Confidence is Key – How to Impress in Job Interviews

March 24th, 2015

A few months ago, we talked about the importance of confidence in making a positive first impression with employers. But finding and exuding confidence can be a challenge in and of itself.

Showcase your skills and impress hiring managers by being confident.HM

If nerves are getting in the way of properly conveying confidence during your interviews, check out these tips. Doing your homework ahead of time can help quell nerves and help you put your best foot forward!

  • Show that you’ve done your research. Today’s employers want engaged employees who demonstrate they are invested in the company and its success. We always recommend candidates prepare for interviews by researching the position and company – it’s up to you to show that you’ve prepared! Prepare thoughtful questions that lead with something similar to “While researching your company, I noticed that [blank]” and you’ll not only demonstrate that you’ve done your research, you’ll impress interviewers by showing a genuine interest in their companies.
  • Pay attention to your body language. The old standards really come into play here – if you’re constantly looking down or mumbling, you are far from exuding confidence in an interview. Here’s a great list of body language mistakes to avoid from Forbes. One of the best ways to avoid body language mistakes and really exude confidence during your job interviews is to practice. Ask a friend or family member to act as the interviewer, and run through practice interview questions, working to avoid body language mistakes while providing thoughtful, positive responses.
  • Repeat back names as you meet new people. People like to hear their names – it makes them feel more positively toward you, and it can also make it feel like you “fit right in” despite meeting the employer for the first time. Plus, repeating back names can send a subliminal message that you intend to meet and speak with that person again. Listen carefully when introduced to any person at a prospective employer, then repeat that name back during introductions. Body language also plays a factor here – look someone in the eye, extend a firm handshake, and add a genuine, “Nice to meet you, [NAME].”
  • Practice what you want to say. There’s no way to know exactly what an interviewer will ask you during a job interview, but you can certainly have an idea of key points you’d like to make during job interviews. Prepare those responses and practice them ahead of time to sound cool and confident. The more you’ve said certain responses out loud, the more natural they’ll feel once you’re in an actual interview.
  • Be positive. Whether you’re talking about your skill set or your previous employers, always focus on positives in job interviews. No one likes to be surrounded by negative people – and although you may not mean to, talking about past challenges or mistakes can make you seem like you’re dwelling on the negative. That’s where practicing your responses comes into play – you can always take a positive spin! Work through any potentially negative areas and spin them to focus on the positive.

Doing your homework and being prepared for an interview is the easiest way to be relaxed and confident. Here at Helpmates, we help all our candidates prepare for interviews with Southern California’s top employers. We’ll help you find the right job to reach your goals, then we’ll help ensure you put your best foot forward with hiring managers. Search our available SoCal jobs to take the first step.

Not Getting Anywhere on LinkedIn? Here’s Why!

March 20th, 2015

LinkedIn currently has more than 347 million users - not bad, right? Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second. That means that your past employers, coworkers and clients are likely there – as are your current bosses, peers and clients. Of course, hiring managers are some of the most active on the professional social network site. All of this means that there is incredible opportunity for you to leverage LinkedIn as a potent job search tool.

But are you? hm1

Active LinkedIn users should see benefits within their careers and job searches. If you haven’t seen much result from your LinkedIn efforts, these reasons could be to blame:

  • An unprofessional picture (or none at all). When recruiters visit your LinkedIn profile, they are forming a first impression of you and your suitability for their opportunity. A picture on your LinkedIn profile is imperative – if your profile lacks an image, it can signal to recruiters that you don’t care about the impression you make on them. The right picture should look professional and portray you in a positive light. LinkedIn is not the place for vacation photos or images with your loved ones (we’ve even seen some pets!). Professional headshots are best, but aren’t always the most cost effective. Check out Craigslist for potential photographers – you can often find students or newer photographers looking for opportunities to build their portfolios. Their rates are often far lower than more experienced photographers, but with similar results.
  • Your profile is incomplete. LinkedIn makes it easy for you to complete your profile – you simply click on “edit profile” and click on each section to fill it in. Have a copy of your resume handy and get started…but add more personality and insight to your LinkedIn profile. This is a tremendous opportunity to “sell” yourself to employers. Give more depth and insight into how your skills and background translate to successful results for your employers. Show some personality (while remaining professional) and most importantly – be sure to fill out your entire profile!
  • Spelling or grammar errors. Possibly the oldest (and often considered the most critical) resume advice out there is to triple check it for spelling or grammar errors. As business language becomes slightly more conversational today, grammar errors are less of a concern (barring major mistakes), but there is certainly no excuse for spelling errors on a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is essentially your online resume – a spelling error on your resume will often result in it being tossed into the garbage. An error on LinkedIn can mean getting passed over for your dream job. Once you’ve double checked your resume for errors, ask a friend to look it over as well – someone else can often spot errors you missed.

Of course, the best way to find job search success is to have the most powerful tools and allies on your side. Here at Helpmates, we match talented professionals like you with opportunities at some of Southern California’s top employers. Search our available jobs in SoCal and submit your resume now to take the first step.

Oops! 4 Things You Forgot to Put in Your Resume

February 27th, 2015

Many blogs and online resources are focused on helping you create the perfect resume to entice employers and show off your skills. And with good reason – your resume is a critical component of a successful job search. Without it, it is unlikely you’ll land an interview and proceed through the hiring process.

Creating an impactful resume is key to a successful job searchUntitled

There are so many details to remember when it comes to resumes: Formatting, contact information, focusing on achievements…it can be hard to keep track of them all. But forget something important, and your resume could end up in the trash bin. Here are three things you shouldn’t forget on your resume:

  • Your website address. Do you have a personal blog or website? Particularly in technical or creative roles, personal websites can be a fantastic job search tool. They offer a unique opportunity to not just talk about your skills, but to actually show employers your work. Outside of technical roles, personal websites offer a great opportunity to showcase your industry knowledge and communication skills. Free websites can be set up on sites like wordpress.com. Be sure to include a link to your website with your contact information on your resume so employers know it’s a critical piece of your portfolio.  And, of course, be sure that the content of your website reflects work and information that you would want a future employer to see!
  • Social media links. This might initially sound incorrect, but it is not a mistake – including links to your professional social media profiles can be a great way to ensure recruiters get the full picture of who you are as a professional and what you bring to the table. In particular, your LinkedIn URL is valuable here. If you have a Twitter account, it can also be a good choice. Personal tweets are acceptable, as long as you also include some professional or relevant tweets (and you avoid profane or inflammatory language that could turn off potential employers).
  • Volunteer work. Employers want to understand your entire professional picture – what you bring to the table. If you’re active in non-profit work, this can be a tremendous asset to employers, and a great way to showcase your differentiators in a resume. In particular, volunteer work that boosts your skills relevant to your position and job title are especially interesting to employers. This is also a great area in which to demonstrate skills you have that might not be directly relevant to the job for which you are applying—you never know what other positions or future opportunities might exist and this will give recruiters and hiring managers a more complete picture of what you have to offer!
  • Achievements/Certifications. You’ve done great work – showing it off on your resume is essential. Whether you were named “Employee of the Month” or “Best Teammate” at a past employer, or you received community recognition for volunteer work, your accomplishments should be a featured part of your resume. These not only help paint that full picture mentioned above, but they show you’re a winner – someone who goes above and beyond to reach goals. Certifications also help demonstrate this key facet of a successful employee. When a professional goes above and beyond to become especially proficient in a particular field, this action shows employers the desire and ability to go above and beyond in the workplace.

Work these four things into your resume, and it will be an even stronger tool in your job search arsenal. And if you’re looking for jobs in Southern California, check out our job board. The recruiters at Helpmates will review your resume, make recommendations and match you with tremendous career opportunities with some of the region’s top employers. Be sure to send us your resume today and we’ll be in touch!

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4 Ways to Show Enthusiasm in Job Interviews

February 20th, 2015

When you land a job interview after carefully preparing your resume and cover letter, it can feel like you’re so close to the finish line. Yet it can be extremely disappointing and frustrating when you learned you didn’t get the job.

Why didn’t you get the job?Untitled

Of course, there can be any number of reasons why another candidate was chosen. Maybe that candidate is a better cultural fit, or they had a stronger professional background. Or maybe they were just more enthusiastic.

Being enthusiastic about a company and career opportunity can help land you the job.

Genuine enthusiasm about employers and their career opportunities can inspire employers to choose you over another candidate. Over the past few years, publications like Forbes and CNN have cited enthusiasm as a key for employers choosing candidates.

Enthusiasm is a critical component of reaching your career goals. Here’s how you can properly convey enthusiasm in your next interview to land a job:

  • Ask for the job. It sounds ridiculously simple, but one of the easiest ways to demonstrate your enthusiasm is to come right out and ask for the job. Or at the very least, tell the interviewer that you are excited and interested in the company and job.
  • Say everyone’s names. This is a small touch that makes a big difference. When you take the time to repeat and say people’s names – everyone from the receptionist to your interviewer, it demonstrates your interest in more than simply a 30-minute interview. To the employer, it can actually send the message that you’re already a part of the team! In addition, it’s simply a nice way to show that you’re interested in people and respect them.
  • Project the right body language. Body language can send many unspoken messages to employers during your interview – some good and some bad. It’s important to be aware of your nonverbal language throughout the interview to ensure it accurately conveys your enthusiasm for the job. Simple things like making eye contact, smiling, and nodding are key. Turning your shoulders so you’re facing the interviewer can also help project the right message.
  • Send a thank you note. This may technically be after job interviews, but thank you notes are still a critical part of the process. After you’ve perfected your interview questions and demonstrated your enthusiasm during the actual job interview, solidify the message by sending a thank you note to your interviewer(s). Choose one key discussion point from the interview and hammer it home here – this is your last chance to “sell” them on you for the job!

Genuine enthusiasm can help you stand out from the competition and land your next job. If you’re searching for jobs in Southern California, be sure to check out the Helpmates job board. We work with top employers across the area, and we’ll help you stand out from the pack!

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Ambro

How to Keep Your Business Humming During the Cold and Flu Season

February 16th, 2015

It comes every year, and yet everyone seems to be surprised when it’s upon us. Yes, we are fully entrenched in cold and flu season. Sick employees are a reality for just about every business, but they don’t have to sap your productivity.

Avoid productivity lapses during cold and flu season Untitled

Of course, the health and well being of your employees is most important, but running a business still requires productivity. Here are critical steps to prevent flu season from negatively affecting your productivity this year:

  • Be a “model” sick employee. We all catch a cold from time to time, but coming into work sick just about guarantees your sniffles will spread like wildfire among employees. You don’t want sick employees coming to work and spreading germs, so be a model sick employee (and leader) – stay home when you’re ill. If you come to work sick, you’re sending a message to your employees — whether you intend to your not — that they should come to work sick. Thus, preparing the office for a rampant spread of germs. So do yourself (no one is at their best while sick, and you should get some rest anyway) and your staff a favor and set the example – stay home from work when you’re sick.
  • Plan for fewer staff – then do something about it. It bears repeating – getting sick is pretty inevitable this time of year. So plan ahead for some increased absences. This small step will ensure you avoid unreal expectations or productivity goals during the season. This can also help with employee morale – if your goals are astronomical and you have a rash of sick days that mean your team falls short, no one will feel good about it (and some people might even still be sick – yuck!). Set realistic goals that expect people to miss work for sick days. And to meet your goals despite the obstacle of sick days, augment your staff with temporary help by calling a staffing firm (like Helpmates). We can provide critical staff to help you meet your goals throughout this crazy season.  
  • Consider investing in updated technology. Surfaces can foster germs for days (weeks, in some cases). And in places like restrooms or kitchens, many employees are frequently touching things like handles and faucets. Hands-free options are available for frequently contaminated surfaces like sinks, toilets, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers and hand dryers.
  • Provide germ-reducing products. In addition to updated appliances, using disinfectant spray (like Lysol) on commonly used devices like printers or copy machines can also be a big help. Another low-cost investment that can reduce sick days is a simple one – purchase hand sanitizer and distribute to your employees, place in restrooms, meeting rooms and other areas where people both congregate and frequently touch surfaces.

The cold and flu season can make you feel pretty miserable for a few days, but taking these few steps can make a big impact on your productivity. And if you need temporary help to keep your office humming, give us a call.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/stockimages

How to Foster a Corporate Culture of Learning

February 13th, 2015

The opportunity for continued education is a critical factor in employee engagement and retention. Not only are the opportunities themselves critical, but fostering an environment that supports learning as a critical component of career (and business) success is also important. Authenticity and a genuine passion for fueling your employees’ desire to grow and learn will help make your efforts more successful, and will give you a greater return on your investment.

But where do you start? 

Demonstrating your commitment to a culture of learning.

To convey authenticity and create a genuine culture of learning within your organization, consider taking these steps:HM Blog 1

  • Put someone in charge. It happens all too often – someone has a great idea and members of the team get excited about it. But then…what? Sometimes, great ideas fall by the wayside. It’s not because they weren’t great ideas or people weren’t excited about them – it’s often because no one was in charge of getting them done. Once your organization has determined it is committed to creating a learning environment, put someone in charge of instituting changes and increasing opportunities. This doesn’t have to be a full-time role, or even one person, but delegating a person or team to getting it done ensures that your commitment is fulfilled, and real opportunities become an actionable commitment for your organization.
  • Get everyone involved. Employees at every level can benefit from a culture of learning. From customer service reps to sales professionals and even executives – everyone should get involved. When every member and level of your team is excited about learning opportunities, your entire organization benefits.
  • Offer different ways to take advantage. Particularly in today’s e-society, there are more ways than ever to learn. From books and eBooks to webinars and eCourses, give your employees a range of choices to continue their learning. Each employee may respond differently to various media, so offering a range of opportunities ensures no one feels left out.
  • Don’t forget to be hands-on. While eLearning is making career advancement and increased knowledge easier and more accessible than ever, try not to forget the human element. Bring in a speaker to deliver a seminar to your sales team. Encourage cross training, so that members of your staff can show off their skills and help others learn while presenting at a ‘lunch and learn’. Tapping into multiple resources and encouraging team participation while embracing the human element offers meaningful opportunity.

Today’s most successful professionals crave knowledge to help them become more proficient in their careers. Foster a culture of learning, and you’ll not only engage and retain your current employees, you’ll become a magnet for truly exceptional talent. And if you’re looking for exceptional talent, Helpmates can deliver. Our extensive network of professionals across Southern California is ready to jump in and make an immediate impact on your business.

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How to Find “Unadvertised” Job Postings in Your Job Search

October 31st, 2014

Do you ever feel frustrated when you don’t receive a response after submitting your resume?  Here could be a big reason why: Companies that post jobs in a newspaper or with online job boards often report receiving hundreds if not thousands of resumes. It can be hard to stand out among thousands! Finding elusive “unadvertised” job postings could be key to avoiding the competition and landing your next career opportunity.

The best way to stand out from the competition

There are many great job opportunities that aren’t posted on traditional online job boards. Here’s how you can find them:

  • Leverage your network. As we’ve discussed here in the blog, networking is a key component ofHM_BlogImage2_1014 a successful job search (and career). After cultivating strong relationships, it’s time to utilize them. Invite contacts to lunch or coffee and tell them about your job aspirations, or for online connections, send a quick LinkedIn note asking how things are going for them, then share your own job search situation. Staying in touch with your network and sharing your current job search situation is a great way to learn about positions that aren’t posted on job boards.
  • Partner with a staffing firm. We may be slightly biased, but the best way to gain access to jobs that aren’t posted publicly is by partnering with a staffing firm. Companies trust staffing firms like Helpmates to find them the very best and most qualified candidates for their job openings. We save them time by finding great professionals (like you!), which means they share exciting career opportunities with us, without ever posting them publicly. Plus, we’ll help you fine tune things like your cover letter and resume to stand out and increase your chances of landing the job – a staffing firm (like Helpmates) can be a tremendous asset in your job search and career!
  • Read. Sometimes jobs aren’t posted on sites like Monster or Careerbuilder, but there are ways to determine when companies are hiring. One area to keep an eye on is a corporate blog (like this one!). Some companies share news or even specific openings on their blog (as a bonus, reading corporate blogs can help you stay informed on company news – which can be a big help during interviews). Local trade journals and newspapers can also give tremendous insight. News of expansions or promotions (which often indicate another position that now needs an employee) can be indicators of new positions becoming available. If you read about an expansion or promotion in a trade journal, head to the company website to see if a job is posted there, or better yet – remember the first bullet and see if anyone in your network (this is especially easy when you’re well connected on LinkedIn) is part of the organization, or can introduce you to someone there.

Here at Helpmates, we help professionals like you find exciting job opportunities every day. Search our available jobs or contact us to find out how we can help you reach your career goals.

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How to Make a Good First Impression in Your Job Interview

October 27th, 2014

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. When it comes to your job search, that first impression is especially critical.

Stand out for the right reasons in your next job interview

From the moment you walk through the door, you’re making an impression on potential employers. These tips will help ensure it’s a good one:HM_10142

  • Arrive on time. This seems like a no-brainer, but arriving on time — actually, about five
    minutes early — is the biggest way to make a good first impression. Be sure to map out your directions ahead of time, and if you’re really concerned about a punctual arrival, actually visit the employer’s office a few days before your interview to get a good idea how long your commute will take. Arriving on time isn’t just avoiding a late arrival, though – be sure not to arrive too early. Five minutes early is usually a good time to arrive. Any earlier, and you may be interrupting a meeting or inconveniencing the interviewer, who may feel obligated to bring you into the interview early. If you’re concerned about arriving on time or directions for arriving at an employer, your recruiter can help.
  • Look the part. You can’t underestimate the importance of a professional appearance for job interviews. Not all interviews require a three-piece suit, but pants and a shirt that are clean, well prepared (in other words, not wrinkled) and in good condition make an impact. Confidence also falls under “looking the part” – stand tall, make good eye contact when you’re first introduced and be mindful of your posture. If you demonstrate confidence in your ability to fill the role, the interviewer is more likely to think you’re a good fit too! If you’re unsure whether a particular outfit is appropriate for an interview, talk to your recruiter. We know our employers’ needs and preferences, and can help you choose the perfect outfit to make a good impression.
  • Be prepared. Doing a little research on the company and role can make a major impact when first meeting with an employer. Most information about an employer can be found online, but your recruiter is an invaluable resource when conducting this research. Be sure to have at least one conversation with your recruiter, asking thoughtful questions, so that you arrive to the interview knowledgeable and interested in the company and position.  Not only will this make a positive first impression, you’ll also stand out from the pack. Very few candidates put in the time and effort to do this research.

Looking for jobs in Southern California? At Helpmates, we match professionals like you with positions at top companies across the region. Search our current job openings or contact us to get started.

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How to “Decode” Job Descriptions

September 29th, 2014

How many different job descriptions have you read during your job search? Hundreds? Maybe even thousands? They can seem pretty confusing! Oftentimes, job descriptions are written by a committee, or by someone inexperienced. Others are prepared by recruiters or staffing firms (like Helpmates) with very specific goals in mind.

Decoding job descriptions to land your next jobHM_DecodeJD_Pic

Regardless of the person writing job descriptions, there are some specific clues you can identify to help you understand what an employer is looking for in a suitable candidate. Here are some of the most important:

  1. Look for words that are repeated frequently. While there are often a range of specific skills or experiences an employer is looking for, those words/skills that are repeated frequently are likely some of the most important skills necessary to succeed in the position. If you notice several skills mentioned throughout a job description and they fit your background, it is wise to similarly highlight these areas in your cover letter and resume.
  2. Keep an eye out for culture cues. Job descriptions can provide great insight into the culture of an organization. For example, a “significant growth opportunity” often signifies a desire for employees who can wear multiple hats. This type of organization is typically smaller, perhaps a startup, and can be a very dynamic place to work. “Flexible work hours” can be a sign of organizations that push hard to meet deadlines, even working past the 9 to 5. If you’re the type of person who likes to go “all in” on a project, this language may be a cue that the organization is a cultural fit. The tone of voice in job description language can also provide culture cues. A more formally-written description may signify a company that’s very professional and structured, while an informal, casual tone may signify a more relaxed, creative culture.
  3. Don’t ignore the requirements section. For some reason, this section tends to fall at the end of a job description, but for many employers it is the most critical. While the opening paragraphs of a job description often paint a picture of the role and the company, it’s in the requirements section where you can often find some of the real-world specifics and expectations that would come with a specific role. Also, ensuring you meet the requirements is critical toward getting a positive response from your resume. Many employers will toss a resume that doesn’t meet the minimum listed requirements. Look carefully at this section for additional insight, and to double check your resume and ensure you’re putting your efforts into the right job opening.

Taking a closer look at job descriptions can have a profound effect on your job search. Partnering with a staffing firm can also help you find the right jobs in Southern California. Visit the Helpmates job board to view our current openings, or contact us to take the next step in your career.

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Understanding Your Value Proposition

September 16th, 2014

When it comes to your job search, your value proposition is critical. What is your value proposition, exactly? It’s that set of skills (soft, technical or industry-specific) that make you better suited for a position. More importantly, they make you stand out from the competition. value prop

So understanding your value proposition – and effectively communicating it – during job interviews is key. These four tips can help you better position yourself for your next career opportunity:

  1. Do research on the company’s main challenges. To understand how you can best perform within a certain role and company, you should understand its challenges or “pains.” What are they struggling with? Where could they improve? Once you’ve identified those challenges or “pains,” take a look at your background and accomplishments to craft a value proposition that directly addresses them. This small bit of research will immediately put you miles ahead of the competition.
  2. Read past performance reviews and ask for more input. Performance reviews are an excellent opportunity for your supervisors to review your on-the-job performance and offer tangible steps for reaching your goals. Review them for critical insights to guide your value proposition. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers with targeted questions. Targeted questions can help you gain some excellent insight into your specific value proposition. When speaking to co-workers, position the question as a method of trying to improve your performance and expertise. Try something like: “What is the one area of expertise or skill where you feel like I’m the ‘go-to’ person in our office?” or “If I focused my attention on strengthening one skill, what should it be?”
  3. Pare down extras. In your written communications and during job interviews, eliminate any extras that don’t support your value proposition. You may have worked really hard to gain some specific experience or accomplishment, but if it doesn’t contribute to your value proposition, it’s diluting the message you want to convey the most. Leave it off your resume and avoid bringing it up during job interviews (Bonus: Recruiters spend an average of six seconds looking at your resume – This ensures they’re spending those six seconds on the most important parts!).
  4. Go beyond your resume. Your cover letter should entice recruiters to read your resume, and your resume should get you a job interview. Don’t head into a job interview ready to simply regurgitate the points on your resume. Instead, illuminate those points. Offer insights into how you achieved certain results or how you overcame challenges to succeed.

Understanding your unique value proposition has tremendous impact, both for job seekers and professionals in every capacity. Following these steps can help you take a closer look at your career and how you’ve developed, and can help you further enhance your value within the workplace. Defining your value proposition now can be a tremendous step toward advancing your career and reaching your goals!

Helpmates specializes in helping professionals in Southern California reach their career goals across a range of disciplines. Visit our job board for the latest job openings, or contact your local Helpmates office for more information.

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