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In our last post, we talked a bit about one of the most talked about and least favorite aspects of a workplace: meetings. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're more often an opportunity to see coworkers face-to-face than they are productive discussion.

If all meetings were efficient and purposeful, it wouldn't matter that managers spend between 35% and 50% of their time attending and running them, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  In a Harvard Business Review study of 182 senior managers, 54% said meetings at their organization were too frequent, poorly timed, and badly run, wasting time for groups as well as individuals.

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Rethinking a company's approach to meetings has been shown to boost collaboration and improve employees' positive perception of their work/life balance (from 62% to 92%). We've gathered more tips for you to take to your team check-ins and keep your people satisfied.

Determine actionable steps.

Stay true to the meeting's intentions and leave the room with tasks delegated and decisions made. There's no reason to gather five people at a table to say "we'll decide that later." Keep track of who is help responsible for which items, and hold them accountable for the next steps. Follow the S.M.A.R.T.  guidelines: each action item must be (1) Specific, (2) Measurable, (3) Agreed Upon, (4) Realistic and (5) Time-based. Everyone knows who is doing what. Sending a follow up email to review the next course of action can also be a great way to maintain efficiency, but don't bother if there have been no tasks assigned.

Make 30 minutes the norm.

Many meeting invites default to a 60-minute time period, so guess how long most meetings take? With a whole hour blocked off, why would anyone bother to keep their statements short and direct, and their questions limited? Time spent collaborating and sharing information will take up as much space as you give it, so do everyone a favor and cut that space in half.  You'll likely find attendees are more eager to participate and less likely to get distracted (or even drift off) if the end is in sight.

Keep everyone engaged.

An astonishing 92% of people report multitasking during meetings, either checking emails or doing other unrelated work. Knowing a meeting will go long or won't require participation keep employees from bothering to engage. If people are phoning in, have them video chat instead. In-person attendees should entertain the idea of conference rooms being tech-free zones. Keeping the distractions to a minimum will keep an agenda moving along.

Try collaboration software.

Many team-wide check-ins fall into a few categories: status updates, information sharing, or collaboration. Technological advances have made it easier to work and connect with remote workers or cross-country sans-meetings, so why not try a similar system with your in-office employees? Cross-departmental communication doesn't have to be verbal or emailed when there are options for realtime updated project management like Slack or Trello. You avoid time spent preparing updates or reports when coworkers can clearly see the progress being made or the timeline involved.

Don't plan other meetings while in one. 

If it is a regular group that needs to connect again in the future, feel free to eliminate a pesky email and nail down a date and time, but if only a portion of the team needs to attend. If there is anyone at the table who does not need to be a part of that conversation, have it elsewhere.

A bonus tip: try a standing meeting. It'll stay short and sweet, and you'll get a little break from the computer hunchback.

Posted: 11/28/2018 8:36:45 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


It's commonly known that Americans are workaholics. We leave the office late, check emails on weekends, and even eat lunch while reviewing spreadsheets. We claim this is due to our desire for productivity and commitment to a company, but what if the reason is much simpler? There are everyday occurrences that displace our normal workload, leaving us with hours and hours of work to complete and not enough time in a day. The culprit? MEETINGS.

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Easily one of the most disliked parts of a person's job, meetings steal away valuable hours of worktime each week. In a Harvard Business Review survey among senior managers, 71% of them found meetings to be unproductive and inefficient, with a large portion of those managers (62%) saying they're also a missed opportunity to bring their teams closer together. If nobody finds them useful, what's the point?

We all know meetings aren't going away anytime soon – teams still need to be updated on projects statuses, and consensus must be reached on big decisions, but there are definite solutions to some of everyone's most common problems with meetings. We'll cover some here and finish up in our next post!

Send out an agenda.

Planning what you will discuss does two things: first, it prepares your team for the material to be covered, and second, it keeps you on task. If you and everyone in the room knows the time is half up and you've only gotten through 3 of 10 items, you won't dawdle for the remainder of the meeting. Plus, someone is less likely to bring up an unconnected project if they know it's not intended to be discussed.

Prepare materials ahead of time

Will there be a presentation? Send out the file prior to the actual meeting, giving people time to familiarize themselves with the material covered, and suggest they present any clarification questions beforehand. Day-of, refrain from an actual word-for-word dictation of your previously prepared presentation, and keep your employees engaged by asking questions and prompting discussion.

Pare down the attendee list.

Have you made sure to include only the essential people in this meeting? Being invited to a meeting you aren't needed for is just like being CCed on an email, except it wastes actual time and often can be avoided. Jeff Bezos famously adopted a Two Pizza Rule, which means he only attends meetings where two pizzas could feed the entire group. Any more than that, and you're in inefficient territory.

Divert longer discussion into follow up emails or meetings.

Keep it moving – a few minutes of friendly chatter is fine to warm up the room, but any sidetracking later on is detrimental to the focus and efficiency of the meeting. With certain teams, it can be tempting to let the team go in the direction that happens naturally, but trust us, your employees will thank you later for not letting the room get out of control.

Work with meeting blocks. 

"Deep thinking," or the time spent at work undistracted and uninterrupted, is too often cut short by low-value tasks like checking email or attending meetings. Plus, a person often halts their productivity at a good stopping point, regardless of how much time is left until a meeting begins.  Think about it – the ten minutes before a meeting is often spent preparing to sit in a room without coffee or a restroom for an hour, or killing time for a few mins rather than moving forward with a project (without having a large stretch of time to dedicate to it). Employees may even be gathering materials for the upcoming meeting – they spend up to 4 hours per week preparing for status update meetings (that's 10% of their workweek)!

Try limiting meetings to a specific time block each day or week, giving your team an expectation of solid work time outside of that block. They will likely be more productive without having to plan around constant work breaks throughout the day, and can easily transition from productivity mode to collaboration and discussion mode.

More tips coming in our next post!

Posted: 11/14/2018 12:37:53 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


You're an ambitious person. You work hard, you spend time developing your skills, learning new programs, keeping up with the latest and greatest, and you've made a living as an employee who is adaptable and experienced enough in several different areas. A jack of many trades, master of several.

But what comes next?

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For many people, the next step in their career is a clear cut path. There is a job they want and they work their way straight towards it over time, snowballing skills and experiences that will set them up to reach that position they've been aiming for for years. More established companies often make the path known, with their organization charts acting as a rough guide to getting the job you eventually want. It's simple: work your way up the chain.

But what if you don't know what you want? With the expansion of the tech industry and the explosion of jobs in brand new industries, the journey to a higher level isn't the straight line it used to be. Many skill sets overlap so feeling adequate in marketing and design, for example, doesn't solidify a strong path towards one over the other.

We very often try to move very quickly from one thing to the next, but this is one time when it's worth it to go a little slower. So many possibilities can be overwhelming, so take a deeper look before jumping into something new. Here are some tips to get you started.

Determine your must-haves.

Decide what you'll need to be satisfied in your next job. For example, maybe you have got to be close to a city, must interact with many people throughout the day, and have to be creative stimulated. Or perhaps you want to be managing people. Extracting the parts of a position that you'd consider "essential" will help hone in on a solid next step.

Talk to colleagues.

If you aren't sure which way to go next, why not start by identifying your strengths? Get an unbiased opinion from friends and coworkers, asking them what qualities you have that they'd consider exemplary and that should be fostered in a professional setting. They may mention something you hadn't realized about yourself.

Get some ideas.

Look to someone who has your dream job. There's a good chance the path through their previous professional experiences is much more winding than you'd expect, so take a look through it. If you don't quite know what opportunities can come next, studying the prior positions of others who have can be a very useful guide map.

Think small.

You don't need to get your dream job right now. Take the pressure off your next move and focus on finding some immediate skills you'd like to develop, then search for a job that will expand on those skills. Eventually

Talk to someone who does this for a living.

*Stares at you, grinning* HI. We have placed candidates in hundreds of jobs. We've seen the skill sets and talent that go into different types and levels of positions, and who knows, maybe we can help you out. We've certainly seen our fair share of job seekers AND companies with room to grow.

At the end of the day just remember, there's a perk to not having a "dream job" in mind – you can't be disappointed! Going into your next position with open arms and a positive attitude means you're sure to work your way into an area that could become your dream job.

Posted: 11/8/2018 3:17:10 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


Do you even remember when you got that Facebook or Instagram account? It was years ago, you were in college, high school, or middle school, and your social group in real life . At the time it was a method for staying in touch with friends, posting photos and sharing memes (and Tasty videos). You know, internet fluff.

Later on, you used it as an internet representation of yourself – meeting new people led you to connecting online, making new friends and expanding your social network. Someone could get a sense of the real you immediately upon pit-stopping on your page.

If all of your intentions were social, who would have thought that years later, your career could depend on how you've maintained these accounts? With almost half of employers (46%) checking social media accounts before hiring, it's clear that doing a quick social media cleanup pre-job search isn't just smart, it's necessary.

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The quick and easy solution seems obvious: make all accounts, posts, photos, and details private.

An employer can't be disappointed by what they can't see, right? But the answer is more nuanced than quickly shutting the gate to your entire digital life. Employers are hiring a personality, a person with interests and family and hobbies, and you're a human being who has all of those things. Think of the amount of time you have spent sharing articles on topics you care about or posting about local events or friends' new businesses. These interactions demonstrate many hirable qualities to a company that is looking, so simply be aware of what your online presence is reflecting, and shape it up a bit.

Google yourself. First things first, find out what is already out there. Open an incognito window so a search engine can't factor in your previous searches, letting you see the results as a hiring manager would. Make sure to look through regular search results as well as images.

Adjust some privacy settings. Remove any questionable content – make photos private (you can always make certain photos public afterwards), as well as any posts that are too personal or might be inappropriate for a potential new employer to see.

Check your language. Bad mouthing a previous employer? Red flag. Complaining constantly on Twitter about somebody taking too long in line? Nope. These aren't big things, but keep your tone in mind when posting in the first place. It's one thing to be funny, and another entirely to be negative. 65% of employers are checking out your online presence to gauge your professionalism and social conduct, so make sure you're putting something out there you can be proud of.

Try to post about your interests. Putting up articles and sharing creative content is a great way to show your passion for the industry. Before all else, companies want someone who is passionate about their work and stays knowledgeable about the creative world.

Correct your info. If you have publicly shared your past jobs, make sure the ones you mention on your resume are there. If you don't want them to know your age, remove birthdays and graduation years from public view.

Pay attention to LinkedIn. 79% of recruiters have hired through LinkedIn and it's reputation as the business network of social networks exists for a reason. There, you'll need up to date resume info and descriptions as well as a somewhat professional headshot. This is the heavy hitter in job search successes, so spend some time here.

Change your photo. Unless this is LinkedIn, no need for a headshot, but if your profile photo is pixellated or default image, consider yourself slapped with a "Newbie" stamp – the employer is moving along to the next candidate. Show yourself, use this as an opportunity to show a facet of your personality, and don't just toss up a photo of your dog. This is the first thing they will see, so make it count.

It can be pretty simple to clean up your act on social media when you know a potential job could be on the line, and our best tip is that you don't power wash all evidence of your existence. Leave carefully selected bits and pieces for a hiring manager to find and they will discover a candidate that's full of personality and cares deeply about their industry.

Posted: 8/20/2018 9:28:55 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


Since the dawn of Facebook, one of the biggest concerns among its user population is privacy and the accessibility of less-than-flattering photos affecting a public or professional reputation. Nobody wants a damaging photo of themselves exposed to a potential employer, and once the privacy settings on photos are changed, there's no reason for an employer to investigate further, right?

Wrong.

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Consider this: according to a 2017 study by HireRight, 85% of employers found applicants lying on their resumes. This doesn't mean you should throw all of your trust out the window, but be prepared to see some resume padding. Since potential employees are sure to put their best foot forward in an interview, and certainly will direct you to positive references, how can you peel away the predetermined layers and find out the true nature of a person?

Be a scavenger of clues when it comes to a potential hire's social media accounts. There are great indicators of a person's personality, social tendencies, and work ethic that can be found just by doing a quick sweep of a profile. Here's how it'll help you out:

1) You'll get to know their attitude.

Are they a complainer, or more of a positive poster? See what word choices they use frequently – if it's all unicorns and rainbows maybe you have nothing to worry about, but if you're sensing any negativity or hostility, there's a good chance that vibe would infect your workplace. If they are sharing articles about current events or tech trends, you can expect an employee who is well-informed and interested in freshening their skills.

2) You'll learn about their passions.

What do they care about outside 9am-5pm on weekdays? See what groups they belong to on Facebook, or what weekend adventures they're sharing on Instagram. Do they have a dog? Are they volunteering in the community on weekends? Do they make pottery in their free time? Knowing this likely won't affect your decision to hire them, but if you do, you'll have a better idea of their motivations.

3) It can lead you to a real reference.

If you're hiring an on-site candidate, there's always a chance you share mutual friends – ask them about your potential hire. Cut through the fluff to the candidate's core by bypassing their hand-picked references and get to the meat of the story. A candid evaluation will give you a more accurate representation of a person's character than you may get from references that have already been expected to give a positive review.

Getting to know a job applicant before they're part of the team is a crucial part of the hiring process, and exploring their social media accounts isn't considered snooping anymore. Anything online is the public persona of someone who could represent your company, and don't you want that person to be putting their best face forward? We think so.

Posted: 7/25/2018 2:09:26 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments