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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 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.

Is Your Resume Too Generic for the Job?

December 20th, 2019

Your resume seems excellent on the surface. You use the word “great” at least five times. You also lean heavily on the words “skilled,” “experienced,” and “excellent.” All employers like great candidates, don’t they? So why aren’t you landing more interviews?

Maybe your word choices aren’t giving you the boost that you expect. They may even be holding you back. Here are a few simple tips that can help you get rid of some of that generic language and deliver a more specific, focused, and memorable message.

Review the job post carefully.

All employers want candidates who work hard, show up on time, and look sharp. But these qualities aren’t rare and they won’t set you apart in a crowded pool. To find the traits that WILL set you apart, start by scanning the job post carefully and looking for specific requests that these specific employers find relevant to the position they’re trying to staff. Focus on those traits and on the narrow, measurable skill sets that can bring success in this field, at this level.

Shine a light on the things you offer than nobody else can.

You may be proud of your friendly personality, but you can let that aspect of your candidacy speak for itself. In your resume, focus instead on the skills that took you years to obtain. Focus on your most challenging courses, your most unusual accomplishments, and awards, and the specific lessons you learned in the school of hard knocks. Be most proud of the achievements that came with the highest level of time, setbacks, and difficulty.

Shine a light on preferences few others share.

Do you enjoy some of the aspects of this job that others will merely endure? Do you like humble tasks, dirty tasks, or tasks that others find tedious? Do you like social challenges, public speaking, high pressure, or tight deadlines? Do you thrive in harsh environments, or enjoy extensive work-related travel? Most people don’t. So if you have these traits, you’ll move quickly from a generic scan to a curious second look.

Sharpen your verbs.

Now that you know the specific points that can help your resume stand out go back and highlight those messages by choosing strong verbs. Replace weak choices, like “has,” “was,” “is,” “gave,” and “does,” with more specific ones, like “builds,” “leads,” “directed,” “implemented,” and “organized.”

Add some details that may not be entirely relevant.

Add just one or two proud accomplishments to your resume that don’t directly relate to the job, like sports accomplishments, art awards, or community leadership roles. These small details can help employers notice and remember you as a person.

For more on how give you resume an extra boost and separate yourself from the crowd, turn to the experts at Merritt.

How to Make Temporary Employees Feel Like Part of the Team

December 13th, 2019

Your new employee may not be staying onboard for very long, and they may be here to complete a three-week task and disappear again. But while they’re here, they should feel welcomed, appreciated, and part of the team. Keep in mind that short arrangements often become long term, even if that isn’t part of the plan at the beginning. Here’s how to lay the groundwork for success.

Develop an Official Onboarding Process

Make the most of the employee’s first day. Make sure that when they arrive, they have a computer, a phone, and a dedicated workstation ready, and make sure they understand the lay of the land and what’s expected of them. Most importantly, make sure they have a contact person they can turn to with questions. If you can’t accomplish all of this in one day, aim for one week. In any case, move quickly and efficiently. Don’t let them idle all day long.

Encourage Relationships with the Team

Introduce your employees to the members of the team and allow and encourage them to get to know each other. Even if the new person won’t stay long, take them out to lunch on the first day and give them some time to converse with the others around them. Encourage your teams to be friendly and welcoming.

Give Them the Tools they Need

If your new employee needs a security badge, a list of phone contacts, a map of the job site, an employee handbook, or a set of safety gear, the sooner you supply these things, the better. Make sure the employee feels like an asset, not a burden to the team or company. If this involves coordination with the staffing agency or recruiter who connected the two of you, stay in close communication to avoid bottlenecks and hold-ups.

Don’t Put Them Out on a Limb

Don’t set your temporary employee up for failure by neglecting to explain the most important aspects of the job in advance. This applies to tasks, important workplace rules, dress codes, and safety policies. If the employee comes in blind on day one, make sure they’re fully informed by day two.

Demonstrate the Benefits of Working Here

If there’s a chance, the job may become a permanent role, say so upfront, and explain what will need to happen for this to take place. If certain goals must be met by the time the contract ends, clarify those goals. Work together with the new employee and help them succeed so that they can help the company as much as possible.

For more on how to get the most out of your temporary and contingent staffing agreements, contact the expert team at Merritt.

How Procrastination will Hurt You in the Long Run

November 25th, 2019

Do you tend to put off tasks or ignore obligations until you run head-first into your deadline, or miss it altogether? Do you find yourself waiting until the last minute to begin a project and then doing a sloppy rush job that could have been avoided if you had started earlier?

The tendency to procrastinate is relatively common, and in some cases, it can be serious…and it can also bring serious consequences for those who aren’t sure how to get it under control. If you feel like your minor habit of procrastination is slowly becoming a significant habit, or you’ve already missed one too many deadlines or milestones, and you’d rather not miss any more, keep these thoughts in mind.

Address one problem at a time.

Your report is due in three days. You’ve had it on your plate for two months, and you haven’t yet started. So you have two problems: 1) a report that’s likely to be rushed or missed altogether, and 2) a psychological problem (procrastination) that will haunt you and hold you back long after this report is over and forgotten. Don’t let a sense of paralysis cause you to freeze, give in, and give up on both. Instead, take a deep breath and face the first problem, the report. When that’s over, don’t take a long vacation. Face your next challenge and do what you need to do to get help, counseling, or support. Don’t walk away from either of your challenges; face both, but tackle only one at a time.

The second battle will be harder than the first.

Once your report is no longer an issue, face your procrastination problem with courage and conviction. Ask yourself honestly why you behave this way and what you hope to gain each time you do it. Do you feel rebellious and passive-aggressive, and is procrastination your way of claiming control? (“The person asking me to complete this task can’t tell ME what to do!”) Do you feel scared of the task and doubt you’ll be able to do it successfully? (“As long as I haven’t started yet, I haven’t failed.”) Are you so excited about the task that you’re hiding from your strong feelings? (“I really want to plan this wedding/write this novel/ finish this job application, but I just can’t get started!”) These are all very common reasons why people succumb to procrastination…but they’re all very different. Which do you relate to the most?

Break big tasks into smaller tasks.

No matter which reason best reflects your situation, one approach can help with all three: breaking down your intimidating task, so it no longer controls, scares, or overwhelms you. Instead of “planning a wedding,” choose a date. Instead of “writing a novel,” write a rough outline. Once you’ve started, you’ll find it easier to continue.

Merrit can help you with professional challenges.

For more on how to address and overcome the professional challenges that may be holding you back, talk to the career management team at Merritt!

Do You Have a Hiring Need? Ask Your Team for Their Input

November 18th, 2019

Collaborative hiring, or the process of soliciting input from your entire team while bringing on a new member, can vastly increase your odds of hiring success. By making this one change, you’ll bring significant benefits to team productivity, ease the transition for everyone, and ensure that the new person you choose and bring aboard represents the best possible match. Here are a few of the specific benefits you’ll gain when you make an effort to bring everyone to the table.

It demonstrates trust and strengthens your existing relationships.

Hiring decisions are essential, and they come with high stakes for the company. If something goes wrong, or you choose a candidate who doesn’t fit in and leaves within a few months, the results can be costly and damaging. That makes it all the more meaningful when you tap your employees and specifically solicit their input and feedback. It shows you trust their opinions and instincts when it counts the most, and it shows that you’re listening and interested in providing them with the resources and support they need.

It helps you home in on cultural matches.

It matters if your new employee gets along with the team, and it matters if he/she doesn’t. So don’t try to size the person up on your own and make wild guesses. Instead, introduce the team and then ask them to provide their assessments. For example, if your culture is driven, cold, and impersonal, your employees may not take well to someone who is warm, collaborative, and here to make friends. The opposite can also be true: a chatty, friendly, laid-back team may not be interested in taking on a self-interested cool customer.

It spreads out a blanket of accountability.

Team decisions may take longer to make than individual decisions, and they may bring higher levels of risk and more moving parts, which increase the number of potential failure points. But they also come with an upside: When everyone takes a small portion of responsibility, no one person has to bear responsibility for the entire process. Both credit and blame and shared, and so are long term outcomes, both positive and negative.

It increases overall flexibility.

When your team has a hand in choosing the new employee, they’re more likely to be flexible and accommodating during the unpredictable early stages of the transition. If they don’t understand the person’s motives or tumble into a miscommunication, they’ll be more willing to ask the right questions and patiently work through the issue. If the new person is thrust upon them, they may be more resistant to change and adaptation.

Merritt will help with your hiring needs!

For more on how to make a candidate selection and onboarding as easy and successful as possible for everyone involved, turn to the staffing pros at Merritt.

Four Tips that Can Help You Ace your Phone Interview

October 14th, 2019

Phone interviews and initial phone screenings are not new; they’ve long been used by employers to narrow down a large pool of candidates without the hassled and expense of bringing everyone into the office for an in-person session. Phone interviews usually give both parties a chance to establish a few basic parameters and deal-breakers before either party decides to invest further, a process that cut a large pile of resume in half within hours instead of days.

But there is one aspect of the phone interview process that’s on the rise in the modern workforce: Remote hiring, which may mean that the phone is your only mode of communication, not just your first. In 2019, your employers may hire you based on this medium alone, without ever seeing or talking to you in person.

So here’s how to use the phone (and only the phone!) to show off your readiness for the role.

Check your connections and distractions.

Before the call takes place, check and double-check to make sure your barking dog is locked in another room, your noisy children are in someone else’s care, your phone is fully charged, your signal is strong, and you have everything you need within reach. A quiet room and a strong connection can help you get your message across. If you’re currently employed while taking the call, arrange an hour at home or a coffee shop; try not to scuttle into a stairwell or whisper into the phone from your cubicle while you’re at work.

Do as much research as you can.

It’s always a good idea to research the company and the job before an interview, but this is especially important when the interview happens by phone. Why? Because over the phone, you have limited ways to show off. It’s harder to steer the conversation in your direction when you can’t use visual cues, and you can’t wow your interviewer with your million-dollar smile. So use what you have! A few signs of effort can go a long way.

Speak more slowly and clearly than you normally do.

You may think it’s best to adopt a natural and relaxed demeanor and be yourself. But over the phone, the stakes are higher if you deliver a garbled sentence or tell an incomplete story. If your witty remarks fall flat because your interviewers didn’t understand you, the fallout can be unfortunate. Slow down. Enunciate. And use fewer words to make your point than you would in person.

Reveal yourself through your voice.

Smile when you greet your caller; the person can hear your smile. Before you answer any question, pause for two full seconds. Convey your energy and interest through your voice. Again, you have limited ways to do this, so make the most of all of them!

For more on how to crush your interview, contact the staffing team at Merritt!

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