5 Tips to Acing a Telephone Job Interview

b loehr - phonePhone interviews are a common, handy way for employers to narrow the pool of job applicants when there’s not sufficient time to grant a face-to-face to every promising candidate. Those candidates who impress will move on to round two, an in-person interview. Those who don’t, well . . . you get the picture.

You can make a lasting, positive impression during this screening process and keep your name in the hat with attention to these simple steps.

  1. Consider the day and time to be interviewed

If given the opportunity for input, choose a day and time when you can be in a quiet place, unlikely to be interrupted, where your focus can be completely on the interview. Of course refrain from being overly picky. “Sorry, that day/time doesn’t work either…” if repeated several times will send a less than serious message about your intentions toward this job opportunity.

  1. Take control of your environment

Close the door to the kids and the pets. Turn off all electronic devices—the stereo, the TV, the iPad or video game. Disengage your phone’s call waiting option. Use speakerphone only if: it will not interfere with the reception quality, the possibility of interruptions is nil, and then only after you ask permission from the interviewer. Survey the room for anything that could be a distraction and remove it.

Don’t fall for the “but he/she can’t see me” reasoning that might persuade you to wear sweats, nibble on a snack or have a cigarette to calm your nerves. Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink during the interview. Go a step further and wear interview appropriate attire. Why? Because it’s natural inclination to behave more formally when dressed in business or formal attire than in sweats.

  1. Make preparation a priority 

You would prepare in multiple ways for an in-person interview. Do the same for a telephone interview. Make sure all pertinent documents are at your fingertips. Have pen and paper handy for note taking. Practice the answer to common interview questions. Avoid “yes” and “no” responses as they tend to shorten rather than move a telephone interview forward.

  1. Be professional

Don’t allow the “home turf advantage” to create a casual or laidback attitude Answer the call professionally with a simple ‘Good morning, (insert name) speaking’. Address the interviewer as Miss, Mrs. or Mr. unless invited to use a first name. Balance enthusiasm and politeness with a business-like approach to conversation. And focus on listening carefully, especially if you find the lack of visual interaction distracting.

  1. Smile!

Did you know a smile can be heard? It’s absolutely true. Smiling projects an engaged, upbeat tone into the smiler’s voice. So practice smiling into a mirror while talking on the phone to become comfortable with the idea. Place a mirror in the room where you’ll be taking the call and make a point of checking on your smile during the conversation. Keep in mind that hearing will be the only sense engaged during this all-important exchange so pay attention to the tone and quality of your voice.

At B. Loehr Staffing, matching qualified candidates with job openings that fit their skills and experience is our primary focus. Allow our staffing specialists to direct you to the best career opportunities in your chosen field. Contact us today!

What Should Businesses Look for in A Staffing Firm?

b loehr - staffingWhere longevity in a place of employment used to be a tenet of the American dream, many in today’s US workforce are seeking the flexibility that temporary work provides. And American companies are snapping up these flexible-seeking workers to meet their fluctuating staffing needs and manage labor costs.

As the landscape of both the American workforce and the tenets of managing labor costs evolve, staffing agencies are poised to connect these two sectors and create a win-win scenario. The staffing industry is growing by leaps and bounds to meet the needs of job candidates and employers with services tailored to both sides of the employment equation.

So, from an employer’s perspective, what should you look for when seeking the right agency to assist with your staffing needs?
• Demonstration of the depth of an agency’s recruiting process. Anyone can Google for potential candidates. Ask the staffing agency “What can you do for us that we can’t do for ourselves?” Question the layers involved in their recruiting process and ask for the names of companies with whom the firm has had a long-term relationship.

• Transparency concerning fees. Request a breakdown of the costs involved in contracting with this agency. Let it be known that you would expect a full disclosure, no-hidden-fees approach to billing. It’s acceptable to seek evidence that their services are worth the cost.

• A level of communication that delivers. Be on the lookout for anything that suggests their attention to communicating with client companies is one-sided, haphazard or, heaven forbid, a “we’ll call you… (maybe)” approach. Do they appear to understand the two-way street involved in effective communication? In other words, do they do all the talking but none of the listening? The importance of consistency, clarity, and consideration cannot be overstated when it comes to communication.

• A targeted versus trial and error approach to candidate recommendations. Query their past and current clients concerning this firm’s methodology when suggesting candidates. Steer clear of agencies who go with the “spray and pray” or “post and pray” – the blast ’em with all the resumes we’ve got route. It’s better to admit none of their candidates are a good fit than to submit a pile of resumes that are unlikely to be of interest or adequately fill open positions.

• Expertise in your field. It’s simple – your staffing needs will be better met by a firm with a degree of technical knowledge and industry “know-how” about your field than by a firm who knows little about your sector of the business world. It’s not necessary for the agency to be considered an expert in all the fields you represent, but the more they know, the better they can understand your needs.

Since 1898, B. Loehr Staffing has been committed to supporting our clients’ growth plans and helping them maintain optimal staffing efficiency. We offer a reliable resource to meet the rapidly changing business environment that can force quick, significant shifts in workforce requirements. Contact us today for assistance with all your staffing needs.

Help! I’m Surrounded by Introverts!

b loehr - introvertsYou thrive on personal interactions. You love social gatherings. Brainstorming, group projects and teamwork are your ideal work scenarios. But your blood pressure rises at labels such as aggressive, attention-seeking and unfocused. Because from your extroverted vantage point, creative, expressive and out-going are much more accurate descriptors.

You enjoy collaboration and seek opportunities to share your ideas. You’re never happier than when you are “in the thick of things.” And it’s all good. Very good.

Until the next step in your career lands you in the annoyingly quiet midst of a department full of introverts. The near deafening silence that greets you sets your nerves on edge. After a round of bare-bones introductions, quiet nods and brief smiles, your new co-workers resume their individual tasks. Alone.

Your success in this world of introverts will hinge on implementing these 4 strategies. 

  1. Be yourself. (As if you could be anyone else!) But seriously, not only will you fail miserably in the long-run, trying to “pose” as an introvert will not gain the respect of your co-workers. Besides, your people skills will come in mighty handy. And their planning and organizational bent will be useful to you. So be yourself and extend the same courtesy to them.
  1. Swap any preconceived ideas or hearsay concerning introverts for the facts. Those less than favorable adjectives connected to “the quiet ones”? Toss them. Learn all you can because the more you know about your introverted co-workers, the greater chance you’ll understand them. Not that you’ll ever really get it—they are so different from you after all—still grasping what makes them tick and how their brains function will give a basis for building relationships. Make an effort to recognize the differences and accept them whether you ever really get it or not.
  1. Don’t take it personally if your arrival in the department appears not to warrant any fanfare. A low-key reception doesn’t mean the new co-workers aren’t glad to have you on board. Dial back your expectations. Be sincere and appreciative of this new venture, take your assigned tasks seriously and get to work.
  1. Adopt a patient, give-it-some-time attitude. Your department mates will need a bit of time and some breathing room in order to bond with you. Go easy on the “let’s hang out” invites and personal questions. You’re simply trying to be friendly and make a personal connection, but that approach may feel intrusive and pushy. So, proceed with baby steps, and give your co-workers time to get to know you on their terms.

Focus on the advantages of working with people whose natural abilities differ from yours and work to establish an environment where everyone’s skills are allowed to shine.

At B. Loehr Staffing, our employment specialists take seriously the opportunity to match unique job opportunities with the best qualified candidates. Contact us today for assistance in locating your dream job.

Help! I’m Surrounded by Extroverts!

b loehr - introvertYou thrive on solitude. You favor working alone. Personal space is important to you. You’ve been labeled unsocial, shy and secretive, but you prefer reflective, conscientious and content. You’re perfectly comfortable in your introverted skin.

And then you discover the new job you were so thrilled to accept has stationed you in an office full of extroverts. They’re boisterous and unfocused and always talking. The job is great—it’s everything you’ve ever wanted except, you know, for all those extroverts. How can this possibly work?

Quite well, actually, if the workplace atmosphere is governed by these three disciplines:

  • Acceptance
  • Sensitivity
  • Communication

Acceptance means both an acknowledgment and an understanding that work habits, approaches to deadlines, preferred working conditions—and a whole lot more—will differ between introverts and extroverts. Differ as in polar opposites.

Sensitivity steps in when extrovert Eric chooses to take his out loud brainstorming session to the conference room so introvert Ivy can focus on her deadline.

Communication recognizes the need for a sit-down where strengths are matched with assignments, where weaknesses are realistically considered, where boundaries are established.

Set your introverted-self up for success with attention to these strategies.

  1. Arrive at work well-rested and with a fully-charged battery. If you bank enough alone time during non-working hours, you’ll be able to better handle those interaction-loving co-workers.
  2. Don’t apologize for who you are and how you tick. Total acceptance of the way you approach life and work will pave the way to both respect and a positive reception from your co-workers.
  3. Respect the contributions you make to the team’s efforts. Your ideas, percolating quietly in your brain while your office mates keep nary a thought to themselves, are just as valid as theirs. Push yourself to be assertive.
  4. Schedule moments of solitude during the day. Lunch alone when possible, steal precious private minutes running errands, take a coffee break in the least inhabited part of the building. Actively seek and plan for time alone to refuel.
  5. Recognize the benefit of a mixed bag of personnel. Imagine how difficult a group presentation would be if the entire team were introverts. Who would handle the loudly vocal, dissatisfied customers if not for a people-engaging extrovert?

Take the time to find your niche. You can and will shine when your natural inclinations are put to good use, and you’ll flourish even in an extroverted world.

B. Loehr Staffing specializes in matching qualified candidates with employers and specific positions where their unique skillset will be appreciated. Contact us today for assistance in finding the job for you.

5 Tips for Creating a FUN Workplace

It’s been suggested that three ways to motivate people toward productivity on the job are:
1. Threats
2. Money
3. Fun atmosphere

Threats used to do a bang up job at keeping employee’s noses to the grindstone. Of course fear and trembling did interfere with some jobs that required a steady hand and threatening launches a threats=fear=stress=burnout cycle that can wreak havoc with employee turnover ratio.

Money does talk – always has and always will. But now more than ever before, employees realize money isn’t everything. And it’s not like employers have a bottomless fund from which to draw payroll funds anyway.

So now we’re standing at the plate with two strikes. That leaves us with a fun atmosphere. And it’s a homerun. The best, long-term way to create an environment where happy, productive employees perform well and remain with the company is to cultivate a fun working environment.

In the same way threats set off a negative cycle, fun on the job sets in motion a sequence of positives. Fun creates happy workers which improves productivity and creativity and boosts both teamwork and a spirit of getting along.

Joy enthusiast Amanda Gore shares these stats from companies with happy workers—

 51% lower turnover
 43% more productivity
 125% less burnout
 33% higher profitability
 19% less sick leave

These tips will move you in the right direction.

1. Get everyone on the same page by defining what fun is not
Pranks, off-color jokes, sexually charged humor or innuendos and comedy that tarnishes the organization do not qualify as acceptable on-the-job fun. Don’t belabor the issue, simply state the terms and move on.

2. Take regular “ morale readings”
Big projects and looming deadlines can put a dent in the fun atmosphere you’re trying to create. Declare a company-wide breather with a catered lunch, an extended afternoon break or an occasional early knock-off time to refresh and boost sagging spirits.

3. Search out and celebrate the “You did it!” moments
People everywhere yearn for recognition and acknowledgement, not unlike the toddler whose first steps are celebrated by his/her parents. Make people feel special by noticing and applauding even the small accomplishments. Recognize the damaging effects of letting important moments that contribute to the employee’s sense of recognition and the company’s success go by without notice.

4. Don’t dwell on the negative, the mess-ups, and the what-were-you-thinking? moments
Just as ignoring the “you did it!” moments can gut the workplace environment, so can dwelling on the unfortunate mishaps that every company experiences. Handle the situation, make adjustments and then move on. The past cannot be undone, but the present and even the future can unravel if past mistakes aren’t put to rest. Foster an environment of forgiveness and consciously choose to focus on the positive.

5. Spice up break time
Make break time both a priority and an effective down time by allowing for flexibility on when breaks are taken. Create a dedicated break area away from the hustle and bustle of regular business where tired eyes and weary minds can recharge with a variety of innovative options.

While some will enjoy a challenging round of pool or ping pong, others will be energized by quiet moments spent working on a long-term project such as a 1000-piece puzzle, leafing through a magazine or several minutes of shut eye. Discourage “working” breaks that aren’t really a break at all.

At B. Loehr Staffing, we understand the challenge of having the right number of people in the right places to keep your bottom line in the black. Our specially designed Staffing Systems and Management Programs can find the staffing solution that suits your organization’s specific needs. Contact us today. Discover the difference that our “more than 115 years of experience” can make for your company.

What if We Hired the Wrong Person?

b loehr - bad hireThe first week went off without a hitch, and you’re basking in the warm glow of yet another terrific hire. Obviously that tiny doubt that wedged itself in the front corner of your mind meant nothing because things have worked out A-Okay.

Week two zooms by in similar fashion and you forge ahead with the next hiring decision. Then it happens; the department manager where the new guy works flags you down as week three commences. “Uh, we need to talk … about Employee X.”

Over lunch, you learn that tiny doubt you dismissed at the end of week one, has lodged in the department manager’s mind. But it’s no longer tiny. You’re appetite vanishes as the story unfolds. “He’s a great guy. I’m just not sure he’s the right guy for the job,” he concludes. “I guess time will tell.”

You decide to be pro-active and not wait for the customary 30 day new hire check-in. Okay, while we’re being honest… that new hire check-in isn’t as customary as it should be. Time flies by and if things appear to be going well, too often it simply doesn’t happen.

You meet that week with the department manager and Employee X who expresses some concerns of his own. He’s struggled to meet expectations that he wasn’t aware were part of this position. Several inconsistencies emerged as his training shifted between several people within the department, and he feels as if he’s floundering. “I really want this to work out,” he shares candidly.

Well, that makes three of you.

An honest, detailed conversation takes place. The inconsistencies in the department will be addressed, the specific job expectations are discussed and tweaked. Relief and hope mingle as a follow-up meeting is scheduled for next week.

Will things work out? Hopefully, yes. The dread that consumed you when the department manager shared his concerns has been replaced by cautious hope. The strategy of early intervention and honest conversation could very well save this hire. You’ll definitely make brief early check-ins as well as official 30 days check-ins a priority from now on.

It happens to every business owner and hiring manager at some point. They face the very real possibility that they hired the wrong person. For a myriad of reasons, often no one person’s fault, not every hire results in a satisfactory working relationship. The good news is some situations can be turned around with early intervention and strategic steps to address areas of concern. The bad news: not every scenario will have a happy ending. The truth is that some hiring situations will end in termination.

It’s of utmost importance to be well versed in the termination laws governing your state before you find yourself in the position of having to dismiss an employee. Knowing the legal ramifications will insure you handle terminations properly, so as not to leave yourself vulnerable to legal action at a later date.

Information may be found at the Compliance Tools for HR Professionals site and the United States Department of Labor. Contact information for each state’s Department of Labor may be found here.

As the largest independent and locally owned and operated staffing company in the St. Louis metropolitan area, the B. Loehr name has been synonymous with excellence in the employment industry since 1898. Our focus has always been, and always will be, on getting it right–the first time! Contact us today for assistance with all your hiring needs.

 

 

 

5 Recruiters’ Pet Peeves to Avoid

b loehr - peeves 2Recruitment consultants play a key role in matching qualified candidates with positions at their client’s companies. As the scope of their job includes perusing stacks of resumes and conducting hundreds of interviews, recruiters have a unique perspective on the habits of job candidates. Some of those habits are to be applauded while others… well, let’s just say some candidate’s habits end up on lists of the not-so-favorable kind.

Hear ye, hear ye, job seekers, one and all! Ye would do well to avoid these issues and situations that tend to prick a recruiter’s skin.

 

  1. The “perfect” candidate syndrome

A job candidate who reports nothing but huge successes, perfect attendance, exemplary co-worker relationships and a list of perfections that goes on and on will wear on a recruiter’s nerves. People who see no room for improvement within themselves are probably covering up insecurity. Hey, everyone has shortcomings. We’re human. So admitting, “I’m working to improve this… or that…” says you are grounded in reality. And, just so you know, those “perfect” candidate’s reference checks rarely reflect the same “perfect” story.

  1. The desperation approach

A sure sign of a desperate job seeker is when his/her resume shows up for every open position available with the recruiter. This cover-all-the-bases approach seldom nets a well-suited match, in part, because mass mailings don’t contain the position-specific details that will pique the recruiter’s interest. And besides screaming desperation, this practice sends a lazy vibe as well. Save everyone’s time and energy by targeting specific positions that fit your particular skill set.

  1. The picture me option

While a minority of recruiters give a nod to resumes that include a photo, most recruiting consultants admonish job seekers to skip the personal photo. Not only does a photo take up valuable page space, but a host of issues present themselves when the gender and race of the candidate is immediately presented. Skills and qualifications, not personal appearance, should guide a recruiter to seek additional information or contact the applicant. Note: this is referring to your resume – not your LinkedIn account. Social Media should always include a professional photo.

  1. A lack of familiarity with the Boy Scouts’ motto – “Be Prepared”

A candidate’s preparedness is expected to include such key items as what the company does/produces/services, what position is being interviewed for and oh, yeah, the company’s location. Can you imagine that candidates actually telephone for directions, begin an interview with “Now what position are we talking about today?” or otherwise appear completely clueless about the company? It happens.

Learn as much as possible about the company—an easy task in today’s age of internet accessibility. Do your homework and be informed.

  1. About those resumes…

… the jury’s findings are somewhat inconclusive. Personal preference plays a role in the length of resume a recruiter might deem to be the perfect resume. While a one-page resume is thought to be adequate by most, a percentage of recruiters hold staunchly to a one-page maximum length, with a lesser percentage lighting up at the prospect of a two, or even occasionally three, page document. But any longer than that, and no one will take the time to wade through it. The jury has concluded that clear, simple, concise always wins over elaborate, complicated, or cutesy.

B. Loehr Staffing’s recruitment specialists take their responsibility to fill clients’ positions with candidates that meets the companies’ skills and expectations while also matching the candidate’s employment needs and desires seriously. Contact us today so that we may assist you in reaching a successful conclusion to your employment search.

 

3 Fall Job Search Tips

bloehr - jobsearchAs the shortened days of fall signal the end of summer fun and the fast approach of winter, it’s time to kick your job search into high gear.

Recruiting often picks up in the fall for a variety of reasons. If year-end hiring targets have yet to be met, or salary money remains in the budget, hiring will get top priority to ensure those goals are reached and to avoid risking reduced salary money in next year’s budget.

Now is not the time to slack off or let discouragement zap your search.

  1. Freshen up your resume

Pull out a fresh copy of your resume and look at it through the eyes of a hiring manager. While past work experience, accomplishments and responsibilities should be noted, it’s so important that employers come away with a keen sense of what you can do for their company. A resume has to “market” you to your next employer. So much rests on this one document that it’s wise to consider some outside assistance. Consider investing in yourself with a solid resume writer or coach.

  1. Get serious about networking

With school back in session, schedules settle down and return to their pre-summer norm. All sorts of groups – business associations, community groups, volunteer organizations – resume their meetings and events, presenting a plethora of networking opportunities. Even school programs, sporting events and parents’ activities provide settings that encourage people connections. And we all know that many jobs get filled before they’re advertised because someone in the know told someone who jumped at the opportunity.

So, take advantage of every opportunity to mingle and make connections. Invite a former co-worker to lunch. Make an appearance at the community social. Every conversation has the potential to plant a seed that could reap a harvest in the not-too-distant future.

  1. Review your online presence

Now is the perfect time to check out your digital footprint. Google yourself to discover exactly what a prospective employer will find when he/she searches your name. Because you know they will. Check for inappropriate comments or images on your social media accounts. Peruse with an eye for anything offensive or unprofessional. Fun is okay. Suggestive innuendos have to go.

Review your LinkedIn profile. You have one of those, right? This easily accessible mini-resume should market you and the abilities you’d bring to a new employer just as your traditional resume should. Freshen it up and include new information. LinkedIn is also a great place to “hang out”. Ask questions, engage in dialog or join a group.

Make your job search a priority this fall. Fill your calendar with specific, job-search related strategies and zero in on the perfect new position.

Loehr Staffing specializes in matching qualified candidates with positions in the areas of administration, accounting, clerical, office support, housekeeping, factory work, call center, medical office support, reception and warehouse. Contact one of our staffing experts for assistance in attaining the job that’s best suited to you. You can depend on our expertise. We’ve been in business for more than 100 years.

 

When the Pieces Fit in the Puzzle: Selecting Employees Who Fit your Company’s Culture

b loehr - puzzleSkills and qualifications are certainly significant parameters for framing a hiring decision. But how a potential employee fits in the company culture –the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of the organization’s management and employees – is playing a greater role in hiring decisions these days. As employers see the benefit in gauging how an employee will fit into the culture of the company, they are adopting practices that deliver this information.

A myriad of reasons supports this trend toward more attention to culture. For instance, a potential employee with basic skills can be trained in the specifics of a particular job. It happens successfully every day. But attempting to “train” a new hire to fit the company culture doesn’t work nearly as well.  In fact it falls somewhere between very difficult and impossible.

It’s an established fact that candidates who mesh culturally are much more likely to stay on the job. Everyone knows how costly employee turnover can be—in dollars and cents of course, but replacing employees depletes energy and morale while it piles on stress and frustration. A 10 to 15 percent attrition rate may be seen as normal or expected, but do the math. Over four years, this “normal” loss of employees could result in a company losing over 50 percent of its work force. Ouch. Who can afford that?

Ideally, employers should strive for both a “job fit” and a “culture fit”, equaling a “total fit”. But what determines if a candidate is a “total fit”? A two-step process will deliver the best results. The questions to be asked and answered concerning job skills are fairly routine.

  1. Does the applicant have the skills, knowledge, and aptitude to perform in this position?
  2. Have past experiences prepared the applicant for this job?
  3. Are his/her strengths compatible with the requirements of this position?

The cultural fit litmus test is a bit trickier. The answers to questions like those below will give insight into a candidate’s potential cultural fit.

  1. How would you describe yourself using just three words?
  2. What is your ideal work environment?
  3. What do you like best about your current position?
  4. Would you describe yourself as a collaborator OR a pioneer? In other words, are you a team player or a lone ranger?
  5. How do you define success?

More companies are adding this additional layer of questioning as they realize the importance of cultural fit.

Personality testing is another tool that can assist hiring managers in finding culturally fit candidates. For example, when one company  began administering a test online, it not only reduced turnover, but also increased their ability to accurately select applicants who fit the job. The testing process has helped the company determine what makes a great reservation sales applicant, thereby enabling them to hire candidates most suited to the job.

Job shadowing can also be an important step in discovering candidates who are a “total fit”. Let’s say two applicants present with almost identical skills, qualifications, previous job experiences and both interview well. Not a bad dilemma, actually, but one that can leave you stumped and fearful of making the wrong decision. Arrange for each applicant to spend a few hours shadowing in the department where the opening is. Watch, unobtrusively of course, as they interact with the team and following the job-shadow time, seek the input of those in direct contact with the potential hire. Such an experience is bound to produce valuable insights that can assist in the hiring decision. It’s even possible the candidate will bow out if he/she determines a cultural fit does not exist.

It’s a win-win situation when the organization’s values and priorities line up with those of the employees. At B. Loehr Staffing, we recognize the importance of the employee “pieces” fitting into the company “puzzle.” We understand that creating the perfect team doesn’t happen by accident. Contact us today for assistance in completing the employment “puzzle” for your company.