#GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is known globally as the day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. It is celebrated each Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the US, and focuses on kicking off the charitable season. As companies are looking to wrap up their end of year and get a jump on their first quarter of hiring, they are also looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competition. And with today being #GivingTuesday, now is a great time for organizations to take a look at their social responsibility and the ways in which they are giving back to the community.

There are countless ways to give back, build social responsibility, and in turn, boost your company culture in your organization. Whether it is monetary donations, volunteering, or participating in charitable events, companies can make a huge impact in their communities. Here at Direct Recruiters, we do our best to give back in the community and believe it positively impacts our company culture. For example, each year we participate in Race for the Place, a benefit held by the Gathering Place, a Northeast Ohio organization that provides programs and services free of charge for individuals touched by cancer. In addition, we work to fill boxes full of toys to donate to the Leprechaun Foundation, a charity that gives toys to children in Cleveland area hospitals.

When job candidates are looking for a new job, they take into consideration numerous factors. They want to make sure that they are making a move to a reputable company that is respected in the community. Organizations that are socially responsible are more attractive to potential future employees. If a company is building good relationships in the community, that jobseeker is going to hear good things about the company. If employees feel good about their company and enjoy working for a good organization, those feelings are going to show to others in the industry as well.

Another benefit of doing charitable events is bringing your organization together. What makes a company great to work for is employee morale. As a company, you want your employees to feel great about where they work. You build strong connections with your employees when you go beyond your normal work day. Increasing morale increases overall productivity. You want to differentiate yourself in the market and this is one way to achieve that. Being unique keeps employees and customers loyal to your company.

Social responsible companies have a competitive edge over those that are not.
Getting out in the community also helps for networking. You might be standing next to someone at a soup kitchen that could add value to your organization and vice versa. Meeting people in your local area will help get the name of your company known and you can help others that you meet along the way.

So, on #GivingTuesday, take a second to think about what your company can do to get out and lend an extra hand. There is always something to be done and people are always looking for help.

7 Recruiting Trends That Will Continue Into 2019

Last year several new recruiting tactics were introduced. This year, we’ve seen them adopted and implemented. And many of these modern methods will shape the hiring process in 2019.

We’ve analyzed many of these new tactics and technologies. Some are fleeting trends soon to be forgotten. But some of these new methods would be worth implementing. The following 7 recruiting trends are the methods we believe will continue into 2019.

Go mobile

Earlier this year, Google announced they were moving to mobile-first indexing. Search engine optimization may not have been a top priority of recruiters in the past, but this update is worth acknowledging.

Google makes changes for two reasons:

  1. To benefit the searcher’s experience.
  2. To adjust to searcher’s habits

Today more candidates are conducting their job search on a mobile device. But that doesn’t mean the industry is following suit. Although mobile platforms have been around for quite awhile, many recruiters haven’t adopted this change.

In a recent study, 45% of job seekers said they use mobile to hunt for jobs at least once a day. And 89% of job seekers use mobile platforms for job search. Today, 16% of applications are submitted via mobile. To be effective, your recruiting strategy should allow candidates to easily interact on a mobile device.

Say goodbye to paper resumes

Speaking of applications, the future is signaling the end of the paper resume. Organizations are beginning to place more importance on soft skills. Beyond a paper document, social media profiles and video submissions can more accurately demonstrate a first impression.

For the company hiring this means keeping up with trends and being able to accommodate these technologies.

For job seekers, this means this means developing an integrated personal brand through social media profiles, digital portfolios, and even a personal website (if appropriate for the position).

Develop an attractive online profile

If companies want to attract top talent they need to portray an appealing environment. Social media is used to demonstrate corporate culture. Research shows that 79% of candidates review social profiles during their job search.

The reality of working for your company should be accurately portrayed across your social media. Strengthening employer brand was listed as a priority by 60% of organizations. Your website, social media, and online reviews should provide an accurate depiction of the company culture.

Realize the impact of artificial intelligence

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but artificial Intelligence is impacting the job market. The UK has already experienced the impact. In 2017, 66% of UK office employees requested the assistance of AI to accomplish their daily work.

This technology will impact the roles HR departments need to fill. Working with the assistance of AI will change the skills required of employees. Within the next fifteen years predictions indicate that 50% of employees will rely on the assistance of AI.

Consider flexible working conditions

The Gig Economy has impacted the job market in multiple ways. Not only are more workers moving to freelance positions, this trend is changing their expectations.

Research found that 65% of employees would pursue contract work if given the opportunity. This can be attributed to the many perceived benefits of such roles such as working from home. A 2016 survey reported that the ability to work remotely impacted 68% of candidates decision.

We don’t anticipate the entire workforce to quit their traditional jobs for contract work. But the popularization of these non-traditional roles has changed employee expectations.

Take note of virtual reality

There’s no shortage of video interview software. As we previously mentioned, video is able to demonstrate a more accurate first impression.

Video interview doesn’t seem like it will be going away. Additionally, virtual reality and augmented reality platforms are being used for interactive hiring needs. Rather than answering the usual questions, virtual reality shows how candidates respond in practical settings.

Develop Talent Relationship Management

With an already competitive job market, Talent Relationship Management (TRM) has become an increasingly important recruiting tool. Unfortunately, many HR departments have overlooked the importance of cultivating the existing relationships within the organization in order to attract new talent.

History has shown that 40% of companies’ best hires come from within. One study showed that utilizing TRM resulted in a 4% higher offer acceptance rate. Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) shouldn’t be overlooked. Rather, it should be implemented alongside TRM in order to recruit the best candidate.

Summary

In order to recruit the right candidate, you have to employ modern hiring methods. Simply posting a job and waiting for the resumes to pour in may not work anymore. Today’s job market requires a more proactive approach from both the recruiter and the candidate.

Finding top talent requires staying up-to-date on these trends. Depending upon the size and capabilities of your organization, you may not be able to adopt all these trends. But you should be aware of the expectations. As an organization, identify the weaknesses within your current recruiting methods and be willing to implement needed changes.

How to Implement a Successful Work From Home Program

Nearly 75% of millennials expect flexible working conditions. And 68% of recent graduates say that being able to work remotely will impact their decision to accept a position.

 Applicants come with a new set of priorities. They expect more than a paycheck and solid benefits. The shift in philosophy has forced companies to implement flexible working conditions.

 However, adopting these changes can be difficult for companies. The pressure has caused concern for many leaders. But to implement a successful work from home program, an organization needs be aware of the benefits and the obstacles they may encounter.

 Know the obstacles

 Before your organization begins to provide flexible working conditions, there are potential obstacles you should be aware of.

 First, don’t assume every employee wants to work remotely. It may sound appealing to roll out of bed and shuffle to your computer in your slippers each morning. But you may discover this is not the general consensus among your staff. Many employees still enjoy the social interaction provided by a traditional office setting.

 And don’t assume every employee is cut out for it. Some people thrive within traditional settings. Removing the stability of an office environment could be detrimental for some. Managers are often your best resource to know whether remote accommodations will work. Typically, they know their team better than upper management.

 Technology will play an important role in establishing a successful work from home program. The last thing any company wants is for an employee to become an island. Implementing the appropriate technology to maintain communication will be important.

 Aspects of company culture that came naturally before may become difficult to maintain. Consider how you will maintain comradery while your team is still under one roof.

 Consider the benefits

 It’s understandable to have reservations about a work from home program. But the cost savings alone can make it a no-brainer. Studies have shown than an employer can save $10,000 per employee each year by allowing employees to work remotely.          

 In addition to the cost savings, it gives you access to a larger talent pool. Facilitating employees working from home will allow you to attract employees who would be unwilling to relocate.

 5 steps to implementing a work from home program

 When your organization is ready to implement the program, there are five steps to consider.

 1. Test it

There are plenty of companies to analyze to know whether your organization can accommodate remote working conditions. Analyzing similar companies who have tried it before may provide your answer. But no matter how well you plan, you’ll encounter unforeseen obstacles.

 Before you dive in completely, identify a couple employees who would be willing to test it out. There initial feedback will allow you to prepare a full roll out.

 2. Have a timeline

From the initial trial period to complete implementation, there will be details you’ll need to work through. But you should develop a timeline. This will keep the plan on track and also answer the questions that will arise: “When can I work from home?”

 3. Work out the details

Allowing your employees to work from home will require new protocols. You might discover it’s not as simple as providing a laptop and access to your company server.

 Teams working in different parts of the country will have to rely on different applications to provide seamless communication. Maintaining clear communication between employees will be important.

 As you work through the details, be sure to protect your company culture. It can suffer if regular events aren’t scheduled. There won’t be any more water cooler talk amongst a remote workforce. Foster communication through regular company outings or retreats. And if geography isn’t a limitation, consider Friday happy hour or midweek yoga sessions.

4. Determine times of availability

A simple method to maintaining communication is establishing availability. There should be an expectation among employees as to when they will be available.

 As an organization, you can choose whether those hours are the same for everyone and if the hours need to be static throughout the week. Depending upon the organization’s flexibility, you may decide to allow employees to choose their appropriate hours. But whether those are traditional hours or flexible, the rest of the organization should be aware.

 5. Identify which jobs can work remotely

Unfortunately for some, not all jobs can be done remotely. Some positions are just more suitable for an office setting. Define what roles will be available for remote work to set the expectation.

 Summary

 There are different factors to consider when implementing a work from home program. If your company decides to provide remote working conditions consider these five steps to ensure it works for both the company and the employees.

7 Ways to Make the Most of LinkedIn in 2018

Managing your LinkedIn profile like a digital Rolodex could lead to countless missed professional opportunities.

 In spite of the many social platforms, LinkedIn remains the ideal social network for business professionals. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, more than 90% of recruiters rely on the platform to find candidates. And today, it’s used in nearly every industry.

 Each year the platform continues to improve its interface to remain an invaluable networking resource for professionals. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure you’re marketing yourself effectively on LinkedIn. Here are 7 ways to have an effective LinkedIn profile.

 Be active

LinkedIn is a powerful resource. But, to make the most of the social platform, you’ll need to be socially active. Being an active user means engaging with your contacts by liking, sharing, and commenting on their activity.

 However, it can be difficult to interact with your contacts throughout the day. One of the simplest ways to be active is to download the mobile app. The LinkedIn app provides an easy-to-use interface that makes networking a breeze.

 Another part of being active is to ensure your profile remains current. Continually update your profile with projects you’ve worked on or presentations you’ve given. You can share your work by writing articles or posting pictures and videos. The goal is to provide content that will benefit your connections and make them want to interact with you.

 Becoming a member in groups is another way to be effectively active. LinkedIn will allow you to join up to 100 groups. Once you join a group you become connected to the members within the group. This causes your profile to show up in more search results when someone is looking for your skillset.

 Write an effective tagline
Your tagline, also known as your headline, should be optimized and captivating. It will default to your current job title if you don’t change it. But this is what potential connections and hiring managers will use to find you. To ensure it’s optimized, include words that you want to be discovered for. 

 Rather than allowing it to default to your current job title, use the 120 characters to give the reader a snapshot of who you are. Provide a brief description that is both interesting and engaging. A captivating tagline will motivate them to click on your profile link to read further.

Use keywords

In addition to your tagline, use keywords throughout your profile. Include keywords you want to be targeted for within your headline, your position titles, summary, experience descriptions, projects, certifications, publications, and anywhere else they can be placed.

 Currently there are more than 11 million active job listings on LinkedIn. If you want to be considered for a new opportunity, you’ll need to include those words within your profile. Recruiters use keywords to search LinkedIn for the job description they’re trying to fill.

 Look through jobs you’re interested in, and make note of the specific skills and words used within the descriptions. Sprinkling those words throughout your summary and experience sections will help you connect with your desired opportunities.

 But don’t stuff your profile with keywords. Injecting too many keywords is going to be obvious, and demonstrates poor communication skills. It will be obvious to the reader that the profile was created only for LinkedIn’s search engine optimization.

Discover your niche

How are you going to stand out among the millions of people on LinkedIn? At first, this may be overwhelming. But the solution is to select your desired niche. Identify yourself as specifically as possible.

 You’ll be lost in the crowd if you simply market yourself as a manager. To attract the attention of a hiring manager, present yourself as an IT Security Manager with a CISM Certification. Distinction will make you standout and make you a more attractive candidate to the appropriate hiring managers.

 Make sure your profile is complete

Don’t be satisfied with an incomplete profile. Complete all sections, including education, certifications, and interests

 A complete profile will provide better position within search results. Be sure to include your information for all the applicable profile sections. As you complete your profile, contemplate your personal brand and the impact of the information you provide.

 Consider the details that will help you standout among the competition. Include any certifications you have, projects you’ve been a part of, or foreign languages you speak.

 Consider your images

There are two images within your profile you should pay special attention to: your profile image and your background image.

 Your profile image says a lot about the rest of your profile. It’s often someone’s first impression of you. Your photo should be professional and appropriate for your industry.

 The profile picture provides a personal connection for recruiters and hiring managers. An unprofessional or missing photo can seriously impact your job search. The image increases the likeliness of your profile being viewed by 40%.

 In addition to your profile picture, use a background photo for additional personal branding. Use a photo that you have the rights to and communicates what you stand for. The size of this photo is 1400 x 425 pixels and should be a .jpg, .gif or .png file.

Get recommendations and endorsements

Having the recommendation of your peers is one of best ways to improve your profile’s social standing. It may be uncomfortable to request a compliment from a colleague, but offering to reciprocate the favor can make it feel more natural.

 Don’t overlook the importance of endorsements. LinkedIn provides you complete control over your them. You can select the skills users can choose to endorse you for. You can also delete any undesired endorsements.

 Endorsements also provide a unique networking opportunity. Whenever LinkedIn notifies you of an endorsement say “Thank You” to your endorser. This is a great way to naturally start a conversation with someone.

 Final thoughts

Understanding the features of LinkedIn can impact the success of your job search. Knowing what areas to focus on will increases the opportunities of your profile being viewed by the right person.

 Implement these 7 suggestions within your LinkedIn profile to help you connect with the right person in order to obtain the job you’re searching for.

5 Ways to be Effective at a Networking Event

Networking events sometimes feel like speed dating. Talk to as many people as you can until you find a mutually beneficial connection. It can be less than comfortable.

These events are created with the best of intentions, but trying to create organic conversation in a manufactured setting can be difficult.

The thought of networking will cause you to reach for a stack of business cards or hide in the coat closet depending upon your personality. Rather then shuffling through your forced mental script of rehearsed questions, consider the following 5 ways to be effective at your next networking event.

Be memorable

We don’t mean wearing a flashy tie. Be the man or woman who is remembered by what you say.

We’re all used to the standard, “So, what do you do?” line of questioning. Simply being prepared for these standard questions can leave an impression.

Come up with an honest answer that is engaging and makes the other person want to know more.

Donald Miller, best selling author and CEO of StoryBrand, gives the following example of a conversation between two people at networking event.

Other person: “So, what do you do?”

You: “You know how hard it is to make a healthy dinner every weeknight with all the stuff your kids have going on? Well, our company delivers homemade frozen dinners that are actually affordable, so parents can relax and enjoy time with their families at night.”

As Miller explains, this method works because you’re telling a mini-story with this type of answer. This also positions you as the person who can solve a specific problem. If the other person can’t work with you at the present time, they’ll be able to file your name away in their mental Rolodex as the person with a specific solution.

Be genuine

Vanessa Van Edwards, a human behavioral expert, and author of Captivate, tries to provide a “me-too!” moment for the other person in every conversation. “It makes us feel accepted. It makes us feel heard. And most importantly, it makes us feel calm,” she explains.

Genuinely showing you care goes a long way. During most of these events, you’re surrounded by people searching for what they can get out of the other person. But entering a conversation with the desire to solve their needs often results in mutual benefit. Maybe you’ll get their business or maybe you’ll just get the blessing of being able to help someone.

Show the other person you care by asking questions you actually want to know the answer to. Rather than the standard, “What do you do?” or “What brought you here tonight?” try the following:

What are you most excited about with your job right now?

What are you most excited about with your industry right now?

What’s the biggest challenge you’re currently facing?

How did you end up in your line of work?

What are you looking forward to this week?

Know where to stand

It may sound trivial, but the location you choose to stand in a room can make all the difference. Rather than backing yourself up into a corner, choose strategic high-traffic locations within the room.

More specifically, stand where people are walking away from – against the flow. Find a place where there is a natural traffic flow such as a few feet from the bar or hors d'oeuvres table. This will allow you to make eye contact and be in position to naturally engage other attendees.

Check your body language

In a recent interview, Van Edwards explained that you want to maintain open body posture. This shows the other person you are open to conversation and non-threatening.

A simple way to demonstrate open body posture is to show your hands. Van Edwards says this is a primal survival mechanism showing that we are not carrying a weapon. Conversational stature often causes us to place our hands in our pockets or fold our arms. Subconsciously this communicates that we are closed off or even untrustworthy.

It can be hard to avoid folding your arms as this can be a natural tendency for many. However, if you need to, hold a glass or folder to keep yourself from placing your hands in your pockets.

Have a plan of action

You can usually decide early on in the conversation whether you will want to stay connected with the person you’ve been speaking with. If you do, you’ll want to have a practical way to follow up. But if you decide that you won’t want to stay connected, you need to have a natural exit strategy.

If you desire to stay in contact, provide them with your business card and tell them you’ll be following up with them. Depending upon the conversation, you may be able to offer to email them a helpful resource.

However, if you realize you won’t want to stay connected beyond the conversation, you need to have a way to remove yourself from the conversation. Simply asking to be excused in order to attend to needed business before the next session can be a honest, natural method. You can also watch for a natural break in the conversation and cordially thank them for their time and wish them the best of luck with the remainder of the year. While you want to show genuine interest in the other person, you need to value your own time as well.

Summary

Depending upon the length of the event or conference, you may have several conversations, but you’ll only have one or two memorable connections. Once the event is over focus on the conversation that you see providing the most direct benefit.

Today, it’s easy to make connections, but developing relationships can be difficult. Developing these relationships requires you analyze yourself and be proactive. While searching for connections, you need to be the person someone wants to network with. Keep these five tips in mind to make the most of the next networking event you attend.

Resources:

http://buildingastorybrand.com/episode-96/

http://buildingastorybrand.com/network-without-being-annoying/

Effective Ways to Close an Interview

You have made it to the final interview for your dream job and now the conversation is winding down. The interviewer asks you: “Do you have any questions for me?” Now is not the time to say “No”! This is your moment to interject your own personality, comments and leave a favorable impression.

So many candidates fail to take advantage of this opportunity. Some of the best-qualified candidates fall short of the interview finish line and therefore, lose the job. Even if your interview went very well, the way you end the interview can make or break your chances of landing the position.

To help you cross the interview finish line, here are some effective exit statements to close out your interview:

1) Express your enthusiasm and interest. “This is an exciting position and just the kind of challenge I’m looking for. I feel that I’m the right candidate for this opportunity.”

2) Summarize why you’re right for the job. Reiterate your strengths and how they tie into the critical skills the company is seeking. Include several reasons why you should have the job.

3) Ask about any hesitations: “From what you heard today, do you think there are any issues or reasons that would prevent us from moving to the next step?” Address any hesitation.

4) Thank the interviewer for their time. Let the person who interviewed you know how much you appreciate their time, interest and consideration. Also, mention that you appreciated meeting their staff along the way (if others were involved in your interview).

5) Ask the final question: “What is the timeline for filling this position and when can I expect to hear from you?”

Make sure the interviewer’s last impression of you is a good one. Closing out your interview with the right statements will significantly increase your chances of landing the job.

DRI Team Attends NPE, The Plastics Show

May 31, 2018

At the beginning of May, The Direct Recruiters Plastics and Flexible Packaging team attended NPE in Orlando, Florida. The show provided access to innovations, networking opportunities, technology, and ideas shaping the future of plastics. With over 2,180 exhibiting companies showcasing at NPE, it was the largest show in history. The DRI team enjoyed the show and shared their thoughts on NPE 2018:

David Peterson, Managing Partner of Plastics and Flexible Packaging

“This was my 3rd NPE and each one has been unique.  The buzz around industry 4.0 was exciting.  It’s important for the plastics industry to continue to adopt newer technology.  This keeps the industry moving forward but also helps significantly in attracting the millennial generation as well as talent that will be graduating from college in the coming years. From a job perspective, Field Service and Engineering was in super demand especially with the OEMS. Several companies are looking for the exact same talent making the market super tight and competitive.  From the materials perspective technical service roles continue to be in demand. People that are able to talk tech but have a sales side to themselves are very valuable right now. From all companies we met with there continues to be concern at the executive level that pending retirements, with the lack of available candidates to backfill these roles, will be a major issue.  In general, we felt the “vibe” was very good, the weather was terrific, and overall it was a positive experience for those that attended.  My only complaint remains the same as always.  It takes two weeks for my back and feet to stop hurting from all the walking.  You?”

Adam Swinderman, Plastics and Flexible Packaging Executive Recruiter

“The technology at the show was great.  It was amazing to see where the industry is going.  The one thing that really stood out, was the sense of community there.  Everyone was very willing to help other people out.  This made the event a great opportunity to network and find ways to enhance one’s career and for business to collaborate.  I’m very excited to see how things will evolve in the next 3 years when we all meet for the next event.”

What were your thoughts on the show? Contact our Plastics team to discuss.

4 Steps to an Efficient and Effective Hiring Strategy

In today’s candidate-driven market, every company is competing for top-talent. While in the past, candidates may have been more hesitant to make major job decisions, they are now fast-moving and have their pick of jobs. This makes it extremely important to pay attention to the time taken to complete the hiring process. However, speeding up the process doesn’t mean you have to lower your standards. Here are 4 tips for hiring faster while still ensuring quality during your process:

Write a great job description
Starting off on the right foot and getting ahead in the process starts with a clear and concise job description. It is extremely important to provide details like required competencies, skills, motivations, behaviors, etc. for the job at hand. An accurate description will help you and/or your recruiter pull in relevant candidates faster than having a too vague or too lengthy description.

Streamline your process
How many steps are candidates currently going through in your hiring process? Identify the parts of your process that could be consolidated or eliminated, to save time in your process. For example, instead of asking for references after the position has been offered and waiting to get them, consider references at the time of a final interview. Additionally, be sure to hold hiring managers accountable for making a decision in a timely manner to keep the process from slowing down.

Utilize Technology

To accelerate your search process, allow job seekers to use video interviewing to provide a more comprehensive profile of themselves beyond the traditional resume. For hiring managers, this is both efficient and collaborative as well as enables them to gain a truer sense of the individual before inviting them to interview in person.

Rely on your recruiter
An outside recruiting firm will have the network and resources in place to find passive candidates and the talent needed for the job. This will save you the time of sorting through countless resumes and setting up the entire process on your own. Recruiters will present you pre-qualified candidates that fit your needs, making the hiring process efficient and effective.

Analyzing your hiring strategy is important to do periodically to continuously improve. Not only will you land in-demand talent by moving quickly, you will also have an edge on your competition.

5 of the Biggest Resume Mistakes

The quickest way to eliminate yourself from a job process is by having mistakes on your resume. Beyond the obvious grammatical and spelling mistakes to avoid, there are 5 other BIG mistakes to be aware of and stay away from:

1) Not including keywords that match the job. Your resume must show that you are qualified for the job so include keywords on your resume to refer to the specific position. You have very little time to grab a hiring manager’s attention so don’t send a generic resume. You will be lost in the pile.

2) Focusing on the wrong thing. Candidates often explain their responsibilities but forget to include results. Set yourself apart from the pack by highlighting specific accomplishments. The more quantitative, the better. In fact, numbers and metrics speak louder than words.

3) Being too modest. Don’t forget to include any awards or recognition you’ve received such as “President’s Club Member” for being over quota by 25%. Also, include any community service awards you received. Hiring managers look favorably upon people who not only work hard at the office but make a difference in the community as well.

4) Leaving unanswered red flags. Candidates usually wait until the first interview before addressing any gaps that may be on their resume, but this can prove to be a mistake. Most candidates won’t make it to a first interview if the issues are not explained on their resume, cover letter or even LinkedIn profile. So if you moved around a lot in your career, it would be to your benefit to explain the reasons for your movement.

5) Writing too much. When writing your resume be as succinct and concise as possible. Keep your resume to 1 or 2 pages max. Bullet points and short paragraphs enhance readability. Limit your resume to the last 10 - 15 years of work experience. You don't need to include everything you ever did.

 

Ashley Gannon Interviews Steve Eglowstein, Director of Sales at IPL Plastics

Ashley Gannon, Executive Recruiter for Plastics and Flexible Packaging recently had the opportunity to interview Steve Eglowstein, Director of Sales at IPL Plastics. Mr. Eglowstein shared helpful insights regarding the plastics packaging industry, innovation, and leadership.

Please tell us about yourself and your company, IPL Plastics.

I have had over 15 years of Plastic Packaging experience, most of which have been in the manufacturing of rigid plastic containers. I have had roles from producing in sales to leadership. Currently, my title is Director of Sales and I lead Sales Reps from the Southeast, out to the Gulf Coast and the entire West Coast throughout that division. IPL Plastics is now the third largest manufacturer of rigid plastic containers in North America. IPL is comprised of 4 business units -The bulk division which is all plastic containers from 0.5 up to 6 gallons in rounds, squares, rectangles and various shapes and styles, a retail division, which is the smaller type of plastic containers that are synonymous with yogurt and sour cream and products you see mostly in the retail sector, a material handling division which is primarily storage handling containers, and an environmental division which are roll-out trash cans.

What led you to pursue the Plastics/Packaging industry in your career?

I think what really caught my attention in the Plastics/Packaging industry was the opportunity to work within an industry that is always growing and changing. Whether it is in food, chemical, or industrial, types of packaging are always changing. There are many initiatives that have been ongoing in the OEM to retail markets. The innovation and constant change is very present in Plastics Packaging, and finding a company that was open and invested in innovation allows you to get to the right customers for the right reasons.

IPL has a culture of innovation and commitment. How do you encourage innovation on the teams you lead?

It starts with a company like IPL who provides best in class product and service. Having these key components allows your team to collaborate with customers and truly provide solutions and the ability to differentiate yourselves from the competition. We, at IPL, encourage our teams and our sales folks to constantly think outside the box. We hire creative minds who are constantly looking to provide solutions, options or variations to the way that you’re doing things. Hiring people that have that mindset and then having a best in class company, best in class product, and having a team internally that welcomes that, drives innovation and people take to it. Each opportunity in our company is worth exploring and if it makes sense we will do it. We are probably more flexible than most of our competitors, so for that reason it creates an environment in itself that promotes innovation, thinking outside the box and coming up with new ideas.

What trends do you expect to see in the Plastics/Packaging industry in the next 5 years?

Source reduction is definitely a key proponent, not only from an environmental standpoint, but also reduction in costs. In addition, state of the art decoration has become more accessible to medium and small customers. IML or in mold labeling is something 10 years ago only large brand owners could afford to do. Through technology advancements, it’s not just for the companies who have a huge wallet, now some of the medium and smaller accounts can use state of the art decoration. I think you will see more and more of that. Being able to do shorter runs with decoration will be more available in the next 5 years, so driving out material, driving out costs, and using types of decoration in an economical way are trends I see. Lastly, innovation is not going to stop. Coming up with the best and newest mouse trap is an ongoing topic that has no finish line.

What traits do you believe are necessary in leadership?

The first is being able to hire the right people. One of the reasons we work with DRI is they give us the ability to hire the right people, by putting the right people in front of us. Additionally, being able to have access as a leader, keeping your ear to the ground and finding talent that can add value to the team is important. I think that once you’ve got the right people on board then it becomes leading by example. My job, in essence, is to remove obstacles and do everything in my power to help that person succeed whether in metrics, goals, and dollars; that’s my mantra. My job is to stand behind someone and help them move the pile and help them succeed in closing business, and achieving their personal and professional goals. We provide all the training and guidance but once you hire the right people and give them the right tools, leaders should be asking, ‘how can I help you?’ It’s not about who works for you, it’s more or less becoming teammates and partners and creating collaborative relationships.

Describe the approach you take to attracting and retaining high impact talent at IPL Plastics.

I think one of the assets that IPL’s culture has is having a collaborative and entrepreneurial type spirit. Some of our best in class competitors are very set in their ways. Having a leadership team that is open to new ideas, and wants to collaborate with their teammates seems very well received with the people that we talk to. It seems to be the culture people want to be around instead of the less flexible environment. There’s nobody at IPL that puts themselves above anybody else. We all consider ourselves partners, coworkers and we all work together for a common goal so people feel apart of the process and that’s how you get a better buy in.

What or who has motivated and influenced you to be successful in your career? Have you been involved in mentorship throughout your career, whether being mentored or mentoring others?

I have been very fortunate to have worked with and for people I would consider mentors. I have been given the opportunities to go through formal training and worked with good mentors who have taught me great skills in sales and leadership. These people have enabled me to pick up some great habits and great skillsets. As for mentoring others, part of my job is to mentor the people who report to me to certain degrees, helping them provide solutions and recommending how to handle different situations. Some people are just as experienced as I am, so the last thing I want to do is to tell them how to do their job. My job is to find out what can I do, how can I help, and how can I remove obstacles. For those with less experience that come across a situation they need help with, we will sit down, brainstorm, and look at our options to figure out the best way to handle it – that is one way I can provide some mentorship.

What is the biggest challenge facing the industry right now?

Top manufacturers need to have the ability to be flexible to meet and exceed customer expectations. There are folks that are much larger or much smaller that are very ingratiated in standard operating procedures IE, “that’s how it’s got to be done”, but business climate has changed over years. There are spikes and valleys in businesses and there are different senses of urgency and needs so the biggest challenge in the industry is being that company that not always says yes, but has the flexibility and open-mindedness to look at ways to help customers meet and exceed their expectations.

What do you think is necessary to be a successful salesperson in your industry?

There are a lot of people in our industry from the sales standpoint that are used to doing things the same way that everybody else has done it for some period of time and I don’t believe that necessarily holds true anymore. Customers in the industry have evolved. The average customer is more astute as to entertaining a new vendor coming in, listening to the questions they ask and the way they conduct themselves, and they’re saying to themselves, “Is this someone I can look at as a partner? Do they have our best interest at hand? Are they bringing new ideas to the table?” This is a different mindset than just trying to speak to customers to sell your product or service. Salespeople need to enable themselves to get in front of customers and ask them a lot of questions, find out what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, where they want help, and then providing solutions, suggestions or options. When you do that, then you become an extension with a company and you are viewed as a partner with your customer. I think that’s very important and the industry needs it.

 

Ashley Gannon
Executive Recruiter
agannon@directrecruiters.com
440-991-1064