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

Is Reference Checking Obsolete?

November 20th, 2013

While social media has seemingly made reference checking obsolete, many organizations still regularly perform this once-critical step in the hiring process. But should you?

The truth about reference checking.


Many companies still ask for references, but they might not be conducting real reference checks. Some companies use them simply to verify employment. Others ask for references as a sort of protocol or natural step in the process, without following up on them. But those companies are missing out on a valuable hiring tool.

Reference checking can still be incredibly useful to hiring managers. Its value lies in the fact that:

  • It offers additional insights. In today’s job market, candidates are extremely prepared for the online searches hiring managers conduct. So much so, that they often prepare a well crafted social media and online presence. While this can definitely give you great insight into a candidate’s professionalism and communication skills, reference checks can offer additional insight into how a candidate performs on the job, or about specific personality traits you wouldn’t gather from a well-crafted online presence.
  • It can protect you. While social media offers great opportunity for research on candidates, it also comes with potential liability concerns over protected information. While reference checking isn’t without it’s own liability concerns, it still offers a formal process for gathering specific information, versus social media – where you could inadvertently be exposed to protected information that could compromise your hiring decisions. (Hint: Get more information on protected data and its impact on the hiring process here).
  • It can help differentiate. Some employers may look at reference checking as a validation step – the last step in the process before making a hire. This outlook can cause you to miss out on incredibly helpful data sources in the hiring process. The right questions and insights can help you differentiate between candidates and benchmark skills against job descriptions.

Reference checking can be an incredibly helpful tool in the hiring process – but it has to be done correctly for the best results (and for liability protection). Here at Helpmates, we conduct professional reference checks that offer you the insights you need with our experienced, professional recruiting staff. Contact us today to learn more about our extensive staffing services for Southern California.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Danilo Rizzuti

Hot Jobs: Call Center Professionals

October 30th, 2013

An Introduction

The call center industry has been growing consistently across the world over the past decade, and with growth expected to continue well into the next decade, call center professionals are in demand with employers across Southern California. With this increased demand, employers are struggling to identify and hire the most experienced candidates. Your resume offers an opportunity to demonstrate your value to employers within this competitive market.

Get Your Resume in Shapecall center jobs

Depending on your area of specialty, your call center career background may fall into a range of categories, including: customer service, technical support and sales. But to stand out in the current call center job market, you’ll need a resume that effectively “sells” you to employers. These tips can help:

  • Focus on numbers. For most call center jobs, numbers are critical. Whether its call duration, sales percentages or call resolutions, your previous call center jobs have likely focused on achieving specific numbers. Showcase your specific accomplishments on your resume – using those concrete numbers wherever possible. All businesses speak the language of efficiency and accomplishments, so be sure to make them a focal point of your resume.
  • Avoid a task list. Most call center jobs feature the same primary tasks. Potential employers can tell what your day-to-day life was at a previous job simply by looking at the title – don’t waste valuable resume space by rehashing daily tasks. Once exception to this rule is to include specialty software or technologies you may have used or are familiar with. You can include this information within each position, or in a separate section. But eliminate tasks and other “fluff” that can dilute the effectiveness of your resume.
  • Keep it brief. On average, recruiters spend five to seven seconds looking at your resume before determining if they want to move forward with you in the hiring process. The first two bullet points will help make your resume more impactful (numbers especially pop to recruiters), but the final tip to help make your call center resume more effective is to keep it brief. Your resume should rarely be longer than one page, and you should avoid long paragraphs or especially long bulleted lists.

What To Do Next

Here at Helpmates, we match experienced call center professionals with employers across Southern California. Our experienced team can help you hone your resume and prepare for interviews for leading call center jobs that will help you reach your career goals. Contact us to get started.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/stockimages


The Importance of Succession Planning For Your Business

October 4th, 2013

When it comes to long-term planning for your business, regardless of its size, succession planning should be a key part of the process. Key benefits of succession planning include:

  •  Time and cost savings. If your top employees suddenly left tomorrow, your organization could lose valuable time and resources while scouring for replacements. Succession planning can reduce the burden of sudden departures.
  • Identify areas for improvement. Taking an objective look at your organization during succession planning can help you identify any strengths and weaknesses in your business.
  • Helps HR be more proactive. Rather than hiring or responding to management reactively, succession planning allows HR to be more proactive, making your company a better place to work.

While succession planning is integral for every organization, there are some best practices to keep in mind so that your investment is maximized:Succession Planning

  1. Evaluate everyone. Yes, everyone. When it comes to the long-term stability and success of your business, strong leadership is imperative. Today’s mail clerk could be tomorrow’s CEO.
  2. Look beyond CEO.  Succession planning is critical for all key roles within an organization. While you’re looking at all of those employees we mentioned above, be sure to consider their best potential roles. To determine which roles need succession planning, ask yourself this question: “If [blank] left tomorrow, what would we do?”
  3. Think about mentoring. Extensive preparation is needed by all successful leaders. Once you’ve identified successors, it’s imperative you give them the preparation they need to succeed once their opportunity comes.
  4. Identify talent needs. When it comes to succession planning, a strong talent pipeline is critical. Now’s the time to assess your talent and identify any current or potential future gaps that could hinder your succession planning.

Taking the time and resources for succession planning now can mean a much more stable and successful organization in the long term. The team at Helpmates is experienced in talent strategies and assessments. We are here to help businesses across Southern California with their succession and talent investment planning.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/jscreationzs

5 Keys to Successful Onboarding

October 1st, 2013

Is onboarding a high-focus part of your hiring process? It should be! In addition to having a dramatic effect on job performance and satisfaction for new employees, onboarding is also an important team-building tool for your current employees. Put simply, onboarding is a relatively cost-effective tool for employee retention – one that you shouldn’t ignore.

Developing a successful onboarding plan.

If you’re struggling to understand where to start when it comes to your onboarding plan, here are five tips to help you get the ball rolling:Onboarding

  1. Set a formal plan. Regardless of size, all businesses should have a formal onboarding plan for new employees. This ensures all employees have the same experience and are equally prepared for success in their new positions. This can be as simple as a Word document saved on your team hard drive, or it can involve a full orientation and engaging process. The call is yours – just be sure to formalize and document it.
  2. Be prepared. You expect your new employees to come to work prepared; be sure to offer them the same courtesy. This includes things that seem simple but can often be forgotten like, a functional desk chair, office supplies, a working computer and computer login(s), among other things. Designate one or more employees to be in charge of new employee setup, and ensure everything has been completed at least one business day before new employees are scheduled to begin.
  3. Make introductions. This may be a challenge for larger businesses, but be sure to introduce new employees to their co-workers as close as you can to the beginning of the day. From receptionists to the CEO, new employees should feel welcomed by the entire team, or at least their immediate team and key personnel. While new employees won’t remember everyone’s name right away, introductions can immediately set new employees at ease and make recollection easier.
  4. Set immediate, measurable goals. Starting a new job is overwhelming to most people, but it can feel a bit less stressful when employees have concrete goals they can work toward from Day 1. Determine these goals before employees have begun, and communicate them as early as possible. Then, provide regular feedback so that employees can make adjustments where necessary (and can hear regular praise from the earliest days of their employment).
  5. Keep in touch. Direct managers should schedule regular meetings with new employees to answer any questions or address any concerns that should arise. This can also save managers time by setting expectations for when non-priority questions arise. Rather than a constant barrage of emails and phone calls, employees and managers can prepare notes for regular meetings.

With the right preparation and execution, onboarding can make a big impact on your performance and retention. If you’re looking for ways to maximize your talent investment, contact Helpmates. Our range of staffing services help businesses across Southern California reach their goals through human capital.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/David Castillo Dominici

Conduct More Effective Job Interviews

September 20th, 2013

Interviewing can be hard. For HR professionals and recruiters, it can be a challenge, but for managers and other professionals who don’t ordinarily conduct job interviews, it can be terrifying. Yet, effective job interviews are critical for making good hires and retaining top talent.

You can conduct more effective job interviews.

job interviews

Understanding interviewing basics provides you with a solid start, but to conduct truly effective job interviews you need skills beyond the basics. Here are three types of questions to ask that will get you better candidate insights:

  • Behavioral questions. Behavioral questions are gaining in popularity because they offer insights into how employees would act in real-world situations. Working several behavioral questions into your job interviews can help you determine which candidates are more likely to succeed in your real-world working environment.
  • Purpose-based questions. In a world where 80% of employees are unhappy in their jobs, employee retention is a critical problem facing HR departments. One of the most important keys to retention is hiring the right people. Purpose-based questions revolve around “Why” – Why you get up in the morning, what keeps you motivated and drives you throughout the day. Purpose-based questions can help you identify candidates who are aligned with your mission and purpose. Employees who are more likely to be happy working for you – and more likely to stay with you long term.
  • Open-ended questions. Have you ever been in a conversation punctuated by one-word responses? They never really go anywhere, and they certainly aren’t very interesting! In job interviews, yes or no questions offer little to no insight into the candidate. Don’t fall into the trap of asking easy questions.  Instead, focus on open-ended questions that require a candidate to formulate well thought-out responses. These six examples offer a good start.

The talented recruiting professionals at Helpmates have extensive experience conducting job

interviews with a range of professionals. Using these questions and other skills gained during years of experience, our team finds only the most talented and qualified professionals to meet your staffing needs. To learn more, check out our client resources or contact us today.

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Understanding Your Social Job Search

September 17th, 2013

A recent study found that nearly 40% of employers use social media to screen potential job candidates. Potential employers are looking for you on social media, which means two things: 1) If you’re not actively searching for jobs on social media, you’re missing out, and 2) You should be carefully honing your social presence to put your best foot forward for employers.

Social Media Job SearchThose are two of the “cardinal rules” to consider when it comes to your social job search. To ensure your social media accounts aren’t working against you, try following these tips: 

  • Update (and check) your privacy settings. Social privacy settings are there to protect you from unwanted eyes on your personal information, but they can be tricky to maintain. In particular, Facebook frequently updates its privacy settings, and often times your settings are set to their default after the changes are made (often leaving your posts and pictures public until you update them again). Stay diligent about privacy settings and check them frequently.
  • Expect zero privacy. Are you absolutely certain that there aren’t any pictures of you online that are publicly available? Maybe you wrote some online reviews a few years ago for your favorite band? The fact is, whether you have updated your privacy settings or not, employers can still find plenty of information about you to make decisions on your hirability and character.
  • Understand you have (limited) protection from the law. Employers are prohibited from making hiring decisions or discriminating because of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy status, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. However, you are not protected from an employer drawing conclusions regarding, for example, your professionalism or good judgment based on what is publicly available about you online.
  • Take control of your name. If you’re not on all social media sites, you could potentially lose “your name” on those sites. So go into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and About.me and set up basic profiles (using the same professional image for each profile). This prevents confusion if someone else by your name is the first person to show up in a search by recruiters (and also prevents someone with a poor reputation from potentially affecting your job search).

What other tips or tools have you used to enhance your social job search? Here at Helpmates, we work with candidates to put their best foot forward, online and in traditional resumes and job interviews. To find your next career opportunity, search our available jobs in Southern California or contact us today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Pixomar

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