Women in Business, Part I

Women in Business Part 1
By Cherie Shepard, Director of Packaging & Material Handling, DRI

Direct Recruiters and Direct Consulting Associates recently created a Women’s Organization. While the idea of establishing a women’s group may sound very 1970’s; beginning our Women’s Group is far from exchanging recipes, diets or “how to’s” of child rearing. We didn’t begin this organization to divide ourselves from the men in our company (no they are not included). We did it to give us a chance to bond and grow personally and professionally. We want to encourage our employees to feel a part of our company and to develop the skills to speak in a public open format which can be a short fall of women in business. We each bring a unique set of skills, life events and experiences that offer new ideas and discussions.

When starting a women’s group it is important to establish some ground rules and plans of action to make it successful.

1) Have a plan of action at each meeting

We are extremely fortunate. We have a culture where there is a good deal of comradery together with a lot of fun. For this reason we know we had to have an agenda for our meetings. We want to make sure we stay on task and on time. Let’s face it we all have jobs to do and having a meeting where we just keep circling around no specific idea is a time stealer. Prior to our meeting we send an article, video or podcast to the group to be viewed ahead of time. This gives us a poignant conversation piece to bring to the discussion.

2) Meetings are not an open forum to complain about your company or management

Any time a group of employees gets together, whether it is over lunch or drinks, the topic of conversation can move toward the negative. Our goal is if there is a situation that is frustrating for one or more of us we discuss it; having our conversations become negative is counterproductive to the success of our organization. Situations that arise can produce suggestions to fix a problem; they also open a non-judgmental forum and help bring clarity to an experience.

3) Make it fun

Just because we are at work and we are professionals we still want to enjoy ourselves. Most of us are not golfers or basketball players. Shocking but true. So we don’t have the same bonding times that these activities offer. So we try to schedule our meetings around other things. Some ideas are a picnic, a wine tasting and a painting party for starters. Even something as simple as walking during our lunch break for some physical activity enables us to get together and connect.

What ideas do you have for a group like this in your organization?

(Stay tuned for Part 2 on how this type of group can benefit your company)

Knowledge to Build On by Guest Blogger, Alex Goodman, Freshman at University of Wisconsin

Doing my high school senior project at Direct Recruiters Incorporated, or DRI, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Sure, I had an elementary concept of the recruiting. However, walking in on the first day I was determined to find out more. My sponsor, David Peterson, Managing Partner, made sure I did just that. After picking his brain, I learned how complex and difficult recruiting really is. Essentially, there is a set process of finding, calling, and acquiring passive candidates. The complexity arises in the fact that DRI’s candidates are basically their “products” to client companies, and in this industry the “products” can say no to job opportunities or say yes at first only to change their minds later. It is up to the recruiters to think on their feet, have their best interests at heart, be empathetic, and personable all in an effort to move a well-settled candidate into a new job.

After having this long and interesting talk with David, I shadowed and listened in on his current projects along with his team.  I did this nearly every day that I came into the office and was impressed. The skills that he explained to me in the initial conversation were demonstrated in real life and in real-time. Not only that, but I felt the personable vibe of the conversation along with the necessary business vibe just by being in the same room.

As the days went on, I decided that it was time to put my knowledge to the test. After discussing possible phone projects with David, he and his other co-workers came up with some ideas. They gave me a list of people, a phone, and a script with basic questions to ask potential candidates. Without hesitation, I dialed a number and tried to read the script to a real person; I froze immediately. I was nervous, robotic, and lost for words when dealing with these people. The workers at DRI truly made it look easy. However, they assured me it was totally normal considering I had no formal training and had me call more people. By the end of the two weeks of the project, I was flowing through the script and even was able to make small talk to these total strangers.

Lastly, the aura of DRI’s office was nothing short of friendly. When I arrived, David took me on a tour of the office and had me greet most of the employees. Every time, I was given a firm handshake and a warm hello. And every day after that, the people I passed in the office continued that homey vibe. On occasion, I was even able to sit down and have a casual conversation with other workers. Also, I had the privilege to sit down with the President and Marketing Manager separately. These two were extremely knowledgeable and were able to answer every single business, and even life question, I asked.

My experience at DRI can be summed up in one word: Valuable. I learned more about business than I ever could in a textbook, participated in recruiting, and even networking. From the work I did, to the lessons learned, I enjoyed every day of my senior project. I was not only exposed to the dynamic world of recruiting, but also to a vital base of knowledge that I can only build on.

5 Reasons Social Media is a Must When Job Hunting

By Matthew Cohen, Energy Management Practice Leader, DRI

Everyone knows the traditional ways of looking for career opportunities including career websites, job boards, job fairs, and cold calling hiring authorities. These have been the accepted practices in job hunting for years.  However, in recent times, social media has become an increasingly valuable tool for candidates looking for new opportunities as well as hiring authorities and companies looking for top talent.

With that in mind, here are 5 big reasons why social media is a must when making a career move:

  1. Creating a Digital Footprint- Just like paying your credit card on time helps you build financial credit, having a track record on social media can be valuable when prospective employers perform due diligence on prospective hires.  Your Facebook and Twitter are not just for vacation pictures, but are areas where you can post content that you are passionate about and can also relate to your chosen profession.  Use LinkedIn to find out information about people before you meet them as well as grow your network.
  1. Companies Respond on Social Media- Organizations that market themselves to the masses are more than ever relying on social media as a marketing and hiring tool. Hiring authorities and corporate recruiters are more likely to respond to direct messages on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn than traditional ways of reaching out to prospective hires.
  1. Job Posts on Social Media- Companies not only use social media to brand themselves, but increasingly use many social media platforms to post in-demand jobs. If you follow organizations that you may be interested in working for, you are more likely to discover open positions and they’re more likely to discover you. Companies have found that social media recruitment allows them to cast a wider net.
  1. Demonstrates Tech Savviness- Employers are putting a greater emphasis on the use of technology. Having experience on social media shows prospective employers a candidate is aware of the latest trends in technology and is tech-savvy. Therefore, you need to stay on top of relevant technology and social media platforms or you will be considered a dinosaur.
  1. Networking Opportunities- Even when not actively looking for a job, networking with professionals on social media can be a valuable investment in your future. Following executives on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can pay dividends when the time comes to discuss your next opportunity. In addition, utilizing social media provides you with the opportunity to stay in touch with colleagues who can lead you to their connections and possible career openings.

I would like to hear from you on how social media played a role in your recent job search. Please post your comments below.

Critical Tactics for Job Hopping

By Barb Miller, Marketing Manager, DRI & DCA

Job hopping is becoming more readily accepted in today’s workforce. The stigma of not staying in one position or at one company for very long, is fading away.  According to Mashable, 18 months is now the socially accepted minimum for staying at a job. In the past, staying for only 18 months would trigger a negative reaction and employers would ask for a reasonable explanation such as a company layoff or plant closing.

In May 2014, Career Builder surveyed 2,138 hiring managers and HR professionals and 55% have hired job hoppers and nearly one-third have come to expect workers to job hop. In fact, the stats show that by the age of 35, 25% of workers have held five jobs or more. For workers ages 55 and older, 20% have held ten jobs or more.

As you map out your career strategy that includes stops at several employers, there are a few critical tactics you should think about:

Have a large, resourceful network. Social and professional networks are more active, wide-reaching, and influential than ever before. Networking is vital in today’s competitive market.

Keep your range of skills honed. With each new position comes a new set of challenges. Take full advantage of development opportunities and be willing to learn from other respected professionals in your industry.

Know what you want to get out of every job change. Before making a move, have an explicit understanding of what the new position will add to your experience base, mastery, and personal maturity and satisfaction.

Your next move must be rational. Have a plausible explanation for each move you make. Employers will want to know why you are making a job change. Stay away from saying things like “it sounded like a good idea at the time” or you’ll raise eyebrows.

Be prepared to stay in each job long enough to learn something. This is where 18 months comes into play again. Staying 18 months is considered acceptable and usually the point at which you develop new skills, receive your first formal employee review, and possibly a salary increase.

You are what you were last.  Your most recent job and resume reflects your career path and what you want to do with your life.  When meeting a potential new employer, don’t veer from your story. Your resume and how you answer interview questions, should be in sync.

If you would like to mention another critical tactic when job hopping, please comment below.

5 Qualities Candidates Look for in a Company

By Sydney Arnett, Marketing Specialist, DRI & DCA

Last month, Glassdoor.com announced its seventh annual Employees’ Choice Awards, honoring the Best Places to Work across the United States. Companies on the list exemplify those with a strong company culture and happy employees, as well as an engaged work.

While these two things are great for improving morale and productivity, they’re also incredibly powerful tools for recruitment marketing and attracting new talent. According to Glassdoor Career Trends Analyst Scott Dobroski, “Company culture is among the top five factors people consider” when weighing a job offer.

To attain the best candidates in today’s rebounding job market you need to be able to market your employer brand and attract job seekers. So what are common traits of companies with an engaged workforce and strong company culture, and how can you make sure your company is a “Best Place to Work?”

  1. Continuous training and professional development – A 2014 Deloitte study found that, in the last year alone, corporate budgets for training and development have risen by 15 percent. To begin, try implementing a weekly training meeting, send some employees to a conference, or organize a mentoring program.
  2. Recognition of personal accomplishments and milestones – Another key component of engagement is employee recognition. Make employees feel valued and appreciated for all of their hard work and contributions to the organization as most employees want to be recognized by their managers for their hard efforts. Companies that fail to implement reward systems do their employees and their culture a disservice.
  3. A fun environment – For many employees, engagement means having a little fun at the office once in a while. Creating a positive work environment that includes fun ways for employees to interact will go a long way in engaging employees. Whether this means having an occasional birthday or holiday celebration in the office, or a more formal annual retreat, employees will have something to look forward to other than the daily grind.
  4. Value employees’ opinions – Employees want to feel valued and respected. Make employees feel involved and empowered to make a difference in the organization.
  5. Offer some flexibility – Employees appreciate having a say over when they work. Allow employees to work from home on an as-needed basis and/or permit flexible work hours for employees to deal with personal matters when they come up.

Post any other qualities you look for in a company when job hunting.

What Today’s Employers Expect From Employees

By Barb Miller, Marketing Manager, DRI

These days, employers look for skills beyond the ‘academic qualifications’ of candidates. Many of them believe that academic qualifications and experience are something that can easily be found but the right combination of characteristics that help a company make money or save money, are hard to find.

With that in mind, here are 6 of the most desirable characteristics that employers expect from employees:

Taking Initiative. Initiative is all about taking charge. It’s having the motivation to accomplish tasks on your own. If you want to be great at what you do and be considered for a leadership position, you need to show that you are ready, able, and willing to get things done without being asked.

Positive Attitude. Many employers believe that having a positive attitude is more important than the knowledge an employee brings to the table. A positive attitude is infectious. It spreads to all others in the workplace. Also, if you’re a positive person, you tend to be more curious about things. As a result, your job performance is usually better than a negative person because you are always looking for new ideas that yield higher productivity levels.

Entrepreneurial Spirit. Entrepreneurs are innovators. They are always trying to figure out new ways to accomplish tasks. Entrepreneurs like change because change often brings a plethora of opportunities. The essence of the entrepreneurial attitude is that you are able to anticipate change and formulate innovative responses to change that will result in success.

Results-Oriented. Results-oriented individuals are focused on making things happen no matter the challenges or road blocks. This means you dig through projects and figure out how to obtain the desired result(s). In addition, you stay resolute and focused on each project, meet deadlines, and deliver value to the organization.

Team Player. Employers know that their employees are more productive and tend to be more loyal and committed to the organization when they see themselves as an integral part of a team.  Team players show a willingness to collaborate with others in order to execute work assignments and accomplish goals.

Dependable and Responsible. Being dependable means that you do what you say you will do. Employers value employees who come to work on time and take responsibility for their actions and behaviors. In addition, employers know that dependable and responsible employees value their job, job expectations, and their performance level.

Desire for Continued Learning. Continual learning enables employees to increase the contribution they make to the company. If you show a willingness to take advantage of training programs offered at work, attend seminars, read relevant books etc. you become more valuable to every assignment and ultimately the organization. Also, don’t forget to ask for advice from your team and manager on things you need to learn in order to progress.

If you are a hiring manager, are there any other characteristics that you consider to be “must haves” in your workplace?  Please share your comments below.

6 Mobile Job Search Apps Every Job Seeker Should Know About by Sydney Arnett, Marketing Specialist, DCA & DRI

Looking for a new job? In today’s competitive job market job seekers have to be connected, organized and prepared. To stay ahead of the curve, tech-savvy job seekers are taking advantage of mobile job search apps.

According to glassdoor.com, 9 in 10 job seekers search for jobs via their mobile phones, which is consistent with Direct Consulting Associates’ analytics that say the number one way people come to our website is via the iPhone. In addition, 77% of job seekers use mobile job search apps. Job search apps are becoming increasingly popular as they give job seekers constant access, both at home and on the go, with up-to-date job postings.

Given 59% believe they have a better chance of being considered for a job if they apply as soon as the job is posted online, speed and having access to the latest job listings is a top priority for job seekers. Apps are also popular because many company’s career sites are not mobile-optimized, making it difficult to apply to jobs using a mobile device.

Looking for a job is undeniably one of the most stressful hurdles in one’s life. Whether you’re out of a job or not satisfied in your current position, mobile job searching app can definitely make your hunt a little easier.

Here are 6 mobile job search apps every job seeker should know about:

Job AwareJob Aware
JobAware is an app that allows you to search jobs in cities near you and helps you organize and track your progress throughout the job application process. The app also offers salary comparisons for hundreds of occupations, LinkedIn account integration to help you take advantage of your network, and job search advice from top career experts. And that’s not all. There’s also an autofill feature that allows JobAware to automatically fill out job applications, rapidly speeding up the application process. The app also allows you to find the top cities for any job search term or company.This app can be used to search for full-time, part-time, contract, freelance jobs and internships.

Get HiredGetHired
Just enter what you are looking for and getHired will provide job listings from 8 different job search engines (Indeed, CareerJet, JuJu, LinkUp, SimplyHired, CareerBuilder, JobServe and USAJobs.gov) across more than 60 countries.  getHired is like job classifieds on your phone and is extremely easy and simple to use. However, it’s best used to simply search positions while on the go as it is unable to directly submit your resume. getHired is also only available on Windows phones and tablets.

Job CompassJob Compass
JobCompass is the first application on the iPhone or iPad that searches millions of jobs, locating and plotting them on a map showing you exactly where the jobs are in relation to a specific address or zip code. This app in addition to providing job description information, also allows you to apply directly from your phone.

SnagSnagAJob
SnagAJob is a top-ranked search engine for full-time and part-time hourly positions throughout the US. This app allows you to search and apply to over 350,000 jobs across a variety of industries, including restaurant, retail and customer service.

Switch
SwitchSwitch is a new job hunting app that lets you search for a job the same way you’d swipe for a date on Tinder. Switch allows you to quickly browse through available job listings. You swipe right on jobs you’re interested in and left on jobs you want to pass on. Hiring managers do the same on anonymized candidate profiles and when there’s a match both users are notified. However, Switch is currently exclusive to tech, media, and startup companies in NYC.

LinkLink-Up
LinkUp’s unique search engine, updated daily, lists only jobs that are found on company and employer websites. This helps you uncover the hidden job market of opportunities not publicly advertised on the major job search engines. An additional upside is that as positions are filled and company websites are updated so are LinkUp’s job search listings – so no more applying to outdated job postings.

2015 Job Seekers Have the Upper Hand

According to Forbes Magazine, 86% of workers in North America say they plan to actively look for a new job this year and for good reason…the job market has opened up. That means those who stayed in their current job roles for years due to a lack of choices and the security of a paycheck, now have the upper hand.

In fact, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just announced that 2014 was the best year for hiring since 1999 and that the unemployment rate fell from 5.8% to 5.6% (employers added 252,000 jobs in December). Better still, 36% of employers plan to increase their full-time staff in 2015, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

What does this mean for you? For the first time in 6 years, the job market is strong.  Job seekers now will find a greater number of opportunities available that will most likely offer better pay.  The hottest industries for hiring are information technology, financial services, manufacturing, and healthcare.

What hasn’t changed are the strategies you need to get noticed and considered for these opportunities. In DRI’s recent blog “Your 2015 Job Search”, I mentioned 8 ways to get noticed. Here’s 6 more strategies for you:

1) Update your resume in ways to capture attention.  You will be especially attractive if you expertise in those hard to fill positions.  Include all your specialty areas on your resume.  Remember to include any quantifiable results you have achieved. For example, if you increased customer retention by 20% over the years, make sure to highlight this accomplishment.  Also, add your social media links especially to LinkedIn so employers can find out more about you.

2) Get insider information.  The best job opportunities never get advertised especially if they’re high level.  You need to network and reach out to people who you know who work at the companies that are of interest to you. If you don’t know an insider, tap into your LinkedIn contacts or try to connect with someone in the know who can help you get considered for open positions.

3) Set up “Google Alerts” for companies of interest to you.  Be in the hiring loop by setting up Google Alerts for 3 to 5 companies at which you would like to work. This way, you’ll be on top of breaking news, job postings and business opportunities long before your competition without having to devote hours to research.

4) Download mobile job apps.  Mobile apps allow job seekers to search discreetly for positions anytime and anywhere and respond to postings quickly. There are apps that help with career planning, organize the job search process, alert job seekers to compatible positions, and can even upload and send resumes to recruiters.

5) Raise your profile and presence.  In and above being active in professional organizations, nominate yourself for speaking opportunities. This will raise your profile and capture the attention of employers.  Also, think about blogging on a regular basis to display your passion and knowledge.  You just may land a new job by being discovered digitally.

6) Be open to recruiters.  If a recruiter contacts you, be open to a discussion. They may be working on an active search that’s right in your wheelhouse and meets most of your “must haves”. But even if it’s not the perfect fit, recruiters also know about other available career opportunities. It doesn’t hurt to entertain a conversation. Also, help out a colleague if you can.  If you pay it forward, one of your colleagues might pay it back at a later date.

Are you among the 86% that are looking to make a job change this year?

For Millennials, Job Hopping is Normal by Barb Miller, Marketing Manager, DRI

Millennials, also known as GEN Y, were born between the years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s and are notorious job hoppers. Reports suggest they have a short attention span and the majority of this generation does not expect to stay with one employer for more than five years.

Companies are feeling the real costs of these job hoppers. Reported in the Chicago Tribune  30% of companies surveyed lost 15% or more of their Millennial employees in 2013; and 87% said it cost $15,000 to $25,000 to replace a former Millennial employee.

Is there any way to keep Millennials from walking out the door? Yes. But it may mean changing your company culture and/or implementing new and creative ways for employee retention.  Here are 5 suggestions:

1) Offer Job Hopping Opportunities Inside Your Company. Give Millennials an opportunity to have a wide range of experiences within your company. The ability to move between departments can lead to greater exposure and job fulfillment.

2) Leadership Development. Millennials pay close attention to whether their workplace offers leadership opportunities for them. Your company should develop and implement a variety of leadership programs that demonstrate a commitment to these young employees.

3) Mentorship Programs. Mentoring is very important to Millennials. Establishing an effective mentoring program is both a cost-effective means of facilitating connections, accelerate learning and send a positive message about their future with the company.

4) Current Technology. Millennials grew up with technology in their hands. They’re very comfortable with smart phones, IPads, Laptops, etc. and are keenly aware of the latest applications and improved mechanics. Make sure your company offers the state-of-the-art technology to help them work more efficiently and increase productivity levels.

5) Work/Life Balance. Millennials will work hard but want flexibility. Offer them remote connectivity and alternative work arrangements for community or family events. Also, offer a relaxed environment. It’s no coincidence that this generation admires the work environments of Google, Yahoo and Amazon. Gone are the days of wearing suits and ties as a more relaxed workplace is in.

If you’re a Millennial and change jobs often, please comment on how job hopping has been a positive for you.

Networking with Purpose by Guest Blogger, John Yurkschatt, Director of IT Practice, DCA

In today’s challenging job market, it’s not just about who you know but how you get to know them.  If NOT done correctly, networking is a waste of your time. If your approach is to seek out people to tell them about ME, ME, ME, you’ll walk away from every networking event/opportunity disappointed.

The right way to network is to do it with “purpose”.  That means think beyond “What’s in it for me?”  Instead, think “How can I help you?”

True networking is all about connecting, communicating and building a relationship.  It’s about enjoying your conversation with others and actively listening in order to figure out what they need as well as how you can connect them with the right people without designs for personal gain.

For many of you, this revelation is eye opening.  It’s probably contrary to what you’ve been doing.  If so, the following 5 tips on how to network successfully are especially meant for you:

1) Start networking before you’re in a pinch. Desperation can be smelled from across the room. Don’t be that person with panic in your eyes and only out for yourself. Handing out resumes at an event will make people run away from you instead of towards you. Start networking when you don’t have an ulterior motive.  Get to know people and about what’s important to them and start building a relationship.

2) Never dismiss anyone as being unimportant. Everyone has value and you’ll discover that fact if you keep your mind open and don’t judge people based on titles. Remember everyone has connections therefore, everyone is important.

3) Ask for an attendee list. Prior to attending each event, ask the organizer for a list of attendees.You can do some research on the people you want to meet. Check out their LinkedIn profiles and Google their names to gather more information.

4) Fish in the right pond. Unfortunately many of you are attending every event you can. You want to meet anybody and everybody. Slow-down. You need to be more focused. For example, if you’re looking for a big fish, i.e. a key contact with a large company because you want to work for a large company, then you must attend the right event. You have to fish where the big fish are.

5) Figure out how you can be useful. Networking is not just one sided. It’s not asking for favors. It’s about building relationships. It’s about a two way street and that means asking others how you can be of service to them. Be sincere and generous. Give them your business card and let them know they can call you anytime.

Please share how you network with purpose by posting a comment in the box below.