Friday, July 8, 2011

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Death of Vocational Education. Insight from Brian Robinson, President & CEO of TRC Staffing Services, Inc.

I grew up during the 70’s and 80’s in a typical suburban neighborhood outside of Atlanta.  During that time, Marietta, Georgia was one of the fastest growing areas in the Country.  My elementary school was growing so quickly, I went to a brand new school by the time I was in third grade.  It was the same way in high school as well; my freshman year I was on a split schedule due to overcrowding and the following year, I had to go to a brand new school built to accommodate the growth.

Looking back on school during that period of time, certain changes stand out to me.  One is cigarette smoking in school. Yes, you heard me correctly. During my first year of high school, kids could get their parents to sign a permission slip to smoke on campus.  The following year, smoking wasn’t allowed. It still amazes me that kids were allowed to smoke at school back then.  Today, an adult is hardly allowed to smoke in public!

The other big change I witnessed was the loss of focus on Vocational Education.  The older kids in my neighborhood would always talk about going to classes like wood work, drafting and machine shop. But, when I got to high school, the only way to take those classes was to take a bus for half the day to another school in the county.  The schools were focusing on college prep rather than vocational skills, and at the time it really didn’t seem like a big deal.  Today, however I think we have a huge problem brewing in the American workforce.

The training gap in the U.S workforce is recognizable to most staffing professionals.  We spend a large part of our time helping clients find “people that are hard to find.”  Usually, this means a degreed professional like an accountant or engineer.  But, more and more, I am seeing skilled blue collar workers fall into the “hard-to-find” category.  When I say skilled blue collar workers, I mean maintenance techs, plumbers, tool builders, welders, and operators trained on specific machines.   When I talk to folks about this problem, many times they seem surprised.  But, word is getting out. Just google “skilled workers in the US” and plenty of items will come up regarding this issue.

What does this mean?  If you are a policy maker in the government, this is a huge opportunity to get unemployed people working again.  We have jobs that are OPEN!  But these jobs can only be filled with people with specific skills.  We need to train people to possess the real skill sets companies are looking for.  If you want to know what these jobs are, just ask your nearest staffing professional.

If you are unemployed or not happy with your job, there are opportunities.  More and more technical schools are offering programs in these sought-after fields.  If you get a degree or certification in one of these skills, you will become sought after and will separate yourself.    Today, a worker with a hard-to-find skill set will set his own wage.  You will be able to do this no matter what happens with China and India, because as far as I can tell, no one from China is going to fix my leaking pipes in Atlanta, Georgia.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Enjoy your July 4 weekend with family and friends, and remember the hard work that created our country in the first place and gained its independence!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Should you let your employees telework?

Should your company offer employees the option to telework? That depends.

1. Does the nature of your work lend itself to working remotely?

2. Do you want to compete for the best talent? According to a recent study at WorldatWork, almost 80% of employees would like the option to telework at least part of the time, and the war for talent is escalating.

3. Do you want to reduce your company’s carbon footprint?

4. Do you believe less stress and time consumed commuting will lead to higher productivity?

5. Do you include telecommuting skills (self-reliant, self-motivated, collaborative, communicative, able to handle ambiguity) in your job requirements?  Looking for employees with the ability to work virtually will prevent lost productivity and turnover.

6. Do you know the indicators of employees with good telecommuting skills (previous successful experience, personality tests)?  Based on U.S. Census data, 61% more employees considered home their primary place of work in 2009 than in 2005.  As more companies offer telework, more employees will acquire these skills.

7. Does your company favor a culture of trust, over the old carrot and sticks method of motivating people?

If you answered yes to these questions, your company, your bottom line, and those of us who do have to drive to work (in traffic) may benefit from you offering your employees the option to telecommute.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Growing Demand for IT Talent

As we touched on earlier this week, competition for IT skills and talent is high and growing.  Companies of all types and sizes increasingly rely on technology for so many aspects of their business – from marketing to fulfillment.  As technology advances almost daily, it can be difficult to find employees who understand it – how to use it, how to fix it when it breaks, how to exploit it.

Companies need developers with a holistic understanding of technology.  Those who know multiple languages and platforms – in particular, desktops, mobile, and cloud (here’s why).  The job-seeker with both IT skills and business knowledge is even more desirable to employers.  IT is now an integral part of business strategy, and employees who understand the larger picture add the most value.

As a business owner, how can you attract and retain this talent?  If you’re a smaller business, you have the advantage of offering rapid advancement opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded job-seekers.  Whatever size your company, you’ll need to be prepared to offer competitive salaries, varying depending on whether your technology is front and center to customers, or more back-end.

TRC Professional Solutions locates and qualifies the best IT candidates across a wide spectrum of IT fields for employers in Atlanta, GainesvilleBirmingham, Dallas, Austin, Tampa, Sarasota, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Columbia, Souderton and other cities across the U.S.  To learn more about our information technology staffing services, visit our site.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How Do We Fix Unemployment?

How do we fix unemployment?

According to politicians, the answer is create jobs.  Some politicians get elected to office on the promise of creating X number of jobs.  The reality is, though we know politicians would love to create jobs, they cannot deliver on their promise in an immediate and sustainable fashion.  No one can create jobs.  Jobs evolve out of need.  And need comes from ingenuity.  These politicians could sit at their desks and play on Facebook for their entire terms and jobs would still be “created” where there’s a need.

The other truth is, companies and businesses don’t want more jobs.  They want more money.  If they expand their products and services to make more money, which then leads to more jobs, everyone wins.  But opportunity for profit comes first; not jobs for the sake of jobs.

This is common sense, right? So what’s the reason for unemployment?

The answer: there’s a worker supply and demand disconnect.  The United States is still the #1 manufacturer in the world (though China will probably surpass us this year).  But thanks to rapidly changing technology, factories rely on expensive precision equipment to produce, rather than simple manual labor.  Employees must possess at minimum basic math skills, and most need advanced technical training.

Yet, roughly 80 million Americans – that’s 40% of the adult population (over age 25) – are undereducated.  Not only are these Americans not getting the education they need to fill the jobs available, but many companies no longer spend the resources to train employees.  Companies want employees to come in experienced and ready to work.

To mend the gap in skills available and skills required, Americans need to become aware of the skills needed and train themselves accordingly.  This Recession has been notorious for the white collar workers it’s affected, but the largest spike in unemployment came from the undereducated.

Friday, June 17, 2011

“I own a staffing company… how will [healthcare laws] affect my industry?”

The discussion continues on healthcare and how the new law will affect companies and business owners.

For example, we came across this forum thread, in which the owner of a staffing firm wrote “I own a staffing company… how will this affect my industry?”

Forum responses to that question ranged from helpful to heated.  No one can predict the exact effects healthcare legislation will have on staffing companies or other types of companies.  However, a new statistic says one in three companies may choose to pay the 8% payroll tax rather than offer the type of healthcare required by the new law.  The new law will force us to change the way we do things, administratively speaking.  The financial and cultural implications could be enormous.

Here’s what we do know.  Companies must adhere to the new law.  And United States citizens must have access to quality healthcare.  It will be especially important to well-verse ourselves in the administrative aspects required by the new law.  Understanding the ins and outs of the requirements will help us formulate the most strategic plan for accomplishing these challenges while making a profit.

We’ve hashed out some of the bottom-line facts here and also throughout this blog.

Are you thinking about how the new healthcare law will affect your company?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2011 Global CIO Insights Studies by IBM

Whether you’re a company leader in a position to make spending decisions, or a job-seeker looking to make yourself marketable, you might be interested in the 2011 Global CIO Insights Studies by IBM.  You can view the summary PDFs, or register (it’s free) to access the full insights, or if you’re in a hurry, below are a few highlights from the Midmarket Study.  The study measures where small and mid-sized companies, which make up more than 90% of companies worldwide, plan to invest in the area of technology.

If you're an information technology professional, focusing your attention to the following areas may prove beneficial to your career or company.

Key areas for technology investment are:

1. Business Intelligence and Analytics.  Eighty-three percent of companies surveyed plan to invest in innovate ways to analyze company data and use those insights for the betterment of their companies.

2. Cloud computing.  Companies (in both the mid study and overall study) are fifty percent more likely to spend money on cloud computing than they were two years ago.  Cloud-based hardware and software resources are thought to provide flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

3. Mobile computing.  Seventy-two percent of companies plan to spend on mobile technology.  This number isn’t surprising, since mobile phone use is overtaking PC and laptop use.  It makes sense to invest in harnessing this technology.

Where does your company plan to invest?

TRC Staffing Services specializes in job placement services in the field of information technology. Interested parties may visit our Information Technology Solutions webpage.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Make Better Decisions, Get Ahead (Recession or not)

Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked. – Warren Buffett

We saw plenty of companies and businesses go under when the Recession and its wave of crises hit.  Yet amid the chaos, we saw others survive and still others thrive.

What makes some companies sink and others become paralyzed, while still others choose the most “perilous” conditions to take their biggest risks?

The companies, and in fact, the individuals, that thrive during difficult times have in common: 1.) preparedness and 2.) smart decision-making skills and 3. the realization that the best time to make growth-driving decisions is when other companies are distracted, confused, or just plain scared.

Preparedness requires paying attention to facts, anticipating, and being ready for possibilities.  For example, healthcare legislation requires big changes and confuses many.  Leaders who value preparedness aren’t sticking their heads in the sand while they wait for the changes to come upon them.  They’re examining the facts, uncertain and shifting as those facts may be, and developing strategies to accommodate those changes.  They will certainly have to revise their strategies as they go, but they can do so more nimbly having prepared for the worst.

As for smart decision making, there’re lots of theories about minimizing flaws in decision making.  Anyone who’s read Blink knows how confirmation bias, anchoring, and loss aversion can influence decision makers.  Simply being aware of our human tendencies, however, isn’t enough to correct them.  What can we do then, to minimize the damage our human biases inflict, and maximize effective decision-making?

According to this article in the Harvard Business Review, the answer lies not in minimizing biases in your decisions – but in minimizing biases in the decisions of those around you.  Being a leader and helping others make smart decisions, in other words.

Once you’re prepared and skilled at decision making, the risks suddenly aren’t as risky.

Curious about your own decision-making skills?  Take this quick quiz for executive decision makers, provided by McKinsey & Company.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Huge Trends that Affect the Way You Hire.

Business and the workforce have changed drastically in only 5 years.  There’s been a lot going on, to say the least.  We want to point out a few factors, in particular, that are affecting companies’ hiring – besides the obvious economic factors that are causing many to simply not hire.  We want to point out a few trends that affect how you hire.

First, the housing market.  What hasn’t it touched?  But one way in particular the housing market has affected hiring is that employees simply aren’t as mobile.  Many sought-after candidates are tied to their homes, unwilling or unable to sell in such a weak market.  Those candidates will either need to be compensated greatly for relocating, recruited to companies close to them, or work remotely.  So companies looking to hire will save money by choosing from a local pool of candidates, or relying on recruiters and staffing agencies to do the work of sifting through the candidate pool to match companies with workers who are either local or able to relocate without financial strain.

Second, gas prices.  If we were to just scrape the surface, companies may have to negotiate with employees, as workers demand higher pay to compensate for cost of commuting.  A more efficient way to compensate for soaring gas prices is to hire candidates in closer proximity to work.  In some cases, companies may also offer the option to telework.

Third, social media.  Brands are no longer shaped solely by company advertising.  Consumers shape brands, through social media.  Word of mouth has long been considered the most effective advertising.  Social media is word of mouth on steroids.  Big, global steroids.  Your employment brand is equally susceptible to employees’ and job-seekers’ perception of it.  Their perception will help shape your brand.  How does this affect your hiring practices?  Well, you’ll have to be transparent and authentic about the way you represent your company and your job descriptions.  Any misrepresentations or “sugar-coating” can easily be invalidated by employees who’ve experienced otherwise.  And of course, the best thing you can do for your employment brand is provide a positive and consistent employee and job-candidate experience, so people have mostly good things to say about you.  Because what they say, will be heard.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mixed Messages on the Job Front

The Bad News.

The ADP Report for May was disappointing, with only 38,000 private sector jobs added – a drastic drop from the 177,000 jobs added in April, and less than one-fourth the increase estimated by analysts.  The drop immediately prompted a selloff ending in the Dow Jones down 279 points.

In addition, the Bureau of Economic Analysis states despite the fact that income growth had looked to be accelerating, in reality, real disposable income barely grew over the past three quarters.  The three-quarter growth string is: 1.0%, 1.1%, and 0.8%.  Not good.

And while the GDP report shows profits for U.S. businesses jumping 8.5%, compensation for employees doesn’t reflect this increase.  Nationally, nominal compensation to employees only increased 3.7%.

Finally, in the past week, unemployment filings jumped from 324,000 to 424,000.  Anything above 400,000 is viewed as indicative of a weak labor market.

The Good News.

IT employment increased by 5,000 jobs in April.  The IT Executive Outlook survey reported 36% of IT companies plant to hire, and 41% plan to hire long-term employees.

And, one state in particular has shown steady, long-term growth.  Texas has added 732,800 private sector jobs in the last 10 years, including over 250,000 in the last year.  Not coincidentally, Texas was rated favorably by CEOs in the Chief Executive survey as having high labor market flexibility, a small government, and weak unions.

Other states with promising growth include Arizona, Utah, North Dakota, Washington, and Virginia.

*Interested clients and job seekers may contact TRC Staffing Services at our Austin and Dallas Texas locations.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

This Memorial Day Weekend, we hope you go outside, enjoy the summer, spend time with loved ones, and take time to truly honor those who served. Happy Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

LinkedIn a Valuable Tool for Staffing Firms

With LinkedIn shares soaring, there’s been discussion on the web about the possibility of LinkedIn taking the place of recruiters and staffing firms.  After, all, LinkedIn is an index of sorts for employees’ professional profiles.

However, to consider LinkedIn a replacement for recruiters is, as one commenter put it, like saying a toolbox can replace your mechanic.

Technology is constantly changing, and just as the emergence of job boards couldn’t replace the people needed to assess fit and act as an agent for both parties, neither can LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, or any non-human technologies to follow.

LinkedIn makes finding people easier, but who calls to solicit interest?  What about passive job seekers – often the most desirable performers – who don’t make it known they are searching, but have to be sought out?

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other online mediums are all tools for recruiters.  They make matching the right workers with the right clients and the right job descriptions speedier and more accurate.  The staffing firms and HR departments who leverage these online technologies are contributing to a Culture of Speed, which is key to helping businesses – our clients – succeed.

At the end of the day, nothing can replace the face-to-face networking and relationships built on trust the very best staffing firms create with job seekers and employers.  We know you, and we know who will be a good fit.  Not even eHarmony can claim success rate like ours.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New ADA Regulations Take Effect May 24, 2011. Is your company prepared?

New new ADA regulations, issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, will change disability in the workplace.

The term “disabled” will apply to more employees with a broader range of impairments, and make it easier for employees to establish protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What qualifies as a disability?  The same definition applies: “a physical of mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record (or past history) of such an impairment; or being regarded as having a disability.”  The change is how the new law interprets this definition.  For example, an impairment does not have to severely restrict performance to be considered a disability.  As another example, conditions that aren’t necessarily impairments except when active, such as epilepsy or cancer in remission, are considered disabilities whether active or not.

In addition, “major life activities” include, among others, eating, standing, thinking, communicating, and sleeping as well as major bodily functions.

How will the new regulations affect employers?  Employers will no longer focus on whether or not an employee is “disabled.”  Instead employers will focus on ensuring the proper accommodations are in place for these disabilities.

To ensure your company is in compliance with the new regulations:

1. Make sure all job descriptions full list all essential job functions.
2. Review policies and employee handbooks to make sure they are consistent with the ADAAA.
3. Review applications for anything that might be interpreted as an inquiry about an applicant’s disability.
4. Document all employment actions involving a disabled (or formerly disabled) employee.

Friday, May 13, 2011

What’s the very best way to retain top performers?

What do companies do to retain top performers? recently summed up a report from Buck Consultants, in which survey respondents reported using the following strategies to engage their workforces.

New career development opportunities  41%
Market pay adjustments  30%
Larger base pay increases  24%
Larger bonus opportunities  21%
More non-cash recognition  18%
Additional company stock  13%
Accelerated or off-cycle base pay increases  5%
Accelerated promotions  4%
Greater retention bonuses  2%
Other  7%
None of the above  31%

The fact is, the best way to retain top talent is to pay for it.  But what are some other ways to retain top employees?

1. Treat employees like customers, selling them on culture, respecting them, serving them as you expect them to serve you, and interacting with them to make sure they’re happy.  Listen to their feedback so you can address it. You can do this with anonymous employee surveys but make sure you listen to them in person as well…which brings us to number 2.

2. Have supportive management.  If you believe success comes from the top down, you know management must buy in to your company culture and be mentors to your employees - not just productivity drivers.

3. Have a culture that truly encourages personal growth.  Let employees try things outside the scope of their usual job description.  Most of your employees have a bigger dream their current positions, and if your company helps align those goals with the company’s goals, you have a win-win situation.

A good culture is essential, but nothing without the money.  After all, that’s why we go to work instead of honing our own personal projects in our basements or in coffee shops.  So make sure your pay rates keep up with inflation, your top performers get the regular raises they deserve, and you offer other financial perks and benefits.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Effects of Rising Gas Prices

Currently, Americans are struggling while paying more than $4.00 per gallon, yet Exxon Mobile just announced a 69% boost in earnings.  We don’t get it either.  We do know that rising gas prices threaten our recovery from the recession and our ability to put Americans back to work.

Here’s a to-the-point, albeit obvious, breakdown of how rising gas prices and resulting inflation affect workers, companies, and staffing agencies.


Here’s a quote from a contractor that sums up some problems many in the workforce, particularly contractors, are facing.

As an independent contractor who frequently travels to different customer locations, rising gas prices have definitely affected how I do business. Where I used to take clients within a one hour driving distance, I now only drive within a 20 mile radius. I generally only work a few hours at a time and often after I have paid for gas and childcare it is just not worth it. I have had to find ways to make extra money from home and eventually I may stop my job that involves commuting. It is hard to believe that in January of 2001, just ten years ago, that the average US gas price was only $1.37 a gallon.

Workers are not only paying more for groceries and every other item whose cost goes up with gas prices; their commute to work now costs more, which is essentially like a paycut.  Workers may invest in more fuel efficient cars, carpool, switch jobs to work closer to home, or demand more pay from their current employers.


Companies, too, pay more for parts and materials, production, and transportation. They must make up for the extra costs in some way, whether they become more efficient, cut back, or pass the costs on to their customers.


Staffing agencies, like any other company, feel the effects of rising fuel costs – from sales’ transportation costs as they visit new clients, to workers demanding (understandably) higher pay from our clients.

Staffing companies will play an important role in helping to bridge gaps and minimize the negative effects of high fuel prices.  For example, by streamlining placement processes so that workers are easily placed with companies close to them, we can minimize their cost to commute, and help offset the fact that clients aren’t keen on paying more for services when their own budgets may be pinched.

Bottom line is, rising fuel costs affect everyone, but companies who think strategically and plan for the worst case scenario will fare better than the competition.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recent Grads Flocking to Temp Agencies

Recent grads are flocking to temp agencies.  And companies are then scooping them up.

Recent college graduates, with degrees ranging from engineering and technical to the humanities, are having trouble finding permanent positions in their field.  Rather than remain unemployed while searching, smart job seekers are applying for temporary positions, gaining relevant experience that will give them a leg up on other recent graduates.

Companies are benefiting from the trend.  Using temporary workers allows them to fill in their gaps with talented workers, when workload surges.  If the increase in production demand holds steady, and they decide to hire full-time employees, these companies have a pool of talent to pull from.  They can choose employees who have already proven themselves within the company as being capable and reliable.

One thing is certain.  If you’re a hiring manager looking to bring on a new employee, and you’re choosing between a fresh-out-of-college graduate with no experience, and a fresh-out-of-college graduate with relevant work experience, it’s obvious which applicant you’ll choose.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reaction to Osama's Killing

Upon the news that Osama had been killed by U.S. forces, thousands of people celebrated in the streets, voiced their approval via Twitter and Facebook, and conversed about the seemingly unbelievable news over coffee, in the vegetable isle, or at the post office.  Overall, there was a general sense of celebration, even elation, which had some wondering whether it’s ethical to celebrate any death, even that of an evil villain.

We don’t think most people were rejoicing over a murder so much as rejoicing over something that has needed to happen for a long, long time.  The death of the face of terrorism since September 11 brings much-needed closure to our country and its people, who, in realty, have suffered a rough time economically and spiritually – between Death, War, and Recession, ever since the 2001 attack.

Which brings us to a question.  Could this long-awaited justice give the U.S. the boost in morale it has needed all along to move on, economically and otherwise?  As our nation experiences the relief of Osama’s death and revisits the emotion of 9-11, will we see the memorial to the towers finally go up as emotional guards go down?

We hope so.  We’re ready for politicians to work together, companies to hire, workers to have jobs, and our country to move forward, finally unstuck.

Friday, April 29, 2011

5 Steps to Make Sure Your Employees Succeed

For companies to achieve, employees must achieve.  The steps to employee success are similar to those of anyone’s success.  However, just as we don’t always take necessary action to reach our goals in other environments, so we don’t always in the workplace.  Here are five crucial steps to help your employees truly perform.  By setting them up for success, you’re setting yourself and your company up for success as well.

1. Make sure your employees understand exactly how their jobs affects the bigger picture for the company.  If they can’t see the big picture, where’s their sense of accomplishment and fulfillment?  These days employees often participate in one very narrow step towards completing the larger company goal.  So it’s crucial you make the connection between their daily duties and the overall mission on a frequent basis.  Keep them up to date on progress from a micro and macro perspective.

2. Create a strategy with employees to reach those goals.  Every goal must have a strategy.   Within a company, there are two levels of strategy: the shared company strategy with rules every employee follows, and the individual strategy tailored to each particular employee’s task, work style, and abilities. Depending on the particular employee, you may have a larger or smaller role in helping that employee develop their personal strategy.

3. Find out what kind of feedback works best for each employee and then provide it, consistently.  Some employees need more frequent feedback, good or bad.  How hard working or successful each employee is has little to do with which feedback style he prefers.  Feedback is a crucial part of communication in any relationship, and obviously including working relationships.

4. Tie personal goals in with company goals.  Let’s face it; your employee isn’t solely working for you and your company.  He has his own goals and milestones he hopes to achieve at his job.  Taking the time to understand these goals builds a strong professional and personal bond between you and your employee.  Understanding these personal goals will also help you communicate, create incentives, and work together better.  For example, John may truly care that your company meets its quarterly sales goals.  But he also has a personal goal of improving his people skills.  If you understand his goal, you will understand how to motivate and relate to John, and leverage both sources of drive to reach your goals.

5. Handle failure.  Work with your employee to figure out the reason he/you didn’t meet his/your goals.  Once you’ve pinpointed the problem, do what you can to fix it, or move on with a revised strategy to ensure success the next go round.  You show your employee more respect by considering him worthy of holding accountable, rather than ignoring the failure and treating him as a lost cause.

What steps do you take to ensure your employees’ success?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Employer-Paid Vouchers Axed

Lobbyists succeeded in helping to repeal the healthcare reform voucher provision, as part of the recent budget deal, though the provision actually had no short-term impact on government spending.  However, the provision would have had a big impact on employers.

What are the vouchers?

The free choice vouchers are paid for by employers, and given to low-paid employees who opt to purchase coverage from state health insurance exchanges versus from their employers. The amount of each voucher is equal to what the employer would pay to have the employee enrolled in the “largest premium contribution” plan.  The employee could then use the voucher to purchase state health insurance.  If the state plan costs less than the voucher, the employee could packet the extra cash, minus an income tax.  The exchanges were set to take place by 2014.

Who qualifies for the vouchers?

Employees whose family income doesn’t exceed 400% of the poverty level, and whose employer-required premium contributions fall between 8% and 9.8%, are entitled to the employer-funded vouchers. 

What would this provision mean for employers?

Employers with large numbers of low-paid workers would obviously be most affected.  Employers who offer more expensive plans would also pay more, since the voucher amounts are based on the best/most expensive plan.

For now, this particular provision is axed, and many mid- to large-sized employers are grateful.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Right Boss Matters

People always talk about finding the right job, but you don’t hear them talk about finding the right manager – until they’re in the job, and then you often hear them complain.

Really, they should consider their “fit” with each manager during the interview process.  As much as the job requirements, a manager controls your assignments and work environment.

How do you determine whether or not you’re a fit before you’ve had the opportunity to actually work with the company?  You ask questions in the interview.

You’ve been told many times the importance of asking questions at the end of an interview to show how we’ll you’ve researched a company.  But these questions are actually important in determining cultural fit – and that includes whether or not you’re a fit with your potential manager.

Here are a few questions you might ask:

1. Is there anyone working for you who you consider an awesome performer? What makes him or her a great employee?
2. Ask about a past project or accomplishment in detail.  Try to listen for what the boss actually did throughout the project.
3. What is an example of a typical customer?  Listen for the manager’s attitude toward customers.
4. Ask for their views on delegation. How do they delegate?
5. Ask them for their opinion on individual development and training?
6. What does it take to succeed in a role like this?
7. What is your personal management style?
8. What has your experience with the company been like so far?
9. What are key expectations from team members?

You won’t be able to tell everything about your boss from an initial meeting and a few questions, but you should get a very good idea of what he or she would be like to work with.

And if you do inevitably end up with a boss who makes your workday more difficult, try to do what it takes to make it work.  Good employees learn to anticipate their bosses’ needs and work around differences to get the job done.  Eventually, they get a new boss or a new job and can move on knowing they took full responsibility for their success, despite the obstacles.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dress for Interview Success

Appearance counts, especially at a job interview.  Your interviewer and people at the company will be judging you by your answers to questions, and also by how you’re put together. That includes what you’re wearing and what you carry with you.  Here are some tips to ensure you’re presenting yourself in a manner that helps you get the job.

1. Wear a suit.  You may think it’s old-fashioned, but wearing a suit to a first interview is a sign of respect.  It’s better to wear a suit and be slightly overdressed than not wear a suit and risk not getting the job because of it.

2. Mind the shoes.  You can be wearing a great suit, but it won’t matter if your shoes are scuffed, clunky, or don’t match.  Details matter in creating a polished, put-together appearance.  Make sure your shoes are clean, polished, and match your suit.

3. Balance trendy and traditional.  The interview isn’t the time to wear your “fashion-forward” purple striped suit.  While it’s important to express your personality, it’s also important to rein in the extreme.  You can’t go wrong with a dark suit.  You can always show your personality through a pop of color in a necklace or scarf.  Likewise, a fun but smaller earring is more appropriate than a long feather earring that hangs down to your shoulder.  This isn’t a case where you want to go for shock-value.  Employers are slightly risk-adverse these days and you want to ease their minds by presenting yourself as a safe bet.

4. Be wrinkle-free.  It shows polish and attention to detail.  Take the time the day before the interview to look over your suit, shirt, shoes, and bag, ensuring everything is ready to go and ironing or polishing if necessary.  The day of the interview you’ll feel calmer and less rushed.

5. Consider the company.  Before an interview, it’s extremely important to research the company to understand its culture.  A company’s culture could have some bearing on how you dress for the interview.  You’ll need to wear a suit regardless, but it can’t hurt to customize your look ever so slightly with that particular company in mind.  Think colors and level of formality.

What do you normally wear to an interview?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Temp Workers in Japan

In the United States, the term temp worker does not carry with it the negative connotation it does in some countries.  Temp work has evolved from conjuring images of grueling labor and scraping by, to signify flexibility, autonomy and valuable career experience.

However, the recent tragedy in Japan has brought into focus examples of temporary labor in which workers do not enjoy the same safety and standards.

Many untrained temp workers in Japan are incented with higher pay than they’re accustomed to, to take on jobs considered dangerous and highly unpleasant to the average worker.  For example, thousands of temp workers make up much of the labor force behind the nuclear power plants in Japan, including the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi.

Pre-tsunami, temp workers there were exposed daily to high levels of radiation and other life-threatening working conditions.  Yet, their pay is still comparatively low and they receive little to no benefits.

Many of these temporary laborers experience healthy problems including cancer which are probably direct results of their working conditions, yet because these cases are difficult to prove, few workers claim workers compensation for their illnesses.

Post-tsumani, according Tokyo Electric, about 45 out of 300 people working in perilous conditions to contain and repair damage to the nuclear power plant are temp workers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Women, the Workplace, and Companies’ Role in Gender Equality.

Following the recent Walmart lawsuit, the media has focused on women in the workplace today: their successes, their challenges, and their aspirations.

Women in the workplace have come so far since the days of their mothers and grandmothers.  That isn’t to say they work harder than their predecessors; they just have more choices about what they want to accomplish and how they spend their days.

Things aren’t perfect of course.  If absolute equality is the goal, we’re not there yet.  Whatever the reasons, women on average are paid less than men for the same jobs, and the farther up the corporate ladder you climb, the bigger the ratio of men to women.

When we think about the biggest reasons for this disparity, the word balance comes to mind.  Women today can have it all, and so they attempt to do so.  They want to follow their many passions to nurture their children and families; manage successful careers and financial self-sufficiency; enjoy rich friendships; and of course set aside time for hobbies and play.

Yet what could be accomplished with one partner working full-time and the other staying at home to manage the household cannot be accomplished (in the same fashion) with both parents working full time.

Often and understandably, women feel torn between their families and careers, and when forced to choose, many forfeit career opportunities that require them to sacrifice too much time with their children.

What’s the solution then?  We shouldn’t expect women to sacrifice instinctual desires to nurture their families in order to achieve their career aspirations.  Yet don’t they deserve an equal chance at a successful career and financial independence?

Perhaps the solution is reshaping the workforce.  After all, doesn’t the very nature of equality suggest that, if before, women worked full-time at home and men worked full-time outside the home, then now, women and men work part-time at home and part-time outside the home?

We are not suggesting a 20-hour workweek.  We’re saying talented women are doing an excellent job of balancing careers and families, and the companies who want to keep this talent will accordingly create more flexible, family-friendly cultures to reflect their employees’ values.  More importantly, women (and men) should continue what their mothers and grandmothers started, and demand these considerations in their push for equality.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

10 Things (That Actually Happened) to Never Do in an Interview.

Most of us think we know the basics of good interview etiquette, but you’d be surprised what people actually say and do in interviews.  Maybe they’re not thinking, maybe they’re nervous, or maybe they simply don’t care.

The following is a list of things that actually happened in an interview.  Remember, sometimes when you’re too close to something you don’t realize its inappropriateness until it’s too late! Whatever you do, don’t do what these guys did!

1. A job candidate told the interviewer that how long he stayed with the company depended on when his uncle passed away.  The candidate was expecting an inheritance and said his uncle wasn’t “looking too good.”

2. One job candidate asked the interviewer for a ride home after the interview.

3. Another candidate indiscreetly smell-checked his armpits on the walk to the interview room.

4. A job candidate answered his phone during the interview and asked the interviewer to leave her own office because it was a “private” conversation.

5. A candidate claimed she could not provide a writing sample because all of her writing had been for the CIA and was therefore “classified.”

6. A candidate interviewing for an accounting position declared she was a “people person,” not a “numbers person.”

7. A candidate admitted he was fired from his last job for physically assaulting his boss.

8. During a phone interview, the interviewer heard the candidate flush the toilet while talking.

9. A candidate was offered food before an interview, but declined saying he didn’t want to coat his stomach with grease before going out drinking.

10. A candidate removed a hairbrush from her purse and began brushing her hair during the interview.

Have you ever done or said something without thinking in an interview that you later regretted?  It has happened to all of us!

Monday, April 4, 2011

2nd Consecutive Month of Strong Job Growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 216,000 new jobs in March and unemployment down to 8.8%.

These statistics exceeded economists’ expectations for more modest job growth and an unmoving unemployment rate.

Among growing sectors was the service sector, which overall added 199,000 jobs, lead by the continuing growth in temp hiring.

On a local note, unemployment rate fell to 10.2% from 10.4 percent in January, and 10.7 percent one year ago in TRC Staffing’s headquarters city of Atlanta.

On a company-specific note, Mcdonalds is hiring.

Despite growth, wages and hours remain somewhat stagnant.

Also, though 13,5 million are officially unemployed, another 2.4 million are out work work but not included since they didn’t look for work during the BLS survey period, and 8.4 million are working part-time jobs while looking for full time work.

Turmoil in the Mideast , oil prices, the dismal housing market and state budget cuts present potential hurdles to full recovery.

Despite these hurdles, the BLS report was welcome, positive news this month.

What do you think our country (both Washington and us as citizens) needs to do to experience a full economic recovery?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Office April Fool's Day Pranks

If you’ve ever worked in an office, known anyone who works in an office, or watched The Office, you know that in an office, office pranks abound.

Now we’re not suggesting you partake in office pranks, especially not the disruptive sort.  But harmless, good-humored pranks can lighten the air and actually improve moral, as long as the recipient appreciates the humor.

With April Fool's Day tomorrow, if you are going to pull any pranks, here are a few classics as well as a few new ideas.

1. Place a sign on both (or all) office entrances with an arrow pointing that says “Please Use Other Door.” J

2. You and a few coworkers bring several changes of clothing to work.  Throughout the day, inconspicuously change your attire, making sure you’re seen in all of your various outfits.  Be completely stone-faced, and watch the object(s) of your prank question their sanity before catching on.

3. If you work in a smaller office, arrange for every co-worker to call or email your boss throughout the day to ask for the same day off, for differing reasons (pregnancy, vacation, appointments, etc).  Heh heh.

4. Classic from The Office: Label every single item on someone’s desk with a post-it note.  Phone. Keyboard. Mouse. Pencil. Pen. Monitor. Notepad. Trashcan. Seat. And so on…

5. Buy a box of doughnuts several days before April 1st.  Put them in the refrigerator until they are quite dried out but still look appetizing.  Bring them to work and put them out on the kitchen counter for everyone to help themselves. Whatever you do, don’t claim them!

6. Replace your boss’s cushy, fancy desk chair with the rattiest old chair in the office.  Whoever gets the boss’s chair will be super excited, and the boss will feel slightly embarrassed to have to swap the ratty chair for the nice one.  Just make sure you know your boss well enough to play this prank!

7. Replace your coworker’s desk chair with a heavy bench from outside.

8. Borrow your coworker’s car keys and make a copy.  For the next week, move his car to various different spots in the parking lot and watch his confusion. Make sure you give the key back to him at the end of the prank.

Have you ever played an April Fool's Day or other prank on a co-worker? What was it?

Monday, March 28, 2011

J.K. Rowling's Speech About Failure.

J.K. Rowling's 2008 Harvard Commencement speech is a classic and much-loved one on a subject all of us have been familiar with at some point in our lives: failure.

If you haven't seen it yet, it's a hope-inspiring speech worth watching.  No matter how much failure you feel is behind you - success can be your future.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Where do you envision yourself in five years?

Where do you see yourself in five years?  Do you know?  Obviously, none of us can predict the future.  Things happen to us or because of us that change our plans and even change us.

Still, having a vision of where we’d like to be in five years is important.  It consciously and subconsciously guides our decisions and gives direction and purpose to what we’re doing today.

For example, you may not enjoy the tasks your typical day currently entails - whether those tasks are part of your job description, or involve searching and applying for jobs.

However, if you know your current job is a stepping-stone to the job you really want, or that your job networking efforts will eventually land you a position, you may not mind the more mundane aspects. They’re serving a purpose.

Would you be quite as motivated to do your best today, if you foresaw no payoff down the road?

So ask yourself if you haven’t already. Where would I like to be in five years?  Write down the answer. Take into consideration values, goals, and what you’re willing to do (or not) to get there.

Not only do you have a clearer picture of your life, but when an interviewer inevitably asks you some version of the question, where do you see yourself in five years, you’re better prepared to give a thoughtful, genuine answer… that can help land you the job.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Summing up the rise in temporary jobs.

We’ve talked about the rise of temporary staffing and its potential implications herehereherehere and here.  Then we came across this article, which made many of the same points.  So let’s sum up a few of the potential reasons for the surge in temporary staffing:

1. The rise in temporary staffing indicates a coming rebound of full-time hiring (as in the past).
2. The rise in temporary staffing indicates long-term changes in business and the workforce (and is thus a more permanent trend).

What are these changes in business and the workforce that may be attributing to increased demand for temps?

1.  Healthcare costs and the new legislation have employers feeling the burden of hiring full-time employees.
2. Work in general has become more project-based and less routine.
3. At the same time, the latest technology allows employers to better predict their employment needs, so they can hone in on their exact labor needs and hire accordingly (this means filling in gaps with temporary help for a more custom labor fit).
4. Workers themselves are trending towards independent, project-based work and the perks, such as flexibility and variety that come with it.

Did we miss anything? What else does the rise in temp jobs imply?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

TRC Staffing Services, Inc. Makes Inavero’s 2011 Best of Staffing™ List

TRC Staffing Services has been voted as ranking higher than 99% of staffing firms in North America, thanks to our satisfied clients and dedicated employees! See details of the award here.

This is the second year in a row we’ve made the list.

The Inavero Best of Staffing™ List is presented in partnership with CareerBuilder® and measures clients’ satisfaction ratings in order to recognize those staffing firms who far surpass the competition.  TRC Staffing received ratings of 9 or 10 from almost 80% of clients.  The industry average is 47%.

Businesses can use Inavero’s list to find staffing firms that deliver the very highest level of service in the industry.

Thanks again to everyone who made this possible!

Monday, March 14, 2011

5 Respected Online Personality and Career Tests

More and more companies today screen candidates for job compatibility using personality tests.  These tests are designed to help you understand yourselves and others better; how you think, what motivates you, what tendencies you possess, and how you interact best with others.  The idea is that you can use this information to make choices based on who you are, leading to the most successful outcomes at home, in your community, and especially at work.

Personality tests have drawbacks.  Every human being is unique, and no one fits perfectly into a category.  Also, there’s the power of suggestion – for example, a test result tells you you’re introverted, so you begin to notice and subconsciously emphasize those aspects of your personality, fulfilling the test’s prophecy (whether it was accurate or not).

Despite the drawbacks, personality tests are fun and can provide valuable insight that can help you throughout your career – especially if you take some of the more well-researched and respected tests, like these:

The Myers Briggs test is one of the more thorough personality tests.  Its results give you a very in-depth look at many aspects of your personality and preferences, and can help you make very specific career choices.  The test requires a certified administrator to score your answers, so it does charge a $60.00 fee.

One of the most widely-used personality tests, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter is a 70-question test that places you in one of four categories: Guardians, Idealists, Artisans, or Rationals.  The idea is that you’ll understand more about your actions and motivations, which may help you chose a career that aligns with what comes naturally to you.

This book comes with an access code to an online strengths finder test.  The premise is that rather than concentrating on your weaknesses, you should pour all your energy into improving your strengths to be happier and become the very best at what we’re already good at.  Each person has 5 main strengths, and this test helps you determine yours.

DISC measures your levels of Dominance, Influence, Conscientiousness and Steadiness to help you understand your motivations, work habits and personality type.  It costs $30.00 for a basic report, but the results are interesting.  Sometimes, what we want to be we can actually grow into, even if we are experiencing barriers at the time. The test measures our full potential, not just our current habits.

A free career test provided by CareerBuilder.

What do you think of career and personality tests? Do they have value? Should companies use them to match job-seekers with jobs?