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What should I Add to my LinkedIn While Job Searching?

July 24th, 2020

If you’re about to step into the job market (either because you lost your last position or you’re just looking for something better than your current role), you’ll want to take a close look at your Linkedin page and make some changes. You’ll be officially switching the message of your profile from a passive (“This is who I am and what I do”) to active (“You should hire me!”) and you want to make sure the transition is successful.

Here are a few things to add as you start attracting the attention of potential employers.

First, switch your settings.

Make sure recruiters can see your profile and make sure employers know that you’re searching. Be clear about both, since it’s very easy to miss this move and fall through the cracks.

Activate your keywords.

Recruiters often begin a Linkedin search by using three specific keywords to narrow the pool, so be sure these keywords are present and clear in your profile. They include your 1) desired job title, 2) geographic area, and 3) industry. If you’d like to be a marketing manager in the healthcare field and you’re searching in Cleveland, all three should be listed.

Your last job is the most important.

Most recruiters and employers scanning Linkedin don’t care much about the details and responsibilities of a job you held ten years ago. Those details matter somewhat, to some employers, but they usually only become relevant during later stages of the selection process. As far as hiring managers are concerned, your most recent jobs, or your current one, are the most interesting and most descriptive of what you can do.

Be clear about what you want.

You don’t have to be specific about your target role (especially if you don’t feel specific and you’d be willing to consider almost any option). But you do have to be clear. Just framing yourself as a general go-getter and an all-around hard worker won’t help you get hired. Give some details about your background, your interests, and your career goals.

For more on how to tighten your profile and grab the attention you need, turn to the team of experts at Merritt.

How to Work with a Staffing Firm for the First Time

July 10th, 2020

Until now, you’ve handled applicant searches, hiring, and staffing on your own. You’ve had a small operation that made it easy and practical to manage these tasks by yourself, and the personal touch you brought to the process supported the success of your business. But now that personal touch has started to get in your way. As your business grows, your responsibilities have started to sprawl, and now it’s finally time to get some staffing help from trained, experienced experts while you keep your own attention focused on the challenges of running your business.

Here are a few moves that help you build a strong relationship with your staffing team so you can rest easy knowing you’re in good hands.

Communicate clearly and often.

Here at Merritt, we’re great listeners! And we’re tuned into every detail you share with us about your open positions and your company’s needs. The more you share with us, the better. We especially want to know exactly how the role in question fits into the larger picture of your company, and how the right candidate can keep things moving forward. If we aren’t showing you the candidates you need, tell us more! If we are, tell us why! If you need to change the parameters of a search or rotate in another direction, let us know, and we’ll work together to make the needed adjustments.

Tell us about your red flags and nice-to-haves.

We’ve been in the staffing business for a long time, and we recognize some universal red flags and positive indicators that carry across your industry. But we may not respond to some of the specific things you see in promising or concerning candidates, so help us to help you.

Treat candidates like the valuable assets they are.

Every candidate, even the ones you choose not to hire, can bring value to your business. In the age of social media, word travels fast, and if candidates are treated respectfully during the selection process, the talent marketplace will know about it…quickly. The opposite is also true. A troubling or disrespectful reputation as an employer can discourage great candidates from applying.

Let us use every tool to help you.

We can offer skills testing, screening interviews, a range of background checks, and any number of other services to help you find the right candidate as soon as possible. Ideally, you want a candidate who will be excited about the job, who holds the background and abilities to perform well, who accepts your offer, and who stays on board and becomes part of your long-term team. Contact Merritt today and let’s get started!

The Best Way to Follow Up After an Interview

June 26th, 2020

Your interview is over. Whew! All that preparation and nervous tension are now behind you and it’s time to get ready for the next step. You may have fumbled a question or two and you may have hit it out of the park…but since you don’t have a clear answer just yet, you’ll want to take every step you can to make the most of what went right and overcome whatever went wrong. Don’t waste any time! Get to work as soon as you step out the door and drive away from the venue.

First, send a note.

A polite, small handwritten note can carry a lot of import after a job interview, and here’s why: because it’s sweet and personal. It lets the interviewer know that you’re a human being, you enjoyed making a connection with him or her, and you care about the job and the outcome of your session. Keep it small; a large card or flashy statement comes dangerously close to looking like a gift, which is not necessary and signals urgency instead of patience and class. (Gifts, by the way, are never a good idea. They can tank your chances and may even go against company policy, leading to your immediate removal from consideration.) Use your note to simply say thank you for the meeting and remind the recipient that you’re qualified for the role.

Second, sit tight.

After you send your note, don’t contact the interviewer or the company for at least two days. They will be interviewing other candidates during this time and it’s inappropriate to expect a decision before every candidate has been screened. After about three days, you can assume that the interview process may be ending soon, and you can plan your next move.

Send a short, professional message.

A short, concise, polite email offers and appropriate way to inquire about your status. If you decide to send a message like this to the hiring manager, don’t expect an immediate answer and never send more than one such message per week.

Call if you like, but recognize that you may be crossing a line.

Calling the office after your interview is not a crime, by any means. But it can be considered rude and intrusive, and some companies clearly ask candidates not to do this. If you call, keep your conversation short and take the opportunity to remind the employers that you’re still interested. Stay friendly, relaxed, and purposeful.

After your interview, focus your attention on the next task: lining up and preparing for your next interview. We can help. Contact the experts at Merritt for advice and guidance.

The Cost of Employee Turnover The Cost of Employee Turnover

June 12th, 2020

You’ve been in the business long enough to have learned a thing or two, and one thing you’ve learned is clear: turnover is an expensive problem. Few hassles and setbacks are more annoying, time-consuming, or disruptive than saying goodbye to new employees within one year of their date of hire. So of course, when you begin your staffing process, you work hard to choose the right candidate because you know the stakes are high.

But do you really know HOW high?

Have you taken out a calculator and carefully added up the cost of employee turnover for each position under your purview, at each level? Knowing the exact cost in both dollars and productivity can further strengthen your motivation to make the right decision. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you run the numbers.

Calculate the cost of the entire interview process.

Of course, you’ll need to factor in the cost of the job post, resume reviews, and transportation for your candidate—including everything from airline flights to validated parking—and you’ll need to account for any lunches you buy or add little details that you invest in the actual interview experience. But you’ll also need to account for your time, and you’ll need to pay for the time your managers and HR reps spend with the candidate as well.

Account for the time the position stands unfilled.

Less critical positions don’t hemorrhage money if they stand unfilled for two weeks, but more critical roles certainly do. And as you add up the cost of each hour and day the role stands empty, make sure you consider the bottlenecks and back-ups that the new hire will have to deal with starting on day one.

Account for the cost of training.

Training and ramp-up periods come with layers and layers of hidden expenses, starting with the actual cost of the trainer’s time, but also includes a host of other direct and indirect factors. For example, the cost of rookie mistakes. This is just one of the liabilities of running a business, but when a new hire learns by making educational errors, she takes those lessons and that education when she goes (typically to work for a competitor). The errors, and their consequences, stay with you.

Account for disruptions in teamwork and the social fabric.

Each time an employee leaves and new person steps on board, the social order reshuffles a bit, and everyone has to spend some time getting to know a new personality. Will everyone on the team get along? Probably yes, but adjustments take time.

For more on how to determine exactly how much an imperfect hiring decision might cost, break down and quantify each stage of the process. Better yet, contact the staffing experts at Merritt and you’ll increase your odds of success.

4 Ways to Find Skilled Talent in a Labor Shortage

May 29th, 2020

You need skilled talent, which isn’t easy to find even during ordinary market conditions. But right now, the specific skills you happen to need are in very short supply. You’re facing a full-blown labor shortage, and your business needs won’t wait while you scour the globe for the perfect hire. What should you do? How can you get the educated, experienced employee you’re looking for on a shortened timeline, even while your competitors are looking just a hard as you are? Try these tips.

Get to the source, and get there first.

As graduation approaches, don’t wait for newly minted experts to come to you and knock on your door. Go to them instead. Partner with local universities and find out what they need from you so you can provide it and get your foot in the door with job fairs, job placement offices, and direct candidate outreach. The same applies to experienced workers who graduated long ago. They may not come looking for you, since they’re comfortable in their current roles, so you’ll need to hire recruiters and go to them.

Offer something others can’t.

Of course, the most important thing you can offer is a high (not just competitive, but high) salary. That’s the fastest way to reach your goals. But not every company can afford such a direct route to a hiring advantage. You may have to lure great candidates with a reasonable salary plus a generous benefits package. You may also have to add perks that cost little to you, but make a big difference to the candidate, like breakroom amenities or convenient parking. Have you considered an on-site daycare center? An in-house coffee shop? Discounts on gym memberships?

Provide career-building benefits.

Many of your best candidates will light up at the prospect of something that can help them build their skills and advance their careers. Try a mentoring program, or consider subsidizing tuition at local universities. You can also find ways to add advanced training and educational exposure to the candidate’s on-the-job experiences.

Culture matters.

How pleasant is your workplace? Is your working environment, clean, safe, well-lit, and quiet? If not, these are small and easy changes you can make. You can also elevate your culture by promoting policies and practices that boost civility and professionalism, reduce toxic behaviors, and encourage work-life balance. Check your PTO policy, HR system, and general behavioral expectations. Make adjustments everywhere you can. Ask yourself: “If I could work anywhere, would I choose to work here?”

For more on how to grab the best candidates and retain them, even during a hiring shortage, contact the experts at Merrit

Landing an Interview When You’re Not the Perfect Fit for the Job

May 15th, 2020

You’ve read the job post carefully, and the hiring managers clearly want someone with your background and skills…or a close match, anyway. Or a not-so-close match. You have some of what they might be looking for, which is good news. But you also lack a few of the software skills specifically mentioned in the post, and you have three years of experience, not the “five plus” these employers require.

Here’s the truth: You can still get the job. And you can still learn what you need to know during your ramp-up period and thrive in the role over the long term. The biggest obstacle you face right now is landing an interview so you can make your case to these managers in person. Here are a few moves you can use.

Emphasize what you DO have in your resume and cover letter.

If the post mentions any detail, preference or requirement that you do have, mention it clearly in both of your application documents. And use the exact words and terms the employers use, since they may be filtering resumes using keyword searches. (“Experience with CNC” and “CNC coding background” are not the same.) Use every tool at your disposal, including your resume language, to make it past filters and algorithms.

Make contact.

Some job posts specifically say “No calls please” or “Do not call the office”. In this case, take the hint and don’t call. But if you don’t see this clear request, call. Why not? You have nothing to lose. If you can speak to someone in person and grab a few rays of attention, that may be all you need to move to the top of the interview shortlist. Be reasonable, of course. Don’t keep calling over and over.

Scour your social media to see if you have an inside connection.

Do you know someone who might know someone at this company? Check your Linkedin profile and Facebook feed to find out. Send a message to your potential contact and ask for advice.

Show off.

You may not be able to check every box in the job post, but you have plenty of other qualities that can help you stand out. Highlight them and don’t let them go unnoticed. Even if you think they can’t help you, they might.

For more on how to grab the spotlight and land an interview—even you doubt some of your qualifications—reach out to the job search experts at Merritt.

Case of the Mondays: Three Ways to Face Monday Like a Pro

April 24th, 2020

It’s Sunday afternoon, and even though it’s a sunny day and you’re relaxing and enjoying yourself, you can already feel it coming on: the Sunday Scaries. That feeling of unexplained irritability, inability to concentrate and stay present, a queasy foreboding feeling in your stomach…These are all signs that anxieties about the workweek ahead are getting the best of you. And in a way, your precious free time is being coopted by the workplace, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Except there IS something, you can do about it. You can get ready for Monday without giving half of your weekend over to queasiness, crankiness, anxiety and dread. And when you walk in the door on Monday morning, you can feel a little bit more like yourself…not someone facing a five-day jail sentence. Here’s how.

Breath deeply.

Breathing deeply for a few minutes and simply feeling and concentrating on your breath as it moves in and out can bring you back into the present moment and pull you away from the stressors of a future that hasn’t even happened yet. Just controlling your breathing for five minutes can bring you back into Sunday and leave Monday far away, where it belongs.

Take pleasure in small preparations.

Yes, you need to pack your lunch (and maybe lunches for other family members). And yes, you need to choose an outfit and do whatever else you need to do to get ready for Monday morning. But try not to view these little preparations as a sort of dismal ritual and instead, just take them step by step and find things about them to enjoy. For example, the fact that you have to pack a lunch for your wife and child may be a chore… but it also means you HAVE a wife and child who you love very much, and this little gesture offers an opportunity to demonstrate your love and appreciate the fact that they’re part of your life.

Remember what you like about your job.

Note that we said “like,” not love. If you force yourself to pretend or act like you LOVE your daily work, or feel “passion,” or a sense of deep, visceral commitment, you set the bar unrealistically high and only increase Monday morning feelings of dread and stress. Your job is a job. You do it for all kinds of reasons, and the reasons don’t have to include passionate love. Try to focus on the small details that bring you a sense of accomplishment, a sense of purpose, or a sense of camaraderie with your team. Then go back to step one, take a deep breath, and face the day with courage and grace.

For more on how to stride into Monday morning with your head high and your step light, turn to the workplace experts at Merritt. Contact us today.

Promoting Mental Health Awareness at Work

April 10th, 2020

How do we define “mental health” in a workplace setting, and how can we—as managers, business owners and coworkers—protect our own mental health and that of others around us?

First, workplace mental health means finding a balance between positive stress (engagement and focus) and negative stress, which can be damaging. It also means finding a balance between energy dedicated to work, and energy dedicated to life outside of work. It means finding ways to deal with workplace pressures without resorting to unhealthy coping strategies like drugs, alcohol, or harmful behaviors. And it means developing mentally healthy ways to interact with others and allay the harm caused by bullying, isolation, and other interpersonal stressors.

Like physical health, mental health is often something we can manage, maintain, and balance on our own. But sometimes…it isn’t. When pressures get too high and our current coping strategies just aren’t working, mental health becomes an issue we can’t (and can’t be expected) to resolve on our own. When it’s time to reach out for help, the help should be available and accessible and nobody who needs it should hold back due to fear of stigma or retaliation from bosses and coworkers.

Spread the Word about Mental Health in the Workplace

Raising awareness means making sure that everyone (including ourselves!) can feel free to take advantage of the services and support that are available to us. Others should know that support and care are a visit to HR, a health care appointment, or a phone call away. And if the culture of your workplace offers no flexibility or practical support for those who need help, it means changing the culture.

Do you know where to turn if your mental health burden becomes too strong for you to handle alone? If you don’t, find out now. This information will help you if you ever need it, and in the meantime, if you know what to do and where to turn, you can pass that information to a coworker if they ever find themselves facing the same question. If your company’s health plan doesn’t offer mental health resources, how can you apply pressure for change? If your boss is inflexible and uninformed about mental health issues, how they are educated or pointed in the right direction? If your coworker in need fears reaching out due to stigma, how can you support and encourage him or her?

Mental health—just like physical health—is a community responsibility. We need to take care of each other while we learn to care of ourselves. For more information on this timely topic, contact the workplace experts at Merritt.

Don’t Let your Coworkers Make You Sick: How to Stay Healthy At Work

March 26th, 2020

With springtime illnesses spreading and 24-hour coverage of COVID-19 on the news and in the rumor mill, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your coworkers from bugs and germs. And keep in mind: news-making coronavirus and the flu aren’t the only troublemakers lurking on our phones, hands, and keyboards. Just a simple cold is still enough to bring on misery and lost workdays. Here’s how to stay a step ahead.  

Wash your hands.  

We all know that handwashing prevents illness, but make the practice easy for yourself. Make a note or set a timer so each hour, you stand up, walk to the sink and wash your hands, no matter what else you’ve been doing. Most of us don’t think about handwashing at all outside of trips to the bathroom or notably germy encounters. Wash for no specific reason, several times a day, on a schedule. Use lotion to keep your skin from drying out and to prevent the practice from becoming unpleasant.  

Place fun or fragrant soaps by the office sink.  

Again, making the experience pleasurable in a sensory or amusing way can keep it from becoming a chore. If you manage the office, place pleasant soaps and lotions at the sink. If you’re just an employee, consider making a generous gesture and buying a delightful soap that you can leave by the sink and share with everyone.  

Control coughs and sneezes.  

Sneeze and cough into the crook of your arm, not your hands. Use your tissue one time and then throw it away. When you see others practicing controlled coughs and sneezes, thank them or quietly show your approval. Always say, “bless you.” If you see someone coughing incorrectly, don’t scold them, but be sure to lead by example.  

Clean your keyboard and phones at least twice per day.  

Again, set a timer if it helps. Otherwise, resolve to wipe down your screen, keyboard, office phone, and cell phone at least once in the morning and once more before you leave for the day.  

Use and share your hand sanitizer.  

Use the office hand sanitizer, but also carry a small bottle of your own. Be generous with it. If you see someone coughing or sneezing, offer them your bottle. Don’t be possessive or stingy with your gel and your tissues. The more you share, the more health benefits you provide to everyone in the office, including yourself.  

Call Us Today to Learn More

For more on how to keep your workplace clean and germ-free, contact the team at Merritt. 

 

Seven Strategies to Bring Introverted Employee Out of Their Shell

March 13th, 2020

If you have an introverted employee on your team, you may notice a few distinctive traits that allow her strengths to come forward, but may also keep her disconnected from others in the group. For example, she may not jump enthusiastically into boisterous brainstorming sessions; introverts often need time to process data and ideas before sharing them. Your introvert may also leave meetings as soon as they end instead of staying to engage in small talk and banter. She may optout of chats in the break room and Friday happy hour gatherings, and even if she’s friendly and pleasant, she may not actively seek out non-work-related social interactions with others.  

So what can you do to make sure your introvert stays in the loop? How can you make sure others on the team get to know her as a person? And how can you encourage her to see the value in banter and small talk? Here are a few tips.  

Let her know that she’s seen and respected. 

Let your introvert know that you see and respect her nature. Instead of saying (or allowing others to say) things like “Why don’t you ever spend happy hour with us? What’s wrong with you?” try something like: “I can see that you’re introverted and you appreciate space. I want you to know that whenever you feel like it, you’re always welcome to join us for happy hour. We’d love to see you!”  

Create balance instead of forcing your introvert to change.  

Introversion is as common as extroversion, but extroversion is often given more respect and leeway in office settings. Turn the tables now and then. Instead of encouraging your group to engage in endless pre-meeting banter, cut the banter short and get the meeting underway to show respect for your introverts and their time.  

Cultivate a non-threatening environment.

When introverts feel comfortable and they’re treated fairly, they tend to relax and open up, and they may be more inclined to share their thoughts and true personalities.  

Draw him out politely. 

If you’d like to hear more from an introvert on your team, simply say so. If he hasn’t contributed his thoughts or ideas to a discussion, turn to him directly and ask him if he has anything he’d like to say. Ask politely; don’t make demands or accusations as if he’s done something wrong.  

Listen when he talks.

Ask your introvertfriendly personal questions about his weekend plans or his hobbies and listen quietly when he answers.  

Reward and criticize in private.

Even when you have something positive to say about your employee’s accomplishments, do so privately. Don’t embarrass her in front of the group.  

Praise her other strengths. 

If your introvert doesn’t respond well to too much chatter or rushed intimacy, don’t let those become her signature qualities. Instead, draw attention to her math skills, creativity, infallible memory, or problemsolving abilities. When dealing with introverts, it always helps to put effort into building their confidence. 

 Contact Us Today to Get the Most Out of Your Team

For more on how to get the most out of every member of your team, introverts and extroverts alike, turn to the management pros at Merritt.   

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