When your assistant leaves, it creates a tremendous burden on you, doesn't it?

Not only having to replace them, but kissing all their accumulated work knowledge goodbye. The strain of it all, starting from scratch to educate someone new on office procedures, the job and your personal requirements.

But sometimes having the incumbent leave is a blessing in disguise. One thing to look for is a replacement with excellent computer skills. Why? Not only will it ease your burden, you'll create a much more productive office by having things done much faster.

A person with excellent software knowledge can easily take a task which took the predecessor three days of mundane repetitive computer work and turn it around in 10 minutes. Truly.

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I was in this predicament. I got calls and CV's from all kinds of people. Only one person stood out enough to interview, Rose. She had a lovely voice with a soft accent. 'Ahh, she'll be good on the phone I thought.' When Rose told me where she worked and her duties I said to myself 'that business would only hire a very smart cookie indeed'. We set Friday for her interview.

Chatting, Rose told me about her current job. About the vast amount of time she has spent working on computers, how good her computer skills were. I could see we would get on very well. Meanwhile I'm thinking. "Oh Rose. We're a match made in heaven."

We spoke of the job, and I mentioned how Outlook was one of the programs we used the most. 'I'm good with Outlook' Rose said. 'Wonderful' I replied.

Then I asked 'so how do you use rules?' All I got was a blank quizzical stare from Rose. She didn't know what Rules were.

In my opinion Rules are life changing for any person that receives a lot of email. When you combine this function with clever thinking, you can automate a significant number of website response functions, eliminating initial manual work and improving customer service and sales. Every email program has a Rules function. Anyway - back to Rose. All my joy at finding her came crashing in. How could someone saying how fabulous they are on the computer not know this?

Take this lesson to heart. Just because someone spends a lot of time at the computer doesn't mean they're advanced or even intermediate. It means they spend a lot of time on the computer.

So the next time you're looking to hire someone, think of the top computer shortcuts you know, and ask them to show you them on your computer, or explain them to you.

Debbie's Favourite Computer Shortcuts:
Outlook
1. Rules
2. Tasks
3. Categories
4. Drag and drop

Excel
5. Text to Columns
6. Exact
7. Concatenate

8. Trim
9. Find and replace
Word
10. Personalised email merge
11. Format painter
Written by international speaker and bestselling author Debbie Mayo-Smith. For more tips, over 500 how-to articles visit Debbie's article webpage.