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Don’t Treat a Phone Interview Casually

August 25th, 2017

If you’re like most job seekers, you prepare well in advance for your face-to-face interviews, dressing to impress, researching the company, and taking extra precautions to put your best foot forward. But you probably don’t take the same approach or invest the same time and thought in a simple phone screening. But you probably should. Give yourself an advantage during the search and take a few extra steps that your competitors are likely to ignore. Here’s how.

Be yourself…but be your BEST self.

Affecting a fake persona during an interview isn’t a good idea, and over the phone this plan is even more likely to backfire. So don’t try to be someone you aren’t. But do bring your friendliest, most engaged, and most organized and purposeful side to the call. Sit up straight, or stand. Speak a bit more slowly and clearly than you’re used to. Smile as you speak— your listener can hear your smile.

Prepare beforehand.

Make sure you’re ready to take the call in a quiet place with no distractions or unpredictable noises in the background. And of course, don’t create these noises yourself. If you think your listener can’t hear you flushing a toilet or eating a snack, think again. The room around you presents a soundscape that your listeners can easily interpret, so don’t reveal what’s around you. When you take the call, do it far away from coffee shops, bathrooms, and dog kennels.

Do some research.

A phone screening doesn’t require the same depth of research that might help during a face-to-face meeting, but do some research all the same. Impress your employers by showing that you’re invested in the job and you’re interested in moving the process forward. A few minutes spent reviewing the company’s website should suffice; don’t miss this easy opportunity to shine.

Ask questions now.

During your initial phone call, you’ll have a chance to ask questions that may feel awkward later in the hiring process. For example, if you suspect that this job will pay far less than you can accept, get this cleared up now. Don’t waste the employer’s time and your own by moving forward toward an offer that you’ll inevitably reject. The same applies to other clear dealbreakers, like a geographic location far outside of your search range.

Prepare your tools.

Check to make sure your phone connection is clear and you have access to whatever conference platforms your employer plans to use during the call. If you plan to take notes, make sure you have your note-taking program or pad and pen handy. While you’re at it, prepare a list of questions you’d like to ask and key points you’d like to make about your background and credentials. Be ready to share these details without being directly asked. If you wait for the perfect prompt, you may miss your moment.

For more on how to make the most of your phone interview and move forward to the offer you’re looking for, turn to the Fairfeld County job search experts at Merritt.

Encouraging Employees to Continue Learning

March 10th, 2017

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

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

Podcasts and webcasts

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

LinkedIn groups

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

Courses and certification programs.

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

Team up with local resources

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

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

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 Connecticut 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 Connecticut staffing experts 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.

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.

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.

Is it Okay to Quit Without Giving Two Weeks’ Notice?

March 18th, 2016

You don’t love your current job. Your boss is disrespectful, your paycheck is ridiculous, your workplace culture is toxic, and though there are plenty of available positions above you, you’ve been denied a promotion request twice in a row. As you launch your job search and start receiving offers from potential employers, how carefully should you factor the needs of your current company into your future plans? Specifically, should you walk out when you please, or should you provide two weeks’ notice and serve out your last ten days faithfully?

As the premier staffing and employment team in the Connecticut area, with decades of collective career management experience, we recommend providing two weeks’ notice…always. Regardless of the circumstances giving notice is a standard professional courtesy that costs very little and provides big returns. Here’s why.

Your future employers expect this.

Since this is a standard and widely accepted gesture, your next employers should have no trouble scheduling your start date to accommodate a two-week overlap period. If they balk at this perfectly reasonable request or insist that you start right away, something is wrong. Look closely at the offer and make sure your new employer is professional and legitimate before you make a long-term commitment.

It’s not required, but it’s generous and gracious.

Your integrity and your reputation are among the few things that will stay with you as you move from job to job throughout your career. Whenever possible, when you leave, leave on good terms. Companies often add this final parting note to your records (whatever these records consist of), and your choice to walk out or give notice may mean the difference between a glowing recommendation and a position on a permanent blacklist.

Think about who may suffer or benefit.

When you leave abruptly, your managers must scramble to fill your position and they may be left in a serious lurch. But your managers aren’t the only ones who may suffer; think about the problems you may be creating for your co-workers, your clients, your accounts, your vendors, and anyone else who has to shoulder an extra burden until your replacement is hired. You may meet these people again during your professional life.

It won’t cost much.

In the heat of the moment, you may be so focused on the future and excited about your new job that attending to the old job for ten more days may seem like a drag — or even a waste of your valuable time. But be patient. These last days will fly by faster than you realize, and soon you’ll be on your way to your next goal and the next chapter of your career journey.

For more on how to land a new offer and what to do once that offer is in your inbox, contact the staffing professionals at Merritt.

Social Skills Employers Need

June 26th, 2015

Social and interpersonal skills (once referred to as “soft” skills) are considered a critical aspect of success in almost every industry. And as it happens, some of these skills are harder to find than others. Mangers often sift through huge stacks of resumes and interview an exhaustive list of candidates before they come across one or two who can offer the level of social savvy, empathy, and communication skill required by a given open position.

But among these crucial skill sets, which ones are considered the most valuable? And if you possess these abilities, how can you make this clear to employers during your job search? Here are a few tips and considerations to keep in mind.

Written and spoken communication skills are indispensable.

The ability to read and write an email, give instructions, receive instructions, explain a complex situation, or listen as someone else offers a similar explanation are required skills in the modern workplace. And while almost every one of us can do these things, some employees can execute these tasks at a higher level. As far as possible, work to become one of the employees in this rare group. Practice your writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills at every opportunity.

Show, don’t just tell.

If you excel in the areas of written communication or document design, you can mention this directly in your resume (and are wise to do so). But our actions always speak louder than our words, and the best way to send this message is by creating an absolutely show-stopping resume and cover letter. Get help from a professional resume editor if necessary, but keep in mind that your word choices, your layout decisions, and your attention to detail will speak for themselves.

The interview table will be your stage.

The same rule applies to your in-person interview. Nothing sends a weaker message than a candidate who avoids eye contact and mumbles an inarticulate statement like, “I’m great with people” or “I’m an excellent speaker.” By the same token, if you sit up straight, speak with confidence, and practice your elevator pitch until you can recite it in your sleep, then your interviewer won’t even have to ask about your communication skills; they’ll be evident from the moment you walk into the room.

Pause, relax, and think as you speak (or write).

Your communication and interpersonal skills show clearly in your words and expressions…but they also show in your pauses and silences. Communication is a two way street, and empathy and listening skills are a vital element of the equation. Make you’re hearing the messages delivered by others, not just shaping and delivering your own.

For more on how to sharpen and showcase your “soft” skills and communication strengths, reach out to the staffing and career management team at Merritt.

 

The Benefits of a Temporary Position

March 20th, 2015

You’re stepping onto the job market and you need to find work as soon as…yesterday. Ideally, of course, you’d like to land the perfect job—one that will take your career to the next level while paying the full time salary and benefits you need. So you’re following every lead and turning over every stone as you struggle to begin the next chapter of your working life. You’ve posted online profiles, reached out to your network, and scanned every job board you can find online. But have you also considered stepping into a temporary position? Here are some of the benefits of partnering with a temp agency during your job search.

Temp Work Often Leads to full time Employment

When you connect with a temporary staffing agency, you won’t just be filling your workweek and collecting a paycheck. You’ll be making connections with a potential new full time employer, one who may be able to offer a specialized position that matches your skills and sets you up for success in your chosen industry. If your relationship works out, you may have the option of shifting to full time work when your contract period expires.

Temporary Work Keeps Your Skills Fresh

Accepting a temporary position in your field can help you stay in circulation and keep your skills sharp while you continue looking for long term opportunities. You’ll also have an easier time keeping up with new trends and software tools that can help you excel no matter where your future takes you.

Temp Work Brings Low Risk

If you accept a temporary position with an employer who can’t meet your needs or a workplace that can’t accommodate your schedule, don’t worry; the agency can simply reassign you to another client. There’s no need for drama, and you can move from one position to the next with minimal gaps in between.

Temp Work Means a Steady Paycheck

Years ago, the word “temp agency” conjured up images of low skill work at low pay. But times have changed, and temp agency professionals now maintain client relationships with a wide variety of industry employers looking for candidates with every skill set at every level, including technical, executive, and professional positions. We serve clients in every corner of the marketplace, from healthcare to hospitality to IT. If you’re looking for a position that can help you keep your career and skills on track, contact the staffing team at Merritt and arrange an appointment today.

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