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Written and Verbal Communication for Job Seekers

November 11th, 2016

As you work to grab employer attention and win over potential recruiters and hiring managers, your knowledge base and specific job skills will play a strong role. You’ll have to have a demonstrate your ability to handle the sales tasks, clinical techniques, or technical aspects of your daily round. But your hiring managers will pay just as much attention to your communication skills. Can you send a message clearly? Can you provide and accept instructions? Can you win others over to your point of view? And most important of all: are you easy to get along with in a workplace setting? Can you use your words to earn the trust and respect of those around you? Here are a few ways to highlight your strengths as a speaker, listener, writer, reader, and team member.

Recognize that your documents represent you.

Your resume and cover letter don’t just highlight your education and background; they also give your reviewers an excellent example of your skills as a written communicator. If you think they’re only searching for facts and won’t look closely at your grammar, style, and wording, think again. Get all the editing help you need and make sure your application is flawless before you submit.

Your voice matters.

The first impression you make will come from your written application, but the second will probably come from your phone persona. When your employer calls to speak to you, keep your posture straight, speak clearly and smile as you talk (your listen can detect the expression on your face). Keep your voicemail message simple and professional.

Your emails also matter.

During the early stages of the selection process, you may exchange a few emails with your employers to confirm their acceptance of your resume, answer some screening questions, and set up an interview time and date. As you answer, think carefully about every line. Recognize that your tone and your attention to detail can actually make or break your chances at this early stage. Start your relationship off on sound footing.

Polish your interview skills.

Before the date of your scheduled interview, don’t just mark the meeting on your calendar and forget about it. You may see yourself as an experienced interviewee and you might expect your experience, education and skills to win the day for you. But a little practice never hurt anyone, a few sessions with a friend can help you relax and take tough questions in stride when your big day finally arrives. Practice pausing for two full seconds before you answer a question, and practice maintaining relaxed eye contact and a friendly, assertive posture.

For more on how to speak well, write well, and use your communication skills to lard your target job, reach out to the staffing team at Merritt.

Preparing Your Staff for the Addition of Temporary Employees

November 4th, 2016

Your new temps are on the way! Which is to say, you’ve sourced, reviewed, and hired a team of temporary employees who will step into your workplace at some point during the next few weeks. Your temps won’t stay long—by nature—but while they’re here, they will be making important contributions and keeping the gears of your enterprise in motion. They might be replacing staff members who are on leave, or adding extra pairs of hands for the busy holiday rush, but no matter what roles they fill, everyone will be happier and more productive if their presence in the office is understood and respected. Here’s how to make that happen.

Provide your current employees with clear timelines.

Your teams should know exactly what day the temps will arrive, and your best estimate of how long they’re going to stay. New coworkers, temporary bosses, direct reports, or office mates should never appear by surprise.

Generate some hype.

Before a new temp arrives, share a few details about the person with the members of her team. Let them know a little bit about the temp’s background and interests, and encourage them to find common ground and icebreaking conversation topics.

Pave the way.

Every new employee should step into a functional workspace on day one, but this is especially important for temps, since the ramp-up period may be very short. If the temp will only be contributing to the company for three weeks, you don’t want the first week to be swallowed up by paper work delays, unavailable work stations, and computers that aren’t functioning yet.

Clarify assignments.

In order to welcome, onboard and train your new temps properly, you’ll need the help and cooperation of your current teams. So make sure each person knows exactly what to do and how to do it. Who will be meeting the new person in the reception area? Who will be taking them to lunch on day one? Who will sit with them to explain the company database? And who will fill in for each of these people while they’re temporarily pulled away from their own responsibilities? Make your expectations clear.

Thank your teams in advance.

The onboarding and transition process can be unpredictable, so thank your teams in advance for their patience and cooperation. While you’re at it, thank them (also in advance) for their welcoming and friendly approach to the newcomers.

Thank them again in retrospect.

Working with temporary employees can be time consuming at first, since they often have questions and require assistance during their first few days and weeks. Thank and reward the full-time team members who go the extra mile to answer these questions and provide this assistance.

No matter how long your temporary employees stay with you, encourage and cultivate a climate of mutual respect. For tips and guidance, reach out to the staffing experts at Merritt.

Questions to Ask During Your Interview

October 28th, 2016

As a nervous, hopeful candidate stepping into your scheduled interview, you might think you’re here to answer questions, not ask them. You might imagine that you’re in the interrogation seat, and your employers are the ones who have something to gain by learning as much about you as possible. But that’s only half true. Your interviewers need to gather the facts so they can make a smart hiring decision, but you also have a decision to make. To find out if this job is right for you, turn the tables during your session and make sure you get some answers to these key questions.

Where can I go from here?

You want this job, but of course you don’t plan to settle into this position and keep it until you retire. You have long term career plans that will eventually take you beyond this role, and ideally, you want to work for a company that can help you reach your destination. Can this organization provide opportunities, exposure, training, and room for a promotion—or several? Will your managers coach you and support your plans, or will they work to keep you in your chair? Now is a great time to find out.

How would you describe this company’s culture?

Culture matters, and the atmosphere and energy in this office can influence your job satisfaction, your health, and of course your career growth. Don’t lead the interviewer as you ask; just encourage him or her to speak from the heart and describe this workplace in their own words. Read between the lines as they answer, and know what you’re looking for. What kind of culture will best help you thrive and contribute?

What kinds of qualities will I need to demonstrate in order to succeed here?

Will this job require excessive travel, social interaction, solitude, public speaking, repetition, or constant disruption? What kinds of traits will help you accomplish your daily tasks and form strong relationships with your coworkers and clients? Will your competitive edge help you, or will a more collaborative attitude serve you well as you work to find a place for yourself here?

What will I need to accomplish right away?

Starting on day one, what kinds of problems will you be solving and what kinds of challenges will stand in your way? Will you have a clear set of goals for your first day, week, or six months? If you don’t, that’s okay; you’ll just have to set your goals on your own.

For more on how to make the most of your interview and land the job that’s right for you, reach out to the professional staffing team at Merritt.

Soft Skills Top Candidates Possess

October 14th, 2016

The best candidates in your applicant pool are likely to demonstrate a set of skills that are difficult to measure (often called “soft” skills for this reason). These skills can serve as a strong predictor of long term success, and if you’re watching carefully, they’re often easy to spot. If you see a candidate who can handle the day-to-day demands of this specific role while also bringing these intangible benefits to the table, don’t let that candidate get away.

Listening skill.

For almost any position, you’ll want candidates who can speak boldly and articulate their thoughts and opinions. Employees who can charm, persuade, and motivate using words can boost your reputation as well as your sales numbers and can help any company grow and thrive. But there’s one thing that’s more important—and harder to find—than good talkers: good listeners. Listeners are the candidates who understand your words, process your intentions accurately, and remember the things you say. They can read nuance and inflection, and they truly care about the success of any given interaction.

Friendliness and approachability.

Again, skilled communicators all have one thing in common: They really want to want to understand and be understood. They have a personal desire for connection, and they work hard to reach out and to make themselves available to others.

Executive functioning skill.

Great candidates can do several things at one time (multitask), and they have strong memories. They can break off one conversation, pick up another, and return to the first where they left off without missing a beat. They can handle the complexities of scheduling, budgeting, teamwork, and leadership all on the same day, and sometimes during the same minute.

Culture-building.

The best candidates can read a person’s mood, but they also read the mood of a room, or an entire workplace. They know the difference between a toxic conversation, culture or mission, and a healthy one. And they know how to set a personal example and steer the ship in the right direction.

Fearlessness.

When change needs to happen, the best candidates face it head-on. They aren’t afraid to speak up for what’s right or stand up for a person or an idea. Ask your candidate to describe a moment from the past in which she demonstrated courage by taking action against the status quo.

Resilience and determination.

What happens to your candidate when she experiences a setback? What happens when he doesn’t get what he wants or doesn’t experience immediate results? Choose the candidates who get up when they get knocked down—the ones who aren’t phased by minor obstacles and who don’t take rejection personally.

For more on how to recognize signs of success in your applicants, turn to the staffing and hiring experts at Merritt.

The Benefits of Working with a Recruiter During Your Job Search

September 23rd, 2016

You’re hitting your job search with everything you have, and you’re taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. You’re contacting your network, scanning job boards, and pursuing leads, and you’re submitting at least a few resumes to prospective employers every single day. But there’s a critical step you may not have added to your list; are you working with a professional recruiter? Here are a few reasons you may want to add recruiters to your job search team.

Recruiters cost nothing

Your recruiter works for the company (or companies) that hire her candidates; she doesn’t work for you. No legitimate recruiter will expect payment from a candidate, and it’s in her best interests to seek out only the best adapted and most qualified applicants on the market (hint: that’s you). Your recruiter wins when the company wins, and the company wins when they identify and hire the highest level of talent. Become a link in that winning chain: it won’t cost you anything.

Recruiters have large networks.

You may think your own professional network is expansive. After all, you’ve been studying and working in your field for a long time. But your recruiter’s network IS his field. He knows people who know people who know people, and his connections and resources extend in all directions. He can connect you with people and companies that can move you forward, and he also helps them to find you.

Recruiters can offer coaching tips.

Before she presents you to her client, your recruiter will have a chance to study your resume and (usually) meet with you in person or by phone at least once. Since she knows what the employers are looking for, she can help you address potential concerns and highlight the elements of your resume that they’re likely to find impressive. Recruiters can help you play up what works and dial back the issues that may stand in your way; trust your recruiter when she offers you some free guidance.

Recruiters have a wide reach.

Recruiters provide an integral service in almost every imaginable industry. No matter what you do, and no matter what kind of job you’re looking for, there’s a professional recruiter out there somewhere who can help you get where you’re going. The experts at Merritt staffing have decades of experience in a long list of fields and industries.

Recruiters are great listeners.

When they’re trying to fill an open position, hiring managers have a long list of specific needs. But job seekers have specific needs as well. No matter what you’re looking for– in terms of salary, location, hours, responsibilities, and opportunities for advancement– your recruiter will listen carefully and help you find it.

Partner with a recruiter and find the fast track to your next job offer! Contact the Fairfeld County staffing professionals at Merritt today.

Hiring for Motivation

September 9th, 2016

As you sift through your applicant pool and start scheduling interviews, you’ll be searching for candidates who seem genuinely excited to take this specific job and work for your specific company. Motivation is an important selling point, and you’ll definitely want a candidate who leans forward, speaks with enthusiasm, and seems pleased and honored to have your attention.

Unfortunately, “motivation” is also a vague concept that’s difficult to define, and it’s easy for some candidates to put on a mask and act motivated, even if they really aren’t interested in the company and they intend to abandon the job as soon as another opportunity comes along. So how can you tell if your excited candidate is truly interested in contributing to your enterprise, and not simply planning to use this job as a short term stepping stone? Keep these tips in mind.

Directly address issues of over-qualification.

If your candidate seems excited about the job, but her impressive resume and track record suggest that she could be aiming much higher, ask why. Ask her to explain why this specific job sparks her interest. If she provides clear detail and she seems to have given the issue some serious thought, that’s a good sign. Look closer if she answers in generalities like, “Well, I just love to succeed!”

Address signs of coasting.

Younger candidates are often handed a few breaks early in their careers. This is not uncommon, since many companies hire under-qualified entry-level candidates at a discount, hoping to train them in-house. Keep an eye out for candidates with a history of failing upward, chair-warming, or completing only the bare minimum during their past three or four positions. It’s an easy thing to get away with, for a while. But the free ride should stop with you.

Ask tough questions about future plans.

When you ask your candidate about his career goals during the next two, three, and five years, he should have a
clear and thoughtful response. His answer should touch on specific branches and subspecialties of your industry, and should indicate clear interest in at least one concrete aspect of this field.

Keep an eye on non-verbal cues.

Which conversation topics cause your candidate to light up, lean forward, gesture while talking, and speak with volume and animation? Does the position at hand involve the kinds of tasks and learning opportunities that light this fire in your candidate? If so, then she’s a great match for the job.

For more on how to spot genuine alignment and strong motivation in your candidates, reach out to the Hartford staffing team at Merritt.

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.

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