Never Refer to Yourself as Unemployed. Here’s Why.

Most of us will be unemployed at least once in our working lives. Employers are aware of that. So it should be okay to describe yourself as unemployed on LinkedIn or on your resume and cover letter, right?

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Well, no! Unfortunately, there is still a stigma that is attached to the word “unemployed,” a stigma that still prejudices hiring managers, even if they have been unemployed at some point themselves.

It shouldn’t be that way.

The fact is that many people these days have gaps in their work history for a variety of reasons. Employers are always looking to streamline their workforces and so layoffs have become more common. Those who remain are expected to shoulder more of the workload, and companies are filling the gaps with contingent labor.

In this day and age, according to some career experts, people can have multiple careers and multiple jobs within those careers. It has, in fact, become much more commonplace for people to have gaps in their work history.

But old ways of thinking die hard, and the prejudice against the unemployed still exists, although it may not carry quite the negative connotation as in the past. But research has shown that it doesn’t matter how someone lost their job, whether they were fired or laid off, the stigma still attached to his situation.

The unemployed are looked at less favorably than those who have a job, even if their skill levels are the same.

For this reason, some career experts advise people to avoid using the word “unemployed,” instead substituting something such as “between jobs.” The word unemployed has too much negative psychological baggage, denoting defeatism. Because of this it can even affect the job candidate’s self-image and self-esteem, impacting their job search.

What to do If You Are Unemployed

If you are unemployed and looking for work, don’t try and hide it. Many job candidates try to disguise the fact or equivocate about it, but they don’t fool employers and they only come across as dishonest. The fact is, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it.

Explain what happened, and then focus on how you have been using the time since you became unemployed, how you have maintained your skills and knowledge. For example, have you volunteered your time doing work-related projects, taken classes or attended conferences, traveled, or something else in the meantime?

This will help to achieve two things – the first is showing your tenacity and resilience in the face of adversity, as well as your dedication. Even though you have lost your job, you have continued to work to advance your career and prepare for the time when you are rehired.

Lessen the Fears of the Employer

One of the main concerns companies have about the unemployed is the erosion of their skills. By emphasizing the work you have been doing during your unemployment, you also help to reassure the employer that you have maintained your skills.

Another way of keeping up your skills if you don’t have a full-time job is through temporary work. Working as a contingent employee has several benefits. As mentioned, it helps you maintain your skills. But you also will be working at companies that could be future employers if they like your work. And you get to meet new people in your profession who may also be able to offer leads on jobs.

So if you now find yourself between jobs, contact Helpmates as part of your job search. We can help you find temporary work while you look for full-time employment. We also can help you find full-time work.

Take a look at our current openings and apply to those that interest you.

Negating the Parent Trap: Helping Working Parents Move Up the Career Ladder

Career ambition isn’t just for the childless: parents have career dreams, too. But too many unwritten rules in the workplace keep parents trapped in lower-level positions.

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We’ll first delineate some of these “rules,” and then we’ll offers some suggestions companies could use to help working parents move high up the career ladder.

Take a look below.

  • Presentism

The number of people working from home has risen greatly in the last few years, up 44 percent over the past five years and increasing by a whopping 91 percent over the last 10 years. People doing all kinds of work and of all ages embrace the concept. Parents especially like the idea due to the work-life balance telecommuting offers.

Yet telecommuters lose out when it comes to job promotions and while many workplaces today say they want their employees – parents or not – to have a good work-life-balance, who tends to get the job promotions? Those workers who work full-time in the office: telecommuters and other remote workers are 50 percent less likely to receive a performance-based promotion than in-house employees.

In other words, if a manager doesn’t see someone doing their job, no matter how great their output and quality of work, it’s much harder for them to receive a promotion than someone who works in the office (and who is regularly seen by a manager).

  • You must not be serious about your career if you ask to take time off to see your child’s basketball game.

This harkens back to presentism and really hits parents where it hurts – in both their hearts (family) and their professional ambitions (many employers expect “that employees devote themselves fully to work.”)

Employers Lose, Too

It’s not just employees that lose when they don’t get a promotion: many workers have left a company – and take their skills, education and corporate knowledge with them – if an employer balks at offering flexible schedules.

Helping Your Company by Helping Working Parents Move Up

How can you help employees who are parents with their career goals? We have some ideas, below:

  • Focus on employees’ output/quality of work rather than how often they’re in the office.

Does it really matter when and where an employee works as much as the fact that the work gets done on time and is of high quality. Does it really?

  • If you don’t do so yet, start offering a telecommuting program and/or flexible schedules.

A telecommuting program is a big perk to many candidates, and can help you attract the best-of-the-best. Just don’t “punish” those of your workers who take advantage of it and doubt their value to you as well as their dedication. Conduct a gut check on whether you – and other managers – have a presentism mindset. If you see it’s there, fight it. HARD.

  • Provide online training opportunities for telecommuters.

Your remote workers want to learn new skills, just as your in-house workers do. But if you offer only on-site workshops and benefits/perks for in-class education, you could be hindering your remote workers’ chance to learn new skills and certifications. Because working parents often opt to telecommute, this can be detrimental when a promotion opportunity requires some type of certification or education level.

  • Have regular “How are you doing?” and “How can I help you with your goals?” conversations.

Ask your working parent employees what they need to help them perform at their best. See if their suggestions are something you could implement.

  • If you’re a working parent yourself, remember the challenges you faced if you wanted a promotion when your children were young(er).

Remember how hard it was to prove yourself as a working parent? The obstacles and challenges that came your way your non-parent colleagues didn’t face. Don’t forget your own beginnings and have compassion and understanding for ambitious employees who just happen to also be parents. You were just like them once; remember that.

When you need high-caliber workers for your temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire job opportunities, call upon the experienced recruiters at Helpmates for help. Reach out to the branch office nearest you and learn more.

No Job is a Dream Job: All Jobs are WORK

We often think that getting our dream job will make our lives all rainbows and unicorns. But dream jobs are, plain and simple, myths. All jobs involve doing tasks we don’t like – we have to take off the rose-colored glasses and accept that all jobs have both the good and the bad.

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You may think you have found your dream job, but it’s just impossible to get a clear, complete picture of any job until you are actually doing it. The job may look wonderful because of the type of work involved or the particular company you will be working for, but that feeling of euphoria could dissipate rapidly if your supervisor turns out to be narcissistic and unreasonable, or your coworkers are unfriendly, or the company culture is not a good fit.

The Downside of the Dream Job

In fact, psychologists and business experts agree that believing in and looking for that dream job is actually a harmful mindset to get into. You are more than likely just laying the groundwork for disappointment. Or you may be so convinced you have found your dream job that you refuse to acknowledge the warning signs for trouble. Others, in a similar state of stubborn denial, refuse to acknowledge their so-called dream job is more of a nightmare because they cannot face the prospect of being wrong about it.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do work that you truly enjoy. The problem begins when you develop an idealized version of the job in your mind, which seldom comports with reality. And when you have to confront that reality, it can lead to confusion and setbacks, which may end up leading you further away from what you really want to do rather than toward it. We see in our dream job all of the plusses without thinking about the minuses, all of the struggles and sacrifices that are inevitably involved in any job.

The Dream Job Changes

Another reason the dream job is a myth – our vision of such a job is always evolving and changing because we are growing and maturing. Our attitudes, values and beliefs are changing, so what we consider to be the perfect job changes as well. We gain experience and our perspective alters. For example, as a child, a person’s dream job may have been that of a fireman, but as the person matures, it may become a robotics engineer.

The job may change also as the parts that form the job change. For example, you may love your job, but you may get a new boss or new coworkers, or there may be changes in company operations or policy that affect your job, and suddenly it is no longer a dream job.

The march of progress may also change your image of a dream job. Technology is creating new jobs all the time, while rendering others obsolete.

It’s natural for your dream job to change over time as you move through your career.  There is nothing wrong with that. What you need to avoid, however, is chasing after a chimera, something that doesn’t exist, except in your mind.

Rather than focusing on some mythical dream job, strive to grow and develop in your career, to enhance your opportunities and options. Even if you don’t land a job you love immediately, as you advance in your working life, you will move closer to your dream job. Every experience is valuable if you learn from it and grow from it. Finding the perfect job is more of a journey, one that is not a straight line, but one that involves trial and error, and testing things out.

Speaking of trying things out, if you’re not sure what type of career you want, consider working as a temporary associate at Helpmates and give different types of jobs and industries a shot. Take a look at some of our current openings and if one or more piques your interest, following application instructions or contact the Helpmates branch nearest you.

2019 New Year’s Resolution: Embrace AI

Many recruiters and human resources professionals may be – to put it lightly – a tad leery regarding artificial intelligence. After all, while many experts are saying AI won’t take away our jobs, just change how we do them, we’re still wary. Should we gird ourselves for a “take over by the ‘bots”?

Our take? Embrace the techno! We believe AI won’t replace recruiters. It will, instead, make our workday lives easier. Here are just three ways how, below.

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  1. No more poring over dozens/hundreds of resumes.

Let AI do it! By allowing technology to find the relevant skills, education and background needs and then saving all of it in easily accessible (and readable) data fields, is a sourcer’s and recruiter’s dream come true. Using a resume parser can be an incredible time saver. And since too many great candidates find other employment while your hiring process lags, that’s a very good thing indeed for your desire to hire top talent. Especially as they evolve into tools that use neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) for much greater accuracy.

  1. Provide “scores” for each candidate.

AI can rate each candidate based on criteria set by a hiring manager. Artificial intelligence can crawl through resumes and even social media profiles to find this information, thus eliminating the oh-so-time-consuming resume cull. What’s more AI can perform multi-batch phone screenings, thus ridding humans of this highly stressful and somewhat tedious task.

  1. Help you predict which candidates will perform the best on the job.

Most of us show our best selves when interviewing.  And as a recruiter or hiring manager you’ve no doubt hired someone who looked great on paper and/or interviewed exceptionally well only to find them….lacking in some important aspect of their job performance or even cultural fit.

Predictive hiring analytics, however, can help identify which candidates are a best fit – and would make a better employee. This type of AI uses richer data sets and smart algorithms to highlight the candidates that best fit criteria set by hiring managers and/or recruiters.

Additional uses of predictive hiring analytics include:

  • Highlighting which requirements are associated with good performance over time.
  • When do soft skills – and which soft skills – indicate how successful a candidate will be.
  • Ascertain which job candidates are most likely to accept the job offer.
  • Screen out those candidates who are good-looking-on-paper-but-not-going-to-be-good employees.
  • More objectively use information found during reference checks and background screening.

What AI Can’t Do

Taking a look at the above tasks easily taken over by bots, what do you see? You see the preliminary, early going, screening process tasks. (And they don’t do any outreach to passive candidates!) The in-depth conversations and relationship-building during a job interview — the selling of the position — can’t be done by technology, and probably never will.

Instead, AI will take the tedium away from recruiting and allow top recruiters to do what they do best: connect with and nurture top talent.

Looking to connect with top talent today? Call upon the recruiters at Helpmates. All of our recruiters are Certified Staffing Professionals (CSP) and we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional service to both our clients and candidates, as evidenced by being named to Inavero’s Best of Staffing list for nine years in a row!

Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you. We look forward to hearing from you.

Making the Most of the Holiday Season

The holiday season is here! Times of good cheer, holiday parties (at the office and friends’ homes), gift purchasing and giving/receiving….and a GREAT time to finally get some work done!

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Work in December often slows down as you and your colleagues think ahead to the 25th. That’s why this month can be a terrific time to focus on what you need to do to improve your skill sets, catch up on networking, revamp your resume, and so on.

Take a look below for how to use the slower days at work this month to improve your job/career prospects.

  1. Use holiday parties to best networking advantage.

While you won’t want to network blatantly for new job opportunities at your office/professional parties, you will want to ask people what they do for a living, maybe talk shop if it interests you and (most importantly) get their contact information so that you can follow up with them later.

Just about everyone is in a great mood at holiday parties and well may be in a “giving” mood, so don’t be shy about asking to meet later.

(Important tip: don’t drink too much – or at all – at your company’s holiday hullabaloo or at networking events. It may be a party, but you’re there in a professional capacity.)

In fact, instead of “networking,” think of the parties as a way to make new or build upon existing relationships. Relationships, after all, are what truly make the world go round, whether in our personal or professional lives.

  1. Update your resume to include recent accomplishments.

The slower times could be the perfect opportunity to update your resume. However, while it may be slower at work, be very careful: don’t write your resume at work. Don’t print it out there, either. Take notes, writing them down for working at home later when you’ll do the actual revamping.

You may be too busy when home with holiday preparations (why is it the holidays seem so jam packed at home but slow at work….) but if you have time off between December 25 and January 1, use the quiet break in the hubbub to think about what you want to accomplish professionally in the coming year.

  1. Updated your skills.

If things are slow at work, ask your boss if you could take an online course, certificate program, etc. during office hours. Your boss/company may be happy to pay/help pay for these courses. If not, there are many free ones online.

  1. Look for work.

If the idea of returning to this particular employer in 2019 is ruining the holidays for you, start looking for a new opportunity (during your off hours, of course)! It’s a big myth that “no one hires during the holidays.” Instead, hiring managers often have to fill empty positions before the end of the year or they lose their budget for the positions (the ol’ “use it or lose it” budget policy).

So, go ahead: enjoy this lovely time of year, full of hope and good feelings. And consider extending those great feelings for yourself by contacting the Helpmates branch nearest you and registering as one of our associates. We look forward to meeting you!

Should You Start a Telecommuting Program?

Employees tend to love being able to work remotely/telecommute. In fact, it’s a sought-after employee benefit for candidates and offering it as a perk of employment definitely can help attract top talent.

But it’s not always a win-win for a company – or even for the worker.

Take a look below for the pros and cons for of a telecommuting program for both a company and its workers.

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Pros for the Employer

As mentioned above, offering flexible work schedules (including telecommuting) definitely can help a company become an employer of choice. In fact, many people say they would leave a current employer for another that offered a telecommuting perk.

Companies with a national/regional presence can save considerably on overhead, as they no longer will need to rent or lease office space, furniture and equipment for employees who work from a company’s headquarters.

Employees who telecommute do tend to be more engaged and productive.

Telecommuting Pros for Employees

Being able to work where employees want allows much more flexibility in their personal lives. For example, workers could work late at night and then take a parent or child to a planned doctor’s appointment the next morning without losing time “at work.”

Telecommuting can improve employee productivity because workplace interruptions are greatly reduced. There are fewer meetings to attend, no one stopping by a desk “just to chat,” and so on.

Employees can eat healthier (no access to the donuts in the break room) and exercise more (workers could go for a run/walk or to the gym instead of commuting to work). They could volunteer at a child’s lunch party at school.

All of the above adds up to telecommuting’s biggest perk of all: having more control over one’s day-to-day schedule.

The Problems with Telecommuting for Employers.

As terrific as telecommuting workers can be for companies, there are some problems inherent within it:

Employees can take advantage of their telecommuting situation.

Workplaces can lose the collaboration and camaraderie that often occurs when everyone is in close proximity to each other. There will be no brainstorming meetings together and ideas simply don’t seem to flow as easily when people “meet” via video chat.

Cybercriminals can take advantage of employee connections from home computers. Unless employers provide completely secure Internet access, companies may be putting private and/or proprietary information at risk of theft.

Why Telecommuting May Not Be as Great as Employees Think

Telecommuters do report feelings of isolation. This may not be a problem for those with families, but it can be a real problem for many people. Many of those who telecommute say they miss the camaraderie of being around colleagues they enjoy.

When it comes to promotions, etc.: out of sight out of mind. It’s true. In fact, one study found that half of those who worked from home  asked to return to the office due to loneliness and a sense that they were missing out on promotion and career opportunities.

If your company does decide to start a telecommuting program, make sure you set regular check-in opportunities for employees and their managers. Make expectations as to deliverables and how often employees need to check in explicit from the very beginning. You may also want to require that employees travel to the office at least once a week.

You also want to make sure telecommuting employees have an extremely secure Internet connection.

If you’re a company located other than Southern California and are looking for workers in the Anaheim or Los Angeles area, contact Helpmates to help you vet and place top talent. Contact us for more information.

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