Josephine's Personnel Services, Inc.

Job Interviews – Four Tips for Improving Assertiveness

November 19th, 2013
How will you assert yourself in an interview?

How will you assert yourself in an interview?

In a job interview, leaving a strong and assertive impression on an employer could make all the difference. A candidate with confidence and clearly defined skill sets is ideal in the workplace, and displaying assertiveness is a sure fire way to convey both traits to a new company. In this blog post, we  share four basic tips for increasing your assertiveness during a job interview.

Tip #1: Have a strong presence: Did you know that a first impression is typically made within the first 6 seconds of interaction?  Your presence is made up of everything you wear, say or do from head to toe. To ensure a strong first impression be sure to dress to the nines, stand extra tall with confident posture, use strong and effective body language, eye contact and walk, stand or sit with purpose.

Tip #2: Interview the interviewer: This is especially important in showing your strength as a candidate. Do not fear taking a bit of control over the direction of the interview. Prior to the interview, consider making a list of questions you have regarding the company, the position and various projects you may become a part of if hired. Asking questions of this nature will convey a true interest in the company and will demonstrate innovative thinking and commitment to being the best you that you can be.  

Tip #3: Contribute to the company: There is no rule that says that you cannot share your valuable ideas before being given a job. Give the hiring manager or interviewer a clear depiction of how you would contribute to the company’s standards of practice. Furthermore, mention specific scenarios or hypothetical situations in which your specific talents and skills could contribute. Share ideas and problem solving skills prior to being hired; it will surely impress.

Tip #4: Know what you want and don’t be afraid to ask for it: Let the interviewer know that you want the positionif you think it will be a good fit. Be sincere in sharing your desire to come on board and reassure the interviewer of the traits and skills that make you a strong and ideal candidate for the job at hand. 

Whether you are aiming to make a more assertive first impression or are hoping to convey a generally heightened sense of confidence, these tips will surely set you on the path for success. Don’t forget that if you are looking for quality job placements or temporary staffing solutions, JPS Inc. can help you find everything you are looking for! Contact us, today!

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 408.943.0111 and are located at 2158 Ringwood Avenue, San Jose, CA 95131

Photo Credit: Victor1558

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!

 

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!

Appropriate, Creative Costume Ideas for Your Office Halloween Party

October 27th, 2011

Halloween isn’t just about kids and candy anymore. More employers are embracing holiday parties, including Halloween dress-up events, as a way to promote employee morale, teamwork, and interdepartmental cooperation. However, the costume you’d wear to a friend’s Halloween party or a bash at a bar may be different than what you should wear to the office.

Employers should lay down ground rules beforehand when it comes to costumes, said Michael D. Karpeles, head of the labor and employment group at Goldberg Kohn, a Chicago-based law firm.

“It’s OK to allow people to dress up, but I think that companies should let their employees know that certain types of costumes are not appropriate — if they’re especially revealing, for example,” he said.

How to Choose a Work-Appropriate Costume

Some things to consider when choosing a costume to wear to work are:

  • Comfort If you’re going to be wearing it for 8+ hours, you definitely want your costume to be comfortable. Will it be too hot or too cool to wear all day? Can you sit at your desk with the costume on?
  • Makeup or Mask? Experiment with makeup beforehand if you’re planning to wear it. Some costume makeup can get irritating after a few hours. If you plan to wear a mask while working, make sure you can see — and breathe!
  • Effect Avoid disturbing, horror costumes or those with religious themes that might be offensive to your coworkers. And remember, sexual harassment policies are still in effect at work events.

There’s not much time left ‘til Halloween, so here are a few quick and easy costumes that you can probably create with what you already have on hand. One trip to a costume shop can complete your ensemble if necessary:

  • Housewife Wear a nightgown, bathrobe and big slippers, and curlers in your hair while toting a stereotypical item like a box of bon-bons or a dustmop. You can even wear white or green make-up to simulate cold cream or a facial.
  • Gypsy or Fortune Teller Wear any flowing skirt, a bright non-matching shirt, a dozen brightly covered bangle bracelets and a scarf or two. Carry a crystal ball or  a magic 8-ball.
  • Chef/cook If you’ve got an apron, a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon, just add a wig or a few accessories to become your favorite TV chef.
  • Biker A leather jacket, black jeans, boots and a bandana are all that’s really needed for this look. A plaid shirt with the sleeves ripped off and/or a Harley-Davidson T-shirt can add authenticity.

If your workplace is casual and allows for more creativity, you might try:

  • Brain Donor: Wear a hospital gown or bathrobe, draw black circles under your eyes and wrap your head in gauze. Fill a clear jar with a small amount of water and some cauliflower. On the front of the jar or the front of your gown put a big label that says “Brain Donor.”
  • Nudist on Strike: Probably the easiest costume to put together on short notice. Wear whatever you want and carry a picket sign that says, “Nudist on Strike.”
  • Attack Dog Trainer: Take a stuffed dog and sew it to the arm of a long-sleeved shirt so it looks like it is biting you. Wear a name tag (“Jim’s Attack Dog School). Add fake blood for fun!
  • Chick Magnet: Attach Barbie dolls or other inexpensive dolls (dressed, please!) all over yourself.

Group costumes can be a fun way to bring a department together. Try getting everyone to dress as characters from a popular TV show, like Mad Men, or movie, like Harry Potter. If your usual dress code is business casual, it might be fun to dress in dark suits and accessorize with sunglasses, a la the Blues Brothers or the Men in Black, or add badges or earpieces to be FBI or Secret Service agents.

 

“Are You on Drugs?!” The Pros and Cons of Workplace Drug Testing

October 20th, 2011

The subject of drug testing in the workplace is certainly controversial. The debate has been raging for years, and many arguments exist in support of both sides.

The Pros

Those who argue in favor of drug testing point out that workers who abuse drugs pose a safety risk in the workplace. They also have a higher rate of absenteeism, which costs their employers money. Businesses can face a higher exposure to liability due to drug-related work accidents: According to the United States Department of Labor, 10 to 20 percent of U.S. workers involved in fatal on-the-job accidents tested positive for illicit drugs and alcohol. A drug-using employee is 3.6 times more likely to be involved in an accident, and five times more likely to make a worker’s compensation claim, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Impaired judgment can result in slow reaction times and misguided decisions, which may lead to accidents. Therefore, advocates feel that drug testing makes the workplace safer and increases employee confidence — that is, those employees who don’t use drugs don’t have to worry about their own safety being compromised by their possibly impaired coworkers.  Another potential benefit? If workplace drug testing leads an employee to seek treatment. Some employers may even assist employees in entering (and paying for) a drug treatment program so that employee has a chance to become productive again.

 

The Cons

Many feel that random workplace drug testing violates an employee’s right to privacy, especially when no probable cause exists. While random testing is legal in the workplace, some groups feel it violates an individual’s constitutional rights. Urine and hair tests only reveal certain aspects of past drug use, not current, illicit use that may have occurred on the job. Employees who are against drug testing often threaten to sue their employer for violations. Even if the plaintiff loses the case, the business still stands to lose money from downtime needed to fight the case and attorney fees. Also, implementing a random drug-testing program can cost thousands of dollars and may result in no one testing positive.

Whether or not to implement drug testing is a difficult decision, and employers should consider their individual circumstances before making it. In environments where employees are responsible for the well being and safety of other people, such as schools, hospitals and transportation, there is more of a reason to create carefully constructed policies that ensure the business will be run by unimpaired people.

In other job settings that aren’t safety related, employers do have a right to expect that employees are not utilizing drugs in the workplace, yet employees have a right to privacy and dignity. One solution is to make your drug testing policy clear to employees before they start working for you.

 

Would You Like A $10,000 Cup of Coffee, or a Proficient Employee? Management Tips for Making Your Internship Program a Profitable Investment

September 29th, 2011

When you think of having interns in the office, do you think of young people whose main job is to fetch coffee and make copies? Then think again. If your company is going to invest the money into implementing an internship program, then you need to invest the time to make sure it’s worthwhile for both the interns and your company.

The companies with the most successful internship programs treat interns as actual employees rather than gofers, giving them significant responsibilities related to their field of study. Companies like Deutsche Bank, Hallmark, IBM and National Instruments treat internships as extended training programs. If successful, the internship rewards both the intern and the employer. Many interns who are given proper training and support excel in their roles and are then offered full-time positions.

Start Them Off Right
The key to a successful internship program is training. Not only do interns need to know how to work with the equipment and software they’ll be using, but they also need to understand the ins and outs of their department and the overall mission of the company. They need to know about things like the company’s dress code and what to expect when working in a professional environment. Many college students need a crash course in business conduct, such as how to talk to management.

Orientation sessions should take place during the interns’ first 2-3 days on the job, then ongoing training and mentorship can happen throughout the semester. Ask various managers to hold short intern meetings to share the day-to-day experiences of their own jobs and discuss their career progressions. Set up shadowing programs, where interns can “shadow” a particular manager for a couple of days, to see first hand how different teams work together and how decisions are made.

Is Your Organization Ready?
Before you create an internship program, be sure it can really work for you. In addition to the time it will take, consider:

  • Is there real, meaningful work for the intern? While some interns may be willing to do grunt work all day, most want more out of the experience – they want to learn real skills and feel that they’re making a genuine contribution your organization.
  • Are the skills and responsibilities you’re looking for appropriate for an unpaid intern? If you are trying to fill a gap in your workforce that requires a lot of expertise or confidentiality, you’re better off hiring someone.

Where Can You Recruit and Hire Interns?
Contact your local college or university, most of whom are looking for student placements. But don’t take just anybody. Recruit and interview interns just as you would any other employee, which can make the difference between finding a great intern and ending up with a bad match for your organization.

Provide the college or university with complete internship descriptions. Think about each skill and/or position you need. Although you may want an intern to fill several roles (e.g., marketing and communications), prepare an internship posting for each separate skill or position. Your posting should include:

  • what an intern will do with your organization
  • what expectations you have of the intern (including skills they need to have)
  • what experience and skills they will gain as a result of the internship

Interns can help your organization expand and grow without increasing your budget. But interns are more than free labor; they can also contribute their creativity and energy. If you provide the opportunity, they can provide your company with valuable assistance.

Your Resume Sucks! The Top 5 Resume Mistakes You Must Avoid

September 22nd, 2011

As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and your resume is usually the first impression you give a potential employer. So make sure you’re not making these common mistakes on yours.

1. Attempting One Size Fits All
Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization. An effective resume leaves no doubt as to the job seeker’s career objective, while a one-size-fits-all resume gives the impression that the job seeker has no specific career goals. If you have more than one career objective, you need more than one resume.

2. Highlighting Duties Instead of Accomplishments
Your resume shouldn’t just be a listing of your past job duties. You need to include quantifiable statements so that employers understand what you’ve truly accomplished. For example, instead of saying:

• Attended group meetings and recorded minutes
• Worked with children in a day-care setting
• Updated departmental files

Say:
• Used laptop to record weekly meeting minutes and compiled them in a Microsoft Word-based file for organization’s future reference
• Developed three daily activities for preschool-age children and prepared them for a 10-minute holiday program performance
• Reorganized 10 years worth of files, to make them accessible to department members.

3. Neglecting to Sell Yourself
Job seekers need to remember that a job search is a sales campaign. Your resume is marketing material so make it effective by showing how you can solve problems, save money or increase profits.

4. Going Old School
These days, you need to remember that resumes are screened by both humans and computers. If your resume lacks the keywords that the screeners are looking for, you run the risk of it being tossed aside. The average resume screen takes 15 seconds or less and will look for the same words found in the job description. A keyword-focused resume will put you front and center.

5. Coming Across as Careless or Lazy
Make sure your resume doesn’t contain typos or grammatical errors. If it does, employers will assume you can’t write or don’t care. Speaking of writing, make sure your language is strong. Instead of using wimpy, passive phrases like “responsible for providing IT support,” use action verbs: “Resolved user questions as part of an IT help desk serving 4,000 students and staff.”

Go Green! Green HR Practices that Your Company Can Institute

September 15th, 2011

Maybe it’s because they seem to use the most paper, but human resources departments are the ones who tend to lead the charge in going green at the office. In truth, it’s also because HR takes responsibility for employee satisfaction and retention, and more companies are discovering that environmental awareness is important to their employees.

“Many employers now recognize that green programs in the workplace can promote social responsibility among workers and help retain top talent,” said Don Sanford, managing director of Buck Consultants, a human resources and benefits consulting firm.

Here are several areas where HR practitioners can easily incorporate a “green” mentality:

• Using the internet or teleconferencing to cut down on business travel
• Putting Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) or other company information online to reduce printing
• Promoting the reduction of paper usage
• Storing paperwork electronically?
• Providing recycling trash bins for paper around the office and for bottles and cans in the break area
• Implementing wellness programs around proper nutrition, fitness, and healthy living
• Offering opportunities for employees to telecommute or work from home
• Instituting Ride/Share programs

Research has shown that employee involvement in green programs dramatically increases when organizations appoint one employee to lead the efforts. Encourage this individual to start a companywide movement toward:

1) Purchasing Green Office Products? There is a large range of ‘green’ office products available that help lower waste, lower energy usage, and use a lesser amount of chemicals than traditional products.

• Recycle and Reuse Ink & Toner Cartridges Several retail stores offer consumers the ability to purchase remanufactured ink and toner cartridges, which cost up to 15% less than traditional cartridges. Remember to recycle your used cartridges, also.
• Purchase PCR Paper? PCR paper is made of Post-Consumer Recycled content and is the same quality as non-recycled paper.
• Look for Energy Star Electronics When buying office electronics, such as computers or printers, look for those with Energy Star labels. These products automatically shut down if they are not in use, so they use up to 75% less energy.?

2) Saving Energy The entire company can easily help conserve energy and energy costs with a few simple changes.

• Go Fluorescent You can save up to 75% of lighting energy by using Energy Star fluorescent light bulbs. These bulbs last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, which also helps reduce maintenance costs
• Use Power Strips ?An additional 75% of energy can be conserved when you plug your electronics into power strips. It’s easy to turn the power strip off at the end of the day, and on every morning, rather than letting electronics run 24/7.

3) Eating In If the company provides a comfortable, relaxing area for employees to spend lunch and snack times, many will pack a lunch instead of consuming fuel to go out to eat. Decorating with real plants, when possible, will also help clean the air.

What You Can Do for Your Country: Tips and Advice for Finding a Great Government Job

September 8th, 2011

About 2 million people are employed in government jobs, making the federal government America’s largest employer. And you don’t have to live in Washington, D.C. to be a government employee. Only 10% of that 2 million are located in Washington, while the rest work throughout the United States and overseas. Government employees are hired in just about every career field and in a wide variety of occupations.

While government salaries aren’t always comparable to private sector on the lower levels, the benefits and pension plans are excellent. So is the job stability.

Finding a government job can take time: the period from initial application to job offer can be four months to a year. But if you’re willing to invest the time, a government job can offer long-term rewards. Here’s how to compete for one:

Know Where to Look

All federal agencies are required to list all openings publicly. The best place to start looking for a government job is on the USAJobs web site, where you can search for jobs in various locations, build a resume online and sign up to receive job postings via email.

However, not all federal agencies use that site, so if you know you want to work at a specific government agency or department, look at that agency’s web site for further career information.

Network

To find out about new government positions on the federal and local level, join professional networking groups. Just like in the private sector, there are professional associations for government workers in just about every discipline, and most of them collect job openings in the relevant field.

No matter how many years since you’ve graduated, you should also check with your alma mater’s career services department, since many colleges and universities maintain good relationships with certain government departments and agencies in an ongoing partnership.

If you have specialized technical or professional skills, you may be able to speed up your search by finding recruiters who have contracts to fill government jobs.

Know the Scoring System

You only have to file one application for a government job, but that application has to do two things: get you past the lower-level screeners or computers that are making sure you meet minimum requirements and impress the hiring managers who will eventually be evaluating your application.

Make sure your resume includes as many of the exact keywords as possible from the requirements in the job listing itself. Most applications for federal jobs are rated on a scale from 1 to 100, and more matches will get you a higher score and increase your chances of making it to the next level. You will also get points for military service, disabled status and volunteer work related to the position, if you use the right keywords to describe it.

To impress hiring managers, don’t just list responsibilities: cite and quantify results you achieved in past positions. Don’t worry too much about taking up too much space. Resumes for federal jobs typically average three to five pages.

Ace the Interview

Government interviews are quite different from what you’re probably used to when applying for a corporate job. It’s likely to be a panel interview with two or more questioners interviewing you at the same time. Also, the interview will likely be focused much more on what you’ve done in the past than anything you hope or plan to do in the future.

Interview questions will focus on your ability to meet the requirements mentioned in the job posting. The government wants proof of your abilities, so create a list of relevant anecdotes and practice discussing them in a clear and confident way. Their theory is that the best predictor of the future is past performance.