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10 Tips for Starting Your Online Business – Career Alternatives

Question Mark Key on Computer KeyboardStarting your own business online is a great opportunity to not only work for yourself, but to also build your own job security. There are a lot of benefits to owning and running an online business (like an almost unlimited list of potential customers for one) but there’s also a lot of work in planning your product roll-out, building your marketing plan, creating your website and initiating your business’s launch. Much of your success will depend on the strength of your initial build-out and your marketing plan. So you want to start an online business? Here are 15 things you should take care while building your online business.

1. Develop and Build Your Online Name

First and foremost is picking your online name. Most select a “dot com” domain (you can also consider one or more of the many alternatives”. All single word names (those existing in the dictionary) are taken, so your choices are make to a new word or use a phrase. Whatever your choice, the name you select should reflect you and your product or service. Do a search of available names associated with your online business.

2. Choose and Build Your Social Media Presence

Social media sites are great networking tools and you will need to build yours so that you can establish relationships and build the network that will ultimately make your business successful. But networking and social media is a two way street. Along with following friends, family and business associates, make sure you follow those within the industries and companies that will best represent your business.

3. Get Professional Help Where Needed

You can’t run a successful business on your own. You need to surround yourself with people who are experts in the parts of your business where you are not. As an example, getting the right advice regarding accounting, tax and legal matters is crucial. Depending on your area of expertise, you may also need help with some of technical stuff like hosting and web design.

4. Create a Business Plan

According to Bloomberg, 80% of all businesses fail in the first 18 months.  A business plan will help you mitigate some of the risk.  Your business plan should include your marketing plan as well as your budget.  You need to know how much money you will need to launch your business and how much you will need to run your business until build your revenue stream (your burn rate).

Book CornerThe Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares a Step-By-Step Guide to Creating a Plan That Gets Results

5. Differentiate Your Business

Whatever business you’ve decided to start, there’s a pretty good chance that someone has a similar business. You need to define what makes your business different from your competitors. There are many ways you can do this. Special discounts, free gifts for signing up (maybe a free book). Find something your competitors don’t do and offer it as part of your plan.

6. Learn from Your Mistakes

No one is perfect and you are likely to make some mistakes as you build your business.  Some can be fatal (like creating a website name that no one  can remember) while some can be annoying (such as not building out your entire site before launching).

7. Balance Your Expectations

It’s rare to start off as an instant success and that is certainly true of an online business.  It will take time to build your client and user base. Your marketing plan and social networking plan will play a big role in how quickly you build your audience. While there are things you can do to fast track your growth, balance your expectations so that you stay motivated in achieving your end goal.

Book Corner - The Ultimate Guide To Building And Marketing Your Online Business With Free Tools

8. Build Your Brand

Your brand defines who you (or your product) are.  It’s what allows people to identify with you and, as you build your brand, becomes a an additional driver of business. Your brand is tied closely to tip # 5 above (differentiate your business).

Book Corner - Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand

9. Find and Leverage Advisers

While it sounds similar, this tip is different from tip #3.  Advisers are individuals who can take an objective view of you and our business and give you advise to make changes and improvements. They can be experts on SEO or maybe they are business strategists.  If you don’t know individuals like this, find them and leverage their advice.

Book CornerFind Your Mentor

10. Spread The Word!

This is executing on many of the tips above.  The more people that know about you and your product/service, the quicker you will build your business. Leveraging your network, finding some type of advertising, building a partner network where your service compliments what they do.  All of these things will help you build your successful business.

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

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10 Telephone Interview Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Depositphotos_5023199_xsLet’s face it, applying for a job has never been easier. The Internet, smartphones and cloud services have made it fairly simple and quick to apply to job postings “on the fly”. As a result, companies and recruiters sometimes get hundreds of responses to a single job posting. Recruiters and corporate HR departments have several methods for scaling down responses to a manageable pile, but that is a topic for another post.

It is rare these days to get an “in person” interview without first going through a telephone interview.  As you know, the purpose of a telephone interview is to screen potential candidates and further pare down the list to a short list of individuals who will be asked to interview in person. Keep in mind that if your initial interview is done as a phone conference, the interviewer may be using a Polycom with other interviewers listening and participating. While these initial telephone screening interviews might seem like a formality, they are not. You would be surprised how many people make simple but fatal mistakes during a telephone interview. If you can’t successfully make it through a telephone interview, you have no chance of making it through an in person interview. This is like a “take at home tests”, you can (and should) have whatever materials you need right in front of you – there are no excuses. Which of these mistakes have you made?

1. Too Much Background Noise

Make sure you have a quiet area where you can take the telephone interview. Standing in the middle of Grand Central Station or outside on the street is not the way to do it. Not only will you not be able to hear the interviewer, but they will not be able to hear you clearly and will think that you are not taking the interview seriously. Scout out a few potential quiet spots in advance of the telephone interview and test them out with a friend or family member.

2. Did Not Research the Company

You need to have done your homework and researched the company that is interviewing you. You must know (at a minimum), what the company does, who their competitors are and why you want to work for them. To the extent possible (and LinkedIn is a great place to start), learn all you can about the interviewer(s) as well.

Book CornerThe Job Search Solution: The Ultimate System for Finding a Great Job Now!

3. Poor telephone reception

Depending on circumstances, you may need to use your cellphone for your telephone interview. If that’s the case, make sure that wherever you do your call you have good telephone reception.  There is nothing worse than having the call drop or not being able to hear the interviewer (or them hearing you). Scout out some areas a day or two before the call so that you can test the reception. Make sure your phone is fully charged as well.

4. Did not read the job description

You are interviewing for a job that is a great fit for you. You should have read the job description and you should be familiar with it. The best part is that you can have the job description right in front of you for reference while you are interviewing, but you should not be reading it for the first time. Take notes and highlight potential questions prior to the interview. You may expect that the interview is a high level screening, but it would not be unusual to be asked very detailed questions.

5. Distractions

Your dog might be ready for a walk but you are in the middle of an interview. Your spouse may be looking for you to run some errands and your children think you are taking them out to play. If you are making your call from home or a common area, focus on the conversation on hand. Make sure your family knows you are on a telephone interview so that you are not interrupted. Make sure you’ve cleared your calendar and not one is expecting you to be available.

6. Not listening or allowing the interviewer to speak

It’s more difficult to get the ebb and flow of conversation in a telephone interview as compared to an in person interview. Listen for cues from the interviewer and be careful not to dominate the conversation when it’s your turn to speak. While you will want to direct the conversation to your skills and experience, allow the interviewer to ask all of their screening questions.

7. Call waiting notifications

You might find this hard to believe, but there are people who get an incoming call and then ask their interviewer to “hold on”. Needless to say, it is doubtful they will make it to the next round.  Turn off your call waiting, email notices, Facebook notices and Twitter notices while you are on your call.

8. Not preparing for company or job specific questions

You may have read the job description and done your homework in terms of the company, but have you prepared both, answers to questions that might be asked and questions that you may have? Some interviewers will ask open ended questions like – “Why do you want to work here?”, “What attracts you to XYZ company?”, “Why do you think you are a good fit for this position?”. Be prepared.

9. Lack of confidence or low energy

Keep focused and engaged during the interview. When you speak about your experience, be confident about your achievements. While the interviewer may ask difficult questions or challenge your achievements, stand firm in your conviction of your accomplishments and qualifications.

10. Throwing your current employer under a bus

Don’t speak badly of your current employer. The interviewer knows you have reasons for looking for new employment. Let your reasons be about career advancement and better opportunity. Regardless of any difficulties in your current job, it will not help your cause to complain about these issues during your interview.

Book Corner500 Things Not To Say in a Job Interview

Related articles from CareerAlley:

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5 Tips to Building Your Freelance Career

contractSo you want to be a freelancer? Freelancer, contractor, consultant, self-employed – these all have similarities but can be different as well. Working as a freelancer typically means you are self-employed and offering goods or services to others.  According to, a freelancer is “a person who works . . .  selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer”.  The best part about being a freelancer is that you can typically set your own hours as well as pick and choose who want to work for. The bad news is that until you build your business up, you are likely to have times where you don’t have any work. Take a look at CareerAlley’s 5 Ideas for Starting and Running Your Own Business – Career Alternatives. There are a number of things you can do to build your business.

1. Networking

Now’s the time to let everyone you know (business acquaintances, family and friends) that you are now freelancing.  This will help you build your network of potential clients. Be prepared to give your 30 second “this is what I do” speech to everyone you meet who asks you what you do. This is a very important way to network and advertise what you do.  This is typically called an “elevator speech” (see Do you have your 30 second Elevator Speech?).

Another key resource is industry and trade associations. Join the ones that make sense for your career and participate as much as possible. Taking leadership positions in these organizations can also help you grow your business.

Book Corner – The Little Book of Social Media Marketing for Translators: Network ? Learn ? Profit (The Little Books for Translators Series)


2. Put the Right Infrastructure in Place

Sounds scary, but makes great sense. Ensure you create whatever legal entities you need to setup and run your business. Make sure you have a good understanding of any licenses or registration you may need in your municipality. A great resource for helping you figure out what you need is the Small Business Administration (Starting a Freelance Business – How to Take Care of Legal, Tax and Contractual Paperwork). For those of you in the UK, take a look at

What about your website? Everyone looks to the Internet for finding whatever they need. This includes products and services. You must have a website where people can find you as well as read more about what you do. As you grow your business, add testimonials of those you’ve worked for. Recommendations are very powerful.

Build out your marketing plan. Advertising in local papers and bulletin boards placed in local businesses certainly helps.  Another great idea is to see if you can setup a “How to” night with your local Chamber of Commerce or Public Library, giving some demonstrations on your service or product.  This is a great way to advertise and to meet people.

Book CornerAdams Starting A Contractor Business Kit with Booklet and CD (PK216)


3. Find Others to Work With

Partnering with “complimentary” business can definitely help you grow your business. As an example, if you are starting a tile installation business, perhaps you could partner with a plumber. Or, maybe you are building a graphics design business – partnering with a marketing pro or a website developer might work for you. One thought is to think about businesses, products or services that either precede what you might offer or follow what you offer.   Keep in mind that it’s not all about you. There are benefits for partners as well (they gain from your business network as do you from theirs).

Book CornerThe Power of Partnership: Principles and Practices for Creating Strategic Relationships Among Nonprofit Groups, For-Profit Organizations, and Government Entities


4. Create a Business Plan

This can be boring and challenging but it is a necessity.  You need to have a plan which includes funding (cash flow, funding equipment and supplies, incorporating your networking and marketing plan, etc.).  Regardless of your location, the “Create Your Business Plan” from the SBA is a good place to start to help you figure out what you need.  Try not to over-build your plan, but don’t leave out the important parts either.

Book CornerThe $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future


5. Set Yourself Apart from the Competition

What makes what you do better than the competition? It’s important to define these values to give you an advantage in your advertising.  It could be anything, from offering products/services that no one else offers to providing discounts and promotions (tied to your marketing plan).

Book CornerAspiring to Good Business: Defining, communicating and describing your business

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

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5 Hot Careers in Technology

Question Mark Key on Computer KeyboardAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for technology careers is looking really good.  Whether you’ve just graduated from college, graduated 10 years ago or have just started your college career, it’s never too early (or late) to find a hot career that will fit your needs and (hopefully) experience. There are lots of great reasons to consider careers in Technology. New technology markets are being created on a regular basis, the demand still exceeds the supply, the pay is really good, need I go on? Today’s post covers some great careers in Technology.

Technology Careers – Technology has been a hot career choice for a very long time. What’s more, the diversity of technology career choices provides great choices for just about anyone.  Some ideas for you to think about:

  • Software Developers
    • What They Do – According to Wikipedia, “A software developer is a person concerned with facets of the software development process. Their work includes researching, designing, implementing, and testing software.[1] A software developer may take part in design, computer programming, or software project management.”
    • How Much They Make – Of course lots depends on experience and where you work (both location and company). But the median national salary is $93,350 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the job market is growing at 22%, much faster than average.
    • Education Requirements – A degree is the best way to go about entering this field (of course experience counts for a lot too).  Many software developers have been coding since they were very young and, by the time they get to college, are already very experienced developers.
    • Finding a job – The usual suspects (and true for each of the careers listed below) – networking, college career centers, research and job boards. You can also take a look at some of the specialty job search boards ==>> Software developer jobs
    • Book CornerBeing Geek: The Software Developer’s Career Handbook
  • Network Administrators – 
    • What They Do – Network Administrators are generally responsible for the maintenance of computer hardware and software systems within a company or organization. They are support staff within an organization and focus on network components, infrastructure and ensuring systems integrity.
    • How Much They Make – This varies depending on the size of the organization and the complexity of the networks/infrastructure. The median national salary is $74,000 according to BLS.
    • Education Requirements – There is a fair amount of technical knowledge you must have for this role, so a degree or formal technical training is generally expected. There are also certification programs which can supplement your degree.
    • Finding a job – Technical job search boards, networking (with people that is), college career centers and research is the best approach. You can also take a look at some of the hot job listings ==>> Network Administrator Job
    • Book CornerThe Practice of System and Network Administration, Second Edition
  • Mobile Applications Specialist
    • What They Do – This career choice is one of the newer technology careers, developing mobile native UI apps across different mobile platforms. Typically, you will need to generate wireframes, create flowcharts and prototypes for digital products and build out user flows and navigation.You should probably know a lot about object oriented programming (Java, Objective C, or Javascript) as well as have development experience with XML GUI styling (for Android, iOS, etc.).
    • How Much They Make – The median salary is $89,000 or so, depending where and what you do. You can some information here ==>>Salary Info
    • Education &/or Training Requirements – Many of the requirements are listed in the “What they do” section above, but for more detail, you can find some of the requirements at the following link ==>>Educational Requirements
    • Finding a job – Although highly in demand, your best bet is if you know someone (or know someone who knows someone) in an organization looking for this skill set. Otherwise technical job search boards, and research is the best approach. You can also take a look at some of the specialty job search boards ==>> Mobile Applications Jobs
    • Book CornerMobile Applications: Architecture, Design, and Development: Architecture, Design, and Development
  • Software Security – 
    • What They Do – These are experts trained to detect, analyze and remediate threats and continuously protect organizations’ software and networks from security threats. Think NSA or the equivalent with in the corporate world.
    • How Much They Make – One of the higher paying jobs due to the demand, the median salary is $93,000 with the top 10 percent making more than $138,000 per year (according to You can see the full salary survey here ==>>Mobile Applications Specialist
    • Education &/or Training Requirements – Best bet is to look at degree requirements at universities, you can find some of the requirements at the following link ==>>Educational Requirements
    • Finding a job – Technical job search boards, and research is the best approach. You can also take a look at some of the specialty job search boards ==>> Software Security Jobs
    • Book Corner -
  • Computer Forensic Investigator -
    • What They Do – One of the more unusual tech jobs, these individuals are investigators who search, identify and evaluate information from computer systems, often for corporate crimes and generally for trial evidence.
    • How Much They Make – According to, the average salary is $58,000 with the  top jobs making more than $105,000 per year.
    • Education &/or Training Requirements – You most definitely need a degree, and requirements can be found at universities that specialize in IT.
    • Finding a job – Technical job search boards, and research is the best approach. You can also take a look at some of the specialty job search boards ==>> Computer Forensic Jobs
    • Book Corner -

    We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

    Good luck in your search,

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