Personnel Services Unlimited Turns 40!

February 4th, 2021

Here at Personnel Services Unlimited, we’re celebrating a big milestone this month: Our 40th anniversary! Our doors have been open since 1981, the year NASA launched the first Space Shuttle mission and audiences lined up to see Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen. Beverly Shurford founded the company that year with a mission to provide staffing and job placement services to companies and job seekers in the local area, and since then, that mission has expanded across three offices and multiple counties in North Carolina. Our second office in Rutherford opened in 1990, and our third office opened in Gaton County in 1995.

As we move forward into the new century, the company keeps growing, driven by strong ethical principles founded in a dedication to quality service, ongoing education, effective partnerships with our clients, and the promotion of safe, healthy workplaces for all employees. In the year 2000, Beverly Shurford retired, and Tim Blackwell took over as president.

Tim remains as committed as his predecessor to the success of the company and its role as a member of the community. “Being independently owned, we answer to our clients and candidates…not our stockholders,” he says. “It is our valued employees that really differentiate us from our competitors. Companies don’t do business with companies…people do business with people! And we are fortunate to have dedicated and committed employees!”

PSU has built a reputation as a principled company in an ever-changing industry. The employment landscape shifts and evolves over time, but our commitment to our workers remains as steady as ever. We find great people and connect them to great employers, and we’re proud of what we do and who we serve. Here’s to the lessons, growth and relationships of the past 40 years, and here’s to continuing success in the years to come!

Where are All the Good Workers?

January 22nd, 2021

Does your candidate pool seem to be missing some all-stars? Maybe the pool is large enough, and the top candidates on the list are okay…but they don’t seem like the best of the best. You expected at least a few applicants who would blow you away. But most of the resumes in the pool offer the bare minimum. What are you doing wrong? Here are a few possible answers.

You’re not looking in the right place.

If you’re just posting your ad on a generic job board, you’re doing the equivalent of putting a want-add in a local newspaper. Everyone can see it, sure, but most of them won’t. And the highly qualified and interested applicants you’re targeting definitely won’t, because they’re looking for postings on more specific sites. In fact, your all-star candidates may not even be spending their time looking online, and may instead be exchanging calls with recruiters and staffing agencies. The best candidates are usually the ones who don’t have to work as hard to collect options and opportunities—the opportunities come to them. So to attract their attention, you have to get there first.

Your post is not appealing.

If your post gives off an aggressive vibe with a long list of all the qualities you’re NOT looking for, that may be part of the problem. By the same token, a long list of demands may also work against you, especially if your demands are confusing. For example, don’t ask for more than five years of experience if you’re looking for an entry-level candidate. And don’t expect a candidate with more than five years of experience to accept an entry-level salary. Don’t ask for qualities that are vague or contradict each other (someone who “doesn’t follow the crowd” but is also a “team player”) and be as clear as possible about the requirements and parameters of the job.

Your post doesn’t offer meaningful information.

These days, you can assume candidates will ask a set of specific questions about the job, so don’t make them ask—Just offer this information upfront. For example, is the job full or part-time? Will the candidate be working remotely or not? (Because of the pandemic, this issue should be immediately addressed to avoid confusion and misunderstandings). And if you can’t give a clear picture of the salary, at least state a maximum that you can’t go above. Explain the title of the job, explain where the company is located, and explain what the company does.

You aren’t selling yourself.

To attract true superstars, you need to offer something…anything. You’re trying to entice a candidate who could work anywhere, so why should they work for you? Say something positive about the job or the company that might grab a busy job seeker’s attention.

For more on how to bring highly qualified candidates into your applicant pool, and eventually, into your company, turn to the staffing pros at PSU.

How a Staffing Agency Can Save Your Company Money

January 8th, 2021

When is the best time of the year to take a close look at your organization and find a way to cut costs? EVERY time of the year. There’s never a season, winter or summer when you won’t benefit by looking for new efficiencies and new ways to get things done. And this winter, it’s a good idea to consider partnering with a staffing agency. Here’s how that partnership can help you streamline your business and do more with less.

Staffing agencies gather candidates from sources you may not have considered.

Professional staffers and recruiters have a wide network of contacts and years of experience building relationships in your industry and your local area. They know where to find top candidates and they can quickly generate a pool of resumes that might take a long time to gather on your own. They often have access to local college and trade school job placement offices, and they have the tools and experience to target the exact candidates you’re looking for.

Staffing agencies screen candidates so you don’t have to.

When we collect resumes and applications from potential candidates, we subject them to an initial review and then a phone screening, during which we ask practical questions that can eliminate the first round of applicants and save you hours of time and hassle. If you’re looking for candidates who live within a geographic area, we can easily screen those who fall outside of that region. We can also have a quick discussion with each one about your must-have qualifications, including abilities, salary caps, and availability.

Staffing agencies reduce costs by reducing risk.

Personality match and cultural fit contribute greatly to candidate success. Sometimes even the most qualified candidate just doesn’t get along with the team or isn’t happy in the role. But hiring is expensive, and a change of heart by either party within the first few weeks can really set you back. Staffing agencies remove some of this risk because, during the initial period, the candidate works for the agency, not for you. If you need a replacement or you need to start over, we can take care of that for you.

Staffing agencies lift the burden.

Because the candidate works for the agency, we take care of tax withholdings, insurance, and other hassles that you may not want on your plate. We also help with background checks, drug screenings and other issues that can free up your time and take the pressure off your budget. For more on how our staffing agency can help you cut costs and save time, contact the experts at PSU today!

Make a New Years Resolution to Finally Quit Your Job

December 18th, 2020

New Year’s resolutions are different for every person and every set of circumstances, and while some people may be setting their sights on stepping into a job this year, it’s time for you to focus on the opposite. It’s time for you to let go of the job you have. This can be much harder than most people imagine.

Our culture teaches us to relentlessly worry about our job status—Do we have a job? Could something terrible happen if we lose our job? What if we can’t find another job? We’re always taught to cling to whatever “job” we have, even if that job makes our lives measurably worse because the alternative—no job—is believed to be a bad trade. But sometimes that’s just not true. If your life is going poorly right now and your job is the cause, it’s time to get out. You’ll need to step into the unknown in order to reset and make a meaningful change.

Here are a few moves that can help.

Recognize your anxiety about quitting, and accept that this feeling is normal.

Your employer, your company, and all employers and companies everywhere have something to gain when your fear of the unknown makes cling to a job you don’t like. This fear is not an accident; propagating it keeps salaries down and keeps employees obedient and quiet. If the world beyond these walls felt safe and inviting, employees would leave as soon as their needs weren’t being met, and massive shifts would occur in our culture and labor market. Your fear is real, but it isn’t necessarily warranted. Once you recognize this, it’s easier to see past it and get a realistic view of what your life will look like when you’re no longer coming to this place every day.

You will find another job. It may take a while, but it will happen.

You got this job, and you’ll get another. And another after that, and so on. If you make it happen, it will happen. Decades ago, job “success” may have felt like marriage success—a lifelong commitment to a single employer that began with graduation and ended with retirement. Anything short of a 40-year stint may have been positioned as a “failure”. But that’s not the case anymore, and it hasn’t been for a long time. In fact, job success is now measured in increments of about five years. At five years, you can

and should be scanning the landscape for the next adventure, even if you’re content with your current job. And if you’re NOT content, there’s nothing to be gained by staying beyond this period. It won’t look impressive on a resume, and an excessive tenure can keep you from gaining important skills and experiences.

Pull off the band-aid.

Some employees hesitate to leave a bad job simply because they dread an awkward conversation with the boss. Don’t be held back by this. Speak your mind, explain what you need that the job isn’t offering, and state your intention to leave in exactly two weeks. You don’t owe your boss a detailed description of what you plan to do next. Whether you have another job lined up or not is not your employer’s business. How much that job may or may not pay is also your own concern. Don’t be bullied or frightened into backing down, and DO allow your boss to make an offer (pay raise, promotion, etc) that may entice you to stay. Have the courage to face down a ten-minute conversation that can change your life for the better.

For more on how to stand up and walk away from a job that isn’t giving you what you need, turn to the career management experts at PSU.

Set SMART Goals for Your Team in 2021

December 4th, 2020

The year ahead can be anything we want it to be, and if we set goals, plan well, and aim high, there’s a strong chance we can achieve almost anything we set our minds to. This applies to personal goals, and it also applies to the goals we set for our teams and employees.

So how can we aim for and achieve success, even when the future is unknowable? Start with SMART. When goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, they’re more likely to be met by the end of the year.

Here are a few ways to set SMART goals and make them happen.

Sit with each employee individually and establish a meeting with your entire team.

“Specific” goals can be defined as clear goals that are agreed upon by the relevant parties and written down. In order to achieve agreement and written terms, you’ll need to have clear conversations. Get buy-in from the employee by making sure she understands exactly what the goal—as written—means, and exactly what’s expected of her by December 2021. Don’t use abstractions, like: “Aim higher and do better”. Instead, focus on specific changes like: “Reduce error rates in quarterly reports”.

Measurable means measurable for both parties.

You may have some subjective feelings about your employee’s performance, and you may measure his success using your own terms. If he seems sloppy or lazy to you, that’s fine—You’re the boss after all. But tidiness and energy can’t be measured, and even if they could, you and your employee might measure them with different yardsticks. Choose goals that both of you will measure using standard and identical metrics.

Achievable doesn’t mean settling; it means being realistic.

We’re always taught to reach for the stars and shoot for the moon, but if you actually want to hit your target, you need to choose something else—not the actual moon. Choose a goal that makes sense, connotes a victory, and counts as achievement and forward progress. Don’t count on the interference of unlikely events, or the appearance of capabilities and options that don’t presently exist.

Relevance always matters.

You may wish your employee would smile more while she does her work. But is this relevant to her task completion or the revenues she generates for the company? It is not. Examine your motivations to determine why this matters to you, and in the meantime, keep this metric out of your formal goal-setting process.

Timelines help move things forward.

Every goal, subgoal, and sub-sub goal should come with a clear and reasonable deadline. Every time a deadline is missed, examine the reasons why it happened, try to remove those obstacles, and reset the timeline.

For more on how to put your team on track to success and keep them in motion until the end of the year, turn to the management experts at PSU.

Tips on Improving Productivity Every Day

November 20th, 2020

You work hard, and over time, your years of hard work seem to slowly pay off. You do the best you can for your employer and gradually, day by day and year by year, you can see increases in your overall productivity. A task that once took three hours now takes two, and you’re better able to put that saved hour to your advantage than you used to be. That’s great. But what if you could find a way to take these steady, gradual productivity increases and speed them up? What if you could make yourself one percent more productive with each passing day? Where would you be in a year?

Try these tips for one year and see what happens.

First, define productivity.

Your definition may vary from someone else’s, so make sure you know exactly what you’re trying to improve. Do you want to process more client transactions per day? Do you want to manage larger accounts? Do you want to finish your work faster so you can go home and spend more hours with your friends and family? Determine what “productivity” means to you and write it down. Then you can get to work.

Look for weaknesses in your current system.

Maybe you really enjoy sleeping till nine and you have a hard time getting your workday started, and maybe that precious hour between eight and nine offers lots of opportunities to get things done. In that case, focus on that hour. How can you get to bed earlier and fall asleep faster? How can you motivate yourself to be on your feet one hour earlier? What steps can you take to shore up this one specific weakness in your current routine?

Look for obstacles and find ways to skate around them.

Maybe your job requires you to get daily approvals from Steve in accounting before you take any critical step forward. And maybe Steve tends to stand in your way for frustrating reasons. Focus on those reasons and find a way to remove—or at least reduce—this productivity-draining roadblock. If you face several of these problems throughout your day, tackle and solve just one at a time. Keep at it until each separate issue has been addressed.

Look inside yourself.

Is there something else holding you back? Not just one frustrating account manager, but something bigger, an obstacle that lies within your own mind or heart? If so, study this problem fearlessly and face it down. There’s a chance it may be simpler than you think. For example, what if you just don’t like this job and you’d rather be somewhere else? What if you’ve outgrown this entire industry and it’s time for a new start? If you look inside and find that your biggest obstacle to productivity is yourself, be bold. Gather your courage and make the moves you need to make in order to turn your life in the right direction. If it’s time for a new employer, or a new job altogether, the experts at PSU can help. Contact our office today.

How to Show Your Team You Appreciate Them

November 6th, 2020

Your team shows up every single day, no matter what, and they care enough about your enterprise to dedicate a third of their lives to supporting your success. They put everything else on hold to manage your accounts and orders or take care of your clients and customers, and while you pay them a fair salary (why else would they do this?), you also appreciate their contributions on a personal level. So how can you let them know? How can you remind them—on regular basis—that your company wouldn’t exist without them?

Here are a few simple tips.

Take the time to reinforce your personal bond.

Businesses are built on relationships, and if your employees care about you—and trust that you care about them—your company will thrive. Take a few minutes out of each day to sit with at least one member of your team and check-in. Ask how they’re doing, ask how they feel about their work and projects, and find out if there’s anything they need that might help them do their jobs. Just a quick chat and a moment of connection can go a long way.

Just say it.

Sometimes we wrap ourselves in knots wondering how we can express a certain feeling in an appropriate way, and we miss the obvious. Just speak. Simply tell your employees that you appreciate and depend on them via regular announcements, personal conversations, or small gestures (like surprise half-days). The message won’t be lost, no matter how many times your repeat it.

Acknowledge rough times.

When a huge order comes in and everyone on the team has to work late for a little while, show that you recognize this sacrifice. If a rough season rolls through (a spate of terrible weather, a virus, the loss of a beloved coworker) make it clear that you understand the challenges your employees are facing. Don’t act like nothing is happening and the bar of expectation has not changed.

Gifts and parties cost little and bring big returns.

Throw a holiday party and arrange a company picnic during the summer if you can, but in between these two big opportunities, try to turn ordinary Fridays into minor celebrations. Sponsor happy hours, acknowledge birthdays, and occasionally order lunch for your entire team…for no specific reason. These small gestures create lasting memories and can have an impact that resonates and improves your company culture.

Thank them for appreciating you.

If your employees say something positive about the company online or proudly wear the company logo in public, make sure the gesture is acknowledged. Let them know that these small words and actions make a difference. If you can, return the gesture by announcing and celebrating outside accomplishments, like employee achievements in art, sports, or charity.

Thank and appreciate your employees with both your words and actions, and do so as often as possible. For more guidance on cultivating positive company culture, turn to the experts at PSU

How a Temporary Job Can Restart Your Career

October 23rd, 2020

When you reach a career crossroad, it can take a while to find a new direction and a new sense of purpose. There’s no point in rushing the process; if you get impatient and leap in the wrong direction, you’ll just wind up at the same crossroads again in a few months (or days). Instead, pause and give yourself some time to make a wise and considered decision—while still maintaining the ability to pay your bills. A job and a career are two different things. In every life, there are times when we need to focus on one or the other.

Here’s how stepping into a temporary job for a while can help you move closer to your next career milestone.

A temporary job means low levels of commitment.

A temporary job is not a life sentence. Far from it. A six-month gig is by no means a full and total career pivot, but it CAN offer many things that can help you find your new purpose, for example, a chance to pause and think about what your last job may have lacked.

A temporary job brings in some fresh air, socially.

Your temp job—no matter where or what—will bring new faces, new friends, and new networking opportunities. Every time you meet a new person, you open a door. Open some doors and find out where they lead.

A temporary job helps you build new skills.

Again, no matter what your temp job entails– even if it doesn’t align with your current career—you’ll learn something new. You’ll learn how to use a new software platform, how to speak a new professional language, or how an unfamiliar business model works. Embrace this chance to learn something and expand the limits of what you know about the world.

A temporary job keeps the clock running.

Employers can sometimes be turned off by employment gaps in your resume, and this isn’t always a sign of narrow-mindedness; sometimes it’s a decision made by non-human algorithms and database management tools. If you stay steadily employed, you increase your options down the road.

For more on why and how to keep (or get) your career in motion with a temp job, contact the staffing team at PSU.

How to Get to Know the Real Candidate in an Interview

October 9th, 2020

If you encourage your candidate to open up during the interview and show his or her true personality, you’ll get a much stronger sense of the person’s fitness for the role. But to do this, you’ll need to set an appropriate tone and help the person relax.

Here’s how to make that happen.

Be friendly.

We all have a natural instinct to smile back when someone smiles at us. Humans are wired to be socially connected to others, and we mirror each other’s moods and feelings in a rapid and unconscious way. If you want to make someone feel guarded or tense, there’s no faster way to do this then by projecting those feelings yourself. And the opposite is also true; if you treat the candidate like a friend and demonstrate goodwill and trust, you’ll get the same in return. Smile, show interest in their comfort and behave as if the meeting is an enjoyable, warm and positive experience for you.

If you ask, be sure to share (or at least try).

Personal questions are friendly and engaging, and questions that stay within professional boundaries are necessary for a job interview, of course. But the difference between a conversation and a grilling session can come down to one word: balance. Make sure your levels of disclosure are (or at least feel) mutually aligned. If you ask about the candidate’s pets or her summer trip to Spain, offer something about your own pets and travels. (Remember, questions about family are absolutely off-limits in an interview.)

Encourage.

When your candidate shares an accomplishment, praise the accomplishment. When she describes a past struggle, sympathize. When she shares a goal, encourage her and show confidence in her eventual success. None of these will be mistaken for an implied commitment or job offer; they’re just gestures of warmth, interest, and kindness.

Discuss her long-term career goals, not just the goals of the company.

We often advise candidates to keep the focus on the employer’s needs, not on the needs of the interviewee. The opposite also holds true. This is a partnership; each side should emphasize what the other party has to gain if the agreement is to move forward.

Let the candidate be nervous.

Don’t comment on the candidate’s jumpy nerves or shaking, sweaty hands, even to reassure or to make a friendly joke. Be polite and ignore them. Often these physiological responses to stress are involuntary, but as a culture, we associate them with a lack of confidence or sincerity. Don’t do that. Just pretend they aren’t happening and recognize that all of us have been and will be on both sides of the interview table again and again, and you’ll want the same politesse the next time interview palm-sweat happens to you. For more on how to make your candidate feel open and engaged, turn to the interview experts at PSU.

Five Practical Tips for Landing Your First Post Graduate Career

September 28th, 2020

You’ve just walked off the stage with your high school diploma or a college degree and you’re ready to dive into the workforce. Congratulations! So… what’s next? Some of your peers may have jobs waiting for them (due to family connections, unique opportunities or pure luck), but you’re not in that group. You’ll need to rely on your own wits and face the wild, unstructured world for a while before you land your first post-graduate job.

Here are a few tips that can help you bridge the gap from here to there.

Create your resume quickly.

Your resume is important, for sure, and it should be perfectly perfect in every way before employers review it. But here’s a fact: it won’t be. A resume is a living, ongoing document that is NEVER perfect. Even when it’s finally concise, comprehensive, and absolutely typo-free, it will need to be updated, since you’ll probably have held one or two more jobs or volunteer gigs during the time it took to polish your draft to perfection. Don’t wait until you can hang your resume in the Smithsonian before sending it out. Create, edit, send out, keep editing, send again, and again, edit more, keep sending and applying, etc, etc. Perfectionism will never be your friend as you move through your career—not today and not ever.

Keep hustling.

Rejection is a fact of life and a badge of valuable experience. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more rejections you accumulate, the farther you’ve progressed on your career journey. Every single rejection represents an opportunity identified and seized, and every single one makes you stronger, thickens your skin, broadens your perspective and helps you grow. Each one is a new plate in your suit of armor. Those who stay hidden away and afraid to pursue any job that’s less than a perfect match are not going anywhere. That’s not you. Get out there and get shut down! Face the storms of life, don’t hide and wait.

Look everywhere…literally everywhere.

Where can you find great jobs and open positions? Every single place you can imagine. Scour the internet, review job boards, contact companies individually by using the information on their websites, reach out to your contacts by email and phone, ask your friends, mentors, and former professors for

help, use Linkedin, use Facebook, use everything. Keep an eye out for scams (the greater the urgency you feel, the more scammers and con artists can sense that urgency and exploit it), but with that caveat, go forth into every corner of the world—online and off—and just see what you can find there.

Be willing to change course.

You studied accounting because you wanted to be an accountant. That’s great! But don’t let your open door—your degree—become a prison. If you meet someone who inspires you (a teacher, a salesperson, a forklift operator, a dentist, anyone), or a new opportunity opens up that you’d like to pursue, don’t cling to the path you’ve chosen. Let go. Change direction. There will never be an easier point in your career in which to do this.

Keep your bridges intact

A hard fact to accept: Others don’t care about your career as much as you do. If you reach out to someone and they don’t respond, or if you arrange a meeting that falls through, or if you ask someone to help you and they don’t, move on with grace. This is not rudeness or betrayal, it’s just life. Someday you may find yourself on the other end of a similar interaction and you’ll understand that goodwill preserves relationships so you can rely on them later—bad will sours and frays them very quickly. Stay friendly and self-reliant. For more on how to get your foot in the door of a long and rewarding career, contact the experts at PSU.

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