Josephine's Personnel Services, Inc.

Choosing a Career in 2015: 5 Questions to Ask

January 20th, 2015

2015 is a great time to make a career switch in a variety of growing industries. Whether you’re choosing your first career or entering a new field, there are many ways to tell if you’re in the best job to suit your skills. When deciding what career to choose, it’s important to determine what values are important to you. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before choosing a career in 2015.

Photo Courtesy of: Flazingo Photos

Photo Courtesy of: Flazingo Photos

What Career to Choose? 5 Questions to Ask

  1. Are you a people-person?

Do you like interacting socially while at work? Are you prepared to be in the public spotlight? Some careers require more interpersonal skills and public speaking than others, so before deciding what career to choose, make sure you know what level of hands-on communication you’re looking for in your job. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

What to Expect in 2012 – Top Career Predictions

January 5th, 2012

What’s going to happen in terms of job searching and employment in 2012?

In short, it’s going to be all about mobile, using social networking sites to job search, and going after a new job if you are unhappy in your current position.

Prediction #1:  You’ll need a strong online identity if you want employment success. Social networking is playing an increasingly important role in the employment process, so it’s important for job seekers to choose which networks they want to participate in and shape their online identities accordingly. 90% of recruiters check social networks before hiring a candidate, which means that your online persona should properly represent you and show that you’re the right person for the job.

Prediction #2: You’re going to want to be mobile. The explosion of mobile usage will continue to grow in 2012, causing a shift in the way people exchange information. With more and more people using smartphones, traditional means of networking like exchanging business cards are almost gone. Instead, people are connecting digitally. 77% of job seekers are already using mobile apps when searching, and this figure will rise in the coming year.

Prediction #3: If you don’t like your current job, you can start looking for another. In recent years, many people took positions that weren’t necessarily ideal, simply because they needed a job. As the economy improves and unemployment rates decrease, more people will look to change jobs that make them happier. Just be sure to make the most of your current job while looking for a new position, since it’s easier to get a job when you have a job.

Prediction #4:  Things will finally start looking up—for everyone. There is cautious optimism that the economy — and the job market — will improve in 2012. The recently released National Employment Report from ADP, a private staffing and business services firm, showed private employers added 206,000 jobs in November 2011. University of Michigan economists are predicting a brighter 2012; according to a recent study, the jobless rate should continue to drop to 8.8 percent by the end of 2012.

And some industries are already seeing growth — so much so that some can’t fill their positions fast enough.

If you’re a job seeker, here are nine occupations that are expected to grow in 2012:

1. Biomedical engineer
2. Computer software engineer
3. Customer service representative
4. Home health aide
5. Management analyst
6. Medical assistant
7. Network systems and data communications analyst
8. Registered nurse
9. Retail salesperson

If you have any questions about the job market or your job search in 2012, don’t hesitate to contact us. We predict great success for you if you do!

Does Your Company Culture Stand Out from the Pack? How to Attract “Top Dog” Candidates

November 23rd, 2011

How can you keep your organization competitive in the drive for top employees? It can be hard for organizations to really stand out from their competitors. But with company culture becoming an important factor in career decisions, it’s time to look at your organization and see how yours compares.

Why do companies as disparate as Google, Southwest Airlines and Zappo’s get such great reviews from their employees? Why do they attract so many candidates, and so many good ones? Easy. They’ve developed company cultures that epitomize strong values, a modern work ethic that includes fun and service to both their customers and their communities.

These top companies know what good employees are looking for, and they make sure to publicize what sets them apart from the competition.

If you want to appeal to the top-drawer candidates that apply to these popular companies in droves, it’s time to think about what your company can offer. Has your company defined its core values? Created a distinct corporate culture? Have you expressed these values on your web site or in your job listings, where candidates can see them?

For example, Google promotes its “all for one and one for all” corporate mentality on its website, by mentioning how “at lunchtime, almost everyone eats in the office café, sitting at whatever table has an opening and enjoying conversations with Googlers from different teams.” This includes the founders and other upper-level executives. They also create an open work environment, with very few solo offices and a generous supply of laptops to allow for mobile coding, anytime email and note taking. They offer plenty of opportunities for exercise and comfort: providing bicycles or scooters to help staffers travel between meetings, massage chairs, large inflatable balls, game rooms and gyms. They even encourage socializing by sponsoring employee groups for different interests, such as meditation, movies, wine tasting and salsa dancing.

Southwest Airlines has long understood how employee satisfaction and environmental awareness go hand in hand. They also know that their employees like to feel like contributing members of society, especially in their home community. That’s why they promote their Charitable Giving and Community Outreach programs. They started Community Giving Boards that have been trained to evaluate charitable giving requests from their local community. The Boards are made up of local employees from various work groups who evaluate the donation requests and donate complimentary, round trip tickets to approved organizations for fundraising or transportation purposes. They also sustain a relationship with Ronald McDonald House Charities so they can aid in the transportation needs of families facing serious illnesses and administers their own Medical Transportation Grant Program in conjunction with hospitals and organizations that assist individuals who must travel to receive medical care.

Last but far from least is Zappo’s, a company that makes sure you know they’re about much more than shoes.  They have an entire page on their site devoted to their Family Core values. These include:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  4. Pursue Growth and Learning
  5. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  6. Do More With Less
  7. Be Passionate and Determined

They make it very clear that they expect employees to be innovative, to go above and beyond, to embrace teamwork and to have fun while doing so. They are proud of their unique corporate culture and openly share it through their web site, blogging, videos and more.

If you want to attract great candidates, you have to be a great company to work for. Not every company can be just like Google, Southwest or Zappo’s, but you can certainly take tips from them on how to create a corporate environment that excellent people will want to work in.