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How Many interviews is Too Many?

November 6th, 2020

As you begin your job search, you’ll probably be excited to score your first interview. And you should be! An interview invitation is a sign of success; it means you made it past the first hurdle and used your resume or networking efforts to gain a hiring manager’s attention. But after you schedule your second, fifth, and tenth interviews, should you still be excited? Or does this mean something isn’t working? Should you still be proud, or does this indicate a job search misstep?

Here are a few quick answers.

Compare your search to the dating process.

People go on dates for a wide variety of reasons, but if you’re scheduling date after date with the primary goal of eventually getting married, too many dates can start to feel like a diversion from that goal. It may start to feel like you’re working so hard to keep your options open that you’re not giving a full and fair review to each individual candidate. The same applies to jobs. If you request an hour of an interviewer’s time, know that you’re asking for something of value, and respect the interviewer by taking the session seriously. If you don’t plan to listen, practice your interview skills in good faith, or truly consider the job, just cancel the session.

Show respect for your own time.

Attending an interview takes time, preparation, attention, and sometimes even money (it may cost something to travel or dry clean your suit). You could be spending this time on other aspects of your job search or the needs of your personal life. So if you don’t want to go, don’t go. Don’t feel obligated to attend simply because you’ve been asked.

Too many job interviews can actually lead to too many options.

It’s what’s called a “good problem”, but even a good problem like too many job offers can still be a problem. If we have two options in front of us, most of us weigh the pros and cons of each and eventually make an intelligent, informed decision that meets the needs of our life and circumstances. But when faced with ten options, most people become overwhelmed and make the decision more or

less at random. Don’t move through life like an overwhelmed pinball, bounced haplessly from here to there. To control your progress, start by controlling your path.

“Interviews” are not always real.

Sometimes an interview is not what it seems. Often the job has been informally filled already, but the employer needs to demonstrate that they gave several candidates a chance. And sometimes the “job” has yet to be formalized, the projects the new employee will tackle are not yet funded, the position isn’t technically available or the company isn’t even technically off the ground. If you suspect the job you’re chasing is an illusion, it’s okay to tactfully ask for more details before you commit to an interview. Reach out to the experts at Merritt for help with your specific situation.

Closing the Gap Between Older and Younger Employees

September 18th, 2020

You have a team to manage, and because your company values diversity—as it should—your team is by no means monochromatic in race, gender, background, or specifically, age. Some of your employees are recent graduates in their 20s and some are in their 50s or approaching retirement. You’re proud of this wide range and the way it brings fresh air into the room. But you sometimes observe conflict and miscommunication between one generational cohort and another.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you work to turn age differences into opportunities for growth.

Encourage friendliness without forcing friendships.

It’s okay if your younger workers want to meet up on the weekends without inviting their baby boomer coworkers, and vice versa. If hurt feelings arise as a result of age groups seeking their own, try to bridge the gap without micromanaging social encounters outside of the professional sphere. Your employees are all adults; they can handle their affairs without your help. Instead, ask them to work harder at inclusivity within the walls of the workplace. Lunch, group projects, and coffee breaks are all opportunities to gently encourage efforts at comingling.

Help with the language barrier.

Slang and internet references that vary by age group can be a source of comedy and levity…or they can be a source of genuine stress and confusion. Steer your teams toward the first and away from the second. We all know that baby boomers and generation Z use different argot and respond to different kinds of jokes and metaphors. Keep differences fun, not infuriating, misleading, or divisive.

Respect paths already laid by the culture.

It’s not easy for a 50-year-old employee with decades of experience to be corrected and overruled by a 26-year-old boss. Sometimes this happens, but obtuseness or arrogance from the younger employee can grind the gears, and so can excessive insolence or passive aggression from the older employee. Encourage both to acknowledge the inherent difficulties of the situation and ask them to be flexible—both of them. The same applies to promotion decisions and leadership assignments that go against unspoken rules about the value of seniority, or the unspoken age implications inherent in mentoring relationships or assistance with new technology.

Don’t take age-specific management advice too seriously.

We’re often told that millennials respond well to this type of guidance and poorly to that one. We’re also told that you must never manage a baby boomer with this strategy or that one and you must always treat members of Generation Z in a very specific way…If you make a mistake, the consequences can be dire. This is rarely true. Your employees are unlikely to rebel, quit, spit in your eye, or make expensive mistakes because you accidentally addressed them the way you might speak to someone of a different age. Speak to the person, not the age cohort, and observe and learn from the response you receive. For more guidance, turn to the management experts at Merritt.

Building a Strong Team Culture: What you Need to Know

August 14th, 2020

Every workplace operates with its own culture and its own social ecosystem. This ecosystem can be stronger than the sum of its parts; in some cases, that means that the group maintains values, habits, worldviews, and moods that the individuals within it may not hold at all. In subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways, each person who joins the group begins to change when they enter the workspace or the team space, and these changes may be unrecognized or even involuntary. If the culture of the team is weak, each person becomes a little weaker when they step into the group space. And if the culture is strong, each person becomes a little stronger and their best qualities shine a little brighter when they’re in the company of the team.

A culture of viciousness, pointless competition, brutality, sarcasm, or veniality can infect those who are part of it—even honest and hardworking individuals. And the opposite is also true.

So how can you boost the productivity and overall excellence of your culture, and boost each member of the team by association?

Focus on trust.

People are stronger when they work together. It’s a known fact. Many hands and many minds are almost always better than just one, and solving problems and resolving conflicts are easier when we stand together and commit to the task. But to do that, we have to start with the first building block: trust. If team members are competing against each other instead of an outside force, that’s no good. If team members can’t be open or honest with each other, that’s also a bad sign. To build a culture of trust, start by encouraging (or even requiring) your team to cheer each other on and celebrate each other’s small accomplishments. This may feel fake or forced at the beginning, but in time, it will become as natural as breathing.

Drop the negativity.

While you’re building each other up, work to stop tearing each other down. Distribute resources and attention fairly, give credit where its due, and ask your employees to speak OF and TO each other respectfully, even when they can’t be overheard. praise those who move away from gossip and backstabbing and those who decline rewards that have been handed to them unfairly.

Encourage listening.

Most problems can be solved easily when we seek to understand, not to be understood. This is harder to do than it seems, of course, but with constant encouragement and a little training, you can make progress as a group.

Fun can be more than just fun.

Small celebrations like happy hours and breaks for birthday cake can seem inconsequential, but these unscripted moments are the times when real relationships begin to take root and grow. Make space for them; don’t consider them wasteful. Over time, they can boost productivity far more than any expensive seminar. For more on how to actively change your company or team culture, consult with the 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 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

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.

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.   

Can a Staffing Firm Help Fill an IT Position?

February 14th, 2020

Employers who aren’t familiar with modern staffing solutions often come to the process with a few assumptions. One of these common assumptions involves staffing for highly specialized or narrowly skilled positions. Too often, hiring managers facing an open position in IT rule out the support of a staffing firm, since they need to find a candidate with a deep background in web development, or cybersecurity, or database management, and they aren’t sure a staffing firm has the depth or breadth to handle such a tall task.

If you’re looking for an IT candidate with specific training and certifications, trust a competitive, resourceful staffing team, like Merrit Staffing, to have your back. Here’s why.

Your candidates are out there. We know where to find them.

The technology and communication platforms available to our team are more sophisticated than you might think. Our reach is wide and our connections extend across multiple counties, all of New England, and as far as you’d like your search to take you. We use filters based on your needs and we prescreen every candidate that fits your parameters to make sure they bring the qualifications you’re looking for. We can employ testing, background checks, reference checks and skill screenings based on your needs.

IT candidates use staffing services more than ever.

A growing number of highly skilled IT pros are finding their employers through recruiters and staffing firms, and employers are increasingly able to find ideal matches by handing this task off to professionals. Generations ago, staffing firms typically found temporary help for the warehouse or typing pool, but not anymore. Specialized IT staffing represents a major component of our service offerings.

Communication is key.

One core trait sets Merritt apart from the competition: listening skills. We maintain strong communication channels and use every tool available to make sure we understand exactly what you’re looking for, how your terms and priorities line up, and how either of the two may change. We keep our

ears and our minds open so we can help you find the right candidate with the right skills and a set of goals that align with your business needs.

We know that not all experts are the same.

Even if a given candidate has the right training and certifications to handle your specific back-office platform implementation, you need to know you can trust them as a person. And you want to find someone who can get along with your existing teams and adapt to your company culture. Maybe you even want a candidate who will consider a long term future with the company or one who may be willing to travel. We can help. Our sophisticated sourcing and screening process can provide you with the best possible odds of a successful relationship. Call the team at Merritt Staffing and make an appointment today.

Four Reasons to Hire an Aging Workforce

January 8th, 2020

While some employers may scramble to grab the attention of recent graduates, you may find some distinct benefits by rotating your gaze in another direction. Younger workers in their twenties bring energy to the workplace, and they may have fresher and more vivid retention of the lessons they picked up in the classroom. But if you widen your reach and work to draw older people into your entry and mid-level applicant pool, here are some of the benefits you may gain for your overall productivity, your workplace culture, and your bottom line.

Older workers (surprise) are often more flexible.

Since they’ve lived full lives and they’ve been exposed to a wider range of human experiences, older workers are less likely to become rigid, confused, paralyzed or outraged by events and expectations. For example, if you ask them to stay late to finish a rush order, they’re more likely to respond with calm clarity. They’ll say yes, or no, and move on. Younger workers may be caught off guard by your request, become resentful or flustered, offer more then they’re comfortable with in order to gain your approval, and/or get upset when the approval doesn’t arrive in the form they expect. Is your request reasonable or not? They can’t tell, because they don’t have the life experience to place the request in a context.

Older workers bring the benefits of diversity.

We all know that diversity makes workplaces stronger, more resilient, more innovative, and more productive. Diversity breeds success because any group can accomplish more when the group contains a wider range of talents and worldviews. Just as you work hard to make sure your workplace reflects differences in gender, race, and personal background, make sure the birth dates of those around you are as varied as possible.

Older workers respond to different motivators.

Younger workers often go the extra mile because they’re making long term career plans that extend decades into the future. They know that if they show off, complete training courses, or make valuable mistakes now, the lessons and gains they see will pay off as they move from job to job and promotion to promotion. Older workers don’t usually envision climbing ladders that go on for decades, so they respond to motivators their younger counterparts may ignore. A friendly (if boring) workplace, a fair (if not extravagant) paycheck, meaningful work, a stable company, and generous benefits may keep them cheerfully on board, even if you can’t offer excitement and huge potential for career growth.

Older workers can be more honest and forthright.

Again, older workers are often less fearful of minor upsets or social misunderstandings. Because of this, they can find it much easier to communicate clearly and set clear boundaries and expectations.

For more on why you may want to draw applicants from an elder population, turn to the staffing experts at Merritt.

 

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