What a Neutral Personal Reference Says About Your Candidate

December 27th, 2013

You’ve reviewed your candidate’s resume, called him or her in for an interview, and kept him on the short list while crossing off one contender after another. You’re now down to three or four top choices, but you only have one position to offer, and the final stage of the selection process–reference checks– will hopefully simplify your decision.

The particular candidate in question, even though he’s still in the running, is a toss-up. A few members of your team like her and a few others would prefer someone else. So you’re listening very hard and reading between the lines of every conversation you initiate with the references. But you aren’t getting very far, because the references aren’t giving you much to go on. Their comments are bland, vaguely positive, pleasant, and non-specific. What does this mean? Here are a five ways to interpret these neutral responses.

1. Your candidate isn’t a risk taker. He toes the line, does what he’s told, and he doesn’t make very many mistakes. He can’t be accused of messing anything up, but that may be because he’s never broken a rule, never made a bad suggestion, never shut down a bad idea, and never made an unexpected or unsolicited proposal.

2. When it comes to personal relationships, your candidate travels light. He hasn’t left any broken friendships or partnerships behind, but maybe that’s because he never put these relationships to the test, and they may not have been very strong to begin with. He doesn’t share much at the office, doesn’t disclose her feelings, doesn’t passionately defend ideas, doesn’t argue with anyone, and consequently doesn’t form lasting bonds.

3. Your candidate is modest and unassuming. While the squeaky wheel gets the grease, sometimes the wheels that never fail are also never really noticed.

4. Your candidate is strongly disliked, or even feared. If former employers have absolutely nothing to tell you about a candidate, it may be because they have nothing positive to say at all. And it may mean they expect personal or legal backlash if they reveal the unpleasant truth.

5. Your candidate isn’t very good at choosing references. Selecting a list of people to recommend you during a job search is an art and a science, and even the best candidates may not possess this particular skill set.

Regardless of the possible truth behind any of the above scenarios, a glowing report full of enthusiastic praise is always more reassuring than polite silence. If your candidate’s references are consistently bland and neutral, be sure to factor this into your final decision. For more information, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

Boosting Employee Morale during the Winter Months

December 20th, 2013

How can you fight back against the distracting influence of the holiday season and keep your staff focused on the task at hand? And after the season is over and the long dreary months of January and February inch by, how can you get your teams to see past the cold and monotony and throw themselves in their work? Here are a few morale boosting tips that can help your organization survive until the spring.

1. Let in the light. In addition to the well documented effects of low light on those who are susceptible to seasonal affective disorder, reduced sunlight can curb energy, increase appetites, and make employees focus more on napping than reviewing the quarterly spreadsheets. Low light makes us hibernate. But you have a company to run, so fight back against thousands of years of evolution and wake up those sleepy brain cells. Open blinds, replace broken bulbs, and reorganize cubicles and furnishings to make the most of the sun.

2. Break up the doldrums. Keep a close eye on sights of burnout and boredom. And when you see them, take action. Start by shifting responsibilities and changing daily tasks to shake bored, checked-out employees out of their grinding routines.

3. Stir things up socially. Whenever possible, don’t let demotivated employees toil through the day all alone. Pair isolated employees and assign projects to teams rather than individuals. Nobody likes pointless meetings just for the sake of having meetings, but sometimes a meeting can be just the thing to encourage employees to interact, touch base, chat, and make sure projects are on track.

4. Feed them. It may sound a little odd to anyone unfamiliar with office life, but those who spend their days in cubicles know that sometimes there’s nothing more exciting than a plate of free sandwiches in the conference room. Again, give your employees a chance to take a break, congregate, and remember why they enjoy working here.

5. Thank them. This move is by no means tied to any season of the year. Gratitude pays off all year round, and there’s never a bad time to let your employees know how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication. Consider anything from a day off, to a written note, to a quick verbal thank you for a job well done.

For more tips on how to keep your office buzzing and your employees engaged throughout the long winter, contact the staffing experts at PSU.

The Most Popular Blogs of 2013

December 13th, 2013

It’s been a great year here at Personnel Services Unlimited! Over the last twelve months, we’ve helped countless candidates land positions and launch their careers in targeted industries, and we’ve also helped employers find perfect candidates for long term, short term, highly skilled, and hard-to-staff positions. Along the way, we’ve stayed a step ahead of a constantly evolving marketplace, and as we do every year, we’ve learned plenty of real life lessons about business management and the job search. Here are some of the most popular messages we’ve passed along to our clients, candidates, and website visitors.

Productivity Secrets

How do the most productive people tackle the workday? As it turns out, there are clear sets of recognizable behavior patterns among those who tend to cross everything off their daily to-do lists with plenty of time to spare for their friends, family, and personal interests. How can you learn from their example and get more out of your day, your week, and your life? Try the tips from this article!

Job Interview Preparation Tips

The night before an important job interview can be one of the most tense and sleepless nights in a person’s entire life. Interview preparation is valuable, of course, and it’s never a bad idea to prepare your answers beforehand and practice your “elevator pitch” until you know every word by heart. But no amount of practice will do the trick if you let your nerves get the best of you and you stumble into your interview on zero sleep. Here are a few ways to hit the off switch and enjoy eight hours of pleasant dreams before you get up and (hopefully!) step into the next chapter of your working life.

Attendance Issues in the Workplace

You love your employees, and obviously your company wouldn’t be where it is without their hard work, training, and dedication. But even the best employees sometimes have an off day or a late start. And even the best managers sometimes struggle with company-wide attendance problems. Attendance issues start with culture, and culture starts with incentives, open communication, and of course, smart hiring practices. If you’re having trouble getting your employees to show up on time, start meetings on schedule, and stay in the office until the work is done, these tips can help.

For more on how to hire teams that make you proud and help your company grow, reach out to the staffing and business management experts at PSU.

Time Management Skill: Set Your Employees Up for Success

December 6th, 2013

Time management is a valuable career skill for any employee, regardless of his or her industry. In almost every workplace in the country, from kitchens to warehouses to offices, employees are expected to complete a certain number of tasks by the end of the day, and if they can meet or surpass this number, everybody wins. Employers get more for their money, and employees stand out and increase their chances of promotion and advancement. So how can you help your employees manage their time wisely in ways that benefit both of you?

1. Coach, don’t punish. Recognize that employees who struggle with time management aren’t usually stupid or lazy; they just haven’t yet learned some of the tricks and tips that come naturally to others. Instead of yelling or becoming exasperated, take a look at your employee’s desk and give her some gentle pointers that might help her keep things in order and keep the day on track.

2. Remember the 80/20 rule. 20 percent of the things we do during the day provide 80 percent of our results. Before you burden your employees with ten tasks and expect them to prioritize these tasks the way you would, pause. Consider removing some of the low priority items from the list, so employees can commit themselves more fully to the 20 percent that matters most.

3. Remember the first rule of closet organization: objects expand to fit the space available. The same principle applies to tasks and time. If you give your employee the whole day to complete an hour of work, the work will take a day, not an hour. And if you ask her to complete a day’s worth of work in an hour, an hour is exactly how long the task will take. But of course, this rule comes with limits and corollaries. A day’s work completed in an hour probably won’t be very innovative, creative, neat, correct, or thorough. And of course, asking this too often will lead to resentment, burnout, and high turnover.

4. Encourage your time-challenged employees to set measurable goals and think of time management as a game. Encourage friendly competition with meaningful rewards for top performers. And as always, thank employees who make an honest effort to improve their practices and increase their productivity.

For more on how to help your teams manage their busy schedules, reach out to the NC staffing experts at PSU.

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