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Are you Prepared to Answer Questions About Salary?

June 16th, 2017

As you apply for a new position, you’ll probably be asked to supply a resume that documents your previous job titles, and you may be asked to furnish references who can speak candidly about your character. Your prospective employers can use these details– plus any information they find online—to assess your readiness for the role. But most employers don’t want to stop there; they’d like assurance that you can do the job, but they also want to know how much your services will cost. And to make that assessment, prospective employers may ask some challenging questions. Will you be ready to answer? Keep these tips in mind.

Your previous salaries are (usually) your business and your business alone.

Prospective employers do not have a right to your salary history. If you’re asked what you earned at your last job, you’re under no obligation to answer honestly, or at all. Many job seekers don’t recognize this, and when faced with a firm question from a panel of serious-looking hiring managers, they feel pressured to respond. As a result, they’re often presented with an offer that’s equal to or just above whatever they were making in previous roles, and over the long term, this can seriously limit their earning potential and financial growth. Think about it: if you make a negotiating mistake while landing your very first job, this mistake could haunt you for life…but fortunately, it doesn’t have to. Past jobs are in the past, and unless your salary history is publicly available online, it’s nobody’s business but your own.

Answer by providing your preferred range.

Instead of answering with: “I made $52,000 per year, plus benefits,” you can say “My salary was in the fifties.” Even better, you can say: “I’m looking for a salary between $60,000 and $65,000 per year.” It’s what you want and what you’re willing to negotiate for that matters. Be sure the lowest end of your range still falls within the amount you can accept. And keep in mind that an offer at the lowest end of your preferred range sends a message about how much your work is valued and how much this company can afford. Either could indicate a red flag, so keep your eyes open.

Salary history and public employment

If you work or previously worked in a government role, your salary history may be made public, so recognize this before you attempt to negotiate for an offer that’s vastly above your past earnings. Keep your expectations reasonable, and be ready to provide a clear list of all the reasons why you’re worth what you’re asking for.
For more on how to set the opening stage for your salary negotiation, contact the job search and career management experts at Merritt.

Hiring Generation Z

June 9th, 2017

There’s been plenty of buzz generated by the arrival of millennials in the professional workplace, but since the first members of this generation began their careers about 12 years ago, the buzz is now starting to fade. The earliest of the so-called millennials are about to enter their 40s, and whether they’re thriving or struggling, their career patterns are fairly well-established. At this point, employers are preparing for a new wave of up-and-coming entry-level workers who are poised to bring a new set of social and cultural norms to the office and workshop. It’s time to welcome Generation Z! These are the students currently working their way through high school and college who are ready to hit the job market as soon as they graduate. Will your workplace be ready? When Gen Z arrives at your door, keep these tips in mind.

Kids will be kids.

The very nature of entry-level employment lies in the name; workers at the earliest end of the career pipeline have plenty of ambition but little to no experience, and there’s nothing wrong with this. We all start somewhere. As adults and experienced managers, we owe them our patience and withhold said patience at peril to ourselves and our organizations. Teach, coach, train, mentor, and at all times keep your expectations fair and reasonable.

Pay them fairly.

Entry-level workers are not lazy; they’re typically more driven than their older counterparts and they expect less in terms of respect, thanks, and even fair compensation. But wise managers pay them well for their time and efforts. If you attempt to exploit them, they’ll disappear the moment they wise up. When that happens, they’ll take their newfound training and experience to your competitors.

Generation Z will ignore traditional career-building instructions and prescriptions.

They’ve been told exactly what to do: study this, not that, get this internship, not that one, take no risks, worry all the time, etc, etc. And Generation Z has watched this prescriptive model fail repeatedly for those who have gone before them. As a result, they might not chase the things their elders chased (for example, marriage, a single lifelong job, or a steady industry that promises never to change or fade.) They’ll be light on their feet and they’ll quickly leave jobs they don’t want. When things around them aren’t working, they’ll evolve and adapt…fast.

Respect generates respect.

Treat all your workers with respect, regardless of their age. But when Generation Z arrives in the office, acknowledge the unique needs and special strengths that accompany their youth and energy. For more on how to manage the newest members of your workforce, contact the professional staffing team at Merritt.

Leadership Skills Every Employee Needs

May 26th, 2017

You might not believe your current job requires anything that can be defined as “leadership”. In fact, you may look around your work environment and see yourself as the lowest person on multiple totem poles. Or you may not interact with your coworkers in a way that suggests hierarchy or levels of influence. You may contribute to a team of equals, or you may be the newest and least influential person in every room you occupy. But we have news for you: this won’t always be the case. You have a greater impact on others than you realize, and your influence will only grow with time. So in order to thrive, you’ll need to build a few critical leadership skills. Start now and within a few years, you’ll be on your way up the ladder.

Speak up.

Practice raising your voice in order to make your thoughts and feelings heard. Don’t wait for an invitation; just speak, even if it means interrupting someone or setting yourself up to be interrupted by others. Words have no power if you don’t use them, and speaking up usually brings lower risk than you might imagine. Gather your courage and join the conversation.

When you want someone to do something, tell them.

Instead of hinting or insinuating, just make your request. When you need a pen from distant shelf, say “Can you hand me that pen, please” or simply “Grab me that pen over there, thanks.” If you simply express abstract sorrow regarding your lack of writing equipment, or go to impractical lengths to get the pen yourself, you miss out on an opportunity to practice issuing a request and enlisting the help of others to get things done.

Take up space.

Gracefully accept what’s yours. In fact, assert yourself a little bit in order to reach out and take it. When you’re offered a chair, take possession of the entire chair, including the armrests; don’t perch nervously at the edge. The same applies to your work area, your salary, and the resources you require in order to do your job. None of these things are gifts. You deserve them, you earned them, and they’re yours by right. So take them and say thank you. Then move on.

When you’re right, stand your ground.

If several members of your team suggest opposing plans, and you know that yours is the best idea on the table, don’t let go until you receive evidence that an alternate plan may offer more benefits. Push for your ideas and suggestions, and while you’re at it, stand up for others who propose great ideas, and don’t let them be shouted down. Amplify the voices of those who have something to say that might benefit the team.

For more on how to exercise your small but growing influence in the workplace, reach out to the Connecticut career management professionals at Merritt Staffing.

Why are your Employees Leaving?

May 12th, 2017

Why do seemingly happy employees leave their jobs to pursue other offers? You may be familiar with this common scenario: You run your workplace like a home, and your employees feel like family. Sometimes they have off-days, but your teams are typically happy and you honestly believe they see you as a personal friend. You’re pretty sure your workplace is a fair, fun and positive place to spend the day. But then without warning, your best employee walks into your office and gives notice. Why does this happen? And how can prevent it from happening again? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Everybody has a future.

Your employees may not say this to your face, but no matter how much they like and respect you, most of them don’t plan to be holding the same job with the same company five years from now. So you have a choice: you can let them change jobs, or you can watch them change companies. Always encourage your employees to grow, and always provide the opportunities and promotions they need to stay on board. If you try to keep them exactly where they are, you’ll lose them faster.

Encourage learning.

While everyone likes receiving promotions and raises, not everyone has the energy or initiative to seek out new forms of training without a push or a helping hand. If your employee is starting to resemble a big fish in a small pond, notice it before they do and give them a new challenges. As soon as they feel confined by the pond, they’ll become vulnerable to better offers.

Bullying does not inspire loyalty.

You can’t bully your employees into staying with you. If you try to convince them that they’re lucky to have a job at all, you’re paying them more than they’re worth or they’ll never make it out there in the big world without you, you’ll have to dodge the swinging door as they leave. Instead, show respect. Be kind when they’re having a hard time and be generous when it comes to coaching and mentoring. Give them your full attention during meetings and conversations, and show genuine interest in their lives.

Money matters.

Your employees can tell how much you value them by watching your behavior during salary negotiations. When you fight tooth and nail to pay them as little as possible, you send a clear message.  This attitude will never buffer you against competing offers. If your margins are thin and you’re clinging to every penny, don’t let this become part of your negotiation process.

For more on how convince your employees to stay on board and grow with your company, turn to the recruiting experts at Merritt Staffing.

Keys to a Successful Interview

April 21st, 2017

If you’re like many candidates, you might approach the interview process from deficit perspective, meaning you automatically place yourself in an inferior position with regard to your interviewer. You want the job (presumably) and the interviewer has the power to grant or withhold something you want. So you might see the relationship like a student taking a test or an employee asking for a raise.

But this doesn’t accurately describe the interaction, and seeing things this way can prevent you from taking full advantage of the opportunities of the moment. Instead of approaching an interview like a parole hearing or a pop quiz, treat this process like a simple conversation between two equal adults. You both have something the other may want, so listen as much as you speak, and ask as many questions as you answer. Keep these tips in mind.

You’re here to learn and so is your interviewer.

When you sit with another person to have a conversation—any kind of conversation at all—you’ll have more success if you focus on an honest attempt to learn something you didn’t know before. If you’re arguing, try to understand the other person’s point of view. If you’re getting to know each other, ask smart questions and listen to the answers. And if you’re applying for a job, use this moment to glean as much as you can about the nature of the job, the mission of the company, and the culture of the workplace. Ask, listen, and ask some more.

There are no right or wrong answers.

Your interviewer will want to assess various aspects of fitness for the role. But that’s her job, not yours. If she asks you to describe your working style or your background, answer fearlessly and honestly. Don’t tell her what you think she wants to hear. Job interviews are like dates; misrepresentation doesn’t help either party. By the same token, ask your own bold questions and expect honestly from your interviewer.

There’s no better time than now.

You may want to bring up salary issues in a delicate way, but all other aspects of the job and the potential relationship will need to be hashed out before any agreements are signed, and the sooner this happens, the better. There will never be better time to bring up any concerns you have about this position. So ask now, and you’ll save both yourself and your interviewer from hassle and wasted time. Before you leave, clarify any confused or unaddressed issue. Don’t allow your interviewer to trail off or avoid questions that can help you make an important decision about your future.

For more on how to step into your job interview with optimism and confidence, turn to the staffing and job search team Merritt.

Make Temporary Employees Part of the Team: Strategies

April 14th, 2017

Your temporary employees are critical to the success of your operation. They have specific tasks to complete, and without their presence in the workplace, you’d be in a world of trouble. They fill in for key players who are out on leave and they help with essential short term projects that keep the company moving forward.
But because they don’t plan to stay onboard for long, temporary workers don’t always recognize how valuable they are. They don’t receive the personal appreciation they deserve, and they often don’t have time to develop a sense of camaraderie and earn the trust of their full-time coworkers. So what steps can you take to make them feel welcome and integral to the team? Try these simple moves.

Spread the hype.

Before a temporary employee arrives in the workplace, tell others of their pending arrival, and create some buzz. Highlight their accomplishments, brag for them a bit, and share some of their personal interests in order to lay the groundwork for future conversations. Generate a little excitement and make sure your employees are prepared for their arrival.

Encourage socializing.

If you have a temp filling in for an absent worker, don’t immediately break up chatter between the temp and the rest of the team. A little room for clowning and small talk can go a long way. Don’t rush through meetings or discourage break room banter. Just let it happen. While you’re at it, encourage the temp to settle in. They should be meeting everyone in the building, and everyone should be meeting them.

Let them know they’re valued.

If you have a team of temps coming in to complete a software implementation or move some items around in the warehouse for a few weeks, don’t let them glide in and out each day like ghosts. Tell them what they’re doing and why it matters to the overall success of the business, and let them know that their contributions are important. If you expect them to learn your name, learn theirs.

Push teams to intermingle.

Encourage your full-time permanent employees to make the first move, and during meetings or group sessions, push them not to gather exclusively among themselves. Encourage them to sit together, eat lunch together, and get to know each other.

Praise them publicly.

Sometime the best way to get current teams to take notice of the newbies and remember their names involves saying the names aloud and attaching the names to praise and approval.

For more on how to welcome your temporary employees to the team, reach out to the Fairfeld County staffing and management professionals at Merritt Staffing today!

Can a Recruiter Find me a Job?

March 17th, 2017

As you search for work, you lean heavily on a few tested and proven resources. For example, you’re contacting every member of your network who might be able to help you. And chances are, you’re combing the internet each day searching for job posts in your field and in your geographic area. You have a resume posted online and you’re making the most of your informational interviews and meetings with your mentors. But what about recruiters? Should you call a recruiting agency and ask for some help? Should you answer those mysterious messages from recruiters that sometimes show up in your inbox? Can a recruiter help you land a job? Here’s our answer.

Reaching out directly.

If you pick up the phone and contact a staffing agency you’ll be asked a few questions about what you’re looking for, and you may be asked to stop by the office for a personal meeting. The ways in which we can help you will depend on your needs, and the wider your flexibility, the better. If you’re willing to accept a temporary position, we can assign you on a contract basis to employers who need temporary or seasonal help. If you’re looking for a full-time role in a specific field, we can help with that too.

Answering messages from recruiters.

Recruiters don’t always reach out directly to job candidates, but when they do, this may happen in the form of an email or blind phone call based on a review of your online resume. When a recruiter contacts you to say “I think I have the perfect job for you”, your first thought may be, “How did you find my information?” If you’re curious, just ask. Then move on to the next step.

If you like the job, act.

If the job description you receive seems promising, call or email the recruiter back. Ask for more information and be willing to answer a few basic questions about yourself and your job search. Never give out information that should not be made public, like social security numbers or credit card information. No legitimate recruiter will ask for these things. (they’re paid by their employer clients, not by you.)

Don’t wait.

After this exchange of information, hang up and get back to your search. You may or may not hear from this recruiter again, since they may not maintain a dialogue if you aren’t a fit for the role. Remember two basic rules of an effective job search: be polite and stay in motion.

For more on how to work with recruiters and help them to help you, reach out to our professional recruiting team at Merritt Staffing.

Encouraging Employees to Continue Learning

March 10th, 2017

As a manager, you’ve made your public position clear: You fully support ongoing education, and you want your employees to keep growing, keeping taking courses and keep expanding their knowledge base, no matter how old or experienced they may be.

This sounds great, and it’s something that most active and prospective employees want to hear…but when it comes to practical application, are you doing everything you can to facilitate this process? Coursework and advanced education can be luxuries for those who are working full time and who may be burdened by family and other responsibilities outside of the work place. So short of dropping everything and enrolling as full time students, how do you expect your employees to bring this positive position to life? Here are a few ways to help them as they make an effort to help themselves.

Podcasts and webcasts

Public lectures and learning opportunities that require no more than an internet connection are everywhere…But do your employees know how to find them and do they have the time and the motivation to tune in? Help them out by doing some research. Identify podcasts that you think might be meaningful and provide alerts to your team. Then tune in yourself and find ways to lead meaningful discussions on the topic afterward.

LinkedIn groups

Leadership and industry-specific groups have access to an organized platform in the form of LinkedIn—but again, your employees may not know about these things. So light the way. If you find a topic or group that may interest a specific employee, let her know about it. If you find a group that your entire team could learn from, ask them all to join.

Courses and certification programs.

Find out how to efficiently reimburse your employees when they enroll in programs that require tuition or course fees. Many companies pay for the course work in exchange for a one, three, or five year work commitment from the employee. If you need to present this to upper management and obtain they’re buy-in, start working on that process. If you call the shots, just make it happen.

Team up with local resources

Local universities, adult education centers, and vocational/technical schools may be able to offer training programs for a lower rate in return for student referrals or group sign-ups. Consider sitting down with these educational institutions and working out a program or plan by which they gain more student traffic and you (or your employees) pay less in tuition and course fees.

For more on how to encourage your employees to keep learning and growing, contact the career development experts at Merritt.

Job Seekers: Cut Through the Noise

February 24th, 2017

As you sift through job boards and personal contacts, reaching out to employers and sending out resume after resume, you’re confident that your credentials will speak for themselves. You’re great at what you do, and you have the track record to prove it. You also hold all (or most) of the necessary education and certification requirements that your target employers are looking for. They need a Masters in Education? You have it. Bachelors in Geology? Check. Fluent French speaker? Check. License to practice in the state of Indiana? Check.

But there’s just one problem: everyone else who applies for this job will also hold these credentials. So how can you set yourself apart? What can you do to stand out in a crowded field of dozens, or even hundreds, or qualified applicants? Here are a few distinguishing moves.

Lean on your connections.

Check Linkedin and Facebook, and the company’s personnel directory to find out if you have any contacts at all (even friends of friends) within the organization. Any name you can drop or testimonial you can request will instantly separate you from a crowd of faceless resumes. No matter how thin your connections may seem, use them. Don’t miss an opportunity.

Leverage your overlaps.

The company needs a BS in Accounting, and you have that. Great. But you might also notice that the company is opening new offices and expanding its consumer market in South America. And it just so happens that you speak fluent Portuguese. Could this help you land the job? Maybe. Should you mention this skill in your cover letter? Yes, absolutely. Some of the other applicants will have language skills. Most of them will have accounting skills. Very few will have both.

Use your formatting skills.

Your resume should have a visual layout and a calm, pleasing sense of design that allows your message to shine through. Keep your font size and line spacing relaxed, not tiny and crowded onto the page. Instead of packing in volumes of text, rewrite your phrases and sentences. Summarize your points elegantly you can say more while using fewer words.

Use color to your advantage.

Add a dash of color to your resume document by coloring your heading text, the outlines of your text boxes, or the separations between your lines. Choose a color that represents your brand and personality. If you feel passionate about your work, use red. If you’d like to seem cool and collected, use blue. If you’re going for a creative vibe, try green.

For more on how to give your resume a certain special flair that can help you stand out and get noticed, contact the job search experts at Merritt.

Teamwork is Important, But What About Personal Motivation?

February 10th, 2017

You have a slate of interviews lined up with promising candidates, all of whom look great (or at least pretty good) on paper. They all have a record of accomplishments, promising backgrounds, and educational credentials that fit the bill. So when you sit with them at the interview table, you’ll want to delve into the areas that don’t typically show in a resume. First and foremost, you’ll want to know what it’s like to work with a given candidate each day, and how well that candidate will get along with coworkers, clients, and other contacts. You’ll need a team player, for sure.

But you’ll also need a candidate who can keep working hard (and keep doing the right thing) even when the team isn’t around. Is your candidate able to work alone? Can she show initiative and keep herself busy, even without constant oversight? Can he strive to excel even when there’s nobody cheering him on? Here are a few ways to assess personal motivation during an interview.

Stay open ended.

Use open-ended behavioral questions that allow candidates to speak freely and describe themselves on their own terms. For example, if you’ll like to know how well a candidate functions without oversight, frame your question like this: “Have you ever worked in an environment with very little supervision? Tell me about that time.” Or you can try: “What do you typically do during the day when you’ve finished one project but haven’t yet received instructions for the next one?” Avoid any question that can be answered with a yes or no, or with a single word.

Ask for tales of adventure.

Start a few of your questions with phrases that involve superlatives, like “During X period of time, what was the hardest thing you had to do…”, “What made you the most proud…” or “When did you feel the best/worst/most alone/most engaged/most disappointed/ most frustrated….?” These kinds of questions can help you in two ways. First, they offer some insight into a meaningful episode in the candidate’s background and how well he works with others. And second, they can reveal a candidate’s sense of scale and life experience.

Talk about introversion and extroversion.

Discuss the spectrum of introversion and extroversion and ask the candidate to position him or herself on that spectrum. Chances are, after she answers, she’ll keep talking and tell you a little bit more about the social environments that she tends to find draining and energizing.

Be honest about the position.

Half of your interview will involve listening, and half will involve speaking, explaining, and describing the position at hand. If this position will require very high levels of solitude and personal motivation, just say so. Pay close attention to how the candidate reacts.

For more on how to find candidates with the right personal traits for your open position and your workplace, reach out to the Hartford accounting staffing professionals at Merritt.

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