ~ the types of jobs you have held, how long you were in a position, whether you progressed within the company, and your reason for leaving. In addition, they are interested in any projects you worked on or spear-headed while there.

The goal here is to know what employment information will be released about you and make sure your resume is completely in line with that.

I have seen applicants rejected simply because the job title listed on their resume did not match that supplied by the past employer.  Don’t let this happen to you!

Discover more tips “to Help You Get Your Resume Background Check Ready” here!

Before you apply for any job, I also recommend you get a background check on yourself! Knowing in advance what a potential employer will find is invaluable. 

In addition to your employment history, best practice is to check for the following:

Criminal Records
Check in any place you have lived and/or worked in at least the last 7 to 10 years. While you should certainly know whether you have a criminal history, there is the possibility one may be found. You may have a forgotten charge or you may even have a criminal case erroneously linked to you.

Verify the diploma, degree, or certificate you claim with your high school, college, university, etc.. Make sure they the information they release matches what you claim. Order official transcripts if necessary. The key here is to discover what they will give to any potential employer. And take note, if you have any outstanding school fees, pay them now. Many institutions will not release graduation information if they are unpaid!

Driving History
This is especially important if the job for which you are applying requires driving as part of the job description or you may be entitled to a company car.

Social Media Search
Find out what is “out there” before a potential employer does. Look at your social profiles on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media sites you may use. See what they will see. Does it project the image you want? Make any changes necessary to make them show you in a good light.

Discover more tips to help in “Why You Should Run a Background Check on Yourself”!

When it comes to the employment background check, the more honest and detailed your resume, the less likely there will be any “red flags” that could keep you from getting the job.

That is why taking these steps before you try and land your dream job makes sense. They will give you the information you need to build a resume that will work for you, not against you!

And after all, isn’t that your ultimate goal?

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Are You Ready to be a Mentor?

February 12th is Mentoring Monday!

Sponsored by Business Journals, Mentoring Monday events across the country give women the chance to meet with successful area business women. The goal is to help grow and strengthen a community of talented and committed women who are dedicated to making women a business force in our country. 

Mentoring Monday simultaneously brings together 10,000 business women in 43 markets across the country. Its format allows for face-to-face “speed mentoring” from female leaders in each city.

Mentoring Monday enables (women) to reconnect with long-time contacts and to connect with people who you would like to meet but might not otherwise have access to.” (Source1)

This goal makes sense!

Giving women mentors who have “been there” and know how to overcome the obstacles present in today’s business world is invaluable.

But while Mentoring Monday is a great start, it shouldn’t stop there. Mentoring should be something that is embraced throughout the year.

And that is especially true in the workplace!

When done right, Mentoring can truly help jumpstart a person’s career.

While some businesses already understand the benefits of a strong internal Mentoring program, not all are as yet so savvy.

Business owners would be wise to embrace the idea of Mentoring. It is a great way to “onboard” new hires, especially those who have recently graduated and interns just entering the workforce. It can also be valuable as a way to get existing employees ready for promotion.

Why Should You Be a Mentor?

A great way to make a difference in your own and someone else's life is to think about what you can do for others. Why not take what you have learned and "pay it forward"? Become a Mentor!.

Many of us can say we had a teacher or parent that helped guide us into becoming who we are today. They encouraged us, led by example, and gave us the tools to achieve our goals. 

But does it, or should it, stop there? I believe we need to keep that momentum going and Mentoring, especially in our professional lives, is where I believe we can shine!

To me, being a Mentor requires that you be genuinely interested in another person’s growth, with no real expectation of tangible personal gain.

Invite the mentee into your “inner circle”. Introduce them to who you know and include them in your professional groups. In other words, “Pay it Forward”, “Make A Difference”, and Pave the Way!". 
excerpts from “Mentoring ~ How You can “Make a Difference”!

If we are lucky, many of us will or have had great mentors in our lives. It may have been a former boss, a teacher, or even a trusted friend.

Good mentoring is not easy. It really takes a sacrifice of time and energy to do it well. But the reward of knowing you have truly helped someone find their own success is worth it.

How will You know if Mentoring is Right for You?
Being a Mentor is a time commitment. You will need to be there to guide your mentee, help them make connections, and answer their questions when needed. It also helps if you go in with your eyes wide open.

The best mentors are people who:

  • Teach and Lead by Example
  • Truly want to share their Experience and Knowledge
  • Enjoy encouraging and motivating others
  • Are willing to help their Mentees network with other Leaders and Executives
  • Can Step Back and allow their Mentee to set the pace
  • Realize the time commitment and are willing to be flexible and see it through
  • Are Open to Learning something new themselves
  • Can Recognize when it isn’t working

The last trait is perhaps the most important in any mentoring relationship. People that mentor go into it with good intentions. But, as in any relationship, there are times when personalities clash or your or your mentee’s situations change. There simply may come a time that continuing the mentoring relationship is no longer viable.

That is when you may need to part ways. This is not a failure, it is just being realistic. However, there is no need to sever all ties. Instead, you could suggest another mentor that may be a better option. Or, at the very least, keep in touch. You never know when situations may change and your mentoring relationship can move forward.  

But, when it works, there is nothing like it. The best mentoring relationships create a feeling of mutual respect and friendship. They can even forge a potentially life-long connection.

My husband is the perfect example of this. Through the years he has consistently helped people further their own careers. He was there to help them get new and better jobs, answer their questions, encourage their pursuits, and listen to their concerns. He truly feels his greatest professional accomplishment was being able to see so many of the people he helped become successful.

Despite having recently retired, it is a true testament to the kind of mentoring job he did that he remains very close to everyone he has ever helped and is in touch with them often.

When done right, Mentoring is such a positive experience that many mentees pay it forward and eventually become mentors themselves.

And that is when you know your Mentoring has really made a difference!

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Source1: Connecting ~ Get Ready for Mentoring Monday