How to Move Forward After Being Fired

May 4th, 2018

You’ve just been fired, and you’re ready to count this episode among the hardest you’ve ever faced in your life. You’re not alone; according to survey data, most respondents rank job loss among the ten most difficult life challenges most of us will ever encounter, almost on par with divorce, losing a home, or losing a loved one. Job loss is stressful in countless ways, some of which compound the difficulty of losing a paycheck. Breaking the news to family members, finding ways to pay the bills, and explaining the event to interviewers in the future are all difficult tasks, and there’s no way to sugarcoat the truth: the road ahead will be rocky. At least for a little while. But you can make it, and in time, you’ll be back on your feet with this rough patch well behind you. Here are a few ways to make that day come a little sooner.

You’re not alone.

You may feel embarrassed by this event, as if you’ve been exposed as a bad worker or a fraud. But that’s simply not the case. Firing (as painful as it is) is quite common, and the reasons can have little to do with your ability to make it in the world. There’s often a case to be made that the event wasn’t completely your fault. Spend two minutes thinking about that, and then put it behind you. You have bigger concerns then placing blame—on yourself or on anyone else.

Don’t wallow.

You may be tempted to spend weeks sweeping up the pieces of your broken heart, but don’t do this. As soon as you’re able, get outside, exercise, search for a new job, or plan your next adventure. The longer you sit still, the more your dark thoughts and ruminations deepen the hole you’re in. It’s healthy to ruminate after the loss of a loved one, and our memories keep loved ones alive and with us. But a job is not a person. Your ruminations won’t honor the past or help you heal. Bring the wallowing stage to a close asap. After a job loss, this stage helps no one.

Take the opportunity to change course.

Before you leap into a new job exactly like the last one, think of this moment as an off-ramp on an expressway. If there’s a chance that your previous jobs or career path weren’t quite right for you, act on that possibility before the moment passes and you miss your exit. Career pivots are always easier when your old job disappears involuntarily. It’s much harder to stand up from your desk and force the move on your own.

Get help.

Whether you’re changing direction or just getting back on track, you’ll benefit from the words and guidance of career experts who have seen it all before. Contact the Charlotte staffing professionals at PSU for perspective, tips, and job search resources that will help you regain your stride.

Successfully Preparing for a Career Fair

April 2nd, 2018

When you see an announcement for a career fair in your area, don’t just dismiss it without taking a closer look. Even if you’re happily employed, or you’re actively seeking work but you don’t think this particular fair has anything to offer you, look again. Some career fairs showcase a surprisingly diverse group of employers from different industries, and you never know when a job fair might light a spark or introduce you to an important new contact. Opportunities are everywhere! And career fairs often become sources of kismet and coincidence that can change lives. If you decide to show up on the scheduled date and time, keep these tips in mind.

Dress nicely.

Look sharp, since you’ll be interacting with lots of people who will see you for only a few seconds and will have little else to go on while gathering a first impression. Eye contact and a pleasant expression will go a long way as well.

Take it in.

Keep your head up and feel the vibe in the room. Scan for friendly faces and keep your ears open. If you overhear a conversation that intrigues you, it’s okay to drop in. As in, “Excuse me, did you just say you know Sally Johnson? I know her too,” or, “Excuse me, did you just mention the X corporation? I have a connection there and he has a position he urgently needs to fill.” Don’t stare at your phone and tune out the world. At a career fair, this can lead to missing out, missing the point, and missing your moment.

Be patient and calm.

Desperation is unfortunate, since it can actually keep the things we desperately need away from us instead of drawing them closer. Even a vague sense of restless urgency can come across poorly and can be off-putting. So relax. Prepare to wait in some long lines. Don’t demand anyone’s attention or validation, and don’t say “I’m sorry” when you actually mean to say “Hello” or “Here’s my resume” or “It’s nice to meet you” or “I’m looking for a full-time position as a senior market analyst.” Anxious people do this all the time at job fairs, but you don’t have to be one of them.

Bring lots of resumes.

You’ll probably distribute your resume to some employers via app, email, or the cloud. But bring a stack of old-fashioned paper resumes with you as well, and try to leave as many behind as possible. Again, stay open minded about the specifics of the job or company you’d like to work for. If a certain employer might be a good fit but you aren’t sure, err on the side of leaving a resume. You can always discuss your credentials with the company in detail later on.

For more on how to make the most of your job fair experience, whether you stay for three hours or three minutes, contact the staffing and job experts at PSU.

Establish a Company Culture that Makes an Impression

March 9th, 2018

You want your company culture to send a positive message, and you want your employees to enjoy coming into the office every day. What manager doesn’t? But there’s one thing that attracts and retains top employees even better than a good company culture: a GREAT company culture. Plenty of employers can boast that they treat their teams fairly and maintain clean, functional and professional places of business. But can you make your own company stand out by offering more than the minimum? Can you set yourself apart and create a culture that leaves a lasting impression? Of course you can! Here’s how.

Apply visible effort.

Show your existing employees that you care sincerely about their job satisfaction and growth and show them that culture matters to you. Take frequent surveys, do regular check-ins with individual team members, supply training opportunities, and keep your door and your ears open to suggestions related to culture. If some aspect of your process or management seems to be holding back the flow of positive energy around the workplace, take care of it with speed and honesty.

Address complaints.

There are few things more frustrating than a company that boasts about its culture in ways that are clearly inaccurate. For example, an “innovative” company with rigid, arbitrary rules about process or protocol. Or a company that boasts of diversity but won’t hire a balanced mix of race or gender. Or worst of all, a company that celebrates teamwork but won’t address complaints of bullying or toxic managerial behavior. Don’t be that company. If something isn’t working, listen and resolve the issue—Don’t pretend it isn’t happening.

Don’t squash the fun.

Too often, companies back instinctively away from any activity that carries the slightest hint of “risk”, either brand risk or risk of legal exposure. This means requests with no immediate financial benefit are rejected without consideration. No funny hat day, no Saturday miniature golf outing (someone might get hurt), no onsite parties (someone might behave badly), and no ice cream socials (someone might choke on a sprinkle). No time wasters, no hack days, no tomfoolery. Don’t be that company. Lighten up and reap the benefits of stronger relationships and greater trust.

Be kind.

Giving an employee a break, forgiving a mistake, allowing an extra bereavement day, asking about a family member’s health, or letting a flu-ridden employee stay home without demanding a note from a doctor are all small steps toward a positive culture. Respecting your own humanity and the humanity of your workforce will bring financial gains over time, not losses. Be fair– don’t give breaks to some while withholding them from others– but be reasonable. Your employees will give you their best if you can accept them at their worst.

For more on how to retain your best workers and get the most out of their contributions, contact the Charlotte staffing professionals at PSU.

Should You Hire a Candidate Who Will Play it Safe or Take Risks?

February 16th, 2018

You’ve completed your first few rounds of interviews, and you’ve narrowed your candidate pool down to two final contenders. Both hold the necessary qualifications for the job (the right training and adequate years of experience), and both seem perfectly reliable and pleasant to work with.

There’s just one big difference between the two. Candidate A (Let’s call her Bold Betsy) jumps into new situations without hesitation, pushes all her chips onto the table when she sees a potential reward, and takes decisive action when she has all the facts…and sometimes even when she doesn’t.

Candidate B (Nervous Nora) holds back and avoids taking decisive action, even when she has all the information she needs. She always wants “more data”, and even if the risk is small or the wrong decision will bring minimal fallout, she hesitates. She wants to play it safe or not play at all.

Bold Betsy speaks up in meetings and owns the room, even if she might be wrong. Nervous Nora stays quiet, even when she’s clearly right. Which personality do you need on your team? Here are a few moves that can help you decide.

Ask the team.

When it comes to risk-taking tendencies, there’s no “right” or “wrong” personality type. These are just two different ways of living, and both are perfectly healthy, smart, and productive. But each one is a better fit for some situations than others. So what does your team need right now? If you already have plenty of one type on board, maybe it’s time to balance things by hiring from the other end of the spectrum.

Where is this role heading in the future?

If the role is limited right now, a bold personality type might get bored and seek greener pastures before the company and the team have a chance to grow and expand. But in the future, when a bold type can accomplish more, do you want to be held back by the shy soul you’ve hired? What you need now might not be a fit for later, so prioritize the future, not the present.

Where do you fall on the curve?

If you don’t mind taking risks, close your eyes and roll the dice. Choose the candidate with whom you feel a stronger connection and a greater sense of innate trust. But if you yourself are a Nervous Nora, then do what Nora does: exhaustively comb your available data until you’re one hundred percent sure that your chosen candidate is a perfect fit. If you need to, schedule more interviews. Don’t be afraid to hold out for a while in order to get what you want and feel satisfied with your choice. Trust your instincts.

For more on how to make the right decision during the final round of the selection process, contact the expert recruiting team at PSU.

Battling Job Search Burnout

January 5th, 2018

Job search burnout: the struggle is real. Even when the job market is booming and unemployment is low—in fact, ESPECIALLY when these conditions are in effect—an extended job search can be morally, financially, and even physically exhausting (ask any anxious person who hasn’t slept in a few days). After a seemingly endless series of rejections or disappointing feedback from disinterested employers, it’s natural to start looking around for other ways to spend the day, and if job seekers don’t recognize the signs of burnout, they may be tempted to simply stop looking for work and abandon the process, regardless of the consequences.

But giving up isn’t the answer, especially if it means a stalled career or remaining trapped in an unrewarding job that adds no value to your career. Before you’re overtaken by burnout, recognize the signs and fight back.

Don’t be relentless.

If you berate yourself for every minute that you spend awake and not looking for work, stop doing that. The job search is NOT a full-time job, counter to what you might believe. Set aside one hour, or four, or 30 minutes every day to work on your resume, and when that period ends, pack it up. Recharge your battery, turn your attention back to your current job, or spend time with friends and family.

Drop the pressure or you may be tempted to drop your standards.

If you’ve decided that your job search is a “failure” after a month goes by and you don’t have a new gig, the artificial deadline you’ve imposed may push you to make desperate decisions, and desperate decisions are rarely smart decisions. Don’t accept an absurd commute, impossible hours, or a salary that’s less than you deserve. Settle in for a long climb; you’ll get there when you get there. You won’t get there at all if you panic, give up, and accept a job you don’t want.

Get help from a recruiter.

If you feel like you’re getting tired and losing the energy and optimism you had at the beginning of your job search, it may be time to seek help from an expert outside source. An experienced, established recruiter with wide and deep connections in your industry and your geographic area can help you find and impress the employer who’s looking for you right now just as urgently as you’re looking for them. In the meantime, your recruiter can help you polish your resume and your pitch until they’re tightly targeted to your ideal opportunity.

Contact our Cleveland County career management experts at PSU to learn more!

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.

Nonverbal Moves that Can Help You Ace Your Interview

February 12th, 2016

You’re in the process of preparing for your interview, and you already have the basics nailed down. You’re ready for tough questions about your experience and ambition, and you know that you need to project nonverbal cues that signal confidence, competence, and friendliness. Your firm handshake and direct eye contact are locked and loaded, and your smile has never been more radiant. But here are a few subtle non-verbal gestures you may not have considered. Add these to your list and you’ll gain one more slight edge over your competition.

Form a personal connection with your chair.

Chances are, you won’t conduct this interview standing up. So when you’re offered a chair, take it. And take the entire chair, don’t just perch at the edge. Make sure your rear end is deeply planted and squarely settled in the middle of the seating area, and envision your body filling the space from one armrest to the other. Relax your arms at your sides and keep your shoulders rolled back and as far from away from each other as you can get them. The chair is your friend, and it belongs to you for the duration of the interview session.

Eye placement

Eye contact is a must, but don’t take this tip too literally. If you do, you’ll end staring hypnotically at your interviewer with an unblinking gaze that’s unnatural. Keep your gaze open, frank, friendly, and fearless. Take in your interviewer’s entire face and consider their expression. If you’d like to break your gaze, glance down at her hands for a moment. If no place seems like a safe resting point, fix your gaze on the bridge of your interviewer’s nose.

Expressive hands

If you naturally talk with your hands, that’s great. Let those hands fly. Bring them up and flail them around in whatever way seems natural. But if you don’t know what to do with your hands, try this: Keep them relaxed on your armrests and open (no balled fists). From time to time, place your elbows gently on the table and rest your hands in front of your body. Try not to let them come between the interviewer’s gaze and your face (in other words, don’t touch your face or hide it from view).


This is a very subtle interview move that can convey volumes of information about your experience and confidence: Instead of blurting answers to your interviewer’s questions, pause for two full seconds between the end of their sentence and the beginning of yours. Actually count out two full Mississippi’s. Take that moment to breathe deeply and collect your thoughts.

Ace your interview and make a great impression by using every tool at your disposal. For more on how to make this happen, reach out to the Gastonia job search experts at PSU.

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Boost Your Productivity in the Fall

September 26th, 2014

The transition from summer to fall can be a jarring shift for many workplaces, even those with a business model that doesn’t fluctuate based on the seasons. Employees with children are making the move from summer vacation to scheduled activities, and those who are still in school themselves are moving back into academic life and making adjustments that will have an impact on their productivity. Overlapping vacations are beginning and ending, clients are closing their books for the year, and temporary summer employees are leaving. Keep your workflows on track amid these fluctuations and you’ll come out on the other side of the season without missing a beat.

1. Keep the focus on work.

Busy employees can start leaning away from their desks during this time, so keep their attention, even if you have to use cheap ploys. For example, an occasional free pizza in the break room, an unexpected sandwich delivery during a meeting, a sponsored happy hour every Friday, elevated praise for those who go the extra mile, and an understanding attitude from direct supervisors can go a long way.

2. Tap into the mood of the season.

Fall is often a dreamy season, and dreaminess tends to bring creative boosts, which in turn bring great ideas, new innovations, better methods, and more effective and spontaneous brain storming sessions. Channel this energy. Be receptive to suggestions during this time and try not to close down employees who are bold enough to share their visions.

3. Plan retreats and networking events.

If you’ve ever considered sponsoring a networking event or lecture series, the fall is a great time to do this. It’s also a great time for leadership retreats and trust workshops that can take a single hour or an entire weekend.

4. Start the strategic planning process for the year ahead.

Where do you hope to take this company in the coming year? If your influence doesn’t extend that far, then where do you plan to take your own team or your own department? Where do you plan to take your own career? Now is the time to start thinking about your long term timeline and encouraging your employees to do the same.

5. Start thinking about performance reviews.

When you sit down to evaluate your employees in a few months, you’ll be looking carefully back over the year for accomplishments and highlights that contribute to a complete picture of their annual progress. Start putting the pieces together now, and you’ll be less likely to let key details fall through the cracks.

For more on how to keep your teams in motion and keep your own productivity track during the season ahead, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

Use Nonverbal Communication to Attract Top Candidates

July 11th, 2014

Hiring managers are constantly coached to keep an eye on non-verbal cues during interviews. As interviewers have heard over and over again, slouching, disinterested, fidgety candidates may be displaying red flags or indicators of trouble, like hostility, rigidity, dishonesty, or inexperience. A candidate’s eyebrows and body posture may reveal more than his or her words, and wise mangers take these indicators into account during the selection process.

But as it happens, these nonverbal cues travel in two directions. Just like managers, candidates are assessing these signals and using them to make decisions about the company. So before you meet with your talented applicants, think carefully about the message you may be sending with your clothes, your expressions, and your demeanor. Keep these considerations in mind.

1. Dress the part.

When you’re meeting with a candidate for the first time, look sharp. Your candidate will be gathering impressions from everything he sees around him. And even if you can’t do much to make your building or your reception area more impressive, you can still polish your own personal presentation. Your clothing and appearance should tell the candidate that this is a serious, legitimate, successful company with a promising future.

2. Radiate welcome and warmth.

A cold, forbidding welcome won’t awe or impress a confident candidate. It will only turn them off. And in fact, this approach may backfire, since it tends to appeal to desperate candidates who don’t have many alternative options beyond this job. When you meet your candidate for the first time, smile warmly, chat pleasantly, and show him the same respect he’s showing you by applying for a job with your company. If you’re seated when she walks into the room, stand up and shake her hand.

3. If you like it here, make this known.

If you’re happy with this company, you like your job, and you feel fulfilled and respected in this place, let this show. Your candidate will pick up on subtle signals that suggest burnout or mistreatment. If you’re not happy or you don’t believe in this company’s product or service, they’ll know, and won’t want to work here.

4. End the meeting gracefully.

When you’ve completed your series of interview questions, ask the candidate if he has anything to add or if he would  like to know more about the company and the job. When it’s time to say good bye, stand up, shake hands again, thank him sincerely for his time, and let him know what to expect from you in terms of follow up.

For more on how to use your posture and body language to make a strong impression during your interview process, contact the staffing and hiring experts at PSU.


Does your Company Culture Attract Candidates?

May 30th, 2014

Your recruiting strategy is a sophisticated, multi-faceted effort designed to source and attract the highest level of talent available in the local or global marketplace. And you have most of the basics locked down. Your recruiters are highly trained, your social media marketing efforts are aggressive and well-targeted, and you know how to make the most of your referrals and in-house promotions.

But are you overlooking one of the most important staffing tools at your disposal—your company culture? A great culture and a thriving team of happy, engaged employees will speak volumes to potential candidates. Nothing makes a workplace more appealing than an existing team of people who love it here. At the same time, nothing raises questions and drives candidates away like a culture of burned out, underpaid, under-supported, or hypercompetitive zombies. Here are a few ways to build and leverage the first while avoiding the second.

1. First, respect your employees. Before you can use your culture to market your company, you have to have something to sell. To find ways to get from where you are to where you want to be, distribute surveys. Ask your current employees what they like about this place and what they’d like to see changed. Encourage their feedback and listen carefully to the information they offer.

2. As you start turning your workplace into a thriving, productive environment, encourage your employees to spread the word. Ask them to “like” the company and make positive remarks on social media. Offer incentives for these small gestures.

3. Get them to bring their friends on board. Offer hiring and signing bonuses and encourage referrals for job seeking friends and family members.

4. Solicit honest testimonials. Use these written testimonials in your marketing material, online accounts, and efforts to engage new applicants and recruits.

5. Open up your company culture to the rest of the world. Sponsor community service activities like literacy programs, stream clean-ups, pet adoption programs and blood drives. Give your workplace a public face and personality.

6. Pay attention to your employees’ long term needs and ambitions. Provide mentoring programs, professional training, tuition reimbursement, and opportunities for growth within the company. The more loyal and long term your relationships become, the better chance you’ll have of attracting and retaining top talent.

For more information on how to build your staffing program and elevate your company culture from the inside, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

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