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Are you Losing Candidates to your Competition?

April 24th, 2015

If you lose one or two of your top candidates every now and then to better offers, that’s nothing to worry about. This happens to all employers every once in a while, and since candidates are free to walk away at any time (as long as they haven’t signed a contract), there’s not much you can do to prevent the occasional top choice from slipping away.

But if this disappointment is taking place on a regular basis, there are a few things you can do to step up your offer and speed up your hiring process. Show respect and present your company’s best side and you’ll grab the attention of top contenders. Start with these moves.

Show Interest from the Beginning

If a candidate shows enough respect for your company to apply here, then she deserves an equal level of warmth and interest on your part. Never leave a candidate waiting by the phone once you’ve opened a dialogue. And course, never leave candidates waiting in the reception area for more than ten minutes after the scheduled start time of an interview. Welcome them with a smile and a firm handshake, show interest in their backgrounds, and never cross examine them or put them on the defensive during the selection process. Would you work for a company (or hire a candidate) who treated you this way? Probably not.

Once you Make Your Decision, Act Quickly

When you’ve settled on your top contender, move fast. Don’t expect her to put her job search on hold while you slowly process her paperwork and wait for key HR personnel to return from long vacations. Make sure she knows that she’s the one for you by presenting her with a clear verbal offer, and if the written offer will take two days or two weeks to process, let her know the timeline and stick with it.

Handle Second Choices Carefully

Be perfectly honest with your runner up candidates about where they stand. Treat them with the same respect you would appreciate if you were in their positions. Don’t lead them to believe they’re at the top of the list, but tell them they’re still in the running until the day they aren’t anymore. Contact them on that day and deliver a clear, positive, and decisive message. Thank them genuinely for their interest in the company.

Keep the Process Short

Try not to conduct more than then three rounds of interviews total, including phone screenings. Dragging candidates back into the office multiple times will only alienate the ones who are strong enough to have other options. If you subject your applicants to ten rounds, you’ll lose the best contenders at round three, and by round ten, only the desperate will still be showing up. Respect your candidates and they’ll respect you.

For more on how to attract the most talented applicants in the marketplace, reach out to the staffing experts at Merritt.


Showcase Your Company Culture to Attract Top Talent

April 10th, 2015

When it comes to attracting talented applicants, you have plenty of tools at your disposal and plenty of aces in your hand. You offer fair and competitive salary rates, your benefit package is attractive, your workplace is safe and clean, your brand is respected, and your turnover is low (if any of these things don’t apply to your company, now is the perfect time to make some changes). But as valuable as any of these other selling features may be, you also offer a terrific company culture. Here’s how to make the most of this important detail.

Know how to Describe Your Culture

A “terrific” company culture means different things to different people. When you look around your office, what do you see? Are your employees quiet and diligent? Are they noisy and extroverted? Do they compete or collaborate? Are they driven or laid back? Any of these descriptors can be presented in a positive light…Just make sure you know which ones can honestly be applied to your workplace.

Consider Your Target Applicant

What kinds of candidates would you like to attract? Are you looking for bold risk takers who speak up even when their ideas haven’t been carefully considered? Or do you prefer cautious rule-followers who respect an established hierarchy? Are you looking for driven loners who will stay till midnight? Or would rather hire relaxed team players who watch out for each other and leave at five to attend to well-rounded personal lives? Before you try to pitch your culture as a selling feature, recognize who you’re pitching it to…and respect the kinds of social elements these candidates might prefer.

Go to the Source

Screen-focused millennial candidates who are online 24-7 can best be reached though appropriate social media channels. Seasoned corporate leaders at the mid-career stage can be best reached through industry organizations and higher level networking events. Trusted experts in narrow fields can be reached through specialized channels, and broad workers with general talents can be reached through national job boards. Keep in mind that workers in all of these categories are attracted to companies that emphasize productivity and show clear respect for their employees.

Let your Pride Show

If there’s something about your company culture that makes you proud, don’t hide that feature… Show it off! If you go out of your way to take care of employees at each stage of their working lives, from cultivating new graduates to supporting those who are planning families or preparing for retirement, make this clear. If you encourage your workers to laugh and socialize with each other, make this known. If your teams are driven to win at all costs, brag about this to your candidates. If they like what they see, then they represent the right matches for you. If not, they’ll self-select.

For more on how to show off your company culture to attract candidates who share your values, consult with the staffing experts at Merritt.



The Benefits of a Temporary Position

March 20th, 2015

You’re stepping onto the job market and you need to find work as soon as…yesterday. Ideally, of course, you’d like to land the perfect job—one that will take your career to the next level while paying the full time salary and benefits you need. So you’re following every lead and turning over every stone as you struggle to begin the next chapter of your working life. You’ve posted online profiles, reached out to your network, and scanned every job board you can find online. But have you also considered stepping into a temporary position? Here are some of the benefits of partnering with a temp agency during your job search.

Temp Work Often Leads to full time Employment

When you connect with a temporary staffing agency, you won’t just be filling your workweek and collecting a paycheck. You’ll be making connections with a potential new full time employer, one who may be able to offer a specialized position that matches your skills and sets you up for success in your chosen industry. If your relationship works out, you may have the option of shifting to full time work when your contract period expires.

Temporary Work Keeps Your Skills Fresh

Accepting a temporary position in your field can help you stay in circulation and keep your skills sharp while you continue looking for long term opportunities. You’ll also have an easier time keeping up with new trends and software tools that can help you excel no matter where your future takes you.

Temp Work Brings Low Risk

If you accept a temporary position with an employer who can’t meet your needs or a workplace that can’t accommodate your schedule, don’t worry; the agency can simply reassign you to another client. There’s no need for drama, and you can move from one position to the next with minimal gaps in between.

Temp Work Means a Steady Paycheck

Years ago, the word “temp agency” conjured up images of low skill work at low pay. But times have changed, and temp agency professionals now maintain client relationships with a wide variety of industry employers looking for candidates with every skill set at every level, including technical, executive, and professional positions. We serve clients in every corner of the marketplace, from healthcare to hospitality to IT. If you’re looking for a position that can help you keep your career and skills on track, contact the staffing team at Merritt and arrange an appointment today.

Do You Know Why You’re Losing Top Talent?

March 6th, 2015

After a few years of management experience, you’ve probably had at least one encounter with a common and upsetting scenario: You hire a candidate you love. You bring her onboard with a warm welcome. You invest in an expensive period of training and acclimation. And just as your (still much beloved) new employee is learning the ropes and shifting from a liability to an asset, she walks into your office to give notice. According to the math, you just paid for her education, absorbed the cost of her expensive newbie mistakes, and then handed your newly seasoned, confident, talented employee over to your competitors.

So what can you do to prevent this from happening in the future? Here are a few exit interview strategies that can better help you understand why skilled, valuable employees might decide to leave your company.

First, make sure you offer them.

If you don’t provide exit interviews to your departing candidates at all, that’s your biggest mistake. Start putting together a written survey or a series of scripted verbal questions that can be posed to your departing employee by an HR manager.

Keep your interview questions meaningful.

In most cases, departing employees have nothing to lose or gain as they complete your survey, so they simply follow the dictates of basic professionalism and politeness. They indicate that they enjoyed working here, but for reasons beyond your control, they decided to take their careers in a new direction.  But a bland, polite answer like that won’t really help you. So keep your questions pointed. For example, instead of asking: “Were you satisfied with your experience here?”, try: “Please name one thing we could have done to make your tenure more satisfactory or fulfilling.”

Use a ranking system.

Ask your employee to make a series of value judgments on a 1 to 5 scale. For example: “I believe that my manager cared about my career growth and personal well-being, one meaning no, and five meaning yes, very much.” Again, keep your questions pointed, or your departing employees will simply give the highest marks for every answer.

Record the results and use this data to make future decisions.

No survey has value or meaning unless the results are recorded and cross references against the results of other surveys during different years and across multiple managers and departments.  Don’t just collect this data: actually use it. Apply your findings to your retention strategy and your future hiring decisions. Look for patterns that might help you identify stepping stone candidates or inspire loyalty in those who may be tempted to jump ship.

For more on how to attract and identify talented candidates and then hold onto them once they step on board, reach out to the staffing and hiring consultants at Merritt.

Build Loyalty and Retain Top Talent

February 27th, 2015

As an experienced manager, you know that your company is only as strong as the people you hire, and your most important form of capital will always be your human capital. So you do everything you can to source, find and select the highest levels of talent. But once you have these key players on board, are you doing everything you can to keep them? The moves below can help you generate company loyalty and keep your best people on the team when and if they’re lured away by other offers.

Listen when they speak (and when they don’t).

Listen to your employees when they come to you with ideas, complaints, and requests. Keep your door open so they don’t have to knock, offer them a chair so they don’t have to stand, and don’t interrupt them or fiddle with your screens while they’re speaking. But you’ll also have to go a step further and read between the lines. Sometimes what they need most is something they won’t address directly. You’ll have to meet them halfway if you want keep them happy.

Don’t wait for a crisis (or several).

Take action on behalf of your employees, and do so BEFORE they’re a step away from resigning. If your employees are overworked, keep an eye on signs of burnout, and get ready to hire more staff before you see these signs. If your employees are underpaid, increase their compensation before they have to ask. Try to stay a step ahead of disaster, because when disaster strikes, they’ll be long gone and you’ll be facing it alone.

Foster a positive culture.

Again, don’t expect your employees to take care of this on their own and don’t wait for a toxic tipping point before you step in and take control. Actively work every day to keep your environment respectful, positive, supportive, and fun. Start by making sure your own behavior reflects these values.

Reward the behaviors you want to see.

Encourage and reward the employees who help you in your efforts to generate positivity and loyalty. Some of the most important people on your team may not be the best salespeople or the best producers, but if they promote morale and teamwork, they’re worth more than gold. And they should know how much you appreciate their presence and their efforts.

For more on how to generate a healthy culture and keep your best employees on the team, reach out to the staffing experts at Merritt.


Onboarding your Temporary Workforce

February 6th, 2015

Once you decide that you’re ready to add a few temporary hands to your team, you’ll need to take the next step: introducing and acclimating your temps to the culture and rhythms of your current workplace. New employees often struggle to find their feet and a friendly welcome can make a world of difference. Temps also need to know where to turn when they have questions about their tasks, and if your current teams are adequately prepared, they’ll be able to answer these questions without losing stride. Keep these tips in mind as your start dates approach.

Give your current teams all the facts.

Make sure your teams have plenty of warning about the start dates for your temps, but also be sure to share their names, their areas of expertise, and a little bit of each person’s backstory. Give both parties a few details they can use to launch a conversation, and encourage your full time staff to show interest in the newbies and make them feel valued.

Assign clear responsibilities.

Your teams should know exactly what will be expected of them when each temp arrives. Be clear about who will greet them at the door, who will introduce them to the office, and who will insure that their workspaces are prepared and functional. There’s nothing more awkward then a temp left standing alone in a workplace with no assigned guide, no desk, and no clear place to direct her energies.

Avoid redundancy.

Here’s another awkward scenario: your temp arrives and sits down to her assigned task, only to be approached by a full time worker who believes he’s the one charged with the same task. If the task belongs to the temp, make sure the regular staff member knows what he should be doing instead. Workflow communication and scheduling are critical to smooth temp-onboarding.

Bring everyone into the loop.

Too often, full time workers watch temps walk past in the hall without knowing who they are– or caring. Full time workers should recognize temps when they see them. And when these encounters take place, they should show friendly interest in the temp’s acclimation process. Encourage phrases like: “Do you have any questions? Are you adjusting okay? Do you have everything you need?”

For more on how to make your temps feel welcome, motivated, and ready to work, reach out to the temporary staffing experts at Merritt Staffing.

Interview Tips: Four Tricks That Make a Great Impression

January 23rd, 2015

Before you step into your next interview, add these four slick moves to your professional repertoire and you’ll increase your odds of making a positive impression. You already know that you need the basics: timeliness, neatness, preparation, eye-contact, and follow-up. But you may not know a few of these other strategies that can help you increase your likeability and establish a foundation of trust.

Enjoy the Process

Of course you’re nervous. All interview candidates are nervous, and all of them do their best to hide this fact. Employers are used to this and they expect it. A little sweat on your palm or a little restless tapping on the desk won’t hurt your chances. But if you can look past the moment, keep the entire day in perspective, and enjoy the ride, you’ll do two things: You’ll keep your nerves in check, and you’ll also put your interviewer at ease and help both of you create a positive memory.

Listen, Don’t Just Talk

Candidates often expect the interview process to resemble a kind of oral exam in which each question is followed by a polite (and correct) answer, a pause, and then another question. Interviews always happen this way in the movies. But in real life, interviews tend to take the shape of a conversation, and interviewers often take this opportunity to explain the nature of the job and the company. If you’re smart, you’ll listen while your interviewer talks. If you’re extra smart, you’ll take notes, and you’ll ask questions at the end of the process that show how well you’ve been paying attention.

Be Yourself

This sounds like a cliché, but during your interview, don’t try too hard to construct a persona that differs wildly from your real self. Unless you’re a professional actor, you won’t fool anyone; you’ll just confuse them and make them uncomfortable. Don’t flash your million dollar smile and try to tell jokes if you aren’t a smiler or a joke teller. If you’re naturally quiet and reserved, embrace that, and be the most professional and trustworthy quiet-and-reserved person in the room. If you’re naturally loud, that’s fine—use it to your advantage. If you’re a leader, be a leader. If you’re a follower, don’t hide it—be a follower, and a good one. Work with the grain of your real personality, not against it.

Treat the Interview Like a Date (Sort of)

Obviously, you shouldn’t make or accept romantic overtures with your interviewer, but the job search process and the dating process have a few things in common: In both settings, two parties come to the table as adults and equals, and both have something to gain from a potential partnership. Both parties are looking for the right match, and both benefit by presenting themselves honestly and expecting the same in return. Ask as many questions as you answer, and be polite but clear about what you’re looking for and what you have to offer.

For more interview tips that can help you relax, present your best self, and share information honestly with your potential employer, contact the staffing professionals at Merritt.


Employee Handbooks: Protect your Employees and Your Company

January 9th, 2015

If you’re not handing a comprehensive, updated employee handbook to each of your new hires during their first week on the job, you may want to consider drafting and distributing one in 2015. A well written employee handbook can help you clarify general workplace rules that are sometimes misunderstood or taken for granted. And if your workplace involves any safety hazards or unique HR requirements, a handbook can clarify these issues from the outside.

Employee handbooks can also help new hires understand the exact nature and requirements of their positions, which can keep the annual performance review process clear, effective, and on-track. As you sit down to draft and edit your handbook, keep these tips in mind.

Do some research first.

If you’re starting the process from scratch, lay the ground work before you begin drafting and editing the text of your handbook. Solicit feedback from all affected employees, and gather general length and content recommendations from your HR department and legal team before you move forward.

Keep job descriptions limited to one or two pages.

If you produce your handbook as a three ring binder, you can insert these pages into each specific employee’s copy upon his or her first day.

Obtain buy-in on each section.

Create a section for safety rules, a section for your dress code (if applicable), a section covering the performance review process, training requirements, a staff listing, an emergency phone tree, hiring, coaching, referral and termination rules, and any other section applicable to your workplace. But for each section, you’ll need to obtain approval from HR, legal staff, and upper management.

Be ready to update the handbook as necessary.

Company rules and policies evolve, and the handbook should be ready to evolve as well. Each page should be removable and replaceable, so when you distribute a new page, you can ask employees to remove and throw away the outdated section.

Keep a copy online.

Keep a tab on your webpage or internal intranet that takes employees directly to an updated online copy of the handbook. This way employees will still have access to necessary information even if they lose their binders.

For more information on the content and distribution of your new handbook, reach out to the staffing and management experts at Merritt.

Dealing with Rejected Candidates: Maintain a Positive Relationship

December 19th, 2014

It’s never easy to deliver bad news to a rejected candidate, especially one who holds impressive credentials and fine personality traits, and may have patiently maintained interest and respect through several rounds of interviews. Whether you recognize it or not, your candidates (all of them) are essential brand contacts, and their feelings about your workplace and about your product can have a wide circle of impact. When you treat customers well, your company benefits. But when you treat candidates well, your company benefits even more. And the reverse is also true. Before you say goodbye to second and third place contenders, keep these tips in mind.

Actually do it.

This is a no-brainer, but a surprising number of companies skip this easy step and suffer as a result. If a candidate goes through the trouble of attending a single interview—even a screening interview by phone—he or she deserves a clear and upfront yes or no response from the company. Never let the line simply go silent after the selection process has gone this far.

Express regret.

You don’t have to explain why you chose another candidate, and in fact, the less information you offer the better protected you’ll be from backlash and lawsuits. But accept the fact that eager, dedicated, smart and qualified candidates are probably going to feel disappointed by your decision. Their feelings may not be your problem, but if you respect these feelings, show some humanity, and try to keep the exchange polite and sympathetic, you’ll be leaving a positive impression that can last for a lifetime.

Keep the conversation short.

If you deliver the news by phone, make it clear that you can’t discuss the particulars of the decision. Simply deliver the message and say goodbye. Encourage the candidate to apply again if this suits the situation. Even better, share your decision in writing. Keep the message limited to a few lines of text.

Thank the candidate.

By the final stage of the selection process, your candidates have made some heavy investments, both in terms of time and money. Thank them for their sacrifices and show some sincere appreciation for their interest in your company. Your parting words should be warm, not cold, and grateful, not dismissive.

Try to convey the sense that your decision was measured and fair, and that even though you ultimately chose another direction, you appreciate the candidate’s time and interest and wish her well. For more on how to deliver this message properly, reach out to the staffing experts at Merritt.

Future Hiring Needs: Are You Prepared?

December 12th, 2014

Your hiring needs for this month are covered. You’re steadily on track to replace every departing employee and you’re bringing in new recruits in perfect pace with your expanding business. You have not a single pair of hands beyond what you need, and as soon as Sally retires and Steve says goodbye to care for his growing family, you’ll have new employees already lined up to take over their desks.

So this day, week, and month are locked down and accounted for. But what about next year? What will you do when Steve’s replacement starts gunning for a promotion to the next level? If you can’t accommodate her, what will you do when she leaves in search of a company that can? What will you do if your new product line starts selling beyond expectations and you need to hire more staff to keep up with a flood of orders? And will happen when your new orders suddenly dry up and you need to contract your workforce back to affordable levels?

The answer, as always, lies in planning ahead. Instead of taking a lean, just-in-time approach to the staffing process, try to use all the data at your disposal to determine what your staffing needs will look like in one, three, and five years.

Build a Pipeline

You may not have a crystal ball that can tell you when your employees might leave the company, but you can certainly make educated guessed about promotion readiness. When your top executives leave or retire, have someone in mind who you can groom and prepare for the role. Have others in mind to replace those, and so on down to the entry level. The harder you work to cultivate and retain the links in this chain, the more closely reality will adhere to your expectations.

Hire Contingency Teams

Consider hiring contingency, temporary, independent, and part time staff for roles with an uncertain future. If you don’t know how long an expansion will last, or how a new product will be received by the marketplace, limit your risks and control your workforce growth. That way you won’t have to make promises or take on full time employees that you can’t keep. Contingency staffing can also help you ensure a personality and cultural match before you make a long term commitment.

For more information about staff development, hiring, pipeline building, and long term planning, contact the experts at Merritt.


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