Preparing Your Team for Seasonal Demands

September 18th, 2017

The summer is currently in full swing, but fall is just around the corner. And once you 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.

How Much Does Turnover Really Cost?

June 16th, 2017

Turnover is an expensive, disappointing hassle; there are no secret there. Every experienced manager knows that an employee tenure of less than one year translates to high cost and limited returns for the company. If your selection process is flawed, your onboarding strategy is off-putting, or your job descriptions don’t match the reality that your new hires face in the workplace, you’re likely to turn your company into a giant revolving door. If you think you can afford a few reckless mistakes now and then, add up the actual cost and find out for sure. Don’t forget to factor in these considerations.

Training costs

When you bring on a new employee, that employee probably won’t serve as a financial asset to the company right away. In fact, almost every position in every industry requires a ramp up period, or a period in which the new hire can only be expected to learn, listen, pick up skills and make educational mistakes. This period may last three days or three years, but as long as it’s still underway, the employee’s presence in the workplace can been seen as a liability, not an asset. You invest in your new team member by providing the training, patience, and damage control that new employees almost always need… at least until they learn the ropes. If the employee leaves before the ramp-up period is over, their tenure can be considered a cost, not a source of revenue.

Morale

Morale and attitude are contagious. Positive or negative, they spread from one employee to the next. So when one person on your team isn’t happy, others may start to feel the same way (and vice versa). When an employee heads for the door in search of something better, others follow suit. By the same token, a happy and loyal employee lifts morale, which boosts productivity.

Opportunity costs

When an employee leaves, the replacement process begins, and everyone involved in the sourcing, resume review, interview, and selection process begins shifting their attention toward this project and away from other things. If you add up the hourly salaries of all of the people who contribute to this effort, the price tag starts to rise. Simultaneously, the work they would otherwise be doing must be shifted to someone else or left undone during this time.

Administrative costs

After you account for the advertising fees and the general costs of recruiting and screening candidates, you’ll need to factor in transportation to interviews, fees associated with background checks, and fees associated with adding and removing employees from benefit and insurance plans.

When you estimate the total combined cost of each of these elements, you’ll better understand the scope and the stakes of your hiring decision. For more on how to complete this calculation, contact the Charlotte staffing experts at PSU.

Small Gestures that Make a Big Impression

June 2nd, 2017

Your interviewer has an important task to complete within a limited time frame. So when he or she makes a hiring decision, only one part of this decision will be based on pure numbers and measurable data. The rest will be based on instinct, gut feelings, and the lessons of past experience. In other words, when you’re trying to impress an employer, your resume will only take you so far. To cover the remaining distance, you’ll need to generate an intangible sense of reliability and likeability. You’ll need to make the interviewer feel interested in you and excited about the idea of working with you. Here are a few small moves that can make a big difference.

Interest is a two-way street.

To spark another person’s interest in you, show interest in them. In this case, you’ll need to demonstrate genuine curiosity about the job and the company and express real—not fake—engagement with every word your interviewer says. Keep your eyes focused and your ears open. Don’t treat the interview like a pop quiz or a grilling session. Treat it like a fascinating conversation.

Stay cool.

There’s a fine line between interest and desperation. Keep in mind that you’ll hold more cards if your interviewer knows you have other options, and your cover will be blown if you’re ready to perform like a circus dog in exchange for a bit of approval. When you speak, speak calmly and quietly. When you sit in a chair, occupy the entire chair, don’t perch at the edge. When you’re asked a question, think and remain silent for two full seconds before you speak. Your interviewer will wait.

If you don’t know something, that’s okay.

Don’t bluster and sputter. If you’re asked a fact-based question and you don’t know the answer, just say so. Don’t apologize, just state your truth and move on. On the other hand, if you’re asked to solve a problem or think through something, give the answer an honest and reflective effort before you hand the floor back to your interviewer.

Dress thoughtfully.

Wear a standard, pressed interview suit if you choose, but if you’d like to go the extra mile, put some thought into your outfit and dress in a way that matches what you know about this company and its culture. For a more relaxed organization, skip the suit and opt for pressed khaki slacks and a buttoned shirt or a skirt-blouse-cardigan combo.

Be honest.

Honesty during a job interview is refreshing, memorable, and rare. If you were fired from a past position, just say so and explain why. Describe what you learned from the experience and express an interest in putting the episode behind you.

For more on how to leave a lasting impression during your interview, reach out to the Cleveland County staffing professionals at PSU.

What Makes You Unique?

May 19th, 2017

As you draft your resume and attend interviews with potential employers, you’ll be making one thing clear: you’re a great match for the available position. You have the skills, experience, and temperament that the job requires and you’ll probably get along well with your supervisors and coworkers. But you’ll also need to make a second case: you’re not just a good fit for the job, you’re a BETTER fit than any of the other candidates in the pool.

First you’ll have to explain that you can provide what these employers need. Then you’ll have to explain that you can offer something the other candidates can’t. The first case will be comparatively easy to make. The second one might be a little harder. Here are a few moves that can help you succeed.

Offer a few requested extras.

Most job posts provide a list of required credentials (like a master’s in accounting, five years of experience, or a willingness to work night shifts), and they also offer a few “pluses”, or skills that can help a qualified candidate stand out. If you happen to have any of these extra bonus traits, don’t fail to mention them directly in your cover letter and resume summary. Use the exact language you see in the post, in case your employers use these terms in a keyword search.

Highlight areas of overlap.

Most of the candidates who apply for your target job will hold the required credentials. But if you can offer all of these must-haves plus a few qualifications that aren’t specifically mentioned on the list, be sure to point this out. For example, your company may be looking for marketing experts to help with a product rollout in Brazil. If you have the required marketing expertise, that’s great. But if you also happen to speak fluent Portuguese, you’ll quickly move to the top of the list.

Show off who you are, not just what you can do.

You may have the skills to execute the job, but if you also have the personality and the personal experience to blend in well with this company and its culture, your employers will want to know. If you feel a unique connection to this business model or your company’s target clientele, tell your story. Explain how you have the personality and the background to shine in this environment.

For more on how to grab your employer’s attention and gain an advantage over your competition, reach out to the Cleveland County staffing and job search experts at PSU.

Flexible Work Opportunities: Keeping Employees Happy

May 5th, 2017

To keep your company in motion, you need to attract and retain top talent. And to attract top talent, you have to be willing and able to offer the perks and benefits that talented employees want. Of course your salary offers will need to be competitive, but how can you move beyond salary? And how can you choose offerings that appeal to the types of employees you’re looking for?

Driven, brilliant, focused and self-sacrificing employees often have one trait in common: they have busy lives. Their attention is typically pulled in multiple directions by personal passions, family obligations, an interest in lifelong learning, and a desire for growth. So the best way to keep such people or you team can often be expressed in one word: flexibility. Keep these considerations in mind.

Let them manage their schedules.

Nothing irritates a passionate, high-achieving person more than being tied to a desk for no apparent reason. If your employee has no meetings scheduled at the moment but needs to remain in the office despite pressing obligations elsewhere, this can wear away at her patience with the company and increase her desire to work somewhere else. She’s an adult; you can trust her to leave the office for a dentist appointment and still complete her work on time.

Remote work typically means more work.

Despite what some inexperienced managers believe, allowing employees to work remotely can actually increase their output and productivity. Talented employees tend to overproduce, not underproduce, in the absence of oversight, so turn them loose and let them figure out what needs to be done and when.

Rigidity limits problem solving.

If you require a talented employee to work in only one place, in only one way, under strict supervision and within the limits of a rigid set of policies and procedures, you may reduce the potential for mistakes (sort of). But you’ll also reduce the kind of growth and learning that can result from mistakes and risk. Encourage positive outcomes, but demonstrate flexibility when it comes to how the work gets done and where it happens.

Trust begets trust.

Allowing your employees to work off site or manage their own schedules (or both) can demonstrate trust and respect. This can become a symbolic gesture that may result in immeasurable benefits for your organization. When employees and managers work in an environment of trust, they can stop looking at each other and start looking in the same direction.

For more on how to provide talented workers with the leeway, respect, and flexibility that can help them thrive, contact the Cleveland County management experts at PSU.

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