Josephine's Personnel Services, Inc.

Background Checks – Knowing Your Rights

September 17th, 2013
Do you know your rights?

Do you know your rights?

Did you know that according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), over 95% of HR professionals admit to performing background checks on new and potential hires?  As a job seeker, it is imperative to have at least a basic understanding of your rights as they pertain to these checks. In this blog post we  introduce the legalities associated with employee background checks. This includes what potential employers can and cannot ask, as well as how to prepare for background checks of your own.

Permission: First and foremost, it is important to keep in mind that in order for a potential employer to perform a background check of any kind, they must have your permission. Employers are legally required to disclose any intention of performing a background check.

Notification: If an employer has performed various background checks and decides to pass on hiring an applicant because of a discovery within the results, they are required to notify that applicant of the decision they have made and why. Keep in mind, there is a loophole within this law that does not require companies that perform their own background checks to disclose their decisions.

Report access: Whether you are a job seeker or current employee, legally you have the right to access any background check results or reports free of charge from the preparing company.

What will it include? Background checks can include anything from criminal history, driving records, personal references and credit checks. Credit checks must be in line with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (PDF).

What kinds of things can employers NOT access during background checks?

  • Decade old bankruptcies
  • Civil suits, judgments and records of arrest after seven years have passed
  • Seven year old tax liens that have been paid
  • With the exception of criminal convictions, any negative disclosures that are over 7 years old cannot be accessed during an employment-based background check.

How to prepare?

While it is often times unexpected, it is not uncommon for incorrect and negative records to pop up on background checks without any warning. The best way to avoid surprises is to do your own research. Consider performing a personal background check and using the results to keep you ahead of the game and well prepared for any possible questions that could result from the final report.

According to the Fair Credit Report Act, access to a free credit report from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies is guaranteed one time annually. For a more in depth background check, www.mybackgroundcheck.com serves as a quality and affordable resource for job seekers.

Background checks are nerve racking, but understanding your rights and other appropriate procedures is the first step in putting your mind at ease. Keep these tips in mind when applying for your next position.

About Josephine’s Professional Staffing

Founded in 1988, Josephine’s Professional Staffing has nearly 25 years of business success and is continuously committed to providing superior quality staffing solutions to companies in the Bay Area. We proactively and consistently search for avenues to provide staffing solutions in the field of administrative, accounting, healthcare, light industrial, technical and professional services while taking pride in each of our employees. Josephine’s Professional Staffing is a Certified Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Underutilized Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (UDBE), and Minority Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (MWOBE). We can be reached at jps@jps-inc.com or 4008.943.0111 and are located at 2158 Ringwood Avenue, San Jose, CA 95131.

Photo Credit: BrettNeilsen

Hiring Managers – 8 Secrets They All Know (Part 1)

September 3rd, 2013
Do you know the secrets?

Do you know the secrets?

Whether you are a seasoned professional or breaking into the business of your choice, interactions with hiring managers are intimidating and nerve wracking to say the least. We have all experienced an interview that left us with an urge for more information. In this two part blog post series, we will uncover eight secrets that hiring managers generally don’t share with employment applicants. Here are the first four:

1. Most interviewers are nervous too: This may not be the juiciest of secrets, but it is true that most interviewers have a case of the butterflies before walking into a candidate’s interview. It is also not unusual that many hiring managers consider themselves to be somewhat unskilled when it comes to conducting an interview.

2. They want you to let your guard down: Hiring managers are being intentionally kind and exceedingly friendly throughout your interview in hopes that you will become a more candid applicant, allowing them to get a better depiction of who you are as an individual and how you   might contribute to their company culture if offered employment.

3. If you don’t fit in, it will matter: You could be the most qualified candidate for a position, but if you do not fit into the company culture or identify with the general mindset of the current employees, the hiring manager may pass on offering you employment. Keep this in mind when applying for positions and be sure to only apply to companies in which you would enjoy working for.

4. The courtesy you give your current employer is a green light or red flag:  Hiring managers look at a multitude of details when speaking with applicants; this includes how they interact with others when the conversation is related to their current place of employment. When a manager asks when you could start at their company if hired, a candidate that gives a date prior to the appropriate two weeks’ notice could in fact put up a huge red flag for that manager. You may ask, “Why?” Well, regardless of your personal feelings towards your current employer, a lack of professional courtesy could be a foreshadowing of how a hiring manager would see you treating their company in the future. With this in mind, keep all discussions concerning your current employment positive and professional.

These four secrets are only the tip of the hiring manager’s secret iceberg. Be sure to check back next week as we uncover four more secrets and give even more insight into the mind of your next potential interviewer.

About Josephine’s Professional Staffing

Founded in 1988, Josephine’s Professional Staffing has nearly 25 years of business success and is continuously committed to providing superior quality staffing solutions to companies in the Bay Area. We proactively and consistently search for avenues to provide staffing solutions in the field of administrative, accounting, healthcare, light industrial, technical and professional services while taking pride in each of our employees. Josephine’s Professional Staffing is a Certified Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Underutilized Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (UDBE), and Minority Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (MWOBE). We can be reached at jps@jps-inc.com or 4008.943.0111 and are located at 2158 Ringwood Avenue, San Jose, CA 95131.

Photo Credit: USDAgov

Temp Agencies, and Why You Should Go to Them

July 19th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 9.36.01 PMFinding the perfect employee can be extremely tiring. You may go through round after round of interviews and read hundreds of resumes, and even after you pick someone, find that they don’t live up to expectations. If you need the best possible employee, what’s to be done? Luckily, there is a solution – temp agencies. There are many ways that hiring a temporary worker can be your best option and will deliver you exactly what you need.
Try before you buy
If what you’re really looking for is a permanent full time employee but have been unsuccessful in finding one with the abilities you need, a temporary worker is your best bet. An employment agency like JPS can help you hire them for a short time, with the agreement that they’ll be let go after a certain period. However, if you’re happy with their work and they fit what you need, you can easily come to an agreement with their employment agency to keep them on a permanent basis. Skip the hundreds of interviews, and skip the bother of having to let go of a worker who you hired on a permanent basis. Think of a temp worker as doing a demonstration run, after which you can choose to keep or let them go at your discretion.

Cover your weak spots
Maybe you’ve already got all the permanent employees you need, but one of them is out for some reason. Long vacation, maternity leave, unexpected sickness – whatever it is, your solution again will be employment agencies. A temporary worker will be highly skilled and easily trainable, and can absolutely fill your gap for as long as you need it to be patched. And the best part is, as soon as your permanent employees come back, you’ll be able to part ways with the temp worker, no problem.
Get your busy season covered
Most companies have certain times of year in which they’ll see increased activity or sales, and consequently need additional staff. Don’t bother hiring workers you’ll need to fire in a few months time – go to temp agencies instead. Temp agencies will provide you with the workers to fill all the slots in your roster to keep you running smoothly any time of year. And if you still need more permanent employees later, there’s no problem in keeping some of the temporary workers you’ve been fostering!

 

Employment agencies like Josephine’s Professional Staffing will often be your best bet when trying to fill a spot in your company, whether it’s temporary, seasonal or even permanent. Don’t make the mistake of spending far too much time, money and hassle interviewing and hiring the wrong staff. Call Josephine’s Professional Staffing today at 408.943.0111 to find out how exactly we can help you fill all of your staffing needs.

 

Photo credit: newsusacontent

Make Sure Your Job Descriptions Don’t Attract the Wrong Candidates

March 29th, 2012

It’s pretty simple: if you write a bad job posting, you’ll get the wrong candidates. Or desperate candidates, or candidates who are applying for everything they see.

All online job postings attract some bad candidates, but poorly written postings attract more.   What’s a bad job posting? The ones that look like this:

”XYZ company, located in Washington DC, is the foremost widget maker in the region.  We are seeking a Controller.  Responsibilities include… blah blah blah.”

That posting is dull and gives you the minimal, most dry information about the company and the job. If you want to attract good candidates, you have to… well, attract them!

How?

When you write your job posting, here are the things you’ll want to include:

  1. Context.  Imagine you’re trying to answer the key context questions that a good candidate will ask about a new opportunity.  For example, if you are hiring a controller, answer questions in the posting, before they can be asked, such as:
  • what position do I report to?
  • how many people report to me?
  • what are the annual revenues?
  • are you profitable?

Candidates for different positions would ask different key context questions. What you’re trying to do here is begin a conversation by engaging the other person.

2. Expectations.  Your posting should describe what success looks like, or what tangible business accomplishments are expected. For example, instead of saying, “this job will help raise funds,” say “this person will be challenged to help generate $1 million dollars that will be used for specific programs.” The reason you’re hiring someone is to get business results.  So why not list the results you want, right in the post? It never hurts to let people know what you expect.

3. Communication.  Paint a clear mental picture of the possibilities you’re offering, such as what it’s like to work at your company. Or talk about a day in the life of this position. The reader should get a clear idea of whatever value you’re highlighting, whether it’s the great staff, a tangible chance for success, recognition or a fun work environment. So, instead of “we offer a flexible work environment,” describe the 40-hour work week that can start at 6 a.m. or finish at 10 p.m. — whatever works best for the applicant.

4. Meaningful words.  In other words, don’t use hackneyed, stale, old meaningless phrases thrown into virtually every posting. These words are so overused, they’ve lost their meaning:

  • dynamic
  • hands on
  • motivated
  • fast paced
  • exciting
  • team player
  • self-starter

The words you use and the information you share in your job postings make a huge difference in the quality of the candidates you attract. Like to know more? Contact Josephine’s Professional Staffing today!

 

Is Your GPA Less Important Than Everything Else?

March 22nd, 2012

When you’re in college, your grade point average (GPA) can seem like the one and only measure of your success. But once you graduate, how important is it? Should you put it on your resume? Do employers really care what it was? Can a low GPA ruin your chances of getting hired? The answers may surprise you.

First of all, only new grads really need to worry about these issues. Once you have a few years of professional experience, your undergraduate years diminish in importance.

But when you’re starting out, what are the general rules of thumb?

  • Only put your GPA on your resume if it was 3.0 or higher.
  • If your total GPA was under 3.0, but the GPA in your major was higher, put THAT on your resume.
  • Relevant summer jobs or internships will strengthen your resume more than just your high GPA.

(and remember, employers can ask for copies of your transcripts, so be truthful about your GPA!)

Do Employers Really Care?
The answer to that question is good news for just about everybody. A recent Harris poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder asked 3,147 hiring managers and HR professionals, and:

  • 62% require no minimum GPA
  • 31% require a 3.0 or above
  • 11% require a 3.5 or above.

Bottom line: A high GPA is remarkable and should be emphasized on your resume. An average GPA isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not noteworthy. And since your resume should summarize your most noteworthy accomplishments, leave out your average, if it’s average, and focus on your other qualifications.

The realities of the job market
There are other things that employers find equally, or more important than your grades. Here are 5 real-life skills that employers would like to see on your resume:

  1. Time management. Time management is a vital skill, which you will need in your professional life to meet deadlines, tackle to-do lists and get things done without burning yourself out.
  2. Relevant professional experience. Hopefully during college you worked at a job or internship, participated in a student organization or volunteered in your field. Relevant, hands-on work in your industry will be a much better indicator for your potential in a real job.
  3. The ability to give and receive feedback. As an employee and co-worker, you’ll have to give and receive praise and criticism. You’ll also need to know how to give both positive and negative feedback to others, when you collaborate with colleagues.
  4. Writing skills. Too many students leave college lacking solid writing ability. Which is u unfortunate, because it will matter in everything from reports to pitches to emails.
  5. Presentation skills. Being able to convey ideas clearly and speak confidently in front of others will be an important part of your professional life.

If you’re still unsure about how your qualifications stack up in the real world, contact Josephine’s Professional Staffing today. We help everyone from new grads to experienced employees find the right position.

 

Keep The Good Ones! Management Strategies To Retain And Develop Your Highest Potential Employees

March 15th, 2012

First, let’s define what constitutes a high potential employee.  Generally, they are regarded as the top 3 to 5% of a company, who demonstrate high levels of contribution. And while every organization may have its own addendums to that definition, there is consensus that this group is always in hot demand.

Competitors may be trying to recruit your best managers right now. And research shows that top performing managers are leaving their jobs, even in today’s unstable employment environment.

So why do many companies invest a lot of effort into recruiting these employees, but then do very little by way of talent management and talent development to retain them?

At a time when retaining good talent is so crucial, organizations must make sure they have employee retention and development strategies in place to avoid turnover. Below are 6 different ideas to try.

1. Mentoring.  Corporate environments have started implementing more structured mentoring programs. These can be very powerful for acclimating employees to the corporate culture and values. Mentoring can also be enormously valuable for those high potential employees who thrive on interaction with influential colleagues.

2. High visibility assignments. It’s important that these employees be given challenging opportunities that are outside their comfort zones and keep them highly engaged. You may also want to explore other options such as rotation to a supplier or partner, swapping positions, coaching/mentoring, or other creative talent development solutions that expand a high potential employee’s visibility and depth of experience.

3. Open communication. This may be stating the obvious, but if a high potential employee has a concern or an idea, it’s in your organization’s best interest to listen. You may also want to let them know that you believe they’re high potential, and therefore valuable to the organization. Just don’t make it public about who’s a rising star or you’ll create a culture of winners and losers.

4. Learning and development. Think about other types of learning and employee development opportunities that you could offer, beyond certifications or employee training programs.  Many organizations are coming up with talent management structures that allow one employee to experience many facets of the organization, from sales to marketing to customer service.

5. Measure progress quarterly. Companies measure themselves on a quarterly basis, so do the same with your employees. Especially if you’re exposing high potential employees to mentors, new and high visibility projects, position swapping, etc., and putting them in unfamiliar territory, a proactive quarterly review provides them with more immediate feedback.

6. Alignment.  Align your top performers’ development plans with your company’s strategy so what they do supports the organization’s needs as well as their own.  Determine the best pace for their career development. Give them the time needed to plan their projects, implement them and stay to see the results so they (and you) can evaluate their performance.

 

Don’t Get Fired! How to Become a Valuable Employee

March 8th, 2012

Have you ever stopped to consider that you might lose your job in the next layoff or downsizing at your company? Would it be easy to replace you with someone else who can do your job for less money?  If you answered that last question with a definite YES, then you need to think about how to increase your value to your employer. Here are ten tips:

  1. Expand your company knowledge. Become the go-to guy for questions and solutions.  Be the one who knows how things work.  In other words, make yourself into an important resource for your fellow employees and even your boss.
  2. Expand your personal knowledge. Take classes in anything that will improve your job skills. By rounding out your talents and expanding them, you’ll automatically become a more valuable employee.
  3. Be a team player. Promote team unity.  Support your coworkers in any way possible.  In doing so you will become known as someone who can work with anyone. You’ll prove that you’re adaptable and have excellent social skills.
  4. Seek out more responsibility. You don’t want to fly under the radar. You want to be on the radar and coming through loud and clear, so ask your supervisor for more responsibilities. Work late, come in early or do whatever it takes to be known as a productive, hard worker.
  5. Be a positive force. Don’t be the type of coworker who is always pointing out mistakes or why things won’t work. Be the one who says it can be done, and work hard to ensure it happens.
  6. Find ways to increase profits/cut costs. Everything in the business world ultimately comes down to bottom line profitability.  Watch for ways to cut costs or make systems more efficient and present solutions to your superior, complete with a plan. For example, show how to replace copy paper with a less expensive version, or how to schedule warehouse workers more effectively to avoid unnecessary overtime.
  7. Be adaptable to change.  Change is inevitable, and those who can roll with it will survive.  Those who complain, cannot or will not adapt, or generally slow the process, will not.
  8. Be a problem solver. Every workplace has problems. Be the one who comes up with effective solutions and can put them into action. Problem solvers have inherent value and retention appeal.
  9. Mind your manners. You will be well liked and respected by everyone for simply acting respectful to your boss and coworkers.
  10. Get cracking. Don’t wait.  Begin increasing your value as a team member, mentor, leader, problem-solver, cheerleader, learned man or money saver immediately!  The sooner you start the quicker your employer will see you as someone they want and need to retain for the long run.

Anytime you need great advice on the job market or help finding a new job, contact Josephine’s Professional Staffing, Inc, a leading staffing provider in Silicon Valley since 1988.

 

Reference Checks Aren’t Just A Formality! 4 Important Tips For Conducting Reference Checks

January 26th, 2012

Too many managers are ignoring the importance of getting good reference checks on candidates, either not doing them at all or not doing a thorough job. The most common excuses?

  • The candidate only provides referees who will give them a glowing report.
  • The referee has a grudge against the candidate and slants their reference in an unfairly negative manner.
  • The referee gives you a positive report, because they are afraid of the legal ramifications of saying anything bad.
  • The referee is restricted by a company policy that limits what they can say about previous employees.

Is it any wonder that checking references has attained a reputation of being a waste of time?

Avoiding the Problems

Problem 1: The candidate only provides referees who will give them a glowing report.

Solution: Ask for extra references beyond those supplied on the resume and see if anyone else from the company can verify the information you collected during the interview. These extra people may still give a positively slanted opinion, but it’s harder for them to slant true facts. And, when referee statements are cross-referenced (see below), any holes that exist will show up.

Problem 2: The referee has a grudge against the candidate and slants their reference in an unfairly negative manner.

Solution: Once again, do at least two reference checks per employer. If one of the two is not so good, do a third one as a cross-reference against the other two. If two out of three are good, the bad one can probably be put into the category of a “suspect reference”.

Problem 3: The referee gives you a positive report because they are afraid of the legal ramifications of saying anything bad.

Solution: It’s vital that you get accurate information. If the referee you are talking to is one of those people who is afraid of saying the wrong thing, you’ll find they are far more comfortable simply confirming facts and figures. They will only become hesitant when asked something that invites their opinion.

Problem 4: The referee is restricted by their company policy that limits what they can say about previous employees.

Solution: This situation will be at least partly resolved when the emphasis is placed on the previous employee’s actual results on the job.

Companies that have such restrictive policies generally don’t mind verifying production statistics, or confirming what positions the employee held and what functions they performed. You can generally get more information, however, by digging deeper on the functional aspects. For example, “So, he was involved with collecting outstanding debts. Did the amount of outstanding debts decrease while he held the job?”

The reference check is, by no means, the main deciding factor. But if it’s done right, it can contribute powerful data to the decision process.

Quirky, Laid Back or Too “Buddy Buddy”? How To Successfully Handle Different Types Of Interviewers

January 19th, 2012

So much job search advice is based on the assumption that all interviewers are exactly the same. But how could that possibly be the case? The interviewer’s personality and interview style both play bigger roles in determining the outcome of an interview than you might think.

Preparing for an interview means more than researching the company and practicing your answers to common questions. You’ll also want to get yourself ready to face any kind of interviewer! Read on to familiarize yourself with some common interviewer archetypes and some effective strategies for dealing with each of them.

1) The Chatty Cathy You might feel relieved if you find yourself facing a friendly, gregarious interviewer, but be careful not to let your guard down and be too overfamiliar or unprofessional. Respond with warmth and friendliness, as the chatty type will appreciate it, and engage actively but professionally in the conversation when and if you are asked a question.

2) The Interrogator This type of interviewer of the type may seem to be better suited to a career with the FBI. They tend to fire questions off rapidly, often in an intimidating tone or manner. Just keep your cool — this type may be trying to see if you’re easily flustered. Try to slow down the pace of the interview by taking the time to think about your responses and answering calmly. Remain pleasant, but don’t be sociable.

3) The By-The-Books Interviewer This type tries to stick as closely as possible to a preexisting interview script, either to keep things as objective as possible, or because of a level of discomfort with the entire interviewing process. Respect this style by sticking to the pace they set. Don’t go off on tangents or ask too many questions that will break out of the interviewer’s comfort zone and leave a bad impression.

4) The Inexperienced or (Ill-Prepared) One When you go into an interview, you assume the person you’ll be speaking to will be professional and experienced, but that might not always be the case. Whether the interviewer is new to the company or simply new to the hiring process, blatant inexperience can throw you off if you’re not prepared.  Just stick to your planned talking points and maintain an air of calm, poised professionalism. However, if the interviewer is repeatedly unable to answer your questions, you may want to find out later if there is anyone else with whom you could schedule a discussion or tour.

5) The Nosy Ned or Nancy There are some interviewers out there who will step over the line of what’s appropriate when meeting with potential hires. If an interviewer asks you questions that you feel are inappropriate or make you uncomfortable in any way, first try a gentle redirect, stating that you’d prefer to stick to standard work-related topics. If the interviewer persists with this line of questioning, conclude the interview and leave.

Although it’s unlikely that you will encounter an interviewer who absolutely embodies one of these five types, it’s helpful if you can determine which type of interviewer you have, then take steps to adjust your approach to the interview.

If you’d like more advice on how to handle tricky interview situations and other pitfalls of the job search, why not consider joining JPS, Inc? Contact us today!

Overqualified Candidates? Do Not Fear! Overcome Your Reluctance to Hire Them

January 12th, 2012

In the pre-recession days, the prevailing wisdom was to avoid hiring overqualified applicants. Hiring managers assumed they would easily become bored, lose motivation and would either underperform or leave.

But recent research shows that people who were thought to be overqualified actually performed better at their jobs. It has also shown that people rarely leave a job because they feel they’re too talented for it. People stay or leave because of working conditions, such as interpersonal conflict.

Hiring managers are soon going to be faced with an influx of highly qualified employees, as the job market inches toward recovery. Instead of disqualifying “overqualified” candidates immediately, you might be better off reconsidering your old attitude. Next time you’re looking at a stack of impressive resumes, here are a few things to consider:

Look to the Future

When making hiring decisions, don’t just focus on your current needs, but on your future needs. You never know when you might need someone to move up in the organization, and if you have qualified talent already on your payroll, it will save you a lot of time and money.

Consider Flexibility

If a person has skills that are applicable to other areas of your company, you can give them opportunities to use those skills not only for the job they were hired to do, but also in the company at large. Allowing an “overqualified” employee to use their broader skill set doesn’t just benefit the company, it also engages that person and sends the message that you value them and their experience.

Extra Motivation

“Overqualified” candidates often inject a new energy into a group by inspiring your existing team to “up their game.” They can also bridge the gap between junior and senior-level staff, allowing expertise to come from the team, not management.

More Value

When it comes to overqualified candidates, you often get more than you pay for. There’s no need to overpay, but you may have to pay at the high end of the range—knowing you’re likely to get more bang for your buck.

Bring Them On Carefully

One caveat about hiring the overqualified: Effective interviewing and onboarding are essential. Put all the cards on the table during the interview: ask the candidates directly about how they’ll handle their overqualification for the job. Ask them to convince you why they want the job and try to gauge whether they want the position for the right reasons. If you decide to hire them, set clear expectations as to where and how this person will fit into the organization—set specific job parameters.

The next time a resume from an overqualified candidate comes across your desk, don’t discard it automatically. By adjusting your perspective, you just might find that hiring an overqualified candidate is the best decision you could have made.