Attract top Gen Y candidates today!

June 29th, 2012

Many employers these days are trying to figure out how they can attract some of the top talent from Generation Y.  Today, we continue our exploration of Gen Y and look at how adjusting aspects of your workplace structure could help attract this group.

In the end, remember that all of this comes down to what you are able to do and what makes sense for your business.  In a nutshell, the more excited about and inspired by their work and work environment, the more productive your Gen Y workers will become.    If your company does not implement all these ideas, Gen Y applicants will likely not be as excited about the work environment you offer, but it’s not going to totally scare them away either!  And if you fall short of ideal (and most places do!), help to offset by offering great benefits and an environment that fosters creativity and innovation.  Those go a long way, too.

Evaluating your workspace
For starters, what is the physical workspace like?  One recent trend is the concept of an open office setup—essentially workstations that completely lack walls between employees.  While some of the seasoned employees in your company may have reservations about the idea, it’s definitely something Gen Y is running with.  And why is that?  Well, these new set-ups foster conversation and collaboration between employees.  One thing many Gen Y workers dislike is an overly structured environment, so they oftentimes prefer not to feel boxed in and isolated by high cubicle walls.

In many cases, it may be difficult to completely redo your workstations, but as a component of the modern office, it’s something many Gen Y applicants like. And if you already have traditional cubicle walls, they are often constructed in segments.  You may have the ability to take down the top segment of the wall.  While this would not put your space at the level of “open office,” it would remove some of the physical barrier between employees while also leaving some level of privacy for those who need it.

Dress code
How formally are your employees required to dress?  While you don’t need to open up the rules on flip flops and tank tops, the upcoming generation does prefer a more casual, laid-back environment.  You don’t have to completely compromise and allow jeans…unless you really want to!  Perhaps after some honest self-evaluation, you realize that a business suit is not necessary or that not every day requires a tie.  Ultimately, it’s something you’ll have to thoughtfully consider to determine what’s best for your situation.

An option to telecommute?
And last, what is the overall workplace structure like?  Do your employees have the option to work from home?  Admittedly, some jobs really must be done in the office.  But if the job can be done from home, why not consider it?  When constructing telecommuting options, it’s actually possible for you to save money in overhead because employees who work from home don’t need an office or cubicle.

What’s important to understand here is motivation and why Gen Y loves this option so much.  On the surface, the desire may appear to stem from the opportunity to sit at home and do less work but still get paid.  However, it’s actually quite the opposite.  Gen Y workers are pros at mixing work and life together, and they generally dislike having a set time of day where they’re supposed to be working or not working.  When allowed to telecommute, they can get an incredible amount done by working at times that best promote productivity for them.

This week’s top jobs

Temporary Executive Assistant
Bilingual Receptionist
Temporary Accountant Assistant

Get Ready for an Upward Move in your Career

June 21st, 2012

We’ve spent lots of time on general suggestions for interviews and job searching.  However, today we’re going to focus a little more specifically on candidates who have experience and who are looking for an upward move.

Naturally, the first thing to do is to figure out what your options are.  Are there opportunities within your present place of employment?  In most cases, moving from within can be great because your current employer already knows you and how great you are.  And likewise, you know the product, service, or whatever your company’s specialty is.  Plus, you’ve invested time with this employer, so why start from scratch if you don’t need to?

Even if your initial inclination is to change employers, still take a peek to see what the options are.   Depending upon the size and structure of the company, there may be possibilities you didn’t even know existed, which could lead you to exciting, rewarding prospects.  Of course, you may ultimately find that the structure of the company cannot accommodate an upward move for you.  And other times there are positions you could theoretically advance into, but the people holding those positions don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.  So yes, you have lots to consider, but after some brainstorming, the waters should clear a bit and yield some answers.

If you ultimately decide to apply for new jobs (internally or externally), start with a few fundamental steps.  There are definitely jobs to be found out there, but competition can be a bit intense these days!  To ensure success, tweak your overall presentation to make yourself an ideal candidate.

Anticipate employer needs
Since this is your field and industry, you likely have an idea as to what employers are looking for, but don’t be afraid to do some further research anyway.  Determine the crucial needs of perspective employers within your field.  These are the skills you want to highlight in your resume and in elevator speeches during the interview.  And of course, you would also want to review in detail the description of a specific job for which you’ve applied.  Once you’ve done that, incorporate those needs into the resume you submit to that employer and into interview conversation.

And speaking of the resume, this document should sparkle—well, not literally!  Since you’ve had experience, be sure you document that experience and your accomplishments.  This means that you may need to go on to a second page, which is perfectly acceptable.  Click here for more information on resume length.  To stand out from others, ensure the resume is thorough but also impeccably clean and easy to follow.  Click here for more resume tips.  And last, proofread for any company jargon.  While acceptable for internal applications, this could be a problem applying for external jobs because readers may have no idea what it means.  Industry jargon is acceptable if you are applying to work within that same field.  If you are unsure, play it safe and spell it out.

What’s your plan?
Sometimes, applicants who are searching for their very first job can get away with not having a clear career path mapped out with goals.  But as we get up into the “big leagues,” you must have a path in mind and have the ability to articulate that path.  Ideally, this will be a long-term plan that involves the company for which you are interviewing.  And if it does not, expect the interviewer to have questions about your plans of longevity with his or her company.

This Week’s Top Jobs!

Administrative Project Manager
Bi-Lingual Customer Service
Healthcare Recruiter

References Available Upon Request

June 14th, 2012

Well, references have now been requested.  What do you do?  Is there some kind of etiquette?  For the most part, yes.   But luckily, basic reference etiquette is fairly easy, so here are some ideas to keep in mind while you craft your reference sheet.

Professional, personal, or both?
Requirements vary by employer, so it’s definitely good to ask for clarity.  When in doubt, you can certainly provide both and identify which are professional and which are personal.  Most often, employers look for professional references but sometimes aren’t opposed to a character reference if it is in addition to their minimum required number of professional references.

Ask permission and give advance notice
Once you’ve determined the personal/professional reference dilemma, the next step is to ask permission.  It’s always good to make sure someone is willing to participate.  If you’re in the job search, you may have a go-to list of references from whom you have already received permission.  Even for those contacts, it’s still good to alert them if you know that they are going to receive a call or email.  Also helpful for most references is a general idea of the job for which you have applied.  While not totally necessary, this step will help references talk about traits you have that apply directly to this position.  Ultimately, empowering references with this information also benefits you as the applicant.

The Basics
First, create a professional printout of references as opposed to a handwritten form.  Think of this as an extension of your resume, so it should look equally polished and professional.  Include the person’s name, position, company, and phone number and email address.   If it is not obvious, include a note that says how you are or were associated with this contact.  And if you know the contact has a preference of email or phone contact, you can include that information as well.

Stay in contact
If these people care enough about your success to help you secure work, then they probably also like to know how you’re doing.  It doesn’t need to be a lengthy phone call or email—just a quick note here and there to touch base.  Also, you will likely find that asking for permission to list someone as a reference is a bit easier if you’ve kept in touch.

In addition, keeping in touch with these contacts ensures that you have up-to-date contact information.  It’s frustrating at times for potential employers to call a reference only to find that your reference no longer works for that company and hasn’t in over 2 years.  You’ll receive the embarrassing call from the employer asking you for updated information, and it will delay your screening process because now everything is on hold until you can furnish current information.

Final thoughts on selecting references
Something important to consider here is how you know the reference and how well this person knows you.  Certainly, he or she should be knowledgeable about you, but you likely wouldn’t want someone to go into detail about personal circumstances that aren’t applicable to the professional setting.  For example, a reference may illustrate how hardworking you are by explaining a time you went to work even though you were under the weather from being out at a party the night before.  While the intention is positive, the overall outcome may not be.  Take a moment to think about who will help you make the very best possible impression.

Prior to leaving a job, it’s a great idea to get a signed letter of reference on company letterhead from your employer.  Many of the large companies have strict policies that permit HR and managers to only confirm dates of employment and position held.  So unless you have a detailed reference letter to share, perspective employers may have no way to hear about all the great things you did in a previous job.

And last, most employers will not be able to accept references from family members.  While it’s entirely possible that you worked with or for a family member, employers are concerned about the potential bias of family member’s recommendation.

Start Attracting Top Talent Today!

June 8th, 2012

We have spent so much time focusing on how applicants can make themselves appealing to employers.  Now let’s look at some tips for employers.  But why should an employer be concerned about appealing to applicants?  After all, applicants are the ones who need the job, right?  Certainly, making a positive impression traditionally has been the responsibility of the candidate.  However, top applicants have choices–even in this economy.  They work hard for you, but they also want an employer who will reciprocate that energy and hard work, helping them grow professionally.

While this opens up a floodgate of discussions (how to find top talent, what the generational trends are, and how to retain that talent once obtained), today’s introductory discussion focuses on some basic concepts and ideas that you can rather easily incorporate into your overall recruiting plan.

Superior customer service skills
We typically don’t think of customer service as part of the hiring process, but it is now a major component.  Using excellent customer service skills with applicants makes your company look fantastic.  Today, candidates fill out online applications and submit resumes to a black hole, often never receiving a response.  Imagine how brilliant your company looks when you give even a simple response that says, “Thank you for your application.  We are currently reviewing resumes and will contact you if we need more information or would like to set up a time to meet with you.”  And don’t be afraid to tactfully let someone know that he or she is not a match for the opportunity.

With all such emails, a contact name with that message would be ideal.  Sure, that person will get calls and emails, and all of this does require a little extra work.  However, you will quickly find that even people who you passed on will still have great things to say about your company simply because you responded and had open communication.  And, of course, be sure everyone in the office smiles and says hi to people who are in for interviews.  It just makes the environment feel warm and welcoming, which makes a big difference to your guests.

Have an updated website
Interview experts typically recommend that applicants learn about a company with whom they are going to interview, but many candidates skip this step.  However, the top candidates do not.  They want to research you, learn more, and then formulate questions for the interview.  Their primary source will be your website.  Keeping it updated ensures access to current information, and making it also visually appealing is even better because it gives the impression that your organization is cutting edge.  Top candidates want to be with a company that is modern and up-to-date in every way.

Wow them in the interview
Wait.  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to tell the applicant?  Absolutely.  However, as an employer who wants that top talent, this is also your chance to sell yourself and your company.  Pull out all the stops when it’s time to answer questions about your company.  And even more elemental than that, continue your culture of excellent customer service and think of this interview as a conversation.

While you don’t want to ask “easy” questions, you may want to avoid questions that are intended to intimidate candidates or see how they react under pressure.  In an interview, candidates are already under pressure, so you will automatically get an idea of how they behave in stressful situations.  And if you need to find out how they have performed in specific situations, behavioral-based questions are a great route to take.  The real concern with intimidation techniques is that top candidates can often see through them.  They’ll participate and probably will do an incredible job.  However, they may not accept your offer of employment if the interview turns them off.