April 10th, 2015
Have you ever had great experiences during job interviews, only to get on board and feel like you were the victim of a bait and switch? Sometimes, it can feel like the “real” corporate culture of a company emerges only after you’ve accepted the job.
The role of corporate culture in your career decisions
Just like you aim to put your best foot forward during job interviews, employers are trying to impress you throughout the hiring process. But when it comes to deciding which job offer you should take, understanding corporate culture at your potential new employer is a critical part of your decision. These four tips can help you more accurately gauge whether the corporate culture will be a fit for your needs:
- Do your homework. Before you even leave for the interview, you should have an idea what it’s like to work at your potential employer. First, be sure to talk to your recruiter – he or she has spent a significant amount of time talking to and meeting with employers and can give you some valuable insights. But also take advantage of your network. Scan your LinkedIn connections to see if you have a link to your potential employer. Talk to friends and relatives and ask them if they’ve had any experiences. Craft a few specific questions ahead of time to ensure you get the information and insights you need to make a thoughtful decision.
- Ask questions. Here at Helpmates, we recommend our candidates always ask questions during job interviews. Asking them can help demonstrate your interest in a company and role. They can also help position you as an informed professional. But there’s another benefit – they can help you determine whether the company culture is a fit for your needs and goals. “When is your workload at its peak?” shows insight and interest into the company workflow, but it can also help you gauge whether demands and expectations on time and effort exceed your comfort zone. Asking a question about the the frequency of employee meetings can also shed some light on the balance between solo work and teamwork expected, or into how much oversight you’ll get from your direct supervisor. One additional question that can help you gauge company culture centers around community involvement – if an employer is constantly sponsoring charity walks or other events and you’re passionate about giving back, there may be a fit.
- Be chatty. It might not seem like there is too much opportunity, but take advantage of “chit chat” moments to get some extra insight into what it’s like to work at each employer. For example, asking the receptionist where the best place is for lunch or a cup of coffee can help you determine whether the team’s habits are a fit for you. Do you prefer eating with your coworkers each day? Would you rather eat at your desk? If the team dynamic doesn’t fit with your personal preferences, the company culture might not be a fit for you.
- Take a look around. Some offices are like a second home, while others provide more professional, even sterile environments. Each has its perks for different people, and many organizations offer a balance between the two. Take a look around at your next job interview. If you like to surround yourself with mementos and family photos, but you notice that no one at a potential employer has done the same, the company might not be the best choice for you.
A complete understanding of the job and employer is essential to job satisfaction and a great career experience. At Helpmates, we not only offer jobs with top employers across Southern California, we provide you with the background and information needed to make the right decision for your career. Search our available jobs or contact us to take the next step toward your career goals.
April 3rd, 2015
Spring is often called the season of renewal. And with the spirit of spring, you might be thinking about the next step in your career (hint: We’re hiring!). As you think about where you’d like to take your career this spring, one important factor to consider is salary.
Don’t be nervous about salary negotiation.
While there are many factors that can influence our job satisfaction and contribute toward reaching our career goals, compensation ranks highly for most professionals. These salary negotiation tips can help you land competitive compensation:
- Rehearse the conversation multiple times. You’ve already gotten through the hard part by the time you’re ready for salary negotiation – congratulations! But you may feel indebted to the employer or nervous about discussing salary. The key to combat nerves is in rehearsing how the conversation might go. This can help you avoid language that may minimize your accomplishments or diminish your case for a higher salary (phrases like “only,” “just” or “think” can give that impression).
- Consider presenting your desired salary in a range. Have a number in your head for the ideal salary you’d like to earn? Research shows you’re more likely to get it if you put it into a range. Here’s an example: Aiming for an annual salary of $45,000? Ask your employee for a salary “Between $45,000 and $50,000.” Choosing the right high and low anchors here are key – choose your desired salary as the lowest number, and be more ambitious at the high end, within reason (who knows – you might even get it!). Of course, each situation is unique – if your new employer appears to desire flexibility, a range could be perfect. But if you sense that the appearance of more preparation will serve you better, be armed with a specific number (say, $45,750). The key is to be perceptive and prepared.
- Remember to look ahead. You’ve put in your time on research and have prepared a well thought out case for your new employer. But…you didn’t get the salary you expected. It’s important here not to be wounded – look ahead to the future. There could be several factors that determine the salary your employer is able to offer right now, but how you react here can make a major impact on whether you get a raise or promotion down the line. Keep the conversation open ended in this case – before you leave the meeting with your boss, be sure to ask something like, “I completely understand – can we revisit my compensation in six months?” Even better, ask the employer what you can do in the next six months to add additional value to your contributions. This small question will demonstrate your commitment to providing value and results for your employer. Plus, you’re taking ownership by setting up a measurable way to determine whether a salary increase is reasonable in the future.
Take your career to the next level this spring – Helpmates can help you reach your goals! Search our available jobs with top employers across Southern California, and submit your resume directly through our website.
March 31st, 2015
We spend a fair amount of time here on the Helpmates blog helping to ease the nerves of anxious and eager candidates. And with good reason – searching for jobs can be stressful! When someone is especially excited about a company and role, it can be hard to keep nerves at bay (We’ve all been there – remember the last time you had to interview for a job?).
Helping candidates feel at ease during interviews means better results for your business.
Of course, putting candidates at ease is a nice thing to do, but ultimately more relaxed candidates provide better quality responses and overall better interviews. Try these tips for putting candidates at ease, and you’ll be well on your way toward stronger interviews:
- Prepare them. When scheduling interviews, give candidates an idea of the topics you’ll be discussing. There are two benefits here – 1) You’ll get better, more thoughtful answers from candidates to give you a more thorough impression and 2) The candidate will feel better prepared when entering the interview and should be more comfortable with the process.
- Greet them. Ensure there is someone to meet candidates as they arrive and possibly even give them a tour of your office as you get ready for the interview. Waiting silently in a reception area can be nerve-wracking and can result in extra jitters for candidates.
- Smile often. It’s amazing how much power there is in a smile! Job interviews can make everyone feel nervous and uncomfortable, but a simple smile (genuine and often) can immediately make candidates feel more relaxed. It can help interviews be less stressful for you, too!
- Set expectations. One of the most nerve-wracking parts of job interviews is not knowing the next steps. If you clear the air at the very beginning by explaining your plans and hiring process (and when candidates can expect to hear from you), you can immediately put candidates at ease by removing that key stressor.
- Turn off the phone and computer. Candidates have done their research and practiced their responses…what could be worse than delivering a great response to your interview question only to have the phone ring or your email notification ding. Turn off your phone and computer (or at least silence them) before the interview to remove distractions and keep candidates at ease.
Before you can put candidates at ease during job interviews, finding top talent is the hardest part. Helpmates has been providing top talent to companies across Southern California for more than 40 years. We’ll help you get a better return on your talent investment.
March 24th, 2015
A few months ago, we talked about the importance of confidence in making a positive first impression with employers. But finding and exuding confidence can be a challenge in and of itself.
Showcase your skills and impress hiring managers by being confident.
If nerves are getting in the way of properly conveying confidence during your interviews, check out these tips. Doing your homework ahead of time can help quell nerves and help you put your best foot forward!
- Show that you’ve done your research. Today’s employers want engaged employees who demonstrate they are invested in the company and its success. We always recommend candidates prepare for interviews by researching the position and company – it’s up to you to show that you’ve prepared! Prepare thoughtful questions that lead with something similar to “While researching your company, I noticed that [blank]” and you’ll not only demonstrate that you’ve done your research, you’ll impress interviewers by showing a genuine interest in their companies.
- Pay attention to your body language. The old standards really come into play here – if you’re constantly looking down or mumbling, you are far from exuding confidence in an interview. Here’s a great list of body language mistakes to avoid from Forbes. One of the best ways to avoid body language mistakes and really exude confidence during your job interviews is to practice. Ask a friend or family member to act as the interviewer, and run through practice interview questions, working to avoid body language mistakes while providing thoughtful, positive responses.
- Repeat back names as you meet new people. People like to hear their names – it makes them feel more positively toward you, and it can also make it feel like you “fit right in” despite meeting the employer for the first time. Plus, repeating back names can send a subliminal message that you intend to meet and speak with that person again. Listen carefully when introduced to any person at a prospective employer, then repeat that name back during introductions. Body language also plays a factor here – look someone in the eye, extend a firm handshake, and add a genuine, “Nice to meet you, [NAME].”
- Practice what you want to say. There’s no way to know exactly what an interviewer will ask you during a job interview, but you can certainly have an idea of key points you’d like to make during job interviews. Prepare those responses and practice them ahead of time to sound cool and confident. The more you’ve said certain responses out loud, the more natural they’ll feel once you’re in an actual interview.
- Be positive. Whether you’re talking about your skill set or your previous employers, always focus on positives in job interviews. No one likes to be surrounded by negative people – and although you may not mean to, talking about past challenges or mistakes can make you seem like you’re dwelling on the negative. That’s where practicing your responses comes into play – you can always take a positive spin! Work through any potentially negative areas and spin them to focus on the positive.
Doing your homework and being prepared for an interview is the easiest way to be relaxed and confident. Here at Helpmates, we help all our candidates prepare for interviews with Southern California’s top employers. We’ll help you find the right job to reach your goals, then we’ll help ensure you put your best foot forward with hiring managers. Search our available SoCal jobs to take the first step.
March 20th, 2015
LinkedIn currently has more than 347 million users - not bad, right? Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second. That means that your past employers, coworkers and clients are likely there – as are your current bosses, peers and clients. Of course, hiring managers are some of the most active on the professional social network site. All of this means that there is incredible opportunity for you to leverage LinkedIn as a potent job search tool.
But are you?
Active LinkedIn users should see benefits within their careers and job searches. If you haven’t seen much result from your LinkedIn efforts, these reasons could be to blame:
- An unprofessional picture (or none at all). When recruiters visit your LinkedIn profile, they are forming a first impression of you and your suitability for their opportunity. A picture on your LinkedIn profile is imperative – if your profile lacks an image, it can signal to recruiters that you don’t care about the impression you make on them. The right picture should look professional and portray you in a positive light. LinkedIn is not the place for vacation photos or images with your loved ones (we’ve even seen some pets!). Professional headshots are best, but aren’t always the most cost effective. Check out Craigslist for potential photographers – you can often find students or newer photographers looking for opportunities to build their portfolios. Their rates are often far lower than more experienced photographers, but with similar results.
- Your profile is incomplete. LinkedIn makes it easy for you to complete your profile – you simply click on “edit profile” and click on each section to fill it in. Have a copy of your resume handy and get started…but add more personality and insight to your LinkedIn profile. This is a tremendous opportunity to “sell” yourself to employers. Give more depth and insight into how your skills and background translate to successful results for your employers. Show some personality (while remaining professional) and most importantly – be sure to fill out your entire profile!
- Spelling or grammar errors. Possibly the oldest (and often considered the most critical) resume advice out there is to triple check it for spelling or grammar errors. As business language becomes slightly more conversational today, grammar errors are less of a concern (barring major mistakes), but there is certainly no excuse for spelling errors on a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is essentially your online resume – a spelling error on your resume will often result in it being tossed into the garbage. An error on LinkedIn can mean getting passed over for your dream job. Once you’ve double checked your resume for errors, ask a friend to look it over as well – someone else can often spot errors you missed.
Of course, the best way to find job search success is to have the most powerful tools and allies on your side. Here at Helpmates, we match talented professionals like you with opportunities at some of Southern California’s top employers. Search our available jobs in SoCal and submit your resume now to take the first step.
February 27th, 2015
Many blogs and online resources are focused on helping you create the perfect resume to entice employers and show off your skills. And with good reason – your resume is a critical component of a successful job search. Without it, it is unlikely you’ll land an interview and proceed through the hiring process.
Creating an impactful resume is key to a successful job search
There are so many details to remember when it comes to resumes: Formatting, contact information, focusing on achievements…it can be hard to keep track of them all. But forget something important, and your resume could end up in the trash bin. Here are three things you shouldn’t forget on your resume:
- Your website address. Do you have a personal blog or website? Particularly in technical or creative roles, personal websites can be a fantastic job search tool. They offer a unique opportunity to not just talk about your skills, but to actually show employers your work. Outside of technical roles, personal websites offer a great opportunity to showcase your industry knowledge and communication skills. Free websites can be set up on sites like wordpress.com. Be sure to include a link to your website with your contact information on your resume so employers know it’s a critical piece of your portfolio. And, of course, be sure that the content of your website reflects work and information that you would want a future employer to see!
- Social media links. This might initially sound incorrect, but it is not a mistake – including links to your professional social media profiles can be a great way to ensure recruiters get the full picture of who you are as a professional and what you bring to the table. In particular, your LinkedIn URL is valuable here. If you have a Twitter account, it can also be a good choice. Personal tweets are acceptable, as long as you also include some professional or relevant tweets (and you avoid profane or inflammatory language that could turn off potential employers).
- Volunteer work. Employers want to understand your entire professional picture – what you bring to the table. If you’re active in non-profit work, this can be a tremendous asset to employers, and a great way to showcase your differentiators in a resume. In particular, volunteer work that boosts your skills relevant to your position and job title are especially interesting to employers. This is also a great area in which to demonstrate skills you have that might not be directly relevant to the job for which you are applying—you never know what other positions or future opportunities might exist and this will give recruiters and hiring managers a more complete picture of what you have to offer!
- Achievements/Certifications. You’ve done great work – showing it off on your resume is essential. Whether you were named “Employee of the Month” or “Best Teammate” at a past employer, or you received community recognition for volunteer work, your accomplishments should be a featured part of your resume. These not only help paint that full picture mentioned above, but they show you’re a winner – someone who goes above and beyond to reach goals. Certifications also help demonstrate this key facet of a successful employee. When a professional goes above and beyond to become especially proficient in a particular field, this action shows employers the desire and ability to go above and beyond in the workplace.
Work these four things into your resume, and it will be an even stronger tool in your job search arsenal. And if you’re looking for jobs in Southern California, check out our job board. The recruiters at Helpmates will review your resume, make recommendations and match you with tremendous career opportunities with some of the region’s top employers. Be sure to send us your resume today and we’ll be in touch!
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/phasinphotos
February 20th, 2015
When you land a job interview after carefully preparing your resume and cover letter, it can feel like you’re so close to the finish line. Yet it can be extremely disappointing and frustrating when you learned you didn’t get the job.
Why didn’t you get the job?
Of course, there can be any number of reasons why another candidate was chosen. Maybe that candidate is a better cultural fit, or they had a stronger professional background. Or maybe they were just more enthusiastic.
Being enthusiastic about a company and career opportunity can help land you the job.
Genuine enthusiasm about employers and their career opportunities can inspire employers to choose you over another candidate. Over the past few years, publications like Forbes and CNN have cited enthusiasm as a key for employers choosing candidates.
Enthusiasm is a critical component of reaching your career goals. Here’s how you can properly convey enthusiasm in your next interview to land a job:
- Ask for the job. It sounds ridiculously simple, but one of the easiest ways to demonstrate your enthusiasm is to come right out and ask for the job. Or at the very least, tell the interviewer that you are excited and interested in the company and job.
- Say everyone’s names. This is a small touch that makes a big difference. When you take the time to repeat and say people’s names – everyone from the receptionist to your interviewer, it demonstrates your interest in more than simply a 30-minute interview. To the employer, it can actually send the message that you’re already a part of the team! In addition, it’s simply a nice way to show that you’re interested in people and respect them.
- Project the right body language. Body language can send many unspoken messages to employers during your interview – some good and some bad. It’s important to be aware of your nonverbal language throughout the interview to ensure it accurately conveys your enthusiasm for the job. Simple things like making eye contact, smiling, and nodding are key. Turning your shoulders so you’re facing the interviewer can also help project the right message.
- Send a thank you note. This may technically be after job interviews, but thank you notes are still a critical part of the process. After you’ve perfected your interview questions and demonstrated your enthusiasm during the actual job interview, solidify the message by sending a thank you note to your interviewer(s). Choose one key discussion point from the interview and hammer it home here – this is your last chance to “sell” them on you for the job!
Genuine enthusiasm can help you stand out from the competition and land your next job. If you’re searching for jobs in Southern California, be sure to check out the Helpmates job board. We work with top employers across the area, and we’ll help you stand out from the pack!
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Ambro
February 16th, 2015
It comes every year, and yet everyone seems to be surprised when it’s upon us. Yes, we are fully entrenched in cold and flu season. Sick employees are a reality for just about every business, but they don’t have to sap your productivity.
Avoid productivity lapses during cold and flu season
Of course, the health and well being of your employees is most important, but running a business still requires productivity. Here are critical steps to prevent flu season from negatively affecting your productivity this year:
- Be a “model” sick employee. We all catch a cold from time to time, but coming into work sick just about guarantees your sniffles will spread like wildfire among employees. You don’t want sick employees coming to work and spreading germs, so be a model sick employee (and leader) – stay home when you’re ill. If you come to work sick, you’re sending a message to your employees — whether you intend to your not — that they should come to work sick. Thus, preparing the office for a rampant spread of germs. So do yourself (no one is at their best while sick, and you should get some rest anyway) and your staff a favor and set the example – stay home from work when you’re sick.
- Plan for fewer staff – then do something about it. It bears repeating – getting sick is pretty inevitable this time of year. So plan ahead for some increased absences. This small step will ensure you avoid unreal expectations or productivity goals during the season. This can also help with employee morale – if your goals are astronomical and you have a rash of sick days that mean your team falls short, no one will feel good about it (and some people might even still be sick – yuck!). Set realistic goals that expect people to miss work for sick days. And to meet your goals despite the obstacle of sick days, augment your staff with temporary help by calling a staffing firm (like Helpmates). We can provide critical staff to help you meet your goals throughout this crazy season.
- Consider investing in updated technology. Surfaces can foster germs for days (weeks, in some cases). And in places like restrooms or kitchens, many employees are frequently touching things like handles and faucets. Hands-free options are available for frequently contaminated surfaces like sinks, toilets, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers and hand dryers.
- Provide germ-reducing products. In addition to updated appliances, using disinfectant spray (like Lysol) on commonly used devices like printers or copy machines can also be a big help. Another low-cost investment that can reduce sick days is a simple one – purchase hand sanitizer and distribute to your employees, place in restrooms, meeting rooms and other areas where people both congregate and frequently touch surfaces.
The cold and flu season can make you feel pretty miserable for a few days, but taking these few steps can make a big impact on your productivity. And if you need temporary help to keep your office humming, give us a call.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/stockimages
February 13th, 2015
The opportunity for continued education is a critical factor in employee engagement and retention. Not only are the opportunities themselves critical, but fostering an environment that supports learning as a critical component of career (and business) success is also important. Authenticity and a genuine passion for fueling your employees’ desire to grow and learn will help make your efforts more successful, and will give you a greater return on your investment.
But where do you start?
Demonstrating your commitment to a culture of learning.
To convey authenticity and create a genuine culture of learning within your organization, consider taking these steps:
- Put someone in charge. It happens all too often – someone has a great idea and members of the team get excited about it. But then…what? Sometimes, great ideas fall by the wayside. It’s not because they weren’t great ideas or people weren’t excited about them – it’s often because no one was in charge of getting them done. Once your organization has determined it is committed to creating a learning environment, put someone in charge of instituting changes and increasing opportunities. This doesn’t have to be a full-time role, or even one person, but delegating a person or team to getting it done ensures that your commitment is fulfilled, and real opportunities become an actionable commitment for your organization.
- Get everyone involved. Employees at every level can benefit from a culture of learning. From customer service reps to sales professionals and even executives – everyone should get involved. When every member and level of your team is excited about learning opportunities, your entire organization benefits.
- Offer different ways to take advantage. Particularly in today’s e-society, there are more ways than ever to learn. From books and eBooks to webinars and eCourses, give your employees a range of choices to continue their learning. Each employee may respond differently to various media, so offering a range of opportunities ensures no one feels left out.
- Don’t forget to be hands-on. While eLearning is making career advancement and increased knowledge easier and more accessible than ever, try not to forget the human element. Bring in a speaker to deliver a seminar to your sales team. Encourage cross training, so that members of your staff can show off their skills and help others learn while presenting at a ‘lunch and learn’. Tapping into multiple resources and encouraging team participation while embracing the human element offers meaningful opportunity.
Today’s most successful professionals crave knowledge to help them become more proficient in their careers. Foster a culture of learning, and you’ll not only engage and retain your current employees, you’ll become a magnet for truly exceptional talent. And if you’re looking for exceptional talent, Helpmates can deliver. Our extensive network of professionals across Southern California is ready to jump in and make an immediate impact on your business.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles
October 31st, 2014
Do you ever feel frustrated when you don’t receive a response after submitting your resume? Here could be a big reason why: Companies that post jobs in a newspaper or with online job boards often report receiving hundreds if not thousands of resumes. It can be hard to stand out among thousands! Finding elusive “unadvertised” job postings could be key to avoiding the competition and landing your next career opportunity.
The best way to stand out from the competition
There are many great job opportunities that aren’t posted on traditional online job boards. Here’s how you can find them:
- Leverage your network. As we’ve discussed here in the blog, networking is a key component of a successful job search (and career). After cultivating strong relationships, it’s time to utilize them. Invite contacts to lunch or coffee and tell them about your job aspirations, or for online connections, send a quick LinkedIn note asking how things are going for them, then share your own job search situation. Staying in touch with your network and sharing your current job search situation is a great way to learn about positions that aren’t posted on job boards.
- Partner with a staffing firm. We may be slightly biased, but the best way to gain access to jobs that aren’t posted publicly is by partnering with a staffing firm. Companies trust staffing firms like Helpmates to find them the very best and most qualified candidates for their job openings. We save them time by finding great professionals (like you!), which means they share exciting career opportunities with us, without ever posting them publicly. Plus, we’ll help you fine tune things like your cover letter and resume to stand out and increase your chances of landing the job – a staffing firm (like Helpmates) can be a tremendous asset in your job search and career!
- Read. Sometimes jobs aren’t posted on sites like Monster or Careerbuilder, but there are ways to determine when companies are hiring. One area to keep an eye on is a corporate blog (like this one!). Some companies share news or even specific openings on their blog (as a bonus, reading corporate blogs can help you stay informed on company news – which can be a big help during interviews). Local trade journals and newspapers can also give tremendous insight. News of expansions or promotions (which often indicate another position that now needs an employee) can be indicators of new positions becoming available. If you read about an expansion or promotion in a trade journal, head to the company website to see if a job is posted there, or better yet – remember the first bullet and see if anyone in your network (this is especially easy when you’re well connected on LinkedIn) is part of the organization, or can introduce you to someone there.
Here at Helpmates, we help professionals like you find exciting job opportunities every day. Search our available jobs or contact us to find out how we can help you reach your career goals.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/posterize