Returning to the Workforce? Here’s How to Get Started

December 28th, 2015

You’ve been away from the workforce for a while now…maybe a long while. Not just a few months, but a period that can be measured in years (or even decades). You’ve been attending to other aspects of your life, and now you’re ready to turn your attention back to the world of paychecks, deadlines, commuter trains, and status meetings.

But before you can start making contributions to your new employer, you’ll have to find that employer. And you’ll have to convince them to hire you. Here are a few steps that can start you down that path.

Take baby steps

Don’t be overwhelmed, and don’t put this project off. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be back in action. Start by making some decisions about the kind of employer and the kind of position you’d like to target. When you have your ideal position in mind, you can start looking for postings and open positions on job boards and industry websites.

Create a resume template

Start drafting your resume by breaking your document down into subheadings for Education, Work History, and Special Skills. You’ll fill in each section one at a time, but setting up your documents can help you get past the discouragement of facing a blank page. When you’re ready to write, begin with a short one-paragraph summary that will briefly describe your most important credentials.

Get connected

Reach out to your network of friends, family, and former coworkers and supervisors. Let them know that you’re about to start searching. Update your Linkedin profile, and make specific personal contact with anyone you consider a mentor or especially valuable resource.

Arrange informational interviews

Spend some time making contact with established professionals in the field you’d like to enter (or re-enter). Sit with these people face-to-face if you can for meetings of at least ten minutes, and use this time to ask them for advice. Let them know your plans and find out what they would do if they were in your position.

Make contact with recruiters and staffing teams

Leverage recruiters and make sure you reach out to those who send you job posts that you find interesting. Return calls and emails quickly and politely, and be very clear about what you want, including your preferred salary range. Don’t pursue jobs that clearly can’t meet your minimum requirements. Stay focused.

Consider contingency employment first

Don’t dismiss the idea of contingency or temporary assignments as you make your way back into the workforce. Contact the staffing experts at PSU and find out more about the short term, part time, or temporary positions available in your area and your industry.

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Should You Hire a Candidate Who Didn’t Give Two Weeks’ Notice?

December 18th, 2015

Your final candidates look great on paper. Every one of them has a glowing record of accomplishments, the right educational credentials, and a resume that aligns perfectly with the needs of your open position. But as you start contacting references and speaking to former employers, you notice a sharp distinction between some members of this group and the others. A few of them have a history of leaving their former employers on good terms and providing two week’s notice on their way out the door. A few of the others don’t. Does this detail matter? Should this one tiny distinction control the outcome of your decision?

In a word: yes. In fact, experienced employers typically rule out every candidate with red flag in this area. Here’s why.

Providing notice is more than a professional courtesy.

When a candidate leaves without providing notice, she may be leaving behind a world of trouble for her former employers, or she may be leaving no trouble at all. She might be placing others in a lurch that could cause irreparable damage to the company including lost clients, failed inspections, or even dangerous hazards that might get people hurt. Or she could be causing no problems of any kind. But the point is: the candidate doesn’t always know what she’s leaving behind. So erring on the side of courtesy shows respect for her former employers, her coworkers, the company’s customers, and anyone else who holds any stake in how (and if) her job gets done.

Providing notice is easy.

Two weeks isn’t a life sentence. In a free country, under an “at-will” employment agreement, employees can legally leave a position whenever they choose, for any reason they choose. But offering to spend just two more weeks on the job is often simple enough to do, regardless of what the circumstances may be.

Providing notice shows maturity and emotional control.

Even under emotionally charged conditions, a cool headed employee walks out the door calmly and with his dignity and professional relationships intact. He doesn’t just storm out. If the employer rejected the candidate’s request for an overdue raise or well-earned promotion, that’s a valid reason for an exit. But not that very day.

Providing notice demonstrates professional experience.

Some candidates opt not to give notice because their new employers would like them to start right away. But after a few years spent navigating the complexities and nuances of the professional working world, candidates learn to gently push back against this unreasonable request. Two week’s notice is a standard, courteous, and reasonable expectation for both parties.

For more on how to evaluate a candidates past record and assess what this record means for her future, reach out to the staffing and hiring team at PSU.

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Don’t Slow Your Job Search around the Holidays

December 11th, 2015

The holidays are a time to relax, reconnect with family and friends, and pause for a moment to reflect on what really matters. For most people, this means moving work and all things related to work straight to the back burner for the time being. We all need a few days during the year to reflect and slow down, and that’s what holidays are for.

If you’re in the process of searching for a new job, this will probably mean two things: First, your potential employers and professional contacts (the people who are receiving your voice mails and reviewing your resume) may not be available for a while. They’ll be in and out of the office, managing a skeleton crew or planning their own vacations.

Second, your competitors will be leaving the job search alone. Open positions will receive fewer resumes and applicant pools will temporarily thin out a bit. So you have two options: You can relax and let the job search go until January, OR you can maintain your momentum and take advantage of your circumstances. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your choice.

Send, submit, call, and be patient.

Keep communication active on your end. Don’t expect an immediate response, but keep delivering, sending, and calling. Your resume may wait in an inbox for a week or two, but when your target hiring manager returns at the end of the season, it will still be there. If you don’t send it, it won’t be.

If you can attend interviews, you’ll have an advantage.

Some candidates can’t or won’t attend interviews scheduled during a holiday week, but if you have no problem with this, you’ll be gaining some extra ground. Even though workplaces and businesses slow down at this time, open positions still need to be filled, and most managers would like to move this task forward as far as possible before they leave.

A short to-do list means a happier holiday.

Slow and steady wins the race, and every journey is made up of a thousand steps. Choose whatever parable or children’s story you like, but the message remains the same: the more you do now, the less you’ll have on your plate later. You can put off your search till January, or you can schedule your start date in January—It’s your choice. Give yourself the best possible gift this year: a job you can step into while you’re still taking down the decorations.

Don’t let the warmth and peace of the holidays slow your search or interrupt your plans. You can have both! Just stay in motion. Reach out to the staffing team at PSU for help and guidance.

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Investing in your Employees: Continuing Training

December 4th, 2015

When you collect resumes and begin sifting through a pool of candidates to staff an open position, you’re probably looking for a perfect match. Most employers search for a candidate with all the necessary training, experience, and credentials they need in order to step immediately into the job, take the wheel, and thrive. Employers often assume that it’s the candidate’s responsibility to procure these credentials, and they don’t concern themselves with when and how this gets done.

But if you’re following this model, think twice. There are plenty of reasons to take responsibility for training your own candidates, and plenty of ways this move can pay off for you in the long run.

Hiring untrained employees.

Face the facts: at the entry level, most candidates learn the ropes of the job while on the job. If you take full responsibility for training your candidates and bringing them up to speed, you’ll be able to cut payroll costs by bringing on slightly underqualified employees. And as a bonus, you’ll be helping these newbies adapt to your own operations and procedures; they won’t have to unlearn the habits they’ve picked up elsewhere.

Offer ongoing training.

After bringing on untrained team members and getting them up to speed, continue to invest in their education and growth. Offer tuition reimbursement, mentoring, in-house training, or offsite training and courses through local universities and trade schools. If you raise your base salaries by about five percent per year, you’re still saving money on these employees years down the road—and they’re profiting too. Their skills, expertise, AND salaries are all increasing at a steady rate, thanks to your investment and tutelage.

Demonstrate self-reliance.

Too often, employers glance over a college educated candidate pool and sigh with despair, or worse, cry out in petulant frustration because “today’s graduates don’t have the skills” that they need. These employers expect these skills and capabilities to simply appear in the candidate population as if by magic through the actions of universities and the public school system. Avoid this sense of entitlement and take responsibility for your own success. Hire smart, ambitious candidates with high potential, and then teach them what they need to know in order to thrive in your industry. Your investments will pay off as your employees grow and learn. Ideally, a sense of gratitude and commitment will keep them on board as the years go by and their value increases.

For more on how to identify and hire the high potential candidates you need, and then retain them as they grow, reach out to the expert staffing team at Personnel Services Unlimited.

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