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Should You Hire Risk Takers?

August 11th, 2017

Imagine you face two candidates during your final round of interviews. Both have credentials that meet the requirements of the job, but the two have distinctly different personalities. You can see this based on their self-descriptions as well as their personal track records.

Candidate X is rule-follower. If you ask them to do something, they’ll do it, no questions asked. They won’t attempt anything risky; from speaking up in a meeting with an untested idea, to floating an off-the-script maneuver with a client during a pitch meeting. If it hasn’t been done before, they’re not interested. If there’s any chance it could bring harm to the company or their own career— even if the harm is minimal and the move might also bring great benefits— the answer is clear: no thanks.

Candidate Y is a risk-taker. They’re open to new ideas, unafraid of new suggestions, and willing to try anything that might boost the company bottom line or further their own prospects. Even if there’s a chance the move could backfire, they’re in. They seem to travel with a parachute at the ready; if something goes wrong, they’re prepared to pull the cord and switch to plan B… even if there is no plan B.

So which candidate would you rather hire? Here are a few things to keep in mind before you make this challenging decision.

Do the mental math.

Take a close look at the specific position and determine how often this employee will take responsibility for high stakes decisions. Often? Or once in a blue moon? If the “risks” this role entails come with minimal consequences or very low odds of disaster, why hire a candidate who can’t bend or try new things? In this case, hire the risk taker.

Consider the lightning.

When a thunderstorm happens, the odds of being hit by lightning are famously low. But when that one unlikely bolt hits the mark, the results can be utterly terrible. In a reverse scenario, the odds of catching a cold are famously high—we’ve all caught colds before and we surely will again. but when it happens, we sniffle for a few days and move on. These disparate odds and differently weighted consequences factor into our willingness to avoid these two fates. If your risk-taking employee makes one mistake, could lives be lost? If so, hire the risk-averse candidate.

Consider your culture.

If neither of the thought exercises above prove helpful, consider the personality match between your candidate and the coworkers they’ll be called upon to trust— and vice versa. In an office full of risk takers, a Steady Betty might not be comfortable and might not fit in socially. In an office of dormice, a risk-taker might feel stifled or underutilized. Keep in mind that diversity benefits everyone (including the company), so for the smartest move, maintain a well-balanced mix of risk approaches.

For more on how to make a hiring decision based on personality, turn to the staffing and management teams at Merritt.

Proving Your Time Management Skills

July 28th, 2017

Most hiring managers in most industries seek a few core qualities from prospective candidates. In addition to job-specific skills, almost every hiring manager—from those in manufacturing to education to food service—wants employees who commit themselves fully to the job. They also want employees who don’t require extensive oversight and those who can handle tasks and solve problems independently. And almost all managers want a team who can manage their time to the best advantage of the company.

If you know how to break your day down into hours and minutes and use each hour to complete useful tasks that move the company—and your own career—forward, then you’re a master of time management. And you’ll need to highlight this ability in your resume and cover letter. Here are few moves that can help you accomplish this.

Be direct.

When in doubt, it’s okay to simply say “I’m a master of time management”. You can use this exact statement in your cover letter or your job interview, but keep in mind: You’ll have to provide evidence to back it up. What specific events or accomplishments from your past can you share to drive this message home? Gather two or three concrete memories or quantifiable victories and list them as bullet points in your resume. As for your interview, get ready to tell your story, even if you aren’t specifically asked.

Explain your strategy.

People aren’t usually born as exceptional time managers. Babies aren’t very good at this skill, no matter how their personalities develop later on. So if you’re an efficiency wizard, explain how you got where you are. Explain the methods and strategies that you’ve discovered and how they help you stay on track. Share what you’ve learned, and share how you learned it.

Be open to growth.

Recognize that no matter how organized and driven you may be, there are always moves you can use to get more out of the day, multitask, delegate, coach and strategize your way to improvements in this area. Stay receptive to new information.

Explain how you’ve gone the extra mile.

Don’t just boast about what you’ve gained from your time management expertise; be sure to mention what you’ve invested. If you stayed late to develop a new plan, or broke the rules to chart a new course that ultimately worked out well, bring these facts and stories to your reviewer’s attention. Describe the risks you’ve taken, the losses you’ve sustained, and the mistakes you’ve made—But focus on the happy endings and lessons that resulted.
For more on how to grab the spotlight and show off your time management skills, turn to the Westchester County job search experts at Merritt.

Can Temporary Employees Cut Your Overtime Costs?

July 14th, 2017

Overtime hours committed to the company by hardworking employees can be a godsend for a growing company; these extra hours put in outside of the standard business day and exceeding 35 hours per week can keep a company afloat during a challenging crisis or a rush of deadline driven orders. But of course this dedication comes at a cost, and while overtime hours are invaluable, they also cut into the margins they produce. So if you feel like these margins are undermining your long term success, consider easing the pressure on your current teams and reducing the strain on your bottom line by employing temporary teams for short term projects. Here are a few factors to consider.

Highly Skilled vs Medium-Skilled Labor

If you have highly trained or certified staff members putting in overtime hours to conduct tasks that lie outside their skill areas, reconsider. A trained machinist who stays after hours to help box and ship a rush order, for example, may be making 1.5 times his or her salary to complete a task that could be managed by a junior or temporary staffer. When it comes to overtime costs, task allocation matters, and small missteps in this allocation could come at a high cost.

Temporary employees bring value of their own

Some question the value of bringing on new or temporary team members who may take the hours that rightfully belong to seasoned and committed full-time employees. But don’t discard or dismiss the value of temporary labor. Temporary employees often work just as hard and possess as much skill, training and commitment as full-time staff, and more important, temporary employment often serves as a pipeline to full time hiring agreements. Connect with your temporary employees and evaluate their performance closely. Ask them about their plans for the future, and if they’re seeking full time work over the long term, develop a pathway and offer guidance to help them move in this direction.

Full time hiring can bring a high price tag

Hiring full time staff to handle temporary or seasonal burdens can be an expensive move. The hiring process brings background checks, paper work, tax reporting, and sometimes legal contracts that can be costly and binding. But temporary staffing means rapid, inexpensive onboarding, and an easy drama-free separation after the short term period ends. In the interim, the staffing organization handles the insurance and paperwork so you don’t have to. During the contractual period, your team member works for the staffing company, not for you.

For more on how to choose temporary help to move your growing business through peak periods of high demand, contact the Fairfeld County staffing and management experts at Merritt.

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.

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