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Reducing Stress with a Contingent Workforce

October 10th, 2014

Your busy season is about to begin, and you’re anticipating a flood of new orders and new projects that will roll in like a wave and overwhelm your current teams, just like it did last year (and the year before). Every year, your teams hold on by their fingertips, working overtime and losing sleep. And each year at least one or two of them flirt with the idea of leaving. While your employees are running themselves ragged trying to keep up with their demanding workloads, you’re experiencing your own form of stress while you wait for your most talented workers to reach their limit, walk into your office and give their notice.

But you and your employees don’t have to live this way for three, five, or eleven months of the year. Consider a practical alternative: a contingency staffing plan. Here’s how a temporary team can lift your seasonal burden without breaking your budget.

Contingency staffing reduces your financial and personal obligations.

Temporary employees aren’t hired and paid by you; they’re hired and paid by the agency. This means that you don’t have to make any long term promises or plans regarding their relationship with your company. You don’t have to worry about taxes, paperwork, salary negotiations, or insurance. You’ll keep them onboard as long as you need them, and when your workload settles down, the agency will place them elsewhere.

Contingency staffing is flexible.

When a temporary employee enters your workplace, your agency contract will allow the two of you to work together for an extended period of time before either of you decide to make a long term commitment. You can test drive the arrangement to see how well it works for both of you, and when you’re ready, you’ll have the option of taking him or her on as a permanent hire.

Contingency staffing is easy.

An experienced staffing agency will listen carefully to your needs and requirements and find a pool of candidates who fit the bill. Here at Merritt, we have an extensive network of industry contacts and a sophisticated screening and selection process that can help you quickly identify the employees most likely to thrive in your workplace.

When you’re ready to take on some extra hands and tackle your seasonal challenges, put your trust in the Fairfeld County staffing experts at Merritt. Contact our office for a consultation.

Hiring Strategies: Immediate Need Vs Long Term Growth Potential

July 25th, 2014

When you envision your ideal candidate, are you picturing someone who can step into your open position, start contributing immediately, and occupy this role into the indefinite future? Or are you picturing a candidate who will hold this role only long enough to gain the experience and exposure she needs to reach the next level? In other words, are you looking for skilled candidates who can meet your immediate needs, or are you hiring for traits that bring greater returns in the future than they will in the present? Here are a few traits to look for in each case.

Hiring for Immediate Need

If you need a candidate who can step directly into a skilled position and contribute high returns right away, you’ll need someone who already possesses expensive certifications, training and experience that can take years to obtain. On the positive side, these qualifications can be easy to measure, easy to test, and easy to state on a resume. Either the candidate has them or she doesn’t. On the negative side, a well prepared candidate comes with a high salary premium. If you hire an untrained, high potential prospect, you can pay a discounted salary and provide the necessary training at your own expense and under your own aegis.

Hiring For Long Term Growth Potential

As mentioned above, hiring for long term potential places training costs and risk in the employers hands. But these things also become the employer’s responsibility, and if the candidate fails to live out her potential, the cost of the failure falls entirely onto the employer. A high potential candidate has skills and qualifications that can be difficult to measure.

For example, an immediate need candidate holds a degree, a state license, and four years of relevant experience. A high potential candidate holds none of these things, but her personality traits and non-relevant track record suggest that she’s smart and driven and she’ll gather these credentials in due time. Measuring certifications is easy. Measuring intelligence and drive can subjective and complex. Before you pursue this route, review data that show a clear link between the personality traits you’re targeting and success with this position over the long term.

For more information that can help you determine which hiring strategy will better meet your needs, contact the staffing experts at Merritt.

Hiring Great Millennial Employees

May 9th, 2014

New grads and job seekers between the ages of 22 and 35, often called millennials, represent the younger end of the workforce and as such, they tend to bring both the promise and the struggles that have been associated with their age group for many years. But some of the traits and tendencies that younger workers bring to the table in 2014 are unique to their own time and place in the world.

Like younger workers in every age, millennials tend to be optimistic, loyal, eager to please, and unable to accurately assess the value they add to the workplace (they tend to over or underestimate their own talents and contributions due to a lack of perspective and life experience.) Unique to our age, millennials also bring a high level of comfort with (even dependence on) technology. And they tend to be collaborative, sensitive to the needs of others, and often afraid to make independent decisions or act without supervision.

If you’re in the process of hiring millennial candidates for your junior or entry level positions, here are a few tips that can help you attract the best qualities this age group has to offer.

1. Cater to the generation.

Aggressive, demanding job posts with long lists of “must haves” and “need not apply’s” will deter bold, confident candidates and attract risk-averse, nervous grinds. Remember that most of what you need from candidates at this level can be taught on the job. The things that can’t be taught—like positivity, flexibility, grit, and general intelligence—are the kinds of things you’ll need to select for.

2. Don’t underpay.

Yes, younger candidates typically need to accept lower salaries. This has been the primary burden of the entry level since the dawn of time. But if you lure talented candidates onboard and secure them with lowball salaries, they’ll leave as soon as they can (i.e. as they start to gain experience and add real value). If you want a revolving door at the entry level, pay the minimum. But if you want to hire candidates with long term potential and watch them grow with the company, you’ll have to offer competitive rates and meaningful benefits.

3. Conduct intelligent interviews.

Asking your candidates what color crayon they would be or which cartoon character they like the most might seem like a cute way to present yourself as a fun workplace. But we advise against this. Instead, ask meaningful questions about the candidate’s preparation for the job at hand, and explain your culture as directly and honestly as you can. Use behavioral questions (“Describe a leadership challenge you’ve faced in the past”) and problem solving questions (“How would you climb to the top of a tall building with only a piece of string and a pack of gum?”) but don’t bait or demean your candidates. Keep things professional.

For more on how to attract and retain the best millennial candidates on the job market, reach out to the experienced staffing experts at Merritt.

Preparing for an Administrative Interview

March 28th, 2014

Modern administrative professionals occupy a job category once staffed by secretaries, receptionists, personal assistants, travel coordinators, office managers and a wide range of other personnel who devoted their full-time energy to specific components of a role that’s now often held by just one person. In the digital age, “admins” usually wear all of these hats at once. That means their jobs are highly technology-dependent, and their multitasking capacities are often pushed to the limit.

When you schedule a job interview for an admin position, expect a host of questions about your experience with scheduling, budgeting, presentation support, travel planning, customer service, and spoken and written communication. Here are a few of the questions you’ll probably face.

1. Have you done this kind of work before?

Don’t just answer yes or no. Instead, take the floor and speak in an open ended way about how your previous positions and previous experience have prepared you for this role as you see it. Let your employer know what you’ve done in the past, but in addition, use the moment to demonstrate your ability to speak in a way that’s articulate and poised. Show that you know how to think on your feet.

2. If you’re needed during weekends, or if you’re asked to work late with little or no notice, can you do it?

Resist the urge to just say yes. Think carefully about the time you’re willing to invest in this position, and answer honestly. If you describe your true availability, you’ll save countless time and headaches down the road for both your employer and yourself.

3. What admin software platforms are you familiar with?

List and describe your familiarity with word processing and database management programs, like Word and Excel. Then describe your experience with document and photo editing software, presentation platforms and anything else you feel might benefit your employer. Don’t wait for him to ask for specifics—again, just speak freely about your proficiencies.

4. Can you describe an episode in which you 1.) faced a workplace conflict 2.) faced a leadership challenge 3.) faced failure 4.) faced an ethical dilemma on the job, 4.) faced an impossible task, etc, etc. What happened and how did you respond?

These are called “behavioral questions”, and they help employers determine if you’re a fit for the culture of this workplace. When you hear a question like this, pause before you answer. Then tell a story that’s true, short, and illustrates how you solve problems and bounce back from challenges.

For more on what to expect during your administrative interview and tips on how to prepare, contact the CT job search and employment experts at Merritt Staffing.

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