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Teamwork is Important, But What About Personal Motivation?

February 10th, 2017

You have a slate of interviews lined up with promising candidates, all of whom look great (or at least pretty good) on paper. They all have a record of accomplishments, promising backgrounds, and educational credentials that fit the bill. So when you sit with them at the interview table, you’ll want to delve into the areas that don’t typically show in a resume. First and foremost, you’ll want to know what it’s like to work with a given candidate each day, and how well that candidate will get along with coworkers, clients, and other contacts. You’ll need a team player, for sure.

But you’ll also need a candidate who can keep working hard (and keep doing the right thing) even when the team isn’t around. Is your candidate able to work alone? Can she show initiative and keep herself busy, even without constant oversight? Can he strive to excel even when there’s nobody cheering him on? Here are a few ways to assess personal motivation during an interview.

Stay open ended.

Use open-ended behavioral questions that allow candidates to speak freely and describe themselves on their own terms. For example, if you’ll like to know how well a candidate functions without oversight, frame your question like this: “Have you ever worked in an environment with very little supervision? Tell me about that time.” Or you can try: “What do you typically do during the day when you’ve finished one project but haven’t yet received instructions for the next one?” Avoid any question that can be answered with a yes or no, or with a single word.

Ask for tales of adventure.

Start a few of your questions with phrases that involve superlatives, like “During X period of time, what was the hardest thing you had to do…”, “What made you the most proud…” or “When did you feel the best/worst/most alone/most engaged/most disappointed/ most frustrated….?” These kinds of questions can help you in two ways. First, they offer some insight into a meaningful episode in the candidate’s background and how well he works with others. And second, they can reveal a candidate’s sense of scale and life experience.

Talk about introversion and extroversion.

Discuss the spectrum of introversion and extroversion and ask the candidate to position him or herself on that spectrum. Chances are, after she answers, she’ll keep talking and tell you a little bit more about the social environments that she tends to find draining and energizing.

Be honest about the position.

Half of your interview will involve listening, and half will involve speaking, explaining, and describing the position at hand. If this position will require very high levels of solitude and personal motivation, just say so. Pay close attention to how the candidate reacts.

For more on how to find candidates with the right personal traits for your open position and your workplace, reach out to the Hartford accounting staffing professionals at Merritt.

Reentering the Workforce? Five Ways to Make the Process Easier

July 29th, 2016

If you’ve been absent from the work force for a few years (or more than a few) and you’re trying to elbow your way back in, you may encounter frustrations and obstacles that your competitors don’t have to deal with. But don’t worry; with a little patience and focus, you’ll soon be launching a new chapter of your career story. A few simple re-entry tips can move the process forward.

Keep your expectations reasonable.

Immeasurable amounts of human suffering come not from adverse events, but from inaccurate and unrealistic expectations. When you’re coming back into the market after a period of absence, you’ll have to accept that your search may take a while. There’s nothing wrong with you—you just need to take several swings before you finally hit your homerun. If you let frustration and impatience get the best of you, you may bail out too soon or reduce your expectations and take a second rate job just to have a paycheck. Be patient.

If you don’t have a network, use what you have.

Job seekers are often told to rely on their “network of professional contacts”, but if you haven’t set foot in the workplace in ten years, you probably don’t have a network of professional contacts. That’s okay. Just work with what you do have: friends, family, amiable strangers at social events, and industry people you may meet online. Make the most of these resources and stay in circulation. Make sure your contacts know what you’d like to do and what you’re looking for.

Take a class or volunteer (or both).

In order to brush up on rusty skill sets and demonstrate that you’re still in touch with your field, sign up for a local university or community college course. Meanwhile, if you can find a non-profit group in your area that might benefit from your unique skills sets, submit yourself as a volunteer. Stick with non-profits; too many for-profit corporations will happily accept free labor from anxious mid-career candidates reentering the market, just like you. Don’t allow yourself to be exploited.

Work part time.

Accepting a part time job, even one that lies outside of your industry, can remove some of the urgency from your job search process. Even a modest income can prevent you from accepting the wrong job, working for free, taking a lowball salary, or otherwise making poor decisions out of desperation. You’ll find your way back onto the ladder soon. But in the meantime, you’ll need to keep a cool head and stay in control of your career destiny.

For more on how to polish your skill sets and restart a career climb that’s been on hold for a while, reach out to the professional Fairfield County staffing team at Merritt.

Linkedin Mistakes that Can Make you Look Unprofessional

June 24th, 2016

LinkedIn can be a valuable job search tool if you’re actively looking for work. And even if you’re currently employed, the site can make your profile and career stats available to recruiters in case a better opportunity comes along. So having any small bit of information posted on the site—even just a barebones description or a one-paragraph career summary—might be more advantageous than having nothing posted at all.
Or is it? There are a few common LinkedIn mistakes that can actually turn your profile into a net negative for your job search prospects. If you’re guilty of any of these, consider making some adjustments to your profile or removing it altogether.

Unprofessional updates

Do you respond to every single post that appears in your feed, no matter how meaningless the post or how poorly thought-out the response? Remember, others can see both your posts and your responses, and the things you say (even casual, off-the-cuff remarks) will provide them with impressions that can hurt your reputation. Don’t make thoughtless remarks, don’t be rude, don’t be frivolous, and don’t share posts that are deeply personal. Save those for Facebook.

Starting your profile without completing it

It’s okay to present a lean, minimalist career summary or a short, straightforward, one-line description for each of your past positions. But there’s a difference between a barebones style and an incomplete profile. If you start creating a profile, finish it. Don’t leave half-finished sentences or unanswered questions.

Neglecting to respond

Of course you’ll get plenty of junk mail and meaningless alerts onLinkedIn, as with any other social media site. And of course you don’t have to personally respond to every message, every friend request, and every stranger’s eager attempt at self-promotion. But when you get a message that you care about, respond quickly. This will demonstrate that you do actually check the site on a regular basis and LinkedIn is a valid and reliable way to communicate with you.

Negativity

If you disagree with another person’s post, theory, or opinion on LinkedIn, keep a cool head. Don’t start public wars on LinkedIn where your every word, including your witty retorts, can be read by potential employers. When it comes to career building and personal marketing, negativity is negative, plain and simple.

Never checking the site at all.

LinkedIn won’t do you any good if you never visit the site at all (as in, fewer than once every six months). If you don’t plan to check for alerts, accept new contact requests, respond to messages, or read posts and updates, take your profile down. You’ll only frustrate those who use the site to reach out to you.

For more on how to get the most out of LinkedIn during your job search, contact the Westchester County experts at Merritt.

Managing Your Professional Reputation

May 27th, 2016

In our digital age, your reputation is a 24-hour engine, and it’s always working even when you’re not. A generation ago, managing your reputation simply meant monitoring your words and behavior around others and working hard to accumulate a record of accomplishments and skills that could help you climb the ladder. When someone asked, you could show them your resume and work forward from there. But at this point, curious employers and network contacts don’t have to ask. They can simply type your name into a search engine and form an opinion based on what they find.

Is this a positive development? It depends on who you ask, and when. Can it support your success during the job search process? Yes. But it can also hold you back. Here are a few moves that can help you control and make the most of your online reputation.

Look yourself up.

Start your reputation management program by taking the steps a stranger might take to learn more about you. Type your name into Google and check your Facebook settings to determine which of your photos and posts are publicly visible. Knowledge is power, so make this move first.

Address the negative.

If strangers and potential employers can easily find information that embarrasses or misrepresents you, find a way to close this down or rein it in. Tighten your privacy settings, remove some of your awkward past tweets, and reach out to others who have posted or shared negative information attached to your name. Ask them to take it down.

Start building up the positive.

After you’ve addressed what you can and made peace with what you can’t, move on. Start flooding the airwaves with positive press and build up search results that frame you in a glowing, trustworthy light. Start a professional blog, establish yourself as an industry expert, and share news of your recent awards and publications. Use every channel available to you, including twitter and Facebook.

Make an appearance on Linkedin.

If you don’t yet have a profile available on Linkedin, establish one now. Include a flattering professional picture of yourself and the basic framework of your education and work history. You don’t have to share anything you don’t want the world to see, but if you include your name, photo, target job title, and geographic area, employees and recruiters will be more likely to contact you.

Post your resume.

No matter how you decide to do this, make your resume available to anyone who might be looking for it. You can use your personal blog, your website, or your Linkedin profile, but allow visitors and potential employers to glean the information they need without having to ask.
For more on how to create, build, and maintain and online presence that helps you shine, reach out to the Danbury staffing and job search team at Merritt Staffing.

What are your Future Plans?

April 15th, 2016

Regardless of your specific industry or the nature of your target position, there’s a strong chance that your interviewer will eventually ask you about your future plans and ambitions, and when the conversation shifts toward this topic, you’ll want to be ready. Can you share your future plans in a way that’s honest, relevant and interesting? Can you frame your goals in way that aligns with the needs and goals of your future employer? Here are a few tips that can help you ace this aspect of your interview.

Plan ahead.

Since you know this question is coming your way, work out the details of your answer beforehand, so you aren’t caught off guard. A little research can help you frame a response that works for both you and for your potential employer. If this company plans to develop a foothold in a niche market that you understand in depth, or launch a product that lies within your area of interest and expertise, highlight this connection. Otherwise, simply map out a response that’s articulate, clear, and concise.

Don’t sputter out.

Far too often, interviewers encounter candidates (especially younger candidates) who do not seem to know or care what will become of them in the future. When they’re asked to describe their future ambitions, they freeze and fall silent, or they simply gaze two steps down the path ahead and mumble something like “Well….I want a job that can help me pay off my debts.” Don’t do this. Of course you want “a job”; that’s why you’re here. But aim higher and dig deeper. What would you really like to get out of this experience, and where do you see yourself five years from now?

Focus on skill overlaps.

If you hold a degree in accounting, and this is an accounting position, that’s great. But since every other candidate will also hold a similar degree and similar accounting plans, bring another one of your skill sets and interests into the mix. For example, you may also be bilingual. Or you may also be interested in art and design. Or you may also have a science background. Explain how your dual interests and areas of expertise can specifically benefit your employer; this can help set you apart from the rest of the applicant pool.

Focus on your body language.

In addition to your words, your non-verbal gestures should also send the message that no matter where you’re going, you’re determined, energetic, and ambitious. Maintain eye contact and lean forward as your speak. Keep an eye on your interviewer to make sure they’re following along and understanding you.
For more on how to explain your future plans and keep your interview on track to success, contact the job search and staffing team at Merritt.

Prep Your Staff for Temporary Employees

March 4th, 2016

Taking on a team of temporary or contingency employees can help your company thrive during challenging times, and these extra hands can be a godsend when you’re trying to process an avalanche of new orders during your busiest season. But workplaces can be delicate ecosystems, and the arrival of new faces and personalities can sometimes shake up the status quo. Make sure your existing teams are not only prepared for the newcomers, but ready to give them a warm welcome and a helping hand. Here are a few tips that can keep the transition smooth and seamless.

Give plenty of warnings about dates and times.

As soon as you know when your new recruit—or recruits—will start, let affected employees know. But because the start date may be a long way down the road, expect them to forget. Send reminders a few times before the actual day arrives. Along with these reminders, encourage your teams to treat the new arrivals in a way that represents the company well. Request friendliness and proactive outreach.

Provide a place to land.

Don’t leave your new employee idling in the reception area or an empty conference room while you scramble to set up a workspace. Do this beforehand and you’ll cut back on expensive wasted time and general awkwardness. The same applies to HR processing and paperwork; try to get the new person up and running as soon as possible on his or her start date.

Employees should know what’s expected.

If you expect one of your employees to greet the person at the door, and another to conduct his first training session, and yet another to take him to lunch on his first day, make sure each of these employees clearly understands your expectations. Who will be the person’s “boss” or day-to-day supervisor? Who will they turn to when they have general questions? Who will be responsible for distributing and monitoring their assignments?

A little hype can’t hurt.

If you’re excited about your new employee, encourage your current teams to share that excitement. Tell them a little bit about her profile and background, and share some of her expressed interests. This will give them something to talk to her about, and it might preemptively break the ice.

Keep an open door.

If your assigned “coach” or manager finds him or herself at a loss, make sure they know where to turn. Sometimes having a temporary or new employee in the workspace can be confusing for everyone, but if your teams know where to take their questions, the acclimation process will be a little easier.

For more on how to help your new and existing employees connect and start working together as a team, reach out to the Westchester staffing experts at Merritt Staffing.

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