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100+ Amazing Facts About Voice Search

Modern technology plays an integral part in our everyday lives. Through the years, many major technological breakthroughs have been made and one of them is certainly voice enabled technology, or as it is more commonly known – voice search.

It can be found in various portable devices such as smartphones and smart speakers. The most famous technology companies in the world have implemented voice search, and whether it is Google Assistant, Alexa, Bixby, or Siri, they all have the same goal – making life easier for the people using them. Because of this they’ve steadily been increasing in popularity, with infographic created by teams at seotribunal.com states that 1 in 5 adults use voice search on a regular basis.

Before we take a look at some interesting facts about voice search, let’s see how it actually works.

  1. First of all, voice search processes and transcribes the human speech into text.
  2. Next, it analyzes the text in order to detect questions and commands.
  3. After that, it connects to an external data source such as a search engine to find the relevant information.
  4. And finally, it translates that information into a digestible format and fulfills the user’s intent.

Modern voice search devices are often interactive which makes them capable to maintain a dialog with humans. The rapid growth that they are experiencing is only going to make them more and more sophisticated in the years to come.

Voice search can be used while driving, watching TV, working, and even when showering or using the bathroom. The main reasons why smartphone users worldwide use voice-enabled technology are presented in the following list.

  • Doing online searches – 60%
  • Finding information on a product in which they are interested in – 51%
  • Asking questions – 50%
  • Asking a fun question – 49%
  • Asking for directions – 42%
  • Making a call – 41%
  • Playing music – 41%
  • Asking for the weather forecast – 40%
  • Finding a local business – 34%
  • Looking for info on a local business – 34%

These facts, along with more than a hundred of others, are contained in the infographic below. Take a look at it to find out more fascinating facts about voice search technology.

How to Stay Loose and Healthy When Working in an Office Setting

Guest Post by Ryan Tollefsen, founder and team leader of Unity Home Group

Exhaustion at the end of each workday is a familiar feeling to many who work in an office. Most are quick to blame the stress from difficult clients, a too-tall workload, or a draining commute. One culprit typically overlooked is the sedentary nature of office work.

The Telltale Signs

Feeling physically and mentally drained could link to a lack of physical activity while on the job. This translates into tension and a lack of initiative to make evening or even weekend plans. Nighttime activities might include eating, maybe some TV, and falling into bed.

Common physical symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Throbbing legs
  • Backache
  • Tingling or numbness in fingers
  • Dry, tired eyes
  • Sore feet
  • Tension in the hips, shoulders, neck, and back

Sometimes it’s hard to remain healthy while working in an office, whether you commute to a job or use a home office. Workers who sit most of the day must be proactive to stay healthy and keep their bodies loose.Here are three helpful steps.

Start With Posture

Sitting for extended periods often leads to slouching and other poor posture. The first step to solving problems with posture is becoming aware of your body’s position. Your goal is keeping the ears lined up with the shoulders when seated to avoid leaning too far either backward or forward. Making sure the computer screen isn’t too high or low can help with this issue.

A number of quick exercises can help posture. When you can get up, stand against a wall with legs spread apart, hold arms at a 90-degree angle to the body, and raise and lower them.

While seated, you can shrug your shoulders and prop your feet on some office supplies for comfort. Whenever possible, pull back the shoulder blades to avoid rounding. A lumbar pillow is a helpful spinal support. Also investigate the possibility of using a standup desk.

Avoid the Obvious

Physical activity for staying healthy is a real challenge if you’re too busy to make it to the gym after work or at lunch. Fortunately, there are easy ways to work exercise into your workday without being obvious.

Consider cutting your commuter ride short and walking part of the distance to the office. After arriving, pace while talking on the phone. Substitute a stability ball for a desk chair. Whenever possible, take the long way when walking to a meeting, move during short breaks, and speed walk on errands. Try to get away from your desk and move, even for a five-minute walk, when it’s time for lunch.

Looking at a focal point away from a screen and periodically moving your hands after taking them off the keyboard are helpful actions without being obvious. Other tips include crossing and uncrossing your legs, flexing and tightening your abs for 30 seconds and 10 reps, and periodically moving your shoulders.

Enjoy Those Stretches

Desk stretches are valuable ways to release tension that accumulates while seated. Try sitting sideways on your chair with feet on the floor and hands on the chair’s back. Use your arms to twist and pull your body toward the chair to stretch your neck, chest, and spine. Loosen hamstrings and avoid lower back pain by standing, bending at the hips, and allowing your head to drop loose and arms to dangle.

Pamper shoulders and back while seated by flapping your arms like an eagle and performing neck rolls. Counteract the toll of texting and typing by placing hands on your desk with the palms down while standing. Lean forward to stretch and release tension from wrists and fingers.

It’s possible for those who work in an office to help out their body by taking just a few easy steps to increase physical activity. Best of all, your co-workers will have no idea what you’re up to — unless you decide to share your tips to help them, too.

Ryan Tollefsen is the founder and team leader of Unity Home Group.

Best Productivity Tools to Save Time

Guest Post by Chanell Alexander

Describing the life of an independent contractor as busy is an understatement. Managing deadlines, producing quality work, distributing invoices, scheduling appointments, collaborating with clients, and everything else in between can be more than overwhelming. An independent contractor in IT is a one-person band, and while technology is not necessarily a cure-all, it can help to accomplish daily tasks more efficiently. Here are five productivity tools to save time.

Best Productivity Tools to Save Time

1. Flipboard – Stay current on industry trends

 

If an independent contractor specializing in IT knows one thing, it is that staying up-to-date on technology industry trends and emerging developments is essential. Flipboard is an app that individuals can use to receive curated news by selecting topics they want to see. This app collects news from various news outlets so that users do not have to take the time to comb the web for issues relevant to them.

2. JibberJobber – Keep track of the job search

Looking for new clients and ongoing assignments are a regular part of the life of an independent contractor. After multiple emails and job submissions, it can be challenging to keep track of the job application process. JibberJobber is a platform that enables the user to keep track of jobs applied for, track relationships and follow-up opportunities, and relevant company news. Contractors will never have to worry about whether they already applied for a position, or when they should reach back out to check a job status as JibberJobber takes care of this guesswork.

3. Harvest – Time management and invoicing

Keeping track of hours worked, projects started, and deadline can be a day’s worth of work in itself for an Independent Contractor in IT. Harvest allows users to track the amount of time they have worked on a project, ensure they are staying in budget, track expenses, and turn billable time into invoices that can be emailed directly from the application in PDF form. Users can also do a bit of forecasting to ensure projects meet budgetary and time requirements.

4. Hubspot – Customer Relationship Management

An independent contractor makes an excellent contact at a networking event. Great! Now, how can they continue to stay on top of nurturing this person from contact to customer without the hassle of an Excel spreadsheet? Hubspot is a free customer relationship management system (CRM). Contractors can keep track of appointments scheduled, conversions, and sales activity. All information and every interaction with a potential (or actual) client can be recorded in Hubspot. Many Hubspot users mention how easy to use the platform is and how simple it is to set up email campaigns.

5. Asana – Project and Workflow Management Tool

Asana is an all-in-one project management program. If contractors are collaborating with multiple staff members in one company, or are working side-by-side with clients to develop a deliverable, Asana is a great place to begin the journey. Contractors can track progress, assign tasks, set deadlines, and report on work progress. Users mention that Asana can even integrate with Harvest to turn tasks into billable hours for invoicing. This program also has a mobile application so contractors can manage tasks and productivity on-the-go.

The Wrap Up

The life of an independent contractor is anything but easy, but having an arsenal of tools to stay on top of the workday can go a long way to make life a little bit easier. As long as contractors intelligently map out how these applications and those like them can increase their productivity, then the day can unfold a bit more smoothly.

Chanell Alexander currently resides in Atlanta, GA. When she’s not traveling and trying new restaurants in the Metro Atlanta area, she writes about the latest technology and tools for TrustRadius.

How the Mining Industry is Creating New Opportunities for IT Contractors In Canada

How the Mining Industry is Creating New Opportunities for IT Contractors In CanadaMining in Canada generates $35.6 billion to the country’s gross domestic product, with approximately 320,000 people operating within the mining industry. With mining being such a crucial part of Canada’s economy, it’s important that they make mining as efficient and easy as possible. Manually, miners will use large drills and rock tools to extract their minerals. But, with several technological advances taking the world by storm, Canada have jumped on the computing technology bandwagon to make their lives easier and extract more minerals than ever before. In fact, there are several computing technology solutions that continue to help hundreds of thousands of workers in Canada perform their job better. With this in mind, a huge number of new opportunities are opening up for IT Contractors in Canada within the mining industry, and here, we’re taking a closer look at a few of the areas that are impacting the industry the most.

Cloud Computing

Before technology became our most reliable source, a mining company would have to manually send a worker into the mining field in order to inspect on how the day-to-day running was. But, with cloud computing solutions weaving their way into the Canadian mining industry, that is a thing of the past! Beforehand, the person sent to check on the site had to compile a detailed report addressing the recent mining operations, which would usually take a week or even months to be seen by executives in the headquarters. By using cloud computing, though, business leaders can learn about on-site conditions in real time, allowing those within the Canadian mining industry to make any necessary changes to their mining procedures.

The Use of Robotics/AI

Mining is a very laborious job, with tasks such as extracting, drilling and blasting requiring a lot of time and effort from workers. Robotics has been tested in a range of different industries across the world, as with the right programming, they can perform these laborious tasks more efficiently than the average worker. This is ideal for miners, as not only do robots not feel pain (we are jealous), but they are also able to get jobs done quicker, thanks to high advanced technology. This isn’t the only advantage of using AI within the mining site though, as Canada still suffers with situations of miners being trapper underground, or restricted from reaching highly-valued areas. ANDROS Wolverine was the first mine rescue robot, and whilst he was unsuccessful during the Sago mine explosion in 2006, it certainly showed the potential for using robots in places that even humans can’t enter. Plus, we have had 11 years since the explosion to develop our technology, so who knows what we’re capable of now?

Airborne Gravity Gradiometer Technology

It sounds very confusing and complex, but it can prove as extremely helpful for Canadian miners. The ability to access mineral bodies is very time-consuming for miner, not to mention massively expensive. This type of mining technology is very impressive, as it measures subtle changes in the Earth’s gravity field, helping it to determine where ore bodies can be found within the mines. In addition, improvements have been made to the airborne gravity gradiometer technology in recent years, meaning that we can expect even more precise detections in the future. In fact, we have seen this technology prevail in Canada within the Ekati diamond mine, so it’s clear to see the benefits that it holds for the Canadian mining industry.

Plasma Technology

Canada is already makes huge amounts of money from the minerals that they extract in mines, but with plasma technology thrown into the mix, they could make even more! Plasma technology can boost the yield of precious metals, including the likes of gold, silver and platinum, by over 1,000 per cent compared to the standard metallurgical process. In fact, new radio frequency plasma technology has been developed in recent years, which heats complex ores such as zinc and nickel to extremely high temperatures in order to break down the structure of the ore. With such innovative technology, Canada can definitely expect to see a rise in their gross domestic product due to the new easy and efficient methods that technology provides to Canadian miners.

With traditional industries beginning to implement technologies in order to ensure that their processes are efficient and more eco-friendly, the implementation of cloud computing, AI and more are proving that IT contractors are more in demand than ever.

Building Confidence, Competence and Happiness for Success as an IT Contractor

Build Confidence, Competence and Happiness for Success as an IT ContractorThe very nature of IT can be lonely, especially so for someone working independently. As an independent contractor, you generally don’t have any immediate colleagues. Often your clients want to hand over their problems for you to fix and they don’t want to be caught up in technical issues they don’t understand. They’re happy to leave you on your own. Once you start working on projects you may be surrounded by the world of bits, bytes, code and networks, with little to no human interaction.

It’s enough to make you feel like the old Maytag repairman, the loneliest guy in town. Worse than simply being lonely, your confidence, competence, and happiness can suffer if you’re working in a black box with little to no communication and feedback. You need all three of these attributes to win jobs, negotiate rates, and deal with clients. The good news is that you can take proactive steps to enhance each of these.

Keep your confidence high

Practice regular techniques to maintain a high level of confidence and provide motivation.

  • Solicit customer feedback. If you utilize a simple feedback process, most of the time you’ll get thanks and positive comments. This is not only satisfying, but will help you better understand what your clients value. At times you will get negative comments. Think of these as gifts to help you improve. After all, without feedback, no improvement is possible. Address the issues and your next clients will not have these complaints.
  • Set milestones and goals and celebrate achievement. Since you don’t have a boss to give you a pat on the back, be your own cheerleader. Rather than waiting until the end of a major project to give yourself some recognition, do it daily. Be sure to reflect back on what you have accomplished; don’t just grimace at the long to-do list remaining.

Keep your competence high

In order to be confident, you need to be competent.

  • Benchmark within the IT and greater business field not only for specific technology solutions, but also to understand characteristics and practices of the best IT people.
  • Create your own self-assessment. Using the benchmark information and customer feedback, create a self-assessment process that you can use with each project or client for honest reflection on your strengths and weaknesses, what you delivered, and how you could have done things better.
  • Reinvest in yourself by improving in any areas where you have gaps and building new skills. The world of IT changes practically overnight, meaning clients have constantly changing needs. Stay ahead of the curve by carving out some time to become knowledgeable in new technologies in advance.

Be happy

You are spending 40, 50, or more hours each week at your job. Take steps to make work fun and rewarding.

 

  • Create your own team. If you work independently, you don’t generally have the socialization opportunities that other 9-to-5 business folks have. But you can make them. Take the time and energy to partner with your customer on a personal basis. Participate in networking events. Find a mentor. Put together a team of resources that you can call on for help and reciprocate in turn.
  • Smile. Call center employees are routinely trained to smile while they’re on the phone since customers can hear the pleasantness in their tone of voice. That same effect can work for you in IT, even if you’re the only one who “hears” the smile.
  • Love your work. If you find that the work you do has become tedious, find ways to transition to something that piques your interest. New clients, new technologies, new approaches, and even working in a new setting can make the work itself more enjoyable.
  • Be assertive to meet your rights and needs. Studies have shown that assertiveness at work can help deliver happiness. Although your policy may be that the customer is always right, that doesn’t mean you should let customers walk all over you.

Have difficult clients? Fire them.

Consider this situation. You have a client who:

  • Constantly changes requirements while you are working on his or her project
  • Always demands work to be done on a rush basis, creating disruption to your schedule
  • Asks for a little bit more when you’re approaching the end of the project… and doesn’t understand that a scope change deserves more payment
  • Rarely expresses satisfaction or gratitude
  • Seems to distrust you, even after you’ve worked together multiple times
  • Pays less or takes more time than your other clients

If you do all-in unit costing for this client, including your time for extra bits of communication and changes, you might find that you’re getting a lot less in payment per hour of attention and generating a lot more personal stress compared to any of your other clients.

Of course, your first efforts will be to work with the client through communications and contracting. With tact, process skills, and plenty of patience, you might be able to groom this troublesome client to be as professional as the rest of your customers. However, sometimes this type of client just doesn’t get it… and never will. If that’s the case, you might want to cut your losses. After all, if you get rid of a “bad” client who consumes an inordinate amount of time and causes you stress, you can replace him or her with one or more “good” clients you absolutely love working with.

If you want to fire a client, you will have to be tactful. Let the customer save face to the extent you can without compromising your values or losing significant money. You don’t want to create such hard feelings that your client starts a word-of-mouth campaign to discredit you.

What’s the bottom line?

Until you become the next IT whiz with a success like Apple, Amazon, or Facebook, you’re likely to continue to work largely by yourself and rely on yourself. But that can be quite okay. As the noted author Wayne Dyer said, “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”

Visit Acuity Training’s guide to confidence for specific assertiveness tactics to apply throughout each step of your freelance process.

15 Amazing Collaboration Tools for Remotely Managing Teams

This post by Nick Darlington was originally featured on the Freshbooks Blog on May 30, 2017.

The remote working trend shows no signs of slowing.

15 Amazing Collaboration Tools for Remotely Managing TeamsGallup’s Work and Education Poll in 2015 highlighted that 37% of U.S. workers say they have telecommuted to work, which is four times more than 9% in 1995. And a survey of business owners by Virgin Media Business predicted that 60% of office-based employees will be working from home by 2022.

You only have to Google “remote working statistics” and you’re bombarded with statistics highlighting this trend. You’re also presented with statistics on the many benefits of remote working like improved productivity, happier employees and better customer retention.

While the distributed working trend continues with clear benefits, management faces a new problem: How to remotely manage these teams.

It shouldn’t surprise you that many companies now embrace remote working. In fact, some companies – like Buffer – already have fully distributed teams.

But, while the trend continues with clear benefits, management faces a new problem: How to remotely manage these teams. While there are guides and case studies online-Zapier‘s account of remotely managing teams stands out- it’ll take time for companies to acclimatize. After all, change doesn’t happen overnight.

Luckily, with the growing trend, there’s also a proliferation of online collaboration tools. These tools are helping companies with the shift. Here are 15 of the best—across categories like communication, brainstorming, project and time management.

Online Collaboration Tools for Communication

Chances are, you know Google Hangouts and Skype. There’s no question these are powerful platforms for remote communication. But, there are other remote working tools to consider.

#1 SLACK

As a business owner, I use Slack to communicate with my team daily. Typing this, I see the Slack desktop app out the corner of my eye. When I receive a message from my team, I’m instantly notified.

Slack provides a simple chat interface, but don’t let its simplicity fool you. You communicate in channels organized with hashtags. Create any hashtag you like from SEO, website design, incoming leads, proposals, contracts and more.

Channels ensure all conversations, files and documents are where they should be. You don’t spend time searching for specifics relating to a project. If information gets lost, search for it with the handy search function.

Alternatively, share confidential information in private chats.

Integration with other apps is also possible. For instance, MailClark lets you send emails and Facebook messages in Slack.

There are powerful features in the Free Forever Plan but upgrade anytime for advanced features. Slack pricing starts at $6.67.

#2 YAMMER

Yammer is a social media network for business. Communicate privately with colleagues, share documents, files, like someone else’s status and collaborate effortlessly.

Access the platform with a simple sign-up using your company email address. Because it’s owned by Microsoft, integration with SharePoint is possible. What’s more, this online tool is entirely free.

#3 APPEAR.IN

Appear.in is a video conversation app offering split-screen sharing.

Create a chat room with no sign-up, registration, or downloads. Visit their site, create a room link, and share with up to eight people, for free.

Access is available via any device although you need the app when signing up on iOS.

premium version is available for $12/month.

#4 QUIP

Quip is your central hub for online communication. Create, share and discuss documents centrally—in real-time.

With Quip, you don’t spend time searching for information as there’s one version of your work. No more long email chains and multiple versions of your work. Also, use their mobile app to communicate on-the-go.

Quip offers a unique free trial. It’s based on activity, not length of time. Thereafter, pricing is $30 for a team of five and $10 per extra person.

Online Collaboration Tools for Brainstorming

Ideas are the lifeblood of any organization. Far too often people think up an idea but don’t act. These three online tools will help move an idea from conception to execution.

#5 IDEAFLIP

Ideaflip is a space for your ideas. It’s a simple, yet powerful web app that:

Converts your thoughts into ideas.

Lets you share those ideas.

Helps you refine those ideas with real-time collaboration.

Group brainstorming sessions are possible with a desktop and mobile version.

Join for free as an editor, contributor or viewer and access a limited amount of idea boards. The basic subscription starts at $9/month for access to unlimited idea boards.

#6 MINDMEISTER

This collaborative mind mapping tool allows you to capture, refine and share ideas with colleagues and collaborate.

Currently, over 7 million people use it to brainstorm, take notes, plan projects, and work on other creative tasks.

MindMeister is web-based, meaning no downloads or updating, and it works with your preferred operating system—Windows, Mac, or Linux.

If you want to take things further, why not integrate MindMeister with MeisterTask, the online task and project management app for teams.

Sign up for free and access three mind maps or upgrade to a personal, pro, or business plan. Pricing is $4.99, $8.99 and $12.49, per month, respectively.

#7 CONCEPTBOARD

Conceptboard is another visual online collaboration tool optimized for creatives and remote teams. It’s a one-stop solution for crafting and managing projects and feedback.

The online tool provides a flexible canvas that expands as you add content. Create mood boards, map out strategies and brainstorm live.

Sign-up for a free trial for 30 days. Pricing starts at $28.50 for three users and $9.50 for each extra user.

Online Collaboration Tools for Managing Projects

Project management is difficult at the best of times, but managing a remote team can be even more difficult. These five collaboration apps will help.

#8 TRELLO

Trello is a collaboration tool that makes organizing projects fun by combining lists, cards and boards.

Your board is your project that consists of cards on lists. Sound complicated? It’s actually quite simple. For example, you may create a “blog board”. On the blog board, you’ll have different lists like, “incoming brief”, “freelance writer busy writing”, “internal review” and “with client”. With this workflow, you can move the individual cards on each list from start to finish.

With Trello, see what projects are on-the-go, who’s working on it, and where something is in the process. Move content through your editorial calendar, products through the development, phases and leads through the sales process… the possibilities are endless.

The Forever Free Plan gives you access to unlimited boards, lists and cards. But there are limitations like the size of files you can upload. For premium features like integrations with Google and Salesforce, upgrade to a business plan for $9.99/month.

#9 CANVA FOR WORK

Don’t have the money to pay an expensive designer? Have a little DIY design streak in you? Canva is the easy-to-use design software that lets you create your own designs without spending a fortune. Admittedly, many designers also use the platform.

While the free version packs a punch, for more features upgrade to Canva for Work. Use the intuitive drag and drop editor to create stunning graphics and designs. Access more designs, templates, logos, fonts, custom brand colors and collaborate on designs in the “team stream”. Pricing starts at $12.95/month.

#10 EVERNOTE

At its core, Evernote is a note-taking tool. But, it can double as a powerful collaboration tool for managing projects.

Adding notes is easy, and as you add more notes, the more useful it becomes. This article on Lifehacker highlights the many uses of Evernote. From using the Web Clipper to creating project notebooks to sifting through notes with saved searches and using notes to move between related information—it’s clear Evernote is a powerful tool. Here are some other features:

  • Create project to-do lists to organize projects.
  • Collaborate remotely on a group notebook with easy notebook sharing.
  • Create as many notebooks as you want. While creating many notebooks seems counterintuitive, Evernote curates important content for you.
  • Transform your written notes into a digital format and store in the relevant project notebook.

It’s available on iOS and Android. While free to use, you can upgrade to the Plus Plan for $3.99/month or $34.99/year. A premium version is also available.

#11 FRESHBOOKS

As you may already know since you’ve found your way to our blog, FreshBooks is cloud accounting software designed for small service-based businesses. But our platform also offers an online collaboration feature to help you manage projects.

Collaborate with team members, invite employees, contractors or clients and communicate about existing projects.

You also don’t have to spend time searching for files with centralized file storage. And if you’re on-the-go and want a quick project update, access the current project overview straight from your smartphone using the iPhone or Android app. Manage your work or an entire remote team—the choice is yours.

A free trial 30-day trial is available, no credit card required, with plans starting at $15/month.

Online Collaboration Tools for Managing Time

Time is a finite resource. And if time’s so important, then managing it is too, right? Here are five online collaboration tools that will help you better manage your time.

#12 TEAMBOOK

Struggling to plan your team’s schedule? Use Teambook to see who’s working on what, and when, in real time.

Make smarter decisions by tracking current staff availability, budgets and time spent on projects. For example, If someone is spending more time than they should on a project you’ll know, and can get to the root of it.

Sign-up for a 15-day free trial. Thereafter, pay $39 for the Pro Plan, giving you access to 40 projects and unlimited users.

#13 DOODLE

Meetings, whether you love or hate them, are essential for checking in with employees, getting status updates and reviewing progress. But managing meetings are time-consuming without the right tools.

Enter Doodle.

It’s a simple scheduling tool that integrates with your existing calendar—from Outlook to Google Calendar. Add as many calendars as you want.

Also, you don’t need to switch between applications and appointments sync automatically. Neat, right?

A free version is available with paid plans starting with the Private Plan for $39/year.

#14 ACUITY SCHEDULING

Acuity is another online appointment scheduling tool. It lets your clients view your availability, in real-time. They can self-book appointments, cancel or even reschedule. Here are some benefits:

  • Zero confusion about appointment times with auto-adjusting time zones.
  • Only let clients see what you want them to see with “privacy” features.
  • Prepare for meetings with intake forms that capture pertinent information.
  • Accept payments with Stripe, Square, Braintree and Authorize.net.
  • Integrate with your favorite existing platforms (like FreshBooks!
  • A 14-day free trial is available. Upgrade to one of three plans, starting at $10/month.

#15 CALENDLY

I used Calendly for the first time when a client shared a link via email. I copied and pasted that link into my browser before hitting enter. The client’s calendar appeared and I selected a suitable appointment time. The app then added that time to the client’s calendar. Using Calendly is *that* easy.

To get started, just sign up and inform Calendly on your availability. Calendly does the rest. When you’re ready, schedule an appointment by doing what my client did.

Notable features include:

  • Auto-adjusting time zones.
  • Integrations with Google, Outlook, Office 365 and iCloud to prevent double bookings.
  • Automation of tasks through integration with apps like Salesforce and Zapier.
  • Works well for individuals and growing teams.

Try for free or upgrade to their Premium Plan for $8 per user, per month.

Remote working is here to stay. As a result, more and more companies are embracing it and experiencing both the benefits and challenges that come with it. Luckily, with the trend proliferating so too are online collaboration tools that can help.

One More Thing to Consider…

FreshBooks also offers a time tracking feature that lets you track time spent on projects for clients.

Log into FreshBooks to access the time-tracking features. Click the “Time-Tracking” tab. Start the time or log hours you’ve already worked. Based on the accurate time data you can:

  • Focus on important work without worrying about tracking time
  • Capture all billable hours meaning there’s no lost revenue
  • Automatically bill clients for work
  • Keep track of your team: know what’s working and what isn’t and better allocate resources
  • Pull tracked time directly onto an invoice for quick and easy billing

Try FreshBooks free for 30 days.

These 15 highlighted tools are among the best. Have any to add? Please let us know in the comments below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nick Darlington is a feature writer, B2B Blogger, copywriter, and co-founder of WriteWorldwide. If you’re a business looking to create a stronger brand, gain industry authority, capture more leads and get more clients, visit nickdarlington.com.

5 Ways Web Developers Can Stay In-The-Know

This post by Dennis Furlan was originally published on the Freshbooks Blog on July 18, 2016

5 Ways Web Developers Can Stay In-The-KnowWe all have childhood memories that stay with us.

For me, one of these memories involves visits to the doctor. Specifically, what stood out to me during these visits was the fact that the doctor used to always interrupt an examination, leave the room and come back again minutes later. Every single time.

For years, I wondered what that was all about. Until, one day, after a session was over, I walked into the hallway past a door that was slightly ajar. I peeked in and was surprised by what I saw. In his room strewn across tables, chairs, floor—you name it—were medical books.

At this instance, I learned that the doctor used to leave during sessions and go into this office in order to look up what might be ailing me. In other words, even the most educated among us need to keep current with their profession.

This is as true for web developers as it is with doctors. However, when you’re with a client, the last thing you want to do is leave and look up your solution in a book. Instead, the challenge for web developers is to stay current, so that those valuable meetings with clients are as smooth and effortless as can be.

Here are some specific ways that web development pros can stay current with their profession.

1. Blogs

Blogs offer a mix of casual (but useful!) content for consumers, including web developers. And with the vast offerings of the world wide web, there is little shortage of blogs offering timely and engaging content on the industry.

A List Apart: A magazine/blog that covers all aspects of website creation since 1997. It has a special focus on web standards and best practices, which is useful for web development pros looking to keep up with their trade.

Six Revisions: Began as a traditional blog, but has branched out somewhat to become a general news website for professionals in the field of web development. The site is targeted towards developers and web designers, with a focus on both websites and apps.

2. YouTube

One of the great YouTube features is that it’s an easily accessible platform for anyone who wants to create video content. This includes video tutorials, which can be incredibly helpful in fields such as web development and web design, where more hands-on, visual approaches may be beneficial for learning.

TheNewBoston: Provides guidance on a wide range of topics for audiences in programming, design and development. In fact, TheNewBoston has over one million subscribers. So, if there’s a web development process you’ve been itching to learn, this is probably the place to find it.

Adam Khoury: If you’re a fan of tutorial-style learning via YouTube, Adam’s your guy. This video channel offers tutorials on topics like coding and design, and covers a laundry list of web development technologies, including JavaScript, PHP, SQL, HTML, CSS and ActionScript.

3. Twitter

One of the signature attractions of social media is embedded in the name itself: it’s a media platform that’s, well, social. If you like to find information all in one place, Twitter is a great platform to use to get a glimpse of what web development gurus are actually like.

Brendan Eich: The inventor of JavaScript and co-founder of Mozilla. Eich’s Tweets regularly, sharing his thoughts on issues relating to web development, as well as a little taste of who he is outside of work.

Codrops: A more newsy resource, Codrops shares web development tutorials, provides frequent updates, insights and resources. So, if there’s a specific web development or web design topic you’d like information on, Codrops is a good account to follow on Twitter.

4. Newsletters

The newsletter is another seemingly ageless media platform. In fact, newsletters have made the transition quite nicely from print to digital—a trend that also comes with some caveats. In the web development world, here are a couple of trusted and useful newsletter sources:

JavaScript Weekly: As the name suggests, it provides a weekly email roundup of everything new in JavaScript programming. Unlike the flood of daily newsletters you typicall receive, the JavaScript Weekly newsletter is sent once a week and is a go-to destination for web developers to stay up to date on anything JavaScript.

Hacker Newsletter: Another weekly source of information for web development professionals, focusing specifically on industry news related to startups, technology and programming. The newsletter’s content is curated from the Hacker website, so subscribers can read material they may have missed on the site.

5. Forums

Internet discussion forums have been around for a while and still are because they offer the topic specificity of blogs and news sites while also featuring the personal interactivity of social media. Basically, if you’re in need of answers to specific web-development questions, a web forum is your destination.

webdeveloper.com: A source for digital discussions on topics from HTML, XML and CMS to graphics, design and mobile apps. JavaScript as a topic has almost 500,000 posts in over 100,000 threads.

KirupaForum: Another forum destination for web development aficionados with the Kirupa website—web development and design instructors since 1998. The forum itself has a unique structure. All threads are on one page, with an infinity scroll. But you are able to filter through threads at the top of the page.

So, say farewell to clunky encyclopedias and get accustomed to the plethora of information available on the web. Web developers from all over are using it to stay up-to-date with the trends.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dennis Furlan is a freelance writer who covers a broad range of topics of interest to today’s selective content audience. Visit his website DennisFurlan.com.

When Co-Workers Interrupt Your Discussion

This article by Mark Swartz was originally published on the Monster Career Advice blog.

“And now for the key point of this articlWhen Coworkers Interrupt Your Discussionse. It’s that –“

“Hey,” says an interrupter, “I have a question. Also I disagree with what you said earlier.”

“Umm, we can come back to that shortly. Now…ah, where was I?”

Getting cut off while speaking is irritating. At work it’s like handling a heckler. You get disrupted and your idea is hijacked.

A good communicator can deal with interjectors. Even for chronic disruptors there may be no need for drastic measures.

Allowing Interruptions Can Harm Your Credibility

Part of any job is conveying your thoughts and ideas effectively. If you frequently allow colleagues to walk all over your words, what sort of impression do you make?

People may begin to think you lack confidence to assert boundaries. Your ideas may be viewed as less valuable since you don’t protect them from interference. A lack of protest could also imply they can take credit for your ideas with few repercussions.

Why People Don’t Let You Finish Talking

Not all interruptions are bad. Sometimes colleagues have something really helpful to add. They simply don’t want to risk letting the moment pass. It could also be their brain works faster than yours does. They’re impatient to comment. Or culturally they’re still learning Canadian business norms, not realizing they are being rude.

Then there are creeps who try to undermine or one-up you. Their intent is negative. These are people – along with chronic offenders – who’ll need special treatment.

Could It Be Your Fault Too?

You probably aren’t a trained communicator. So it’s possible you’re making some basic conversation errors. Here are several that invite listeners to jump in abruptly:

  • Be concise and highlight your main point early. Otherwise people interject to stop you from being longwinded.
  • Speak at a level that people can hear easily. If you’re too quiet it might be interpreted as a lack of confidence.
  • Did you prepare adequately? How about rehearsing to reduce hesitations such as umm, ah, mmm or long silences?
  • You get nervous and start losing your place, saying the wrong thing, not speaking with authority or conviction.

Keep an eye on your body language too. Facial expressions, the way you sit or stand, eye contact and hand motions can support (or work against) your spoken words.

 

How To Stop Interrupters

Handle transgressors appropriately. Coworkers who seldom disrupt can be treated very politely. Announce as you begin that you’ll gladly deal with questions and comments as soon as you’re done speaking. If one or two people interject anyway, acknowledge them but remind them of your earlier instruction.

When that fails try more aggressive approaches. Start by asking for input from others. That can block repeat interrupters from taking over. Next fight fire with fire: cut the person off and tell them you are going to finish now. A brasher tactic is to speak over the offender until they stop.

Chronic interlopers should be spoken to in private. Be pleasant. Point out that you’ve noticed their actions and wonder if they realize the effect they’re having on you and others. Hear them out. If possible reach an agreement to be mutually respectful from now on.

Defensiveness Can Backfire

Over-reacting to getting interrupted reflects poorly on you. Keeping your cool shows you’re made of the right stuff. But try to avoid letting yourself be a doormat.

Is it your boss or their supervisors who won’t let you finish? Communicating with managers takes special care. It may be worth letting them say their piece.

Save your objection for encounters you have a better chance of winning.

How Will You Know When It’s Time to Incorporate?

This post first appeared on the CA4IT Insights blog on March 20, 2017

How Will You Know When It’s Time To IncorporateIn short, there’s no single milestone in a business’s maturity that dictates incorporation. It depends on a lot of variables, so it may require self-evaluations at multiple phases to determine when exactly the timing’s right for incorporating your small business.

When you’re conducting those evaluations, it’s important to create an accurate profile of your company and to give consideration to what it’ll look like as a corporation. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to the title.

In the former column, you’ll have much greater flexibility with your taxes, including how you pay yourself—salary, dividends, bonus—or even if you pay yourself. A 15-percent preferred tax assessment on the first 500,000 of profit may prove to be all the incentive you need to leave your earnings in the company.

In the latter, incorporation isn’t inexpensive. And when you’re starting a business, expenses can already feel too numerous to track, let alone cover. Perhaps the only thing more precious than funding in those early days is time. Incorporation’s going to take a big bite out of that, too, because there’s more paperwork that’ll need to be filed—separate tax returns, notifications of share sales and directors’ actions.

If there is a brief answer to the question at the top, it’s this: Incorporating a business in Canada should not be entered into lightly. The more you understand, the more comfortable you’re likely to feel with your decision.

As one of the most respected accounting networks across Canada over the last quarter-century (and one of the few that’s ISO-registered), CA4IT specializes in business accounting services, including incorporation advising, for independent contractors, consultants and entrepreneurs. Click here for a free (no-obligation) consultation.

How to Ace a Job Search Test on Spec Assignment

This post by Jon Simmons first appeared on the Monster Career Advice Blog.

If you’re asked to complete an assignment as part of the interview process, this is your time to shine.

How to Ace a Job Search Test or Spec AssignmentSometimes, the interview process can feel never-ending. There’s always one more piece of the application to submit, one more interview with the team.

That “one more thing” is often a spec work assignment or test, and it’s a crucial one to get right, because it means you’re being seriously considered for the position.

“I always use spec work with candidates,” says John Engel, president of executive recruiting firm Knowledge Capital Consulting in Charleston, South Carolina. “It’s the final stage of recruiting. The top five finalists get a spec assignment.”

We asked career experts to offer tips on how to make sure your spec work gives you the best shot at beating out the other finalists and getting hired.

Reflect the company in your assignment

You know the old adage: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. To connect with a hiring manager at a company you’re largely unfamiliar with, imitation in spec work can work wonders.

“If you’re doing a writing assignment, it helps to look at the tone of the copy or articles on the organization’s website,” advises Deborah Hankin, VP of Talent, SYPartners, a consulting firm in New York City. “Is it formal? Casual? Authoritative? Your assignment should mirror that tone to show you fit that culture.”

It might be tempting to put your own spin on an assignment, but in most cases, hiring managers want to see if you’re able to produce the kind of work they’re already doing. If they want you to take things in a different direction, they’ll tell you. So even if the style of the work they produce differs from yours, your safest bet is to take your cues from it. This not only makes it more likely that your assignment will pass the test, it also shows that you’ve done your homework.

Ask clarifying questions

Unsure about the assignment’s directions? Having trouble understanding a specific sentence in the guidelines? Don’t just guess at what it might mean or wait until it’s too late. Address it right when you get the assignment.

“Ask smart questions—succinctly and judiciously,” says Hankin. “Remember, [hiring managers] are very busy. If you ask too many questions, you can be seen as not being able to navigate intentional ambiguity.”

For example, if your assignment requires sources, you might ask how many they’d like to see, or how the hiring manager would like them represented (linked in the body of the report or as footnotes or endnotes?).

“If you can’t reach the hiring manager to ask questions, simply make a note in the assignment stating your assumptions,” adds Hankin. “At least if your assumptions are off-base, [the reviewer] can understand your logic in how you solved the challenge.”

Know when to be creative—and when to follow directions

Which is more important, completing an assignment by the book or putting your own spin on it? It depends on the type of role you’re applying for.

“In the creative professions, showing multiple methods to accomplish a task are often welcome,” says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management company in Boston. “An accounting role may be much less interested in your creative approaches.”

You can never go wrong by delivering more than what they asked for, so feel fee to go above and beyond. Besides a few hours, there is nothing to lose by submitting more work than required in a spec assignment, and it elevates your work above other candidates who only submit the bare minimum.

And finally, what’s the one thing you should always get right? The deadline. Nothing creates a bad first impression like missing a deadline, so whatever it takes, if you want the job, don’t be late with your first assignment.