Online College Degree

The importance of having an education in this current day and age can not be stressed enough. Without having a decent education, trying to find a decent paid job is more or less impossible. Long gone are the days where one can simply enter into a company young with no qualifications and gradually work up the ladder. This has already been evident by the large number of unskilled workers that have been written off work due to the recession. Many people that tend to avoid college either do so by personal choice, but mainly due to the lack of opportunity due to other responsibilities that they need to fulfill.

Many people believe that the only way to earn a degree is by going to university or college.

Those that are not able to achieve this in their prime years for whatever reason feel that once the opportunity has gone, it will never return. Where this may have been true a couple of years ago, this is no longer the case. Education and obtaining degrees has achieved a completely new platform due to the introduction of online college degree programs. These online colleges have given many the opportunities to earn themselves a reputable degree by not even having to attend a college or university.

Not only about how to save money on tuition fees, but it is also known to make a number of savings in regards to accommodation and travel as well. The great thing about online college degrees is that they allow one to be able to study in their own time from home or any place that gives them access to the internet. These programs have specifically been designed to be flexible so that they can fit around any individual’s’ daily life schedule.

All of these online college degrees are usually affiliated by reputable universities. What that basically means is that the value of your online college degree would be equivalent to one that a person would receive upon attending a full degree course at university. Even though there are a large number of online college degree programs, it is very important that you opt to go with one that has a good reputation. There are quite a large number of online schools that do provide degrees and qualifications, however due to lack of acknowledgment, are never realized or accepted in the real working market.

Before you decide to commit yourself to any online college degree, it would be a good idea to do a bit of research on the institution that you are planning to do your degree from.

Read around by doing some background research on the institution and whether or not they are affiliated with any honorable and reputable educatory body. Another great approach that you can use is to look for past student reviews. These will give you a non bias view of what you can expect in terms of educational material and learning techniques from a particular online college in comparison to another.

Intentional Time Off

I often work with clients who have been laid off. They will sometimes tell me theyd like to take a couple weeks off to just rest and then get started on their job search.

I can relate. Like many of my clients, I have also been through a lay off and wanted to just catch my breath.

The problem is that often that two weeks flies by and becomes three, then four, then a few months have gone by, then to often, a year has rushed past. Strangely enough, you dont feel rested or like youve had a break. It just feels like youve wasted a lot of time and then the guilt sets in.

What I suggest to clients who feel they really would like to take a bit of time off prior to investigating options is to plan out what you will do and then when you will get back to it. Not only that, create a plan for what your job search will look like prior to taking a break.

Youre already in the swing of things and its much easier to craft a plan now than it will be after some time snoozing late and hanging out with the TV!

And about that instead of sleeping in and watching sitcoms, consider what helps you to feel truly rested and energized.

Does exercise help? Learning a new skill? Skiing? Getting a massage? Instead of spending your time, invest it in something that will truly nurture you and prepare you for your job search. For example, find a personal business coach to become more successful.

Planning out your rest may seem counter-intuitive, but it keeps you on a schedule. But isnt the point NOT to have a schedule? Well, not exactly. The point is to take a break. Continue to set your alarm it can be for a later time, but its a good habit to keep. Continue to exercise. Continue to eat healthy.

And when its time to get back to it, look to your plan and hop in. Get up at the time you would normally go to work and start your job search.

What is stopping you?

I’ve seen a few articles lately about how to know when it’s time to leave your job. Many of these posts had a handy list to compare yourself and your circumstances to.

I’d argue that most people don’t need a list.

Because deep down, they know exactly if they should leave their job. Working in a job that you don’t enjoy, working for a company that you don’t care about, working for a manager that you don’t care for, is like wearing a badly fitting pair of shoes. It’s always there, a minor but constant irritation. It rubs away at you.

Most people know when it is time to leave a job. They know it deep down somewhere inside that maybe they could, they should, maybe they would be happier somewhere else. Somewhere that fits better, for them.

A lot of the time what stops us is not the not knowing, but the not taking action.

We get stuck. Even if the job isn’t everything we wanted, it might be comfortable, reliable, easy, known. They say that familiarity breeds contempt. But it can also breed procrastination and indecision.

The thought of a new job can be daunting. Even overwhelming. New people, new places, new stuff.

So we get stuck in a job we don’t love.

When I am coaching, there are several questions I often revert to.

What is holding you back?
What is the worst thing that could happen?
How likely is this, really?

And finally. What is the best thing that could happen if you change this, do this, go for it.

So instead of reading a list and checking a tick box about whether it is time to leave your current role, maybe you should stop and reflect for a moment.

What is really stopping you?


LinkedIn Mistakes to Avoid

Today, LinkedIn is your elevator pitch, your virtual CV. It can help to sell you, or not. There are few interviewers who won’t take a sneaky link at your profile before an interview, so you need to make it count.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who are getting it wrong, and if job hunting could be reducing their chances. So if you are looking for new opportunities, here are my top five mistakes to avoid on LinkedIn.

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  1. Dumb photos. In the last couple of days alone I have seen holiday snaps, pictures with animals / babies in, pictures more akin to a dating site, and bizarrely, a bus. Personal brand people! Have a professional photo. And the only thing worse that the shoddy photo is no photo at all.
  2. Personal updates. ‘I am pleased to announce the arrival of baby Smith’ should stay on Facebook. This is not the place for fun updates. This is about your career, not your entire personal life. If you wouldn’t put it on your old school CV, don’t post it on LinkedIn.
  3. Too much self-promotion. You know who you are. Yes of course put your stuff out there, its great for your personal brand. But share other people’s stuff too. The whole vanity thing is a little wearing.
  4. Having an incomplete profile. This is your opportunity to sell yourself, your skills, your experience. Include a concise summary of your key attributes. Describe what you are going to bring to the party. Include links to other online work or activities. If it would be on your old school CV, but it on LinkedIn too.
  5. Doing nothing at all. Even if your profile rocks, you need to show some activity on it. Share interesting and relevant stuff, like, comment, participate in a group discussion. Get involved.

I check out the profile of everyone I interview before they arrive and people will check you out too; don’t waste your first opportunity to make an impression.


5 Ways to Save Money on your Virtual Home Office

When most people get their first home job, they are so excited at all the possibilities opening up with their new career. That excitement continues as we purchase those much needed computer upgrades, the new monitor, and install another phone line. Of course we need a more comfortable chair, maybe a new cordless phone… before we know it, we’ve spent our first month’s pay… and we haven’t even started working yet!

Well, from several years experience, there are 5 services that I highly recommend for any serious home-worker. You may not need all of these right now, but if you are serious about your home-career, you’ll probably eventually need each of these.

1. Google Applications. Free.
Have you seen everything that Google offers these days? This has become an extremely beneficial and crucial service for the home-worker on a budget. First, there’s GMail, a powerful email program that allows you to manage your email online at your computer, on your cell phone or blackberry, or on your laptop… all with seamless integration!

Then there are Google Documents, an entirely online suite of programs that allow you to create, maintain, save and even share word-processing documents and spreadsheets. 

Plus Google Calendar is a terrificly user-friendly online calendar system that allows you to create repeating appointments, share calendars with others, publish parts of your calendar to the web… you can even view/manage your calendar with your cell-phone.

All of this is free… and now you can even manage your own domain, providing all these services to your own users! We’ll talk about that in another post, another day.

2. Vonage. $24.95 /month plus equipment costs.
This service is a no-brainer for anyone concerned with long-distance fees involved in maintaining your own home office. If you have high-speed internet, you can get one or more Vonage phone lines with unlimited long distance, voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding, and many more useful features for about twenty-five dollars a month. I was amazed when we converted our two home office lines about three years ago. Our old phone bill was always around $250 per month. After we started using the Vonage lines, our phone bill was around $60 per month (we had a couple extra features like a fax line and additional local numbers in other towns.)

Their customer service is not the best, so if you think you’re going to need help on how to setup your new equipment, you might try purchasing from a Best Buy store, where you can ask the clerk to talk you through the process. You will need to purchase a router, which can cost around $50, but they usually run some sort of rebate.. I got mine free, and most of the time they offer a basic router at no cost. You can plug in a regular phone to the router, so if you have already bought that perfect phone for your desk, don’t worry!

3. Accessline. $8.95 – $59.95 / month.
There are a few services that Accessline provides. Over the years I have had reason to use each of these services for their various uses.

Their basic service is their SmartMessage, which costs $8.95 a month. You get a personal phone number in the area code of your choice that will take messages or receive faxes for you. Its a great option if you want a simple phone system to take messages for all incoming calls.

If you need more functionality, take a look at their FollowMe number for just under twenty dollars per month. You still get your own standard phone number, but you can have the calls connect to you where ever you are. Have calls go to your home phone, your office phone, your cell… and change the answering rules either online or over the phone. This is a must have for anyone who is always on the go… give out just one phone number, and your important calls will find you wherever you go.

Finally, when you need a true virtual office presence, you’ll want their SmartOffice system which runs just under sixty dollars per month. With the SmartOffice, you get a fully customizable auto attendant system at a fraction of the cost. Setup extensions with different answering rules, leave recorded messages, and setup different menus all online. We use the SmartOffice for our business because when our customers call, they hear a professional system that routes them to the appropriate person using our voice-prompts, or by entering the extension number of the person they wish to reach.

If you are a Costco customer, make sure to order from within Costco’s Services website. As a member, you’ll get a huge savings on your startup costs and monthly rate!

4. VistaPrint. Free.
If you decide to become a Virtual Assistant, or operate any other home business, you’ll probably need printing services at some point. VistaPrint is one of the best deals on the internet today. You can get high-quality business cards free… just pay a small shipping fee. You can order the free cards as often as you wish, full color and printed on quality card stock. Of course, they are hoping you’ll use them for all your printing needs, from post cards to stationary, from checks to post-it notes, from T-shirts to magnets… all personalized by you online.

VistaPrint has taken the bite out of printing costs.

5. USPS Click-n-Ship. $ Regular postal rates.
This isn’t as big of a money-saver as a time-saver. However, when you are juggling your home-career with your home-life, time is money!

That’s why I think that the postal service’s website is one of today’s best technilogical advances! First, you can order stamps online. And you can order the samps you want. Whether you want the rolls of flag stamps or the newest Disney stamps, you can order them all, and within 2-3 days they’ll arrive with your mail for just $1 shipping.

Plus, you can use their Click-n-ship to print other postage, like Priority or Express mail. I’d advise against buying the labels they recommend, you can pickup labels that work from your local office-supply store for a fraction of the cost. Order your shipping supplies online too, get free envelopes for your Express mail delivered right to you.

All of this means never having to stand in line at the Post Office again!