It's Tax Season Again

The 2013 tax filing deadline is fast approaching. With that in mind, the IRS has been sending out information to assist tax filers with this task. Below are 10 Tips that the IRS has provided for tax time.

IRS Offers Top 10 Tax Time Tips

1. Gather your records. Round up any documents you will need when filing your taxes, including receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you will be claiming on your tax return. Store them in a safe place.

Tax Time2. Report all your income. You will need all your Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statements, and 1099 income statements to report your income when you file your tax return. To ensure you don’t misplace them, add them to your other records.

3. Get answers to questions. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool available on the IRS website to find answers to your questions about tax credits and deductions.

4. Use Free File. There is at least one option available for everyone to prepare and e-file a tax return at no cost. Let IRS Free File do the work for you with brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. It's available exclusively at IRS.gov. If your income was $57,000 or less, you qualify to use free tax software. If your income was higher, or you are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there's Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. Visit IRS.gov/freefile to review your options.

5. Try IRS e-file. IRS e-file is the best way to file an accurate tax return. It’s safe, easy and the way most taxpayers file their return. Last year, more than 80 percent of taxpayers used IRS e-file. Many tax preparers are now required to use e-file. If you owe taxes, you have the option to file early and pay by April 15.

6. Weigh your filing options. You have several options for filing your tax return. You can prepare it yourself or go to a tax preparer. You may be eligible for free, face-to-face help at a volunteer site. Weigh your options and choose the one that works best for you.

7. Use direct deposit. Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest and safest way for you to get your refund.

8. Visit the IRS website. The IRS website at IRS.gov is a great place to find everything you need to file your tax return. This includes many online tools, filing tips, answers to frequently asked questions, the latest tax law changes, forms and publications.

9. Remember number 17. Check out Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, on the IRS website. It’s a complete tax resource that includes information such as whether you need to file or how to choose your filing status.

10. Review your return. Don’t rush. We all make mistakes when we rush. Mistakes slow down the processing of your return. Be sure to double check all Social Security numbers and math calculations on your return as these are the most common errors. If you run into a problem, remember the IRS is here to help. Start with IRS.gov.

Helpful links:

MATRIX Consultants

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About the Author: 

Charise has been the Payroll Administrator at MATRIX Resources since 2004 with over 12 years of experience in payroll. If you have more questions, you are welcome to email Charise at payroll@matrixres.com. Charise has also made several helpful videos on the Payroll Information website.

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Development

Job Security? What's that?

Question: Do you believe in “job security”?

My answer to this question may shock you because I do believe in “job security.” Now wait before you stop reading this post, let me explain. If you think about job security in the terms of working for a single company for 30+ years and then retiring from said company with a nice pension, then yes, this type of job security is long gone. However, this is not the type of job security I am talking about. When I talk about job security, I am talking about a brand of job security that rests solely in your capable hands. YOU are your own job security! Job Security

Job SecurityCompanies are looking for more in their IT professionals than ever before. They are looking for IT professionals that can communicate their ideas effectively in written and visual form; know how to network in professional environments; have a solid on-line and off-line presence (brand) and technical know-how. In short, they are looking for well-rounded IT leaders.

As you know, we now live in a global market where your coworkers can live halfway around the world. Basic IT jobs are being outsourced to offshore companies. It has been a growing trend over the last few years for companies to use offshore resources to cut costs. Whether you agree with this method of cutting costs or not, it is a trend that is not going away anytime soon (if at all). Your job security depends on your ability to stand out from the global competition. To do that you will need more than just your technical skills. You will need to become that IT leader that companies are looking for! Now, you may be thinking that becoming an IT leader does not apply to you because you are not in management. If this is your thought, you are wrong! Everyone is a leader, regardless of their role.

Question: How do you become an IT leader?

There are tons of books and blogs that you can read on the topic. And like any endeavor you chose to undertake, you should study and learn the mechanics of that endeavor. You must not only learn how to be a leader, you must practice being one. For example, by joining and volunteering with a professional organization like the Atlanta chapter of BDPA (Black Data Processing Associates), you can gain the opportunity to build your leadership skills.

Atlanta BDPA is a non-profit 501(c)(6) professional IT organization dedicated to developing career-minded IT professionals through networking and education, transforming them into leaders and innovators in the IT industry. The group’s programs and initiatives are designed to support IT professionals and help them achieve the next level in their careers as leaders. There are various groups and associations around the country focused on a wide variety of IT related topics that will help you grow your leadership skills if you get involved with them.

IT Leader

Many professional organizations will host events specifically created to help you further your career and develop your professional skills. Recently, the Atlanta BDPA chapter hosted a professional development boot camp which was hosted at MATRIX Resources’ Atlanta office. Attendees participated in a full day of intense sessions on topics like marketing and branding yourself (online and offline), how to lead and run a meeting effectively, and how to network and give an effective presentation. Participants also had an opportunity to review their resume with IT recruiters and participate in mock one-on-one and panel interviews. Boot camp attendees walked away with valuable feedback, a strategic plan of action, and a video copy of their mock interview for their review.

Participating in workshops like these, even if you are not currently job seeking, can help you build the confidence and skills you need to be successful in your career. On the MATRIX Resources’ Opportunities website, there is a calendar where you can find the schedule for many cities’ IT user groups. Attending professional associations and user groups can help you gain leadership skills crucial to building your personal job security.

About the Author: 

Sharnecia Williams is an innovative IT application developer that has over 12 years of experience in creating and developing technical solutions to complex problems for Fortune 500 companies.  She is also serves as the VP of Marketing and Public Relations for the Atlanta BDPA organization.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

Pearls from Dr. Earl

Dr. Earl Suttle, Ph.D.,  recently “WOWED” some lucky MATRIX clients with his seminar on Leadership, Motivating and Keeping their best employees.  Feedback was overwhelmingly positive from this event and we thought we would share some of the nuggets gleaned from the session for the rest of our MATRIX family.  Please read on for some “Pearls from Dr. Earl”:

If you want your staff to be happier and more enthusiastic about their jobs, you will need to learn skills that will help make leading your team more productive and personally rewarding than you ever expected. To begin your journey of discovery, here are 4 of my Pearls of leadership wisdom and some practical steps you can take to turn insight into action:

- If you want to be a more effective leader in your company, you have to study leadership.

Question: Are you reading leadership books or listening to leadership CD’s that will take you where you want to go in the next five years?Enjoying Excellence

- You have to process your leadership inwardly.

Question: Are you taking time to self-reflect if you are becoming the leader you want to be? - You have to practice your leadership outwardly. Question: Are you applying your leadership strengths in your daily work as a leader and seeking feedback from others regularly on your leadership effectiveness with them?

- You have to be willing to pass your leadership skills to others.

Question: Who are you developing to take your place? At the end of your life, you will not be asked what you have accomplished, but who have you helped.

“Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-improvement.” (Spanish proverb) It may take some time to sort through the various ideas to find one that fits you. Be patient, but determined. Find your special talents. Remember, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” (Peter Drucker)

About the Author: 

Dr. Earl Suttle is the Founder and Chairman of Leadership Success International, LLC, an international training and consulting company based in Atlanta, GA, that specializes in working with businesses and organizations to increase their profits and productivity through developing their people. To learn more from Dr. Earl, you can email him at Earl@EarlSuttle.com or call the company at 770-992-4433.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

Why Techies Should Be On Twitter and How They Should Be Using It

TwitterLately Twitter has been blowing up among IT professionals. Many IT professionals know Twitter inside and out, while others are still trying to figure out how it all works.

If you are just using Twitter to talk about yourself or see what your friends are up to, Facebook is a better option for that. Twitter is a source of breaking news – locally, globally and in your specific industry. It is a way to get words of wisdom from the most influential leaders in the world. It puts you in conversations with people you admire that you may never meet. It can even be a job board, a newsletter of upcoming events and conferences in your area, a source of humor and laughter for your day, a way to stay on top of the latest cultural trends, or free access to the minds of your favorite celebs.

If you have an account and are following the right people, you have taken the first steps to getting the full value out of Twitter. Here are some good ideas of what to do next:

Connect with local user groups. Hopefully if you are a techie living in a big city like Dallas or Atlanta, you have found local user groups to get involved with. Most user groups have their own Twitter accounts or personal hashtags. Let your followers know what groups you are going to by checking in on Twitter and tagging the group or speaker. By using specific hashtags of the group, you can live tweet during the meeting and follow what other attendees are saying. After the meeting, keep the conversation going by tweeting comments or questions at the speaker or other members.

Engage tech leaders in your community. There are influential leaders in every community that love to get into Twitter conversations about things like new tech products or their frustrations with their latest coding project. Follow these people and respond to their tweets. They probably won’t respond every time, but this will show your thoughts to your followers and maybe gain feedback from some of them. Reaching out to leaders in your field shows that you are relevant and eager to learn.

Maximize your job search. The most common way to use Twitter in a job search is to look up keywords like #ITjobs or #dfwjobs. There are also several job board accounts for different cities. However, this is not the only way to strategize as a job seeker. By tweeting out relevant articles to your industry and engaging likeminded people, you will stand out against other candidates. Recruiters and employers are likely to look at your social media profiles when trying to decide if you are a good fit for a company. Give them something to remember you by.

Use lists. Follow popular tech blogs and put them all into one list for easy access. Then, put local developers or industry peers in another list to keep up with their tweets. This will not only add organization to your life, but it will also make it extremely easy if you follow a lot of people but want to quickly check what your friends are talking about without having to scroll through a bunch of other accounts.

Promote your work.  If you have a blog because you just cannot say everything you want in 140 characters, tweet it out. I can never say this enough, so USE HASHTAGS. If the topic of your blog relates to jQuery, tweet the link at jQuery accounts, such as local user groups or experts or fellow jQuery enthusiasts like you. If you do not have a blog but do design or develop web pages, share those too. Let Twitter be an outlet to showcase your talent.

Ask questions. The best way to engage people on Twitter is to ask questions because they are more likely to get a response. People love when you give them a topic that they are interested in, and many are quick to offer their opinion. Twitter is its own little community, connecting people from any location on what they are passionate about. This is a great way to gain insight from others and learn from leading experts.

About the Author: 

Jennifer is the Community Manager for MATRIX. She is experienced in social media management, content strategy and copywriting. She recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma and is now building her network in Dallas. Her goal is to bring a new form of creativity to the recruiting business.

You can find Jennifer on LinkedIn, Twitter, or email her at Jennifer.Bradley@MATRIXRes.com.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

New Year, New Profile? Optimize your LinkedIn to further your career

Linked InYou never get a chance to make a second first impression. On LinkedIn and all social media platforms, your profile picture is your first impression. Keep it professional! It’s okay to show your personality, but you want potential employers to remember your face and not focus on the background of your picture.

The most important line of your whole profile is the headline! Most job seekers write their current titles, but including words you want users to find you by will bring more attention to your profile. If your dream job is “Director of Website Development,” then consider a headline like “Directing Website Development Guru.” Now when a potential employer is searching LinkedIn to fill a particular position, your name is more likely to come up with this targeted headline. Think of this line as the WHY people should choose you; not just what currently represents you.

Keywords, keywords, keywords: The first 40-60 characters are the most important! In each section of your profile, keep your professional keywords at the beginning. The headline, summary, professional experience description, and education description should BEGIN with your keywords. It is crucial to do some research on which keywords are most valuable to companies and which best describe your skills (hint: try Google AdWords). Staying away from vague words like “Web Design” and “Help Desk” and focusing instead on skills such as “HTML5” and “C#” will make your profile much stronger.

Think of the summary section as your elevator pitch. In one paragraph, summarize who you are, what you do, and what value you can bring to a company. If it is too long, it is unlikely anyone will read it. Use this section to prove your worth and explain why the recruiter should choose you over the next candidate. Below the one paragraph elevator pitch, include a bulleted list of your specialties (including your keywords).

Recommendations and endorsements are a great way to build stronger connections. This gives you an opportunity to support the careers of those you’ve worked with and help prove their authenticity. The more recommendations and endorsements you give, the more profiles your face will show up on which could potentially gain more attention from hiring managers. As you recommend and endorse your peers, they will likely recommend and endorse you back. Keep the circles growing!

Join groups that relate to your professional life and become involved in them. If you participate in the discussions on the pages for the industries you are most interested in, the members will see your name more often and will be more likely to remember you when they have a job opening. The more you participate, the more knowledgeable you will seem.

Add some flare to your profile and show your personality. Most sections now allow you to attach documents, pictures, links, and photos. If you have a picture of yourself receiving an award at your last company, add that photo. Even just adding the URL to the companies you have worked for in the past will brighten up your profile. If you have promotional videos you were in for the company or anything related to your professional life, add it to your profile to attract more attention.

Keep adding connections! The more connections you have, the more profiles you can see and more hiring managers can see you. LinkedIn will only allow you to see the profiles of your connections and those that are connected to your connections. It is also helpful to post professional status updates and relevant articles to your LinkedIn. You can post statuses the same way you post on Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter, but these should be professional and industry-related posts. Share interesting articles and facts you find around the Internet so that all your connections can see. This is a great reminder to your connections that you are there and it will encourage people to view your profile more often.

About the Author: 

Leah Antonoff, fresh out of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, is the new social media guru.  Leah consulted with companies on their marketing and social media campaigns in the Bloomington, IN and Atlanta, GA areas.

Connect with Leah on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker