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  • Build a Digital Fortress: How to Keep Your Business Data Safe from Hackers

    08/23/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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    Think your business is too small or unimportant to attract a hacker’s attention?

    Think again.

    As large employers improve data security with sophisticated (and yes, expensive) systems, cybercriminals are “moving down the proverbial food chain” and targeting small and mid-sized businesses more frequently.

    Even worse, these guys have effectively automated web hacking, using malicious bots to probe sites for vulnerabilities. The problem has become so massive, that as much as 80% of all traffic on sites with fewer than 1,000 visitors per day comes from automated bots.

    Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security! Even if your business is small, you’re not “small potatoes” to a cybercriminal. Use these practical tips to guard against a malicious attack and keep your business data safe from hackers:

    Know what you need to protect.

    Start by assessing the prime targets. Credit-card information is the most obvious type of data hackers seek, but consider the other kinds of information you store which could harm you, your employees or your clients/customers if compromised. Prioritize your efforts to secure your most sensitive information first.

    Scan your site the way hackers do.

    Regularly use a web scanner to detect key vulnerabilities cyber criminals look for. Doing so minimizes opportunities for SQL injection or Cross Site Scripting (XSS) attacks, and provides insights for engineers to help you remediate other vulnerabilities.

    Entrust experts with highly sensitive data.

    If yours is a small or mid-sized businesses, don’t try to store extremely sensitive data (such as credit-card information or personal data) yourself. While you do incur some risk when handing it over to a third party, it’s far safer to leverage experts’ proven encryption and security protocols.

    Turn your employees into data defenders.

    Unfortunately, many attacks are the result of simple human negligence. But thankfully, that makes them highly preventable. Explain the importance of using secure passwords – and provide clear instructions for setting them (i.e., using a mix of upper and lower case, as well as including non-alphanumeric characters). Share examples of suspicious emails – and tell employees to never open attachments without scanning them first. Educate employees about the types of attacks out there, so they can help protect you.

    Consider how secure your partners are.

    When it comes to data security, never stick your head in the sand. Ask for proof that businesses you share information with (e.g., vendors or other third party providers) take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of your data. Ask how they manage security, and request proof that they’re compliant with security best-practices.

    Is your business safe?

    Give our technology experts a call. Serving businesses throughout North America, we can deliver the talented IT professionals and end-to-end tech solutions you need to reduce security risks and protect your business data.

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How to Communicate More Effectively with Your Boss

08/19/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Job Seekers | Leave a Comment
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You need to talk to your boss.

Does the proposition excite you, or make you break out in a cold sweat?

If you and your boss have vastly different communication styles, even the most mundane work conversations can be stressful. When you’re worried about how to phrase things properly, or how your boss will interpret what you say, it’s tough to relax, listen and communicate effectively.

Boost your confidence and your skills with these four communication tips from Exact Staff:

Adapt your communication to your boss’ natural style.

In a recent Forbes.com article, Mark Murphy describes the following four communication styles:

  • Analytic. Likes to communicate with facts, data and specific language.
  • Intuitive. Wants to cut right to the chase and get a clear understanding of the big picture before discussing details.
  • Functional. Prefers to communicate in a step-by-step fashion, using processes, timelines and well-thought-out plans.
  • Personal. Values emotional language and wants to know how people feel (not just what they think).

Determine which category your boss falls into, and then try to provide information in a way that resonates with him. For example, if he’s a functional communicator, plan your conversations as much as possible. Provide the detail and logic he craves to ensure that conversations go smoothly.

Be an active listener.

When speaking with your boss, it’s natural to worry about what you’re going to say next. Instead of planning your next move in the conversation, try to stay in the moment as much as possible. Pay close attention to what your boss says, and take good notes (either mental or written). Ask relevant questions and paraphrase him to ensure full understanding.

Don’t get too emotional.

Even if your boss is a “personal communicator,” keep your emotions in check when engaging in work conversations. If you’re angry, anxious, frustrated or upset about something, take a 10-count before approaching your boss. Wait until you’re clear-headed and calm enough to discuss the issue professionally.

Recognize the importance of nonverbal communication.

Your nonverbal cues can impact a conversation with your boss as much as, or even more than, what you say. Make sure you pay attention to the following aspects when speaking with your manager:

  • Posture. If you tend to slouch or fold your arms across your chest, be aware of the negative ways in which these signals can be interpreted. Sit (or stand) upright when speaking with your boss, and lean slightly into the conversation.
  • Eye contact. Avoid extremes (i.e., staring at the floor or glaring intently at your boss) when it comes to making eye contact. Too little conveys disinterest or insecurity; too much conveys aggression.

If communicating with your boss makes you uncomfortable, try mirroring his body language. Subtly adjust your own hand positions, posture or general body orientation to match his.

On the job hunt?

Exact Staff can connect you with career opportunities at every employment level and in a wide variety of fields including administrative, accounting/financial, legal, medical/dental, technical, sales, and engineering. Search jobs here or connect with an Exact Staff recruiter.

Fresh Strategies for Creative Problem Solving

08/16/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Dead ends. Blank pages. Mental blocks.

The struggle to solve problems is all too real. Sometimes, inspiration is in short supply. Other times, you may have plenty of great ideas – but no process for seeing them through.

What’s a savvy business professional to do?

Get creative!

Creative problem solving is much more than brainstorming; it’s a well-defined process for every step of problem-solving. And it’s incredibly important in business – helping you to overcome challenges, improve on existing ideas, and continually generate new ones.

Want to give it a try? Below, we describe two techniques you can experiment with to solve business problems:

Re-Describing

This Entrepreneur.com post describes a unique problem-solving strategy that works on a simple assumption: most of the time, you already know something that will help you solve your problem. The key is to find the right memory cue to retrieve the information you need.

To use the re-describing technique, try changing the way you describe your problem to yourself. The more unique ways you can find to frame your challenge, the more memories your brain will unlock – and the more likely you’ll be to develop a great solution. Ask these two questions to get the process started:

  • What kind of problem is this? Take off the mental blinders that limit creativity and memory, and try to think more abstractly.
  • Who else has faced this kind of problem? Find parallels to your own challenge, and then consider the ways others’ solutions could be applied to your problem.

The Inversion Technique

This approach to problem-solving is similar to reverse-engineering. It starts with imagining worst-case scenarios, and then using those scenarios as the basis for developing solutions.

To use the inversion technique, start with the absolute worst outcome you could imagine to your problem. Then, imagine everything that could possibly go wrong which would lead to that disaster scenario. By working backward from a worst-case scenario, you can reveal hidden problems, opportunities and potential solutions you might otherwise miss.

Improve Problem-Solving by Boosting Creativity

No matter which problem-solving approach you select, use these quick tips to amp-up your team’s creativity (and solve problems faster!):

  • Get everyone involved. More people can generate more ideas.
  • Make your work environment more interesting. Hang art. Play music. Expose employees to scents like lavender or peppermint (which are thought to increase brain power). Engaging their brains in novel ways will spur new emotions, abstract thinking and fresh ideas.
  • Play creativity games. With a simple Google search you can find several free resources for engaging your team’s creative faculties.

Have a Tough Problem to Solve?

Give the experts at Exact Staff a call. Our national staffing agency provides a full complement of staffing and placement services to help you get the most from your team and your career.

Supercharge the Efficiency of Your Small Team

08/9/16 3:35 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Is bigger really better?

When it comes to work teams…not so much. This Forbes.com article presents a wealth of research which suggests that smaller teams are better than larger ones when it comes to:

  • Engagement. 42% of employees working at companies with 10 or fewer employees were engaged at work, compared with just 30% of employees at larger companies.
  • Effort. As team size increases, individual effort decreases (mostly because people believe they don’t need to work as hard when others can “pick up the slack”).
  • Problem-solving. One study showed that teams comprised of two people accomplished a task in an average of 36 minutes, while teams of four finished in an average of 56 minutes.

These findings make sense. With less bureaucracy and fewer opportunities to slack off, small teams have clear advantages over large ones. Small size, however, doesn’t guarantee efficiency; it takes discipline, good work habits and smart management to get the most from team members.

Need a few ideas to get you started? Try these tips for supercharging small-team efficiency:

Set clear team goals.

Do more than just send an email with a list of objectives. Assemble your team in a single room (use videoconferencing technology for remote team members) and get everyone square on what you’re trying to accomplish. Make sure that each member understands their role and buys into the shared goals.

Build trust.

Trustfulness and trustworthiness can only exist if managers like you set the example – and then foster trust internally. Be transparent. Treat team members like partners. Share your mission and values. Do what’s right for your team, and your team will give their best effort for you.

Empower team members.

Provide the tools, training, guidelines and resources employees need to do an amazing job for you. Then let go of the reins. Give employees the autonomy and authority to accomplish their work free from micromanagement – and their productivity and motivation will soar.

Limit meetings.

Require individuals who want to schedule meetings to submit a valid purpose and agenda before putting one on the books. Keep team meetings short and intimate, supplementing them with informal check-ins to see how individuals are progressing.

Help individuals use time effectively.

From productivity apps to email hacks, share efficiency tips that will help team members work at peak productivity. Give them the permission and ability to plan uninterrupted time for focus work, so they can accomplish critical activities free from disruption.

Build more efficient work teams by choosing the right staffing partner.

With a national presence, and a full complement of staffing and placement services, Exact Staff can rapidly deliver exceptional people to build your core team. Improve efficiency. And seamlessly flex your workforce to match changing demands.

What can we do for you?

Contact a staffing expert at your local Exact Staff office today.

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