Key Job Search Tips for Young Professionals

March 29th, 2013

If you’re a young worker or a new graduate on the lookout for your first serious professional position, you’re probably receiving no shortage of advice, both useful and otherwise. As a trusted staffing firm with years of experience, we’ve helped countless young people navigate a challenging marketplace, and here are a few of the decisions and tools that seem to work well for almost every novice job seeker, regardless of his or her specific industry. Keep these tips in mind as you head off in pursuit of your dream job.

1. Gain control of your finances.

Even at its best, the job search can still be a drawn-out and expensive process. Everything from interview travel to dry cleaning bills can add up. And on top of these things, you’ll need to factor in the days and weeks you’ll be spending on the market while earning little or no income. You may have to stretch your savings, reorganize your debt payment plans, and find ways to live on less during this time. If you manage this process well, you’ll avoid the anxiety and desperation that sometimes push young job seekers to make hasty decisions and accept the wrong kinds of jobs.

2. Set clear goals.

And don’t just set them; write them down. Chances are, if you take a snapshot yourself five years from now, not every one of your goals will have materialized exactly as you expect…But that’s no reason to ignore this step. The clearer you are about what you’re looking for and what you want out of life, the better you’ll control the small events that shape your future self and future circumstances.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of your network.

You may not feel like you know very many people who can help you. After all, “professional contacts” are a natural result of time spent in the professional world, and you haven’t set foot in that world yet. But you still have friends, and your friends have parents, and your parents have friends, and some of these people have been circulating in the professional sphere for years. Be bold and reach out the ones who might be able to offer you guidance and advice.

4. Keep the pressure on.

Don’t let up on your job search until you get what you need. Take this process as seriously as you intend to take your future job. That means get up early, stay focused, and don’t spend more than a few hours each day sitting still in front of a screen. Pick up the phone, call any person who might be able to help you, offer to buy these people lunch in exchange for advice, attend job fairs, go to conferences, sign up for networking events, and stay busy. The harder you work, the sooner you’ll be able to put this process behind you and move on. For specific help, reach out to the NC job search and staffing experts at PSU


Interviewing Candidates for an Administrative Assistant Position

March 22nd, 2013

The role of an administrative assistant can be essential to the success of the executive he supports, and therefore can have a strong impact on the function and growth of the company as a whole. So an intelligent, efficient, dependable and likable assistant can help a busy executive stay organized and productive throughout a challenging day, and a weak hire can bring more serious consequences than managers may realize. To avoid hiring mistakes at this level, make sure your interview scripts are strong and your questions are well chosen. Consider these tips. 

1. Address aptitude first. Unlike attitude and behavioral questions, aptitude questions address clearly defined skill sets that candidates either have or lack. These include fluency with required software programs, experience with travel coordination, and additional tasks like invoice processing and expense report management.

2. Be direct when you ask about these skills. Use these questions as examples:

a.) Are you familiar with Excel? If so, which version have you been using?
b.) How often did you coordinate international travel during your last position? How about domestic travel?
c.) Have you ever encountered a problem with this process, like a reservation or visa mix up? How did you handle it?
d.) Describe your experience with invoices/expense reports/purchase orders/schedule management.
3. After gaining a sense of your candidates concrete skill sets, move on to the topic of behavior, attitude, and working style. Ask your candidate how he handles deadline pressure. Ask him about problems he’s had in the past while dealing with authority figures. How did he handle these problems? What’s the most interesting, complex, or challenging project he’s ever worked on?

4. Encourage the candidate to discuss previous episodes of struggle and failure. You don’t want a candidate who’s never failed or faced difficulty (that isn’t wise or realistic), but you do want a candidate who bounces back from failure and solves problems effectively.

5. Finally, after addressing both aptitude and attitude, ask your candidate for his thoughts on workplace culture. Feel free to simply describe your culture and see how the candidate reacts. But for a completely unbiased response, just ask him about the kind of company he’d like to work for. What would he consider an ideal workplace culture? Busy and chaotic? Quiet and focused? Fun, friendly, and innovative? Formal and reserved? Then determine how this vision lines up with the realities of your company. 

The right assistant can help a great manager thrive and an entire company reach its goals. So take every step of this process seriously, and don’t miss any red flags or clear signs of a perfect match. Reach out to the staffing experts at PSU for additional tips and guidance.

Proven Ways to Attract more Followers

March 15th, 2013

Tracking follower counts usually involves fairly simple math, and with a wide enough study sample and careful controls, it isn’t too difficult or expensive to initiate your own marketing science. Try some experiments and see what kinds of changes lead to a spike interest in your blog or social media feed. Or better yet, learn from those who have already done this. Careful studies seem to reveal five steps, above all others, that can have a positive impact on your follower counts. Try some of these moves if you haven’t already.

1. Let readers see your face.

Post a picture of yourself or your team on your site. If you publish the work of guest bloggers, ask your guests for pictures to accompany their articles. Readers have more confidence in written material if they can see the face of the person who’s presenting this information or offering this advice.

2. Avoid self-reference.

It may seem like a good idea to constantly refer back to your own experience or the product you’re trying to sell, but it’s actually better to avoid this. Statements tend to carry more impact if they have significance beyond the life of the speaker or narrator. And nobody trusts an article or blog that reads like a sales pitch. So whenever possible, remove yourself, your company, and your product from a message that only involves these things indirectly. 
3. Don’t keep talking back.

When visitors comment on your blog or feed, it’s okay to answer. But when you find yourself answering all the time, or engaging in long conversations instead of posting, slow down. The reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, but follower counts seem to rise as responses drop.

4. If you’re an authority, make this clear.

Readers are likely to trust you more if you if you have some credentials to back up your assertions. If you’re posting health information and you have an MD, make sure your visitors know this. The top five identifications that lead to increased follower counts are: Official, Founder, Speaker, Expert, Guru and Author.

5. Keep your statements, tone, and implications positive.

Gloomy Guses and Debbie Downers don’t tend to attract legions of fans. No matter what you choose to talk about, keep your messages upbeat. You can get a little grey and serious now and then, but the overall tone and register of your feed should be high.

For help with all forms of social media outreach and online message shaping, reach out to an experienced digital marketing firm or an individual expert. The NC staffing professionals at PSU can help. Let us connect you to the talent you need to expand your footprint and drive your business forward.

Keep Your Business Strategy In Line With Your Customer’s Needs

March 8th, 2013

You may think your product or service is developed around a tight and accurate picture of your target audience. You know this audience; you know what they need, you know why they choose your product above all others, and you know they use it once they’ve brought it home. You also probably know how old they are, what they do for a living, and how your product helps them get through the challenges of the day.

At least, you knew these things when you first launched this product…five years ago. But markets shift, and consumers don’t always want, need, choose, or use a product for the reasons they say they do. To keep up with these marketplace evolutions and to keep track of why customers actually choose your product, instead why they think they do, keep the following tips in mind.

Keep Your Business Strategy Flexible

1. Get out into the field. In marketing circles, this is called ethnographic research. Watch your customers as they interact with your product in the real world. Observe the way they buy it, carry it, eat it, use it as a tool, clean it, or stack it on a shelf. Take notes. This can help you close the gap between how you think you’re meeting their needs and how (or if) you actually are.

2. There’s no such thing as too much feedback. And if your ego can handle it, negative feedback is often more useful and educational then positive feedback. Reward negative reviews with personal thanks. In fact, elicit them whenever possible. Encourage your customers, entice them, and even trick them into telling you the reasons your product falls short of perfection.

3. Invest in high quality CRM software. This can help you track subtle things like the number of seconds visitors spend on the webpages for each of your products. It can also help you figure out why a customer might visit your site, read about your product, consider a purchase, and then cancel the purchase before it’s complete. Why the change of heart? The more you know, the more you can prevent this. Turn visits into repeat visits into sales. 

4. Turn your employees into ambassadors. Encourage employees to provide their honest feedback about your product, and to elicit feedback from customers and pass it on. Again, the more information you have, the more clearly you’ll see the gaps between your business approach and your customer’s expectations. Identify and resolve these mismatches as soon as they arise.

For staffing, marketing, and product development tips that can keep your approach both flexible and accurate, reach out the NC staffing and business management pros at PSU.


Four Steps to Building Loyalty among Industrial Workers

March 1st, 2013

Loyalty and motivation go hand in hand, and they’re both important pillars of a strong and effective retention strategy. But the methods that work to motivate employees in office cubicles don’t always carry over to hands-on workers on the shop floor or in the warehouse. Industrial workers require a specific approach that’s aligned with their own needs and the demands of their daily contributions. Try these four moves to reduce grumbling and turnover and bring out the best in the industrial branch of your team.

Build Loyalty from the Ground Up

1. Start with your hiring process. When you bring on industrial workers, do you seek candidates who are already trained and already able to command high salaries? If so, you’re paying a premium for this training, and this premium reoccurs and increases year after year. Instead, consider taking on employees with fewer credentials and providing their training in-house. You can also consider partnering with a local tech school or university and have your new candidates trained and educated while you provide them with a low responsibility, limited-term apprenticeship. You’ll save money and invest more in your employees, which they’ll be inclined to reinvest in you.

2. Once your employees are on board, you’ll be better able to cultivate loyalty if you provide them with the things they need and want. So, of course, you’ll have to figure out what these things are. Keep an open door policy between workers, managers and HR, and take an anonymous survey at least once a year asking employees what you can do to improve working conditions and adjust perks, benefits, and policies in their favor. 

3. True loyalty comes not just from salary and positive working conditions, it also comes from real human relationships. Train managers and HR pros to identify potential conflict before it becomes unresolvable, and make sure managers perform their jobs in a way that cultivates genuine respect. Remember, the best way to gain respect is to give respect first.

4. Safety and cleanliness go a surprising distance toward increasing productivity and personal commitment. Seemingly inconsequential issues, like stained carpet, peeling paint, or limited warnings posted in high risk areas can have a cascading impact on employee morale. Make sure your industrial workplace is clean and safe, and factor in details like sound, air quality, and natural light.

Above all, you’ll need to recognize the valuable contributions of your industrial workers, and you’ll to provide them with every tool and resource they need to do their jobs properly. For more on what these resources are and how to access them, reach out to the experienced staffing experts at PSU.

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