The Ways Your Job Search Will Change Due to the Coronavirus Crisis

February – even early March – seems SO far away, doesn’t it?

And when it comes to looking for a job? Shaking hands. Heading to networking events or conferences. Heading to a potential employer’s location for a job interview. No more!

Now – and for possibly several weeks or months – your job search will need to be conducted almost completely online.

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Here are the different ways the job hunt has changed now – and probably for several months – due to the coronavirus crisis.

  • You already know you’re going to be interviewing online for the foreseeable future. Yet job fairs also probably will be held online.

Here’s a short peek at how this may look, as provided by a job fair held in Wuhan, China earlier this year.

  • As the “stay-at-home” edicts are staying put, many employers are putting hiring on hold.

Many still are hiring, especially grocery stores, delivery companies, etc. But many others have decided on a wait-and-see process.

  • Temporary positions are growing, but not just at temporary staffing firms.

Many large companies such as Amazon, CVS, Domino’s/Pizza Hut, Instacart, Walmart, and even GE Healthcare are looking for thousands of temporary workers. Good news? Many of these positions could become permanent.

  • Networking has gone completely online.

If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile in a while, it’s time. You also should clean up your Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, SnapChat, and Facebook channels. If you’re new to networking on these social channels, here are some tips on how to ace your efforts on LinkedIn specifically and social channels generally.

  • While companies ARE hiring, it’s going to take longer to land interviews…and jobs.

How we wish this weren’t the case, but it is. With millions of people applying for unemployment benefits as of early April and thousands of businesses closed, this outcome is inevitable.

  • Negotiating salary and benefits may be more difficult, meaning you may not get what you want.

The huge numbers of closed businesses and people laid off means the tide has turned – for now, at least – toward employers. It’s no longer a candidate’s market: it’s an employer’s market.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for more in either salary or benefits when offered a position, it just means you should be aware that you may not get more.

In other words, this isn’t the time to be really picky. This may be hard to hear after months of companies being desperate for workers and offering all sorts of perks and hiring bonuses. But forewarned is forearmed.

Bottom line: you have your work cut out for you as you search for….work. This in no way means you won’t find any. It means instead that if you need to find a job, you should do little else right now than look for one.

How can we help you find work?

The Job Search Has Changed: Now and for the Foreseeable Future

If you’re in the midst of a job search, you’ve no doubt learned that all interviews now are being conducted via video.

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While this will remain the status quo for the foreseeable future, we also believe video interviewing will remain a large part of the job search process even after the pandemic wanes and social distancing/stay-at-home restrictions begin to lessen.

What’s more – and this truly is unfortunate – as tens of thousands of employees have been let go in recent weeks from Southern California employers, job seekers are going to be competing with a considerable amount of other people looking for work.

Many people – used to having recruiters beat down the door to get to them during the recent (as in February!) war-for-talent era – have never looked for work during a recession and the “new normal” definitely will take some getting used to. (Not to mention the considerable extra work it will take to land a job.)

Times are tough, but so are you

Yes, the above is quite a saccharine ditty. But what’s your alternative? Falling into a puddle of woe for months? Yes, have a terrific wailing wallow for a few days, but the longer you stay there the harder it will be to get up.

You must get tough! And soon!

How the job search has changed and how you – tough guy – can make it work for you

You will need to stand out more than ever now

Because you’ll be competing with so many others for jobs, you need to sit with yourself and figure out how you’re better than other candidates. Are you the sales person with a fantastic close rate? Are you the distribution selector with the fastest selection rate? Are you the customer service rep with the above-average customer satisfaction rating? Have you won an award for the project you completed?

You need to place that fact at the very top of your resume! (And make sure you can back it up with actual statistics or data.)

You must show intense interest in the job. Intense!

You don’t want to grovel or plead. That’s not what we mean. Instead:

  • Research a ton about the company so that you can say something like “I heard you were planning on purchasing such and such. Has that been put on hold now?”
  • Show true excitement when you talk about the opportunity. (Especially how your particular skills will help the employer reach its goals.)

 

You need to understand that responses from employers will take a lot longer. And they may not be as “nice” to you.

Whether you’re waiting to hear from them about an interview, or waiting to hear if you got the job, hiring managers and recruiters are overwhelmed right now. In addition, the “power” now lies in their hands, not yours. No more “war for talent” for the foreseeable future (unless you have skills that remain in great demand, such as in healthcare).

And with this power, unfortunately, comes some unpleasant behaviors: ghosting, rudeness, etc. Just be prepared for it – it usually doesn’t happen – and never “give as good as you got” yourself.

How can we – the really nice – recruiters at Helpmates help you find work?

Managing Remote-Work Employees for the First Time

We’re several weeks into our stay-at-home orders here in the Los Angeles and Orange county regions and many companies are in the thick of managing work-from-home employees. Many of you no doubt have worked the kinks out and things are going smoothly.

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But perhaps not. If you’ve never managed remote-work employees before, or if your employees have never worked from home before, you still may be finding new issues that create stress for all of you.

How well are you managing….yourself?

Probably the first step in managing remote workers is taking a look at how well you’re managing yourself while working at home. After all, you can’t expect your subordinates to do as well as you’re doing…unless you’re doing well yourself.

If you’re not getting work done on time, how could you expect your team members to do the same?

Your first step when it comes to managing remote workers, therefore is….become the remote worker you want your team members to become.

Work hard to remain calm

You may be stressed to the max and your subordinates also may be. In fact, now that more people have been laid off from work, now that more of us are becoming sick, the stress may be even more now for employees, even if they’ve been working at home for a few weeks.

If you’re feeling stressed, it’s OK to feel it, but your job as manager is to serve your team by being calm. The more you can help them get through this from a place of respect and understanding, the better and the more your subordinates themselves will be able to calm themselves and do their work.

Avoid criticism, if possible, and understand that probably no one will be able to work at the capacity they did before life changed completely. Encourage your team members and praise them for small things, things you (may) not have done so before.

Cut everyone – including yourself – a lot of slack

Chances are everyone is getting a bit stir crazy. Maybe a lot stir crazy. This could be especially so if one or more of your team members is finding their family situation becoming more stressed. (After all, living with young children cooped up in a home for days on end can do that to even the most “chill” of individuals.)

For example, if possible, don’t absolutely require that everyone “be at work” right at the usual start time and throughout the day. So long as your team members are getting their work done well and on time, let them know they have the flexibility to do their work when they see fit. (This may not work, of course, if they have customer-centric roles and your clients expect them to be available at certain times.)

Focus on the achievable

Many people in times such as these – constantly stressful and mostly not under our control – can start thinking they can’t do anything that will control or change their situation. (And even highly competent individuals can come to think this way.)

But focusing on achievable projects or tasks helps your subordinates have a sense of control and agency. Accomplishing these types of tasks and projects also helps redirect them from distressing thoughts and even moods.

Guide them in focusing on what they can do instead of what they can’t. For example, many salespeople may be greatly stressed about not being able to make sales calls in person. Let them know they can make them via video. More importantly, help them come up with achievable goals regarding how many video sales calls they may be able to make now. Chances are great that number will be much less than the number of calls they made in person. So instead of focusing on sales calls, help them focus instead on something they can control, such as how many prospects to whom they reach out to each week.

Cut back on priorities if possible

Aim to have a one-on-one (via video, of course) with each of your subordinates to discuss priorities. It’s best if you can reduce that number to just two or three.

Check in with team members regularly

Work with your subordinates to see what this will look like. Perhaps you’ll send an email every day to see how things are going while having an all-team video chat two or three times a week.

Don’t be afraid to send individual emails every now and then to team members that have nothing to do with tasks or projects. Ask them how someone in their family is doing, for example, and if they’ve been able to get out for a walk every day.

On a more work-related message, make sure to ask if there’s anything more you can do as their manager to help them.

Note: don’t be surprised if these daily check ins decline in numbers for each day and even how many you have in a week as your team members get used to their new work situation.

Encourage self-care and even team activities

Let your team members know they really should get outside, if possible, a few times a day. Consider having a weekly video get-together in which everyone can have fun together, perhaps by playing a game (with prizes), “having lunch together” via video, etc.

Keep them in the loop, no matter what

As the Covid-19 crisis continues for the next few weeks, you’re company may need to make major changes. Keep your team members aware on how things are going, especially if some big adjustments are coming.

How can we help you build or manage a remote team?

Looking for Work While Following “Safer at Home” Guidelines

Life sure feels and definitely looks different here in Southern California than it did just two weeks ago. Many of us started working from home just a few days ago and, as the days passed, more and more of us lost our jobs. And others among us soon may lose ours, as a recession already is here.

There IS hope; Jobs ARE available!

Right now (the last week of March) not only are some companies such as Amazon (to handle the increased need for workers in their distribution centers), Walmart (people are shopping for more food for at-home meals) and Domino’s Pizza (it needs more delivery drivers as people practice social distancing) actually hiring thousands of workers, many employers of all types are still hiring.

The vast majority of these jobs are either those that can be performed remotely, or are for what are deemed “critical” jobs that can’t be performed at home.

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Job Hunting during “Safer at Home”

The City of Los Angeles’ emergency order is called “Safer at Home, Stay at Home,” yet no matter whether you live in LA, Orange County or anywhere in the Golden State, you’re no doubt hunkering down at home now because many employers’ brick and mortar locations are closed to the public.

Rest assured, employers want to hire people as much as you want to be hired. Businesses still up and running are exceptionally focused on ensuring their operations remain steady. Yet with employers still hiring but not being able to meet candidates in the office, at job fairs, etc. what does that mean for you, the job hunter?

Virtual job hunting and interviewing!

And while that may “seem” really new and, well, odd, it’s not really, because you will – and should – continue emailing with recruiters or hiring managers who have reached out to you, just as you did before. (Tip: While we know you’ll no doubt really, really, really, really want to, we recommend that you don’t email or call a company to make sure it received your application. Contact an employer only after its reached out to you.)

  • If you’re just starting your job search, the rules still apply: if possible reach out directly to a hiring manager when you see a job opening and send your resume directly to their email address. (Make sure you’ve sent your application in online, as well – most companies require this today.)
  • If you were scheduled to come in for an interview before the stay-at-home orders took place and if you haven’t heard from the recruiter or hiring manager, it’s perfectly OK to email and ask if the interview is still on (the employer may have put things on hold for a bit). If the employer does want to postpone, ask them when it would be good time for you to check in again and place the date as a reminder on your calendar.
  • If you don’t have video conferencing on your own computer, laptop or smartphone, don’t worry: most recruiters do on their end and will send you a link you can use to have the interview via video.
  • Make sure your clothing and grooming looks job-interview appropriate for the video interview (at least from the waist up). Set up your computer in a spot that’s quiet and ask family members to be quiet themselves while you’re online.

Finally, don’t worry if you don’t have a laptop or computer at home: we can interview you via video on your smartphone!

Also, because our Helpmates offices are closed right now, we’re interviewing everyone via video: even people who will be working at an employer’s physical location.

We’ll all get through this together

Employers still need you. If you’re looking for work, take a look at our current opportunities and follow application instructions for those that appeal to you and for which you are qualified.

We look forward to hearing from you. Stay well.

Getting Through Challenging Times

So. Things now are, shall we say, a tad dicey. The coronavirus pandemic has caused the stock market to decline precipitously, and now many economists are predicting a global recession.

Fun times, right?

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You may be worried that your employer will cut back. You may be an employer and worried that you’ll have to let people go. You may be an employer worried you may have to shutter your entire business. This has, after all, already happened to many enterprises: many restaurants, clothing stores, gyms, hair salons, concert halls, amusement parks, and more already have closed. The idea is that they will reopen once the emergency has passed, but it’s common sense to understand that many may never open again.

We understand your (possible) panic

First, please know that we’re in no way minimizing or scoffing at your concerns. They are legitimate and you have every right to worry or even dread what may be coming. In fact, if you’ve already lost your job/livelihood, it’s perfectly acceptable to collapse in a puddle of “woe is me.” Really. Wallow and wallow some more! For at most two days.

Then, here’s what you do:

  • Reframe your thoughts.

If a negative thought goes through your mind push it out and replace it with a positive one. Even if the negative thought is catastrophic (“We’ll lose our home!”) and the only positive thing you can think of is so minor in its positivity that you feel it can’t possibly “overcome” the negative thought (“We have peanut butter in the cupboard and I love peanut butter”), switch it for the positive one.

Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones really is a minor miracle: it truly DOES help you stay positive and functioning in chaotic times because it shifts your energy.

Once you’ve done that and calmed your mind, you can look back at the negative thought and label it a “negative thought.” Doing so lets you see the thought as something “to either ‘look at or to look from.’” It’s just a thought: it’s not a real thing.

  • Channel your energy in positive ways.

Exercise (with gyms closed, try some bodyweight exercises at home or at least go for walks, if possible). Aim to eat as healthy as possible. Rest and sleep (and don’t take your smartphone to bed with you). Don’t be afraid to ask friends and loved ones for support. (And, instead of texting friends, call them or even Zoom/FaceTime them.)

  • Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t.

If you had to shut your business due to social distancing, you had no control over that decision. If you get laid off due to cutbacks during the (more-than-likely coming recession), you’ll have little control over that (although you may have more control than you think).

But you definitely can control over what you do now.

As some examples:

  • Look for part-time or temporary work (staffing firms are still hiring temporary workers, for example). Restaurants may need delivery people.
  • Start networking. You’ll have to do so remotely/online of course, but if you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile lately, now’s the time. Reach out to former co-workers and supervisors to let them know you’re available.
  • If you were laid off, check with your employer’s human resources department: there’s a good chance you will qualify for unemployment monies.
  • If you ran a business, what aspect of it could you run yourself? Were you a yoga instructor at a gym? Perhaps some of the gym members would be willing to pay you for instruction via Zoom? Did you operate a clothing store? Could you sell some of the items on Poshmark or Ebay?

In all things, be honest!

If you’re a business that might have to close or lay people off, be honest with your workers as soon as you understand that it could happen. Even if layoffs won’t happen, your employees no doubt are extremely stressed: keep them in the loop on everything and shut down any rumors as soon as you hear they’re circulating. Thank them for working even while they’re no doubt worried about the future – and possibly the health of some loved ones.

People here in the U.S. – and even around the globe – have been incredibly kind and supportive of each other in these last few weeks. It’s uplifting and gratifying how willing many people are to work at home (with children home from school, no less!) and how understanding businesses that have had to close for social distancing purposes have been regarding this critical step in controlling the coronavirus’ spread.

We can hope this continues, and it has the best chance of doing so if all of us are honest and above board about the challenges we face.

These aren’t easy times and they probably will get much worse before they get better. If you need staff to replace employees who have contracted COVID-19 or if you’re looking for work, we hope you’ll consider reaching out to the Helpmates branch nearest you.

We wish you good health, calm, hope, and love.

Showing Empathy When it’s the Last Thing You Want to Do

What’s that old saying? “Life would be so much better except for the people”? Is that it? You’ve no doubt heard something similar. After all, as wonderful as people can be, they often … aren’t.

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And this especially is true of employees. Or at least the ones who over and over and over again come to you, the human resources manager or representative, to complain about something.

Actually – and in defense of your employees – complaints to HR often aren’t given by the same one, two or handful of people. But complaints do come. Often and regularly. And if you work in HR yourself you know all too well how easy it is to become desensitized to employee complaints and concerns.

This worries you, of course: after all, many employee complaints are valid and should be looked into. But what happens if you’re stressed, you’re tired, it’s the end of the day, you’ve heard this complaint before, and on and on?

As we mentioned in a recent post on keeping the human touch in human resources, showing empathy when interacting with unhappy employees can go a long way to ensuring workers understand HR can be a true resource for them.

First, understand the different types of empathy

There basically are three: cognitive, emotional and compassionate.

  • Cognitive empathy is when you’re able to interpret the persons’ feelings and thoughts, helping you figure out the best way to move forward. In a way, you’re able to see the other person’s perspective on the situation.
  • Emotional empathy is when you feel the same emotions as the person. For example, let’s say someone you know is caught in a lie and you feel shame when you think about if you had been caught in a falsehood.
  • Compassionate empathy is when you see someone go through pain and you experience the pain yourself. It’s different from emotional empathy in that it compels you to take action to help alleviate the person’s pain yourself.

When working as an HR professional, as tired as you may be, as often as you’ve heard these concerns (or similar ones), as short-tempered as the person speaking or writing to you may be, it’s important that you respond in a professional, calm and even empathetic way.

We know: it’s really hard to do so. And we want to help.

Some tips to help you maintain your empathy when it’s the last thing you want to do

  • If you’re absolutely sure you won’t be able to handle. One. More. Complaint, ask a colleague to take over.

You may want to do so as you feel your fatigue rising before an employee comes to your office. You certainly may want to take your colleague aside privately when you ask him or her to do you this favor, especially if you need to step away from the employee to do so. The point is – if you’re definitely at your emotional limit – to see if you can ask someone who has more emotional bandwidth at the moment to listen to the employee.

  • Take a deep breath after listening to the complaint before responding.

Also, the first thing you should say is to ask if you can reiterate what the person just told you so that you can be sure you understand the issue. Take your breath, ask and then when the person says yes (almost always), say words to the effect of “So what I’m hearing is…,” and then repeat the situation as you understand it.

If the person corrects you, restate it as you understand it until the person says you have it correctly.

  • It’s OK to ask the person to slow down. It’s also OK to ask the person to stick to the facts and to stop with name calling, if applicable.

Nothing good comes from allowing someone to vent in a vitriolic manner. Quietly ask the person to stick to the facts. If the person is unable to, let him or know know gently that spewing is not helpful and that you’re happy to hear them out, but that they need to state facts, not venom. If the person is more upset than angry, you naturally will help him or her calm down.

  • Aim to find the core issue and focus on that.

Once you appear to have heard the individual’s main beef, ask questions. How long has the issue been going on? What has happened as a result?

This is where you can really start trying out your empathy skills. When you repeat back what happened, you can add something along the lines of “I can imagine that when you heard Sara received the promotion that you’d worked so hard to earn yourself that you felt unappreciated, at the very least.”

  • Ask the person what they’d like to see happen.

Obviously, if the person wants someone fired immediately, you need to state that that’s an inappropriate request. But no matter what the person wants, if it’s an issue that’s in HR’s sphere of interest, state that you’ll look into it.

And then, of course, make sure you do so.

Perhaps this one “reminder” can help

Whether you’ve worked in HR for a year or for decades, we know that you’ve heard employee complaints and concerns that are very similar to each other. Many times.

In other words, it’s old news to you. Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt and donated it to the thrift store long ago.

But remember: to the employee, it’s all brand new. Remember that as much as possible and you’ll more often than not show a true empathetic and human face to your company’s employees.

Hard-working people when YOU need them

Whether you need workers for long- or short-term assignments, call upon Helpmates to help you find and place them. Reach out to the recruiters at the Helpmates location nearest you to learn more.

 

When the Boss Has Unreasonable Expectations

Most bosses have high expectations – as well they should. But sometimes a manager can be unreasonably demanding. There is nothing that raises stress levels more quickly, and nothing that pulls down morale and productivity more readily.

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The stress it induces can also lead to health problems. Studies have shown it significantly raises the probability of a heart attack. So, if you find yourself in such a situation, how do you handle it? Here are some strategies to help you change the dynamic for the better.

  1. Take a different perspective

An assignment your boss has given you may appear to be extreme to you, but take a moment to look at the task from your manager’s viewpoint. It could be that your supervisor sees a way of doing the work that is not as onerous as it appears to you, or that you are misinterpreting what your supervisor wants.

Or it could be that your supervisor is intentionally giving you a challenging assignment because he or she is looking to push you into a higher level of performance, to help you reach your potential. Or it could be that you are selling yourself short, that you are underestimating your ability.

  1. Propose solutions

On the other hand, if your boss is continually dumping an inordinate amount of work on you, or otherwise asking too much in the way of results, then you have a real problem. Your first step should be to arrange a meeting with him or her.

The purpose of the meeting obviously is to work through the situation, but going in simply to complain about the workload or expectations and to say you cannot accomplish the assignments will not go over well. You need to prepare what you are going to say, and you need to focus on how to solve the problem.

You need to explain what the problem is, and what needs to change in order to accomplish the task. You may, for example, need more time to do the job or more people. But the focus here again is on getting the job done.

It also helps to get more information, such as the purpose or goal of the project, what obstacles you are likely to encounter, and if there have been any similar projects undertaken in the past that might help to provide some guidance.

  1. Consider why your supervisor may have such high expectations

Try to put yourself in your supervisor’s position to understand her behavior. He or she may be getting pressure from higher ups to boost performance, or she may be positioning herself for a promotion. It could also be that she is considering whether to give you increased authority and responsibility and is monitoring how you handle it.

  1. Check with coworkers

You probably aren’t the only person who is having difficulty handling the demands of your supervisor. Talk to your coworkers about their experiences with your boss and find out how they handled the situation. Find out what they know about your supervisor and her background and motivations.

Try to find people in the company who have had a good working relationship with your boss and learn what you can from them.

  1. Try stress-reducing activities

If you are going to perform at your best, you need to stay healthy and keep stress to a minimum. There are a number of different ways to do that. Make sure to get enough sleep and exercise, eat a healthy diet and maintain a good social life.

If, no matter what you do, you’ve decided it’s time to leave your boss for another one, check out our current job opportunities here at Helpmates. Find one or two that look interesting? Then follow application instructions or call the Helpmates location nearest you.

Keeping the Human in Human Resources

Technology is great … until it becomes a substitute for the human touch.

Many experts are worried that too many of us are relying on technology in our day-to-day lives. This extends, of course, to relying on tech to do away with tasks we find tedious or rote.

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But should we? Take HR. For example, instead of calling or emailing candidates personally, how many times do you send out template rejection letters or emails to people who you interviewed in person? Don’t they deserve a personal touch such as a phone call? After all, they took the time out from their day – their jobs – to come to your business to interview. Is it really too overwhelmingly tempting for you to shoot out a cookie-cutter email letting them know they weren’t selected?

How technology already impacts HR

Technological tools already have made a huge bang on human resources. For example:

  • Recruiting tools such as applicant tracking systems (ATS) have simplified the hiring process.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) helps match candidates with your open positions. It also can be used to help your current employees find answers to the many “typical” questions to which they normally turn to HR to ask.
  • Video conference and other collaboration platforms help recruiters interview candidates (in preliminary interviews, at least).
  • Many performance-management tools now automate processes such as collecting employee feedback, sending messages to employees, etc.
  • Paying employees digitally.
  • Providing online training, new employee onboarding and employee development programs.
  • Company-wide intranets that give employees information as needed. These intranets also can provide employees with direct access to their own personnel records, etc.
  • Human capital management software automates many tedious HR tasks, such as tracking hours worked by department/project, employee turnover and attrition, storing critical compliance data, and more.

The ways in which technology makes us feel disconnected from each other

Whether the following are “unintended consequences” or not of using technology to make our day-to-day work lives easier, the fact remains: we’re feeling less and less connected to each other:

  • Text messaging, email and social media often are the preferred method of communicating with colleagues, even when a face-to-face meeting or a simple phone call would answer questions and concerns easily, more collaboratively and even more quickly.
  • Technology allows us to work remotely, so we may never interact with subordinates or co-workers in real life at all.
  • Many of us now are “tethered” 24/7 to our bosses/jobs, always feeling that we “need” to be available to our employers lest we be seen as slackers of non-team players. This feeling of “always being at work” is proven to be detrimental to our health and personal relationships.

As technology – particularly artificial intelligence (AI) – moves more and more into the recruiting/human resources space we feel it’s more important than ever to ensure that the human touch remains an important part of the work we do in our professions. So much so that we’ve decided to discuss the idea of keeping the human in human resources in more depth moving forward.

That said, we will discuss how human resources professionals can keep their empathy on full display when dealing with employees and candidates. We know all too well how stressful working in recruiting/HR can be and how easy it is to start look at people as “problems” rather than as assets. Look for that post later this month.

In the meantime, if you need more humans to work for a few hours or a few months, contact the recruiters at Helpmates. We can source, vet and place terrific workers quickly. We look forward to hearing from you.

How to Network at an Event

There’s an art to good networking, especially in a social setting. Some of us have a natural curiosity and enjoy the opportunity to meet new people, while others view it with a sense of dread, a necessary but tedious chore. However you look at it, there are good ways to network and not-so-good ways.

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Networking is about meeting people, but with a purpose. You are seeking something from the other person, but it is important to remember that networking is about giving as well as getting. The relationship needs to be mutually beneficial if it is to work.

Here are some tips on how to do it.

  1. Have a plan

You have to take some care in choosing the events you want to attend. Consider which types of events you feel most comfortable at, how they are organized, the time of day they are held, and the location. You need to also consider who it is you want to meet and what events they are likely to attend.

Decide what you want to accomplish at the event. For example, you decide to talk at least four people and follow up with one or two of them.

If you receive a list before the event of the people who will be attending, you can determine who you would like to meet and do a little background research on them.

  1. Greetings

You also need to plan what you’ll say when you approach someone, to try and make it as engaging as possible. Opening with your name and job title is not the best kind of greeting. To make it more interesting, say your name, but make sure you ask questions about your new acquaintance rather than about yourself.

It may help to arrive at the event a little early because there will likely be fewer people at that point, making it easier to join a group or make an introduction. But it is important to remember that you shouldn’t immediately jump into work related topics, but make an effort to establish a rapport first, making small talk and discussing topics of interest to the other person.

Even if you have had a bad day, put it behind you and be sure you take a positive, upbeat attitude into the event. No one wants to hear about your troubles. Smile.

What Not to Do

  • Pile food on a plate.

Avoid immediately making a beeline for the appetizers and stocking up. Grab a drink and circulate first. It is very awkward trying to schmooze while holding a plate of food and trying to eat. Also, if you wait for food, going to get it will give you an excuse to end a conversation.

  • Push into a group.

Don’t try to force your way into a conversation. Look at the signals. If you see a group that is engaged in earnest conversation, it is not likely they will be pleased if you insert yourself and ask what they are talking about. If, on the other hand, you see a smaller group talking casually, this may be a better opportunity to approach and introduce yourself.

  • Looking impatient.

Even if you think the person talking to you is a crashing bore, you need to look interested. Even if the person talking to you doesn’t notice your boredom or impatience, others may, and that will not make a good impression.

  • Forget business cards.

There really is no excuse for this. You are there to make connections, and not having business cards won’t help.

  • Talking too much.

Again, you are there to make connections and establish a rapport with others. You cannot do this if you are dominating the conversation. Do more listening than talking, showing an interest in what the other person has to say.

If you’re looking for new job opportunities, contact Helpmates. Take a look at our latest job openings and either apply for those that interest you or contact the branch nearest you for an interview.

Making the Most of Your Meetings

Oh no, not another meeting! At some companies, meetings have become synonymous with wasted time. When a meeting is announced, employees immediately begin to think of ways to get out of it. It doesn’t have to be this way. If done properly, meetings can help you employees perform their jobs better. Here are some tips on conducting effective meetings.

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  1. Decide if it’s even necessary.

This is the first question you need to ask. It may have been scheduled a long time ago, with no clear agenda, with too many people. It may no longer be needed. Often, what needs to be communicated can be accomplished through email and doesn’t even require face-to-face interaction.

You need to be clear exactly what the purpose of the meeting is and what you want to accomplish by having it. You need to have an agenda that is clear and detailed. It should be circulated before the meeting. Some business experts estimate that half of the agendas for meetings are simply recycled.

  1. Keep it short.

Studies have shown that after 30 minutes, people begin to tune things out at a meeting, so it is important to not waste time at a meeting with extraneous items. If you absolutely need to go longer than 30 minutes, schedule breaks. Also, agenda items at the top of the list generally get more attention than those further down, so plan accordingly.

You also need to stick to the agenda. If someone brings up an issue not on the agenda, make a note of it for discussion at a later date, either at another meeting or among those involved.

  1. Target goals, ideas and solutions.

In other words, you should focus on results, the ends and not the means. It is generally just a waste of time to listen to people’s stories of how they got to a particular goal or made a particular achievement, unless that is the explicit purpose of the meeting. Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.

  1. Don’t dwell on disagreements.

If there are conflicting viewpoints on an issue or course of action, and they cannot be easily resolved, don’t waste time trying to hash through things at the meeting. Save it for another time when those involved can discuss it on their own.

  1. Stick to the particular and the concrete.

Avoid straying into abstract, conceptual language when discussing problems. Focus on real examples that people are confronting people in their work. Dealing with specific, concrete instances where problems are occurring will help people to more easily grasp what is going on and more directly engage with it to come up with a solution.

When talking about situations or dilemmas, avoid getting caught up in emotions and focus on the data, the actual evidence of what is going on.

  1. Draw up precise deadlines.

Meetings should revolve around results and outcomes, goals to be reached. Without deadlines, there is no accountability for achieving those goals, and no way to begin to assess your efforts.

  1. Sum things up briefly.

At the end of the meeting, everyone should clearly understand what was accomplished, the important points that were considered and what comes next.

  1. Follow up with an email.

At the end of the meeting, someone should be chosen at random to put together a short email to record the decisions made, the main ideas that were covered and the action plan that was decided upon, and send it out to all the participants and any others who need the information.

If you and your team members decide after a meeting that you need more workers for a crunch project, reach out to Helpmates. Contact the branch nearest you and talk to us about your staffing needs.

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