Category Archives: Job Interviewing

Retraining the Right Way

“Retraining” is a buzzword in today’s economy, but why?

Personal computers, automation, and the internet were game changers. Advancements in information technology created new industries, eliminated or downsized others, and changed the way we do business forever.

Because of this, many of us naturally assumed that the future of skills training (and retraining) meant more computers and more STEM.  However, new findings cast doubt on what has been conventional wisdom for two decades, causing some HR professionals to ask: Is more tech and more STEM the answer? And, what skills are the right skills?  As an example, let’s look at two industries profoundly affected by advancements in IT: Manufacturing and software development.

A recent survey of manufacturers found that the most sought-after skill for customer service and help desk agents was higher level writing. For technicians on the floor is was higher level reading.

Similarly, for software help desk technicians (the second largest IT position in the country), only 15% of jobs required a deep understanding of actual programming. Again, higher level writing skills were the most sought-after.

In both industries, only one-third of workers required any higher level math skills such as algebra or statistics, demonstrating that skills requirements are not distributed equally across the workforce. That means it is up to employers to design roles that fit the proficiencies of their employees, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to training and retraining initiatives.

So when we talk about training, we have to be sure that we are talking about the right training without making assumptions about what we think our employees need. It turns out that not all training means more computers and STEM.

Source:
Weaver, Andrew. “The Myth of the Skills Gap.” technologyreview.com. MIT Technology Review, August 27, 2017. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608707/the-myth-of-the-skills-gap/

 

The Dog Days of Summer: Why Summer Jobs Matter

Recent and upcoming graduates know, first hand, that many “entry level” positions aren’t really entry level – many require some amount of work experience. And for most students the best time to gain that experience is during the summer.

Internships are a great benefit to any resume, but for those who are unable to take an unpaid internship, summer work can provide the same, if not more, benefit, while still allowing you to earn an income. Even if your work experience isn’t as relevant to your desired career as an internship would be (think life guard, camp counselor or painting houses), employers will be intrigued by the skills and experience that you obtained. And since “soft skills” are always in demand, be sure to highlight the things you have learned and your positive attributes by pointing to your accomplishments and by earning recommendations from managers and mentors.

Internships (paid or unpaid) and work experience are the cornerstone of any resume. Whether you favor one or the other isn’t as important as the dedication and ability to learn and grow that you demonstrate to future employers by your willingness to work.

What You Can Learn From Giraffes to be More Effective at Work

Giraffes are one of nature’s most compelling creatures. Every day, both zoologists and ethologists (scientists who study animal behavior) learn more and more about how they live in both captivity and the wild. Here are some interesting facts about giraffes, and what lessons we can learn from them about being more effective at work:

  • Be a team player…

Giraffes are believed to be one of nature’s least territorial large animals. Multiple groups (called “towers”) will frequently inhabit the same space in order to share resources and look after calves and pregnant females. These towers often come together to form herds, which can number into the hundreds.

  • Work well individually AND as part of a team…

Despite their easy-going nature and team-focused social structure, giraffes know when it’s time to go it alone. Smaller towers of giraffes will often split off from the main herd if an area becomes overcrowded or resources begin to become depleted.

  • Embrace change…

Giraffes adapt easily to new challenges to survive in the wild. Herds of giraffes often split, merge and reform, only to do the same with new giraffes shortly thereafter. Giraffes also appear to be less sentimental about their herd-mates than other large herbivores, making it easier for them to form new alliances with new giraffes as needed.

Check out more about giraffe conservation and other animal behaviors at giraffeconservation.org and nature.com.

Reduce Your Time-to-Hire

When talent is in short supply, time is your enemy. Today’s job seekers have more tools and opportunities at their disposal than ever before. Put simply, finding talent is more challenging than ever.

Here are three ways you can reduce your time-to-hire.

Have clear requirements AND expectations: Having clear job requirements allows jobseekers to quickly identify if their education and experience are sufficient for the position, as well as what will be expected of a new hire. On the employer-side, clear communication regarding what your organization looks for both pre and post-hire will allow hiring managers to assess potential new hires in a way that is both constructive and specific, since the indicators for success are known to all.

Be transparent: Job seekers have more access to information about your firm than you can imagine. Employee reviews, blog posts, social media, google searches and more, all work to create an image of your company that is powerful in today’s internet-driven job search culture.  For this reason, err on the side of disclosure. Own your company’s faults (we all have them!) and demonstrate to job seekers (and customers) how you are trying to improve. Give out information on your salary and bonus / incentive structure(s). Talk about your office culture positively, but honestly. These factors will increase the number of quality job seekers you attract, and increase the chances of your offer being accepted.

Be prepared to deal with a counter-offer: As the labor market tightens, the competition for talent will only intensify. Do not assume that your offer will be the best offer received. Have a procedure in place to approach and resolve competing offers or counter-offers from current employers. Keeping in close contact with a candidate during the offer and acceptance period not only demonstrates your interest in them, it shows that you are serious about assembling a strong team.

In summary, the 2017 talent timer is ticking loudly…so don’t drag your feet!  Meet with candidates quickly, eliminate rounds and rounds of redundant interviewing, keep the lines of communication wide open and make your highest and best offer now before it’s too late!

To Search or Not to Search?

Two takes on searching for jobs during the holidays.

Why to avoid starting your job search in late November and December:

The reasons against applying for positions during the holidays tend to be better known than the reasons you should. The most obvious reason is simply the timing. Hiring managers (just like all people) tend to take time off during the holidays. Less time in the office means less time looking through resumes and scheduling interviews.

A lesser-known reason has to do with most companies’ annual budgeting process. As the year comes to a close, many hiring managers run up against the limitations of departmental budgets. A position that seemed important to fill following Halloween may be ‘rolled over’ into the New Year. End-of-year pressures may make employers less likely to commit to a new hire.

Why you should apply for jobs during late November and December:

The best reason for applying during the holidays is simple: visibility. With less people applying to positions (HR managers do, in fact, report a dip in applications during the holidays), your resume is more likely to stand out. You are also signaling to potential employers that you are serious about finding a job even if your colleagues are busy trimming the tree and sipping eggnog.

End of the year interviews are also the perfect time to get your foot in the door with potential employers. Make a positive impact in December and you may become a company’s first choice in January. Also, with holiday parties, volunteer opportunities and various community events, the holidays are the perfect time to expand your network.

The Verdict?

Despite the real or imagined headwinds faced by job seekers in November and December, one should keep in mind that making your next, best career move is an all year round opportunity.

Happy Holidays!

Don’t Slow Down your Job Search just because it’s Summer!

Lessons from a Recruiting and Staffing Firm

Everyone is on vacation… Companies are waiting until Fall to hire new people… It’s just too hot!

Why should I be looking for a job?

We asked three of our experienced Recruiting and Staffing Consultants why summer is a great time to start your job search.

Pam – Your resume will stand out more

PamMost recruiting and staffing professionals, as well as corporate hiring managers, are inundated with resumes throughout the year. This is frequently the reason why it feels as though your resume is constantly ending up in what we, in the industry, call the Resume Black Hole. Simply put, your resume may get more attention in the dog days of summer!

Summer is a great time to apply because – and this is backed up by data AND experience – applications dip during the summer months. Corporate hiring managers and recruiting and staffing professionals are more likely to sit down and digest what’s in your resume. And, as the resume is the primary tool with which to market yourself, this can make all the difference in finding the job you want.

Charles – It shows that you are motivated and dedicated

CharlesWhile everyone else is lounging by the pool working on their tan, you’re out looking for a job. That means something to individuals in HR and the Recruiting and Staffing Industry. Recruiting professionals are only able to work with a limited number of candidates, so finding those who are the most motivated and most serious about finding a job can frequently make a difference.

And don’t think for a second that our clients don’t notice either! They are dealing with the same summer shortage of applicants that we are, so your willingness to suit up for an interview in 100 degree weather means something to them as well.

Patti – It’s easier to start a conversation

PattiAnyone who’s ever been on an interview knows the experience can be a little awkward, especially at the beginning. After all, you’re sitting down with a complete stranger to talk about an issue that can and will affect your future, and possibly your life! It’s best to start off on a good foot and make a good first impression.

Summer is a great time for interviewing because easy conversation starters abound.  Have any big 4th of July plans? Are you doing any traveling this year? When’s the last time you made it to the beach? Isn’t summertime in Chicago just the best!? These are easy ways to establish a rapport with your interviewer and allowing them to know more about you.


Now put down that margarita, fix up your resume and put on your best summer interview outfit! If you need a place to start, visit our Job Board. Or, if you are a recent graduate, be sure to visit our Recent Grad page. We promise, all of our offices have air conditioning… And, as always, Reach Higher!

To Temp or Not to Temp? Let’s discuss the pros and the cons!

by Karen Rae Horwitz, President, JobGiraffe

We’ve all heard the adage that “it’s easier to get a job if you have a job.”  If you are not

JobGiraffe, Karen Rae Horwitz, employment, job seeking, hiring, recruitment, staffing
Karen Rae Horwitz

working currently and also feel you are not making real progress by just sending out resumes, finding temporary employment through a reputable staffing agency may be just what you need to jump-start your job search.

There are many good reasons for a job seeker to turn to temporary employment.  Possibly you plan to start school (or are still in school) and simply cannot commit to something for the long-term. Maybe you are moving to a different city and need income while you get settled and make new connections.  In fact, one of the most common reasons candidates choose temping is that it can be a great way to enter the workforce, especially if you have little to no work experience. It is also a terrific way to learn new skills, gain experience and make valuable connections.

Here are some common objections to pursuing a temporary position, and my responses to them.

Why should I take a position with an end date attached to it?

Temporary jobs aren’t always so temporary. In fact, many times you can keep the position for as long as you want. Also, when working with a staffing agency, you may be able to secure a new temp assignments so that you experience little to no gaps in your employment.  There is also the often overlooked fact that temporary jobs can often lead to permanent employment! Employers who are looking for temporary workers are, by definition, in need of more help, so if you can prove yourself to be a valuable asset during the term of your contract, many companies will choose to keep you on permanently. This happens routinely at JobGiraffe.

Should I take a job without health insurance, a pension plan or paid vacation time?

It is true that companies frequently do not offer benefits to temporary employees because, as a temporary worker, you are simply not eligible for them.  However, many temporary agencies are beginning to add benefits options for their temp workers, and due to recent changes in the law you may now be eligible for benefits offered through state healthcare exchanges. New options (available through the ACA) make it easier than ever to pick up a health plan in the private market, often at reduced or subsidized cost. As for the ability to add to a pension plan, it’s true you will not participate in one while temping, but by working temp you will still be making contributions to your social security account through payroll taxes (FICA) and you will have the ability to make contributions to an existing (or new) IRA account – and both are just as important to your future as having a defined pension program through an employer. As for not receiving vacation time (this is a very common myth), at JobGiraffe, and many other staffing agencies, you can accrue paid vacation time even as you work in temporary positions.

Won’t a temp job look bad on my resume?

Having temporary work in your background is 100% more beneficial than having unexplained gaps in your work history. Most employers have themselves worked temp at some point in their own career or have used temporary workers in their business. They understand that it is simply a fact of life in today’s labor market. Also, don’t think that just because it’s temp work it’s not a valuable experience.  Temp positions are often available because an employer requires a very specific set of skills or expertise at a given moment. Highlighting the accomplishments of your temp position is no less important than highlighting experienced gained through a full-time “permanent” position.  Never sell yourself or any of the experience you have accumulated short!

Taking a temporary job also reflects well upon your work ethic and your openness to take on new challenges. The adage that “it’s easier to get a job when you have a job” is still around for a reason. Having large gaps in your work history for no specific reason is considered by most hiring managers – rightly or wrongly – as a big potential red flag.

Hopefully I’ve dispelled some of the myths surrounding temporary employment and also touched on many of the benefits: learning new skills, making connections, achieving specific or tangible goals, etc.

Temporary jobs may not be for everyone, but in my opinion they should be seen as an important tool in your toolbox. If you’re looking for work, or want to change your employment situation, talking to a staffing agency about a temp position is a great way to “create your own good luck” and become a more engaged and proactive job seeker.

Reach Higher!

Karen Rae Horwitz
President
JobGiraffe

Lesser-Known (But Still Important!) Economic Indicators: Quits Rate

by Ben Horwitz, Communications Director, JobGiraffe

Ben Horwitz, JobGiraffe, World Giraffe Day
Ben Horwitz, JobGiraffe

On the first Friday of every month we are all reminded of the most well known economic measurements: job creation, unemployment, wage growth, etc. These reports give us a glimpse into the well-being of the US Economy. Buried in these numbers is a wealth of information relevant to everyone, but especially valuable to individuals in the recruiting and staffing community. Today I’d like to introduce you to one of these figures: the “quits rate.” (The quits rate is measured in the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS Report)

The quits rate is defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the “number of quits during the entire month as a percent of total employment.” In short, the quits rate measures how many workers voluntarily leave their job in a given time period. Typically, people leave their current position when they are fairly confident that they can find a new or better one. Therefore, a growing quits rate is often an indicator of a strengthening labor market with more choices for workers.

How has the quits rate changed in recent years? Well, it’s growing, which is consistent with a labor market that is slowly but surely gaining strength. At the end of 2015 the national quits rate stood at 2.1%. In 2013 and 2011 it was 1.7% and 1.5% respectively. In 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession, that number stood at a dismal 1.3%. In order to find a quits rate as robust as today’s one would have to back over a decade to 2004, well before the recession.

So why is this important to recruiting and staffing professionals? In short, if the quits rate is high, there are likely to be more highly placeable/employable job seekers on the market, because applicants with recent work experience are often the easiest to place. However, it also means that we must work harder to find candidates the right position, one that goes beyond meeting their most basic requirements, and offers them a chance to feel fulfilled, have opportunities for growth and love what they do. Because if we don’t, the data show that they will be less afraid to walk away from that position and find a new opportunity. Therefore, the high quits rate is something that every recruiting and staffing professional should be aware of, and take into account in their work.

*As a percentage of total separations – including “involuntary” separations (i.e. layoffs and firings) – the numbers are 60% for 2015, 59% for 2013, 49% for 2011 and 41% for 2009, which is consistent with the overall trend towards higher voluntary separation or “quits.”

Recruiting the Recruiter – 5 Questions You Should Ask Before You Start

Now that we have covered the five things that every recruiter will want to know about you, it’s time to talk about what you should be asking them!

Ben Horwitz, JobGiraffe, World Giraffe Day
Ben Horwitz, JobGiraffe

As a job seeker, you’ve probably already encountered a dozen articles on what questions you should be asking prospective employers, but do you know the questions you should be asking recruiters? The obvious difference between a hiring manager and a recruiter is that, between the two of them, only the hiring manager is looking to hire you directly. But that difference entirely changes the game.

Here are the five questions you should be asking every recruiter you meet or speak with:

Question One: Do you ever charge a fee to job seekers?

First off, if the recruiter says there is any type of fee – or any cost to you at allRUN! The best way to know if a recruiting and staffing agency is really on your side is to look at how they are paid. If a recruiting and staffing firm’s goal is to match the right person with the right job, then they should only receive a fee (from the client!) and only once that match has been made. And, some type of free trial period should be included for the benefit of both the hiring company and the new employee. Our incentive as recruiters should always be to match candidates to jobs in a way that produces a good outcome for both our client and the job seeker.

Question Two: Will I be considered for positions other than the one I applied for?

Most recruiting and staffing agencies have a large number of open positions that they are looking to fill at any given time – many of which may never be publicly advertised. Recruiting consultants can use their knowledge of clients, open positions, the local job market and the job search process to guide you towards a position that fits your skills and experience. Your recruiter should always fully investigate the position you originally applied to, but you should also be prepared to be introduced to other clients and new opportunities.

Keep your options open and consider all positions that are available. No matter how much you thought the original position you applied for is the right match for you, there may be even better opportunities available to you through the recruiter’s network of local or regional clients.

Question Three: What will this process look like moving forward?

Since interviewing with a Recruiting and Staffing agency is different from interviewing with a company looking to hire, you should always know what the next steps will be. You should ask your recruiter how and when they plan to contact you; how will they share information pertaining to employers with you; what research will you need to perform; what to prepare and/or bring  with on interviews; and how you should organize the process if your recruiter secures multiple job interviews for you.

It is also fair to ask your recruiting consultant how long they think the process might take. It is not unusual for members of the JobGiraffe staff to work with a single candidate for several weeks and even months. The more you and your recruiting consultant can work as a team, the better your chances are of finding the right job.

Question Four: Should I continue to look for positions on my own?

Sometimes a job search takes longer than we’d like. In fact, if you have decided to work with a recruiting and staffing agency, your recruiting consultant may already have discussed this with you. Recruiting Consultants should be your advocate first and foremost; therefore, they should never stand in your way of finding the right job. If you wish, you should continue to search for positions on your own and work in tandem with your recruiter. If you secure an offer on your own, let them know immediately.

Question Five: How will I know when I’ve found the right position?

Hopefully, you will have had a chance to meet with various types of firms and investigate multiple positions. You may even have received an offer to accept a position – or two. If you have received one or more offers, choosing the right position may require some thought. Your recruiting consultant will assist you in organizing the pros and cons of each offer, noting such factors as type of position, industry, potential for learning and growth, travel times and ease of commute, and a full breakdown of the benefits and compensation package. Salary alone should not be the deciding factor as to which position you accept. In some cases, perhaps none of the offers should be accepted, and you should simply continue your search!

No matter the outcome, or whether or not the offer was secured on your own or with a recruiter’s client, a good recruiter will help you to sort it all out and make the best choice. Should you accept and start a position that was not presented by your recruiter, always keep the lines of communication open, because you never know when you may need their help again. A good relationship between a candidate and recruiter can work in your favor throughout your career!

Good luck. And remember to Reach Higher!

Ben Horwitz
Communications Director
JobGiraffe

Let’s Talk About You – 5 Questions JobGiraffe Will Ask

by Ben Horwitz, Communications Director, JobGiraffe

Ben Horwitz, JobGiraffe, World Giraffe Day
Ben Horwitz, JobGiraffe

As a job seeker, working with a recruiting and staffing professional can be a rewarding and enlightening experience. Recruiters can give you access to a wealth of jobs that are never posted publicly, while at the same time help guide you to the right position. Recruiters, in this sense, are your advocate or coach. Because of this, interviewing with a recruiter is not the same experience as interviewing with a potential employer. You aren’t trying to get your foot in the door of an organization, you are supplying the consultant with the information they need to go to bat for you by marketing you to their clients.

Here are the top five things that every recruiter will want to know about you

One: Tell me about your education. All of it.

Sometimes you’re an Accounting major looking for an accounting job. However, you never know when your familiarity with Classical Portuguese Literature is going to come in handy. You may have applied to a position that, on the surface, has little to do with your major, but a good consultant knows that every area of education comes with its own unique set of skills. History major? A consultant can talk about your research skills and attention to detail. Philosophy? Your analytical skills and ability to think outside the box. Econ? You’ve probably got some pretty decent math skills.

The point is, consultants know jobs, and they know what skills, traits and experiences are necessary to a particular role. Even if you never received a degree, your education has armed you with skills, knowledge and experience that our clients will want to know about.

Two: What are your skills and experience?

Every company does things a little bit differently, so be sure to tell your recruiter all the unique softwares, systems, certifications and experiences you have accumulated. These pieces of information form the bedrock of what companies are looking for in new hires. Also, since recruiting and staffing professionals frequently work to fill more than one open position at a given time, they can use your skills and experiences to “shop” you around to their clients. Who knows…they may know the exact company looking for your exact set of skills for a project or position.

Three: What’s your work history? More so, what’s your story?

When it comes to recruiters, you’re the product – and every good salesman needs to know what they are selling. Aside from your education, skills and experience, a good recruiter will want to know a bit of your story. In short, what makes you you? This will help them find you a company where you would be a good cultural fit, explain any prolonged absences from the workforce (due to school, family emergency or whatever!), and find you a position with a company that will not only advance your career, but also share your values.

Four: Why did you leave your previous positions? How are your references?

Chances are there is a reason you are looking for a new job. Things happen, and that’s ok! But be sure never to lie or “massage” your resume to make it look like you have more experience than you actually do. If we think we know the right position and company for you, it’s much better if we have a complete, accurate picture of your work history. That way we know what to highlight and what to smooth over or explain to a client. If there are past employers you think will give you a glowing reference, tell us, even if that person comes from outside the industry you are looking to move in to. We want you to get hired (it’s how we get paid), so think of us like a partner, not an obstacle or gatekeeper.

Five: What are you looking for in your next position? In your career??

Culture, values, hours, salary, benefits, location, room for growth? All of these play a role in your job search. We need to know your priorities so that we can send you to the right client. Many recruiting and staffing agencies even include a “refund period” on their candidates, so if you walk away from the job after one week, we have to find someone new for our client and a new opportunity for you. It’s simply not enough for us to find you any job; we need to find you the right job. One way to do that is by learning from your past decisions.

We know jobs and we know our clients. What we need to learn more about is you!

Tune in next week to learn the top five questions that you should be asking every recruiter.

Reach Higher!

Ben Horwitz
Communications Director
JobGiraffe