Looking for Work During the Holidays: Why it Works

It’s the holidays! Time for great food; enjoying the red, green, yellow, blue, and white lights; listening to noels as well as goofy old-fashioned holiday songs (which still make you a tad weepy in a good way because they remind you of your grandmother); watching children’s faces light up with delight at special holiday decorations; getting together with friends and loved ones; shopping for gifts for those you love (and even those you’re not that keen on).

So who could possibly have time for job hunting?

holiday job search los angeles

You do!

At the least, you should make the time for job hunting because as busy as you are getting ready for the holidays, as much as you may not want to look for work (it’s not nearly as much fun anticipating the hunt for a job as it is the hunt for the perfect gift), looking for work during the holidays is a terrific idea because (drum roll): employers still have holes in their employee rosters! What’s more, here in December 2017, it’s still a candidate’s market and employers pretty much are desperate to find good people.

Yes, employers may distracted by the holidays as you are and hiring decisions may be put on hold later in the month as many people take vacation and some businesses close for a few days. But if you keep your full-court press on your SoCal job search at this time you’ll keep that momentum going in your search (a job hunt thrives on momentum).

Take a look below for X reasons why looking for work during the holidays…..works!

  1. Not everyone can stay focused on the job search, so you’ll have less competition.

We understand all too well how distracting the month of December can be. And not everyone can compartmentalize their different priorities – certainly not as well as you can! And because you can focus on the search, you can snag an interview from someone who’s distracted by holiday events and to-do lists.

Yes, you may find that hiring managers are a bit slower to get back to you. You also may find that when you are hired your new manager may say you won’t be starting until after the New Year. (But that’s OK, because instead of being “unemployed,” you’ll be “on vacation” and you can truly enjoy the holidays!)

  1. Can you say “Networking opportunities galore!”?

Take advantage of the many holiday gatherings and parties held at this time of year to – discreetly – connect with people who could possibly help you in your search. Not sure how to network at holiday gatherings? This article has several good tips.

  1. Many companies have “use it or lose it” budget policies.

Many department/hiring managers are given department funding that requires them to use all of the funds budgeted to them each year or else the money not used won’t show up in their budgets next year. (“After all,” their manager may reason, “they didn’t use it this year, so they don’t need it next year.”)

So hiring managers may be eager to fill an open position before the year ends and you may find yourself being called in for interviews and getting an offer faster than you might have anticipated.

  1. Many holiday positions can turn into permanent work.

Seasonal jobs often do turn into full-time work even after the holiday season ends. Savvy department managers know they would be foolish to let great workers go and so you well could be pleasantly surprised to be offered the chance to continue working after January 1.

So there’s one more reason to look into seasonal/holiday work if your “real” job hasn’t yet panned out.

  1. Temporary assignments also often become full-time opportunities.

Working with a staffing service such as Helpmates during the holiday season – or any time of the year – can help you bring in some cash while you look for work.

Yet many of our associates take on a temporary assignment and later are hired by our client company as their own employee. This happens regularly throughout the year and during the holidays.

So if you’re looking for your next opportunity, take a look at our current openings and, if one or more look interesting, follow the directions for applying.

Happy Holidays!

In Your Job Search, Focus on What You Can Control

Famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden used to tell his players to focus only on those things they could control.

His wisdom applies to your job search: you can’t control how many job interviews you receive but you can control how many people you reach out to. You can’t control whether or not you receive a job offer as a result of one of those interviews, but you can control how well you prepare for your interview, how much research you perform on the company and the hiring manager, how much you practice for the interview, and so on.

southern california careers

Take a look below for other things you can focus on in your job hunt.

  1. Making sure your resume and cover letter are free from typos, misspellings and grammatical mistakes.

You don’t want to trip up your chances from the get-go, so proof your resume and cover letter for any and all mistakes. If you feel your grammar and spelling skills are sketchy, ask someone you know who is up on spelling and grammar rules to proof your documents.

Another way you can really help your candidacy is to write a different cover letter for each position to which you apply. You also should tweak your resume to showcase the skills and experience you have that best meet the job’s requirements. Yes, this takes more work, but every job is different and your resume/cover letter should “sell” your skills, education and experience in a way that best fits any particular job.

  1. The best positions often go to people who know someone at the company.

Is this “fair”? That’s not the point: this is reality. However, you can control your own network and allow it to help you find a great position. So start asking around (let people know what you’re looking for and the skills you possess). If you see a position you like, check LinkedIn to see if anyone you know has a connection with the employer.

  1. Many people apply for the same position. Competition can be TIGHT!

Don’t let that worry you because as someone who wants to take control of his/her job search, you are going to contact the company (or ask around your contacts) to find the name and contact information of the hiring manager for the position. Then you’re going to contact that person directly. Yes, you are!

There’s a lot you simply can’t control about the job search process, but there’s plenty that you can when it comes to your own efforts. So take as much control as you can and contact potential employers directly, make sure your resume/cover letter is different for each job and has no mistakes at all, and expand your network to help you learn of – and be recommended for –terrific positions.

If your job hunt is taking too long, consider working on some temporary assignments with us here at Helpmates Staffing as you search. Many temporary assignments can – and do – turn into more permanent positions (so you may not need to search anymore)! Take a look at our current job opportunities and then either apply or contact us.

When You Get Caught in a Lie

It happens: you’re feeling great and there’s a ball game you’d love to see playing downtown that afternoon. So you call your boss in the morning, giving the best “I have a bad cold” impersonation you can muster, telling her you’re not feeling well. She buys it and you head off to the game.

But who should you run into at the ballpark but your boss (who took official PTO for the afternoon). She’s not happy and she told you to meet her in her office the next day at 8 a.m. sharp!

Are you toast? Possibly, but not necessarily.

The scenario above actually happened several years ago and the gotta-go-to-the-ballgame employee was fired. But that may not be the case today, as many companies now meld vacation and sick-days into one entity called Paid Time Off (PTO). Employers generally want their workers to take time off for vacations and stay home when they truly are sick. But if you lie about it….

Los Angeles jobs

Most of us are employed at will, which means a company can fire us at any time for any reason. (We also can quit at any time for any reason.) Most employers understand that “things happen,” and pretty much wait for egregious actions (theft) or big mistakes (losing a major client) before using the employed-at-will option and firing an employee.

But you definitely could be fired for lying (such as calling sick when you’re actually well).

However, most lies aren’t serious ones. They tend to be small: you made a relatively minor mistake and you’re trying to cover it up. Chances are you won’t be fired for these, but such a lie will damage your reputation with your manager and affect her trust in you.

So what can you do if you find yourself caught in a lie? Some strategies:

  1. When found out, don’t try to cover it up.

You’d just be continuing the lie and making the consequences when truth does come out even worse for yourself.

  1. Immediately. And sincerely.

As you do so, take full responsibility for your lie. Own it. Say you knew it was wrong and stupid and you deeply regret it. Don’t say it was a small lie, it didn’t affect anything. You can explain why you said it, but don’t try to use that explanation as an excuse: again, own your actions.

  1. Tell your manager you realize she may not trust you as much.

Again, this is part of owning your lie. You must understand that she probably won’t trust you to the same extent going forward and you must address this. Tell your manager you will work hard to rebuild her trust and that you realize this will take some time to do.

  1. Work hard to regain your manager’s trust.

It will take time, but no self-pity allowed. Work harder than you ever have. Unfortunately, you may never regain her trust. If that is the case, after a few months of giving it your all, you may want to start looking elsewhere because chances are good you will miss out on promotions and other opportunities.

When it’s time for you to look for another position in Southern California, make sure you take a look at our current job openings with some of the region’s top employers. If you find one or more opportunities that appeal  to you, apply online or contact the Helpmates office nearest you for more information.

How to Decline a Job Offer (So That They Won’t Hate You)

Let’s say you’ve been offered a job but it’s lacking.   In something.  The pay isn’t enough. It’s too far to commute. (“91 freeway westbound in the morning? Are you KIDDING me!?”) Your ex-boyfriend just announced on InstaStories that he got a job there. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided that the job isn’t what you thought it would be and so you’ve decided to turn it down.

But in order to get a job offer, one usually must say right out loud while shaking a hiring manager’s hand goodbye: “Thank you for this interview(s). I think I’d be a great addition to your team and I hope you will offer me the job.” Or you said as much on the phone. Or probably in your thank you letter after your interviews.

So. Turning down the job after you baldly and repeatedly said you wanted it? This is embarrassing.

No, it’s not.

People decline job offers all the time. What’s more, job offers get rescinded all the time. So, minor embarrassment aside, it’s perfectly normal to say no thank you after an offer’s been extended.

Los Angeles jobs

But. You never know: you may want to work at this company someday in the future. So be careful how you the job down: you want to do so with grace, professionally and in a way that makes the hiring manager think well of you.

Take a look below for how to do this.

  1. Don’t not show up on your first day.

Sure, you’re nervous about saying no. You also may be worried that you might be making a mistake by turning it down and so you postpone making a decision until the day you’re supposed to start. And so you don’t show up. And you don’t answer texts or calls or emails from your (could have been) new boss.

Instead, be a professional and as soon as you’re certain the job’s not for you, let the hiring manager know, preferably no later than a week before your start date. (Even better, turn it down before you even set a start date!)The absolute latest you can tell someone you’re not coming in: the day before your first day and even that is cutting it way too close.

Not showing up just shows extreme immaturity and massive inconsideration. Man- or woman-up and tell the hiring manager with days to spare.

  1. It’s best to call the hiring manager. Second best is an e-mail. Never text.

Yes, it could be a hard call to make. But the hiring manager deserves this courtesy. And you’re a professional: you definitely can do this.

Whether you call or email, follow these guidelines:

  • Thank the hiring manager for the offer. Tell her how much you appreciate her consideration of your skills and background.
  • Give a brief reason why you’re not accepting the offer/changed your mind. You don’t have to go into great detail: you’ve accepted a position at another company. After much thought, you’ve decided to stay put. You and your spouse discussed and the longer commute will just cut too much into critical family time, etc. You don’t even have to give a reason, you can just say “As wonderful as this opportunity is, unfortunately I am going to decline.” (If you say this in a phone conversation, understand the hiring manager probably ask for a reason. Have a good one handy. Again, you don’t have to go into details.)
  1. Offer a solution.

You’re not going to say “give me 20 percent more than you offered and I’m your gal!” Instead what we mean by a solution is to say you have several connections in your network who may be great for the position and you offer to talk to them about it and send their information to the hiring manager

You see, by turning the offer down, you’ve created a huge problem for your hiring manager: he has work to be done that no one’s going to do and he to go through the interview process all over again! By offering a solution you show that you understand you’ve created a problem and you want to help fix it.

This shows empathy and professionalism.

  1. Say you want to stay in touch.

The world of work is small one. Particularly within industries. There may come a time when you will want to work for this company. Or you may see the hiring manager at conferences, seminars and other professional events. If you aren’t yet connected on LinkedIn, say you will send a connection request soon (and then do so that day). Even a simple “Thank you for your time and offer and I hope we meet again,” will be enough.

Say yes to your next job offer by contacting Helpmates. We have many great job and career opportunities in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Good luck with your job search!

When You Haven’t Had a Job Interview in 6 Months, Do This

Let’s say you’ve been unemployed for a while. A long while, at least six months. You were laid off from your Orange County company and were able to score a nice severance package and so you decided to “take it easy” for a few weeks, catch your breath, rest up, relax, maybe take in some of the Southern California day trips you’d been wanting to take, but never had the time.

And then a few weeks turned into six, then into two months and you woke up one  morning and said to yourself: “Todays’ the day! I’m revamping the resume, taking a look at some job boards, maybe make a few calls.”

And you do start with gusto. But 45 minutes in to the resume redo, you decide to check Facebook. Then it’s on to the Fox News or CNN websites. Before you know it, it’s 11:30: can’t make any calls now; it’s time for lunch.

As you eat lunch at your desk, you browse your favorite sites. You look up again and it’s 2 p.m. How did THAT happen!? So you work for another 45 minutes and then take a break.

Break over, but it’s now 4:45. Contacts won’t be at their desks. You call it a day.

The Same Pattern, Day After Day

Three months in and you’ve revamped the cover letter, but you’re starting to get worried: that severance package won’t last forever.

So you make some calls and people are polite but you can her them yawning on the other end. They’ll let you know if they hear of anything.

You start applying to openings you see on the job boards. You carefully craft each cover letter to the position and tweak your resume for that particular opening, too.

Still, that sound you hear? Crickets.

Six months is coming in mere days and you’ve no prospects and you’ve gone on no job interviews and you’ve definitely received no job offers.

Panic is now your middle name.

Time to REALLY Get to Work!

Even if you’ve been diligently applying for jobs, networking, and so on but have no job offers or even interviews, well, we’ll be blunt here: it’s going to be a lot harder for you to get interviews/job offers. Not impossible; but definitely harder. In a way, employers will look at you as if you’ve been out of work for five years: “What’s wrong with you that you’re still unemployed?”

(Note to self: never again “take it easy for a few days” after being laid off. Start the job search within no more than a week after leaving your employer.)

Enough with the Bad News. Here’s What you MUST Do: You’re Going to Break Some Rules

  • You’re going to approach companies directly (No more applying on job boards. You are DONE.) You’re going to find out who can hire for the type of work you can do and you’re going to contact that person directly.
  • Once you get a name, you’re going to research the hiring manager. LinkedIn, Google, the company’s website. You’re also going to research the company’s website to see what its goals and challenges are and you’re going to Google the heck out of, finding everything you can about the company.
  • Once you’ve done your research and you know the hiring manager’s name, you’re going to write her a letter. But not any old letter. Nope. Definitely not. Instead, you’re going to write a letter about a problem you figure the hiring manager has and how you can solve it for her. You could call this a “pain” letter if you like (go ahead, that’s what she calls it).
  • People hire people to solve their problems and you’re going to state how your skills and experience can help a hiring manager solve that problem. And you’re going to ask for a meeting or phone call to discuss your capabilities in person (instructions on how to do this).
  • Next you’ll place that letter (don’t fold it) with your resume in an 8.5 x 11-inch manila envelope and address it to the hiring manager.
  • And you’ll do this again for several different hiring managers at different companies.

Results can happen pretty quickly once the letters go out. This takes considerable work upfront (finding names, research, crafting the letter, etc.) but hiring managers will contact you. After all, you’ve just shown them evidence that you can solve their problems! Not all of them, of course, but enough will and you’ll soon be headed out on interviews.

Whether you’re looking for a full-time position or some temporary assignments while you look for your next opportunity, Helpmates can help. We have dozens of job openings every day: take a look and if one or more look interesting, apply as instructed.

Do the Job to Get the Job

We can’t take credit for that headline: it comes from the great Nick Corcodilos of AskTheHeadhunter.com who is a firm believer that candidates have much more power than they believe and that the absolute best way to find work is to directly approach a hiring manager. (Go ahead, visit his site and read as much of it as you can; you won’t be disappointed.)

Orange County careers

More importantly, once a candidate has piqued the interest of said hiring manager, it’s up to the candidate to, as Corcodilos puts it, “do the job to get the job.”

Here’s what he means, and it’s downright brilliant:

When candidates are pretty much equal in background, skills, education and ability to perform the duties of the job well, who tends to get the job? The one who shows the most enthusiasm for it.

Enthusiasm is important, but a critical part of that enthusiasm is understanding that one must work to prove one is the best candidate for the job.

In other words, the candidate that is so enthusiastic for the job that she’s willing to show the hiring manager that she’s up to job by actually “behave[ing] like an employee” instead of candidate, often is the one who receives a job offer.

This Doesn’t Mean Working for Free

Far, far from it. What it means, according to Corcodilos, is showing a hiring manager how you actually will do the job and how hiring you will help an employer become or stay profitable. (Remember: the main reason companies hire people is to solve problems and all employers’ problem boil down to one thing: making or saving money (and saving money is pretty much the same as making money).

Here’s a real-life example of this:

A reporter – one without a college degree – decided to apply for a job with a national PR firm. The job description said a college degree was required.

Still, because of her background and writing skills (she sent samples), the hiring manager called her in for an interview. The interview went well and the hiring manager gave her an assignment (as he did all interviewees): she could choose one topic out of three offered and write a pro and con piece on each. She needed to get her samples back to the hiring manager within a week.

The interview was on Monday. The young woman wrote the pro and con pieces on all three topics (six pieces total instead of two) and delivered them to the hiring manager on Wednesday (rather than the next Monday).

She got the job. Without the required college degree.

The “Do the Job” Interview

When going to an interview, be prepared to show your stuff! Corcodilos suggests that you tell the hiring manager beforehand that you want to demonstrate how you will do the work she hires you to do.

At the interview ask the hiring manager to present you with a real problem, one she’s actually facing, and show her how you’d solve it. This can do nothing less than impress the manager big time! (Don’t worry that you will get something “wrong,” because you won’t know all the facts about the problem; just solve the problem as best you can with the facts you have. Ask questions if needed).

Before leaving, look the manager straight in the eye as you’re shaking hands goodbye and tell her that you know you can do the job well and that you want it.  (If you end up turning the job down later, that’s ok. You may learn it’s not what you really want. The idea is to get the job offer.)

Not Easy, but Effective!

This strategy is not easy. It takes guts. A good amount of self-confidence and assertiveness. It may not be possible to speak to or e-mail the hiring manager before the interview to let her know you want to demonstrate your value in this way.

Yet even if you can’t tell the hiring manager beforehand, you can certainly announce it at the interview itself. Study the company as thoroughly as possible so that you can know its goals, challenges and successes as much as possible. (If you land an interview via a recruiting or staffing service, ask your recruiter for as much information as possible about the company.) Know your strengths and how they can translate to providing value to the hiring manager and do not be shy about demonstrating that value.

Go do the job and GET THE JOB!

For help in finding great openings in Orange and Los Angeles, counties, contact the Helpmates’ office nearest you. Or search our job opportunities and if one piques your interest, follow the instructions to apply.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Recruiter

We’re recruiters and we love it! For all its many ups and downs, it’s a career that helps candidates find work and our clients find great employees. Our hearts just go zing! when we help someone find a new position. After all, without work, we can’t support our families, we can’t realize our dreams, we can’t help our children become all they can be.

Los Angeles recruiters

So we fully understand that “a job” really is more than that: work can give us meaning and provide us the opportunity to work at something greater than ourselves. It also can provide community as well as income.

So in a very important way, jobs are our lives in the sense that without work, we can’t truly live. And that’s why we think working as a recruiter is one of the greatest careers out there because our work has a massive impact on individual lives.

(In fact, the American Staffing Association [the trade association of the staffing industry; Helpmates is a member], has a whole section on the benefits of recruiting/staffing as a career: Staffing as a Career – A Whole Opportunity Awaits. If you’ve ever wanted to sit on our side of the desk, we hope you check it out.)

Not All Bright Lights and Glamor

Still, working as a recruiter in the staffing industry is intense. Our days are extremely busy day. As in incredibly, astonishingly, exceedingly, unbelievably, absurdly busy.  On any given day we could:

  • Need to find 20 people to head to work at a distribution center. Tomorrow. Oh, and the client called us about it at 4 p.m.
  • Need to fill 10 administrative assignments this week. We only have eight great admin professionals available, so we need to interview several more so that we can fill our clients’ needs.
  • Three temporary associates called in sick at the last minute, and we need to replace them ASAP.
  • We have two great accounting professionals coming in for an interview with us before we send them out on a terrific permanent job interview.

And that’s all while fielding lots of phone calls and dozens upon dozens of e-mails from our clients and candidates.

What to Look for in a Recruiter/Staffing Service

Looking for work is stressful enough; don’t make it harder by working with a service that makes your job search more nerve-wracking than it need be.

When looking at different staffing firms, look for:

  • A firm in which most of its recruiters are Certified Staffing Professionals (CSPs). CSPs are certified by the ASA and the designation shows that the recruiter has the expertise and commitment to adhere to the highest standards of professionalism. The exam is comprehensive and takes considerable study before a recruiter can pass. It’s a true mark of distinction and all of our recruiters here at Helpmates are required to take the exam and pass it!
  • A commitment to treating all candidates with the utmost respect and understanding. This actually can be rated. Inavero’s Best of Staffing surveys asks both staffing service clients and candidates to rate their staffing service and then Inavero tallies results and provides its Best of Staffing award in the two categories. Only two percent of staffing firms in the U.S. and Canada win these awards and Helpmates has been placed on the “Best of Staffing” list for eight straight years. Winning the candidate (called “talent” by Inavero) satisfaction award is a sign that our candidates feel we treat them with the respect and consideration they are due.
  • Look for a service with recruiters who have stayed with the company for at least three years. The staffing and human resources industries are well known for their internal employee turnover rates. So when you find a service with recruiters with several years’ tenure, you’ve found a firm that treats its internal employees right – a very good sign for you! Here at Helpmates, our average recruiter tenure is 5.1 years and our turnover is less than half of the staffing industry’s rate.

How to Get the Best Out of Us

If you’re looking for work and contact one of our offices, we want to make sure you have the best experience possible, so we want you to know this:

We truly want to help you find work. Really. Honest. Truth!

But we do have constraints and the biggest one is this: our primary job isn’t to find people work; it’s to find our clients the best workers.

Remember, our work on your behalf costs you nothing. If our main purpose was to find you work, we’d have to charge you for it. We need to make a profit: Helpmates is a business, after all.

So our clients pay for our work and therefore our top priority is to find them the best candidate for a position. Yet right up there with that priority (as in, thisclose) is finding you work.

However, unless you have the skills and background our clients need, we won’t be able to place you. You could be the nicest, the hardest working, the most devoted person in the world, but if you don’t have the skills or experience our clients need, we may not be able to find a position for you.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t help you.

What does that mean? If you have flexibility and are willing to take positions for which you may be overqualified; if you understand our client-stipulated constraints; if you understand that even temporary assignments are real work, should be treated as such (yes, put your time with us on your resume) and can lead to more permanent work; if you’re open to learning new skills (such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) on your own time, without pay (we provide the software so that you may do this at home); we will work very hard to help you.

After all, if you do the above, you’re showing initiative and you’re showing a great work ethic. In other words, to paraphrase Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, you’re helping us help you and so don’t be surprised if we go out of our way to help you as much as we can!

In the meantime, take a look at our current temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities at some of Orange and Los Angeles counties’ best employers. If one appeals to you, follow the instructions on the listing or contact us! We look forward to helping you find a great position.

5 Things to Do In Your First Days on the Job

You’ve just started your new job. You want to impress your new manager and get along well with your new coworkers.

LA jobs

To help you do so, we present you with five things you should aim to do on your first few days and weeks at your new employer.

Take a look below.

  1. Get there early and stay late.

First impressions matter and if you’re late for your first day – or first few days – you’re sending the message that the job is one you’ll get to when you get to. Instead, make sure you arrive on time. Arriving even a little early is better.

As for clocking out, aim to stay at least until quitting time. Staying 10-20 minutes after also is a good thing to do.

  1. Set up some one-on-one meetings with co-workers and others in your company.

We’re not talking lunch here, at least not yet. What we mean is that we believe you should make a point of meeting with new colleagues and supervisors (even people in other departments with whom you will be in contact) so that you can get to know them better. This includes finding out about what they do at the company, how long they’ve worked there, why they chose the company, and to ask questions about the ins and outs of your new employer’s culture. You also will get to know your new colleagues on a more personal level, helping you create a strong relationship from the beginning.

  1. Ask questions. A lot of questions.

You’re the new guy or gal, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember: you may not know what you don’t know. So ask your supervisor to be very clear on his or her expectations. Ask specifically what your duties and goals are. Ask colleagues for help and advice. You’ll come across as a team player and approachable if you do.

  1. Talk less and listen more.

This applies even if you’re a new manager and, if you’re not, make sure you’re contributing knowledge and insights and volunteering for projects, but definitely don’t hog conversations. Instead sit back and observe. When you do speak, make most of the words coming out of your mouth questions, not statements.

  1. Remember to always talk nicely about your former employer.

Yes, perhaps your ex-manager truly was the boss from hell, or a co-worker really did try to sabotage your good work. But you’re unproven. You’re not truly accepted yet and trashing former bosses and colleagues just makes you look…immature and a gossip (which makes you untrustworthy).

If you believe it’s time to move on from one employer to the next, take a look at our current – and ever changing – job opportunities in Southern California. If you see one or more that’s interesting, apply! And if you don’t, contact the Helpmates office nearest you about registering with us so that we can contact you quickly when a position better suited to you appears.

The False Reasons We Give to Stay Put

How often have you thought, “It’s time I really take charge of my professional life and ask for that raise/change careers/move to a better employer/get that college degree so that I can advance in my career.”

And then you do….nothing.

Orange county jobs

You’re not alone. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of saying adios to the status quo and just….making a major move!

But too often we only think about making a big change in our work life or career and take none of the steps necessary to get us where we want to go.

What’s more, we almost always come up with one or more excuses – um, reasons — why we can’t make the change. And, let’s be honest here: they truly aren’t reasons; they are excuses we provide ourselves because – let’s be honest – we’re scared. Totally, utterly, scared.

Need proof? Take a look below at three false reasons we give ourselves when we’re actually too afraid to make a move.

  1. It’s not that bad right now where I’m at in my life/career. I enjoy the work and the pay’s decent. Why change?

Ask yourself this: if you say “it’s not that bad right now,” why aren’t you really saying “it’s terrific!”? In other words, “not that bad” is a far cry from “terrific,” right? “Not that bad,” is code for “I’m scared of change/scared I’ll fail/scared I’ll hate any big change I might make.”

In other words, “not that bad” really means “I’ve given up hope things truly could be terrific.”

Don’t let yourself be “that guy.” You know: the guy (or gal) who reaches the end of life and wonders “what if.”

  1. I can’t afford it.

Yes, you may not be able to make a big change right now. After all, if you have debt or you need to support a family, making an abrupt change definitely is a bad idea.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t start moving forward. Have too much debt? Look into ways you can pay it off.

Want to change careers but need more education to do so and you can’t afford it right now? Talk to a financial advisor at the school of your choice. You may find it has scholarships or grants it can recommend. At the least you will know how much the education will cost and you can start saving budgeting now.

Want to start a business? You may not be able to quit your job now, but there’s nothing stopping you from starting a side-gig and growing it over time while you toil at your day job.

“It’s too expensive,” often really means “I don’t want to do the extra work or make the additional effort to pay down debt/side a side hustle/go back to school.”

If that’s the case, own it. Don’t hide behind supposed poor financials. You’d be amazed how things can come to fruition once you acknowledge that money really isn’t the problem.

  1. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point in my career; I can’t just give it all up now.

This is an example of believing the sunk-cost fallacy, which is a belief that because you’ve put so much money, effort or education into something you should continue doing it because it cost you so much. But in reality the money/time, is already spent (it’s a sunk cost). Leaving it will cost you nothing more and you’ll get nothing more from staying with it, either.

For example: you buy tickets to see your favorite band. Tickets are $200 each and you ask your girlfriend to join you. But by the time the concert rolls around in three months your girlfriend has dumped you, your heart is broken and you’ve no desire to go see the band because it’s too painful to do so without her but you don’t want to “waste” your money.

So don’t go! The money is already spent! You won’t get it back by going. It’s a sunk cost: it’s gone.

The sunk-cost fallacy often has cost people far more than $400 spent on a concert: people stick with a losing stock because they paid so much for it, for example. In your case, you’re staying in a career or at a job because you’ve put so much into it. That time and effort are sunk costs. They are gone! You should go, too.

If you think it’s finally time to take the first step to a better job, contact Helpmates. We connect people living in Los Angeles and Orange counties with some of the region’s best employers, so call or visit the office nearest you to learn more about how we can help get you where you want to go.

Shout “I Got the Job!”: Acing the Interview

A resume gets you an interview. Your references and skills back up what a great fit you are for the position.

The interview is what gets you the job.

On the top of it, that sounds like a lot of pressure: it’s do-or-die time at the job interview! But let us reassure you: it’s not that hard to ace a job interview. It’s truly not, especially if you look at in two ways:

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  1. It’s the place where you can show a hiring manager what you’ve got.
  2. Remember that it’s also your time to check the company out to decide if it would be a good match for you.

Strategies that Can Help a Hiring Manager Say “When Can You Start?”

While we really do believe that job interviews can be enjoyable, the best interviews take a lot of preparation up front (they take some effort, in other words). Remind yourself: no winging it at a job interview. Never.

Instead, a key factor in getting a job offer is to make sure you take the time needed to do the following:

  1. Research the company. A ton. As in considerable research.

We told you good job interviews come about because of effort on your part. And most of that effort occurs long before you shake hands with the hiring manager. As soon as you set a date for an in-person meeting – or even “just” a phone interview – it’s time to crack open the Internet and get studying!

Visit the company’s website and read all of it, if possible. Every last page. Read its blog. Read the bios of its executives. If it’s a publically traded company, check out its Investor Relations tab and read all of the company’s latest financial statements, especially its SEC filings. (These are goldmines, especially the quarterly reports – often called 10Qs – because they report in great detail what the company did that quarter, and what its plans are for the future. SEC filings are better than reading the company’s annual report because they are detailed and gloss over – spin – nothing.)

Studying these reports gives you great insights into a company’s goals, successes and challenges. What’s more, just watch – really, watch! – the hiring manager’s eyes get big with excitement when you say “I read your latest quarterly report about your acquisition of XYZ company. I have two years’ experience with acquisition accounting procedures. Let me tell you about improvements I made for my current employer’s latest acquisition.”

The idea behind this research is not to do the minimal and call it a day. Really dig into the meat of a company’s website, reports, etc. Look for news releases. Google it and see what gossip comes up.

If you know the hiring manager’s name, check her out on LinkedIn (after all, she undoubtedly took a look at your profile). Find out what you have in common and learn about her work experience, education and skill sets.

The more you know about a company the better. It truly will impress your interviewer and will allow you to talk intelligently and strategically about how your background and skills will help the company reach its goals.

  1. Practice the interview with a trusted friend, family member or mentor.

Practice can be especially helpful if this is your first job interview, if you’ve been on just a few or if this is an interview for your first “real” job after high school or college.

Google “typical interview questions in XX ” (human resources, manufacturing, marketing, banking, etc.), print them out and prepare for them. Ask your friend to play the interviewer and ask the questions. Practice asking some questions yourself. Practice answering the questions as asked and then moving them slightly so that you can talk about how your skills and background specifically apply: “I want to work in your medical office because I understand you are expanding and I’d love to help you create efficient patient in-take systems, thus helping you see patients more quickly and cutting down on their wait time. At my last employer I was able to revise the in-patient process such that ….”

You may think that having the interviewer do most of the talking is a good thing (less pressure!), but you want to be sure you are able to tell the employer why hiring you benefits her.

  1. Make a strong, positive first impression.

For good or for ill, the first seconds of a job interview can make or break the interview. Even the very first second. You need to make sure yours is the best it can be. Look the hiring manager straight in the eye as you approach with your arm outstretched to shake hands. Shake firmly, but don’t crush her hand. Wait to sit down until invited to. Call the interviewer Ms. or Mr.  unless told otherwise.

Wear business-type attire, even if you’re looking for work in a warehouse setting. If this is so, khaki slacks and a collared, long-sleeved shirt should suffice (no sneakers, and if you really want to impress, you might wear a tie and a jacket, although they are not necessary). Any office job requires a tie and jacket for men. At least a dress and jacket/dress pants and a blouse for women. If going for any type of professional position, suits for both men and women are appropriate.

Dull and boring? Perhaps. But you’re not there to show off your creative side (unless you work in marketing, and you can save the creative outfits for once you get the job). Yes, most offices are business casual today. But you want to come across as a serious candidate, and one to be taken seriously. It’s always best to overdress than under dress for a job interview.

If you’ve never been to the company before, if possible, make a trip before the interview to see how long it will take you to drive or take the bus: you don’t want to be a minute late, and if you find you will be, call and let the interviewer know.

Here at Helpmates, we want you to get the job and we’ll do all we can to help you land a great one. Contact the Helpmates office nearest you today.

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