27 September 2013
For many people, the evolution of technology is a welcome demonstration of progress. While there is little doubt that a seemingly relentless march of new and innovative tech is good for society in general, IT professionals are increasingly aware that skills need to be updated on a regular basis, especially in a fast-paced and competitive
25 September 2013
Few professional relationships are as unique and stimulating to a career plan as that between a mentor and a mentee. We’ve discussed the importance of finding a mentor, and how finding that one great mentor can be an important factor in landing your dream job, but how do you return the karma into the workforce once you’ve advanced in your career? Become a mentor yourself! Hopefully you were lucky enough early on to find a teacher who truly made a difference—one that offered such a positive experience that you want to do the same for somebody else. Or maybe you’ve simply accrued enough experience and knowledge in your field that you want to pass it on to another. Either way, when considering becoming a mentor, it’s important to realize that it’s a very give-and-take relationship. In order to get the most out of your mentoring experience and ensure that your mentee gets the same, be sure to follow these simple tips: Use your expertise (or follow the golden rule). If you had a mentor in the past, take into consideration what you enjoyed about it, what he or she did that you may or may not have found helpful. If you didn’t, imagine how you would feel if you were in the mentee’s position. Many young professionals or those looking to make a career change don’t want to be too demanding of their mentor and, in some cases, might be a bit nervous regarding their future career. When forming a relationship with your mentee, try to remember what it was like to be starting out in your field. Commit to a set period of time. Of course, should you work well together, the relationship can extend for as long as you’d wish. But be it a few weeks or months, try to set a minimum amount of time you’ll spend with your mentee to ensure that you give them enough of your expertise. Few things in a mentoring relationship can be as unprofessional and disappointing as having your mentor disappear on you or lack commitment while you still have questions. Make the relationship a priority. Your mentee should understand that you’re busy, but you should still be considerate of your commitment. Respond to emails and/or phone calls in a timely manner and do all you can to help. Listen and ask questions. Though you’re ultimately there to help based on your experiences, it’s important to avoid preaching. Your mentee likely has a lot of questions and needs your input. Also remember that as industries change and evolve, there is a lot you can learn from your younger counterpart. Be understanding and confidential. One of the major differences between a mentor-mentee relationship and other business relationships is that the professional seeking help should feel comfortable asking questions that might seem elementary or embarrassing. Reassure your mentee that they have your discretion and confidence through your actions. Don’t be a helicopter mentor. Don’t hover or over-direct. You should help your mentee wherever appropriate, but remember that one of the most effective ways to learn is to experiment, make mistakes, and resolve problems. Encourage and guide from a distance—this will also encourage your mentee to respect and trust you as a helpful, but not overbearing, teacher. Likewise, demonstrate. Rather than preaching or steering your mentee, teach him or her through example. Plan a day for him or her to shadow you at your office, accompany you to meetings, or review your work. Leading by example is the most effective way to build a relationship and effectively pass on your knowledge and experience in a professional way. Should your relationship prove fruitful, both you and your mentee will have learned from each other. On top of that, you will both have new professional references for future job searches. It may be common sense for a mentee to list his or her mentor as a reference, but have you considered the other way around? A mentee could be a fantastic reference to add to your list—and not one that many hiring managers often see. So take your career—and someone else’s—further. Become a great mentor!
24 September 2013
After a long process of applying for jobs and interviewing, you finally get an offer! You should automatically accept it, right? Think again: before you do, regardless of how tempting it may be to accept, there are several factors to keep in mind when entertaining the possibility of accepting a job offer. After all, there is a reason why it’s called an “offer”… Always Look at the Trail: Find out about the position’s history. A good way to cover all the need-to-know information is to ask how many people have held the position in the last five years, and why the most recent incumbent left. Analyzing the context of the position can give valuable insight into the job and allow you to evaluate the turnover rate. Be wary if the position has a long list of others who once filled your shoes. Be Realistic: Picture yourself doing the job. Will you constantly have to talk yourself into going to work every day? Is it something you can see yourself doing? If the job is a poor fit to your strengths or overall career goals, and you feel completely out of your element, you might want to keep looking. The key is to think realistically about how the role will allow you to feel motivated, learn, and grow professionally. Consider the Environment: The culture and practices of a company can give you context to gauge how well you will align with their culture. In order to peek into the company’s dynamic, you may want to pay attention to how the hiring manager acts as well as how they communicate. For a more in-depth overview, ask for a tour, which will allow you to get a better snapshot of the office’s dynamics. For more information, refer to our post for more tips on how to gauge whether the work environment is right for you. Salary Extremes: Do your research and know the industry average for the job in the location and experience level you’re in. If your job offer is much higher or much lower than the average, be wary. The company may be holding out on paying you what you’re worth if the job offer is low, or adversely, may not be giving you the full list of everything the job entails if the offer seems suspiciously high. Make sure you do your due diligence and ask all the questions you need to evaluate whether the salary makes sense. Clear Idea of the Role: If your duties seem fuzzy and your would-be supervisors don’t seem to agree on what’s expected of you, proceed with caution. In order to gain further insight on the situation, a good question to ask is, “What are the criteria for success in this position?” If they can’t give you a quantifiable answer, you might want to look elsewhere for a job opportunity. If you choose to go forward in accepting the offer, ask for a formal job offer and make sure it covers your job title, compensation, responsibilities, deliverables, and other key points. What’s Management Like?: To do your best, it’s important to jive well with your supervisor’s management style. To find out how you feel about the manager you could be potentially working under, before you accept the position, ask about meeting your potential supervisor’s direct reports to gauge whether this is a team you would work well with. Ask questions that will provide insight into what your supervisor’s expectations of you are, and note how comfortable or uncomfortable the department is when answering about the team environment. Read between the lines and take into account their input when deciding whether the fit is right for you. Work/Life Balance: Do you have pressing outside commitments, such as family or education? Think about whether the job will allow you to continue with that routine to be able to maintain a work-life balance. Factors that may indicate a major disrupter to your schedule include extremely long commutes, heavy travel, or regular evening and weekend work. Have a discussion with the critical people in your life and discuss whether the job entails serious changes to your routine, and if so, how to work around that. If the job offer is excellent otherwise, try to rearrange your schedule and eliminate any non-essentials in your routine. If this proves impossible, consider finding a job that offers more flexibility. Assess the Company’s Financial Condition: Determine how successful the company is and how well it’s doing. In order to do this, consider the business model. If the company is public, you can look online for their latest 10-K filing (an annual report required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that comprehensively summarizes a company’s performance) and read the Management’s Discuss & Analysis section. If the company is private, ask directly about its earning trends and yearly growth. If the company is a start-up, ask about its business model and the direction they see the company heading in. When it comes down to it, a job offer has to hold more than just an opportunity. The offer should come with reasonable pay, clear cut duties, and be a good fit for your strengths. If a company is reluctant to give you the time to think over the offer and starts pressuring you for an immediate answer, you have every right to politely walk away. Weighing the pros and cons of a job offer is imperative in finding a workplace that will promote job satisfaction and happiness.
23 September 2013
The Labor Department’s August jobs report, released in early September, shows that the workforce is continuing to make small gains, marking a slow and steady path to recovery. Unemployment rates were down in many sectors, maintaining the upward trend that signals a healing economy. Here are some key findings from the report: Employment increased by 169,000 jobs in August, and the unemployment rate was calculated at 7.3 percent, down from one year ago, when it totaled 8.1 percent. Good news for millenials! The college-educated unemployment rate reached a record low of 3.5 percent, the lowest rate since November 2008. The contract staffing industry, a growing sector in the workforce, grew by 1.8 percent in the past twelve months, according to the American Staffing Association, with an average of 2.96 million temporary and contract workers working per day in the second quarter of 2013. Health services jobs grew by 33,000 jobs, and employment in professional and business services continued to grow as well, adding 23,000 jobs to the workforce. The accounting and bookkeeping services industry grew by 2,400 thousand jobs, and administrative and support service jobs grew by 14,600 thousand. As we head into October, and look forward to the release of the September Jobs report, prospects are looking positive for those seeking employment. For help landing a position, consider jumpstarting your job search. Submit your resume to The Execu|Search Group, today.
20 September 2013
Gaining experience in using new forms of technology such as new software and applications can help healthcare professionals improve their skill sets, resumes and job prospects as businesses increasingly look to improve overall care and lower readmittances.
19 September 2013
We recently discussed 5 mistakes hiring managers can avoid with the help of a recruiter. But what if you find yourself on the other end of the process—looking for a job? Good news; recruiters can help you, too! Whether it’s a faulty resume or poor networking skills, there are a number of things you might be unknowingly doing to sabotage your job search. Here are some of those mistakes and how working with a recruiter can help you avoid them: Getting caught up in one method of searching. In our technology-driven environment, many jobseekers find themselves applying to jobs only through job boards. While this can be an effective technique, it isn’t the only way. In fact, many who stick only to online searches often find that it takes longer to land a job than those who vary their strategies. How recruiters can help: A recruiter can pull you off the internet, get your resume out into the market, and help make connections for you. He or she might have some jobs in mind for you already, and in many cases, staffing agencies have several jobs to fill that are kept confidential—i.e., aren’t posted on job boards. Working with an agency can be like uncovering a secret treasure trove of jobs that few others have access to. Not networking. It’s an old adage that stays true today: if you want to land a job, you have to network. This is a large reason why searching only online can be less fruitful than other tactics such as attending conferences, meeting people in person, and passing your resume to people you know. How recruiters can help: While you’ll eventually have to invest in your own professional network, a recruiter can help be your very own spokesperson. He or she will have met with you before kick-starting the search and, as a result, will be able to attest to your personality, skills, etc. upon connecting you to a potential future employer. Falling victim to resume faux pas. There are a number of mistakes we make on resumes, from including pictures to making them too long to turning them into a laundry list of job functions. It’s well-known that a hiring manager often only spends seconds on your resume, but these mistakes only take a second to stick out and potentially fudge your chance at a call. How recruiters can help: When you work with a recruiter, they will get your resume first and suggest any changes that need to be made before passing it on to potential employers. Should you need further help with formatting, wording, or any other key aspects of a successful resume, your recruiter can work one-on-one with you to craft the best CV possible. Treating the interview process as an audition. Interviews aren’t only aimed to impress the hiring manager—they should be other way around, too. You need to decide for yourself whether or not the job and the company are the right fit for you. But in the sometimes nerve-wracking process, it can be easy to fall into practiced interview clichés and routines that prevent you from getting the most out of your time there. How recruiters can help: When it comes time for you to meet with a hiring manager, your recruiter will spend time prepping you on possible questions, etiquette, and strategies to help you make the interview a success. While you can research interview tips on your own, recruiters can help further by matching you up with companies that they believe are the best cultural fits for you, which can take some of the pressure off you. Not researching. At any stage of the job search process—applying, interviewing, accepting an offer—research is a huge factor in ensuring success. Is the job definitely one you’d be interested in? What is the company culture like? Are the benefits and pay what you’re looking for? There is a lot to consider at each step, and without thorough researching, we may miss something important. How recruiters can help: Recruiters will match you with companies based on a number of factors to ensure the best match and brief you on them at each stage. It’s still important to do your own research, but in many cases, the recruiter has already worked with the clients and knows their needs and culture. This will allow for a more effective match and ensure that you go into the process confident and knowledgeable.
18 September 2013
As employers continue to create temporary and temporary to permanent roles as a way of feeling out the economy as it improves, more and more professionals, who may have never considered temporary assignments before, will find themselves filling these newly created opportunities. According to Komal Shah, a Staffing Manager within The Execu|Search Group’s Office Support and Human Resources divisions who works on the Temporary Staffing side, the experience gained working in temporary roles can serve a candidate well beyond the end date of their temp assignments, to any pursuit they come across. “A person who has fielded a lot of temporary gigs most likely has a diverse array of skills, and being experienced in constantly changing roles, he or she can demonstrate the kind of versatility that will be beneficial in a multitude of situations. For instance, a person experienced in the temp world has the potential to thrive in roles that require a multi-tasker who has the ability to wear many different hats,” says Komal. “It’s just a matter of highlighting that experience and skill-set on a resume.” While organizing the information can be overwhelming, as Komal suggests, it is possible to heighten your candidate appeal by showcasing your experience. First, evaluate your past experience. If your previous temporary roles have nothing to do with the skills, experience, and abilities the job you’re applying to calls for, consider leaving them off. However, if leaving some jobs off results in having a long gap in your work history, keep the most relevant jobs on your resume and try to explain what you accomplished during your tenure there to show how you are a quick learner. After you decide what roles you want to highlight, you will be ready to start formatting your resume. Here are different situations that call for different formats: Addressing a single temp position: First, list the position on your resume, and next list the name of the client company, and if applicable, the name of the temporary staffing firm you worked through. Finally, add in the dates you worked. In referring to your position, you may want to give some specificity. For example: “Administrative Assistant, Columbia University, New York, NY, temporary position through The Execu|Search Group – January 2012 to March 2012.” However you can choose to drop the phrase “temporary position”: “Administrative Assistant, Columbia University (The Execu|Search Group), New York, NY – January 2012 to March 2012.” Highlighting the employer company: If the company is an industry leader put the name of the employer first. Put the staffing firm in parentheses, followed by job title and dates of employment: “NBC Universal (The Execu|Search Group) – Administrative Assistant, New York, NY – January 2012 to March 2012.” If you became a full-time employee: If you started as a temporary employee but made the transition to full-time, it’s important to highlight that because doing so will show how you quickly became an indispensable member of the team. Here is a tip for listing a temp-to-hire position on your resume: “Administrative Assistant, Columbia University, New York, NY. Temporary position via The Execu|Search Group; hired full-time November 2012.” If you worked several placements with one staffing firm: Begin by listing the staffing firm with a full date range. Then list each company, title, and an overview of your responsibilities. For example: “The Execu|Search Group – New York, NY, January 2012 to March 2012.” Title, Company Name (Dates) Short overview of your responsibilities… Achievement Achievement Title, Company Name (Dates) Short overview of your responsibilities… Achievement Achievement When it comes to framing your temp work history, while resume formatting is important, so are the details. When detailing your work history, you always want to do it in a way that is positive and that emphasizes the skills you learned, while showing how your experience makes you a more valuable candidate for the position you’re applying for. Temporary/consulting jobs are a great way to make money and gain experience and skills in a relatively short amount of time. They also provide you with an outlet to work within new industries to decide what type of work environments you do and do not like. Most importantly, temp roles can exercise a person’s flexibility, willingness to transition across various roles, and ability to take on new responsibilities smoothly.
17 September 2013
If you are a professional who works within an Office Support capacity, you have a pretty important job! While you may often find yourself working “behind the scenes,” your role ensures all firm operations run efficiently and all tasks are completed in a timely and professional manner. In that sense, you can truly consider yourself the backbone of an organization because you are responsible for acting as the firm’s supporting structure. Naturally, as you are supporting people and/or working with clients and other guests, you may encounter a few personalities that may not be so pleasant. “Unfortunately, this is an age old problem for Office Support professionals that will never go away,” explains Erin McCarthy, a Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Office Support and Human Resources staffing divisions. “Encountering grumpy, rude, and eccentric people from time to time is simply part of the job, and though it may be frustrating, there are steps you can take to ensure that someone else’s attitude doesn’t have a negative effect on your own and prevent you from doing your job well.” For those who have ever found themselves in a situation where someone else’s attitude or work style didn’t necessarily mesh with their own and they wished they could have handled a situation differently, here are some tips from Erin on supporting challenging people in the workplace: Don’t React: Remember, you’re there to ensure everything is organized and operating efficiently, which means you need to have a clear and level head. As a result, if someone makes a negative comment to you, try to take a deep breath, smile, and respond politely. If you’re angry and upset about the situation, it may be reflected in the quality of your work, so take a step back and think about what needs have to be addressed. This will help you refocus your attention away from the heat of the situation and towards the tasks that need to be accomplished. Communicate Directly: If your job description involves supporting others or being the first point of contact for a client or visitor, chances are, you have strong communication skills. These communication skills can be used to manage a difficult situation where the person you are working with, whether that is your supervisor or a visitor, is being unclear or unfairly demanding of you. If you are not clear on what the person is asking of you or want clarification on why they sound disgruntled, it is best to attack the problem (note: not the person) head on with clear statements and direct questions. For example, if the person you support is stressed about a major project with an impending deadline, and they give you last minute orders that must be added to your list of other time-sensitive things to do, and you are unsure about what to proceed with, it may be helpful to say, “I know the deadline to complete these tasks is quickly approaching and you need them completed in a timely manner. To ensure this process is handled efficiently, can you please tell me which tasks take priority and which tasks can be completed closer to the deadline?” Asking problem-solving questions in a calm and collected manner will help you gain a firmer grasp of the situation and keep your responsibilities top-of-mind. Focus and Listen: “Remember, your job is to act as an extension of the person you are supporting,” advises Erin. “As a result, if they are stressed or feel disorganized, it is your responsibility to help them stay organized and keep them prepared. To do this, you must put everything into perspective, feelings aside, and really listen to what they are saying to understand what they need from you.” In other words, it isn’t enough to just hear what they are saying and nod your head – you need to be intuitive to their needs. This can obviously be challenging if you feel you aren’t being respected or are unclear about something, so this is why it is absolutely essential to take a step back and try to listen and focus on what is needed of you. Don’t Take It Personally: Everyone has a personal life outside of their work responsibilities, and some people choose to talk about it more than others. Often times, the people you encounter who give you a hard time may have something personal going on, or may just be worried about something else that has nothing to do with you. Unfortunately, you can only be responsible for how you act, so try to stay positive and focused on what you need to do to keep the organization running efficiently. Maintaining an organization’s operations can be a difficult job, especially when you are responsible for working with a wide range of personalities. Though at times it can become frustrating and stressful to juggle your responsibilities while interacting with a difficult personality, you have to think about your main responsibility – to ensure your boss and/or the firm has everything it needs to perform well. Keeping this list top-of-mind will help you accomplish this.
14 September 2013
When interviewing a candidate, it’s expected that you’ll ask about their work history, experience, and skills. How expected is it, however, that you might ask about their personality? Although not easy, determining the personal characteristics of your candidate may be a worthy pursuit, as many now believe that the biggest predictor of a potential hire’s success can be found in their fit with the company’s culture and the personalities of other employees. Factors such as a candidate’s integrity, judgment, and ethics can play a big part in gaining a sense of the candidate’s performance, and their likelihood of fitting into your company culture. So how does one start a search into someone’s background and personal traits? Since the goal is to gather enough personal context to build a solid candidate profile, the best way to gain insight is by using a variety of methods to paint a full picture. Here are some ways to evaluate your candidate’s personality… Personality Assessments are tests that aim to hone in on candidate personalities in order to find a good match for the company. Personality assessment tests can be conducted online or in-person. Some aspects that the personality assessments look to address include a candidate’s work style, energy and drive, ability to work with others, problem solving skills, how one manages pressure and stress, and one’s aptitude for identifying and managing change. Certain positions uniquely lend themselves to personality testing, such as sale jobs or management roles, which draw on personality as well a specific skill set. As a result, a hiring manager seeking to fill a sales opening for example, might want to test for someone who is outgoing, friendly, and has a high tolerance for stress. If you choose to forego implementing professional personality assessment tests in your hiring process, another option you can start with is deep reference checks, which goes beyond a standard reference check. Conducting reference checks gives you access to two key pieces of information: past work performance and character. Conducting deep reference checks, as opposed to just going through the basic facts, are likely to give you the most accurate portrait of a candidate, as the references typically given by a candidate are the contacts who will speak most favorably of them. By speaking with contacts provided by references you’re likely to get more unbiased answers concerning the candidate’s job performance and personal characteristics. Speaking to a second or even third tier of references can be fruitful in providing more substance than what is provided by the most positive of the candidate’s contacts. If you’re uncertain as to how to inquire about other references, simply ask, “Who also worked with ____ that I could talk to?” Take the opportunity when talking with references to cross-check what the candidate said during interviews regarding their abilities and results. One corporate investigative agency found that nearly 30 percent of the applicants they interviewed had exaggerated or lied about their educational or employment history. Candidates who have been dishonest in an interview may indicate issues with trustworthiness. While references can be tremendously helpful in painting an accurate picture of a candidate, employers should be cognizant of the fact that a negative reference can be hard for a candidate to overcome, and that most people have had a negative experience at some point in their careers. If a candidate has other redeeming qualities, it may be worth it to invest time in determining what’s behind the negative reference. If it was a matter of a personality clash, it makes sense to let the reference know that something has come to light that may affect the hiring decision (without giving away the confidentiality of the reference). In doing this, a candidate should then be allowed the opportunity to address the negative information, and if the comments are explained satisfactorily, it may make sense to still bring the candidate on board. In general, when weighing the opinions of a reference, attention should be paid to the reference’s personality, temperament, and possible motive. Another method of assessing character through past performance is to evaluate the candidate’s resume. Critical questions you may want to keep in mind include: Has the candidate steered their career in a path that demonstrates growth? Have they been given increasing responsibility, either through one company or in moving on to other positions? Has the candidate demonstrated opportunism, moving on whenever a work situation was no longer optimal for them, perhaps embodying the “soldier of fortune”, or job hopper? Look for any patterns in how the candidate has moved on to different roles, and how they may be choosing their companies. Job progression can be telling of a person’s character, work ethic, and loyalty. Finally, reflect on the candidate yourself. Does your gut instinct lean a certain way? In assessing character fit, ask yourself whether you would be comfortable if your success depended on this person, and whether you would want to work with them. Depending on your preferences and company culture, you may opt to introduce the candidate to other members of the team and get a sense of their opinions of the candidate in question. Whether they would want to work with such a person is a vital concern you can get out of the way immediately, before hiring someone who may clash with the company. In assessing a candidate, every piece of information helps. While the interview can certainly provide insight, checking with other people who have worked with a candidate is a telling indicator of how the potential hire interacts, and performs. Conduct smarter interviewing by carefully listening to the candidate and begin putting together how the candidate views their past experiences, potential future with your company, and their relationship with others. Pay close attention to the candidate’s answers and monitor whether there is a consistency in response, as different answers to similar questions will raise major red flags. All in all, the interview should be used as a starting point, and a basis off which to explore a candidate’s skill set, personality, integrity, characteristics, goals, loyalty, professionalism, and past results.