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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.

Soft Skills Top Candidates Possess

April 8th, 2016

In an effort to categorize candidate skill sets and measure the value of one applicant over another, some employers divide a candidate’s profile into distinct “hard” and “soft” skill sets. While hard skills refer to job-specific capabilities (like proficiency with a specific piece of equipment), soft skills tend to be universal, non-industry-specific, and woven into a candidate’s personality and life experience. Hard skills, for example, might include knowledge of medical billing codes and the ability to pass a test on this subject. But soft skills might include negotiation, public speaking, customer service, conflict resolution, or problem solving. Here are a few of the soft skills that employers value most.

Written and spoken communication

Candidates who can express a complex thought in clear terms are not as common as you might believe, and are valued highly by employers in almost every industry. If you can write a clear message, use your words to explain your point of view, or contribute your voice to group discussions, you’ll want to make this known during your job search.

Critical thinking and problem solving

Sure, you can pass a test if your study beforehand and know exactly what to expect. But when life throws you a curveball, how do you react? Can you think on your feet and solve complex puzzles, even those that involve unpredictable factors like human nature? Can you face new situations or unexpected obstacles without losing your cool? Can you think your way out a sticky situation or take advantage of an unexpected opportunity before it passes by? Strong critical thinkers recognize multiple sides of a problem, situation, or argument.

Resilience

Resilience doesn’t mean staying on your feet and winning every single game you play. It doesn’t mean avoiding risk and setting a low bar in order to maintain an unbroken track record of “success”. It means setting a high bar, taking on big challenges, failing, and bouncing back. Resilient people are no strangers to the ground; they get knocked down on a regular basis. But they don’t stay down. Every time they hit the floor, they learn something, get back up and head back into the game with greater knowledge and experience than they had before.

Social skills

In our modern economy, there are very few jobs and industries that don’t require social interaction. And there are very few paths to success that don’t require making friends, gaining trust and respect, building coalitions, and maintaining a reputation of kindness and dependability. If you have trouble getting others to like and trust you, you’ll need to work on this in order to maximize your potential. If you thrive in this area, you’re likely to climb the ladder much faster.

For more information on the kinds of soft skills that can add power to you job search, reach out to the Hartford career development experts at Merritt Staffing.

Turn a Temporary Assignment into a Full Time Opportunity

February 19th, 2016

If you’re stepping into your new temporary job because you really do only want a temporary job, and you plan to say goodbye later without looking back, that’s fine. But if you’d like to leverage this temporary role into career stepping stone, or maybe even a full time position, the power to do so is well within your reach. Here are a few simple moves that can turn your short term gig into a long term opportunity.

Ask a few questions.

Starting on your first day, make it clear that you’d like to make a strong impression, and ask a few questions to find out where this job can take you. Until you ask, you have no way of knowing if full time positions may become available here. You also have no way of knowing how to make a grab for those positions. And your employers have no way of knowing that this prospect interests you. As far as they know, you’re happy to leave when your contract period ends. So explain that, if possible, you’d like to stay.

Make a winning impression.

Again, starting on day one, demonstrate that you aren’t here to fool around. Dress for the full time job you’d like to land eventually. Or at the very least, stay as neat and professional as your workspace will allow. Make direct eye contact and offer a friendly, fully engaged smile to everyone you meet here. Show a genuine personal interest in both the job and the company.

Treat mistakes and lessons as a long term experience.

When you make a mistake and are corrected, treat this as an opportunity for growth. Most temporary employees will dismiss the moment (“I’m only going to be here for two weeks, so what does it matter?”) But if you take a different approach, you’ll send a stronger message (as in, “I’d like to get this right, so I can avoid making similar mistakes in the future.”)

Build relationships.

Try not to drift in and out of the facility every day like a nameless ghost. Make connections by remembering people’s names and recalling personal conversations. Show that you care about these people and in return, they’ll start caring about you. By the time your contract period ends, your employers will be more invested in what becomes of you. They’ll also make more of an effort to create room for you within this organization.

Ask for exposure.

If your temporary job involves filing in an out-of-the way office or moving boxes on the loading dock, try to learn more about the larger organization and how its business model works. Express an interest in expanding your skills and experience beyond your limited workspace. Even if no full time jobs are available in this space, your supervisor may be willing to shift you to another temporary position in another part of the company.

For more on how to leverage every temporary opportunity into a potential long term job, contact the Hartford staffing professionals at Merritt.

Top Traits to Look For in Customer Service Talent

February 5th, 2016

Your company’s reputation, your bottom line, and your financial future all depend on the group of hard working professionals who stand between the company and the public and serve as ambassadors for your brand. So when you hire a candidate for a customer service position, you only want the best. Keep in mind that your customers have access to online review sites and are likely to share their experience with a wider audience, for better or worse. So if your customer service team can protect this experience and associate your brand with positive feelings, you’ll come out ahead. Here are a few traits to look for during the selection process.

Friendly confidence

Within the first ten minutes of your interview session, ask yourself a few quick mental questions: would you turn to this person if you needed help or an answer to a question? Would you follow their advice? If your candidate’s demeanor puts you at ease, that’s a great sign. If they seem comfortable in their own skin and make you feel comfortable in yours, that’s even better.

Experience with pressure.

Ask your candidate a few behavioral questions in order to assess her professional experience. For example, ask her to describe a situation in which she dealt with an unhappy customer under challenging circumstances. What were the specifics and how did she respond? If you appreciate the story (whatever it may be), that’s good news. But if the candidate can’t recall such an episode—or worse, if her idea of a “challenging” situation doesn’t measure up to yours—make a note of it.

Tenacity

When life presents us with a problem, most of us make a few easy attempts to solve it, and if these don’t work, we ignore the problem until it goes away (which problems often do). But in customer service, this approach just won’t sail. Will your candidate go the distance to resolve customer concerns? Will he apply a combination of knowledge, common sense, and critical thinking until the customer walks away happy? Or will he look for the fastest and easiest way to end the interaction?

Teamwork

This trait can be essential in a customer service environment, so you’ll need to ask a few pointed questions to determine how your candidate steps up to lead and steps back to follow when necessary.
Willingness to learn new things

This customer service role may involve a software system or a set of communications equipment that your candidate has never used before. Can this candidate handle a steep learning curve? Again, a few behavioral questions can help you use his or her past to make predictions about the future.

For more on how to find the candidates who can meet your needs and contribute to your team, reach out to the Connecticut staffing professionals at Merritt.

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