Tips for Getting the Candidate Experience Right, Right Now

Recruiting is a lot different today than at the beginning of the year. One of the major changes is the way in which candidates experience the hiring process. From Zoom interviews to virtual onboarding, there are a lot of adjustments to make for both companies and candidates alike.

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The hiring process may have changed in a number of different ways, but one aspect of it should never be altered. That is the candidate experience. It should always be a positive one for the applicant.

Change in the Landscape

Before the pandemic, job seekers had the upper hand because unemployment was so low. Now, however, the advantage has shifted more toward employers because so many people are now out of work. Employers may become more lax in their dealing with job candidates — and less concerned about making sure candidates are well looked after.

But this would be a mistake for several reasons. First, companies are still looking to fill about five million open positions, which is actually more than in 2014, when employers were really starting to have difficulty finding people. Second, companies that allow a poor candidate experience lose money because of it. Third, your brand will suffer – job candidates tend to talk about their negative experience with others in their profession. And fourth, job applicants are more likely to accept a job offer if they have had a positive experience. They’re also more likely to recommend your company to others.

How to Provide a Good Candidate Experience

  1. Communication

This is most important. You don’t want to leave candidates guessing about where they stand in the process and what the next steps are, or even how many other people are being interviewed. You should find out what questions they have as well.

You should also be honest with candidates. Some HR professionals advise discussing salary up front to be sure the company and the candidate are in the same salary range. You don’t want to go through the whole process, offer the candidate a job, and then find out that salary is a deal breaker. You also need to be honest about the position’s duties – the good and the bad aspects of the job.

Also, respond to all applications, whether you intend to follow up with someone or not. This is simply common courtesy, and it will make a good impression on applicants. Most companies don’t even bother to acknowledge the receipt of applications.

  1. Respect

You need to treat candidates with respect. That means preparing for the interview, knowing the candidate’s background and having questions already drawn up. Sometimes hiring managers show up unprepared, resulting in a haphazard interview.

  1. The hiring process

It should be designed to be user friendly. Too often, companies make candidates jump through a lot of hoops. Applications are long and complicated. The candidate has to interview with too many different people, and the process takes too long.

  1. Get Feedback

To improve the process, you also need to get feedback from the candidates. Find out what they thought of their interview. What kind of impression did they get of the company? Did they feel they received enough information as they went through the process? Did they think they were treated well? What did they like about the process, and what things would they change? What kind of improvements would they make?

Interviews are….a “tad” different now. And this does affect your candidates’ experience with the hiring process.

Helpmates can do all candidate pre-screening for you, from sourcing qualified candidates, to conducting preliminary interviews, to checking references and vetting, sending you (whether via video or in-person) only the top candidates for final interviews.

Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you for more information.

Staying Motivated During Your Job Search While in a – Hello! – Freaking Pandemic!

We don’t have to tell you that it’s rough out there: about 31.8 million plus folks are out of work nationwide (as of early July).  In fact, Los Angeles County itself had an unemployment rate of 19.4 percent in June.

So it’s understandable that, if you’ve been looking for work for two or three months, that your job search motivation might be, shall we say, “lagging” a bit.

Yes, it’s rough, but if there’s one thing to focus on, it’s this:

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You are a job seeker of one. There’s one of you; you need just one job. Don’t worry about ALL the other people applying to the jobs available. Instead, focus just on getting the job you need.

That said, even if you’ve been looking for work for weeks with no luck, even if you feel beaten down and just can’t bear to look at a job board ever again, let alone send in an application, you definitely can get your motivation back. Here’s how.

Set short-term goals

You’ve done tough things in your past. Perhaps you’ve:

  • Given birth/gone through labor
  • Run a marathon
  • Lost 50 pounds
  • Saved up money for a new laptop (rather than put it on a credit card)

What do those things have in common? They were relatively short-lived and you looked forward to a specific outcome when you finished them. You knew “the end” was coming.

Looking for work, on the other hand, has no set timeline. You don’t know when “the end” will come. You have a goal – get a new job – but it has no set endpoint that you can control.

So set short-term goals. Goals such as:

  • You will reach out to 15 people by Friday.
  • You will apply to 15 jobs by Friday. (This is a different goal than the one above because reaching out to people is different than applying for jobs. In addition, you will tweak your resume/cover letter to be specific to each position to which you’re applying.)
  • You will post at least one comment on the LinkedIn groups to which you belong by Friday.
  • And so on.

Give yourself rewards for meeting each goal.

And we do mean EACH goal! Looking for work is hard (as you well know). It’s definitely “not fun” (putting it lightly). You definitely should celebrate when you reach a goal. You truly deserve it!

Focus on processes, not results

Your goals shouldn’t be, “I’ll get a job by the end of September.” “I’ll get 2 interviews a week in August.” Why shouldn’t you make these types of goals? Because you have no control over whether the goal will “be met.” (For example, you have no control on whether a hiring manager will call you in for an interview.) Instead, focus on what you can control: the process. Send out X resumes a week. Reach out to X people per week. And so on. Work the process and the process will work for you.

Keep looking and you WILL land a job!

It’s amazing what consistently “working the process” does when it comes to just about anything (weight loss, exercise, learning a new skill, etc.). It’s the same with the job search, no matter what the “conditions” are surrounding your efforts, setting small, process-focused goals – and meeting them – will help you get your job-search mojo back and land you a job sooner than you may think.

Helpmates has several job opportunities available right now and many of them need people to start working immediately. Take a look at our current openings and follow the instructions for applying to the ones that interest you.

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.

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!

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