Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

October 13, 2017

Janie Bates

Part II – The Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities by guest columnist, Julie Penn White.

Did you know that Siri, the helpful voice on your I-phone was developed to assist disabled users and is now used by the masses? This technological advancement serves as an example of how the need for an accommodation can lead to positive change. In fact, change can often yield benefits beyond our expectations; hiring people with disabilities can allow companies to capitalize on opportunities that will benefit the bottom line. The benefits of hiring people with disabilities are significant, and one major benefit is the attraction of new markets. Roughly 18% of the American population consists of potential customers with disabilities and according to the U.S. Department of Labor this equates to about $200 billion in discretionary spending power, not including the customer’s family or friends.  Employers need innovative ideas in order to grow, and studies show that employing workers with disabilities allows for a competitive advantage in this respect. It increases diversity, which leads to an influx of new ideas, perspectives, and solutions. Employers also value stability and various statistics show that hiring people with disabilities increases worker retention, which generates longer tenures and reduces training costs. In addition, this workforce is adaptive and flexible, which often elicits lower absenteeism rates. Studies have shown that the quality of the work does not suffer, as people with disabilities have nearly identical job performance ratings. As an added benefit, companies have found that providing for accommodations promotes an inclusive culture that leads to improved morale.

Most accommodations are not costly and can provide a great return on your investment. Examples of low cost common accommodations include dress code allowances, more breaks, or flexible scheduling. The Department of Labor’s Employment Training Administration even offers grants to employers to help with training and employing workers with disabilities: www.doleta.gov/grants/. Various tax incentives exist to help minimize any financial impact. The IRS provides several ways to assist employers with costs, both in terms of credits as well as deductions. These include: The Disabled Access Credit. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit. The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction. There is more information available on these incentives at www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/tax-benefits-for-businesses-who-have-employees-with-disabilities. The TWC website also provides additional information on the Work Opportunity Tax Credit at: www.twc.state.tx.us/businesses/work-opportunity-tax-credit.

Programs exist to assist employers from beginning to end, Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services provides outreach, technical assistance, training, and help with recruiting, hiring, and retention of people with disabilities. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network (https://adata.org/) provides information on the ADA as well as training and technical assistance, similar to that of the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers: www.disability.gov/resource/disability-business-technical-assistance-centers-dbtacs-the national-network-of-americans-with disabilities-act-ada-centers/.

So leave assumptions at the door and focus more on ability over disability; there are benefits to employing people from the valuable workforce. It is an opportunity for growth that if embraced, could improve business as well as quality of life.

Source: Texas Business Today- Third Quarter 2016

Please visit one of our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

October 6, 2017

Janie Bates

Today, we have a guest columnist, Julie Penn White, to help us celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This is the first of 4 articles.

Reflecting the important role disability plays in Workforce diversity, this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme is #Inclusion Works; observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates employers about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.

The return of service members with disabilities from World War II sparked public interest in the contributions of people with disabilities in the workplace. On August 11th, 1945, President Truman approved a congressional resolution declaring the first week in October” National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week”. In 1962 the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities.

In 1961, President Kennedy created the President’s Panel on Mental Retardation and called upon America to address the significant needs of people with intellectual disabilities and their desire to be part of everyday life in America. Future administrations continued the effort, expanding its goals to include training in academic, vocational and social skills to enable children with intellectual disabilities to reach their potential. In 2003 President George W. Bush renamed the committee, the “President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities”.

In 1968, The Architectural Barriers Act mandated the removal of what was perceived to be the most significant obstacle to employment for people with disabilities; the physical design of the buildings and facilities, by requiring that all buildings designed, constructed, altered or leased with federal funds be made accessible.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 marked a major step forward in legislation impacting the employment of people with disabilities, extending and revising state vocational rehabilitation services and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability by federally funded and assisted programs, federal employers and federal contractors. After major demonstrations in 10 U.S. cities including a 150 person sit in in San Francisco led by Judith Heumann and Kitty Cone, lasted 28 days, US Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Joseph Califano signed regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. These regulations extended civil rights to people with disabilities covering any program or activity, including employment services, receiving federal financial assistance.

In 1998, President Clinton established the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. The Task Force was directed to evaluate existing federal programs to determine the changes, modifications and innovations needed to remove barriers to employment faced by adults with disabilities. Following a 1999 recommendation from the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities, Congress established the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), a sub-cabinet level agency within the US Department of Labor. This landmark occasion created, for the first time ever, a permanent entity to focus on disability within the context of federal labor policy.

In 2009 the Campaign for Disability Employment is launched, funded by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, this multi organization initiative used positive messages and images to encourage employers and others to recognize the value and talent people with disabilities bring to America’s workplace and economy. The centerpiece of the campaign was the “I Can” Public Service Announcement, which received significant airing on television and radio stations nationwide.

In 2014, the first update to the nation’s workforce development system since 1998, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) reauthorized and amended critical programs to help job seekers access the services they need to succeed in employment and match employers with skilled workers. The law included a specific focus on improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities. In 2015, the US Department of Labor announced the public members of the Advisory Committee on increasing competitive integrated employment  for individuals with disabilities ; a key provision of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Reflecting a movement toward an “Employment First” philosophy the committee was charged with making recommendations to the Secretary of Labor on ways to increase opportunities for competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities.

Source – https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/

Please visit one of our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

September 29, 2017

Janie Bates

I Have Nothing to Wear!

The clothes you wear have a great impact on your interview and on how co-workers and supervisors view your work abilities.

Recent workplace surveys reveal the following:

  • Most supervisors say your clothes reveal a lot about the type of worker you are
  • Wardrobe is second only to communication skills
  • Sloppy clothes cause supervisors to think your work will be sloppy
  • Proper clothes can help you get a promotion because you are viewed as more professional
  • Professional clothes cause people to view you as successful
  • Trendy clothes may indicate you care more about fashion than your job
  • Casual is fine if the dress code permits it, but clothes must be neat, clean, pressed and well fitted
  • Clothes must be modest—you don’t want to be known for your short skirts, tight pants and skimpy tops
  • Wear good shoes that are clean and in good repair. Avoid high heels, flip flops and open toe shoes. You should wear shoes that allow you to walk whatever distance is required and be able to keep up with others.  Flats are always good.
  • Don’t go crazy at the holidays, wearing Christmas Sweaters or sequined shirts at Valentines. Seasonal colors are OK but avoid too many whimsical clothes
  • Don’t over accessorize. Too many bangle bracelets that rattle every time you move are annoying to your co-workers. Choose only one or two pieces of appropriate jewelry. Understated is always best.

For assistance with interviewing or resume writing, contact one of our local Workforce Solutions.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

September 22, 2017

Janie Bates

Going Back to Work After Having Kids

I decided to take a break from work when my first daughter was born.  I fully expected to return to work when she was 6 weeks old but I just couldn’t do it!  Then we had a second daughter and we decided I should stay home until she started kindergarten.  That resulted in a 7-year break from full time employment.  I was fortunate to have a former employer who continued to ask me to do small part time jobs each year so I kept my foot in the door.

 

After 7 years I felt a little out of touch even though I was offered a part time job with my former employer.  New technologies had been purchased and new people hired, even my boss was a new hire.  Here are a few ways to help yourself get back to work.

  • Volunteer at a local non-profit, it’s a great way to make connections
  • Attend Chamber networking events to meet employers
  • Seek internship opportunities
  • Make sure your computer skills are up to date. You can find free online courses that you can complete while the kids sleep
  • Take a class at the community college (web development skills are always a good bet)
  • Let your friends know you are looking for a job
  • Brush up the resume—find help with this at your local Workforce Solutions Office
  • Register at workintexas.com, Indeed, and Monster
  • If you have the credentials for a high paying professional job, hire a head hunter to help you look
  • Have a friend or relative conduct mock interviews with you
  • Search Google for a list of interview questions and practice answering them
  • When you get an interview, take a portfolio of your accomplishments
  • Update the wardrobe and find out what people are wearing to work in your field. A few basics are all you need to pull off a week’s worth of career wear

After working on this list, you should be ready for the interviews!  Check out the local Workforce Solutions office near you for assistance with the resume and job search.

 

 

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

September 15, 2017

Janie Bates

Changing Seasons

Fall is almost here, in fact the weather in Texoma is already getting cooler. Most people are beginning to think about the holiday season but at Workforce we are preparing for a new semester at high school or college.  Many of our customers will soon be enrolling for the Spring semester.  If you are thinking about pursuing more education, we encourage you to check out our website to review the targeted occupations list http://www.workforcesolutionstexoma.com/?s=targeted+occupations  Choosing a training course from this list will increase your chances of finding a job after graduation.

Students in Whitesboro, Pottsboro, Denison or Sherman who are entering 9th grade in the Fall of 2018 should check out the Advanced Manufacturing Program.  This a dual credit program that starts in 10th grade.  Students will complete the training the summer after graduation and will participate in a paid internship with a local company.  Local employers are supporting this program through a partnership with Denison Development Alliance, Sherman Economic Development and Workforce Solutions Texoma, no student will pay tuition to participate.  College tuition is sometimes cost prohibitive for parents but this program offers both free tuition and hiring preference.

If you need job training, visit one of our local Workforce Centers for more information.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

September 8, 2017

Janie Bates

Are Your Kids Getting Too Much Screen Time? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under the age of two should not be exposed to screens at all and older children should be limited to two hours per day. Recent research indicates too much screen time can cause “virtual autism.”

“New clinical case studies have found that many young children who spend too much screen time—on TV’s, video games, tablets and computers—have symptoms labeled as “autism.”1 When parents take away the screens for a few months the child’s symptoms disappear. The term for this phenomenon is “Virtual Autism” or autism induced by electronic screens. The term “Virtual Autism” was coined by Romanian clinical psychologist Dr Marius Zamfir.”

In the United States there has been a startling rise in autism diagnoses and no apparent cause. The Center for Disease Control reports the following stats:

In 1975, 1 in 5000 children were diagnosed with autism.

In 2005, 1 in 500 children.

In 2014 (the most recent CDC numbers), 1 in 68 children.

These statistics indicate a child in the U.S. today is 100 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than children in 1975.

Researchers discovered many children with autism symptoms saw the symptoms totally disappear after one month without screens. It isn’t easy to take screens away or even limit them after a child is “addicted” to them, but the results seem to be worth the effort.

Now that school has started, be aware of the amount of screen time your child is exposed to and watch for unusual behavior.  Some children show signs of irritability as a result of too much screen time.

To read the complete article check out this website: www.madinamerica.com  and look for the article entitled Virtual Autism.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

September 1, 2017

Janie Bates

Disaster Unemployment Aid Available for Hurricane Harvey Victims

Applications due September 27, 2017

Individuals should specify that their applications are related to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.  TWC’s website contains more information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

DUA, which is an unemployment insurance benefit made available especially for victims of disaster, is available to individuals who:

  • Have applied for and used all regular unemployment benefits from any state, or do not qualify for unemployment benefits
  • Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment in the disaster area
  • Can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster
  • Establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their primary source of income
  • Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster
  • Became the breadwinner or major support of a household because of the death of the head of household

To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed. Required documentation includes Social Security number, a copy of the most recent federal income tax form or check stubs, or documentation to support that you were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred.

Applicants must mail in or fax all required documentation within 21 days from the date of the DUA application. Send mailed documentation to: Texas Workforce Commission, UI Support Services Department, Attn: DUA, 101 E. 15th St., N. Lamar, Austin, TX, 78778-0001, or fax it to 512-936-3250.

Job seekers may visit local Workforce Solutions offices for access to job-search resources, job postings and training programs, as well as assistance with exploring career options, résumé and application preparation, career development and more. Customers also may connect with potential employers through TWC’s online job-search engine, by visiting WorkinTexas.com.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

August 25, 2017

Janie Bates

Last week I wrote about college tuition and one program for high school students that’s free.  Workforce also has some programs that offer tuition assistance for youth and adults.  The Workforce Innovation  and Opportunity Act has  funds available to assist with training.  Applicants must meet eligibility criteria based on income or employment status, and must enroll in training listed on the targeted occupations list link here.  Applicants may choose the training provider from a list of eligible schools. Most programs require 1-2 years to complete.

Students should also apply for the PELL grant to assist with college expenses.  Workforce also offers assistance with child care (eligibility required) when funds are available, transportation assistance, books, tools and supplies.

Your local community college also has scholarship and grant information regarding tuition assistance.  There are ways to attend college without going into debt.  Even if you have to attend part time, it is better to pay as you go.  Many employers offer tuition reimbursement programs.

Also, check out our website for more information on job training.

If you need a job, contact one of our local centers for assistance in preparing a resume or registering in www.workintexas.com

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

August 25, 2017

Janie Bates

Back to School

Last week I wrote about one way to pay for

School started in many of our districts this week so the kids have mixed emotions from excitement to disappointment that summer vacation is over. My granddaughter who is a third grader this year was very excited to start school this past Wednesday.

Parents of high school students may be thinking of how they will afford college in a few years.  College is  rapidly becoming an unreachable goal for many families.  However, there are some ways to accomplish this goal with little or no cost. One of my favorites is described below:

Sherman, Denison and Pottsboro schools are participating in the Advanced Manufacturing Program in cooperation with Grayson College and Workforce Solutions.  Students may enroll in the program as they enter 10th grade.  They will be able to complete a Level I Manufacturing Tech Certificate while in high school and a Level II during the summer immediately following graduation.  The best part—the tuition will be paid by local manufacturers, Grayson College or Workforce. That’s free tuition, books and tools plus preference in hiring when they apply for local jobs.  Your student will also earn over 40 college credit hours! Check our website: www.madeintexoma.com to see how manufacturing has changed.  It’s a great career making things right here in Texoma.

This program has amazing support from local manufacturers who have committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to make training possible for our youth.  If your student is interested, please contact their school counselor to see how they can enroll.  If your child is in the 8th or 9th grade, this is the prime time to expose them to the world of manufacturing. Many schools in our area participate in Manufacturing Day tours for 8th grade.   The 2017 tours will be held October 5th  this year and it’s a great way to introduce your student to manufacturing.

 

If you need training, contact one of our local centers for assistance in preparing a resume or registering in www.workintexas.com

 

 

 

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

August 11, 2017

Janie Bates

Time for a Career

Summer is almost half over for the kids!  I see school supply lists posted everywhere—a sure sign that summer break is drawing to an end.  If you are a recent high school graduate, this is the time to start thinking about your plans for Fall.  Workforce Solutions has many great training options for those who qualify and numerous job openings for anyone looking for a job.

You can find out if you qualify for training by visiting a local Workforce Center and applying.  Our friendly staff are ready to assist you with making a career decision.  However, you need to move fast because enrollment deadlines are coming up. You will find assessment tools in our centers as well as career guidance concerning Demand Occupations.

Demand occupation information is valuable in determining your educational and career goals.  You want to be sure the training you are receiving will help you get a job that will be viable for many years. Our Workforce professionals will be able to provide information that will assist you in making the best career decision possible.

Also, check out our website for more information on job training.

If you need a job, contact one of our local centers for assistance in preparing a resume or registering in www.workintexas.com

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

August 4, 2017

Janie Bates

Improving Your Memory

It seems the busier I get the more forgetful I become.  When I first graduated from college my husband and I bought a franchise for an arts and crafts store. Our corporate headquarters produced a catalog and magazine so they wanted us to capture the names and addresses of all our customers.  It became a game with me to memorize names, hometowns and the customer’s favorite craft hobby.  Wowing the customers by knowing all that information was fun.  I don’t think I could do that now!  My excuse is that I am experiencing information overload. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Science actually supports my theory to an extent. Researchers say that distractions or interference are some of the reasons we don’t remember.  And let’s face it, we have plenty distractions these days—anything from cell phones, email, background noise, your kids!

Seriously, it does worry me that I can’t remember as easily as I used to.  However, I am always looking for ways to improve. Here are a few ways to improve your memory:

Use that technology: Set reminders on your phone, put everything on your calendar and take notes.  If I don’t get appointments on my calendar, I will forget them. I use an app to scan business cards so I don’t have to worry about misplacing the cards.

Pay attention: When I meet new people, if I don’t concentrate on their name I will forget.  I once read that you should try to repeat the person’s name at least twice in the conversation.

Create a memory system: We have a friend who studied with one of the great memory experts and he can remember names so easily due to a simple trick.  If he had met President Trump before he was famous, he might have visualized a trumpet on his forehead to remind him of the name. You can use any type of visual to create your own system.

Repeat: One of my college professor used to tell us if you repeated a new word 10 times in a row, it was yours for life. He claimed a former student immediately repeated the name “Tommy” 10 times just in case it worked for boyfriends. I admit I have used this one when remembering phone numbers or other small bits of information.

Take a break: We all know sleep helps just about any brain function and just taking a break from a project also helps boost memory. Another old college trick was to take frequent breaks from studying the notes. It seems you tend to remember more clearly the last thing you read.

Remember this:  Workforce Solutions Texoma is your one-stop shop for employment needs!

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

June 28, 2017

Janie Bates

Just Graduated from College?  Think You’re Done?

We have a tendency to look for the light at the end of the tunnel so we can declare that we are finished! Upon completing her master’s degree, my daughter informed me she had been in school since she was 3 so that was 21 years—“enough, I’m done!”  It would be nice if that was so, but it just isn’t these days.  She is in the medical field and has to complete several Continuing Education Credits each year to maintain her license.

Each year, we hear more about careers that are disappearing due to technology advances. Many workers are displaced due to efficiencies in manufacturing or transportation.

How do we prepare for these changes?

Training is the only answer to keeping your skills sharp.  Employers often offer tuition reimbursement or apprenticeship programs to their workers. Community colleges also offer evening and online courses that will help you stay prepared.  Never pass up the opportunity for free training.  There are several free, massive open online course (MOOC) training programs such as www.Khanacademy.org or www.Learnfree.org that offer a wide variety of training to help you upgrade skills.

The key to staying employable in today’s economy is to stay up on the latest changes in your career field, take some courses and do the best job you can do.

If you need job training, visit one of our local Workforce Centers for more information.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

June 21, 2017

Janie Bates

Should You Attend a 4-Year College or Consider a 2-Year Community College?

According to an article in Forbes entitled The Top 30 Two-Year Trade Schools: Colleges That Fight The Nation’s Skills Gap, “there is no catch-all school setting that will guarantee everybody a job, and trade schools are not the most fitting or lucrative option for everybody. However, the nation needs nurses, mechanics and welders, and two-year specialized schools are a prime way to build a bigger, better workforce.”

Every day we hear horror stories about college graduates who are loaded down with student loans but have jobs that pay so little they can’t make the loan payments.  Many of those college grads end up going back to school to earn a two-year vocational degree in order to be employable.

An example of how vocational degrees compare to 4-year degrees was cited by Forbes. “According to Payscale, the largest online salary database, an associate’s degree in nursing will get you paid quickly, and with a $52,500 early career median salary, the degree ranks third for pay among associate’s degrees and higher than 75% of four-year majors.”  Forbes also noted that graduates of some nursing schools make over $74,000 annually six years after graduation, more than double the national average for students from all higher education institutions according to the College Scorecard. Full article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/cartercoudriet/2017/06/19/the-top-30-two-year-trade-schools-colleges-that-fight-the-nations-skills-gap/#19b847056675

Nursing isn’t the only career choice available at our local community colleges.  Careers in IT, welding, and manufacturing as well as others are offered at Grayson College and North Central Texas College. All of these careers offer many opportunities for good paying jobs in Texoma at a much lower tuition cost. Workforce Solutions offers scholarships for demand occupations that pay the majority of tuition, books and supplies to Texoma residents (eligibility rules apply).  Local manufacturers also offer scholarships to Grayson County high school sophomores who wish to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing.

Remember, even if you earn a two-year degree, you can always build on that degree later if yiu still want to achieve the 4-year degree.

If you need job training, visit one of our local Workforce Centers for more information.

 

 

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

June 14, 2017

Janie Bates

6 Things to do Each Day to Make Yourself More Successful

Most people have a desire to be more successful at work.  When we think about people we consider as successful, we often wonder how they do it.  Here are my top 6 steps to success:

Always be on Time! And how do you do that?  I have a few essential steps for accomplishing that.  Plan. Plan. Plan.  I choose my wardrobe before I go to bed each night—no decisions to be made the next day.  Many successful people prefer uniforms because that’s one less decision to make each day—for example, women and men who choose black pants and white shirts each day. I always set an alarm and I never hit snooze.  I know exactly how much time I need each morning and I get up early enough to be early to work. Of course, you can still encounter issues such as a flat tire, a dead battery, traffic or other unexpected events but those should be rare.

Eat Breakfast. Researchers continue to tell us breakfast is key to a good day.  A healthy, low sugar meal gives you a good foundation for the day.

Keep a Calendar. I try to enter every appointment and event on my phone calendar.  Busy people need to keep their appointments where they can be accessed easily.  I review my calendar at the end of every day and at the beginning of each day. Keeping your appointments and being on time makes you look and feel successful.

Keep a To Do List.  I have always loved the “To Do List”.  I review mine daily and update it early every day.  Some items remain there for a while but it keeps them on the priority list.  This is how I prevent dropping the ball on projects.

Learn to Delegate. If you happen to be the supervisor, learn to assign tasks to others.  Delegating doesn’t mean dropping the project, it means letting others assist but still keeping an eye on the project.  Not the boss? Often co-workers are more than happy to assist with a project just to gain experience in other areas or to have something different to do.  Learn to ask!

Always be Grateful.   Give sincere praise to those who help you!  Especially be aware of thanking the people you supervise. We teach our kids to say “thank you” and “please” in kindergarten but somehow we seem to forget that lesson later in life. An acknowledgement for even a simple task is always appreciated. And remember, none of us can be successful without the help of others!

Looking for a job? Check out our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

June 7, 2017

Janie Bates

Interview Questions You Need to Answer Just Right

Today, jobs are plentiful in Texoma!   But that doesn’t mean you should take the interview process lightly.  Employers may be having a harder time finding employees but they still need  to find the right fit.  Usually, the first question asked at the interview is, “Tell me about yourself.” Remember, the interviewer is looking for information about you that relates to the job she has open—keep the personal stuff to yourself. A few years ago, I asked a candidate that question and she answered—she told me her age, how many kids she had, their ages and how many divorces she had been through, including details of the current situation.  When she paused to breathe, I tried to redirect her to more relevant information.

You need to prove to the interviewer that you are a good fit, that you can help solve their problems and that you have relevant education or work experience. Reviewing the job description prior to the interview will make it easier for you to connect your experience and the new job.

I always look for the job candidate who will tell me they want the job. The purpose of the interview is for you to tell the employer why they should hire you and your job is to tell them.  I don’t want anyone to beg for a job but I do want a candidate who is willing to ask me for the job.  During one of my early job interviews I learned the value of stating “I really want this job and I know I can be successful.”  I got the job and later was told I was the only candidate who actually asked for the job. Be confident without bragging and you many just end up with that new dream job!

Looking for a job? Check out our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

June 30, 2017

Janie Bates

Public Speaking

Most people fear public speaking more than almost any other job duty. Although, high schools and colleges may offer some speech classes, students often just do the minimum to pass the class and then go back to avoiding that task.

A few years ago, one of my staff wanted to start a Toastmasters chapter in our office.  Public speaking was not something that worried me, I have had to do many speeches in my career and it’s no big deal. Toastmasters was not high on my priority list but I agreed to join in order to reach the required membership.  Toastmasters turned out to be a fun way for people to overcome their fear of public speaking and learn some valuable techniques. I highly encouraged all our staff to participate in our office unit.

Fast forward to the present—I recently received a reference check call on one of my former employees.  The first thing the employer said to me was “she said you made her attend Toastmasters so she knows how to prepare and deliver a speech.” We had a good laugh about me “making” her attend!  She got the job and since then she has told numerous times how grateful she is to have had the opportunity to attend Toastmasters and overcome her fear of public speaking.  This lady often delivers speeches to hundreds of people a week.

Public speaking is an asset in almost any job.  If you are not comfortable giving speeches, I highly recommend Toastmasters. It’s a low cost option for learning to speak plus it’s in a friendly environment.  Check out the Toastmasters groups in your area—they are always open to visitors. Who knows, you could be next great speaker from Texoma!

Looking for a job? Check out our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

June 23, 2017

Janie Bates

Rookie Mistakes in the Workplace

Starting your first professional job? After graduating from high school or college, most people think a job is going to be easier, but that’s not always the case. The school routine may have included some late night partying and then skipping class the next day.  Being absent or showing up late is a quick way to earn your first strike at work. Most companies have a point system that penalizes workers for attendance issues.  Gather too many points and there’s no need to show up again because you no longer have a job!

Put the phone down!  Social media, texting and talking can wait until lunch or after hours.  You are being paid to work, not to socialize.

Speaking of socializing—you do need to make connections with your co-workers and find out how their job connects to yours. You should be looking for a mentor at the company who can teach you about the corporate culture and how to be successful at your new job.

You may have gotten used to barely getting those assignments done in school but that behavior won’t cut it at work.  Employers expect timeliness and you need some lead time just in case you need to regroup and start over on a project or a crisis pops up that distracts you from your mission.

New grads often think their job is 8 hours a day and nothing more! The people who advance in their careers are willing to take on new ventures and stay late if necessary to make things happen.

Studying shouldn’t stop when school ends.  Every project requires preparation! Never assume you know all there is to know about a topic or a project. Do your research and be the best!

Use these tips to ensure your success on the job!

 

Looking for a job? Check out our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

June 16, 2017

Janie Bates

Resumes that Get Noticed

Most HR professionals see hundreds of resumes each year and according to recent surveys, the majority  say they take no more than one minute to read each resume and some even say they spend less than a minute. So, what can you do to make sure yours gets noticed?

  • Use high quality paper in a neutral color (no neon colors)
  • Don’t try to put everything you know on the paper—keep it brief—one page is best
  • Leave some white space
  • If you have had many jobs, just focus on the last 3 or the ones that pertain to the job you are seeking
  • Customize the resume to the job
  • List skills and accomplishments over duties
  • Proof read and then proof again or better yet, ask someone else to proof
  • Put references on a second page
  • Unless you just graduated from high school, don’t list your HS awards and honors, make it current

Looking for a job? Check out our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

June 9, 2017

Janie Bates

Preparing for the Interview

Last week I offered some tips for interviewing and this week I want to take a look at a way to enhance your interview. If you are looking for a professional job you may find a portfolio to be a useful tool.

Years ago, we sponsored a youth program for high school students and we required each of them to produce a portfolio. For a high school student, this may seem difficult due to their lack of work experience.  The trick here is to make the connection between what you know, what you are good at and the job you want. Work you created in school can be great examples for a portfolio.

Digital skills are so important these days and most new high school and college grads have great skills that can be demonstrated. Create charts and graphs (in color, of course), lay out a flyer or other publication, design a logo, banner or stickers.  If writing is your best skill, write a one page paper on a topic relevant to the job. Place all the items in a nice folder and take to the interview.  When asked about your computer skills, you will have examples that show your work. If you have video skills, take a DVD to share.  Be sure you make several portfolios or DVDs in case an employer wants to keep a copy. Who knows, your portfolio could be the tipping point in your interview!

Looking for a job? Check out our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

June 2, 2017

Janie Bates

Getting Ready for the World of Work!

Most Texoma high schools will have held graduation ceremonies by this weekend, weather permitting! It’s time for all those new grads to find a job.  This week, I heard a parent of a college grad say she had given her son until September 1st to take over all his expenses—her job was done! I have discussed interviewing several times but job seekers can’t be too prepared.

Here a few tips that apply to the new college grad, high school grad or seasoned worker:

  • The most important thing you can take to an interview is confidence. Confidence, not arrogance. Be positive, smile and answer questions confidently but don’t be a know-it-all.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Wear a conservative hairstyle. Save the fun stuff for weekends.
  • Be on time. I recently interviewed 4 finalists and only one of them arrived more than 3 minutes early.  That’s cutting it too close. Try to be at least 10 minutes early but no more than 15.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Leave the phone in your car, purse or briefcase. If you have it with you, be sure it is turned off or in airplane mode.
  • Don’t get distracted—repeat the question if you need to—stay focused on answering what was asked.
  • Don’t slouch. Good posture gives the impression that you are interested while slouching makes you look bored.
  • Leave the super-sized drink in the car.
  • Ask intelligent questions about the job. With internet access, there is no excuse for going to an interview without knowing lots of details about the company.
  • Before you leave the interview, tell the interviewer you want the job. Say the words—“I want this job” and then give them a reason why as succinctly as possible!
  • Send a thank you note to the interviewer. Email can work but most people also enjoy the hand-written note.

Looking for a job? Check out our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

May 26, 2017

Janie Bates

It’s Time for Graduation!

School is rapidly drawing to a close for the year. High school graduates are thinking about college and parents are thinking about how to pay for college.  Workforce Solutions Texoma may be able to help with tuition costs.  There are many resources to assist with college expenses but the most important thing to remember is to go easy on student loans.

The United States is in a student loan crisis at this point.  The loans are fairly easy to obtain and it’s also easy to forget repayment starts as soon as you graduate. Many people have student loan debt they will not be able to repay in their lifetime if they only pay the minimum.

How can you finish college without student loans? Here are a few ideas:

  • Work part-time while attending school part-time. It may take longer to finish but it will be worth it to have no debt.
  • Apply for the PELL Grant and all scholarships you think you qualify for.
  • Research local companies you might want to work for and find out if they have a tuition reimbursement program. My daughter received $6,000 per year in tuition while she was in pharmacy school. She had to agree to work for the company one year for every year they paid. She was guaranteed a job when she graduated.
  • Look for on-campus jobs that allow you to work around your class schedule, such as a lab assistant or office assistant.
  • Look for opportunities to house sit or pet sit. A few part-time jobs can add up to cover a semester of tuition.
  • Although not my most recommended plan, some students attend a year of school then take a year off to work full time and earn money for the next year. This method definitely takes longer and you run the risk of not returning to school.

Before you apply for any loans, make sure you understand the implications of borrowing money in terms of how much the payments will be and how long it will take to pay off. Find out the salary ranges for the job you hope to get—will it pay enough for you to repay loans and live comfortably? And remember, repayment starts immediately after you stop attending school.

Thinking about getting more training? Check out our local Workforce Centers

 

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

May 18,  2017

Janie Bates

The One “Must Have” Word for Your Resume

Excerpt from Jacob Passey–Marketwatch

Today’s job market requires great digital skills. “If you write ‘digital’ on your resume, your odds of getting a job are much higher than not having that word on your resume,” said Brian Kropp, the human resources practice leader at advisory firm CEB. Liberal arts students with additional technical skills qualify for nearly twice as many job openings versus those who didn’t have them, according to data from employment analytics software company Burning Glass Technologies.

You may be thinking you don’t have those skills but it could just be a matter of changing your thinking. If you do online publishing such as a blog, develop electronic budgets, design websites or manage social media, you have digital skills.  When preparing your resume use the term “digital skills” and elaborate on those.

Every employer needs people who are comfortable with technology. Burning Glass Technologies identified eight sets of technical skills that significantly increase hiring potential. Of these, five were highly digital in nature: IT networking and support, computer programming, data analysis and management, graphic design and social media. (The other three were marketing, business administration and sales.) And with the exception of sales and computer programming, the number of jobs requiring these skill sets were growing at a faster pace than their overall labor market.

Applicants who cast who highlight their digital know-how have a better chance of getting a job and they’ll also get paid more. The average entry-level salary for a psychology major is $42,206 a year, according to data from Burning Glass Technologies. But a psychology major with data analysis and statistics skills can earn up to $68,788 out of school, which represents a nearly $27,000 salary premium. “These are skills that companies will just throw money at even if they think perchance you have the slightest bit of ability in that space,” Kropp said.

If you need help with a resume or job search check out our local Workforce Centers

Note: To read full article: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/one-word-resume-today-204607866.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=ma

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

May 12, 2017

Janie Bates

The Toxic Workplace

Have you ever worked in an environment that felt toxic? If you have been in the workforce for very long chances are you have experienced the toxic work environment. There is not much that’s more toxic than a co-worker who is driven by jealousy.

I’ve had the experience of a jealous co-worker who was the source of most of the drama and confusion in our department. Most of us spend more time with co-workers each day than we do with family, and for some, co-workers are family.  Families have disagreements but they can usually be resolved amicably. The toxic person is best avoided.

How do you handle the toxic person?  These tips make sense for co-workers or friends:

  • Stay away from them as much as possible
  • Don’t share your personal life with them
  • Don’t participate in their conversations and they will be less likely to attribute their comments to you
  • Never let down your guard with them
  • Avoid work projects that involve the toxic co-worker
  • Don’t be drawn into their drama regardless of how much they try to entangle you
  • If possible, move your workspace
  • If things get too bad at work, visit with your supervisor. If the supervisor is the toxic person, go to the next level or polish up your resume! Jobs are plentiful now!

 

Need help with a resume or job search? Check out our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

May 5, 2017

Janie Bates

Are You a Workaholic?

According to the U.S. Travel Association, Americans failed to use 429 million days of paid leave last year! While those workers who do earn paid leave are taking less, at least a quarter of Americans don’t receive paid leave due to the part-time nature of their jobs.

MasterCard commissioned a study that found only half of Americans have taken vacations or are planning a vacation. Many companies have started in-house campaigns to encourage their workers to take their earned time. Numerous studies have revealed that people return from vacation vacations less stressed and more productive. Vacations seems to benefit employers as much as employees because taking time off gives a person a chance to see things differently.

I used to work with a guy who would jokingly say he couldn’t be gone too long or the boss would realize she could do without him. Unfortunately, many people feel this way!  Or, they think there will just be too much work piled up when they return.  Personally, I know I will have lots of work stacked up when I return but at the same time, it’s fun to be back and I like being busy.

The other objection is that it costs too much to take a vacation.  Staycations are also great for taking a break from work—just a change of pace and a chance to relax.  Most cities have several free activities available that work well for spending time with your family.  Some of my favorite days are spent at home working on my hobbies.

So, take a look at your accumulated leave and start making plans to take that time! Who knows, you may come up the next great idea while relaxing by the pool!

Need help with a resume or job search? Check out our local Workforce Centers.

Note:  For more information on this topic, see the article by Eileen Ogintz on www.foxnews.com/travel

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

April 28, 2017

Janie Bates

Workforce Solutions and our partners, Denison Development Alliance, Sherman Economic Development Corporation and Grayson College recently hosted another Career Fair. Over 400 job seekers and 46 employers attended. Many job seekers were interviewed on the spot and some made appointments for a later date. We spoke with people who were recently unemployed and others who had been unemployed for a few weeks.

When you are recently laid off, it’s usually easy to review your work history and explain why you are no longer employed.  However, if it has been a while since you worked, a prospective employer may ask about any significant gaps in your work history. These days, very few people will be employed by the same company for a lifetime.  Most of us will change jobs and even careers many times during our working lifetime. That means you may need to explain an employment gap at some time or give a reason for leaving a job—so it’s best to be prepared.

Typical reasons for leaving a job include:

  • A better job
  • More pay
  • More time off/benefits
  • Moving with family
  • Sick family member
  • Birth of a child
  • A Lay off

What if you were fired? What do you say then? First, always be truthful but do so without criticizing your former boss or company. It’s always better to take the high road:

  • It wasn’t a good fit
  • My skills didn’t match the job
  • I’m looking for a different type of job

You never know when you may encounter a former co-worker or supervisor in a new job.  Keep your words soft so there are no regrets later.

For more career information, visit a local workforce center

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

April 21, 2017

Janie Bates

Making a Living

Everyone wants a job that will allow them to earn a good salary. And there are many sources of information on the subject—some not so good! Avery popular adage goes “Do something you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Anyone who has ever worked knows that is not true! It’s called work for a reason, even if you love it most days.

Another fallacy is that a college degree will guarantee you a job. There are many unemployed or underemployed college graduate who would disagree with that statement. The good news in Texoma is that you don’t need a 4-year degree to get a great job with benefits. Both manufacturing and healthcare occupations have many job openings that require less than a 4-year degree.  For high school students in Sherman and Denison, there are manufacturing programs available and tuition is free.  If you are thinking about to pay for your child’s college education, consider checking out these programs. Videos about manufacturing in Texoma are available at this link: http://madeintexoma.com

Visit one of our Workforce Centers for assistance with your job search.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

April 14, 2017

Janie Bates

The Big Interview Mistake

According to an article by Sam Becker in the Money and Career Cheat Sheet, the thing employers hate most in an interview is when a candidate is extremely nervous and it shows! We all know that most people are going to be somewhat nervous during an interview but we can usually hide it fairly well.  I interviewed a woman who twirled her hair constantly, and another who crossed her legs and swung her foot so hard her shoe almost came off. Those two definitely didn’t do well at hiding their anxiety.

Becker offers some tips, such as speaking slowly, sitting up straight and making eye contact to avoid the appearance of anxiety, taking a deep breath before entering the interview.  Additionally, the better prepared you are, the less anxious you will be. Research the company thoroughly, know your resume data and be prepared to tell your story. And of course, the old stand-by advice of be on time and dress appropriately is always applicable.

To read the article in its entirety click on this link: http://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/the-one-thing-employers-hate-during-job-interviews-and-how-to-fix-it.html/

Visit one of our Workforce Centers for assistance with your job search.

 

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

April 7, 2017

Janie Bates

Surviving in the Workplace

Everyone dreams of the perfect job, you know the one–where you love your boss and all your co-workers and there are never any stressful days or difficult customers.  You may be dreaming a long time because it doesn’t exist. The workplace environment is much like a family environment, there are days when all is good and days not so good.  So, how do you manage from day to day? Here are a few tips to consider.

  • Make up your mind each day to be the positive influence in your workplace
  • Respect all your co-workers regardless of your differing opinions
  • Be sure you have facts when dealing with co-workers about problems
  • Talk to your co-workers and try to work out differences before they become big issues
  • Ignore bad behavior whenever you can—it may resolve itself
  • Consider that the other person may be facing adversity you know nothing about—it may not be about you
  • Try to be kind and find out what the real issue is
  • Don’t act on feelings and quit your job over petty differences
  • Difficult times build character—your boss may be watching and how you handle adversity usually speaks louder than how you handle the good times

You may be thinking, “but, you don’t know how bad my workplace is!” Actually, I had one of those terrible jobs early in my career.  I left work every day and cried all the way home.  I wanted to quit so bad! My husband kept telling me it would get better and to just hang in there.  The truth is, we couldn’t afford for me to quit work so I had no choice but to hang! I stayed with the job by telling myself every day that I only had to make it through one day and it would get better.  At the end of 3 weeks my boss came back from vacation and straightened everything out.  She thanked me for staying the course and taking care of business in her absence. That was my first job in the employment and training field—my first job outside family owned businesses. It has been 40 years and I’m still working in the same field.  That experience taught me a very valuable lesson about sticking to the job through the good and the bad. The things we worry so much about today probably won’t matter next month or next year.

Visit one of our Workforce Centers for assistance with your job search.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

March 31, 2017

Janie Bates

Unemployment

The unemployment rate for Texoma is currently just over 4% while the Texas number is 5.1%.   However, there are interesting demographics within Texas.

  • The highest unemployment rate is among the 16-19 age group at 14.7%
  • Ages 20-24 is 8.5%
  • Ages 25-34 is 5.2%
  • Ages 35-44 is 3.4%
  • Ages 45-54 is 3.2%
  • Ages 55-64 is 3.3%
  • Age 65+ is 4.1%
  • Less than high school is 5.6%
  • High School Diploma is 5.0%
  • Some college or Associate Degree is 3.4%
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher is 2.9%
  • People with disabilities is 7.4%
  • Females 4.4%
  • Males 5.0

Education and age have a significant influence on employment. This chart makes a good case for getting education beyond high school.  It also shows that any type of advanced education beyond high school is a positive factor, not just a four year degree.

If you need career advice or assistance with your job search, visit one of our Workforce Centers.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

March 24, 2017

Janie Bates

Labor Market Information

The Texas Workforce Commission released the latest employment data for Texoma today. The unemployment rates for Grayson, Cooke and Fannin Counties have ticked up a bit since last month. Grayson stands at 4.2%, Cooke at 4.2% and Fannin at 4.1%. When the unemployment rate is around 4% we consider that full employment which means that most people who want a job can find a job.

I have had people disagree, saying they or a friend cannot find a job.  Notice, I said “a job”, not your dream job, not the highest paying job you have ever had. The high paying, dream jobs usually take time to develop.  You may start at entry level and work your way up—most of us have had to do that.

This is the perfect time to start a career; there are over 1000 jobs available and employers are willing to train workers who will show up every day and work hard. Many of our employers are offering tuition reimbursement as well as great benefits and pay. If you always wanted to go to college but couldn’t afford the tuition, check out your local employers and find out which ones offer this benefit.

Workforce is partnering with the Denison Development Alliance, Sherman Economic Development Corporation and Grayson College to bring you another job fair on April 13th, 10 AM to 4 PM at the Texoma Event Center at the Denison Hilton Garden Inn. Dress up, bring your resume and pen and be prepared to interview. Many of the employers will be hiring on the spot!

If you need a resume, visit one of our Workforce Centers for assistance.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

February 17, 2017

Janie Bates

Mentoring

For those of us who have been in the workforce for any length of time, it’s easy to think of someone who helped us with our career goals along the way. It’s also easy to remember the people who seemed to hinder our progress.

On my second “real” job—one that didn’t involve working for family—I encountered a woman who did everything to teach us “young ones” a lesson. My job entailed doing stacks of paperwork, several legal size forms per customer.  She was supposed to teach me how to do them and she did give me a 5 minute overview.  I worked hard on those forms and with a great deal of pride placed them on her desk an hour later, just before I had to attend a meeting.  Imagine my surprise when I returned from the meeting to find the stack back on my desk. It seems she didn’t tell me everything that had to be done.  After the second return of all the folders, she finally got around to telling me all the details.  Needless to say, I went home feeling very deflated that day, even doubting my ability to do the job. The next day, multiple people dropped by to tell me she had done similar things to them.

And then I remember the people who took that extra time to share their secrets of success on the job, the people who were willing to step back and allow me space to design a program or change a process.  Those people who demonstrated a trust in my ability to learn and to adapt to the situation at hand taught me more about leadership than the micromanagers.

Being a mentor at work doesn’t mean you have to be the boss to help others. Every employee has something to share and the ability to encourage others. Think about your skills and how you can help others be successful in their jobs. Whether it’s the high school intern or a mature worker, no one knows everything about your workplace and everyone needs a mentor. The woman who returned my paperwork didn’t intend to help me but she did!  I learned to ask other people how they did the paperwork and I always tried harder to make sure my forms were accurate.  She would have been surprised to learn that 25 year old ended up being the department director and eventually the director of Workforce Solutions Texoma.

Next time you are looking for a job, you might want to ask other employees of the company why they want to work there and if they had someone who mentored them.  Or if you need a job, check our local Workforce Centers.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

February 10, 2017

Janie Bates

10 Ways to Improve Your Workplace

We all have an idea of what our “perfect” workplace looks like but we don’t often do much to make that happen.  In fact, we usually think it is someone else’s problem to work on.  Here are some things you can do to make your workplace a better place to spend your time.

  1. Be Polite. Saying “thank you and excuse me” goes a long way toward making your co-workers respect you.
  2. Respect. Treat the janitor with the same respect as your supervisor. Over the years I have always practiced this and as a result, I have always had many people who were willing to help me with whatever task.
  3. Show interest. Ask your co-workers about their kids, their hobbies and their accomplishments.
  4. Apologize. Admit it when you are wrong. There is no better way to earn respect than to be human.
  5. Brag. About others, that is.  Point out their accomplishments and give kudos when appropriate.
  6. Acknowledge. When you arrive to work, speak to your co-workers with some enthusiasm. Don’t be grumpy even if you aren’t a morning person.
  7. Help. Offer to help others when you know they are sinking. They will be grateful and might just help you some time.
  8. Do Your Share of the Grunt Work. Never use the phrase “that’s not my job” when things are crazy at work and everyone needs an extra pair of hands. Step up and do a little extra. Even if it’s cleaning the floor or the breakroom when you don’t even use it. It will be noticed!

Making any work environment a great place to be requires everyone pitching in and going beyond the job description.  Make a resolution to be the change at your workplace.

Check out our website for Cool Jobs!  These videos highlight some of our local industries.  Also, check out the website: www.madeintexoma.com for more manufacturing videos. Also visit one of our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

March 3

Janie Bates

Career Connection

On April 13th, Workforce Solutions Texoma and our partners will host the Annual Career Connection job fair.  This year, we have a new venue—the Texoma Event Center at the Denison Hilton Garden Inn. There will be a number of local employers who have job openings available immediately. If you are looking for a job, this is the place to be on April 13th from 10 AM-4 PM.  Here are a few tips to get the best results from this event.

  • Dress for work—no ragged jeans, no flip flops, tanks tops or t-shirts with inappropriate printing
  • Be sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle free
  • Bring a resume—if you don’t have one, visit a local workforce center and develop one (see links below)
  • Bring a pen and pencil in case you need to fill out a paper application
  • Bring all your data, including your work history, social security card, driver’s license, reference information such as phone numbers and addresses in case you need to complete an online or paper application
  • Go alone—do not bring your children or friends
  • Visit with every employer, never assume that you can learn about their jobs without actually visiting with them
  • Smile and be positive
  • Be respectful of the employers’ time, don’t linger
  • Be prepared to interview on the spot. Many employers need workers now and they may want to do interviews on the spot

For more job hunting tips or resume assistance, check out our local Workforce Centers.

Career Connection partners include Denison Development Alliance, Sherman Economic Development Corporation, Grayson College and Workforce Solutions Texoma.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

Job Hunting Tips

Janie Bates

February 24, 2017

Spring is approaching and a new class of graduates will soon be looking for jobs. Becoming a great job seeker requires some skill and a lot of common sense. If you are a regular reader of this column, you have certainly read many of these tips before but they are worth repeating.

1) Make sure you follow directions when completing the application. If the application asks for information provide it, do not write “see resume.”

2) Research the company so you can be knowledgeable about their products or services.

3) Dress appropriately for the interview to make a good first impression. Do your homework to find out what the proper attire is for the job you are seeking.

4) Be nice to everyone you meet during the application and interview process. And continue to be nice if you get the job!

5) Send a thank you email to everyone you interacted with–send it immediately. It never hurts to follow up with a handwritten note.

These are just a few basic tips to help you stand out from the applicant pool! For more job search assistance, visit one of our local Workforce Centers

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

February 17, 2017

Janie Bates

Mentoring

For those of us who have been in the workforce for any length of time, it’s easy to think of someone who helped us with our career goals along the way. It’s also easy to remember the people who seemed to hinder our progress.

On my second “real” job—one that didn’t involve working for family—I encountered a woman who did everything to teach us “young ones” a lesson. My job entailed doing stacks of paperwork, several legal size forms per customer.  She was supposed to teach me how to do them and she did give me a 5 minute overview.  I worked hard on those forms and with a great deal of pride placed them on her desk an hour later, just before I had to attend a meeting.  Imagine my surprise when I returned from the meeting to find the stack back on my desk. It seems she didn’t tell me everything that had to be done.  After the second return of all the folders, she finally got around to telling me all the details.  Needless to say, I went home feeling very deflated that day, even doubting my ability to do the job. The next day, multiple people dropped by to tell me she had done similar things to them.

And then I remember the people who took that extra time to share their secrets of success on the job, the people who were willing to step back and allow me space to design a program or change a process.  Those people who demonstrated a trust in my ability to learn and to adapt to the situation at hand taught me more about leadership than the micromanagers.

Being a mentor at work doesn’t mean you have to be the boss to help others. Every employee has something to share and the ability to encourage others. Think about your skills and how you can help others be successful in their jobs. Whether it’s the high school intern or a mature worker, no one knows everything about your workplace and everyone needs a mentor. The woman who returned my paperwork didn’t intend to help me but she did!  I learned to ask other people how they did the paperwork and I always tried harder to make sure my forms were accurate.  She would have been surprised to learn that 25 year old ended up being the department director and eventually the director of Workforce Solutions Texoma.

 

Next time you are looking for a job, you might want to ask other employees of the company why they want to work there and if they had someone who mentored them.  Or if you need a job, check our local Workforce Centers.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

February 10, 2017

Janie Bates

10 Ways to Improve Your Workplace

We all have an idea of what our “perfect” workplace looks like but we don’t often do much to make that happen.  In fact, we usually think it is someone else’s problem to work on.  Here are some things you can do to make your workplace a better place to spend your time.

  1. Be Polite. Saying “thank you and excuse me” goes a long way toward making your co-workers respect you.
  2. Respect. Treat the janitor with the same respect as your supervisor. Over the years I have always practiced this and as a result, I have always had many people who were willing to help me with whatever task.
  3. Show interest. Ask your co-workers about their kids, their hobbies and their accomplishments.
  4. Apologize. Admit it when you are wrong. There is no better way to earn respect than to be human.
  5. Brag. About others, that is.  Point out their accomplishments and give kudos when appropriate.
  6. Acknowledge. When you arrive to work, speak to your co-workers with some enthusiasm. Don’t be grumpy even if you aren’t a morning person.
  7. Help. Offer to help others when you know they are sinking. They will be grateful and might just help you some time.
  8. Do Your Share of the Grunt Work. Never use the phrase “that’s not my job” when things are crazy at work and everyone needs an extra pair of hands. Step up and do a little extra. Even if it’s cleaning the floor or the breakroom when you don’t even use it. It will be noticed!

Making any work environment a great place to be requires everyone pitching in and going beyond the job description.  Make a resolution to be the change at your workplace.

Check out our website for Cool Jobs!  these videos highlight some of our local industries.  Also, check out the website: www.madeintexoma.com for more manufacturing videos. Contact Us

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

February 3, 2017

Janie Bates

How Will You Pay for College?

College costs continue to go up every year creating a bit of anxiety for parents who have plans for their kids to attain a degree.  There are several options available in Texoma.

There are always grants and loans.  Grants are the better option if you qualify because they do not require repayment.  The PELL is usually the first one we think about but not everyone qualifies.

Loans are the second option but I would caution anyone about using this method.  I tend to agree with Dave Ramsey, the financial planning guru, that it’s best to pay as you go rather than incurring long term debt.  If you or your child are considering a student loan, seek some financial counseling first.  Those loans are easy to obtain but hard to repay.  We see way too many people who accumulate massive student loans and then get low paying jobs after graduating.  Making those student loan payments becomes a huge burden on their finances.

My daughter attended a private university that strongly encouraged students to study abroad or take Jan Term trips.  Many of her classmates took those trips using student loans and they are still paying for them.

In Texoma, we have some better options! Grayson College in cooperation with Sherman ISD and Denison ISD is offering manufacturing classes that will lead to a Level I Tech Certificate by the end of 11th grade and if the student continues in their senior year, they will be 3 classes away from a Level II Tech Certificate when they graduate.  The best part?  Tuition and books are free thanks to the schools, Denison Development Alliance, SEDCO and several local manufacturers.  And, the students who complete will be given priority for manufacturing jobs in our area.  Manufacturing offers great careers with opportunities to advance and gain more education at the employer’s expense. Manufacturing workers usually make 15% more than other workers.

Check out our website for Cool Jobs!  These videos highlight some of our local industries.  Also, check out the website: www.madeintexoma.com for more manufacturing videos.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

January 27, 2017

Janie Bates

What’s More Important than Salary?

The first thing most new job seekers think of is salary.  They can hardly wait to start earning money and of course, they want to earn a high salary.  Who could blame them? However, more seasoned workers might tell a different story, focusing on things other than salary.

  1. Work Environment: My office only has 9 employees and my staff often refer to our team as “family”. Because we are small, we spend a lot of hours together and we are like family. We care for each other, we look out for one another and we help our co-workers when they are overloaded. Coming to work is a pleasant thing to do.
  2. Fulfillment: People like to think they are making a difference in their world. If they can see a benefit of their work in terms of changing lives, they may go home tired but happy because their work is worthwhile.
  3. Recognition: Although most people won’t admit it, they probably enjoy being recognized for their work. Even the smallest token of appreciation can make an employee happier in their job. I know a guy who regularly hands out miniature candy bars to the support staff in his office. They are not his staff but yet they are willing to help him anytime he needs help. I have observed managers who gave out lottery scratch-off tickets, silver dollars or time off coupons. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that shows appreciation.
  4. Benefits: Many people work for insurance, salary is secondary. Insurance, days off, flexible hours and telecommuting are all perks that make happier employees. On-site healthcare, massages and exercise rooms are also favorites. Not every business can offer all these, but workers often look for their favorites

Next time you are looking for a job, you might want to ask other employees of the company why they want to work there. Or if you need a job, check our local Workforce Centers.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

January 20, 2017

Janie Bates

Jobs for Older Workers

Many workers look forward to retirement for a variety of reasons. For some it’s the lure of free time to pursue hobbies or travel or spend more time with family.  Others look forward to starting a new business or new job.  In the forty years I have been involved with employment and training services, I have observed way too many people who planned their retirement for years and then when they were able to retire found themselves bored and unhappy, regretting their decision to retire.

If you are approaching the retirement decision, plan carefully. Aside from the financial planning, consider what your life will be like after retirement.

  • Do you need to be able to socialize with friends and family? Will they be available to spend time with you?
  • Do you need to feel needed? If so, are there opportunities for you to help others?
  • Will you need some extra income? Do you have a part-time job lined up?
  • If you plan to continue working somewhere else, do you have the skills to do so? This would be a good time to upgrade computer skills so you can function in a new job.
  • If you like your current job, perhaps you could arrange to only work part time.
  • It’s also a good idea to take a couple of weeks off to find out how you would spend your days. Most people have a few projects they never seem to get around to do doing, but do you have enough to keep yourself busy?
  • If you plan to travel, see a travel agent and find out how much money you need, where you can afford to go and determine if you need or want a traveling companion.

Taking a few hours to plan now could help you prevent a bad decision concerning retirement. If you are looking for a great job, check out the services at our local Workforce Centers.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

January 13, 2017

Janie Bates

New Year, New You!

Two weeks into the New Year and we have all had time to make those resolutions and to determine if we are going to keep them! Among the many things we can hope to accomplish should be the goal of improving in some way.  Everyone wants to be happy and successful.  Being happy is certainly an obtainable goal.  Here is a list of things happy people do every day;

  1. They are grateful! Grateful for the small things as well as the big ones. They are grateful for family, friends, jobs, a place to live, a car, a pet. They are grateful for the things others do for them and they express that gratitude by saying “thank you” often.
  2. Happy people are content with themselves. That doesn’t mean they have no goals, it means they find happiness in the moment.
  3. Happy people focus on helping others and finding a way to improve their community.
  4. Happy people smile and act happy. Even when things are not going so well, they choose to act happy.
  5. Happy people have their faults but they focus on improving themselves rather than blaming others.
  6. Happy people don’t compare themselves to others. Unhappy people compare themselves and always see themselves as lacking something. Happy people can be happy for the success of others.
  7. Happy people hang out with other happy people! There is truth in the adage that says laughter is the best medicine.
  8. Happy people at work see challenges as opportunities! They try to find solutions and overcome obstacles.
  9. Finally, they know when to say “no” to obligations that would create stress or strife in their lives. They prioritize obligations to make sure the most important people and things in their lives get top billing.

Try these tips next week and see if you can be a happier person and a happier employee! If you need a job, visit one of our Workforce Centers.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

January 6, 2017

Janie Bates

Manufacturing and healthcare are the two top employment sectors in Texoma.  These two sectors offer more jobs and higher paying jobs on average.  Many job seekers don’t think about the many different jobs offered in these fields.  The more obvious jobs in healthcare include doctors, nurses, radiologists and therapists. In manufacturing we think of engineers and technicians.  However, both healthcare and manufacturing offer jobs in business management, accounting, maintenance, sales and marketing to name a few.  Jobs in these sectors offer long term careers.

Local community colleges offer training programs to prepare job seekers for these careers.  Now is the time to get enrolled to start your journey to a new career.  Contact Workforce Solutions Texoma’s workforce centers for more information.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

December 30, 2016

Janie Bates

Time for Those New Year’s Resolutions

So what’s on your list of resolutions? Losing weight is always among the top resolutions but few of us follow through on that one. During the holidays, one of my co-workers gave each person in our office a journal.  He challenged us to set goals, write them down and diligently pursue them.  At the Christmas services, my church also gave everyone a journal. So now I am thinking I might try this way of approaching my goals.  Here are a few tips for keeping your resolutions:

  • Start with 2-3 goals, don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed.
  • Write down those goals along with some smaller steps. If you want to lose 40 lbs, set a goal of 10 lbs per month or 1 lb per week. This allows you to realize success quickly and encourages you to take the next step.
  • Enlist the help of a trusted friend or relative who will hold you accountable.
  • Imagine the end results—will it make you happier, healthier?
  • Use visuals. If your goal is weight loss, post a picture of your thinner self on the bathroom mirror.
  • Whatever the goal, use those small steps to get started. Set timelines and stick to them.
  • If you need professional help such as an online group, a doctor, a life coach, find one quickly while you are motivated.
  • If you have toxic people in your life who want to sabotage your efforts, cut them loose.
  • If you want a new career or training for a new career, visit one of our local Workforce Centers to find the help you need.

Workforce Solutions Texoma wishes you a Happy and Prosperous New Workforce Solutions Texoma wishes you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

December 9, 2016

Janie Bates

Are You Suffering From Burnout?

We all have those days when we feel overwhelmed with our jobs–too much to do and too little time. Sometimes I complain of information overload! In our digital world, it is so easy to get overwhelmed with data, email, surveys and articles to read.  Here are a few tips to help you recover from burnout.

  • Take that lunch break! Working through lunch or eating at your desk may seem like a good way to get caught up but your brain and your body need a break. Take your lunch outside on nice days, treat yourself to a lunch out occasionally.
  • Take a health break by getting up and walking around the office or the outside the office. This will have great benefits for your back, neck and feet.
  • Use that vacation time. 75% of American workers leave their vacation time on the books.  Even if it’s just a day or 2, vacation time can recharge you! And leave the work at the office.
  • When you leave work, turn off the phone unless you are on call. Let email wait until the work day.
  • Find a relaxing hobby that you can look forward to at the end of the day. Build some excitement.
  • Use a priority list—do the things that really matter. Take time to evaluate how you do your job.  Are you doing some things just because that’s how you have always done them?  Can you eliminate some steps and finish the project with less stress.
  • Ask your supervisor for a new project that would renew your excitement about going to work. But, be careful not to take on too much work which will only make your burnout worse.
  • Ask your co-workers if there is something you can help them with, something unlike what you usually do.

If you need a job or job training , visit one of our local Workforce Centers.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

Earn the Respect You Want at Work

 Janie Bates

December 2, 2016

Every employee has experienced times when they felt as if they were getting no respect at work.  Here are some tips to earn that respect and resolve issues regarding your feelings.

  • Make sure you give respect to others
  • If you feel that someone has been disrespectful calmly ask to discuss the situation. Chances are, your co-worker has no idea he hurt your feelings
  • Listen to others with no interrupting, you will get a chance to speak eventually
  • Leave that cell phone on your desk when you are visiting with others. And definitely leave it out of meetings.
  • Be on time. Arriving late sends a message to your boss and coworkers that there time is less valuable than yours
  • Don’t talk too much—in meetings or on the phone
  • Keep your work area clean, clean up your mess in the break room
  • If you need to take a call, business or personal, speak softly. No one wants to hear your conversation.

Think of other annoying behaviors and realize if they annoy you, they probably annoy others.  Try to make yourself the most positive person in the office and the easiest to get along with.

For more tips or assistance with your job search, visit your local Workforce Center.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

Five Things You Should do to Interview Well

 Janie Bates

November 25, 2016

Interviewing is stressful under any circumstances but these five tips can make the process just a little easier.

  1. Dress for the occasion: Do some research about the company and find out what people wear who have jobs similar to the one you want.  Never dress too casually.  Jeans are rarely appropriate for an interview, neither are capri pants. If the company has a casual dress code, wear nice pants or a skirt with a nice shirt, suits are not required.  If the environment is more professional, definitely wear that suit.  Always make sure the clothes are clean and wrinkle free and well fitting. Clothes that are uncomfortable will make you uncomfortable and add to your stress. The best plan is to try on the clothes the day before you need them in case you need to change plans.  Keep jewelry to a minimum.
  2. Arrive on Time: Don’t arrive 30 minutes early or if you do, wait in your car until about 10 minutes prior to your scheduled time.  Arriving too early may cause problems for the office staff.  10 minutes early is perfect.
  3. Be Friendly: Smile and acknowledge the front office workers.  I will not consider hiring a person who is rude to my other employees. Remember, they already have a job with the company and their vote counts.
  4. Know the Company: Most companies these days have a website.  Make good use of the information you can find online.  Although you will not be able to find out about the company culture, you can learn many details that will help you to ask good questions during the interview.
  5. Relax: Do your best to relax and don’t let your anxiety show.  If the interviewer throws you an unexpected question, repeat the question and give yourself time to formulate an answer. When the interview ends, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time.

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For more tips or assistance with a resume, visit your local Workforce Center.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

Note:  This regulation will not be implemented December 1st due to a Federal injunction which places it on hold until further notice.

November 18, 2016

 Janie Bates

Overtime Changes

New overtime rules go into effect December 1, 2016.  Below is an article that has some great information to use when informing your employees of the changes.

How to Tell Your Salaried Employees They Are Now Hourly

The new salary rule putting the overtime threshold at $47,476 per year goes into effect on December 1, 2016. You have to tell your employees.

suzanne-lucas By Suzanne Lucas

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.

Some of your salaried employees are about to become hourly employees, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Starting on December 1, 2016, the minimum salary needed to qualify for a salary exemption will jump from $455 a week ($23,660 per year) to $913 per week ($47,476 per year). If you have employees who are currently exempt from overtime who earn less than $47,476 per year, you’ll have to change the way they are paid.

How should you tell your employees? Some of them won’t take it very well. You should have managers sit down, one on one, to deliver the news. But you’ll also want to follow up with written communication. Here is a sample letter to get you started. You will need to modify it for your specific situation. Please pay attention to local laws as well.

Dear Employee,

As you may have heard, the Federal Department of Labor has made some changes that will affect you. Starting on December 1, 2016, you will become eligible for overtime pay. This means that you will no longer be paid a straight salary, but will be paid by the hour.

Your new pay rate:

Hourly rate: $20.00 per hour.

Overtime rate: $30.00 per hour. You will receive this rate of pay for any hours over 40 that you work in a single week.

Frequently asked questions.

What will my new pay look like?

Your pay will now be dependent on how many hours you work each week. If you work a regular 40 hours a week, your paycheck will look almost exactly like your current paycheck. If you work more than 40 hours a week, you’ll receive overtime pay. If you work less than 40 hours in a week, you’ll have the option of receiving pay for only the hours you worked or using some of your PTO in order to make up the full 40 hours. If you have no PTO available, you’ll receive a smaller paycheck.

Will I have to punch a time clock?

Yes, under the new regulations, all time has to be recorded. We will train you on how to record your time in meetings scheduled over the next few weeks. Whether you work in the office, or at a client’s location, or at home, all time must be recorded accurately.

Can I work overtime whenever I want?

No. All overtime work must be first approved by your supervisor. Our company goal is to keep overtime at a minimum. If you work overtime without permission, you will be paid for it, but you will also receive a warning. Please ask your supervisor before working more than 40 hours in one week.

What if I want to work more hours? I’m willing to do it without extra pay.

You may not do this. Federal law prohibits you from working unreported hours. All work must be reported on your time card. This includes any work you do at home, including any work-related phone calls. Failure to report your time correctly will result in disciplinary proceedings up to and including termination. We realize that you are used to working until you get the job done, but the law is changing and this is no longer allowed. The company can face steep fines if you work off the clock–even voluntarily.

Is this a demotion?

No. The only reason for the change in your pay calculation is a new rule from the federal government. Your job title, level, and responsibilities remain the same. If you have difficulty completing your tasks during normal working hours, please speak with your supervisor. Your supervisor will be happy to work with you to prioritize your workload so that things can be accomplished in a timely fashion.

Can I still work remotely?

Yes. If your boss currently allows you to work from home, you may continue to do so. You will be required to track your hours, just as you would if you were in the office.

How will this affect things like doctor’s appointments?

As an hourly paid employee, you will have to either make up the time you are away from your desk or use your PTO to cover things like doctor’s appointments, school meetings, or a long lunch.

Can I take comp time instead of overtime?

If you work 50 hours one week, you cannot just work 30 hours the next week and receive a paycheck for a normal 80-hour pay period. Federal law requires that you receive overtime pay for the 50-hour week, even if you work fewer hours the next week. Comp time is not allowed for non-exempt employees.

Please let us know if you have any further questions. We are happy to help you through this transition.

Sincerely,
The HR Department.

Hopefully, this letter gives you a bit of a start on writing your own. You will have to make adjustments for your company.

https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/final2016/faq.htm#1

https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/fs17a_overview.pdf

Workforce Solutions Texoma

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

November 11, 2016

 Janie Bates

Seasonal Jobs

Christmas is only 43 days away! (my granddaughter keeps me posted on this important date) If you need some extra money for the holidays or if you have just been thinking about returning to the workforce, this is your season!  Everywhere you look, there are Now Hiring signs in retail stores and restaurants.  Often, there are jobs at the delivery services for extra drivers.

One requirement for these job is flexibility.  You must be ready to work strange hours and 7 days a week.  But for those who are willing to put in the time, these jobs often lead to permanent jobs.  The seasonal jobs give employers the opportunity to “try out” new workers and determine if they are really interested in becoming a part of the team.

If you need a resume or tips for interviewing, visit one of our local Workforce Centers.

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

October 28, 2016

 Janie Bates

Part IV- Disability Etiquette Tips by guest columnist, Julie Penn White.

When talking to a person with a disability, look at and speak directly to that person, rather than through a companion or attendant.

When referring to a person with a disability, make reference to the person first, then the disability. Use terminology such as “a person with a disability” rather than a “disabled person.”

To accommodate individuals with learning disabilities and vision impairments when using presentation slides, be sure to explain what is on the slide. Highlight points and convey enough information to describe pictures to someone who has no vision. Also provide information in several types of alternative formats (tapes, Braille, diskette). Watch for inadequate lighting, which inhibits communication by persons who have hearing and learning limitations.

Do not touch a service animal, or the person the animal assists, without permission. Noises may distract the animal from doing his/her job, and feeding the service animal may disrupt the animal’s schedule.

Listen attentively when talking with a person who has a speech impairment. Keep your manner encouraging rather than correcting. Exercising patience rather than attempting to speak for a person may be helpful. When necessary, ask short questions that require short answers or a nod or a shake of the head. Never pretend to understand if you are having difficulty doing so.

To get the attention of a person with a hearing impairment, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, naturally, and slowly to establish if the person can read lips. Not all individuals with hearing impairments can lip-read. Those who can will rely on facial expressions and other body language to help in understanding. Show consideration by placing yourself facing the light source and keeping your hands away from your mouth when speaking. Shouting probably will not help but written notes may. To facilitate conversation, be prepared to offer a visual cue to a hearing impaired person or an audible cue to a vision impaired person, especially when more than one person is speaking.

When talking with a person who uses a wheelchair or scooter for more than a few minutes, use a chair whenever possible in order to place yourself at the person’s eye level; this facilitates conversation. Do not move a wheelchair, crutches, or other mobility aid out of reach of a person who uses them. Also, do not push a mobility aid without first asking the occupant if you may do so, lean on a person’s mobility aid when talking, or pat a person who uses a wheelchair or scooter on the head. Make sure that audiovisual equipment does not block the view of people who use accessible seating; clearing the aisles of excess debris for the use of mobility aids may be useful. Be alert to the possible existence of architectural barriers.

Source: http://askjan.org/media/etipresent.html

Workforce Solutions Texoma

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

October 21, 2016

 Janie Bates

Part III – Resources by guest columnist, Julie Penn White.

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.

JAN’s trusted consultants offer one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related legislation, and self-employment and entrepreneurship options for people with disabilities. Assistance is available both over the phone and online. Those who can benefit from JAN’s services include private employers of all sizes, government agencies, employee representatives, and service providers, as well as people with disabilities and their families.

JAN represents the most comprehensive job accommodation resource available. From Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurs, JAN has served customers across the United States and around the world for more than 25 years. Its consultants are thought leaders and innovators on disability employment issues, and all have earned at least one Master’s degree in their specialized fields, ranging from rehabilitation counseling to education and engineering.

JAN is one of several services provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). Its development has been achieved through the collaborative efforts of ODEP, West Virginia University, and private industry throughout North America.

The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) is a multi-faceted initiative to foster collaboration and action around accessible technology in the workplace. Guided by a consortium of policy and technology leaders, PEAT works to help employers, IT companies, and others to understand why it pays to build and buy accessible technology, and how to go about doing so. PEAT is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)  and is managed by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA

Workforce Solutions Texoma

Workforce Solutions Texoma Career Corner

October 14

Janie Bates

Part II – The Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities by guest columnist, Julie Penn White.

Did you know that Siri, the helpful voice on your I-phone was developed to assist disabled users and is now used by the masses? This technological advancement serves as an example of how the need for an accommodation can lead to positive change. In fact, change can often yield benefits beyond our expectations; hiring people with disabilities can allow companies to capitalize on opportunities that will benefit the bottom line. The benefits of hiring people with disabilities are significant, and one major benefit is the attraction of new markets. Roughly 18% of the American population consists of potential customers with disabilities and according to the U.S. Department of Labor this equates to about $200 billion in discretionary spending power, not including the customer’s family or friends.  Employers need innovative ideas in order to grow, and studies show that employing workers with disabilities allows for a competitive advantage in this respect. It increases diversity, which leads to an influx of new ideas, perspectives, and solutions. Employers also value stability and various statistics show that hiring people with disabilities increases worker retention, which generates longer tenures and reduces training costs. In addition, this workforce is adaptive and flexible, which often elicits lower absenteeism rates. Studies have shown that the quality of the work does not suffer, as people with disabilities have nearly identical job performance ratings. As an added benefit, companies have found that providing for accommodations promotes an inclusive culture that leads to improved morale.

Most accommodations are not costly and can provide a great return on your investment. Examples of low cost common accommodations include dress code allowances, more breaks, or flexible scheduling. The Department of Labor’s Employment Training Administration even offers grants to employers to help with training and employing workers with disabilities: www.doleta.gov/grants/. Various tax incentives exist to help minimize any financial impact. The IRS provides several ways to assist employers with costs, both in terms of credits as well as deductions. These include: The Disabled Access Credit. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit. The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction. There is more information available on these incentives at www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/tax-benefits-for-businesses-who-have-employees-with-disabilities. The TWC website also provides additional information on the Work Opportunity Tax Credit at: www.twc.state.tx.us/businesses/work-opportunity-tax-credit.

Programs exist to assist employers from beginning to end, Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services provides outreach, technical assistance, training, and help with recruiting, hiring, and retention of people with disabilities. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network (https://adata.org/) provides information on the ADA as well as training and technical assistance, similar to that of the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers: www.disability.gov/resource/disability-business-technical-assistance-centers-dbtacs-the national-network-of-americans-with disabilities-act-ada-centers/.

So leave assumptions at the door and focus more on ability over disability; there are benefits to employing people from the valuable workforce. It is an opportunity for growth that if embraced, could improve business as well as quality of life.

Source: Texas Business Today- Third Quarter 2016

Workforce Solutions Texoma