Articles in: Technology


Some Useful Links

Believe it or not, we are not the only website out there dedicated to career development, job searching and work/life balance. I know, crazy, right?

As we get ready to launch our program on May 5th, we’ve been interacting with and commenting on a number of different sites that we think might be helpful to you in addition to ProAssisting:

Expat - Justlanded.com is a great resource for anyone looking to study abroad.
GED: Learn and meet your educational goals at your own pace. Obtain your GED with Franklin Virtual Schools.

We’ll be posting new links as we come across them but that list above will get you started. Trust us, they all rock.

 

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Articles in: Technology


What a top-level Assistant does…

The Wall Street Journal has a great article up today, titled “She Bosses the CEO”, about what it’s like to be an executive assistant to a top-level executive.

Their by-line states: “An Assistant knows her boss like few others. Why their partnership is imperiled.”

From our perspective we don’t believe that an assistant’s role or position is “imperiled” however we do recognize, as the article details, that the role is evolving due to technology. Because of this evolution, assistants are asked to take on more bosses and perform in a team environment versus a 1-on-1 position however at the C-Level, a 1-on-1 boss/assistant partnership is still the norm.

Also, the assistant position—even if it’s not labeled “assistant”—is still the bottom rung on the career path for 20-something recent college grads and we’d wager a pretty penny that such is NOT changing in the near OR distant future.

The ProAssisting Training Program is specifically geared toward this new, technologically advanced environment by providing tactics and strategies for using the computer, phone system, cell phone, instant messaging and other new technologies to streamline the job of being an assistant so you can be the right hand any boss is looking for and the person they are looking to promote when the time comes.

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Articles in: Technology


Raise your hand if you like automated phone message systems…

angry callerI don’t know about you but whether I’m making calls for my boss or myself, I try as much as possible to bypass those pesky recorded messages that prompt you to input all sorts of information before it lets you speak with an actual living and breathing human being.

I know that they ask for this information—account numbers, PINS, last 4 digits of your social security number—so that the representative has your account or profile pulled up when they take your call but based on my experience 98% of the time, I have to repeat that information to them anyway… just ridiculous.

Anyway, here is a treat for you—one which we just added to our membership resource center but you can get here for free—to help avoid those recorded messages asking for information before passing you off to a real human being: GetHuman.com!

GetHuman.com is a website that lists thousands of companies along with their various customer service numbers WITH instructions on how to avoid those automated messages and get to a real human! Very easy to search and the instructions are easy to follow… and you can also rate your experience using that number or add your own with instructions if you have any that aren’t listed.

Just another use of technology to bypass a level of technology that drives me batty. Enjoy!

Flickr Creative Commons image by jcardinal18

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Articles in: Technology


Could technology make Assistants obsolete?

Just downloaded a new app for my iPhone that the maker calls, “The Personal Assistant in your Phone.” I read that line twice and thought to myself, “Could technology make my job obsolete?” After thinking about it for a bit though, I realize that all of these technological advances (apps, cell phones, computers, google, etc.) aren’t going to supplant the assistant position, it’s just going to make our jobs easier to perform by being able to multi-task more effectively. My boss would never use the below app on their phone… that’s what they have ME for. BUT I am glad that I can now use this app to accomplish any such task demonstrated in the video below in a quick and seamless way while out of the office or home and on the go. Have an iPhone?... check it out, it’s free.

Siri - The Personal Assistant in your Phone from Tom Gruber on Vimeo.

Siri is a virtual personal assistant on your phone.  You ask Siri in your own voice, and it helps you get things done when you’re on the go.  This video shows a demo of Siri helping plan a romantic evening, get tickets to a great movie, discover cool things to do on the weekend, and getting back home.

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Articles in: Technology


Quick Tip: First thing to do to fix office equipment

on off switchHave you ever had a problem with your computer, fax machine, copier machine or any other computer machine that is essential for you to do your job?

For me, I’m usually under the gun with my hair on fire because I need to get this work done ASAP before my boss heads out the door for their business trip… and my computer freezes or the printer stops working or my fax machine won’t send. Hyperventilating with sweat dripping from my brow, I rush into the IT department and get one of the guys (or girls) to help with my “issue”...

...And do you know what they do?

They turn the device off and then on again!

I kid you not… most all the trouble we’re having in this situation is that our computer driven piece of office equipment has run out of memory (RAM) or has gotten caught up on any number of “glitches” that fix themselves when you turn the device off and then on again!

Try it, you’ll be amazed.

Flickr Creative Commons image by pierreverhoeven

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Articles in: Technology


ProAssisting partners with IngBoo for Link services!

Go ahead, click this button.

If you’ve been to our site before, you might notice that recently we added this button to our sidebar. It’s a button that will take you to IngBoo where we have put together a specific grouping of links for assistants and anyone currently looking for a job. This is a great new tech company that is really making all of the information on the web (RSS feeds, constantly updated sites, etc.) much easier for you to consume and stay on top of.

Here’s how I explain it in a press release (.pdf) that we’re putting out:

“With all the different websites that have job postings out there, trying to stay on top of them on a daily basis takes a lot of time and energy”, said Ethan Bull, CEO and Co-founder of ProAssisting.  “With IngBoo, you input your information for each of these job search sites once and then you’re updated how and when you prefer when new job listings are added to your search criteria.  Given the economic climate, searching for assistant positions is a big concern for a majority of our members and readers.  By partnering with IngBoo, we’re giving them a tool that completely simplifies searching for assistant positions in their specific location and makes sure they won’t miss any new postings if they don’t happen to check a particular job search site that day.”

Pretty cool, huh? To be honest, I don’t read RSS feeds—I know, we have RSS on our site but I, personally, don’t read them—and I’ve found that IngBoo provides the best of both worlds; you get to decide how and when you want your information delivered to you and you don’t have to go back to sites again and again to stay on top of constantly changing information.

Click the button above or on our sidebar, give IngBoo a look and then leave a comment here should you find this service useful… we think you will.

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Articles in: Technology


With cloud computing, who needs to back-up their data?

cloud computingJust so we’re all on the same page for this very important blog post, cloud computing is any account (email, bank, contacts, calendars, social media, flickr, YouTube, etc.) you have with some company who then holds and protects your data in the cloud which in reality is some server sitting somewhere “out there”.

This is a great thing that allows you to get at information, pictures, videos and a huge chunk of your online life from any computer or device connected to the Internet from anywhere… how cool is THAT? They could even restore this data if you lost your computer or device which is doubly cool. Really, this concept—in the abstract AND in action—is pretty awesome BUT (and this is a HUGE BUT) what if that information and data ever got lost, destroyed or infected with a nasty computer virus?

“Don’t fret, it’s a huge company with a reputation to protect. They would never do anything to threaten that.” you say. I’ve told myself that many times too: “I don’t need to back-up that data because they got it.”

And then you read what happened at the end of last week with Microsoft, T-Mobile and their popular “Sidekick” phone/email/texting device… the cloud died and so did everyone’s information in it.

When I first read that over the weekend I said, “Nah, never would Mircrosoft and T-Mobile screw up THAT much… they’ll get the data back.” But now that doesn’t seem like a possibility… the data is gone and all of those Sidekick users are out of luck. Ouch.

We spend a great deal of time in our training on having back-up systems and printed out information for just these kinds of situations… whether it’s a power outage, a cloud server going bust, a hard drive blow-up, a lost cell phone or—God forbid—another 9/11/01. As an assistant, you need to be prepared for such occurrences and this most recent fiasco from heavy hitters like Microsoft and T-Mobile is just another reason why.

Moral of the story? Back up your computer electronically (hard drives have gotten so cheap that there’s no reason not to) AND have printed out copies of your contact lists and anything else that you just couldn’t live without cause who knows, if a cloud goes bust, you might have to.

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Articles in: Technology


Simple “easy to remember” & SECURE Passwords

imageToday I woke up to one of the worst things that could happen in this day and age… a truly terrible occurence that I wouldn’t wish on my worst nightmare—well, I probably wouldn’t care it if happened to my worst nightmare but close—... ready for it?

My personal Gmail account was hacked & hijacked!

It was one of those really nasty hacks where a worm emailed everyone I have ever emailed during the entire time I’ve had this email account. The subject read: “Dear Friends” which made it super sneaky in that most of my friends opened the email. Luckily, it was a sales email and nothing “Trojan Horse” about it that would infect their accounts too.

The body of the email talked about how I had just bought a TV at a great price from this website in China, that the link in the email actually took you to, so you too could buy a great, cheap TV! Most of my friends caught that the writing of the email wasn’t how I write but some fell for it.

I got emails back asking if I had changed jobs or “What kind of TV did you get?”... as I said, a very sneaky email hack attack indeed.

Anyway, that brings us to an article that I want to point you to from Slate.com that details how to create really solid, hard to hack passwords for all of your email, social media and Internet accounts. We’ve all got numerous accounts floating around on the web, it’s time to really protect them. It’s a great article and I used the technique it teaches to create a new and improved password for my “on life support” email account.

So, if you want to learn how to make super-easy-to-remember and solid-as-a-rock-passwords, check the article out. I sure feel better after using this system to change my password; come on hacker hijackers, I’m ready for ya!

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Articles in: Technology


Assistant tip: Use your “Out Of Office Assistant”

imageThe “Out of office assistant” is a feature most all email platforms have that allow you to send an automatic message to anyone who emails you.

This is used while you’re out of the office on vacation, for a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon or any other reason that keeps you away from your email and unable to respond.

The more information and specifics you can include in these messages, the better. In this way, you can direct people to HR, accounting, new business or any other department that you direct emails to throughout your work day. Then, when you do get back in the office, a lot of the issues or questions that would have been waiting for you have taken care of themselves.

Most importantly though is that you will be directing anyone who is looking for your boss to the person covering for you who will then be able to help them out. It is this feature that truly is the reason for using an “Out of office assistant”. Since both you and your boss know that emails are being answered and direction being given, you can be totally relaxed while on your much needed vacation.

You should also take this thinking one step further and change your voice mail message on your phone to reflect your absence and to direct calls to the person covering for you. Now you’re fully covered.

Being able to take off your Executive assistant or Admin assistant hat while away from the office is critical for long term success and this little technology tip goes a long way toward making that possible.

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Assistant tip: Use screen shots

imageTo go along with our post about screencasting, we also want to make you aware of or remind you if you’ve forgotten, how useful screen shots can be to a working assistant.

In case you don’t know what we’re talking about here, a screen shot is a an image of you computer screen. It can either be an image of the whole screen, of the active window on your screen or a portion of your screen that you select. You then have the option of forward these images either embedded within an email or as an attachment to whoever you want.

These types of images can save you a lot of time if you know of the screen shot option, know how to create them and think to use them when the time is right.

You can take a screen shot of your web browser when looking for a flight for your boss and then forward that shot to them so they can see all of their options right there in front of them instead of you having to go back and forth to find the right one. You can take a screen shot of a computer error you’re running up against and forward it to your IT department for troubleshooting. You can take a screen shot of three different options of a gift that you boss wants to get their spouse.

All of these instances will speed up the process of getting an answer to your question or getting an issue resolved. And now with iPhones and other cell phones out there able to see these images either in emails or attached to them, this will work even when your boss is out of the office.

Learning how to take a screen shot takes about 10 seconds… we promise. Click here to learn how to take one on a PC computer and click here to learn how to take one on a Mac computer.

It’s easy and just another tool for your assistant tool box.

Flickr Creative Commons image by Slaff

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Articles in: Technology


A new tool for Executive and Admin Assistants: Screencasting

imageArticulate, the company that developed the platform that we used to build our e-learning module (you can see part 1 of our module right here) has recently released a web based screencasting software… that’s FREE!

It’s called Screenr.

First things first: what is screencasting? Screencasting is when you record anything you do on a portion of or your whole computer screen while you narrate (or not) your actions. This type of technology is great for tutorials and training but since before Screenr you had to buy the software to do this, I never really thought of it as a tool for executive assistants or admin assistants… but now I do!

Free tends to do that to you, doesn’t it?

Given that this is free (record up to five minutes), there are a number of different scenarios where an executive assistant, administrative assistant or any kind of assistant might find this technology useful. One situation might be creating a couple screencasts for a temp that comes into the office to fill in while you’re out on vacation.  After watching a few screencasts of you work through and narrate your daily tasks and showing them where different important information is located on your computer, you’ll give them a fighting chance in dealing with your boss while you’re out.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE

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Ever want the low down on your airline seat?

seatmapThe trick for working with demanding bosses is to be able to answer all of their questions before they even ask them. On top of that, if you can know their preferences ahead of time, whether in terms of meeting requirements or travel preferences, you’re that much further ahead in the game.

Now, let’s paint a little picture for you: Your boss is traveling to Wichita, Kansas and is flying on a Boeing 767-300ER and you want to make sure that he or she has everything they need in terms of their seat according to their preferences but your boss has never flown in a Boeing 767-300ER nor to Wichita for that matter. So how would you go about finding information specific to their seat?

We suggest using SeatGuru.com.

At SeatGuru.com you can put in the exact plane that your boss is flying in along with what seat they currently have and you will get a chart, like the one shown at the upper right corner of this post, that details the seat and specifically rates it.

That way, when your boss is fretting about having a power outlet at their seat for their laptop, you can tell them that they do have one and show them the chart of where their seat is and that rating of that seat.

Another great way to use this site is while you’re on the phone with the travel agent trying to secure a seat for your boss. This way, you can check out the seats that the agent throws at you to pick the best (or least worst) one for your boss.

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Articles in: Technology


Our E-Learning Module Introduction and Outline

Introducing our Module intro and outline…

Just a quick note to let you know about the addition of two more pages to our site that will give you an understanding of what the E-Learning Module section of our course consists of.

At just under 70 minutes long, this online training module was written and designed by us to give you a complete knowledge base of how to be a top-notch assistant.

Click the drop-down tabs above under the “About the Program” tab or click HERE to view the module outline and HERE to view the introduction to the course.

As always, let us know if you have any comments or questions below. Thanks!

 

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Articles in: Technology


How do YOU look online?

google-homepage

How much do you want to bet that when you meet with a human resource manager at a company you’re interviewing with that they Google you before you step in the office?

Don’t take that bet… you’ll lose.

Do you know what comes up when you put your name into Google? How would a potential hiring manager look at you after viewing those links?

Are you sweating yet?

Don’t worry… there are some things you can to do to be proactive about how your ONLINE self appears to the random searcher.

Sure, there might be a picture of you downing a funnel in the parking lot of a college football game but that doesn’t have to be the last impression the HR manager gets after frisking you online.

What to do?

We suggest that you put MORE of yourself out there instead of trying to hide. You can do this by updating your MySpace and Facebook page with an eye towards what outsiders see when they come across those pages; you can put up a LinkedIn profile, which is more business oriented, with detailed information about you and what you’re about. The point being, the more information there is online about you, the less likely anyone searching is going to spend the time to really find that picture at the college football game.

You can also create a Google Profile (you have to have a Google account, which is free, before you can create a profile) all about yourself with a picture and various bits of information. Then, when someone puts your name into Google, your profile will pop up. Thanks to AdminSecret for this one!

You could also, for free, start a blog… a blog about your job search; about key qualities you have to offer a future employer; express a desire to perform well for a company you care about; detail your work ethic by writing about past jobs you’ve held and how you excelled at them; and you could post about things outside of work like any organizations you’re involved with or creative outlets and hobbies you enjoy.

Lastly, if all else fails, tell the HR manager that: “I’m sorry but you got the wrong [insert your name]. I would NEVER funnel a beer at a college football game… only at concerts would I ever do such a thing.”

 

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Articles in: Technology


My First Office Friend

HandbandAfter graduating college, I was offered a job as an editorial assistant at a high-powered Washington, DC consulting firm. We edited and produced all of the World Bank and IMF’s publications. I was so psyched since I had always loved to write and this sounded like the most glamorous job. Me, working for the World Bank?? Suhweet!

My first day on the job, I arrived to find a huge stack of paper and a tape dispenser on my desk. That’s all. My new boss, the editor-in-chief, came over and told me to go in the conference room and hang each sheet of paper on the wall, in chronological order. And it had to be done before the client arrived in 30 minutes. I didn’t ask any questions, I just hung.

Of course my mind was a flutter: How far apart should the pages be? Will there be enough wall space for 196 pages? Why the heck am I doing this???

But then I got to watch my boss work his magic on the document and in turn, the clients. He drew all over the pages and renumbered paragraphs with a marker. There were scribbles on each page that meant something to him…and eventually to me too. It was his way of seeing the big picture and figuring out how the flow of the document should go.

After the first few “wall sessions” with clients, I began to see how the documents really transformed under his crazy artist’s hand. Despite the sniggers around the office at my paper hanging responsibilities, I secretly enjoyed being part of these meetings, where the pages were being transformed into important publications. More importantly, I learned that it took about 20 minutes to hang a 200-page document on the wall. But man, I hated those cumbersome tape dispensers. There had to be a better way…

Right before heading home for the Christmas holiday, my boss left a Scotch handband tape dispenser on my desk as a gift. He didn’t say much in the way of praise or feedback but I knew that he appreciated my hard work.

Moral of the story? There might be easier ways to “skin a cat” so either look for those ways or ask someone else if they have any ideas. As for my new handband tape dispenser? Let’s just say it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

 

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