How to Determine Appropriate Compensation

November 6th, 2015

You’ve completed a resume review and several rounds of interviews, and you’re ready to reach out to your chosen candidate. You have a primary contender in mind, plus two back-ups if your first says no, and all three are likely to fit the position and serve the company well. Now that you’ve found your candidate (and runners up), it’s time for the next step: assembling your offer. You need to open the negotiation by presenting a number that’s high enough to close the deal, but not high enough to leave money on the table. Here are a few moves that can help you identify that number.

Conduct research first.

A quick trip to the internet (and your own in-house experts) will start you down the right path. This move is by no means conclusive; the internet may set an average compensation bar for a candidate with this amount of experience, but that doesn’t mean your job is done. Popular salary sites can do two things: they can present you with a wide ballpark estimate, and they can provide a sense of what your candidate knows and expects. (Both of you will surely visit the same sites.)

Recognize that the candidate and the company use different metrics to determine salary.

Your salary offer will be based on two primary factors: the rarity of candidate’s skill sets (her replaceability), and the monetary value she brings to the company. If her actions bring a flood of revenue, some of that revenue should be returned to her. And if her skills are hard to find, you’ll need to stretch to keep her on board. But recognize that her metrics are different than yours. Unlike you, she’ll also be factoring in the cost of her commute, her childcare needs, the other offers she’s fielding, her previous salary, and the amount she needs in order to live the life she wants.

Ask for previous salary figures, but don’t expect an answer.

Ideally, most employers would like to pay their candidate exactly what she made at her last job, plus one dollar more. This usually represents the minimum offer that can be placed on the table. Anything less and the candidate will simply walk away. Anything more may be unnecessary to landing a yes. But recognize that if you ask for this data point, the candidate is not obligated to respond. Most savvy candidates will offer a preferred range instead.

Pay more to get more.

Nickel-and-diming your candidate may look like a thrifty move on the surface, but the long term matters more than the immediate moment. Unhappy employees disengage and eventually leave. But if they’re paid well, unhappy employees often stay, struggle through the hard times, work to impress difficult bosses, and search hard to find value in the enterprise. Err on the side of retention, and make sure that your offer is generous enough to keep your new employee loyal when the going gets rough.

For more on how to crunch the numbers and arrive at a salary offer that bring your candidate on board—and keep her there — contact the staffing team at PSU.

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Five Things You Can Learn From a Reference Check

October 9th, 2015

You’ve narrowed your candidate pool down to a handful of contenders, and you’ve asked each finalist to submit a list of references. And now you have a choice to make: Should you ignore these reference lists, or should you invest time, effort, and company resources in a series of phone calls and emails in order to inform your final decision?

Too often, managers choose the first option. At this point in the selection process, most employers already have a positive gut feeling about their preferred candidate, and they’d rather avoid a conversation that only confirms what they already know. Besides, most references tend to give uniformly glowing reports that add little substance to a candidate’s profile. But before you ignore your candidate’s reference list, recognize that a simple phone call can help you verify these five critical details before you make a commitment.

Is your candidate honest?

If his references are genuine, their stories check out, and they really are who the candidate says they are, great. You expect nothing less. But if they aren’t, now is the time to find out.

Is your candidate a trailblazer or does she toe the line?

By posing an open ended question about your candidate’s general approach to life and work, you can learn plenty about her willingness to break boundaries and try new things. Word the question like this: “Would you consider (candidate) to be more of a leader or a follower?” or “Can you tell me about a time when (candidate) broke a rule, tried an unconventional approach to a project, or pushed an idea that others didn’t immediately embrace? What were the results?”

Can your candidate handle the most difficult aspects of the job?

Identify the rarest or most challenging skill set that this job entails, such as CNC coding, public speaking, complex technical writing, or high level event planning. Ask the reference if he or she has direct experience with the candidate’s abilities in this area. Ask the person to speak freely on the subject, and read between lines of whatever you hear.

In what areas does the candidate NOT excel?

This is a tricky question, and it’s a difficult one to ask without seeming disrespectful of the candidate, or disrespectful of the relationship between the candidate and the reference. Try phrasing your question like this: “Can you name one task that you would rather assign to someone else instead of (candidate)?”

How can you bring out the best in this candidate?

If your reference is a former manager or supervisor, learn more about the kinds of tactics and management styles that can help you bring out the candidate’s best work. Frame the question as a simple request for advice. For example: “Can you offer me any management tips or guidance that might help (candidate) thrive in this position?”

For more on how to attract, select and retain the most talented candidates in the marketplace, reach out to the staffing team at Personnel Services Unlimited.

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Maintaining Work-Life Balance

September 25th, 2015

Sometimes the pressure to maintain your performance at work can interfere with other aspects of life, including health, relationships, and the general quality of your days and years. If you understand what this feels like, there’s a strong chance you also understand the temptation to pull resources away from these other aspects and invest those resources in fully into your job. After all, our families aren’t going anywhere, but if we give less than our best at work, there’s a chance our jobs will disappear. Before you start burning your candle down the nub and letting your job consume a disproportionate and unhealthy share of your attention, keep these tips in mind.

Stay in the Present

Tackle one problem at a time, one issue at time, and one task at a time. As you listen to your friend, help your spouse solve a problem, or treat your child’s banged up knee, don’t simultaneously worry about the report that’s coming due at work. There’s nothing you can do about that report right now. When you carry a five minute problem away with you, it becomes ten minute problem, and then a three hour problem. The same applies to a five minute task. When you aren’t working on it, put it down.

Take your Vacation Time

You own your allotted vacation and break time for a reason: because many workers who came before you fought hard to earn this right. They did so because these employees understood the steep toll that relentless work can take on the body and the mind. Learn from their experiences, and make the most of what they struggled to secure for you. Don’t give it up.

Say No when You Mean No

If you know that you don’t have the bandwidth or resources to handle a certain task or assignment, say so upfront. Don’t cheerfully accept the task if you won’t be able to deliver without paying a price you can’t afford. Be honest. Describe the forms of support, time, and training you’ll need to complete the task adequately, and if you don’t realistically expect to finish the job within standard work hours, don’t make promises you can’t keep. It’s your boss’s job to provide the staff, money, and time you need in order to succeed without compromising your non-work time or your mental health. It’s your job to make these needs known.

Plan Ahead

Before you step into your car each day, make sure you have everything you’ll need to make it through your various appointments and obligations. Make the most of the list and calendar features on your mobile device, and if you rely on a network of other people (include your spouse, your colleagues, or your family members), stay in touch and don’t hesitate to ask for help and updates.

For more on how to survive the most productive years of your life– and even enjoy them—without losing your mind, reach out to the staffing and career management team at PSU.

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Save Time and Money with a Staffing Agency

September 18th, 2015

You’re proud of the hard work you’ve invested in your staffing program. Your company is a well-oiled machine, and when you have an open position to fill, you typically attract a strong talent pool and choose a great candidate within a reasonable time frame. But as your company grows and expands, your staffing program is starting to cost more than you can afford in terms of time and personal focus. At this point, it’s time to turn your attention away from the hiring process and back to the more important task of running your business and taking care of your clients. But you still need a staffing program that meets your needs and won’t break your budget. Have you considered partnering with an experienced staffing agency? Keep these benefits in mind.

Reduced Risk

Your most important assets are your human assets, and your company will only be as productive and successful as the people who work for you. Right now, you’re investing time and care in your selection process, but a staffing agency can take this time and care one step further. Why not bring your candidates on board and work beside them for a few months before making a long term commitment? This probationary period can give both parties a little time to test the strength of the match before making it permanent.

Workforce Flexibility

If your business model involves seasonal or cyclical fluctuations, you need more help during some months of the year than others. You may rush to hire a fleet of hands during the summer or the holiday season and reduce your team to a skeleton crew during the rest of the year, or vice versa. But you— and your employees—may struggle with this dramatic rise and fall in demand. A staffing agency can help you smooth this process by providing expert temporary help during periods of peak need and simply reassigning these employees when your busy season is over.

Reduced Hassle and Paperwork

Since your team members will technically be employed by the staffing agency, not by you, you don’t need to worry about insurance, payroll, tax reporting, or any of the other bureaucratic elements of staffing that distract you from more important tasks. While you focus on your products and customers, the agency can handle these details. If your employee isn’t a match for your culture or isn’t a fit for the job description, the agency can supply a replacement without single pause in productivity.

Put your trust in a staffing agency that cares about your business as much as you do. Contact the experienced staffing team at Personnel Services Unlimited today.

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Preparing to Interview Administrative Candidates

August 21st, 2015

You’ve recently published an opening for an administrative professional and you’re starting to receive a steady flow of resumes in response. Now you’re ready to schedule some interviews and find a candidate who can handle the requirements of the job and represent your company and your personal brand to the world. You’ll need a problem solver, a positive person who’s pleasant to be around, and someone with the rapid multitasking ability and tech skills to quickly dispatch whatever challenges the day delivers. That’s what you need. But here’s what you have: a stack of nearly identical resumes and a lobby full of fresh faces that don’t reveal much about the minds and personalities behind them. Use these interview tips to sort through the haystack and find your perfect needle.

Skip the obvious single-answer questions.

Go through your list of questions and delete everything that can be answered with a single word (like yes or no) and every question that comes with a fairly obvious answer (like, “Are you a hard worker?”) These questions won’t help you at all. Instead of giving your candidates an easy pop-quiz, use the meeting to launch a conversation. Then read between the lines and use the conversation to make your decision.

Ask for stories.

Ask your candidates to tell you a story (or a series of stories) that will provide insight into their preparation for the job. For example: “Can you tell me about a time when you set a goal, gave it your all, and fell short? What happened and what did you learn from the experience?” You can also ask your candidates to review the past and tell you a story about a workplace conflict, a leadership challenge, a difficult deadline, or any other event that might tell you something about the person’s character and communication skills.

Explain the most unpleasant aspect of the job.

This can be a very telling moment in an administrative interview. If you have one especially nasty client, or a dirty chore, or a tedious responsibility that comes with this job title, describe it and ask the candidate what he thinks. How will he handle this odious task? If he answers with enthusiasm and doesn’t bat an eye, that’s a good sign.

Ask about the filing systems and scheduling tools she’s used in the past.

Listen to the sound of her voice as she answers. Is she comfortable learning to depend on new technology that she’s never seen before? Is she likely to pick up new tools and new methods quickly and without complaint? Will she thrive within the status quo? If so, she’s probably the perfect match for this position.

For more on how to identify and hire winning administrative candidates, reach out to the staffing team at PSU.

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