Damage Control: Turn Your Mistake Around Quickly

November 17th, 2017

So you made a mistake on the job. And this time, your blunder wasn’t a minor typo or misunderstanding that could happen to anyone; it was a big deal. A really big deal. You have no easy excuse, since this blunder really was your fault and you passed up at least one opportunity to prevent it from happening. You also have no advocates rushing to your defense, since your teammates and coworkers don’t share culpability and may not even fully understand what went wrong. You’re alone, you screwed up, and you have nobody to blame but yourself. So what now?

Here are a few ways you can turn this epic crash landing into a long-term win for your career. All hope is not lost, but you’ll have to take a few critical steps—and you’ll need to take them now—if you intend to make a graceful recovery.

First, be patient.

The road back from a blunder like this will probably be long and winding. Don’t expect instant results and instant forgiveness, no matter what you do. Plan for the long term, and set a reasonable expectation. For example, you may not put this entirely behind you and return to a new normal within the next month, or even the next year. Settle in for a long climb.

Second, think about others around you.

Did your mistake hurt anyone other than yourself? Did you make someone else look bad? Did you compromise someone else’s career prospects? Did your blunder put someone’s life or health at risk? Did you undo hours or years of someone else’s hard work? If so, gather your courage, face this person (or people) and set things right. Own what you did, apologize sincerely, and if you don’t know how to get back what the person lost, ask.

If you lost your job, don’t sit still.

It’s easy to give in to despair if you find yourself happily employed on Monday and home in the middle of the day on Tuesday. But don’t wallow. Talk to a legal expert if you may have been treated unfairly, and again, if you hurt someone, do your best to set things right. Start putting together a job search plan and as you sell yourself to prospective employers, be ready to explain what you learned from this incident and how it helped you grow. You’re not a bad person, you just made a bad mistake. This incident does not define you. Give yourself one day to brood, then get moving.

For more on how to keep a workplace mistake from creating long term damage to your career and your life, turn to the Cleveland County recruiting and job search experts at PSU.

Hiring Challenges You Can Overcome Today

November 3rd, 2017

As an experienced business owner, you’ve already learned the most critical lesson this process can teach you: Nothing is easy. Every stage of business ownership and management comes with hard work, uphill climbs, and the risks that come from putting your trust in others and earning their trust in turn. For every two steps forward, expect to take one step back, and it’s always a good idea to plan for trouble and think several moves into the future.

But when it comes to hiring and staffing, there are few challenges that you don’t have to face alone. Partnering with a local, highly specialized recruiter like PSU can help you overcome the obstacles that are a natural aspect of running a business. Work together with our team and take advantage of our experience, our wide network, and the hiring tools we rely on to find the right match between your open position and your next new hire.

Streamlining the Hiring Process

If you’re like most companies (even small operations), you have plenty of bottlenecks and paperwork- related hold-ups as you move through the sourcing and selection process. While you wait for your key HR pro to return from vacation, or you wait for your C-suite to sign off on a management candidate, your best potential hires may receive offers elsewhere. They may also simply become frustrated or exhausted by your slow process. So don’t let this happen. Let us handle the screening and paperwork so you don’t have to.

Gaining Access to a Talent Pipeline

Too often, small business owners without wide industry contacts simply turn to the internet to post open positions. But when you rely on huge global job boards to find your needle in a haystack, you turn an otherwise efficient process into a tedious chore—and after sifting through hundreds of resumes you may STILL end up with a candidate who doesn’t quite fit the bill. Partnering with PSU means you’ll rely on our targeted contacts and you’ll clear a direct path to the talent pool you need.

Improving Your Candidate Experience

Candidates who leave your hiring process with a strong positive impression retain that impression for a long time. That process becomes the cornerstone of a lasting brand relationship—Whether you end up hiring the candidate or not. If you do, you’ll end the process with a loyal, long term employee who embraces the company and stays for at least a year. If you don’t, you’ll send an upbeat, respectful message to a talented job seeker who may return later to apply with the company again in the future. In either case, a positive candidate experience can only help your company grow. A negative experience will do the opposite.

For more on how to form a profitable partnership with a specialized staffing agency in your local area, contact the Gastonia staffing professionals at PSU.

Remove Your Own Productivity Roadblocks

October 20th, 2017

If you’re like most of us, when you try to identify the obstacles standing between where you are and where you want to be, you don’t see other people. No specific person is trying to hold you back. You don’t see physical obstacles; there’s no actual wall between you and your next great job. And you probably don’t see any financial or practical obstacles that you can’t overcome with a little time, patience, and compromise. But here’s what you probably do see: yourself.

You want to get something done, but you can’t. Not because you’re literally locked in a basement, but because you’re locked in the basement of your own mind. And you aren’t exactly sure how to get out. If this sounds like you, here are a few steps you can take that will help you break out of your self-imposed prison and get back on the road to success.

The paralyzing power of excitement

Believe it or not, sometimes the work that excites us the most is the hardest to actually do, especially in the earliest stages. Stop and think for a minute. Are you spinning your wheels and staring in the fridge because you can’t move forward, or are you spinning and staring because you’re overwhelmed by the possibilities in front of you and you’re afraid you might mess up? The most exciting potential outcomes often send us straight into wheel spinning purgatory because of—not in spite of—our level of interest in them. If this describes your situation, recognize it. Don’t be afraid. Just tackle the first step and you’ll be on your way.

Are you hungry, thirsty, hot or cold?

Is something else bothering you, something unrelated to the work at hand? Give yourself five minutes to attend to that need. Take some aspirin if your knee is acting up, put on a sweater if you’re cold, and eat something if you’re hungry. If you have a bad conscience, apologize. If there’s a draft blowing on you, move your chair. If you need some data you don’t have, take steps to obtain it. Then get started. No more excuses.

Find a role model.

Sometimes it helps to watch another person sail over a hurdle that seems too high. Just watching this happen can unlock hidden gates in your mind and unleash a dose of inspiration and guidance that can be refreshing and energizing. Identify someone in your life who can—and often does—approach such obstacles like a horse flying over a fence. Watch that person in action.

Make a list.

Big projects seem less intimidating when we break them down into bite-sized baby steps. So take your big project (“plan industry conference”) and break it down into smaller and smaller tasks until the one in front of you is so small that you can complete it in five minutes. (“Call Steve to determine conference dates”).

For more on how to overcome the mental obstacles and bottle necks that are holding you back, contact the productivity and career management experts at PSU.

Win Talent from Your Competitors

October 6th, 2017

Competing for talent can be easy when the job market stalls and unemployment begins to push both the numbers and qualifications of job seekers. But when the tables turn (as they’ve been doing for the last several years since our recovery from the economic downturn), job seekers hold more of the cards. And when job seekers hold the cards, convincing them to sign on may mean drawing them away from your competitors.

This is not to be confused with “poaching” or directly approaching employed workers and trying to pull them out of their seats. Leave that process to someone else, and focus your energy on grabbing the attention of top talent before they sign a contract or accept an offer. Gain a legitimate edge over your competition during the job search, interview and negotiation process. Here’s how.

Make a better case.

Start by understanding the kind of case your competitors will present. If they can offer benefits, offer better ones. If they can offer salaries in the low sixties, aim for the high sixties. And if you can’t outbid them in terms of monetary compensation, find other ways to identify and then reach beyond whatever they put on the table. For example, maybe you can’t match their salary offers, but you might be able to provide flexible scheduling, transit discounts, or a more rewarding workplace culture.

Get to know your candidate.

If you open the conversation by listening instead of talking, you may gain a complete understanding of what your candidate actually wants and needs at this point in her career. Maybe they’re looking for something exactly like their last job, but closer to home. Maybe they are gunning for management and they’re willing to put up with a long commute in order to get there. Maybe they have an interest in a certain type of experience, exposure, or industry mentoring. If you can identify this goal and help your candidate get there, this one detail may help you overcome deficiencies in other areas of your offer.

Establish a partnership.

Maybe you can’t give your candidate everything they want right now, but if they step on board and help you grow your business, you’ll have the resources to drive their career forward in a year or two. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, but if you can both support each other’s goals, make this point clear.

Identify deficiencies in their last role.

Why did they leave their last job? If they left because the culture was toxic, build a case around your positive team energy and commitment to employee growth. If they left because they were passed over for a promotion, explain how your company can provide them with opportunities for advancement.

For more on how to attract, onboard and retain the best talent in the marketplace, turn to the Cleveland County staffing and recruiting experts at PSU.

Preparing Your Team for Seasonal Demands

September 18th, 2017

Fall is here! Your summer hires have packed up and your fall hires are in place, you’ll already need to think about the next big challenge: the holiday season. If your business model involves any kind of seasonal element, or touches on industries that move through staffing cycles during the year (like tourism, travel, academia, construction, and even healthcare), you’ll need to be ready for each of these cycles as they arrive.

Prepare for your seasonal demands—the packed rush of the high season and the quiet lulls of the low—by engaging with a temporary staffing firm and taking on seasonal help. A staffing agency can help you fill your open positions in short order with high quality experts. Here’s how.

We hire employees so you don’t have to.

When we present you with candidates or likely matches for your open position, you can bring them onboard as quickly as you like. They’re already insured, tax reporting has been taken care of, and they’ve already been vetted and reviewed, because they’re already working— for us. During their contract period, your employees are our responsibility, not yours. So you just have to show them the ropes and welcome them to the team.

Goodbyes can be painful, but not when you work with temporary talent.

When the season ends, some of your goodbyes may be cheerful occasions. Students returning to school and employees leaving for other positions will be taken care of. But what about those who aren’t? An annual cycle of lay-offs can be upsetting for both parties, but when you no longer need your temporary workers, we simply assign them to other jobs. No worries.

If you want full time hires, we can do that.

After your contract period ends, you’re free to hire your temporary employees full time if you choose. In this fashion, both employer and employee can test-drive the relationship to see how well it works for each of you. If you get along and appreciate what the other has to offer, you can easily hire your temporary employee for a full-time, permanent role.

We can stay at your side as your business grows.

If you see no end to your seasonal hiring cycle and you know you’ll need to deal with this aspect of your business model over and over, year after year, form a trusting partnership with your staffing agency. We’ll be here for you at the start of every season, no matter what future brings.

For more on how to manage the ups and downs of a cyclical staffing model, turn to the Cleveland County staffing experts at PSU.

Can You Handle Workplace Stress?

September 5th, 2017

When employers sit down with a candidate, they’re typically interested in answering questions that can’t be addressed by a resume review. They want to see how well the candidate communicates during a spoken conversation, for starters. And they’d like to learn a little more about the candidate’s plans for the future and the things that motivate him or her to excel. They also want to ask questions that can help them assess the applicant’s readiness for the challenges of the job.

Since most jobs offer some element of stress, you can expect your interviewer to ask you— directly or indirectly- how well you’re likely to manage these elements. Here are a few things to keep in mind when the conversation turns in this direction.

Don’t just say “great” and move on.

If your employer asks what seems like a yes or no question, don’t just answer yes or no. Of course you’re amazing under stress; lots of people are. But what are some of the specific moves and habits that help you keep your cool? Talk about these moves. What steps do you take when your plate gets overloaded? How do you answer when you’re asked to complete a task you can’t accept? When you fail, how do you respond and what do you do next?

Tell a story (or two).

People enjoy receiving information in the form of narratives and stories, and studies show that when we’re told something in the form of a story, we remember the details more accurately. So instead of just explaining how you keep your legendary composure when the pressure’s on, tell your interviewer about a time when this actually happened. Search your memory and choose a meaningful situation—Your employer won’t be impressed if you were stressed by a circumstance that most people wouldn’t find flustering. Then explain the challenges you faced, how you navigated them, and how the story ended.

If you have a system, explain it proudly.

Having a system— or a defined set of actions and principles you deploy when things get tough— can make a few things clear to your employer. First, if you’ve had time to develop complex coping tools, it means you’ve had real experience in the workforce and real experience with pressure. Second, your willingness to develop a system, stick with it, and work out the kinks can demonstrate patience and perseverance. Third, if your system is unique and personal, it demonstrates the self-knowledge and self-awareness that wise employers value.

Focus on the big picture.

Your industry may or may not involve saving lives, but you’ll gain points with most employers if you know how put pressure and high stakes into perspective. Explain how your response to stress isn’t just about you— No matter what comes your way, you always maintain a cool head and keep the needs of others in mind, including customers, coworkers, and stakeholders.

For more on how to ace tough interview questions and during your interview, turn to the Cleveland County job search experts at PSU.

Just Doing Your Job is a Hazard to Your Career

August 21st, 2017

Here’s a piece of wisdom that most employers and career counselors won’t tell you outright as you step into your first entry level job: Doing that job—even doing it well—can actually be a hazard to your long term career prospects.

More specifically, the hazard lies in jumping up to do as you’re told and then checking out when your assigned duties are complete. If you fulfil your job description and faithfully execute the commands of your boss, and then go back to playing games online, your future may be in more trouble than you recognize. Here are a few reasons to keep yourself busy when you haven’t specifically been handed any tasks.

You’re still in school…sort of.

You won’t keep this job forever. This place, your desk, and your current boss will all be in your rearview mirror within about five years, and probably much sooner than that. But while you’re here, you have a unique opportunity to learn volumes of information about this business model and how your industry works. Take advantage of this golden moment to pack your head with information and pack your timeline with life experience; at this stage, questions of all kinds are encouraged, and mistakes are typically tolerated—but that may not be true ten years down the road. Ask for new projects, ask for feedback, and ask for exposure to other departments. Don’t do it as an obedient servant of the company; do it to give yourself a career advantage that can last for decades.

Impressing your boss can’t hurt.

You don’t need to stay late or complete work without getting paid (think twice before answering work emails at midnight). And apple polishing to impress your current boss may land you a nice letter of reference but not much more over the long run. So don’t go too far and don’t compromise your dignity… But do recognize the value of a friendly face in the industry and a positive relationship built on trust. A nod of approval from your current boss won’t transform the ladder of success into an escalator. But it certainly won’t hold you back.

Invest now, collect later.

A few extra miles, a few long nights, a few stressful peak seasons, and a few run-ins with utter burnout won’t cost as much now as they might later on. So face these challenges head-on while you’re young, ambitious, and able. If you have extra energy in your tank, dedicate it to your job. Years from now, other priorities may pull your attention away. But right now, if you can, do.

For more on how to make the most of your entry-level position and use it to launch your long-term career, turn to the Gastonia career management experts at PSU.

Overcome Roadblocks to Successful Hiring

August 7th, 2017

If you’re like most managers, you define “successful” hiring in a few key ways: a successful hire steps into the role, picks up the ropes quickly, takes ownership of tasks within a few weeks or months, and stays with the company for at least one calendar year. An unsuccessful hire steps in amid confusion, misunderstandings about the nature of the job, and a slow uptake of responsibility, and then completes a short tenure with the company. If you’re looking for ways to remove obstacles from the path to successful hiring and generate more of the first case and less of the second, keep a few key tips in mind.

Remove your roadblocks with a recruiter

Talk to a professional recruiter who can help you identify the specific challenges that may be holding you back. You’re deeply immersed in your business model, your team, and your company culture, and sometimes a little outside perspective can help you spot problems that might otherwise remain under your radar. If there’s one small misstep or unhealthy habit standing between you and success, recognize that habit and get it cleared away.

Meet reality halfway

Most employers begin a candidate search with sky-high expectations. They want nothing less than the best, which may mean finding a global expert in three or more overlapping skill areas—who just happens to live down the street. Since this isn’t realistic, you’ll win by finding a clear path between your ideal vision and your actual successful candidate. If you can’t find that path, the confusion, disappointment, and frustration that result can cloud the water on both sides of the relationship and make a rough start worse over time. Communication and common sense can help both parties succeed.

Know where to look

The right approach to candidate sourcing can mean the difference between choosing from a stellar pool of nearly-perfect applicants, and settling for the best of a mediocre crop. If you can identify your target audience and publish your job post within easy reach of that audience, you’ll raise your odds of finding the candidate you’re looking for.

Move quickly and you’ll cover more ground

The more laborious and bureaucratic your hiring process, the slower you’ll move. And the slower you move, the more likely you are to let great candidates slip away. Help from a recruiter, a streamlined administrative process, and a rapid-fire interview schedule can help you gather data and make your decision before critical opportunities pass you by.

For more on how to overcome the staffing obstacles that and between you and your goals, contact the Cleveland County staffing experts at PSU.

The Benefits of Ongoing Feedback

July 17th, 2017

Traditional approaches to employee performance evaluation typically focus around one central event: the yearly review. Once a year, employees and managers meet for a one-on-one session in which the employee is praised for the year’s accomplishments and coached and criticized regarding “areas in need of improvement”. During the critique portion of the review, mistakes from the ancient past tend to be rehashed, and setbacks that occurred months ago are subject to scrutiny, the assignment of blame, and questions like “What resources could I have provided that would have helped to prevent this from happening?”

Employees approach the session with anxiety, hoping for a “good” review and dreading a bad one. Managers typically resent the process as well, since it can be overdramatized, socially awkward, and damaging to a relationship built on professional friendship and trust. So if this process sounds familiar—and unpleasant—why not try a new approach this year? Here are some reasons to deliver feedback all year long instead of saving it up for New Years.

Toss out the drama.

The tension and high stakes of an annual performance review benefit nobody. Being put under a spotlight six months after the fact won’t help employees better enjoy the fruits of their victories, and it won’t help them learn from past mistakes. But it will make them uncomfortable. Leave the letter grading system in high school where it belongs, and treat your employees like responsible adults, not students sweating over a test.

Real-time feedback has greater impact.

If an employee botches a presentation or misses an opportunity, sit down with them and discuss the error immediately. Better yet, don’t even sit down; just point it out in the moment (in private of course), issue corrections and coaching on the spot, and move on. The reasons for the stumble will be fresh in the employee’s mind, and she/he will be better able to identify and manage these reasons when they arise in the future.

Real time feedback is easier to remember and process.

If you exchange just a few words with your employee every day or a few times per week, then by the end of the year, you will have dispensed hundreds of tips, guidelines, wisdoms and meaningful corrections. But if you try to pack a year’s worth of comments and coaching into a one-hour session and then drop it on your employee like a load of concrete, very little of your message will actually get through. Takeaways and action items are the most important part of any feedback session. Keep them flowing all year long and you’ll see steady and continual growth.

For more on how to keep your employees engaged, committed, and constantly learning, turn to the Cleveland County staffing and management team at PSU.

Not Hearing Back After an Interview?

July 3rd, 2017

You put everything you had into your interview. You practiced beforehand, researched the company, chose your outfit carefully, and created a perfect elevator pitch. And on the day of your session, you did everything right, from your eye contact to your firm handshake to your thank you note sent within 24 hours after the meeting. But weeks have gone by and you still haven’t heard back from you interviewers. What should you do next? And how can you prevent this from happening again in the future? Keep these tips in mind.

Accept that the job wasn’t a fit.

If you brought your best game to the interview and your employers just weren’t interested, it doesn’t mean you did something wrong. But if weeks have passed and you haven’t heard a peep, it’s safe to say they weren’t impressed. So let them go. The lack of connection lies on their side of the table, not just yours, and when a spark isn’t there, it just isn’t there. Forget about these employers and focus on the next opportunity. Stay in motion.

If you see a pattern, change your strategy.

If this is your first interview and you’re being brushed off, it’s no big deal. But if this is your fifth interview session and you’ve receive the silent treatment five times in a row, something’s wrong. You may think your interview performance was above reproach, but after repeated responses that all fit the same pattern, it’s time to recognize that you’re saying something, sharing something, or doing something during your interviews that’s sending up a red flag. Try talking over your approach with a friend or mentor; maybe a second pair of eyes can help you see what you’re missing.

Boost your qualifications.

You can’t go back in time and switch your high school grades from C’s to A’s. But if you’re pursuing jobs that don’t align with your qualifications, you’ll face headwinds during the job market. Be patient. For example, if you majored in chemistry but you’re looking for marking jobs, you’ll find a match, but it may take a while. In the meantime, consider taking night courses or doing some volunteer work that can help you increase and show off your business skills.

Change your target.

While you work to boost your skills so they better align with the needs of your target employers, consider changing those target employers. Maybe you’re looking for jobs in the wrong places, or setting a bar that’s a little too low, and maybe you’re overqualified for the types of jobs you’re pursuing. To fix the disconnect, aim a little higher.

For more on how to speed up your job search and win over your interviewers, reach out to the Charlotte career management team at PSU.

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