Tech Talk: Hoonuit

Do you want to learn more about computer applications to help you in your job search? Or have you started a job in which you are expected to use certain computer applications?Then take a look at Hoonuit.

Hoonuit is an online platform that provides “on-demand software training and support tutorials to help businesses and organizations fulfill staff technology training and development goals”.

Getting Started

Patrons of the East Baton Rouge Public Library can access Hoonuit through the library’s Digital Library. The computers inside the East Baton Rouge Parish Library will connect automatically, but if you are at home, you may need to type in your library card number. You will need to Create a New Account if you do not already have an account with RB Digital. The account is free.

Once you enter Hoonuit you will see a welcome page. The screenshot below shows “Pathways” which are like online courses focusing on a particular topic or software suite such as Word 2016 or Office 365.

These courses include modules, each of which includes a series of short training videos that describe a specific aspect or feature of that software.

As you can see, the videos are very brief. They teach by showing actions within the application along with a voice over by an instructor who explains what you can do within that application and how.

Popular topics include:

CAREER SKILLS
Writing a Resume
Accepting a Job
Winning Cover Letters

DESIGN
WordPress 4.9
Adobe Illustrator CS6
Adobe Animate CC

MOBILE DEVICES
iOS (multiple versions)
Chromebook Training
Creating a Basic Budget on a Mobile Device

PROGRAMMING
C++ Primer Training
PHP Basics Training
HTML and CSS Training

SOFTWARE AND TECHNOLOGY
Google Drive
Office 365
macOS

Important – There are many videos on topics and software applications that are not listed under Pathways or Topics – you must search for them. Hoonuit offers over 50,000 videos on an impressive array of applications, including applications that are less well known but can be useful, such as Audacity, Gimp, Moodle, and OpenOffice.

You can access Hoonuit through a web browser on a computer, or on your smartphone or tablet using the RB Digital app. Explore Hoonuit and expand your computer skills today!

Written by Richard Wright

Work@Home 101: How to Find Legitimate Work-From-Home Opportunities

If you’ve missed our seminar “Work @ Home 101”, here are the key takeaways:

No commute, no dress code, no office politics, and more flexibility. That’s what attracts most people to look into working from home. Thanks to technological advances, work-at-home opportunities are more plentiful than ever before. But how to find the best opportunities? How do you beware of scams? And is working from home really as good as it seems?

While the before mentioned advantages are real, there are distinct disadvantages to working from home as well. Do you have the self-discipline not to give in to the distractions of being at home, such as surfing the web, doing housework, reading a book, or talking to friends? Are you okay with no person-to- person interaction all day? Many jobs feature interaction through chat, phone, or video call, but it’s still not the same as being around others in person. There are also no clear limitations between being “at work” and “at home”.

However, if you have determined that working from home suits your lifestyle, the next step is to figure out, which opportunities are the best fit for you.

Independent contractor or employee?

Both kinds of employment are available virtually and both have their pros and cons. Being an employee usually means that you only work for that specific employer, have regular hours, and receive benefits such as paid time off and, ideally, health and retirement benefits. In most cases, the employer will furnish equipment like laptop and/or telephone.

As an independent contractor, you provide services to an organization but are not their employee. As such, you are not eligible for benefits and mostly have to furnish your own equipment. But you can also set your own hours and only work when you want to. This set-up provides ultimate flexibility and you can work for several organizations at the same time. The majority of work at home opportunities will fall into this category!

Where to find legitimate work-at-home jobs?

There is a one-stop-shop for virtual job postings. Your first go-to website should be Rat Race Rebellion. It’s not the most user-friendly site, but in turn it is free. Rat Race Rebellion provides the most comprehensive list of links to legitimate work-at-home opportunities of all kinds: employee and independent contractor, large and small companies, from healthcare to education to call centers, it covers every industry.

Another legitimate website is Flexjobs. Flexjobs’ mission is to provide flexible work opportunities, not just virtual ones. Therefore, a lot of their jobs are actually not work-from-home, so you have to dig through their listings to find the virtual opportunities. You can browse the listings for free, but in order to get company name and contact information you have to join flexjobs, which charges you a monthly fee! Therefore, browse the listings first in order to determine if it is worth for you to join.

Last but not least there are online market places such as Upwork and Workmarket. Upwork is literally an online marketplace where anybody can post projects that they need to hire somebody with a specific expertise for. Project posters are often individuals, small companies, or start-ups. On the flip side, contractors can sign up and advertise their services. Projects cover a wide range of fields: creative, legal, translations, software and web design, proofreading, accounting, etc. You can browse the jobs without registration. But in order to bid on/apply for the projects, you need to register and create a profile. Unless you have a rare expertise or skill, it takes some time before you can make decent money on Upwork. You need to build a good reputation project by project. Once your reputation is established, you can demand more money. It is pure supply and demand. Upwork can be great for people wanting to break into a new field or who want to build a portfolio of projects. It is also a good resume filler for people who are unemployed and want to avoid long gaps in their work history.

Workmarket is also an online marketplace, but the projects posted are usually by larger employers. You can’t just browse jobs on the site —  you have to register before you can proceed. Since the jobs are by larger employers who have an urgent short-term need, the pay is usually good. Both Upwork and Workmarket only provide contract work, not employment.

If you want to move ahead with getting an online job but don’t know how to proceed, the Career Center can help. Give us a call at 225-231-3733 and we will help you discover options and tackle applications.

Written by Anne Nowak

Tech Talk: Career Cruising, Part 5 – Financial Aid

This is the fifth post in a series delving into the various aspects of the Career Cruising database available through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Digital Library. Read all posts here.

Tech Talk: Career Cruising – Financial Aid

This post will be a more in-depth discussion of the financial aid feature.  The financial aid tab of Career Cruising is literally a treasure trove of information and money. It lists thousands of scholarships as well as information on federal financial aid.

There are three ways to search the database: alphabetically, by keyword search, and by using the financial aid selector.

The financial aid selector lets you choose specific parameters that apply to you, such as location, ancestry, major, interests, special needs, etc. It will search the database to find matching scholarships.  The results include links to the scholarship website with the respective application information.

You can also search by keyword. For example, the database returns five scholarships that have the keyword “Louisiana” in their name. Again, a link to the scholarship website is included in the results.

If you have time on your hands, try searching the database alphabetically and just browse the different scholarships. You will come across some off-the-beaten-path scholarships, such as the Fifth Month Scholarship or the Gulf Coast Hurricane Scholarship.

The financial aid tab also includes extensive information on how to apply for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA), its regulations, and application guidelines.

The financial aid tab is an ideal add-on to the education section. The database’s most valuable feature is its exhaustive listing of available scholarships. Some of them seem so obscure that surely not many students will know about them, thus increasing the chances for the few that do find out about them. So, if you or your children are planning for college, be smart and use Career Cruising’s Financial Aid feature to search for additional college funding opportunities .

This resource is free to you with a valid EBRPL library card through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Digital Library.

Written by Anne Nowak

Tech Talk: Gale Small Business Builder

If you are planning to start your own business or non-profit organization, you will want to check out the Digital Library’s newest database.

Gale Small Business Builder is a step-by-step online planning tool for starting, managing and optimizing a business or nonprofit. The program’s intuitive dashboard walks users through five areas of exploration in order to develop a business plan focused on long-term success.

 

Areas include:

Entrepreneur Profile This tool helps users explore what they can bring to the table as an entrepreneur and assess where they stand in preparing to start a business. A one-page summary of them as an entrepreneur is generated.

Business Ideation Users can employ tools such as Lean Canvas, SWOT, Porter’s Five Forces, and more to plan the high-level framework in which their business will operate.

Break-Even Analysis Delivers insight to determine when a user’s business will be able to cover expenses and begin to realize a profit.

Business Plans Creates a plan that can be presented to potential investors and lenders, including Executive Summary, Lean Business Plan, Full Business Plan, and Strategic Marketing Plan.

Financial Projections A robust analysis of a company’s financial future encompassing capital expenditures, sales, equity, and inventory.

For patrons exploring the idea of small business ownership, this resource provides a gradual introduction to entrepreneurial concepts and elements. For seasoned business persons or those progressing through the recommended workflow, the focus shifts toward outcome-based activities to support the management and growth of an operation, such as getting a loan, seeking investors, buying new equipment, and opening new facilities.

Additionally, check out our Start Your Own Business page for more entrepreneurial resources.

Written by Anne Nowak

Tech Talk: Career Cruising, Part 4 – Education

This is the fourth post in a series delving into the various aspects of the Career Cruising database available through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Digital Library. Read all posts here.

In Career Cruising, the education tab lets you research your post-secondary education path from finding majors and the right school to how to best utilize your four years of high school in order to prepare for college. It contains comprehensive information about schools and provides links to their websites. It’s a perfect one-stop-shop for your college research.

The first feature under the education tab let’s you explore colleges and majors. You can search colleges by state or by major.

For Louisiana, the list includes 114 schools, which includes every kind of post-secondary school from career colleges and beauty schools to universities offering graduate degrees.

If you already know what you want to major in and want to find out which schools offer your field, you can search by major. For example, if you want to major in kinesiology or exercise science and want to find a school in Louisiana, these are your choices.

If you want to expand your search to other states, you can easily adjust the search filters.

The next feature lets you compare up to three schools side by side. It compares almost every statistic available for educational institutions. You can compare size, cost, average financial aid packages, which majors are offered, which NCAA sports teams are fielded, and, of course, admissions requirements.

If you have a number of requirements for your college and wonder which schools satisfy all of them, use the School Selector tool. Here you can choose different parameters, such as: public or private school, city, suburban, small town or rural setting, school size, admission difficulty, tuition, athletics, majors offered, and campus services. You can combine any of these criteria and see what’s possible. If it exists, Career Cruising will tell you where.

Last but not least, Career Cruising offers a planning timeline for college admissions. In a detailed description, the database describes which steps toward college choice and admission you should take during which year of high school.

As it did for occupational information, Career Cruising contains an incredible amount of data and information about post-secondary education and institutions. It is an easy-to-use tool for exploration, either to browse “what’s out there” or to do a targeted college or major search. If you are in the market for a college education, Career Cruising should be your go-to site for research.

This resource is free to you with a valid EBRPL library card through its Digital Library.

Written by Anne Nowak

 

Social Media for the Job Search

If you missed our August seminar on “Social Media for the Job Search,” here are the key takeaways.

Over 90% of recruiters are using social media these days. They can use them passively to check you out. Or they use them actively to search for candidates. Most likely they will do both. The big three for job search purposes are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Social media can benefit job searchers in four main ways

  1. Finding job openings that are posted
  2. Networking
  3. Building your personal brand
  4. Getting to know a potential employer

Job postings

This is pretty straight forward. Facebook and LinkedIn both feature job boards, where companies can post open positions. Users have the option to apply directly on Facebook and LinkedIn. While applying with your LinkedIn profile is perfectly fine as long as your profile is well written and complete, applying with your Facebook profile is probably not your best bet. Most people use Facebook primarily for private interactions, so there is not enough work specific information on there. If you see a job posted on Facebook, go directly to the employer website to apply rather than apply through Facebook directly.

Many companies also announce open positions in their updates and tweets. Therefore follow the organizations that you are interested in to immediately become aware of newly announced positions. On Twitter, some companies even have separate twitter handles for their recruiting division.

Networking

80% of open positions are never advertised and are found through networking. Social media can be a great tool in your networking efforts. LinkedIn was specifically created to facilitate professional networking. Use it to find people you know at your target companies, to find people who can connect you to your target companies, to reconnect with old college friends and colleagues, to discuss professional issues with colleagues, etc.

Use your network of friends on Facebook and Twitter and let them know that you are looking for a new opportunity. Craft a targeted message letting your friends know exactly what you are looking for, what your expertise is, and how your expertise and experience can benefit a future employer.

Building your personal brand

Social media is tailor-made for developing your personal brand. Before you start posting, determine exactly what your professional expertise is, your target audience, and how you want to position yourself. Identify influencers and organizations you want to follow and engage with. In order to make the most of social media, you have to be very active, post often, comment on others’ feeds or in groups you belong to, and engage your audience.

Getting information about potential employers

By following your target organizations on social media you will gain a lot more insight into those organizations than by just looking at their websites. Social media are often updated in real time and much more frequently than websites. This allows you to get a much better grasp of company culture. The better you know a potential employer the better you know if it might be a good fit for you. As an added bonus you will be the first to learn of new opportunities, since these days many companies announce open positions on social media first, before updating job boards.

Caution: Social media can harm your job search efforts as much as they can help

While you are job searching, be especially vigilant about what you post on social media! Compromising information has a way of “getting out there.” So don’t post anything you don’t want a potential employer to see.

Social Media Rules of Thumb

  1. Building a good personal brand on several social media platforms takes a lot of time. If you don’t want to or can’t devote a good bit of time to it, concentrate on one platform and use that one well. For most people in corporate America, LinkedIn will be the platform of choice. If you have Facebook and Twitter accounts that you don’t want to use for your job search, set your privacy settings on the highest level possible!
  2. Watch what you post! Abstain from posting photos that are sexually explicit or involve alcohol and drugs! You might also want to hold off on pictures showing you skydiving, bungee jumping or being involved in other activities that potential employers might consider dangerous. Do not post about divisive issues such as politics or religion (unless you are looking for work as a political consultant or pastor, of course). All of these can get you screened out!

If you need help creating your LinkedIn profile or crafting your personal branding message, contact the Career Center at (225) 231-3733.

Written by Anne Nowak.

Back to School

It’s back-to-school time, join your kids in learning—pick up new skills or brush up on old ones

Be inspired by the kids and make August back-to-school month for yourself to take your career to the next level.  Take the opportunity and brush up on those Excel skills you haven’t used in a few years. Wanted to learn Photoshop, French, or coding for a while? Need to catch up on labor laws or HIPAA regulations? Now is the time.

There are plenty of free and reasonably priced resources available to further your skills. If you are employed, check with your employer first. Most larger organizations will offer in-house training. Don’t pass on those opportunities! You can often take them during work hours, and they directly relate to your job.

If your employer doesn’t offer this kind of professional development, there are other options you can explore.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Take a look at Coursera, Udacity, or edEx. They offer college classes from some of the best universities around the world in a variety of fields and disciplines. You can either just follow along, which is usually free, or complete the assignments and receive a certificate for the class (you will have to pay a fee for that). Udacity even offers nanodegrees in a number of technology fields, such as iOS or Android development. The degrees can often be completed in 6-8 months and involve classes and assignments (and a fee).

Continuing Education classes at your local college

College continuing education departments offer a wide variety of options, in person as well as online. You can learn a skilled trade, learn a specific software, or improve your web design or public speaking skills. They also offer classes to prepare for professional certifications, such as SHRM Certified Professional for human resources staff or PMP Certification for project managers.

Options in the Baton Rouge area include:

Your local public library

Last but not least, your public library offers a myriad of resources and access to classes free of charge. The East Baton Rouge Parish Library offers a large number of in-person computer classes covering widely-used programs, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, etc., at all its branches each month . In addition, library card holders have access to online classes and tutorials through the Digital Library. Through Gale Courses, users can access six-week online classes in a variety of fields that finish with a certificate. Atomic Training, Treehouse, and Lynda help you learn tech skills. Mango offers online language classes and training. Browse the Digital Library to find a resource that inspires you to keep learning.

Take your professional development to the next level with these resources. Be a life-long learner. Now is the time!

Tech Talk: Career Cruising, Part 3 – Careers

This is the third post in a series delving into various aspects of the Career Cruising database available through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Digital Library.  Read all posts here.

This post will be a more in-depth discussion of the careers feature.  The careers tab contains exhaustive information about a large number of occupations. The information is displayed in a very user-friendly way and serves as a great starting point for your career exploration.

You can search occupations in five different ways, either alphabetically, by school subject, career cluster, industry, or using the career selector. The most innovative tool is definitely the career selector. Here you can narrow down your career choice with several parameters: school subject, career cluster, type of education, core tasks, earnings, and working conditions.

My parameters were:

  • school subject – English
  • career cluster – business management and administration
  • type of education – 4-year degree; core tasks – Artistic Expression, Building or Creating Things, Organizing People and Planning Work Activities, Writing
  • earnings – 60,000 or more per year

And these are the matches the career selector found:

It’s fun to play with and see how the results change when you adjust the parameters.

Another interesting way to search is by school subject. Let’s see what the options are if our favorite subject is English and we don’t plan to go to college. There are twenty-seven results.

Each of the occupations is clickable and will lead to in-depth information about the respective occupation. Let’s choose court clerk:

For each occupation you will get two video interviews with people doing that particular job. There is information about typical salaries, the necessary education and qualifications, a sample career path, and links to the respective professional organizations. Another useful feature is the link to closely related careers. For court clerk, Career Cruising considers the following to be related careers.

This is a great tool for people in the career discovery stage as you get a lot of information about careers in a certain area of interest that you might not have thought about otherwise.

Last but not least, you can get great information about all the different military careers that are available in the different branches of the armed forces.

We chose to search by job family, but you can also look alphabetically or by service branch. If you click on a certain job family, it will display the different occupations within, tell you if they are officer or enlisted paths, give you a description of job content, and also show you closely related civilian careers .

Overall, this database can give you comprehensive occupational information presented in a very user-friendly and intuitive way. We highly recommend it as a starting point for anybody who is considering his or her career path regardless of age, education level, and career stage. This resource is free to you with a valid EBRPL library card through the Digital Library.

Written by Anne Nowak.

Tech Talk: Career Cruising, Part 2 – Assessments

This is the second post in a series delving into the various aspects of the Career Cruising database available through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Digital Library. Read all posts here.

The first step to any career decision is self-knowledge. You need to know what you want in order to pursue it. Assessments can be a useful first step to help you figure out what career you want to pursue. Career Cruising offers two assessments, the Matchmaker & My Skills and the Learning Styles Inventory.  Before you start your assessments, you will have to create a free account with Career Cruising.

The Matchmaker assesses your interest in certain common work activities. It is very intuitive. You will be presented a number of questions about common occupational tasks, and you choose the answer that applies most: dislike very much; dislike; does not matter; like; like very much.

Before you start you are also asked to indicate the level of education you aspire to or already have. The database will present you only with jobs that match your interests and the indicated education level.

After you finish answering the questions, Career Cruising will present you with a list of occupations that match your indicated interests.

At this point you could change the level of education to see what matching careers would be available with a different degree of education.

You can stop here and explore the indicated careers further by clicking on the link to get to in-depth information about each respective career. Or you can continue the assessment, which now changes scope and asks about the skills most commonly associated with your matching careers. You again answer the questions on a five point scale: highly skilled; skilled; have some skill; don’t have this skill; can’t answer this.

The results of the skills assessment will be incorporated with the results of the interest assessment and shows if you have the skills most commonly associated with those careers. Now, it is important to note that this skills assessment depends on your self-reported answers. Therefore it is not an objective overview of your skills.

Now you can see if you already have the major skills needed for the careers you are interested in. This serves as great input for further research.

The second assessment, the Learning Styles Inventory (LSI) will show you how you best process information. There are three types of learning or ways of processing information: visual (looking at information, graphs, images, etc); auditory (listening to information); and tactile (hands-on learning). Most people prefer one way of learning over the others. This information can be especially useful for students who are still contemplating their further education and career path.

Both assessments are a good start for your career exploration. They are intuitive and quick to take and will lead you to more information about matching careers.

The Career Cruising database can be accessed through the EBRPL Digital Library.

Written by Anne Nowak.

Tech Talk: Career Cruising, Part 1

This is the first post is a series delving into the various aspects of the Career Cruising database available through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Digital Library. Read all posts here.

Career Cruising is a database that’s a very user-friendly one-stop-shop for all things related to college, career, and job search information. All you need is an East Baton Rouge Parish Library card and a computer with internet connection. Want to find out which university in your area offers a criminal justice major? Career Cruising can do that for you. Want to find careers that don’t need a 4-year degree but pay more than $60,000 a year? Career Cruising can do that (it identifies 20 occupations for these criteria, among them commercial driver, energy auditor, landman, and mortgage broker). Want to know exactly what an actuary does and what it takes to become one? Yes, Career Cruising has that information too. Need to find scholarships to pay for college? Again, check Career Cruising.

You can access the database through the EBRPL Digital Library, which will take you to the Career Cruising home page.

Career Cruising presents ample information divided into five tabs: Assessments, Careers, Education, Financial Aid, and Employment.

You can browse all information without creating an account (except for the assessments and the resume builder — for those you will need an account). While you can use most functions without an account, the database will not save any of your activities and you will have to start over the next time you access Career Cruising. It’s better to create a “My Plan” account with Career Cruising to save your assessments, education plans, and searches. This way you can come back, view your earlier activity, and continue where you left off at any time.

Now you are ready to plan your college or career journey. Not sure about your skills and interests? Start with an assessment. You can take the “Matchmaker & My Skills,” which assesses your interests and matches them with occupations, or the “Learning Styles Inventory,” which measures how you learn best and retain information most efficiently — valuable information for planning your further education.

You can either use your assessment results to research matching careers or skip assessments and  jump into the careers tab right away. The careers section is such a treasure trove of easily accessible information that we will explore it in more depth in a future post. For now, here is an overview of the kind of information you can search for.

You can search for occupations alphabetically or by school subject, which will present you with careers related to your favorite school subject. You can also look at occupations by career cluster and by industries, and there is a separate section with explanations of military careers. Additionally, the Career Selector is a tool that lets you choose specific criteria, such as salary, core tasks, and education level, and matches those to occupations that fit your criteria.

The education section is also a one-stop-shop. You can search for universities by region or by major. You can conduct side-by-side comparisons of schools in terms of majors, size, cost, etc. And the database can give you a planning timeline by major, which will tell you which classes you should take in high school to best prepare you for your chosen major.

Now that you’ve chosen a college, you are ready to find scholarships. Use the Financial Aid tab to search among thousands of scholarship opportunities. You can use the alphabetical index to search according to scholarship name. Or you can use the Financial Aid Selector and search according to your specified criteria. For either search method, the result will give you a full scholarship profile and a link to the respective website. The site also features information about  the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Last but not least, Career Cruising can help with your job search. Under the Employment tab you will find links to information about job search skills such as cover letter writing, interview preparation, resume writing, etc.  There is a job search feature that links you to www.indeed.com, a job postings aggregator that helps you find open positions in your field and location. To help you write a winning resume, Career Cruising also features a “Build My Resume” tool.

There is such a wealth of information in this database that this article can only scratch the surface.  Career Cruising is intuitive and user-friendly, so you will do fine just logging on and browsing the site. However, we will follow up with future posts elaborating on each section of this database.

Written by Anne Nowak.