3 Key Areas to Review in Cover Letters

July 23rd, 2014

A few months ago, we talked about key areas recruiters should review in candidate resumes for more efficient screening. But what about cover letters? Has the range of expert advice shared about cover letters over the years rendered them useless during the hiring process?

Cover letters can still be a valuable hiring tool.ID-100123324

Looking at cover letters as an art instead of a science (as many experts have proclaimed over the years) can help you appreciate this tool in a new way. Candidates who put extra effort into a memorable cover letter could very well be the creative problem-solvers your organization is looking for! Plus, spending a few extra seconds on the cover letter can help you determine whether reading the resume is even worth your time.

Be on the lookout for these three keys:

  1. Spelling and grammar. Don’t get ahead of us here, this might not be what you are expecting. Spelling is an area where there is no debate – a misspelled word on resumes is just a bad sign. But when it comes to grammar, you may want to relax a bit. Today’s business language isn’t nearly as formal as it was 20 or even 10 years ago. Take this blog, for example – professionals are speaking more, well, human! So rather than grade candidates on whether they can write a formal letter that sticks to all the formatting suggested by those experts, take a look at how the cover letter is written. Are they speaking to you or at you? Can you feel the candidate’s enthusiasm through the use of language?
  2. The “meat.” One reason many recruiters scan or skip cover letters is that candidates often simply use the cover letter as a summary of their resume. It makes sense to skip it, then – why read a summary of the resume when the resume is right in front you?! Exceptional candidates who can make an impact on your business will use the “meat” of their cover letter to add insight that illuminates the resume or ties together their work history to paint the big picture and offer true perspective on this candidate, his or her career and ultimately, his or her potential within your organization.
  3. The close. The cover letter close seems innocuous enough – “Here’s my contact information and I’d appreciate it if you would schedule an interview.” But it’s also pretty yawn inducing much of the time. Creative candidates with real potential will use the close as an opportunity to further demonstrate their enthusiasm and make you enthusiastic about talking to them! Don’t just scan the close, read it carefully – are you excited about the candidate? Or are you ready to toss the resume altogether?

Knowing what to look for in candidate cover letters can help you be more efficient while screening candidates, and could ultimately help you land your next office superstar. If you’re struggling to find and identify the top talent your organization needs, call Helpmates. We specialize in finding precisely the talent businesses need to reach and exceed their goals.

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Social Media Job Search Tips for Recent Graduates

July 9th, 2014

Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. From connecting with family to even applying for jobs, chances are you read or post to at least one social media site every day. But particularly for recent college graduates, your social media presence can have a profound impact on your ability to land a job. The following list of dos and don’ts can help you identify habits to avoid, and those to embrace as part of your job search:ID-10070641


- Keep your pictures professional. Recruiters will be searching for you on the Internet, including social media. Actually, a simple Google search will likely bring up your social media profiles first. That’s because search engines “crawl” social media posts like they do individual webpages. The more you post to social media, the higher your social profiles will rank for your name. So when your social media profiles come up, be sure that your image is professional. You don’t necessarily need a professional headshot (although that’s a great idea too!), but you should look professional in each picture. Better yet, use the same picture across the board – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (or others) to ensure that you are portraying the right image across all your social channels.

- Stay consistent. If you include past positions or coursework on your Facebook or LinkedIn profiles, ensure that the list remains consistent across all channels. If your social media profiles convey different messages, it could signal a red flag for recruiters and result in someone else getting the job. If you have an excessive amount of personal information on certain social media profiles, take a look at your privacy settings to ensure what’s intended to be private remains private, then ensure all public information about your education and professional history are consistent.


- Use profanity. This may seem like a no-brainer, but internal filters can often be forgotten when sharing information with our friends and family on social media. The problem is that, as mentioned in the first bullet, search engines crawl social media posts, so if you use profanity in a Facebook post, for example, that post could be one of the top Google results for your name! You certainly don’t want recruiters to associate vulgarity with your name, so the best way to avoid this type of result is to avoid saying offensive things on the Internet.

- Connect without a connection. It can be tempting to “friend” or send a LinkedIn request to leaders at businesses you’re interested in, but that strategy can backfire. Facebook is a tool for friends and family – mixing friends and family with networking and your job search could be a recipe for disaster. When it comes to LinkedIn, be sure to establish real connections before sending requests to connect on the social site. Once you’ve met with a recruiter or decision-maker, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a LinkedIn request, but doing so before meeting or making an in-person connection could discredit you and result in you losing out on potential opportunities.

Your social presence can be a boost to your grades and experience when applying for jobs, but you’ll need to follow these tips to ensure you’re putting your best “social” foot forward.  Need help landing a job after graduation? Helpmates works with top employers across Southern California to match them with talented professionals like you. Visit our job board to view our current openings or contact your nearest Helpmates office to take the first step in your career.

While you’re at it, be sure to connect with Helpmates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for more job search and career tips, hot jobs and more!

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/David Castillo

Are Video Job Interviews Right For Your Business?

July 2nd, 2014

With significant advances in technology and portability of communication, video interviewing is gaining traction in recruiting circles. While the technology is intriguing, there are specific factors to consider when debating whether video interviewing is the right fit for your business.VideoInterviewing

We’ve compiled a list of potential benefits and pitfalls of this emerging technology trend:

Positives of Video Job Interviews

  • Flexibility. Sometimes it can be difficult to synchronize schedules for interviews, but video interviewing means travel time is eliminated, allowing for more flexibility that helps both employers and candidates.
  • Potential Cost savings. If you’re considering out-of-town candidates, video interviewing can help you conduct initial screening without the travel costs associated with bringing those candidates in-house.
  • Additional Candidate Insights. Video interviews allow you to see a side of candidates you may not see during in-person job interviews. Quiet, organized surroundings can help identify candidates who are detail oriented. A technically smooth interview may signal a candidate who is tech savvy and can maximize computers or mobile devices – a great boost to any office.

Pitfalls of Video Job Interviews

  • Technological hiccups. Simply put, many offices lack updated computers or video technology to adequately allow for smooth video interviewing. Add in potential problems associated with slow or problematic internet connections, and any convenience associated with video interviews is lost – and then some. That’s only accounting for the potential technical issues in your office – there’s simpy no way of knowing whether candidates have met the technical requirements. Often times, the only way you can find out is when technical issues force you to delay or even cancel an interview.
  •  Poor locations. Conducting video interviews in your office or cubicle can mean major distractions from coworkers talking or playing music, or even just regular office noise – computer microphones pick up everything, and any distractions can be bothersome to you and especially the candidate, leading to a lower quality interview. Poor lighting can also impact video job interviews, making it hard for candidates to see you (or vice versa) and impacting your ability to connect during the interview.
  • Lost insights. Video job interviews can make it difficult to pick up on subtleties like body language that interviewers can gain during in-person job interviews. Body language, eye contact, even a confident voice can be lost due to the impersonal feeling of screens and potential connectivity lags prevent answers from coming through quickly and with the intended tone, volume or emotion.

The quality of job interviews depends on many factors, but conducting quality interviews and finding top talent is essential for any business. The Helpmates team has extensive experience sourcing and interviewing candidates in a range of industries across Southern California. We’ll help you find the talent you need to reach your goals.

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Should You Be Hiring For Skills or Personality? 

June 6th, 2014

Google “hire for skills or personality” and you’ll find more than 12 million resulting pieces of content – many of them recent. It’s a hot topic in hiring today, and it’s one that has the potential to make a big impact on your business. Poor hiring decisions can cost your business mightily – many estimate the cost of a hire at around 150% of that employee’s salary. Can you afford to make a bad hire?

Your business can make better hires.

Here are three things to consider around skills and personality when it comes to your hiring decisions:SkillsPersonality

Every industry (and role) is different. This may seem like a no-brainer, but what works for Richard Branson and Virgin might not work for your industry. In highly technical industries, a specific skillset is likely necessary to comprehend even the basic requirements. Of course, outside of industry, specific roles are also highly variable.

Skills are about more than technical ability. When considering skills during the hiring process it can be easy to laser in on technical skills. But, soft skills are just as important when making a hiring decision. Applying technical skills in human contexts is a critical component of successful employees. Flexibility and communication are some of the most important soft skills that impact performance in a range of roles, but there are others that may be important to your organization. Talk through this with your team first to identify the core soft skills that are critical to success within your organization.

It’s all about balance. A candidate could have the best personality in the world and still not be a culture fit for your organization. Or they could have a ton of skills and have zero personality. Like with all things, good hires are all about balance. Rank the importance of specific skills or experience in order of importance, then take those into consideration during the hiring process. A candidate with great personality and a strong foundation of skills epitomizes what this trendworthy topic is all about, really.

Ultimately, a smart team of recruiters who understands your business and its goals will source, vet and hire the best talent for your organization. Here at Helpmates, that’s what we do best! Contact us today to learn more about our temporary and permanent staffing solutions.

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Keep Workplace Productivity Humming this Summer

May 30th, 2014

Summer vacations offer a great respite for your team (and for you!), but they can also disrupt your company workflow and be a drain on productivity. Summer can mean lengthy vacations and reduced productivity…but it doesn’t have to.

Your team can continue achieving its goals during the summer.HM_SummerProductivity

Here’s how you can keep your team motivated and focused during the summer months:

  • Keep business dress codes. Summer months bring nice weather, and it can be tempting to relax the dress code to accommodate that nice weather. But, looking the “part” during the summer months can help keep your team focused. If employees are wearing outfits they might bring to the beach, then they might not be thinking about work…they’ll be thinking about the beach!
  • Expand the workplace. Your office has wifi, and chances are most of your employees have tablets or laptop computers. When everyone is itching to get outside and enjoy the weather, you can keep them focused on work and let them enjoy the weather by allowing team members to work outside. Today’s office is mobile, so why not expand the workplace for a few months to take advantage?
  • Encourage lunch walks. Research shows that a midday walk can help improve focus and productivity, and the summer months offer a perfect opportunity to get outside and get some fresh air. If you spot employees eating lunch at their desks, encourage them to get outside and take a break. It’ll pay off in the long run.
  • Consider creating “summer” hours. Sixty-six percent of companies with summer schedules say they boost productivity. If it works within your industry, consider changing your work week to four, 10-hour days so that you have more focused, productive employees who can enjoy longer summer weekends. Earlier start times can also boost productivity – if you can let your employees start and leave earlier, they’ll be able to enjoy more gorgeous summer evenings. You’ll also score some goodwill points with your team! Research also shows that employees with summer hours take fewer vacation days, adding to productivity. Plus, employees who know they’re leaving in a few hours are more likely to be especially productive to get things done. It’s a win/win for your employees and your organization.
  • Reset expectations. Perhaps the best way to keep everyone focused is to be realistic about expectations for the summer months. While efficiency and results are obviously imperative to drive business, understanding that your clients and customers are also taking summer vacations means that your priorities and expectations should be re-examined for the summer months.

Implementing even some of these suggestions can make a big impact on your workplace productivity this summer, but sometimes you simply need extra manpower to help your business achieve its goals. Helpmates has the talented temporary workers you need to augment your permanent staff and help you reach your business goals this summer. Contact us to learn more.

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4 Keys For Changing Careers and Breaking Into a New Industry

April 24th, 2014

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track career changes as part of its extensive data, but that doesn’t stop career experts from talking about their prevalence. One common number that you might see is that the average person goes through seven careers in a lifetime.


You may not change careers seven times in your life, but the reality is that many of us will change careers at least once. Taking the leap and jumping into a new field can be both intimidating and stressful – and landing a job in your new field can be particularly challenging in today’s job market. One of the biggest challenges associated with changing careers is convincing recruiters that you are serious about your move, and aren’t simply “dabbling” in a change. Reduce the challenge and set yourself up for success in your new career with these four keys for changing careers and breaking into a new industry: 

  1. Constantly look for education opportunities. Many colleges offer certificate programs in new fields of study, and they often take significantly less time to complete than a full bachelor’s or master’s degree. You’ll be taking high-level courses with industry experts, and you’ll simultaneously be expanding your network within your new field. Experts often also speak at civic events and local libraries, sharing industry knowledge and insights – be sure to read local business publications and blogs to see what relevant speakers will be speaking in your area. Then, be sure to attend, take notes and ask questions!
  2. Get out and volunteer. Depending on your specific town, there are dozens to hundreds (or more) of nonprofit organizations in dire need of volunteers. Volunteer positions offer an incredible opportunity to gain real world, on-the-job experience, plus, board members and other volunteers are typically experienced professionals in their fields. The results you generate during your volunteer opportunity are also prime opportunities to impress potential employers! You typically won’t be paid for volunteer work, but you’ll be gaining experience and generating real results – items that boost your resume and increase your hireability when meeting with potential employers.
  3. Start writing. Once you’ve started learning more about your new field and gaining experience through volunteer work, write about what you’re doing and learning. Recruiters will do an internet search for information about you once they’ve received your resume. What will recruiters find about you? You’re working hard to gain knowledge and experience in your new field – writing about it ensures recruiters will find information that demonstrates knowledge in your new field and positions you as someone with experience and savvy. Sites like Tumblr and WordPress offer free and easy-to-use tools for posting blogs – sign up and start writing about your new career.
  4. Get involved with networking groups (local and online). In just about any career blog you’ll see tips about networking. It really is critical in any job search, but it’s particularly important when you’re changing careers. Most local papers list business networking meeting times and locations, and you can also search meetup.com for a list of networking groups in your area.  Get out there, talk to people, meet people in your and other fields, and ask them questions. Ask about how they got into their role, what it takes to succeed in their fields, and what advice they might give someone making a career transition. Fortify those relationships by connecting on LinkedIn, then join relevant LinkedIn groups (and groups relevant to your new area of specialty) to see what advice and topics people in similar situations are discussing. You’ll not only gain critical insight into how to make a career change, you’ll keep building that network of contacts. The value in an expanded professional network is incredible!

The last way to help land a job in your new industry? Partner with a staffing firm! Here at Helpmates, we work with some of the top employers in Southern California. We help professionals like you reach their career goals every day. Search our currently available jobs in Southern California or contact us directly to take the next step in your career.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles

4 Key Areas to Review in Candidate Resumes

March 28th, 2014

Hiring candidates can be stressful for organizations. It can be incredibly time consuming, and the number of resumes submitted for each position can go well into the hundreds. So how do you maximize your time while ensuring you identify the best candidates for the job?

Get critical information from these 4 key resume areas


Research shows that recruiters spend six seconds, on average, looking at resumes. Makes sense – you’re busy, and have a lot of resumes to get through! Get the most out of those six seconds by scanning these four key areas on all resumes:

  1. Look and feel. There are reasons that recruiters don’t spend hours reading every resume that comes around. One reason is that there simply isn’t enough time in the day to review hundreds of resumes for a single open position (and that’s a good reason!). Another reason is that weeding out unsuitable resumes can be fairly quick sometimes. Using your instincts can help you identify candidates who merit further discussion or review. At first glance, are the candidate’s name and contact information easy to find? Is the resume a mess, or is it well-formatted and easy to read? Are there obvious spelling and grammar mistakes? The first glance at a resume is often the most critical. Using your instincts can be a big time saver.
  2. Summary. There’s a lot of good advice out there that recommends candidates summarize their skills at the top of their resumes. Attentive candidates will take that advice, so your eyes should head to the top of the page to immediately read a summary or skills overview. Are key skills for your position listed? Is the paragraph well-written and thought out?
  3. Numbers and percentages. The common “task list” resume is seen quite a bit, but it offers little insight into how candidates will perform on the job. Maximize your time reviewing resumes by scanning for numbers and percentages. Candidates who include details about their accomplishments, especially those who quantify them, tend to have a better grasp on what they can offer your organization. Put simply, these candidates are more likely to be superstars – they’ve had significant accomplishments before, and they’re happy to tell you about them. Keeping an eye out for those numbers can help you identify potential superstars much more quickly.
  4. Education and extracurricular details. While some positions may not require a specific degree, skipping over the education section of a resume could mean missing out on some valuable candidate insights. Specific schools can offer a look at the potential workload or challenge presented to students, while GPA is a solid indicator of work ethic and past performance. Slightly less obvious, though, are insights gleaned from areas of study. While many HR professionals may gloss over degrees in the arts, an English education could offer insight into a candidate’s communication and organizational skills, while an art history degree could signal potential success in a position requiring a degree of creativity.  And don’t overlook information about a background in athletics or participation in service organizations; both can point to experience with time management, leadership and team dynamics.

Six seconds isn’t a lot of time to spend on a resume, and the talent you choose can have a critical impact on the long-term success of your organization. These tips will help you identify key areas on candidate resumes, but if you’re still stressed by the cost- and time-investment that comes with recruiting, call Helpmates. Our staffing and recruiting solutions help match incredible talent with top organizations across Southern California.  Let us do the work for you!

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Helpmates is Named to Inavero’s “Best of Staffing” List for the 6th Year in a Row!

March 3rd, 2014

For the sixth straight year, Helpmates is proud to announce it has been named to Inavero’s “Best of Staffing” list. This annual list recognizes those staffing services that truly deliver exceptional service to their clients and specialists.

We are extremely proud that our clients and talented specialists and direct hire professionals have helped to recognize us with this distinction! Inavero

While staffing industry veterans may recognize the mark of Inavero’s “Best of Staffing” lists, here’s a helpful breakdown of Inavero and their annual lists:

  • Inavero’s “Best of Staffing” award provides the only statistically valid and objective service quality benchmarks in the staffing industry
  • Although the staffing industry’s scores are trending downward as a whole, Helpmates achieved scores significantly higher than the industry averages
  • Less than 2% of all staffing services in North America receive the “Best of Staffing” award for service excellence
  • Helpmates is rare among the “Best of Staffing” client winners – earning the 2014 Best of Staffing Diamond Award for outstanding service over five consecutive years (this is our sixth!)

We are immensely proud of our team for continuing to raise the bar for our clients and specialists, and for their incredible commitment to providing the most exceptional service possible.

Most of all, thanks to our valued clients and talented specialists across Southern California for their continued partnerships with Helpmates! We are proud to help you reach your business and career goals!

4 Tips to Help You Conduct Useful Performance Reviews in 2014

February 27th, 2014

For many professionals, annual performance reviews are something to dread. Often times, supervisors look at them as more paperwork, and employees feel like they’re going to the principal’s office again in school. Even research shows that most employees hate them.image

Performance reviews can offer real value to your organization.

When completed (and presented) effectively, performance reviews can be an excellent talent management tool. In fact just a few months ago, we mentioned in our blog that keeping your team informed is key to employee retention! Performance reviews are just one way to keep your team in the loop. Take these 4 tips into consideration, and you just might find you dread those performance reviews a little less this year:

  1. Ask your employees to chime in. Prior to completing the actual evaluation, ask your team for input in what they’d like to see covered during the review. You might find that the process becomes a bit easier, knowing that your employees have expectations for what will be covered. This can also help quell any fears of overly negative feedback that may come from performance reviews (even the best employees get a little nervous, sometimes).
  2. Pay attention to the details. Some companies tie performance reviews to salary or bonuses, but even if yours aren’t tied to salary, it’s important to focus on the details. An attention to detail here shows that you’re engaged in your employees’ careers, that you understand their roles and their day-to-day experiences with your company. When you deliver feedback or share observations, don’t use vague statements or general observations – give examples of great (or not so great) performance, and offer specific suggestions or direction to encourage them or help them get in the right direction.
  3. Offer concrete steps. Nothing’s worse for an employee than getting feedback (positive or negative) and…that’s it. Your performance review meeting should always end with tangible next steps – employees should leave with a clear understanding of what’s expected from them and how to achieve their goals. This may mean a little more work up front for you, but it will lead to more engaged employees and actual results from this yearly task.
  4. Follow up. One of the worst things you can do after completing your performance reviews is to wait until next year to see what happened. Following up on reviews demonstrates to your employees that you’re committed to helping them reach their goals, and that performance reviews are a part of the process, not just a “necessary evil.” Quarterly meetings to assess progress toward goals can help keep the process on your calendar. Weekly one-on-one meetings are even better. Staying in touch with your team can help head off potential problems before they sneak up on you.

Change your approach and attitude toward performance reviews, and they’ll quickly become another tool in your HR arsenal. When it comes to finding (and retaining) top talent, every tool can make a big impact. At Helpmates, we provide staffing services to employers across Southern California to help them maximize their talent investment. Give us a call with your talent acquisition questions – we can help!

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/imagerymajestic

How Temp-to-Hire Can Supercharge your Talent Investment

January 22nd, 2014

Are you struggling to get the most from your talent investment? Temporary-to-hire staffing, or “temp-to-hire” is a talent management option that offers unique business benefits. Still, while many companies are familiar with temporary or contract workers, the notion of “temporary-to-hire” might sound a bit confusing.

Temp-to-Hire: An IntroductionID-10022368

To break it down simply, temp-to-hire employees are brought on for the duration of a predetermined contract (the “temp” part of the equation). At the end of the contract, the employer may decide to hire that employee permanently, or to simply let the contract expire. In a way, you could also call temp-to-hire, temp+! Businesses get the benefits of temporary employees, with the capacity for full-time hires.

But why is temp-to-hire the right choice for your business? Here are four key benefits:

  1. Opportunity – Sometimes you aren’t sure what skills or personality traits you’re looking for in a hire until you see that person on the job. Temporary-to-hire gives employers an opportunity to try out an employee before deciding whether a full-time hire is the best choice. If you decide that the candidate isn’t the best person for the permanent job, the employee simply moves on to another position after the contract has expired.
  2. Cost Savings - When an HR department is directed to fill a permanent position, HR employees can spend dozens (if not hundreds) of hours posting job ads, reading resumes and interviewing candidates. Once a hire is made, the cost of onboarding and training can also add up. So what happens if that person ends up being a bad hire? Lost hours of productivity, and more importantly -  a significant hit to your budget. Sourcing and interviewing of temporary-to-hire candidates is typically handled by your staffing partner, freeing you to focus on your business goals while assessing your temp-to-hire candidate.
  3. Planning - Managing your talent to workflow can be a challenge, but it’s critical to reaching your short- and long-term goals. Temp-to-hire staffing allows you to assess whether a permanent new hire is necessary for your business to maximize its talent investment and reach productivity goals.
  4. Flexibility - With temp-to-hire, your organization has the ultimate flexibility to have needed resources on hand while finalizing budgets for the year, or when waiting to see how any legislative changes will affect personnel budgets. Should you decide that full-time hires are the right choice for your organization, simply choose to bring those employees on board permanently after the contract expires. 

While temporary-to-hire employees may no longer be a mystery, you might still have questions about how they can help you maximize your talent investment. We’re here to help! Give us a call here at Helpmates. We specialize in helping businesses like yours maximize their talent investment through strategic staffing.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/jscreationzs

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