Does Size (Length) Really Matter?

TL; DR. The acronym means ‘too long; didn’t read’ and gets a bad rap because the user is labelled lazy and rude. But is that true? How many of us are guilty of this without typing it to let the author of a piece know? I know I am.

As much as I love reading and being informed, the truth is, if I happen upon an article and 500 words in, the point has (or hasn’t) been made, it begins to turn into gibberish and I’m looking forward to the end only to find other thousand or two words, I’m leaving. And my reason would be TL;DR, though I am not likely to write that. It’s for this reason that I rarely put out any content longer than around the 1200 word mark. I would much rather preserve the quality of my piece and have it be entertaining or informative (whichever it was designed to do) by getting straight to the point. I’ve come across so many articles that started out great but ended awfully, because of the forced word count.

To give an example, when I was in school I was the girl who was flabbergasted at the need for my peers to demand an extra two or three sheets in an exam to finish up an essay type question. I just did not get it, what were they always writing so that I could not think of?! And yet, when the results were revealed, my mark was higher or the same. Why? Because I get the point, saying what I need to say with clarity.

So it begs the question; is the length really that important? The answer is yes, though not  in the way most content creators think. As a reader, I prefer to read a 700 word piece that is to the point over a 1500 word piece that causes you to stop half way through and skim the article for bits and pieces of why you opened the article in the first place. With a piece like that, when the skimming produces nothing and the reader realizes they will have to finish the article and hope the meet of the matter is there somewhere, 9 times out of 10, the reader will leave without finishing.

Similarly, if the information has already been presented and there are 1000 words filling spaces, the reader will also choose to stop reading.

So the next time you put out a rather long piece that you think is great because of the word count, you may want to assess whether same has compromised your content quality. After-all, how will you know if the larger portion of your audience has been bidding you a TL;DR without saying so?

6 Ways to Make Money in College

COLLEGE MATE

Most of us know all too well, the financial struggles of college life. This is a time when students are forced to scrape by on very little. Some of us even work full-time jobs, while attending college, just to make ends meet.

But aside from getting a traditional 9 to 5, what else can you do to earn some extra cash? Here are six tips to get you started!

1. Freelancing

Many skills like writing, graphic designing, and social media management can be done on a freelance basis to make extra cash. Even better, the hours are great because you set them! Most people’s freelance jobs are their hobbies, so it doesn’t really feel like work.

If you have excellent command of the English language, why not offer to proofread or edityour peers’ work? There is always someone somewhere on campus willing to pay to make sure their paper is…

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Let’s Talk Career: Why I Chose To Freelance Full-Time

It didn’t occur to me that I could freelance full-time while living in Jamaica until maybe a year ago. The services I offer are not only perfect, they are a needed skill set. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to get started but the more I thought about it, the more I was sure that is what I want to do. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but worth it.

 

Why?

When I became pregnant, my husband and I discussed childcare options and going back to work. We immediately discovered that we both preferred that I be our daughter’s primary caregiver and each had no idea when we’d prefer I get back to working. It was strange that we had not considered this before given how many times we had discussed children. At the end of the conversation, my husband decided he would leave the decision up to me. So there I was with the decision to make all by myself. I suspect he left the decision to me because while we both wanted me to stay with our baby as long as possible, we knew I am no a stay at home mom material, nor did I want to be a stay at home mom.

I considered three months, six months, a year… the only answer that kept jumping out at me was ‘when she can talk‘. I guess I just wanted her to be able to tell me if she was being mistreated. But what would I do til then? I spent the better part of my pregnancy chewing my friend’s ear off about a business idea that would allow me to make a decent income while hitching my baby on my side.

I decided to jump all in freelancing full-time. This would not only allow me to steer my own career, I could start working again sooner rather than later, which is a much needed plus. It’s also monumental that my daughter doesn’t need to go out to daycare, saving us the worry and costs associated. This route also allows me to continue to exclusively breastfeed.

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Working  From Home

Somewhere along the line it hit me that I did want to be a stay at home mother. Not the kind that was doing domestic duties all day, but I did want to work from home. I had a freelance business I would need start doing full-time pouring my time energy and effort into it if I wanted to be successful. I started this blog because I had a lot of time on my hands while I was pregnant and I wanted to rediscover my passion for writing. I had stopped and though I can’t recall why, I never lost my fire for reading. I also wanted to share my pregnancy journey because I felt there wasn’t enough blogs that recounted experiences from the perspective I would have liked as a first time mother. So I wrote/blogged and decided I wanted to work from home. There are so many benefits;

  • I can choose my clients and projects
  • Staying at home with my daughter
  • Contributing to our finances
  • Setting my own hours
  • Career flexibility and freedom

There has never been as many career paths and choices as there are today. I plan to take full advantage of that. What about you?

8 Quick Study Tips for the Exhausted Student

COLLEGE MATE

Studying is the cornerstone of college life. And whether we like it or not, it pretty much sums up the college experience. Let’s face it. There is rarely, if ever, a student who successfully makes it through school without spending some quality time in their books.

Unfortunately, for most of us this is when exhaustion tends to creep in; yawning at our ears, and tugging at the sheets. Sounds familiar? We thought so…

So how do you keep up the good fight against sleep, in the name of academia? Here are eight tips to help the exhausted student light the midnight candle without burning out.

1. Start Early

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Starting early means you never have to worry about rushing to the finish line. Slow and steady wins this one. You also escape the stress of knowing you might not get done in time.

Starting early allows you to spend shorter time…

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Jamaican Freelance Market; Untapped

Freelancers are persons who are self-employed to provide services (usually tailored) to clients through short, medium or long-term. As a freelancer, we usually have multiple clients at any given time or successive short-term projects. I’m a freelancer myself.

If you nurture your freelancing careers, it can become a viable career option, especially if you are a student, before facing the harsh realities of the unrepentant wave that is the job market.

Becoming A Freelancer

Becoming a freelancer is easy, in fact, if you have a skill or you are willing to develop and perfect one, the discipline to work without supervision and an entrepreneurial mindset, you are ready for freelancing. You just need a computer, a phone and the internet depending on the services you offer.


Booming Industry? 

It sure is! The freelancing phenomenon is especially attractive with the benefits and opportunities that increase steadily on  daily basis to work online and envelop an extensively large number of skills, ranging from business services (accounting, payroll, PR) to graphic designing to make-up artistry. Your career path, work hours and clients are exclusively up to you. What you get out is directly proportional to the work you put in. You are in control.

Jamaican universities, colleges and vocational schools churn out thousands of skilled hopefuls each year into the labour market, The statistical institute of Jamaica (STATIN), reported a whopping unemployed labour force of 176, 300 as at July 2016, only a slight decrease from the 184, 900 reported in April of the same year. With these numbers and so few jobs to go around, many of us are quickly discouraged from job hunting and can spend month or even years trying to find employment.

 

Career Opportunities

Freelancing offers a person with a skill, not only the opportunity to make a meaningful income on a flexible schedule, but opens you up to not only local clients, but the international market as well. Companies such as local company Freelance JA Connection Network and international companies like UpWork and Freelancer provide platforms for freelancers to find work

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Local freelancers have the opportunity to advertise  their services to potential clients, which is beneficial for both remote and hands on skill sets.

On a larger scale, freelancers who do online work or secure overseas clients earn their income in US dollars or a stronger currency. Jamaican business coach and entrepreneur, Yaneek Page, has produced several articles over the last few years and has been a major advocate of freelancing as a career path for Jamaicans

Freelancing is a booming industry, one of the most lucrative means of entrepreneurship and Jamaica by and large has not yet caught on, leaving the market virtually untapped.

P.S. I am a freelancer writer and business planning consultant, visit my website www.shandeanwilliams.com for blogs, articles, business plans, proposals, etc.

Let’s Talk Career: A Creative Resume?

During my college tenure, I had signed up for a summer job program the government runs each year for tertiary students. For each of the those three years I found myself in the same department between six and twelve weeks, human resource. I spent my time assisting with HR functions, over looking, sorting and collecting resumes. I noticed one thing. They were a lot of the same, plain Jane looking stale format resumes that did absolutely nothing to stand out from the rest.

The few that dared to try something different, had an advantage. Those resume were looked at, not just scanned for two seconds and tossed if the didn’t have the exact required training and/or experience for the vacancy advertised. When you have 100 resumes to scan for the same position, if a resume isn’t jumping out within two seconds, chances are, it will be tossed aside. For this reason there are whole resume writing services.

Why?

So how can you get your resume the attention it deserves? By daring to be different. Even if your resume is not exactly in line with what they are looking for, attracting enough attention that invites the reader to read your resume in its entirety can only ever work in your favour. Why? The department is likely to keep it, likely to view it if another vacancy that better suits the candidate’s qualifications. You already have something over other candidates with your resume, their attention. With the global job market the way it is, every advantage counts.

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 Consider the resume above. Does it jump out at you as that of a graphics designer? Sure. Now imagine interviewing for a graphics position and being presented with a plain resume with just text and the one above. Which would you look at first? Which would you read in its entirety? Before the reader even reads a word on the page, they already have a sample of the candidates creativity, a demonstration of the ability to take initiative, try new things.

 

How?

Think about it carefully.

  • Consider your industry you’re in.  You want to be creative, not outrageous. Consider what might be frowned upon. Neon colors are never a good idea. If in doubt, leave it out.

  • Go with a theme in your industry if possible. Conservative professions will require conservative concepts. You can’t go wrong if you stick with representations of your occupation or the industry.

  • Maintain Professionalism. You should still consider being professional throughout, taking the right amount of risk. Ensure readability and ensure the relevant information is available at a snapshot.

A creative resume done right with help you get the right kind of attention. In the HR department, every bit of extra attention can tip the scale in your favor when you are job hunting,.

 

 

Let’s Talk Career: Why I Quit My Call Center Job

The current job market (Jamaica) is set up in such a way that most graduates (myself included) are forced to take a job just to get their bills paid. Said job may not be in the field the graduate wants to pursue a career in, but it’s “better than nothing”. The place that this is most evident is in the recently booming BPO industry.

Within the last few years, the industry has taken a giant leap locally. While it may help the unskilled fraction of the labour force, the tertiary graduates forced to take these jobs that demand time and energy that the employers are not willing to fairly pay for, will most definitely see things differently. No group of people understand this as well as those whom have actually worked in a call center.

 

Modern Day Slavery?

Quite often, the industry is referred to as modern day slavery, and with just cause. For example, shortly before I left, my company developed a policy, that if you were late three times you would be fired. I went home one day and realized the need to visit the doctor in the morning. I called in before my shift and informed my superior I would be a few hours late, going to the doctor.

I was advised when I got to work 2 hours later than I was sceduled that it did not matter that I had informed anyone, my need to visit the doctor did not matter and it would go towards my being fired and I needed to sign a form saying this. I refused. To add, said company would frown upon requests for entitled vacation time.

Limitations

Once you’ve spent a certain amount of time in a call center, that is mostly what other companies tend to want to hire you for. It is the vicious, ever present cycle of companies wanting experince they simply do not want to provide. Entry level job demanding 2 to 3 years experince, while the candidate needs a job to acquire said experience.

 

Mental Wear & Tear

Initially, what I learned was patience. Patience in dealing with slow, entitled, unreasonable, demanding, verbally abusive folks. I also realized that at some point, that patience gained in dealing with those things as well as bureaucracy not only plateaued, it began to erode. The longer I remained in the job, the less patience I had.

I felt like an obscene number of my brain cells died every single day that I was in that position. Just dealing with persons who were willfully and selectively ignorant became too much. There was also the same repetitive conundrum, no room for change, creativity. No innovation. Always stick to the script.

I became frightened of the number of people whom I worked with that were there because they were stuck. They meant to spend a year or two, but that turned into five years of being stuck in a dead end job that would monopolize their resume for every other job to come. I did not want that. To make matters worse, I had a supervisor who had been ‘stuck‘ at the lower level for 15 years and it seemed had no intention of allowing any of her subordinates to skip ‘due diligence’ and advance within the company, even though said company thrived on just that. She purposefully underminded evaluations, doing them as she saw fit to her opinion rather than what the company required.

I Resigned

In 2015, I chose to quit my call center job for the afore-mentioned reasons and others, including my ever present sour disposition following a shift. For my own sanity, while I had no dependents and was able to search for a more fitting position to pursue the career I actually wanted. My husband and I also thought that would be he perfect time, to have a child, so that after giving birth I dedicate my time to my career without interuption to pursue having a child, which we both wanted before the big 30. It was whichever came first. As you can tell if you follow my blog, in 2016, our daughter entered our lives and took precedence. So now, it’s on to other things.

 

Conclusion

For me, the narrative that anything is better than nothing was not something I cared to enact. Some things aren’t suited to my personality and that was definitely one of the them. I spent four months umemployed immediately following, and have no regrets. I chose to create my own window of opportunity as opposed to staring at a wall within a box. It was an eye opening experience, and not one I care to repeat.

Let’s Talk Career: My Freelancing Businesses

 Freelance Business

Once I decided that’s what I was going to do, I registered my freelance business, Shandean Williams-Reid Business Services through which I’m a business planning consultant, analyst and writer. I write business plans, do business analysis and planning, change management, and writing online articles, web content, and blogging. I started a business blog The Pocket Business Analyst and set up corresponding Instagram and Facebook pages, sharing all my articles and blogposts on all my social media platforms. Basically advertising my services everywhere I can get my hands on. I am also using this blog to facilitate my portfolio and as a reference, as I also do freelance writing.

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 Freelance Ad Company 

While promoting my freelance services and looking for clients, mostly on the internet, it occurred to me that the Jamaican market for freelancers was severely underserved. Most companies only catered to the UK and the US. This inspired the birth of my company  Freelance JA Connection Network, which is an online platform designed to allow local freelancers to advertise their services for a small annual subscription fee. In addition, companies and entrepreneurs are also able to list jobs and projects that requires freelancers, allowing them to bring these individuals to them to apply for their projects.

Freelance JA is marketed to the Jamaican audience as the ‘go to’ website to find a freelancer of their choice. The listing, while catering primarily to marketing freelancers is also a space for tradesmen (makeup artists, mobile hair stylists, plumbers, event planners, etc.) to maximize in the opportunity in increase their  clientele as well. You can follow us on social media   (FacebookInstagram and Twitter) to keep up with deals, events and updates.

 

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10 Factors Affecting How Much you Can Charge your Clients

Alexis Chateau

Negotiating with a client about how much to pay you for your services is a lot like negotiating your salary at a corporate job. However, freelancers experience greater freedom in deciding their pay rate, and with that freedom comes great responsibility.

In another blog post, I’ll offer tips on how to negotiate with a client for a fair price. But in this post, let’s take a look at ten factors that decide what a fair price is. After all, to get a fair price in freelancing, one must first set a fair price. Here’s what you should consider.

1. Field or Industry

Different fields command different going-rates. For instance, freelance writing doesn’t command nearly as much money as graphic design. Likewise, building a website doesn’t attract nearly as much money from clients, as building an app.

The more technical an area is, and the more scarce the skill, the more clients are willing to pay for…

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