Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Job Seeker’s Game

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, companies are beefing up their recruiting staffs as hiring demands increase.  We’ve got three tips that can help job seekers become job candidates in the eyes of recruiters… and any hiring person for that matter.

During a job search process, the little things can make or break you.  It’s true, though perhaps unfortunately so.  Little petty aspects of job search etiquette may have nothing to do with whether or not you’re qualified.  Yet, the ability to play the job seeker’s “game” can help unqualified candidates score the job, or qualified candidates be dismissed before the interview even starts.  So, make sure you understand how to play the game smartly.  What are the rules?  Well, you can find them most anywhere online with a quick Google Search, but we’ll provide three crucial ones here.  Just remember, if you can check each of these boxes, you’ve got one foot in the door and a leg up on candidates who don’t know how to play the game.

1. Have a great resume.  Find an excellent resume to use as an example, and model your resume after it, if necessary, using your own personal information and job experience, of course.  Your resume needs structure.  It should fit on one page, unless you have numerous publications.  Your resume should be professional.  No matter how suited you are for the job, recruiters won’t know if your resume is confusing, grammatically incorrect, or poorly laid out. Most importantly, your short and long-term goals - and how your goals can benefit an employer, should be easily identifiable.

2. Be findable.  When we say findable, we mean findable online.  You need a professional LinkedIn and Facebook profile with prominent contact information.  When you Google your name, these profiles should appear in the search results. Even better if you a have a blog about your profession or industry, or even about a hobby that shows you to be a well-rounded, committed individual.  Basically, in the days of the Internet, if you’re not findable online, recruiters won’t find you.  Treat yourself like a business, and develop a positive online presence.

3. Be warm.  Being warm might be one of the biggest indicators of career success.  Know how to relate to people on a human level, communicate empathy, and be genuine.  Not everyone will be the loudest talker in the room, but you can find your own way to communicate understanding and intelligence.

If you can master an excellent resume, a positive online presence, and warmth, you're much closer to a great job and a fulfilling career.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Wish for You This Holiday Season.

May you fully absorb all the lights and good cheer
Like you did as a child, near the end of each year
When the simplest gifts were the ones you most treasured
And time spent with friends was how each day was measured.
May traditions recapture your best childhood moments
May your gifts all arrive with no missing components.
May you welcome the New Year by staying up late
And celebrate the new opportunities you’ll create!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Five Common Scenes from the Office During the Holidays

1. You play White Elephant.  One co-worker brings a framed photograph of Burt Reynolds; another co-worker brings one of those infomercial devices for which you clap once to turn on the lights, and twice to turn them off.  Someone inevitably brings an enormous holiday-themed can of popcorn.  The lucky players end up with an iTunes or Starbucks gift card in the amount of the price limit you set.  The unluckiest ends up with a used company sweatshirt.

2. You get at least 10 emails per week that read something like this:  “Hey guys. I’ve got a whole box full of leftover peanut brittle at my desk. Come get it at Cubicle 37.”  Or, “Christmas cookies in the kitchen. Help yourselves!”  You manage to restrain yourself until around 11am, until which time you give in and eat the sweets. Yum!

3. Cubicle decorating.  We all have at least one co-worker who loves to decorate.  Perpetually spirited, they deck the halls – or, fabric walls – with garland, lights, and greeting cards.  They buy miniature trees to adorn their desks.  They fill bowls with shiny-wrapped candy, and they bring reindeer-topped cupcakes to work.  You look at your own somewhat bare desk and wonder why you didn’t think to purchase one of those rosemary plants trimmed in the shape of a tree.  You go to the spirited cube-decorator with a work-related question just so you can hang out in his or her cube.

4. Christmas sweater wearers.  They are not going to a tacky Christmas sweater party.  They are not joking.  They are simply being their festive selves.  Red-nosed reindeer embroidery, jingle bell earrings, and all.

5. Days before the office officially closes for the holidays, you experience dead silence.  Many people have left early for vacation.  You either feel you, too, should not be at work, or you may take the opportunity to get a lot done with few distractions.  Either way, you work with the lovely anticipation of time off about to start!

Happy Holiday Season from our workplace to yours!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Firms Feel Pain From Healthcare Law

More uncertainty and scrambling from firms as they prepare to implement the new healthcare law.  The only certain effects are increased costs and administrative burdens, according to this article from Wall Street Journal.

A few takes from the article:
  • Companies are hiring more consultants (20% more) to help them sort through the new mandates and enormous volume of paperwork as well as comprehend the 2,400 pages of the document.
  • In 2018, a tax kicks in on employers with plans whose costs exceed certain levels.  Firms like software maker SAS Institute Inc are shifting costs to employees in order to get under the threshold.
  • An Ernst & Young survey of 381 executives found that 31% of executives are most concerned about compliance with the law, while 16% are most concerned about their preparedness to comply.
Firms must wait in the dark about additional coming changes, as well as their financial and cultural implications, while regulators continue to shape other aspects of the law.

We predict more firms choosing staffing companies to ease the burden of these new administrative- and healthcare-associated costs.

Do you think firms are prepared to handle the new health law? Do you think these changes are for the better, or worse?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bosses' Small Gestures Send Big Signals

From the Wall Street Journal, this article explains why bosses must be extra aware of their behavior.  So many eyes are on these leaders that even the smallest gestures – of which bosses may not even be aware – affect and influence others.

We have some thoughts about this!  But bear with us for a second.

A high level executive walks down the hall and passes a few subordinates.  She doesn’t know them well and is in a hurry, so she doesn’t make eye contact.  These employees DO know her, and they spend the rest of the day wondering what they did to earn her disapproval.

Or she wears her scarf arranged in a bow, and the next day several employees are wearing their scarves the exact same way.


Basically, if you’re a boss, you have influence you may not even be aware of – but you should be, because you can use that influence to help or harm.

We completely agree.  But we’d take it a step further.  It isn’t only high-level management or big bosses who need to be concerned with their behavior and realize it’s affect on others.

We are all the influencers of someone.  We are all being watched.  People notice the
tiniest details, yet we so often forget this fact.  What we wear, how hard we work, the quality of our work, whether or not we smile and say hi, complain, compliment others, arrive on time, what we eat for lunch - it’s all quite noticeable and assists your co-workers, bosses, employees, and colleagues in forming opinions about who you are.

Every single day presents constant opportunities to be a positive influencer.  To act in ways which earn your self-respect and the respect of others.  The best way to lead is by example.  If you set a good example, you naturally become a leader, whether you realize it or not.

Who do you try to influence? Is there anyone in your life for whom you strive to be a good example?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

To Extend or Not to Extend

The White House and Congress have been trying to reach a consensus over whether or not to extend two things: unemployment benefits and Bush-era tax cuts.  As has been the case with much of the legislative discussions during a “divided” time, the two issues are apparently contingent upon each other, rather than the needs of the nation.


But we digress.  Here, today, we’re focusing on the pros and cons of extending unemployment benefits.  Here’s what we’ve come up with.

PRO: Anyone who has been out of work for an extended period of time understands how scary it would be to know the one lifeline you have to paying your bills and taking care of your loved ones is about to go away.  Throw in a recession with a poor employment outlook, and amplify that fear accordingly.

CON: Are we, by continuing to pay unemployment, encouraging these long-term unemployed individuals to stay that way rather than accept a lower-paying job?

PRO: Money we give to the unemployed will be spent quickly and put back into the economy immediately… which is a good thing, at least in the interim, for the economy.

CON: The mental health and self-esteem of people who go for long stretches of time without some type of full time job suffers.  Even if the job is something simple, just having a purpose can make a big difference.

CON: Are we looking at a repeat of the 1970s, where people stayed on welfare for decades?

CON: The US government doesn’t have any money to pay these benefits with.  We’ll likely borrow and add to our national debt.

PRO: Unlike previous and current Washington D.C. expenditures, at least with unemployment benefits, we know where the money is going – to people, goods, and services that may keep our economy from getting worse.

Or will it?  It seems cruel to take this lifeline away from good people in unfortunate situations and an unfortunate economy.  Yet people have a way of becoming resourceful when they’re required to do so.   And nothing inspires creativity like rock bottom.  If passiveness got us into this situation, maybe only proactive determination will get us out.

What do you think? Should Congress extend unemployment benefits?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Five Sure Ways to Stay Motivated at Work

1. Make a list of the tasks you want to accomplish each new day.  Make each task specific and doable, not vague and over-reaching (think, “research the latest industry trends and compile a rough list,” not “do industry trends report”).  Put little boxes beside each item on the list.  This is where your checkmark will go when you’ve completed each task.  You’ll feel great as you put a checkmark in each box, trust us!  At the end of the day, even if your inbox is full, your checklist is in order, and you’ll feel good about what you’ve accomplished.

2. Drink water. We know it sounds too simple, but drinking water while you work keeps you awake, makes you feel better physically and mentally, and actually keeps you in shape!  All of these things make you a more motivated worker.

3. Always, always have something in your life you look forward to.  Also known as a reward.  Don’t expect or wait for others to reward you.  Rewards from bosses, like trust and promotions, do come, as part of the long-term payoff of hard work.  But everyone needs a little instant gratification.  So you fill your life with fun things, and keep these in the back of your mind as you work.   Work solid for two hours, then browse your favorite blog for a few minutes.  Work hard during the day, knowing you’re going to try an awesome new restaurant that night, or watch a movie with your family.  Work hard during the week, and you’ll enjoy the weekend trip you have planned so much more, because you really earned it.  Take responsibility for filling your life with simple pleasures, and you’ll be a happier, more motivated person!

4. Write your own obituary and keep it in your desk for reference.  This admittedly strange-sounding activity only takes a few minutes if you use your intuition and don’t over think it.  When you write your obituary, you’ll discover what you truly hope to accomplish in life.  What you want others to say about you when you’re gone, what you want them to remember you for, and what your life’s work should be.  Each day, in everything that you think, do, and say, keep this obituary in mind and strive to support your sincerest hopes and dreams for the person you would like to be.

5. Imagine yourself without a job.  Your own job doesn’t seem so bad now, right?  You may love, hate, or feel somewhere in the middle about your job.  You never know what exciting new and different places your career has in store for you.  But today, you have a paycheck, and a place to be each morning, and people counting on you.  To imagine yourself without these things is to be grateful for them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The 0.7% Non-Solution by CFO Magazine

CFO Magazine recently published an article by Scott Leibs entitled The 0.7% Non-Solution.

0.7% being the percentage of CFOs who expect their companies to hire new full-time employees during the next 12 months.  It’s a dismal number, and if we’re counting on this number as our hope for improved employment in the United States, well, we shouldn’t put all our eggs in that basket.

People need work, and companies need workers.  Because they aren’t able to hire, the employees they do have are stretched thin, being forced to pick up the gaping slack left by layoffs and hiring freezes.  Meanwhile, a company’s people are everything.  How well can companies grow, if their workforces can’t grow with them?

Survey numbers released by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business point to an alternative solution.  CFOs’ expected percentage of outsourced jobs steadily rose from 2.5% in September 2009 to 5.5% in June 2010.  By enlisting the help of a staffing agency to streamline processes, handle administrative tasks, and manage employees, companies continue to hire, and people continue to work.

We, like Scott Liebs, hope that 0.7% rises.  In the meantime, we should absolutely drive 9.6% - the current rate of unemployment – down.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us the Most

It's not money.

RSA presented this entertaining video.  As the video demonstrates, obviously money can be an incentive, but research (from Carnegie Mellon, University of Chicago, and MIT) shows that money is only an incentive in the short term, and mainly for rudimentary tasks that involve little cognitive effort.

For example, workers performing simple, repetitive tasks will work harder and faster, if money is the prize for top performers.

But workers who rely on critical thinking and creativity to do their jobs actually perform poorer when green carrots are dangled in front of their noses, according to research.

Why is this?

The only way workers can channel the ideas and thought processes that help them accomplish big things - the sort of things that have a true impact in their companies and on society - is by being engaged.  And engagement comes from genuine interest in ownership, autonomy, and mastery of a skill.

This engagement is called intrinsic motivation.  It exists in all of us, as human beings.  If properly harnessed - and this is the true challenge - it is the most powerful incentive available to employers and employees.  Intrinsic motivation is HR's utopian dream.

Still, why would money detract from that? Can't employees be simultaneously intrinsically and monetarily motivated?

The video doesn't address that question in depth, but here are our thoughts:

Yes and no.  Employees must receive enough money to live comfortably, taking the issue of money off the table.  When A) a worker isn't paid enough, or B) money is used to try to control the creative process, money then becomes a distraction from the task at hand.  The worker is either A) thinking he must find a different task to pay his bills, or, B) derailed from the most effective incentive - accomplishing the task itself.

Businesses whose models tap into intrinsic motivation quite possibly have the most productive and fulfilled employees.

What motivates you? We'd love to hear your comments.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Wish for You This Thanksgiving

May your work place be filled with excellent cooks
So your potlucks inspire hungry looks
May your trip home to family be safe and sound
And your scales never waver (not even a pound!)
May this time off restore your happiest attitude
May your life blessings inspire your deepest gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Candidate Bill of Rights

Last week we touched on recruiters and hiring managers, and what exactly makes (or doesn’t make) for a good job candidate experience.

On that same note, Recruiter.com recently partnered with Monster to host RecruitFest. We liked Gerry Crispin’s ideas about the importance of the job candidate’s experience.

Crispin stresses reliance on underlying principles as guidelines for creating hiring processes. His 10 Employer Promises for Delivering a World-Class Candidate Experience include consideration – for example, thanking all applicants for their interest, regardless of qualifications, and following up with each and every applicant – and transparency – for example, providing actual contact information in all open posted positions, and screening candidates in order to stop unqualified candidates from wasting their time completing the entire application.

What benefits do we see in spending the time, money, and effort to create this quality experience? Both employer and candidate experiences are crucial to our success as a staffing solutions provider. By being honest with and taking the extra steps to properly screen candidates, we don’t just save job applicants time; we save ourselves time in the long run. Our applicants per job may be fewer, but we’re able to provide more targeted matches for employers.

Finally, whether we’re recruiters, employers, or job-seekers, we’re all job candidates at different points throughout our lives. We should strive to provide others with the type of application and interview processes we appreciate ourselves.

What sort of considerations do you appreciate as a candidate for employment?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Job Creation at the Heart of the G20 Summit

Unemployment in the Group of 20 leading world economies nears 8% of the total workforce, according to the International Labor Market.  With that statistic in mind, let’s take a look at the G20 Communique that took place last Friday.

What do our global leaders prescribe for an ailing economy?

They’re going to:

put jobs at the heart of the recovery, to provide social protection, decent work and also to ensure accelerated growth in low income countries (LICs)…

implement a range of structural reforms that boost and sustain global demand, foster job creation, and increase the potential for growth…

promote resilience, job creation and mitigate risks for development, [by] prioritiz[ing] action under the Seoul Consensus on addressing critical bottlenecks, including infrastructure deficits, food market volatility, and exclusion from financial services…

further strengthen the global economy, accelerate job creation, ensure more stable financial markets, narrow the development gap and promote broadly shared growth beyond crisis…


1. G20 leaders recognize a need for job creation.
2. Brevity as wit is not highly valued in government.

We are left with four paragraphs about job creation, and no specific plans or detailed action items.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Focus on What You Can Control, and Be Confident.

Here’s a topic that applies to all of us: employees, managers, recruiters, and CEOs.

Ere.net recently published an article about hiring confidently.  It struck a chord because, as discussed in the previous post, not all employers are hiring confidently, and not all people are acting confidently in our uncertain economic times.

In fact, uncertainty and challenge can bring out the worst in people, cause them to abandon their principles, and do things they wouldn’t have otherwise done, such as in the case of the hiring manager in Ere.net’s article, who told each of her interviewees if it were up to her, she wouldn’t hire anyone.

Think of how her statement affected those job seekers.  Maybe they too became a little less confident in the market, the company, or themselves.

As the article mentions, the hiring manager’s doubt probably spoke to a company hiring process and policy she didn’t trust.

But whether or not she trusted the policy, deep down she knows she was wrong to spread the doubt to her interviewees.  In a perfect world, her company’s choices shouldn’t change her principles.  She should remain professional under any and all circumstances.  She likely can’t control her company’s hiring process, but she can control her reaction to it.

On another level, what made her mistrust her company’s hiring process?  Did the company have a plan in place that didn’t reflect the needs of the current economic environment?  Or was the hiring process also not based on principles, but a reaction to fear brought on by the recession?  We can only speculate.  But the hiring manager’s feelings suggest something was amiss.

The lesson here is to accept uncertainty, focus on what you can control, and use the knowledge you do possess to make principle-based decisions.  If you’re a company, hire fairly and wisely.  If you’re a hiring manager, represent your company (and yourself) well by sticking to the facts and withholding negative opinions.  And if you’re an interviewee, put your best face forward and know, with confidence, that when you put forth the effort and stick to your principles, you will succeed.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree that sticking to principles brings about inner confidence? What are some important attributes of a confident employer or employee, in your opinion?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Temporary employment in the United States is up. What does that mean?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released its Current Employment Statistics Highlights for October 2010.  Changes in temporary help tend to be a leading indicator of changes in employment overall.  And temp help is way up.

What are some possible reasons for an increase in temporary help?  Well, the increase could be merely part of the cyclical ebb and flow in business.  More likely, the increase points to a secular shift, due to several factors.

First, healthcare reform.  Employers hesitate to commit to the increasing legal and administrative responsibility involved with full-time employees.

Second, the economy.  Business leaders are unsure about how the economic recovery will unfold.

Finally, this past summer saw jobs coming back to the United States from overseas.  And that trend most certainly accounts for the current increase in U.S. labor demand, temporary or otherwise.

What do you think?  Why is the demand for temporary workers up? What does that increase say about overall employment in the United States?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How Will Healthcare Reform Affect Businesses?

How will healthcare reform affect companies?  We won’t really know until January 1, 2014, when all aspects of the Healthcare Reform bill are set into motion.

How will healthcare reform affect your company?  The answer remains to be seen, but depends on your level of proactivity in strategizing your company's future.

One thing is certain.  If you have over fifty employees, Healthcare Reform will affect you.  Quite a bit.  CEOs are starting to talk about the financial implications – and their inevitable effect on company culture.

Here are some important facts top executives must consider.

1.  If your company employs at least 50 part- or full-time workers, you won’t be required to offer them insurance, strictly speaking.  But if you don’t, and at least one of your full-time employees gets a government subsidy for health insurance, you must pay a $2000 fee for every one of your full-time employees.

2.  If your business offers coverage, you will still have to take extra action to help low- or middle-income workers who want to purchase their own insurance.  You must provide a free choice voucher equal to what your firm would have offered via the company plan.  This voucher applies to employees who make less than 400 percent of the poverty level, which is about $10,800 for an individual and $22,000 for a family of four.

3.  If you employ over 200 people, you must auto-enroll your workers in the plan.

4.  Fees and penalties are not tax deductible.

5.  In addition, insurance benefits must be listed on employees’ W-2 Forms, and you will need to understand complexities such as each employee's entire household income.  The new healthcare law is complex, and the burden of compliance and administration falls on the employer.

With these and other considerations in mind, top executives have taken their heads out of the sand. They're looking the facts in the eye, and developing realistic strategies so that their businesses thrive amid the coming change.

What sort of considerations is your company making with regards to the new health care system?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Let's Start a Dialogue Around Healthcare Reform.

Healthcare reform is happening.  We know there'll be financial implications affecting all of us: individuals, families, businesses, and corporations.

Whether your company chooses to ignore the coming change, or come up with a strategy to tackle challenges head on, could mean the success or failure of your business.  It's the difference between a company that passively lets things happen to it, and one that takes the reins.  None of us can perfectly predict the future, but we'd like to start a dialogue around healthcare reform, its financial implications, and how those implications may change your company culture.