Why Soft Skills Still Matter

Have you noticed how companies, hiring managers and recruiters are screaming “Where are all the skilled workers!?” It seems everyone working to fill a position is looking for skills, as in skills in technology, engineering, digital, coding, nano-tech, accounting and so on.

But what if you don’t have those particular skills? What if you’re a great writer? You get along well with others and help alleviate conflicts among colleagues when things get testy? What if you work well alone as well as in a team? What if you’re good at training others in sales, or WordPress?

What about you? Are you sunk, lost, never to be noticed by an employer again!

Hardly! Yes, certain skills are highly valued by employers, but the best coder in the world isn’t going to be highly prized by his colleagues or his supervisor if he’s a loner who makes snide remarks when he’s interrupted.

Instead, as technical skills become more and more important, so are soft skills raising their profile among hiring managers because the more impersonal the workplace becomes, so grows employers’ need to hire people who have the skills necessary to answer yes when someone asks “Can’t we all just get along?”

This post discusses how you can showcase your soft skills to an employer. Take a look below.

Jobs in Irvine

The Three Top Soft Skills.

As our workplaces become more automated and technical (and therefore impersonal), employers are going to be looking people who:

  • Have the ability to collaborate with others (also known as a knack for teamwork).
  • Can think critically.
  • Are able to communicate well.

“Hard” skills may get you an interview, but unless you have soft skills, you won’t get the job – and then promoted within it. Tech, accounting, coding, marketing skills, etc. are what employers specify in job descriptions, but you will need to let your soft skills shine by being personable in your job interview, communicating well, asking questions, sending sincere thank you notes, negotiating salary, and so on in order to receive an offer

In addition, once you’re on the job, your people skills, your positive attitude, a strong work ethic, emotional intelligence, etc. will help you move up the ladder. They are, in fact, crucial skills to have if you want to succeed in any capacity.

To showcase your soft skills in a job interview, follow these tips:

  • Give specific examples of the times you went “above and beyond” for an employer and how doing so benefited the project on which you worked. (Soft skill: work ethic.)
  • Bring examples of written work you created to showcase your communication skills. In addition, tell the hiring manager/interviewer how you helped diffuse a tense situation, how you were able to move a skeptical prospect into a buyer, and so on.
  • Explain how you prioritize your to-do list, how you delegate to others and/or speak to managers when too many of their competing must-dos need to be coordinated among them. (Soft skill: time management.)
  • Dress appropriately for the job interview. Look the interviewer directly in the eye. Give her a firm handshake before and after the interview. Keep fidgeting to a minimum. Ask questions that show you’ve researched different aspects of the company and how the job opening fits into helping the company meet its goals. (Soft skill: self-confidence.) Practice these skills with a trusted friend or family member, if possible.

If looking for work in Southern California, bring your much-needed soft skills to Helpmates. We can help you find terrific job and career opportunities with many of the region’s top employers. It’s a candidates’ market today and our clients need you! Contact us today.

The Quick-Start Job Search Guide

Even though this definitely is a candidate-driven market (and it should continue to be so at least through all of 2018) and employers are practically on bended knee “proposing” to talent, Los Angeles-area workers could see themselves suddenly without a job: layoffs STILL occur!

If this has happened to you, you may decide to take a few days or weeks off to mourn your loss and even recharge. (“It’s a sort-of vacation!”) This can be a good idea, but we urge you to take only two or three weeks – at most – “off” before starting your job search in earnest.

Why? Because the very fact that you are unemployed – even if it wasn’t your fault – makes you much less desirable than someone who is still employed, even if you have highly sought after skills. Why? Because being unemployed makes you an “active” candidate. If you were still employed, you would be a “passive” candidate and employers prefer passive candidates because “we don’t have to worry about the circumstances surrounding their departure from their last job.” That’s right: get laid off for no reason other than because your employer decided it needed to cut back on its employee roster and you’re automatically (probably subconsciously) lumped in with ne’er do wells, thieves, folks who weren’t up to the task, “problem” employees, etc.

Is this fair? Of course not! But it is reality. So if you find yourself out of work, don’t sit around watching Hulu videos or finally getting around to painting your Huntington Beach condo. Start looking for work. Pronto!

Take a look below for 11 steps to take to get your job search started quickly. As in half a day!

Orange County Jobs

  1. Get organized.

Put on some comfortable clothes, find a quiet space in your home, get your previous resume and a cover letter handy, open up the laptop, and start contacting friends to see if they’d be willing to proofread your revised resume. Get some tea and/or coffee and settle down for the afternoon.

  1. Start thinking about where you’d like to work.

Have you always wanted to work at some particular company or companies? List them. Go to each of their websites and do some research. Jot notes about the companies’ products/services, their goals/challenges (check their blogs or news media sites for insight into these things). Look at your LinkedIn profile to see if you have any first, second or even third connections who either work at the companies or who may have connections at the companies. Check the companies’ job openings to see if there’s anything that fits your bill.

  1. Check job boards.

Don’t spend a lot of time on this. And don’t apply to any openings. Not yet. This is recon: you want to see what job opportunities currently are to be had for your background and skill set. Make notes (bookmarks, too) if anything you see particularly strikes you or piques your interest.

  1. Pick five favorite openings and/or companies.

Head back to LinkedIn and see if you know anyone with any connection. Ask them to set up an informational interview with them. (Here’s a networking email template that says it will “get you a meeting with anyone you ask.” Let us know if it works!)

Work to set up a minimum of three meetings. Set those three meetings up today.

  1. Write a cover letter and tailor it to EACH different opportunity.

Seriously: each cover letter needs to be different. You cannot use the same cover letter for each opening. You need to show how your skills, background, accomplishments, and possibly education will help the employer solve the problems the position is supposed to solve and/or reach the goals the position is supposed to reach.

  1. Beef up your resume.

Tweak/edit it so that it highlights your specific accomplishments: those problems you solved and goals you reached for your previous employers. Don’t be afraid to also tweak your resume for each position.

  1. Send the resume/cover letter to one or more friends for proofing/feedback.

You want absolutely no grammar or spelling mistakes. None!

  1. Apply for the three or so openings online.

Upload your docs and hit send.

  1. If you’ve heard back from your potential informational interviews, set up meeting times.

Mention that you’ve applied for openings at their company (if applicable). Approach friends, family members and current and/or former colleagues for coffee meetings. Let them know what type of work you’re looking for, your skills/background and make sure to ask them if they know of anyone else with whom you could meet. (Tip: don’t wait for your friend to make the intro: people are busy and may forget. instead ask your friend for his contact’s email or phone info and ask your buddy if it’s OK if you contact the person directly, saying that your friend suggested that you contact the individual.)

  1. Repeat each day until you accept a job offer.

The way to find a job quickly is look for work each day. Yes, the old saw is true: view searching for a job as your job.

  1. Consider signing up with a staffing service such as ours.

Helpmates has new temporary, temp-to-hire and even direct-hire job opportunities appearing every day. You can work with us on temporary assignments while you job hunt on your own or allow us to send you on interviews for more permanent positions.

Take a look at our job openings and apply online. Or contact the office nearest you.

Why Working in Staffing is a GREAT Career

Arguably some of the best kept secrets when it comes to careers are working as a recruiter, manager and/or sales professional in the staffing industry.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve worked with us either as a temporary associate or client so you know what we do: we match candidates with Southern California companies in temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire job opportunities. In other words, our work makes a huge, positive difference in the lives of our neighbors and our colleagues. We can’t think of a better career than that!

Staffing Careers

What’s more, the work is never dull (no two of our days truly are ever alike) and compensation – especially after working in staffing for a few years – can be quite attractive. In addition, while college degrees will help, they are not required in order to become a great recruiter or sales pro: a willingness to learn, to do things far out of your comfort zone, to deal with rejection and – sometimes – unhappy  people while always treating everyone with respect, professionalism and kindness is.

Most People Don’t Think: “Hey, I Want to Work in Staffing!”

Most of us didn’t graduate high school or college with the plan to work in this industry: most staffing pros come from other business sectors. In fact, we’ve found that folks who have worked in retail, food service/hospitality, customer service (particularly car rental services and call centers) do well because they know how to deal with the public.

How we came to work in staffing varies for each of us, but we all stay for pretty much the same three reasons:

  • We can have a huge, positive impact on people’s lives.
  • It’s fun.
  • It can pay pretty darn well.*

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention staffing’s downside: it can be a highly stressful industry. Priorities change constantly as you work to satisfy both clients and your candidates.

Yet every career has its downsides and we feel that the many positive aspects of this career far outweigh the negative.

If we’ve at all piqued your interest, contact us: we have a few internal openings now. But even if that link shows no current internal opportunities, or doesn’t show the type of position you’d like to explore, contact us anyway as we always are looking for great people to join our internal team.

The American Staffing Association (ASA) offers more information about opportunities found in a staffing career on its website. In addition, the ASA has partnered with CareerBuilder and Capella Learning Solutions to create a program that prepares people for internal, entry-level recruiter positions in recruiting and staffing companies. (Note: taking the course in no way guarantees you a position with us, but you also don’t need to take the course in order to be considered for employment with us.)

*What does “pretty darn well” actually mean? While we can’t go into our salary ranges here, but let us direct you to Glassdoor.com, which shows that staffing coordinators in Los Angeles make an average salary of $33,700 (maximum of $55K), while recruiters average $53,428 (maximum of $72K). Staffing account executives (sales) averaged $59,201 (a maximum of $95K), while a staffing branch manager (management of a branch office plus sales) averaged $68,771 (a maximum of $94K).

Take a look here for more information on what we provide you as a member of our internal Helpmates Staffing team,

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

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

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

The connection between mentors and success

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

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

Finding the right mentors is key

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

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

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

Updating Your LinkedIn For Your Job Search

Four steps to set you apart:social networking

In an era where hiring is becoming more and more web-based, LinkedIn is one of the best tools for getting noticed and pursued. It’s a powerful resource, but only when used to the best of its potential. Especially with the new design, there are four key steps to standing out while linking in.

1: Keywords

LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to add a snappy headline just beneath your name, which will entice potential employers to read further and make your profile more memorable. Your headline is searchable, so you can maximize its reach by packing it with keywords that describe both you and your ideal. If you want to be found when someone searches for “online marketer in Fresno,” then put those words in your headline.

While this is simple in theory, it can quickly become cumbersome in practice. You don’t want to weigh down your headline with keywords just for the sake of search results; though someone might find you, you won’t look very attractive. And don’t be too wordy in general. Keep it short, snappy, and to the point—the point being your experience, capabilities, and career goals.

2: Summary

When your profile comes up in a search, the next step a potential employer will take is to read your summary. This section of your page is where you have the chance to really engage someone: give serious thought to a concise, engaging chunk of text that highlights your experience and achievements. In a sense, this is your cover letter for any job, and the rest of your profile is your resume.

As with any cover letter or professional “About Me” writing, make sure it stays succinct and on topic. Summarize what you’ve accomplished, instead of expounding upon it at length—there will be time for that in follow-up conversations and interviews. Your goal here is to hold the employer’s interest by portraying yourself as a qualified, capable candidate.

3: Skills

The Skills & Expertise section of a LinkedIn profile, with the new endorsements option, is a huge asset to your professional persona. You can choose from an extensive menu of skills to create a personalized list of where you excel. Feel free to add an abundance, but don’t overpromise: you don’t want an employer asking detailed questions about a skill you only “sort of have.”

With the new LinkedIn design, you have the option to endorse your connections’ skill set and receive endorsements from them. The more endorsements a certain skill receives, the higher it moves on your profile—and therefore, the more confident a potential employer will be that you know what you claim to know. It’s an effective way to get third-party recommendations, which speak volumes more than what you say about yourself.

4: Expansion

Once you’ve written an enticing headline and concise summary, and added your skills and expertise, your profile is nearly solid. To flesh it up and make yourself stand out, fill in details beyond the basic information. Anything that makes you unique or gives you an edge over potential competition might be the ticket to your new career, so this is the place to be comprehensive and detailed.

Certifications and courses beyond your academic or professional degrees are quickly becoming a must-have item for new hires, so highlight any additional training you’ve accomplished. If you speak a foreign language, call attention to that as well, as it’s a hot commodity in the global workplace. Honors and awards you’ve received and big projects you’ve contributed to all have their place on your profile as well.

A profile that shines:

With your LinkedIn profile newly polished and ready to go, you can be confident in the digital face that you show to potential employers. A winning profile is searchable, succinct, and gets results.

Helpmates has been ranked among the top 1% of staffing companies nationwide by our candidates and employees.  Contact our team of Certified Staffing Professionals today to learn how we can support your job search strategy.

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