Now You Can Be a Phone Etiquette Master

August 29th, 2016

Adobe SparkAre your phone skills getting in the way of your job search? And when we say “skills,” we’re not thinking about your word choice, phone demeanor, or anything along those lines (although, those certainly are important as well). No, what we’re actually alluding to for today’s blog would be more along the lines of etiquette for cell phone users-—so that basically includes all of us! We’re going to discuss a few basic but often overlooked ideas that could be undermining all your awesome efforts.

Phone Interviews
These days, a phone interview can happen just about anywhere. And well, that’s half the problem! Back in the day, a phone interview always happened on a landline (for anyone who still remembers what that is) and usually in the comfort of someone’s quiet home. But now with the convenience of cellular technology that puts mini computers in the palm of our hand, you can have a phone interview while driving the car, going grocery shopping, or even while on your lunch break.

Since on-the-go phone calls have become a part of society, it’s not always common-sensical to stop and reflect on any of this before making or taking a business phone call. So when the moment arises, take a quick check around your environment to see if there is anything going on that could sound odd or distracting on the phone. If there is a crying baby in the background or if you’re driving down the road with windows down, all of those are sounds that could put a damper on the phone call.

And aside from all the noise, doing anything on the phone (even walking!) will mean you’re not as fully present in the call, which usually means you won’t be your stellar self. Give yourself a break from all that multi-tasking and just bask in the moment of your interview so you can shine. And even better, staying focused on the call frees you up to have a pen and paper in hand to take notes.

And one last thing when it comes to phone interviews and calls, it never hurts to check the bars on your phone to make sure your signal is strong enough to support a call. For example, I was doing a reference check once on a weak connection. It took us half the reference call for the employer to realize that he was giving me feedback for the wrong employee!

Voicemail greetings

On the whole, voicemail greetings seem to be making improvements in leaps and bounds! However, it’s something many job seekers forget about, so it makes sense to give it a quick mention. When you have a moment, give a listen to your voicemail greeting so you can hear what prospective employers are hearing if they end up going to your voicemail. If it’s a custom greeting that you recorded, it’s good to mention your name and make sure the recording has a pleasant, professional sound to it. And of course, the prank-style voicemails aren’t usually the best way to go. But after your job search is done, you can always change it back!

~ Adam Lafield, Recruiter

Hiring Challenges and the Paradox of Choice

August 18th, 2016

Hiring Challenges - Choice.jpgOften times we are paralyzed when we have too many choices. Take a moment and think back to a childhood trip to the candy store or ice cream stand. Do you remember the overwhelming feeling of so many delicious choices? The desire for more options than you could choose? And the feeling of panic that you may choose the wrong one and have regrets? I frequently hear from hiring managers they have the same feelings when it is time to make a hiring decision.

Choice overload is a real thing; this psychological process has been studied within the retail world since the early 70’s. Making a decision can become overwhelming due to the many potential outcomes and risks that may result from making the wrong choice.

When it comes to making hiring decisions, there are some very simple processes you can put in place to mitigate the paralysis from too many choices.

  1. Skills Checklist: Create a simple checklist of “must have skills” and “nice to have skills.” Following each interview, quickly check the boxes for the skills the candidate has. This can help you more easily rule out the candidate you really connected with and liked, but didn’t quite have the right experience.
  2. Limit to 2 Choices at a Time: Force yourself to make a decision between only two choices at a time. For example, meet two people, choose who you like better and keep that person and let the other one go. After you meet the next person, again make a decision between this new person and the previous person. If you are always limiting yourself to two choices at a time, you are much less likely to get overwhelmed and can more easily make a decision.
  3. One Decision Maker: When you have an interview team involved, you now have differing opinions to take into account. Before the interview process starts, appoint one person as the official decision maker and give the other interviewers veto power only. This allows everyone involved to have a say and it will ensure a smoother decision making process.

By including a little bit of planning prior to beginning the interview process, you can significantly limit the paralysis of too many choices. I am not sure I can help you out with the dilemma of choosing the right candy or ice cream flavor, but these tips should certainly help with making your key hiring decisions.

“Tell Me About Yourself” with a Response You Can Be Proud Of

August 11th, 2016

By now, most of us are likely familiar with the classic interview questions. We’ve heard the question about strengths and weaknesses, where you see yourself in five years, and why you think you’re a good match for this position. However, the one that seems to plague most interviewees is the dreaded “tell me about yourself.” It’s a very gray-area type of question and can feel tricky to nail down because it’s so terribly non-specific! But never fear! With a little thought and preparation, anyone can have a brilliant answer to this question to wow just about any interviewer.

What does this question really mean?
For many interviewers, this question is a great way to get the interview started because it gives them a summary of you as an applicant. They see your resume, the experience, and the education and sometimes aren’t really sure where to start. So this question serves as a speed-dating type of icebreaker to get the ball rolling. And based on what you say, they can start their questioning and get the flow of the interview established.

What kind of information are they looking for?
In most cases, it’s about the professional details of your life. Things like your age, marital status, and any other information that interviewers aren’t allowed to ask you about directly are all things you can leave out of this response.

What you include depends a bit on where you are in your career path. For recent graduates, you may want to discuss applicable coursework, why you are interested in pursuing this role, and how a position like this would fit in with your overall career plan and goals. If you happen to have had internships or jobs that are applicable to this position, certainly bring that in as well!

For more experienced candidates, you have a bit more to work with and can focus on your career path and how that has led you to this position. If you’re making a career change, this is a great time to touch on that and introduce the idea into the conversation.

Regardless of where you are in your career, this is the time to shine and sell yourself. It’s best to avoid talking about gaps in employment or pointing out where your resume falls short for this role. If anything requires further explanation, the interviewer will certainly touch upon that with his/her questioning and give you a chance to elaborate. For now, just focus on looking brilliant to the interviewer!

How many details do I include?
Well, this is really an elevator speech all about you. As with most elevator speeches, you will have about 30-60 seconds. It’s not quite the right place to specify every accomplishment you’ve made with each job. Instead, it’s a big-picture summary. At some point in the interview, you’ll have a chance to elaborate in detail to further sell yourself.

Last piece of advice
And sometimes it feels a bit odd, but the best way to really keep the timeframe in check is to practice this out loud on your own. Verbalize your answer and see how it really feels as it comes out. After a few tries, you’ll be able to hone the language and fine-tune the timing. Don’t worry too much about getting the exact same words every time. It’s more about expressing all the ideas and just being yourself!

THINK WIN-WIN

July 15th, 2016

SERIES: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
(Author Stephen Covey)

Habit 4: Think Win-Win®

“You don’t have to blow out the other person’s light to let your own shine.” ~Bernard M. Baruch

Be proactive. Begin with the end in mind. Put first things first. These phrases emphasized the actions we would need to take when working towards our life’s goals. Now we move a bit deeper into ourselves as we explore the concept of “Think Win-Win”.

What does “Think Win-Win” mean?
This is not just a mantra to repeat to ourselves in negotiations or a simple technique to apply as needed. Thinking this way comes from who we are and how we interact with our fellow humans on a daily basis. It is a belief that in order for ourselves to be successful, someone else doesn’t need to fail. It means seeing life as a collaboration, not a competition.

How does that apply to my personal and professional development?
Our professional life gives us ample opportunity to approach relationships and inevitable conflicts with this in mind. In our interactions with others, we would have the mindset of finding resolutions that are mutually beneficial, on an individual and collective level. This doesn’t mean compromising our values. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Win-win means we find the solutions satisfying as well. Keeping integrity to our personal values is essential. However, we would express these values while considering the feelings of those we are working with. Recognize there is room for the feelings and desires of everyone. Allowing for another’s feelings does not compromise our own feelings or needs.

What can I do?
Find a balance between advocating for our ideas and beliefs and showing consideration for others is key to the win-win mentality. Being confident in the principles we live and work by will keep us happy and satisfied in the long term whatever we may be doing. It will send a consistent message, and others will know where we stand. Being empathic with our co-workers and others in our professional circle will demonstrate our maturity and willingness to understand and work in partnership with others.

“Think Win-Win”, or perhaps feel win-win, is a way of being. It is a team mentality. We are all in this together. Part of our personal and professional growth involves continually learning and expanding our view on matters. What better way to learn than from collaboration with others who are working for the same goals we are? In reference to our quote above, our light can shine even amidst other lights, and more lights will shine brighter together.

View a little more insight into Habit #4:

by Erin Counter

SERIES: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Author Stephen Covey)

May 11th, 2016

Habit 3: Put First Things First

“It is easy to say “no!” when there’s a deeper “yes!” burning inside.” ~Stephen Covey

As we continue our journey through the “7 Habits”, we will build upon our discussion of being proactive and making choices. We have also talked about envisioning, setting and working towards our ultimate goals. Part of this process involves finding a balance in managing our life’s values, roles, and priorities. We put first things first by managing our time through focusing on the priorities we envisioned in habit #2.

What does “putting first things first” mean?
We all know what it means to prioritize. However, different pressures and circumstances can easily distract us from where we prefer or intend to spend our time. We finally schedule some time to work on a project or on our hobby, and then our long lost friend wants to get together. We haven’t seen them in quite some time, and if we don’t say yes to their invitation, it may be a long time until we see them again because we have so much going on. These conflicts are common, and while there is no right decision, it can be difficult to say no when another’s emotions might be involved.

However, life is about balance. We can’t always say no to ourselves and yes to someone else’s priorities. The answer lies somewhere in focusing on our highest priorities. If our highest priority is to work on that novel we’ve been wanting to write, then friends may have to wait. If our highest priority is building and maintaining friendships, then hobbies will be put aside. It sounds simple, but in the moment when life is hectic and emotions are complex, reminding ourselves of our highest priorities, the ones we want to look back on having accomplished at the end of our lives, can help us not overextend ourselves in directions that will not get us there.

How does that apply to my personal and professional development?
If our professional growth is one of those “first things”, we need to take inventory of who and what will get us to where we want to go. Our primary goals and principles should guide us into focusing on what is important, and not necessarily urgent. Some “urgent” matters can wait and some important matters are not urgent. However, if your kitchen is on fire – that is urgent and important so feel free to take care of that first!

Thinking about the things that are important but not urgent is a focus on the long term. Exercising – there’s little immediate gain, but in the long run there is a huge benefit. Going back to school, or any type of professional education, is a huge investment of time and money. It’s not urgent, but its importance lies in the long term gain of becoming more effective in our profession.

What can I do?
We need to put the big rocks in the jar first. We all have an empty jar that represents our time. If we put all the unimportant things in first, there will be no room for the important ones. If we put the big, important values and goals in first, the other things somehow find a way to fit in around them. A continual reassessment of our values will help us on a daily or weekly basis manage our time and activities.

Part of this process can involve setting boundaries. Not letting others determine how we spend our time is an important step. This could be with family, colleagues, or clients. Others will let their needs (perhaps unwittingly) crowd out ours. By making a schedule or plan for our day, week, etc…and sticking to it, we can include other’s needs at times that make the most sense for us and our goals.

Focusing on our ultimate goals will help us find a time and place for everything and everyone else. As we feel more fulfilled by pursuing the things that matter most to us, everything else will naturally become part of our support system and something to be enjoyed rather than a hindrance to our destination. And the things that don’t really matter will naturally find their place or fade away.

See “First Things First” illustrated in the video attached here:

SERIES: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Author Stephen Covey)

April 12th, 2016

Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind

In a continuation of our series on “The 7 Habits”, we will build upon Habit #1 which involved being proactive in determining our responses. One of the questions we were encouraged to ask ourselves was, “Where are my energies focused?” Habit #2, as will be discussed below, encompasses focusing our time and energy on our end game – “beginning with the end in mind”.

“If you don’t know where you are going, than you probably won’t end up there.” ~Forrest Gump


What does being beginning with the end in mind mean?

Our wise friend “Forrest, Forrest Gump” put it simply above – you need to know where you are going in order to get there. When you embark on any journey, there is usually a destination in mind. There are many destinations, or milestones, we reach in life. What do we want to be, to have, to have accomplished when we get there? How do we know if the steps we are taking are going to get us there? Beginning with the end in mind means we take control (see habit #1 “Be Proactive”) and choose our thoughts and actions. We have taken the time to outline our purpose and our ultimate goals. We set the stage for taking deliberate steps in a specific direction.

How does that apply to my professional development?
We are all at different phases of life when it comes to our jobs and education. Perhaps we are presently unemployed and looking for work. Maybe we are working, but want a change or a receive a promotion. Possibly we are at the end of a long career and looking to transition into a different focus in life. Focusing on what we ultimately want to achieve in these areas will give us focus and open up opportunities where we may not be looking. It’s similar to the phenomenon of buying a new car. You buy a blue Toyota, and now everywhere you go, you see blue Toyotas. Focusing on our ultimate destination will have the same effect. Everything we experience will be one more thing connected to that final goal.

What can I do?
Covey advocates writing a personal mission statement. That can seem daunting, especially if we are trying to capture our life’s achievements on a piece of paper. There is no reason we can’t scale it down a bit. Let’s start with the end of the week. What do I want to have accomplished by the end of this week? Maybe we want to have had a job interview or finish a big project. Maybe our goals are more personal and we want to stop a bad habit or start a good one.

Whatever our mini-mission may be, writing it down as if it is a reality can really help. For example, my personal mission statement for this week could look like: I will have finished another blog post by Friday (almost there!). This is a shorter term focus than Covey advocates for, but I always find starting small is the best way to start a new habit. Then, once we accomplish week after week of completing our mission, we can expand our view further into the future. Of course, we can also start with the end of our lives, the end of a decade, the end of the year. Whatever works for your personal circumstances and goals is the best way to go about it.

The act of writing down our mission is powerful. It will give us a feeling that what we set out to do is already done. It’s just a matter of getting there. It can help clarify what it is you truly want. It will drive you to action. It will also keep you aware of opportunities as they prevent themselves. You will be more aware of the ways in which you can accomplish your goal. It will also help you to overcome obstacles. With a tangible benchmark, you will have something to celebrate as you reach your milestones and accomplishments.

View a summary of Habit #2 here:

SERIES: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Author – Stephen Covey)

March 8th, 2016

Educator and author Dr. Stephen Covey wrote many books promoting a principle centered life. Using universal principles, he directed readers through a self-improvement process that can be applied in many areas of life. When it comes to our professional growth, these principles are just as relevant. Follow our series of blog posts as we navigate the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and how it relates to our professional development:

HABIT 1: BE PROACTIVE
What does being proactive look like?
Being proactive means we take personal responsibility for our actions. We act deliberately on our decisions, not just in response to our circumstances. It entails taking initiative. Being proactive involves choosing responses based on our values and not being heavily influenced by the environment around us. The idea is that between the stimulus and response of a situation, there is the ability to choose.

How does that apply to my professional development?
One of our biggest influencers is our thoughts or “self-talk”. Our language can greatly influence whether we are reactive or proactive to a situation. For example, if we are struggling with the moving on to a new step in our career, we might find ourselves saying “I can’t find the right job” or “I must have everything I’m looking for” or “If only I had my degree”. These are reactive to our situation. However, a proactive approach might sound like “I choose to look for something that provides work/life balance”, “I prefer a position that provides flexibility”, or “I will obtain the education I need”.

What can I do?
As with anything, self-awareness is a must. One way to make an observation about our proactivity is to make note of how we respond in the different situations we face over the next couple of weeks. As yourself:

• Do I make and keep commitments?
• How do I react to difficult individuals and co-workers?
• Where are my energies focused?
• How do I respond in stressful situations (such as traffic jams)?

Once we are aware of where and when we are reactive rather than proactive, we can begin to practice changing our thoughts and our language. Our effectiveness in all roles and relationships will greatly improve with time and a proactive attitude in our professional advancement.

Watch and listen to Dr. Covey here:

Employee Involvement Programs Drive Performance

January 29th, 2016

Capture your employees’ creativity and ideas! Why is this important? As the following article shows, it improves motivation and morale. It can foster an environment of continuous learning with improved communication and processes.
http://jhstaffing.haleymail.com/index.smpl?c=5736

IMAGE - EMPLOYEE RETENTION

Turn an Assignment Into a Job Offer!

December 22nd, 2015

IMAGE - TURN INTO JOB OFFER
A temporary assignment can be more than just a short term opportunity.  Being open to temporary work while searching for your next permanent position, can help you land the job you are looking for.

Want to turn that temporary assignment into a permanent job?  http://jhstaffing.haleymail.com/index.smpl?c=20361

 

ACA 2016

December 8th, 2015

ACA 2016Just when you think you’ve wrapped your head around the Affordable Care Act, more changes come along.  The financial impact is foremost on the minds of employers.  Find out more about how to plan ahead and mitigate costs:  http://jhstaffing.haleymail.com/ACAhikes