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In the last few weeks, the coronavirus has a new competitor for Most Alarming Statistic: the unemployment rate. But in spite of the 30 million Americans that have lost their jobs in the past 6 weeks, companies are still hiring. With social distancing measures still in place, your interview process might look a little different than usual. Virtual interviews have replaced in-person meetings, as companies with a hiring need don't have time to waste. Are you someone who benefits from a face-to-face? Don't let this new format scare you – with our suggestions, you'll easily become the top candidate.

man sitting at home ready for a virtual interview

Get dressed.

It should go without saying, but weeks of pajama pants may have infected your brain: wear what you would wear to a real interview. This includes pants. If something were to happen that would cause you to stand up, you don't want to be seen in those saggy house pants.

Check your tech.

Beforehand, give your video chat software a test with someone else. Make sure your microphone is working and the volume is acceptable on your end. While some tech tweaking is expected during a video meeting, being able to continue without it makes the process smoother. Also, triple check that your location will receive a solid wifi signal throughout the call.

Choose your background wisely.

No, we don't mean a virtual background in Zoom. Select a wall with a simple background - some small framed artwork or plants are a decent backdrop. Avoid windows that will add backlighting, and try not to use a lamp as your only light source. Sitting near a window can provide some nice natural lighting and will keep you looking fresh for the call.

Prepare your computer for screensharing.

Clean off your desktop and choose a good background. If you'll be pulling up a browser at any point, make sure you don't have any other tabs open or any bookmark bar items with questionable names. Have your portfolio website or PDF ready to go so you aren't fumbling to find it when the time comes.

Feed your pet and take out your dog.

It's safe to say that most people are very understanding that this is an adjustment period for those of us who weren't frequent virtual meeting attendees, but the last thing you want is a whiny pet at your door. Take care of your pets a little more than usual before heading into the interview (don't forget to block the view of that pesky mailman!) and you won't have to worry about a keyboard-stomping cat or a barking-in-the-background dog.

Keep notes open.

Have some key points you'd like to get across during this interview? Take advantage of the format and have a small cheat sheet of notes you keep on your screen while meeting. Remove whenever you screen share, and maybe keep the window small if you wear glasses and a reflection is visible.

Try to make eye contact.

In person, it's easy to connect with someone you meet by making eye contact, but in a virtual situation, it's not as simple. Try moving the window with your interviewer's image close to your camera – this better mimics real-life eye contact, as you'll be speaking almost directly to the camera.

Don't interrupt.

On some platforms, speaking can mute the other's microphone. Allowing slightly longer pauses so your interviewer can finish speaking will keep the conversation flow natural, even if it feels unnatural. Also, while a normal interview would contain many instances of you affirming their statements with "mm-hmm"s or "yeah"s, doing so in a virtual circumstance can interrupt their sentence by overriding their microphone. Instead, try nodding when you would normally interject with a quick "yes."

Roll with the changes.

If something goes wrong, acknowledge it and move along. Dog barges in? Say "hey buddy," lead him out, and come back in and apologize. Connection poor? Suggest switching to a phone call. People are just human, so mistakes aren't the end of the world. Just be sure to be flexible and laugh them off instead of letting them ruin your mood (and your chances of being hired).

Let these tips guide your virtual interview, and you should make it to the next stage in no time!

Posted: 5/13/2020 1:53:10 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


Growing up, you (or your parent) may have reminisced about long snowy walks to school, or how they had to write letters to stay in touch, or flip through encyclopedias to answer life's biggest questions. There's no doubt that the old-fashioned way has its place in nostalgia, but would you ever think to apply to your job search?

old-job-search-becomes-new

Boiled down to its essence, the process of looking for a job is all about connecting. The entire application process, including your interactions in addition to written materials, exists to give a potential hirer answers to their questions. Are you a decent worker? Would you fit in on the team? Do you have adequate experience?

Communicating your aptitude for the job is priority number one, and the traditional system of applying stands strong. Cover letter, resume, interview, references, job offer. It is a system largely unchanged, because it works. There's no need to reinvent the wheel, here. Just polish each of the basic steps, and you're on your way to the next step in your career.

Cover letter

Update your cover letter before applying for a job. Your language should sound appropriate for the company's culture (i.e. friendly wording is acceptable for a ping-pong filled startup, but may be off-putting for an older company), and don't forget to mention specifics about how your skills excellently fit the role.

Resume

Similar to your cover letter, this should be tailored to the employer. Including words that have been listed in the job description can be a great way to skirt digital filtering of applicants. Also, your past experience should seem relevant to the position – try emphasizing certain aspects of past jobs that are of particular importance to this one.

Interview

Reaching the interview stage is a big step, and a great indicator that you're presenting yourself well on paper. Now is the time to impress in person! At the interview, make an effort to avoid interrupting, appear personable, and discuss your work and experience confidently but without arrogance. Also, to appear prepared and interested, come to the interview with question! Even if many of your questions were answered during your conversation, you can inquire about how your interviewer likes working at the company. After the interview, a thank you message still goes a very long way. Snail mail is too slow, but an email will do the trick.

References

Prep your references. Warn them they may receive a call, and suggest some talking points. "As a coworker for four years, you can speak to my passion for collaboration as well as my ability to communicate thoroughly and effectively." References will rarely ruin your standings with a potential employer (assuming you've chosen them well), but they can easily bring confidence to a company's consideration of hiring you.

Job Offer

Don't be afraid to negotiate! It's likely they've built in a monetary cushion, assuming you would negotiate your starting salary. Consider all factors, including time off benefits, work flexibility, and office perks (if that's important to you).

No need for any fancy footwork here – your  job search could benefit from keeping it classic and investing time to perfect each of the traditional job search stages. We promise, it'll get you results.

Posted: 4/1/2020 9:32:35 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


Pandemic. Social distancing. Quarantine.

In the last couple weeks, we're finding ourselves in unprecedented territory. New terminology and nationwide directives have steered our everyday lives towards isolation and physical distancing.

investing-in-your-career

These upcoming weeks will bring an excessive amount of time spent at home. Whether working or watching / schooling children from home, the extended period without social interactions can seem daunting. Take advantage of the break in your routine and use the extra free time to get steps ahead in your career. We'll help!

Network, digitally.

Check in with your network - now you have a good excuse to reach out digitally. Ask how their work-from-home experience is going, and see what they've been up to at home. At a time like this, society is craving human interactions. Your contact will likely be well-received.

Were you due to attend any upcoming conferences that were cancelled? Take advantage of any services offered as substitute – many conferences have made their programming available virtually, some even offering virtual "cocktail parties," letting attendees meet each other through video chats.

Work on your portfolio.

Have you wanted to rephotograph or make new mockups of your work? Been meaning to reorganize your website? You've come upon some extra hours every week to do so.

Do something new.

Order yarn and give knitting a shot. Have a go at making bread. Spend 20 minutes everyday doodling. Investing in your creativity might seem like a waste of time, but your brain will benefit from a change in course.

Learn something new.

There are a billion and five documentaries available on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, PBS, or online. Expand your interest in a topic or two and spend an afternoon learning something new. Your creative brain is an investment in your career, and providing it with fresh information can generate sparks that lead to innovation.

Rejuvenate your cover letter.

Away from the pressure of time constraints, your likelihood of crafting a killer cover letter improve greatly. New wording or different organization might better your first impression to an employer, so give your cover letter a second look.

Work on your resume with friends.

Start a video chat session, or even just a set time for you and a group of buds to clean up your resume and get feedback from each other. It will fulfill your need for social time while also moving along on personal goals.

Don't skimp on your job search.

Companies haven't slowed down their hiring, they've just gone digital. So, don't be afraid to keep rolling on your search! Mentally prepare for the likelihood of a video interview rather than an in-person.

If none of these sound good to you, you can always clean up your computer! Delete old files, improve file naming systems, or clean out your inbox. There's always something to be done, and your future career moves will thank you.

Posted: 3/24/2020 2:36:04 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


There's a reason a show like "The Office" was such a hit – cubicle dwellers and open space innovators alike can relate to working in an environment run by a boss like the clueless Michael Scott. In real life, though, bosses can be more cringe-y than lovable.

Most bosses are without proper training, having been acknowledged as a standout employee and promoted to a position of management from within. There is a lot of power in the position – a boss can make or break a successful business. The team itself can be plowing away on a path to performing but without the right leadership, falling flat is inevitable.

office-team-working-together

We walk through some of the most common issues with a manager below, but will send you off with some solutions for bettering your position as a leader. Direct your team towards efficiency and productivity, by establishing your trust, respect, and confidence in them.

Issue 1: Micromanaging

Spending time checking in with employees, monitoring their progress on projects and investigating their every move doesn't make you a good boss. It makes you a dreaded presence in your team's space, and a gripe among your subordinates. Yes, it's important to know the status of a project, but trust your employees to get the work done by deadlines and believe in their abilities to manage their time and process.

The next time you find yourself getting a little too involved in the day-to-day of your employees, it's time to ask yourself the real question. Are you afraid of losing control? Do you feel like you're an expert in your industry and are just looking for an opportunity to give input (where it may not be needed)? Think about it this way - if you were your boss, and the work was getting done, does there need to be someone checking in every minute? Probably not.

Issue 2: Not seeking input

The easiest way to convey your trust and respect in your team? Ask them for input! All too common is the manager with an ego, abusing their power by making all decisions without any input from the people doing the work. You aren't the only one knowledgeable in your field – consulting with your team brings additional perspectives and new ideas to the decision. Also, it shows one of the most important qualities for happy employees: you value their opinions.

Issue 3: Encouraging agreement

You didn't hire sheep. You hired people with proven skills in their field, and over time they've developed a dedication to your company. When you meet about projects, it's important that your employees are encouraged to offer dissenting points if they have them.

It can be challenging to acknowledge that your status may push team members to a place of complacency in speaking up, but it's very often the case. 'Approval from the boss' is something our authority-pleasing selves desire, and being agreeable is an accessible route to achievement.

So, not only is it crucial to discourage blanket agreement, but to also openly welcome disagreement.

Issue 4: Not advocating for your team

A bad boss doesn't provide resources for their employees, either to help them learn, to grow professionally, or to achieve smaller personal goals. They often adopt an attitude of "I didn't receive any help, so neither should you." Fair isn't always fair in the business world, so give your team a chance to thrive, even if you weren't offered the same opportunity.

Clearing the path for employee success is the surest way to ensure job satisfaction and employee retention. But, without also clearing obstacles from that path, a manager is just as problematic. Your employees count on you to advocate for their time, creativity, and expertise. You're their spokesman, their cheerleader, and a trusted ally in your workplace, and it's your responsibility to push for the projects they want, turn away tasks for which they lack the bandwidth, and promise deadlines that are achievable.

A straightforward solution: the Stay Interview

You have likely heard of an exit interview, a discussion on an employee's way out the door about their experience at the company. It's a reactive approach to employee feedback that allows for complete honesty, but also leaves no opportunity to salvage the employee.

Being conducted during employment rather than at it's termination, a stay interview is a proactive approach to understanding employee satisfaction. To get you started, here's the important question to ask your employees: what makes you come to work everyday?

Their answers will give you a glimpse at their motivation, and a peek at where the core of their loyalty lies. It also shows, once again, that you respect them, value their presence on the team, and trust them with the responsibility of the business's success.

 

Reducing employee turnover is much easier than recruiting, so retaining satisfied and thriving employees should be the goal of all managers. Efforts can be made to keep your team thriving, and it starts with a manager. Give these tips and try, and let us know how it goes!

Posted: 2/28/2020 10:44:00 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


43 out of 100 workers plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months, according to a recent study by global staffing firm Robert Half. Imagine what your company would look like after losing 43% of your staff, and join the ranks of employers who are "very concerned" about these findings.

why_employees_quitEmploying typical tactics like improving communication and bumping up employee recognition can help, but there are many other reasons a team member leaves for greener pastures. The reasons for professional departure range from psychological to monetary, but there are ways to retain some of your best hires without making massive changes to your company.

What make employees jump ship?

They want more money

Large debts – student debt, housing expenses, childcare expenses, car payments, and more – plague the budget of the average American, and higher salaries provide job satisfaction and peace of mind. The truth might hurt your company wallet: when it comes to retention strategies, better compensation is the clear frontrunner. The Robert Half study reports that 43% of workers leave a job for more money, with less than half of that number responding with the second highest reason:

... and more time off / better benefits

As one of the most overworked nations (with no mandated paid sick leave), it's no wonder that time off and decent benefits are heavily valued in the American workplace. Increasing vacation time, closing the office during the holidays, honoring summer Friday hours, or changing up your lunch policy are all small ways to boost morale and keep your people sticking around.

Work flexibility is becoming the norm.

More than three quarters of workers in a Crain's study say flexible schedules and remote work are the most effective non-monetary ways to retain talent. Allowing employees the freedom to work in a comfortable environment, avoiding a daily commute and working at their prime productivity throughout the day is an incredibly easy way to give your employees another reason to stay. It's not just good for your team, it's good for business - 85% of companies say productivity has increased due to greater flexibility.

There's no path for advancement

If you've hired any members of Generation Z, you might have noticed an uptick in expectations. A survey revealed that 75% believe they'll deserve a promotion after working in their position for only a year. Offering new job titles and setting a plan for career growth are potential solutions, but younger employees may just have different expectations that should be addressed directly.

Other generations feel similarly, seeking a need to feel "essential." Giving them ownership and control over their responsibilities along with a clear path for advancement results in a loyal and productive team.

They aren't learning

A third of employees who quit attribute it to lack of skill development. Workers want to contribute to companies who support their careers and professional development, so once they stop learning, you can count on an empty cubicle. Ambitious people have a growth mentality, so give them the opportunity to attend workshops or seminars and bring back some fresh ideas and enthusiasm for your industry. Retaining top talent means allowing the space for professional as well as personal growth.

They want a new boss

You've heard the saying: people don't leave companies, they leave managers. A boss with seemingly small bad habits can have a massive effect on the success of your business, so take a look in the mirror and make sure you're prioritizing team satisfaction.

We'll touch more on this topic in our next blog post, but until then, take these tips to heart and keep your top performers right where they belong – on your team!

Posted: 1/15/2020 11:12:52 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments