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Job Search Mistakes Made by Experienced Professionals

August 19th, 2016

You’ve skimmed through hundreds of articles that warn job seekers away from “common mistakes”, and when you see these headlines, you tend to tune out. After all, you’re an experienced professional, not an entry-level candidate in your 20s. You know better than to show up late for your interview, and you obviously have no plans to lie your potential employers, swear at the receptionist, or submit a resume filled with typos. But just because you’re an experienced employee doesn’t mean you’re immune to mistakes. At your level, common errors aren’t so easy to spot, but they can still prevent you from landing your target position. Watch out for subtle blunders like these.

Too much (of anything)

During entry level interviews, employers are most concerned with basic competence. But at your level, employers are often much more concerned about over-competence. Overqualified candidates require (and deserve) higher salaries than some employers want to pay. They also ask for more, expect more, are harder to mold and shape, and tend to demonstrate lower levels of obedience, eagerness, and loyalty. All of these things are difficult for some employers to take. So at this stage, frame yourself as a fit for the job. Don’t worry about coming off as an all-around superstar.

Desperation

At the entry level, most candidates are on the market for one reason: they want to launch brilliant careers. They just graduated and they’re eager to start the next chapter. But at the mid-level, the reasons behind the job search vary widely. Employers want to know why you’re here. Were you fired? Why? Do you dislike your current job? Why? Have you been searching for a long time? Why? In other words… What’s wrong with you? So make one thing clear: There’s nothing wrong with you. You can do anything you choose, and you choose to do this. Don’t let desperation, limited options, or urgency play a role in your search.

Anger or maladjustment

At the mid-career level, some of the biggest hiring mistakes take place when employers miss or overlook red flags related to attitude and people skills. Employers know this, and they know that people skills are very easy to misread. So they have a sharp eye out for any signs of irritability, poor listening skills, social maladjustment, or anger. Recognize that no matter how impressive your resume, a glimmer of an attitude problem can push you right out of the running.

Entitlement and corner cutting

Mid-level employers are also on the lookout for candidates who have coasted (for one reason or another) through the early stages of their careers. If you’ve lucked your way up the ladder so far, prepare for an extra level of scrutiny as you enter the next chapter. On the other hand, if you’ve had an opportunity to face real challenges, experience real failure, or demonstrate real leadership, sharing these stories can help you separate yourself from the crowd.

For more on how to ace your mid-level job search, turn to the career development experts at Merritt.

Suffering From Attrition? We Can Help

August 5th, 2016

Every growing business suffers from some degree of turnover, and every manager knows the heartbreak of receiving notice from a top employee whose talents seem to hold the company together. Turnover causes anxiety, budget stress, and morale problems, and it happens within every company at varying levels. But if your turnover numbers are unusually high for your area or your industry, you don’t have to take this news lying down. There are steps you can take to fight back and slow the revolving door. Here’s how an experienced, professional staffing agency can help.

Screening tackles the problem at the source.

The best way to keep employees on board is to find the right employees in the first place. If your chosen candidates align well with your culture, fully understand what’s expected of them, and fully understand what the company will provide in return, you’ll stand a better chance of holding onto them. Our agency can screen you applicant pool carefully and present only the candidates who are best prepared for the role.

Great screening starts with sourcing.

In order to sift a large applicant pool for ideal candidates, you need to attract a large applicant pool in the first place. We can help with that. Our sourcing efforts can help you target the applicant populations who are most likely to qualify for the job, apply, and accept the role when it’s offered. To attract the best candidate matches, start by going to the places where these people typically look for work.

Got a staffing problem? Let us help.

Something is wrong. Your best employees are leaving and you don’t know why. You’re examining your policies and your workplace culture and you just can’t identify the issue. But we can. We’ve seen every type of staffing problem and we can offer insights and support that can help you stem the tide. Arrange a consultation and put our experience to work for you.

Speed up the replacement process.

When you lose a great employee, you need to put everything on hold to find a replacement as quickly as possible. But not if you partner with a reliable staffing agency. When you say goodbye to a team member, put your trust in us and focus your own attention on what matters most: running your business.

We pay staff members so you don’t have to.

When you choose candidate for a long or short term role, the new employee joins our payroll, not yours. We handle tax reporting, withdrawals, paperwork, insurance and other issues so you don’t have to. If you decide to bring the candidate on board over the long term, you’re welcome to do so as soon as the contract period ends.

For more on how to leverage the benefits of a staffing agency partnership, contact the Hartford expert recruiting team at Merritt.

Reentering the Workforce? Five Ways to Make the Process Easier

July 29th, 2016

If you’ve been absent from the work force for a few years (or more than a few) and you’re trying to elbow your way back in, you may encounter frustrations and obstacles that your competitors don’t have to deal with. But don’t worry; with a little patience and focus, you’ll soon be launching a new chapter of your career story. A few simple re-entry tips can move the process forward.

Keep your expectations reasonable.

Immeasurable amounts of human suffering come not from adverse events, but from inaccurate and unrealistic expectations. When you’re coming back into the market after a period of absence, you’ll have to accept that your search may take a while. There’s nothing wrong with you—you just need to take several swings before you finally hit your homerun. If you let frustration and impatience get the best of you, you may bail out too soon or reduce your expectations and take a second rate job just to have a paycheck. Be patient.

If you don’t have a network, use what you have.

Job seekers are often told to rely on their “network of professional contacts”, but if you haven’t set foot in the workplace in ten years, you probably don’t have a network of professional contacts. That’s okay. Just work with what you do have: friends, family, amiable strangers at social events, and industry people you may meet online. Make the most of these resources and stay in circulation. Make sure your contacts know what you’d like to do and what you’re looking for.

Take a class or volunteer (or both).

In order to brush up on rusty skill sets and demonstrate that you’re still in touch with your field, sign up for a local university or community college course. Meanwhile, if you can find a non-profit group in your area that might benefit from your unique skills sets, submit yourself as a volunteer. Stick with non-profits; too many for-profit corporations will happily accept free labor from anxious mid-career candidates reentering the market, just like you. Don’t allow yourself to be exploited.

Work part time.

Accepting a part time job, even one that lies outside of your industry, can remove some of the urgency from your job search process. Even a modest income can prevent you from accepting the wrong job, working for free, taking a lowball salary, or otherwise making poor decisions out of desperation. You’ll find your way back onto the ladder soon. But in the meantime, you’ll need to keep a cool head and stay in control of your career destiny.

For more on how to polish your skill sets and restart a career climb that’s been on hold for a while, reach out to the professional Fairfield County staffing team at Merritt.

Strategies for a More Productive Workday

July 8th, 2016

Are you looking for positive, sustainable ways to get your employees to show a little hustle? Would you like to wave a wand and see everyone on your team work a little harder to impress your clients and drive your company forward? If you’re like most managers, you’re wondering how access the hidden, untapped potential in your teams. Does this potential lie in the team, or in your own personal management style? Here are a tips and techniques you can use to bring out the best in your employees.

Ask them.

If you’re guessing and struggling to figure out what might motivate your employees, stop guessing and just ask them. Distribute surveys if you choose, or simply sit down with key members of your teams and engage in an open conversation. Would they respond to monetary motivation, increase competition, learning opportunities, or additional perks? You can experiment with each of these, or you can simply cut to the chase.

Teach and model, don’t dictate.

If you see an employee with an inefficient working style or a messy desk, don’t ignore this easy opportunity for improvement. But instead of scolding and lecturing, describe what works for you. Explain how using digital spreadsheets and scheduling apps can reduce the drifts of paper, and show your employee how dividing large tasks into smaller ones or tackling bigger challenges first can improve daily productivity. We often assume that basic principles of efficiency and productivity were taught in the earliest years of childhood, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes employees simply don’t know any better. It’s never too late to learn.

Praise publicly.

While your criticisms should always take place in private, feel free to publicly praise employees who work hard, stay focused, and get things done. Clearly communicate the kind of behavior and work ethic you’d like to see from everyone.

Move around the office.

Don’t hide in your office during the day. No matter how busy you may be, make time every hour to get up and circulate around the floor. Check in, say hello, join conversations in the break room, and find out what your employees are up to when they aren’t working. Sometimes the mere appearance of a manager on the scene can break up idle gab sessions and return focus to the job at hand. Be friendly, but present.

Make yourself available.

When employees need help, answers, guidance or direction, make sure they feel comfortable coming to you directly. Paralysis and stagnation often result when employees are at loose ends and not sure where to turn next with a project or issue. If you force them to exhaust every other option before coming to you, you only encourage them to waste time. Be generous, not stingy, with advice and support.

For more on how to keep your employees engaged and in motion all day, every day, turn to the expert Hartford staffing team at Merritt.

Linkedin Mistakes that Can Make you Look Unprofessional

June 24th, 2016

LinkedIn can be a valuable job search tool if you’re actively looking for work. And even if you’re currently employed, the site can make your profile and career stats available to recruiters in case a better opportunity comes along. So having any small bit of information posted on the site—even just a barebones description or a one-paragraph career summary—might be more advantageous than having nothing posted at all.
Or is it? There are a few common LinkedIn mistakes that can actually turn your profile into a net negative for your job search prospects. If you’re guilty of any of these, consider making some adjustments to your profile or removing it altogether.

Unprofessional updates

Do you respond to every single post that appears in your feed, no matter how meaningless the post or how poorly thought-out the response? Remember, others can see both your posts and your responses, and the things you say (even casual, off-the-cuff remarks) will provide them with impressions that can hurt your reputation. Don’t make thoughtless remarks, don’t be rude, don’t be frivolous, and don’t share posts that are deeply personal. Save those for Facebook.

Starting your profile without completing it

It’s okay to present a lean, minimalist career summary or a short, straightforward, one-line description for each of your past positions. But there’s a difference between a barebones style and an incomplete profile. If you start creating a profile, finish it. Don’t leave half-finished sentences or unanswered questions.

Neglecting to respond

Of course you’ll get plenty of junk mail and meaningless alerts onLinkedIn, as with any other social media site. And of course you don’t have to personally respond to every message, every friend request, and every stranger’s eager attempt at self-promotion. But when you get a message that you care about, respond quickly. This will demonstrate that you do actually check the site on a regular basis and LinkedIn is a valid and reliable way to communicate with you.

Negativity

If you disagree with another person’s post, theory, or opinion on LinkedIn, keep a cool head. Don’t start public wars on LinkedIn where your every word, including your witty retorts, can be read by potential employers. When it comes to career building and personal marketing, negativity is negative, plain and simple.

Never checking the site at all.

LinkedIn won’t do you any good if you never visit the site at all (as in, fewer than once every six months). If you don’t plan to check for alerts, accept new contact requests, respond to messages, or read posts and updates, take your profile down. You’ll only frustrate those who use the site to reach out to you.

For more on how to get the most out of LinkedIn during your job search, contact the Westchester County experts at Merritt.

Hiring Generation Z: What to Expect

June 10th, 2016

Are you ready for the arrival of Generation Z? If you’re still struggling to manage a workplace populated by members of Generation Y, then this might be a good time to redirect your focus toward the horizon and get ready for the future employees who are entering college as we speak.

“Generation Z” describes a wave of future employees who are still working their way through high school and university level courses. And when they reach the workplace, they’re expected to bring a host of cultural and behavioral traits that are likely to set them apart from their (slightly) older peers. Here are few things we can expect from this cohort.

They’re TRUE digital natives.

These are the children who were born during or after the year 2000, so they won’t be able to remember a world before smartphones. These are the babies who tried to “scroll” through picture books as if they were touch screens. This won’t make them weak or ill-prepared for the realities of the working world, but it might make it harder for the rest of us to relate to them.

They’re anxious about the future and their prospects for survival—not just success.

For teenagers in the 80’s, “success” was the focus—not basic stability. It was common to assume that studying hard would lead to college, which would lead to a professional job, which would lead to long-term financial security. But the past 15 years have turned that expectation upside down, and none of the institutions we once took for granted—including college, marriage, home ownership, and the practice of working for a single employer for decades at a time—hold the same weight that they used to. The bottom line: don’t expect Gen Z to desire or chase after the same things you wanted at their age.

They won’t be impressed by hierarchy and they won’t seek approval for its own sake.

Blue ribbons, pats on the head, gold stars from the boss, and promotions that involve a title change with no boost in salary may have seemed like shimmering pots of gold to earlier generations. But don’t expect the same wide-eyed eagerness from Gen Z. If you want them to contribute, pay them. Don’t feed them lines.

They will care…about each other.

Gen Z will likely bring a distinctly positive shift to the workplace; they may care more about each other than the company bottom line. Expect them to speak out against unfair policies and disrespectful treatment. These employees will be true team players, possibly on unprecedented levels.

These are the entry level candidates who will knock on your door in just a few years, so you’ll want to be ready. For more information, contact the Hartford staffing experts at Merritt.

Managing Your Professional Reputation

May 27th, 2016

In our digital age, your reputation is a 24-hour engine, and it’s always working even when you’re not. A generation ago, managing your reputation simply meant monitoring your words and behavior around others and working hard to accumulate a record of accomplishments and skills that could help you climb the ladder. When someone asked, you could show them your resume and work forward from there. But at this point, curious employers and network contacts don’t have to ask. They can simply type your name into a search engine and form an opinion based on what they find.

Is this a positive development? It depends on who you ask, and when. Can it support your success during the job search process? Yes. But it can also hold you back. Here are a few moves that can help you control and make the most of your online reputation.

Look yourself up.

Start your reputation management program by taking the steps a stranger might take to learn more about you. Type your name into Google and check your Facebook settings to determine which of your photos and posts are publicly visible. Knowledge is power, so make this move first.

Address the negative.

If strangers and potential employers can easily find information that embarrasses or misrepresents you, find a way to close this down or rein it in. Tighten your privacy settings, remove some of your awkward past tweets, and reach out to others who have posted or shared negative information attached to your name. Ask them to take it down.

Start building up the positive.

After you’ve addressed what you can and made peace with what you can’t, move on. Start flooding the airwaves with positive press and build up search results that frame you in a glowing, trustworthy light. Start a professional blog, establish yourself as an industry expert, and share news of your recent awards and publications. Use every channel available to you, including twitter and Facebook.

Make an appearance on Linkedin.

If you don’t yet have a profile available on Linkedin, establish one now. Include a flattering professional picture of yourself and the basic framework of your education and work history. You don’t have to share anything you don’t want the world to see, but if you include your name, photo, target job title, and geographic area, employees and recruiters will be more likely to contact you.

Post your resume.

No matter how you decide to do this, make your resume available to anyone who might be looking for it. You can use your personal blog, your website, or your Linkedin profile, but allow visitors and potential employers to glean the information they need without having to ask.
For more on how to create, build, and maintain and online presence that helps you shine, reach out to the Danbury staffing and job search team at Merritt Staffing.

The Benefits of Hiring Temporary Employees

May 6th, 2016

If you’re like most hiring managers, your company occasionally faces spikes in client demand. These spikes may happen on a regular seasonal schedule, or they may occur without warning based on market forces beyond your control. You may also sometimes find yourself in a lurch for the opposite reason; instead of too many projects, you simply don’t have enough hands to manage the standard workload, due to sudden departures, simultaneous leaves, or overlapping vacations.

So what to do? How can you handle the gap between the work that needs to be done and the employees available to do it? And how can you pull this off without breaking your budget or hurting your company’s reputation? Consider the benefits of a temporary or contingency hiring to get you through the rough patch.

Temporary employees reduce risk.

Sometimes temporary workers are only interested in temporary jobs. They want to step on board, work for a few weeks, and then move on. But plenty of others would actually like to find full time, permanent positions eventually. And plenty of employers are also interested in long term arrangements if—and only if—the two parties are mutually compatible. In a temporary work agreement, both participants can take the relationship for a test drive, and if all goes well, the agreement can become long term after the contract period ends.

Temporary employment reduces hassle.

Signing on a permanent full-time employee means paperwork, and paperwork means headaches. But if you employ a temp, the agency hires and pays them, not you. We also handle tax reporting, insurance issues, and all necessary screening and testing to make sure your candidate fits the bill before you even meet for the first interview.

Temporary employees can be highly skilled.

If you’re just looking for an honest, hardworking person who can help you complete a low skill task (like moving boxes or stacking papers), that’s fine. But modern temporary employees come with every imaginable skill set and every imaginable level of experience. From high school diplomas to Phds, and from coding to healthcare to engineering to culinary skills, a great agency can help you find the exact candidates and skills sets you need.

Temporary employment saves time.

Hiring is expensive, and a great deal of this expense is often a function of time. It takes time (and therefore money) to source positions, post ads, review resumes, screen candidates, screen them again, interview, then make a final decision. So leave the heavy lifting to us. We’re great listeners, and once we understand what you’re looking for, we can access our vast network of resources and connections to bring the right candidate directly to your door.

For more on how to handle a temporary workload or form relationships with new employees at minimal cost and risk, reach out to the Fairfeld County recruiting professionals at Merritt Staffing.

What are your Future Plans?

April 15th, 2016

Regardless of your specific industry or the nature of your target position, there’s a strong chance that your interviewer will eventually ask you about your future plans and ambitions, and when the conversation shifts toward this topic, you’ll want to be ready. Can you share your future plans in a way that’s honest, relevant and interesting? Can you frame your goals in way that aligns with the needs and goals of your future employer? Here are a few tips that can help you ace this aspect of your interview.

Plan ahead.

Since you know this question is coming your way, work out the details of your answer beforehand, so you aren’t caught off guard. A little research can help you frame a response that works for both you and for your potential employer. If this company plans to develop a foothold in a niche market that you understand in depth, or launch a product that lies within your area of interest and expertise, highlight this connection. Otherwise, simply map out a response that’s articulate, clear, and concise.

Don’t sputter out.

Far too often, interviewers encounter candidates (especially younger candidates) who do not seem to know or care what will become of them in the future. When they’re asked to describe their future ambitions, they freeze and fall silent, or they simply gaze two steps down the path ahead and mumble something like “Well….I want a job that can help me pay off my debts.” Don’t do this. Of course you want “a job”; that’s why you’re here. But aim higher and dig deeper. What would you really like to get out of this experience, and where do you see yourself five years from now?

Focus on skill overlaps.

If you hold a degree in accounting, and this is an accounting position, that’s great. But since every other candidate will also hold a similar degree and similar accounting plans, bring another one of your skill sets and interests into the mix. For example, you may also be bilingual. Or you may also be interested in art and design. Or you may also have a science background. Explain how your dual interests and areas of expertise can specifically benefit your employer; this can help set you apart from the rest of the applicant pool.

Focus on your body language.

In addition to your words, your non-verbal gestures should also send the message that no matter where you’re going, you’re determined, energetic, and ambitious. Maintain eye contact and lean forward as your speak. Keep an eye on your interviewer to make sure they’re following along and understanding you.
For more on how to explain your future plans and keep your interview on track to success, contact the job search and staffing team at Merritt.

Soft Skills Top Candidates Possess

April 8th, 2016

In an effort to categorize candidate skill sets and measure the value of one applicant over another, some employers divide a candidate’s profile into distinct “hard” and “soft” skill sets. While hard skills refer to job-specific capabilities (like proficiency with a specific piece of equipment), soft skills tend to be universal, non-industry-specific, and woven into a candidate’s personality and life experience. Hard skills, for example, might include knowledge of medical billing codes and the ability to pass a test on this subject. But soft skills might include negotiation, public speaking, customer service, conflict resolution, or problem solving. Here are a few of the soft skills that employers value most.

Written and spoken communication

Candidates who can express a complex thought in clear terms are not as common as you might believe, and are valued highly by employers in almost every industry. If you can write a clear message, use your words to explain your point of view, or contribute your voice to group discussions, you’ll want to make this known during your job search.

Critical thinking and problem solving

Sure, you can pass a test if your study beforehand and know exactly what to expect. But when life throws you a curveball, how do you react? Can you think on your feet and solve complex puzzles, even those that involve unpredictable factors like human nature? Can you face new situations or unexpected obstacles without losing your cool? Can you think your way out a sticky situation or take advantage of an unexpected opportunity before it passes by? Strong critical thinkers recognize multiple sides of a problem, situation, or argument.

Resilience

Resilience doesn’t mean staying on your feet and winning every single game you play. It doesn’t mean avoiding risk and setting a low bar in order to maintain an unbroken track record of “success”. It means setting a high bar, taking on big challenges, failing, and bouncing back. Resilient people are no strangers to the ground; they get knocked down on a regular basis. But they don’t stay down. Every time they hit the floor, they learn something, get back up and head back into the game with greater knowledge and experience than they had before.

Social skills

In our modern economy, there are very few jobs and industries that don’t require social interaction. And there are very few paths to success that don’t require making friends, gaining trust and respect, building coalitions, and maintaining a reputation of kindness and dependability. If you have trouble getting others to like and trust you, you’ll need to work on this in order to maximize your potential. If you thrive in this area, you’re likely to climb the ladder much faster.

For more information on the kinds of soft skills that can add power to you job search, reach out to the Hartford career development experts at Merritt Staffing.

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