Searching for Passive Candidates? What NOT to Say.

September 23rd, 2016

Passive candidates are often considered the “holy grail” for employers – after all, who wouldn’t want to hire the competition’s best talent? But reaching passive candidates and enticing them to leave their current positions can prove challenging. passive candidates

Stop thinking like a recruiter to hire passive candidates.

Sounds like some difficult advice, doesn’t it? How can you NOT think like a recruiter? It’s important, though — thinking like an employee instead of a recruiter can help you understand and pinpoint what will resonate with passive candidates. But your work isn’t finished once you’ve opened up communication with passive candidates. Here is some advice to help you say the right things (and avoid saying the WRONG things):

  • Avoid going too far on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for recruiters, putting you within reach of just about any professional across the globe. But use LinkedIn incorrectly and you can quickly alienate (or anger) candidates, sabotaging your current and future recruiting efforts along the way. These quick tips can help you avoid LinkedIn mistakes:
    • InMail. Keep messages short and sweet. Remember that many candidates are reading their messages on smartphones. If you’re using LinkedIn’s recruiting tools, you can send InMail to just about anyone, but don’t badger candidates with every detail about your company or your jobs. Instead, start off with some positive feedback on the candidate and his or her profile. Quickly explain who you are and why you’re reaching out, then include a link to your specific job opening, if appropriate. Finish by including your contact information and a note explaining if you’ll follow up (and when).
    • Connection Requests. Once again, short and sweet is the rule here. Especially in certain industries (like tech), candidates are being inundated with messages from recruiters. Want to stand out? Keep your messages short and quickly explain what’s in it for the candidate. Don’t ever lie about why you’re reaching out or how you may or may not know a candidate. This may sound like common sense, but it can get cutthroat out there for talent – don’t ever be tempted to damage your reputation by lying.
    • Group messages. Sure, you may be able to send group messages through LinkedIn, but that doesn’t mean you should. Yes, it takes longer to send individual messages to candidates, but group messages are the easiest way to get your name, company and job trashed by passive candidates. They’re already employed (and possibly quite happily so). If you can’t take a few minutes to craft a unique message to each person, how could passive candidates feel as if you truly value them and their potential contributions to your company? Remember: Think like the passive candidates. What would make you feel valued by an employer? Which leads to the final point on LinkedIn communication…
    • Get personal. Look at candidate profiles before sending InMail or a request to connect. Don’t cut and paste the same generic message to all the passive candidates you’re trying to reach. Pay close attention to schools and previous employers to see if you share an alma mater or colleague. Look at any portfolio work, project examples or LinkedIn Pulse posts, then comment on them in your message. Remember, you’re trying to “woo” passive candidates from their current positions. Flattery doesn’t hurt, and taking a genuine interest in someone by relating to items in their profile instantly helps you stand out from the pack.
  • Try weekends. It may seem counterintuitive, but candidates get tired of hearing from recruiters all week. Following the recommendations above (whether you’re using LinkedIn, email or another communication method) in communications on the weekend can help you stand out and open the door to more communication.
  • Work harder on referrals. Putting your effort into new, passive candidates is important, but it’s critical to value your current candidates and employees. Foster an environment where they want to refer more people to you. Recruiting and HR should be working together to build a strong culture that increases retention rates and supports an environment where your employees want to refer their friends and former colleagues. According to research from LinkedIn, referred employees have longer tenure and higher performance, so in addition to maximizing your recruiting efforts, getting more referrals just makes better business sense.
  • Go beyond social media. LinkedIn is a great option for reaching and communicating with candidates, but it’s just one option. It’s important to also go where passive candidates in your target industries spend time. Professional organizations, associations, college career centers and niche websites/forums are a good place to start. Build relationships by providing value there (not instantly recruiting or trying to sell candidates on your organization). Not only are your communication efforts more likely to be successful, passive candidates may start reaching out to you directly to look for new opportunities!
  • Change your approach. Just as your messages and communication should be quick and to the point, once you’ve gained the interest of passive candidates, don’t put them through your standard interview/hiring process. Instead, brainstorm questions that could help uncover hidden problems within their current jobs that your new jobs could somehow solve. These questions provide a strong starting point. Keep it simple for passive candidates throughout – avoid putting them through the wringer with a long online application or drawn out interview process. If you’ve identified passive candidates who are an ideal fit for your organization, make it easy for them to make the switch. Offer interview times outside normal business hours, accept a resume instead of a long application — do everything you can to simplify the process and make your organization an appealing choice.

Passive or not, top talent acquisition is a goal for every organization. Helpmates has an extensive network of top talent in a range of industries and disciplines across Southern California. We’ll help you find the best talent to impact your bottom line. Contact us today to learn more.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Why Telecommuting Might Not Make Sense

August 12th, 2016

Why Telecommuting Might Not Make Sense

Telecommuting is definitely on the rise. The Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently reported that telecommuting has increased threefold in the past 20 years, and more employers are beginning to offer the flexibility of working from home than ever to meet demand.

But does it really make sense for your business?

Telecommuting offers some distinct advantages for employers: mac-733178_640

While these benefits can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line, there are some challenges your business must consider:

  • Nurturing a strong culture can be more difficult when several team members (or more) are working off site. Allowing employees to work off site can expose a weak corporate culture — or degrade one altogether. When your team is separated geographically each day, it can be difficult to build and nurture a sense of team. If your culture is strong; however, telecommuting can be integrated effectively. It’s imperative that your HR department work with leadership to establish clear methods for the ongoing nurturing of your corporate culture (through virtual happy hours, Skype or other video conferencing, regular phone time, intermittent office visits, etcetera).
  • Collaboration can be stifled when employees aren’t working side by side. This is especially true for smaller companies that thrive on new ideas. When employees are chatting by the water cooler or over lunch, great ideas can often result. Take away the water cooler and the lunch room, and you could miss out on game-changing innovations for your business.
  • Clients can sometimes become uneasy with a lack of face-to-face contact with your team. If your clients are accustomed to regular, in-person meetings with one or more employees who are now working from home, it could create an issue for clients that require a bit more hand holding. In today’s economy, virtual employees are becoming increasingly common; however, watching out for this potential roadblock is something you would need to do on a case by case basis.
  • Some employees may become angry if your organization decides to allow telecommuting for some, but not all, employees. Be prepared to decide just how many people can take advantage of telecommuting, and how often. Perhaps one or two days a week, or only afternoons, works for some employees and/or roles. If telecommuting is impossible for certain employees or positions, be prepared to offer some type of added bonus to compensate them and avoid hard feelings (or worse, an exit of employees en masse).

Is telecommuting right for your business? 

Careful consideration for your organization is necessary before moving forward with a telecommuting option for employees. Internally, you should have the right business structure, culture and managers to effectively lead virtual employees. Here are some key traits to ensure your managers possess before allowing telecommuting:

  • No reservations. If your managers are nervous about allowing telecommuting, they won’t be able to effectively lead. Everyone should be “all in” before making the switch.
  • Clear communication. The ability to set clear expectations and deadlines (and enforce them when necessary) becomes especially critical with telecommuting employees. Accountability is key to taking advantage of the productivity boost noted earlier. Your managers should be able to clearly communicate what is expected and when.
  • Trust. Ultimately, your managers must trust their teams in order to effectively lead them in a telecommuting environment.

Once you have the right managers in place, you’ll want to ensure the right employees are being afforded the flexibility of telecommuting. Look for these qualities:

  • Self starter. Personal accountability is critical to success in a telecommuting role. Employees should demonstrate the ability to work with little to no supervision and should be able to allocate their time effectively.
  • Strong technology. While you may provide a phone and/or laptop for your employees to use at home, you should ensure that any telecommuting employees also have solid wifi and other in-home technology to support their company technology.
  • Strong problem-solving ability. Telecommuting employees will often be on their own when it comes to solving problems. Both from a technical standpoint as well a a client perspective, challenges arise. The ability to think on their feet and get things done without being able to pop in someone’s office is key.

Before your business can consider telecommuting, you have to have the right employees in place. At Helpmates, we connect employers across Southern California with exceptional talent. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business achieve more.

Why Career Mentors Are Essential (And How to Find One)

August 9th, 2016

Research shows that professionals with mentors are happier and more successful in their careers. In fact, research shows that employees who received mentoring were promoted five times more often than people who didn’t have mentors.

In an increasingly digital world, the importance of fostering and nurturing real-world relationships cannot be underestimated. When one (or more) of those relationships centers specifically around your career and personal development, the impact can be much more profound.workplace-1245776_640

The connection between mentors and success

From billionaire entrepreneurs to celebrities and athletes, the world’s most successful people have one thing in common: they have felt the profound impact of a mentor. Why does mentoring have such a big impact on success?

  1. They help you learn from their mistakes. Mistakes will happen to most people at some stage in their careers. Successful professionals accept their mistakes, dust off and learn from them to avoid more mistakes in the future. Mentees can fast track that process and learn from the mistakes of their mentors.
  2. They provide more than any book. In today’s information age, there are plenty of career books, blogs and other resources out there (including this one). While there is plenty of value within these resources, strong mentors can help you fill in the gaps to determine how the advice or tips you’re reading fit into your specific career and goals.
  3. They help you take action. Sometimes fear of the unknown can hold you back from taking new steps and journeys in your career. It’s in those times that you need an extra kick to actually take action. Your mentor can be the accountability partner needed to keep you on track and working toward your goals (rather than just talking about them).

Finding the right mentors is key

Reaping the benefits of mentorship requires the right relationship. Finding the right mentors, though, can seem like a daunting challenge to some professionals. Although you may be tempted, don’t ask a stranger to fill that role for you. Perhaps you’ve identified a successful individual in your field who you believe could teach you a significant amount. That’s great! But if you haven’t previously established a relationship with that person, now is not the time to ask. Try these tips instead:

  • Partner with a nonprofit. There are organizations across the country dedicated to helping professionals find mentors. Depending on your specific industry, you may even be able to find an organization that works solely within your specialty. Google “[your city] + mentors” to see what opportunities might exist in your specific area.
  • Get involved. Local chambers of commerce and other professional networking groups offer an excellent opportunity to meet new people. The relationships you build can naturally evolve into mentorship relationships down the road.
  • Don’t be too narrow. Careers are not limited to just one mentor. You may find mentors who help you grow in a variety of capacities (eg. leadership, sales, communication). There are a range of individuals who have skills that can help you, don’t rest on your laurels after you’ve identified one person who can help you.

Here at Helpmates, our recruiters serve as a career partner to help you reach your goals. We can help you find your next great job. Search our jobs in Southern California now or contact your nearest Helpmates office to get started.

Identifying Emotional Intelligence in Hiring (And Why it Matters)

August 4th, 2016

More than 20 years ago, research found that individuals with average IQs were outperforming those with with the highest IQs 70% of the time. Going against the rationale at the time that the most “book smart” employees would be the most successful, researchers dug deeper to understand why. Eventually, researchers found that emotional intelligence was the key ingredient of success that separated the most successful from the rest of the pack.

What is Emotional Intelligence?ID-10066391

Pause for a moment to think about the tasks that encompass your day. Surely there are hard skills necessary to complete them. According to the experts at Talent Smart, who literally wrote the book on emotional intelligence, emotional intelligence (sometimes referred to as emotional quotient or EQ) is the bit extra in each of us that helps us “manage behavior, navigate social complexities and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.”

Emotional Intelligence and Hiring

In all likelihood, your organization has hired a candidate who simply didn’t work out. This can result in low employee morale, increased cost, loss of productivity and more — the impact on an organization can be disastrous. Factoring emotional intelligence into your hiring decisions can help mitigate the risk and offer an added layer of insight into candidates before you make a decision.

While emotional intelligence is comprised of multiple aspects, Harvard Business Review’s Christina Bielaszka-DuVernay recommends focusing on these three aspects to help you identify potential high-EQ candidates:

  1. Self-awareness and self-regulation. Look for insights into the needs and wishes that drive candidates and how they affect their behavior. Candidates who are more likely to be successful can regulate their emotions to prevent any fear, anger or anxiety they experience from spreading to colleagues or result in a loss of control.
  2. Reading others and recognizing the impact of his or her behavior on them. Candidates who have well-developed emotional and social “radar” and can sense how their words and actions influence colleagues are more likely to be successful within your organization.
  3. The ability to learn from mistakes. Candidates who can acknowledge their mistakes, reflect critically upon them and learn from them are ideal choices for any organization.

How to Find Candidates with High Emotional Intelligence

Finding high-EQ candidates doesn’t have to mean overhauling your hiring process. Ask these questions to identify the best candidates:

  • What bothers you most about previous coworkers?
  • Tell me about a time you helped out a coworker.
  • When was the last time you had a bad day? What went wrong?
  • What has been your favorite professional relationship? Why do you think it was successful?
  • What are you most proud of in your career? Why?
  • Who inspires you (and why)?

Asking the right questions to determine EQ means getting the right candidates in the door for interviews. At Helpmates, we have strong relationships with top talent across Southern California. We’ll help you find the best talent to help your organization reach its goals. Contact your nearest Helpmates office today to get started.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Helpmates Staffing Services Named Best Place to Work for 2016

July 5th, 2016

Best Places to Work
Irvine, Ca based Helpmates Staffing Services has been named one of Orange County’s Best Places to Work by the Orange County Business Journal and the Best Companies Group. This county-wide survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Orange County, benefiting the county’s economy, its workforce and businesses.

To be considered for participation, employers had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

  • Have at least 15 employees working in Orange County;
  • Be a for-profit or not-for-profit business or government entity;
  • Be a publicly or privately held business;
  • Have a facility in Orange County; and
  • Must be in business a minimum of 1 year.

Organizations from across the county entered the two-part process to determine the Best Places to Work in Orange County. The first part consisted of evaluating each employer’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top organizations and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Orange County and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final ranking.

“We are honored to have been selected to this prestigious list of companies,” said Anthony Valentin, Chief Operating Officer at Helpmates. “When you consider the companies that are represented on this list, it is a virtual “who’s who” of successful and well-respected organizations in the Orange County area,” Valentin said.

The ranking of the winning organizations will be released via a special section of the Orange County Business Journal’s July 25 issue. According to Valentin, “This award is a testament to our company values, teamwork and the camaraderie that is demonstrated at all levels of our organization. We take pride in our ability to serve our employees and have worked very hard to nurture an environment where there is accessibility to our leadership and transparency in how we run our organization. Such accessibility and transparency transcends the typical “open door policy” and it is expressed through our team member’s satisfaction levels”

About Helpmates
With offices throughout Southern California, Helpmates is a premier Staffing Solutions provider with a primary focus in Clerical, Office Professional, Accounting & Finance and Logistics, Distribution and Manufacturing segments. Founded in 1972 and with more than 43 years of experience, Helpmates has partnered with thousands of clients to provide value-driven labor solutions with a high level of customer service.

For more information and to experience the Helpmates Difference, please visit www.helpmates.com

Are You Choosing the Right Professional References?

June 26th, 2016

Sometimes professional references are the last step between you and your dream job. Often, employers check your references as the very last step before offering you the job.

So how much thought have you put into choosing your references?

Until a formal offer is made, the job isn’t yours. But it can be easy to lose your strategic edge when choosing which professional references to list. When it comes to job search advice, choosing the right references is right up there with a strong resume and polished cover letter.

Be sure to choose professional references who demonstrate these traits:Professional references advice

  • They will take the request seriously. Sometimes former colleagues are also friends – that happens to many of us throughout our careers. But choosing friends isn’t typically a good choice when it comes to your career. Employers who choose to speak with professional references are doing so because they value the insight such references can provide. If you choose someone (or some people) who are unprepared or don’t take the role of professional reference seriously, it can most definitely damage your reputation and result in someone else receiving the job offer. When employers ask you for references, they’re expecting you to choose the people who will position you in the best possible light, and who will be prepared to talk about why you’re a great fit for their organization. If you don’t choose the very best references now, what kind of message does that send employers about the types of choices you’ll make on the job?
  • They can express themselves well verbally (or possibly in writing). Most professional references are contacted via phone to discuss you and your qualifications, but from time to time employers will reach out via email. To be sure your bases are covered, you should present professional references who are comfortable expressing themselves both verbally and in writing. At this point in the process, your professional references are literally “selling” you, so be certain to choose individuals who are comfortable expressing why you’re the right choice.
  • They understand your weaknesses (and can position them well). We all have weaknesses. In all likelihood, you discussed yours during the interview process. But your potential new employer isn’t done talking about them – your professional references should be prepared to discuss them as well (and how you can turn them into strengths). If you’re choosing professional references who served as a direct supervisor, colleague or client, they likely have had an opportunity to see you “in action” and can formulate some thoughts on your strengths and weaknesses. But this your career – don’t be afraid to take charge and talk to your references ahead of time about your weaknesses. You don’t want to give the impression you’re telling your references what they should say. But, having a candid conversation where you ask for insight into your strengths and weaknesses can help prepare your references for having that same conversation later with a recruiter.

If you’re ready to submit your references to an employer, you’re near the finish line – congratulations! But if you’re still looking for your next career opportunity, call Helpmates. We work with top employers across Southern California, and we’ll help you find the right job to reach your goals. Search our open jobs or contact your nearest Helpmates office now to get started.

What REALLY Motivates Employees?

June 18th, 2016

As the economy continues to improve, candidates are raising their expectations when it comes to compensation and benefits from employers. Is your organization meeting those expectations?

Keys to attract and retain top talentHelpmates June Blog 2

Recent research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) identified the top 3 drivers of job satisfaction for employees. Let’s dig into these 3 and identify how your organization can use them to win the talent war:

  1. Respectful treatment of employees at all levels. While most of us expect this type of treatment and would feel that we are also acting within this type of expectation, its presence at the top of list implies that many employees either do, or have, felt that they weren’t treated with a proper level of respect from their employer. With more employees struggling to find top talent, every organization should prioritize interaction between all levels of an organization to ensure that from candidate to employee, ever individual feels valued and respected. Encouraging an “open door” policy (where appropriate) where employees at all levels feel comfortable interacting and sharing feedback with senior management can go a long way toward ensuring a culture of respectful treatment. Additional research from BambooHR takes this notion a step further, suggestion that employees are looking for reward and recognition for superior work. Don’t be intimidated by this thought – recognition doesn’t necessarily mean cruises and lavish prizes (although those probably wouldn’t hurt!). Simply recognizing the great work of employees in meetings and other communications can be an excellent way to ensure employees feel valued. During the interview process, acknowledging impressive credentials or previous results can help demonstrate to candidates that their contributions will be valued when they join the team as well.
  2. Compensation/pay. The recession of 2008-2009 may seem like ancient history, but it has had a lasting effect on employee compensation over the past 8 years. In their research, SHRM found that compensation is rising in its importance among candidates and employees. After flat salaries or unimpressive bonuses for nearly a decade, more employees feel that the current state of the economy merits additional compensation. Among younger employees this can be especially critical, as student loan debt and other financial burdens are shown to weigh heavily on the minds of millennials. Yes, your candidates and employees place a high emphasis on respect and recognition, but compensation is heavily considered. While that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to outspend your competitors, it does mean you’ll need to do some research into average salaries for specific positions within your market. If you’re not meeting average salaries, you could be in trouble, both with recruiting and retention (which could end up being much more costly than meeting those initial salary expectations).
  3. Benefits. The numbers here should make some employers nervous: 60% of employees rated benefits as a very important contributor to job satisfaction, but 68% of employees aren’t currently satisfied with the overall benefits package offered by their employers. Want to get candidates in the door and keep them there? It might be time to overhaul your offering. If you’re really looking to stand out, wellness and pension programs, or benefits designed to support families currently show the least amount of satisfaction. Most organizations have got basics like health and PTO benefits covered – now’s the time to get creative and see how your benefits can support and nurture employees to help them feel valued and secure while working for your organization.

While there certainly weren’t any surprises on this list, that doesn’t mean these factors are any less critical. In fact, understanding the nuances of today’s employees in relation to these factors is an important step toward attracting and retaining top talent. Finding the right balance between compensation and benefits is key – the team of experts at Helpmates can help you understand the competitive salaries needed to attract and retain talent, identify top benefits that are likely to help you stand out, and most importantly – help you find candidates who are ready to step in and make an immediate impact on your organization. Contact your nearest Helpmates office today to learn more about how we can help your organization maximize its talent investment.

How to Reject Candidates Without Burning Bridges

June 14th, 2016

It happens – for every job. Someone’s going to get the job, and some people (sometimes many) won’t receive an offer. But while your organization is excited to make a new hire, rejecting candidates can be nearly as critical.

Build strong candidate relationships — even when they don’t get the job.Helpmates June Blog 1

That’s right, every candidate rejection offers an opportunity to build stronger relationships and to also strengthen
your candidate pipeline. Depending on your industry, every candidate who submits a resume could also be a customer. That means treating candidates poorly can directly impact your revenue.

But poor treatment of rejected candidates can affect your organization in other ways. Perhaps someone isn’t the right fit for this specific role, but is a team player with great credentials. Could they be a fit for another opening down the line? Imagine how much time and cost you could save by bringing that person back in to ensure a fit, rather than sift through hundreds (or thousands) of resumes and going through the entire process again!

Negative treatment of candidates can also make a permanent mark on your business through negative reviews – take a look at some reviews of your competition on Glassdoor. Some of the feedback is brutal – but that’s just what you’re seeing online. Even more conversations are sharing feedback in email, in person or on other review sites. It’s hard to erase a negative impression, and treating candidates poorly can impact your ability to consistently recruit top talent.

Does your rejection process burn bridges? These tips can help you maintain a strong relationships with the candidates in your pipeline and build a positive reputation:

  1. Actually reject them. This one sounds strange, but it is essential. There are few things that can hurt your impression with candidates more than never letting them know whether they have received the job. Candidates have sent their resumes and cover letters and endured interviews (which could include phone, video and/or multiple in-person interviews). Simply letting rejected candidates know that you’ve gone with another candidate is a matter of courtesy — one that is often neglected. Whether it’s via email or traditional mail, contacting all candidates to let them know of your decision is a matter of respect.
  2. Let them know as soon as possible. We all seek closure in various aspects of life. Finding closure during your job search can be especially challenging. If you’ve made up your mind that a candidate isn’t the right choice, let him or her know as soon as you can. Not only does this help candidates move on, it can help them pursue other opportunities that may be the right fit since they won’t be waiting on a response from you.
  3. Be personal. Templates can be a helpful way to save time – using a basic templated email or letter is perfectly acceptable. But, avoid a “Dear Sir/Madam” generic communication. Including the person’s name and the position they applied for is a good start, but depending on where the candidate landed in the process, you may want to include something more specific. A compliment or specific highlight of something discussed during the interview can be a nice way to show that you are talking to a person and not just a “candidate.”
  4. Don’t dwell on it. Short and sweet is essential here – it’s like ripping off a Band-Aid. Sharing some information about why the candidate wasn’t chosen is helpful, but avoid going into a highly detailed description of why the chosen candidate was the better fit. A few sentences explaining the decision are all that’s needed.
  5. Be honest. Some candidates may be a great fit for your company culture, but just aren’t the right fit for specific openings. If that’s the case, be honest and let them know that they could be a fit down the road. Conversely, don’t offer hope where none exists. Only share the notion of a potential match down the road when you sincerely believe candidates would be solid additions to your company. Never offer hope of a potential match as a consolation prize — it will only result in frustrated or angry candidates when they don’t hear back in the future.

Searching for talent to help your organization achieve its goals? Here at Helpmates, we have an extensive network of top talent across Southern California. Contact your nearest Helpmates office today to learn more about our staffing and recruiting solutions.

Top 5 Interview Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

June 5th, 2016

You’ve put hours into perfecting your resume and cover letter. Great work – but you’re not done yet! Until you’ve impressed an employer in your job interview, you’re still a candidate and not a new hire. Now it’s time for your ‘A’ game.HM May Blog 3

Successful interviews are far from impossible, but you’ve got to avoid making mistakes.

Recruiters often see some of the same critical interview mistakes from candidates. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll better position yourself to land a great job:

1. Not asking any questions. You might be eager to wrap things up and tell everyone how you aced your job interview, but when an interviewer asks you if you have any questions, he or she isn’t just being polite. This is a critical step in the interview process, and one that can make or break your chances of landing the job. Thoughtful questions can turn an average interview into a great one, while a lack of questions (or a poor choice of questions) can have the opposite effect. Try to get specific with your questions and show that you’re interested in the job, engaged with the employer and eager to jump in and start getting results. Here are a few examples:

      • How will my performance be evaluated in this position?
      • What does your company value the most (and how can I contribute toward those values)?
      • What do you do better than your competitors? Conversely, what do they do better than you?
      • What do your customers/clients love about working with you?

2. Not sending a ‘thank you’ letter. This is a “classic” piece of interview advice that is still just as important today as it was 20 years ago. Although technology may have changed expectations here a bit, sending a ‘thank you’ letter, note or email is essential. Not only is it polite and good manners to thank the interviewer for his or her time, it is one final opportunity to present your qualifications and sell yourself for the job. If you’re sending a letter or card, be sure to get it in the mail within 24 hours of your interview. If you’re emailing, later that afternoon or the next day is appropriate.

3. Not tooting your own horn. Now’s not the time to be shy – job interviews are your chance to SHINE. Take every opportunity to show interviewers how you contributed to successful projects, great ideas you had to improve customer experience, awards or recognition you received – the list goes on and on, and shouldn’t stop with these ideas. Show off your knowledge, experience and passion for the job. While you don’t want to come across as cocky, showing pride in your accomplishments and enthusiasm in your skill set demonstrates to interviewers that you will bring that same level of excitement to their business.

4. Being negative and complaining. Last year, we talked about confidence in job interviews and how staying positive can help you. Let’s flip that coin and examine how you can spoil an interview by being negative. In addition to the most obvious choice of negativity to avoid – bad mouthing past employers or colleagues (which you should, of course, NEVER do), this also includes complaining. Sometimes it just slips into the conversation unintentionally: “How are you today?” “I’m fine, but wow, that weather is awful!” Or sometimes it can come through when answering questions during your job interview. Either way, avoid negativity and complaining at all costs. No one wants to work with a Debbie (or Donnie) downer – if you’re complaining about the weather in your interview, who knows what you’ll complain about every day in the office? At least, that’s what the interviewer will be thinking! If you’ve failed into the habit of griping about the weather or traffic in every day conversations and you’re especially concerned about interviews, just keep your answers to intro questions short and sweet – when asked how you’re doing or how your drive/commute into their office was, a quick “Great, thanks” will do just fine.

5. Not paying attention to the interviewer. You’re understandably focused on what you’re saying and doing during job interviews, but if you’re too focused on you, you might be missing some important cues from the interviewer. For example, if you’re talking about a past employer or skill set and you notice the interviewer’s eyes brighten or increased note taking, that’s a good sign that you’ve piqued his or her interest and are discussing something that is directly relevant to the job. Run with it! Take every opportunity to showcase that skill set again throughout the interview. Also, it’s pretty common to miss important cues in interview questions when you’re too busy thinking about what you want to say. This is completely understandable, but it could seriously hurt your chances of landing the job. It’s perfectly acceptable to slow yourself down and be sure to listen to the interviewer, which could help tip you off to certain skill sets or personality traits the employer is seeking. Then after the question has been asked, pause for 10 seconds or so to formulate your response. It is always better to listen to the question and possibly pick up on cues that will help you land the job through a more thoughtful response.

Looking for a job in Southern California? We’re hiring! Here at Helpmates, we work with employers across Los Angeles County and Orange County. We’ll help you find the right job and put your best foot forward to avoid interview mistakes. Search our current job openings or contact your nearest Helpmates office to learn more.

Top 10 Social Media Tips for Job Seekers

May 27th, 2016

Your resume is perfectly polished and proofread. Your cover letter gives a solid introduction while highlighting your strengths. You’ve practice for your job interview and are ready to go.

You’re not done yet.May 2

All of these elements are essential to a successful job search, so you are most definitely doing the right things. But, there is one important aspect of your job search you might be neglecting: Your social media presence.   

By now, you realize that social media offers more than a great place to share pictures and news with your family and friends. It’s also a powerful tool for networking and searching for jobs. But just as social media offers excellent opportunities for you to enhance your job search, it also presents an excellent opportunity for recruiters to learn more about YOU.

So what are they learning?

The information recruiters find on your social media profiles could help you land (or not land) an interview or even help you get the job. The only way to ensure it helps your job search instead of hinders it is to follow some best practices. Consider these quick top 10 social media tips for job seekers your “cheat sheet” to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward:

  1. Check your privacy settings. Social media sites like Facebook will almost always be about family and friends first, but that doesn’t mean recruiters aren’t researching you there. The best way to keep your personal life personal is to constantly check and update your privacy settings – especially on Facebook, where privacy settings can sometimes change frequently. They’re also not a “set it and forget it” -type element. Since Facebook is updating their policies frequently, you may be leaving personal posts and images open to the public after an update. A good rule of thumb is to check them about once a month.
  2. Be consistent. You may have forgotten about that old Twitter account, but you can bet recruiters are finding it when they search online for your name. If your image and bio are outdated on one profile, it could give recruiters the wrong impression. Ensure your profiles tell a complete, consistent story.
  3. Use a great photo. Your profile photos don’t have to be stuffy head shots (even on professional sites like LinkedIn), but they should present you in a personable, professional light. Avoid pictures with family or friends (especially the “cropped out” friend who is half visible), and keeping #2 in mind, try to use the same picture on all your social profiles.
  4. Complete your profiles. This is especially important on LinkedIn. If there’s a section for information about you – complete it! The more complete your profile, the better the impression you’ll make on recruiters. Added bonus: Profiles with more information tend to perform better in searches, so recruiters may end up finding and calling you about a job because they found you on LinkedIn!
  5. Show some balance. Online recommendations or endorsements can add real value, but be sure to focus on quality rather than quantity. Most recruiters would rather see a handful of thoughtful LinkedIn recommendations over a dozen “5-star reviews” without any details.
  6. Post content. A good-looking, complete profile is one thing, but to really make a good impression online, try to share relevant content. When your privacy settings permit (often on Twitter and LinkedIn, not Facebook), share articles from well-known and respected publications (Inc., Entrepreneur and Success are a good place to start) to show recruiters that you not only understand social media, but are active there. More importantly, you’ll also demonstrate some business savvy and will actually provide value for not only recruiters, but all of your connections.
  7. Stay positive. Recruiters can review your social media profiles at any time during the hiring process – it can often be your only chance at a first impression! Avoid positing negative content to ensure you’re making a strong impression and are presenting yourself as someone a recruiter would want to talk to during an interview. This also includes discussing past employers – it is never appropriate to post or speak negatively about any past colleagues or employers. Always stay positive on social media (and during job interviews).
  8. Get connected. Once you’ve set up strong social media profiles (or have updated your current profiles), be sure to build your connections. This is especially powerful on LinkedIn (and sometimes on Twitter). It is perfectly acceptable to send a request to connect to recruiters on LinkedIn.
  9. Be personal.  While connecting with recruiters is a valuable tool in your social media arsenal, there’s one thing to keep in mind: Standing out means getting personal. Specifically, be sure to include a personal note with your request to connect (not the standard invitation text auto populated by LinkedIn). Most people do not take this extra step, so you’ll not only make a great impression, you’ll really stand out.
  10. Ask for feedback. The best way to know how a recruiter views your social media profiles is to ask one! Our recruiters can help you assess and improve your resume, cover letter and your social media profiles to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Building a social media presence that helps your job search isn’t difficult, but you’ll have to follow through on these steps to maximize your efforts. Here at Helpmates, we help job seekers from across Southern California to find their next job or take their careers to the next level. Search our current job openings or contact a recruiter today to learn more.

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