Technology has changed hiring for both job seekers and recruiters
For better or for worse, technology has changed the recruitment and job search process, for both those seeking jobs and those hiring for them. It’s easier than ever for recruiters and hiring managers to find candidates who have specific niche skills or even sway candidates who might be currently employed and not actively job searching. Job seekers can not only create online profiles to attract recruiters and apply for jobs with one click, but they can even reach out directly to employers.
With so many tools available to make the process less resource-intensive, candidates are generally the ones doing the “heavy lifting” in terms of making themselves known to recruiters. With setting up LinkedIn, Nexxt, Jobcase and other online accounts that allow them to actively reach out to employers, job seekers are trying to turn themselves into the “hand-picked” candidate.
Years ago, it would have been unheard of to find company reviews and salary information when conducting an online job search. Now, according to “The Modern Job Seeker Report” from recruiter software company iCIMS, 92 percent of Americans turn to employer reviews when considering a new job. Plus, one-third of Americans (including 47 percent of millennials) has declined a job offer due to poor company reviews.
Here in the Lehigh Valley, however, the trend of “seeing behind the walls of a company before you ever set foot in the door” isn’t always the norm for job candidates.
“That hasn’t been our experience,” says Janell O’Brien, director of corporate services at Allied Personnel Services in Allentown. “Here in the Lehigh Valley, we find word of mouth, personal connections, news updates and a company’s awards or recognition carry more weight with job seekers than online reviews. Reviews for employers (or any kind of business for that matter) allows for both accurate positive and negative reviews but also allows a space for anyone at all to say anything they like about a business. Savvy customers and consumers should do a full range of research before relying on any one site for review information, as one person’s experience with an employer may not mirror the experience of another. Work is actually a very personal thing; as we all know, the job you love may be despised by the next person, and the job you can’t do because of a lack of skill may be easily mastered by someone else.”
LinkedIn and online job networks
LinkedIn has held the title of “the” go-to professional social network for 16 years now, and has shown no signs of its popularity or usefulness waning. The site has played a major role in how candidates search for jobs and how recruiters find candidates. With a strong profile and the right connections, you can attract hiring managers and recruiters to the point that you’re literally bringing job opportunities right to your inbox. And with the networking and connections aspect, you can keep a close eye on potential job openings from past colleagues and other connections.
There are other sites that have followed a similar model, such as Nexxt (formerly Beyond.com) and Jobcase, both of which give job seekers the opportunity to create a comprehensive profile to show off their most relevant information for recruiters. These sites allow you to list work preferences such as your willingness to relocate, preferred job location, salary range, personal traits, volunteer work and other career-appropriate information.
While LinkedIn allows some of these more nuanced information categories, the advantage of the other sites is that they power more than 100 existing job-listing websites, meaning users have access to a wide range of employers and opportunities associated with these sites.
Today, the norm is searching for a job while using a mobile device. There are countless job board apps and job search apps designed to quickly connect recruiters and hiring managers with job seekers.
While mobile might make the process quicker, how does one stand out amongst all of the technological noise?
“A simple application process that can be done quickly and from anywhere on a mobile device still requires consideration and thought. To stand out, be the person who follows all of the instructions, who completes the application process accurately without spelling errors and typos, who follows up, or who finds a way to connect with a hiring manager directly,” says O’Brien. “If there is an option to apply directly to an email address, we always recommend doing that over submitting something through a site. This puts the job seeker in front of a person and shows a sincere interest in a particular position. We have repeatedly seen job seekers sabotage themselves by applying online over and over and over again to the same company for a wide range of jobs. This can be construed as desperation and a need for any job at all which is why careful consideration should be given to each application submitted.”
Source: The Morning Call
Ready to tackle the online job search? Start here!
Interviews can be stressful. Allied has some easy guides to help you through any interview process. Start by checking our guide on how to dress for an interview, and review some quick tips for a successful interview. (Just make sure you don’t prepare too much!) Finally, follow these steps for ending the interview and proper follow-up.
After the Interview
- Before leaving, ask the interviewer what the next step is. This will allow you to determine the best way to follow up.
- If you are asked to call the interviewer about the next step on Wednesday, call on Wednesday. Not Thursday…Wednesday. This is often a test. An employer is evaluating your ability to follow directions and follow-up properly. These skills are vital to any position.
- If the interviewer said she would call you Friday and you haven’t heard from her, call on Monday. If you must leave a message, be polite and brief.
- If after leaving a message you haven’t heard anything in 2 more days, send an email. Again, be polite and brief.
- If you haven’t heard 2 days after that, assume you were not selected and move on. Do not give in to the temptation to call and/or email again to tell the employer they missed out. This will eliminate you from any future consideration should other opportunities within the company arise.
The Thank You Note
You should send a separate thank you note to each interviewer. The note should be handwritten on a conservative card and be brief and professional.
Dear Mr. Gehrig,
I enjoyed meeting with you today regarding the administrative opening with your company. I believe that my experience and your needs will be a good match. I look forward to hearing from you about the next step in the process. Thanks again!
If plans were made for a second step within the next 1 – 2 business days, it would be appropriate to send an email rather than a note card.
Having trouble landing that interview? Let Allied help! Apply today and let us connect you to the Lehigh Valley’s top companies!
The best way to plan a house on a vacant piece of land is to move into a tiny shepherd’s hut on a corner of the property. It’s not fancy, and it’s not comfortable, but you can probably stay there for a week or two.
And during that week, you’ll understand more about the land than you ever could in an hour of walking around. You’ll see how the rain falls and the sun shines and the puddles form.
As you’ve probably guessed, you can do that with the job you’re thinking about taking or the project you’re thinking about launching. Show up in the market and make some sales. Take a role as an intern and answer the customer service hotline for a day. Get as close as you can to the real thing, live it, taste it, and then decide how to build your career or your organization.
If the shepherd’s hut feels too uncomfortable, it might not be the land you wanted in the first place.
Working in a temporary job will give you more insight into a company and a position than you ever could in an hour of interviewing. You’ll see how the work flows and if the people shine and how the culture is formed. You can see the real thing and then decide if the organization is a place you can build a career and thrive within.
And if the temporary job feels too uncomfortable, it might not be the company you wanted in the first place.
Looking for a “shepherd’s hut” at a top Lehigh Valley company? Allied’s temporary positions offer the best way to learn about an organization and evaluate the next steps in your career.
A recent discussion here at Allied about trends within the applicant pool gravitated toward one particular trend showing up more and more frequently – candidates who are too coached and how that negatively affects an interview.
You may think that “practice makes perfect” applies to interview preparation and the more you rehearse the better you’ll do. This doesn’t necessarily apply to interviewing.
The purpose of an interview is for a company to discover detailed information about your work experience and your job history, including the reasons for leaving jobs and the specific skills you possess. Equally important, sometimes even more important, a company needs to assess your fit for their environment. This is where too much practice can be a problem.
One pattern recently has been in applicants who talk about the importance of “networking” in the job search and how they are especially “effective at building relationships”. Both are important concepts but virtually all of these candidates use the exact same phrasing over and over. It appears as if a particularly compelling article circulated online, everyone took its advice, memorized the suggested “good” answers, and are now interviewing at the same time. Here is the thing though– the answers are only good if they are YOUR answers.
A good interviewer doesn’t want to hear the buzz words and the packaged answers available to everyone. An interviewer wants and needs to hear from YOU — the person who will show up every day and work hard (without a coach or source material). An interviewer needs to know what interacting with YOU will be like. An interviewer needs to know if YOU are going to get along with the rest of the staff. An interviewer needs to know what YOU are really good at – not what the articles say are important skills.
There’s nothing wrong with preparing ahead of time so you can intelligently talk about your experiences, the job opportunity and the company at which you applying but keep it down to earth. It’s fine to practice how you might answer certain questions and to make sure that your answers will include some key things that are important for the position but don’t be generic about it. Be genuine. Be yourself and you will land the right job for YOU.
It is essential that employees learn how to handle criticism in order to be an effective worker. But what exactly does “handling criticism” mean? Leadership communications consultant John Baldoni offers some suggestions in his article titled “Learning How To Accept Criticism,” published in Darwin Magazine.
The following are some of Baldoni’s suggestions:
|Photo from Leadership Freak|
- You’ve got to be able to roll with the punches. The message this will send out is that you are allowing people to disagree with you. And even though you may not be aware of how much you need this, probably some day it will become very clear to you just how important this is. Listen to what your critics have to say and if you feel it’s necessary, you can politely defend yourself. But here’s the key: Don’t under any circumstance try to discredit your superior.
- Take a deep breath and thank the person who criticizes you. Why are you thanking the person who is criticizing you? It’s helpful to think of it in this way: it took courage for that person to speak his mind. Whatever you do, don’t go on a defensive attack. What you’re saying when you react negatively is “No criticism allowed here.” A negative reaction will likely prevent others from being truthful with you in the workplace in the future, and that is a dangerous position to put yourself in.
- Reflect, then act. Taking time to think over what your direct reports say to you, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear, demonstrates your maturity and true caring ability. If you want respect, this is a sure way to gain it.
You’ve landed an interview. Congratulations! In addition to our top 3 tips for successful interviews, you also need to think about your attire. You may have sold yourself on paper, but now you need to make an excellent impression in a competitive job market. Obviously, you should aim to be an unforgettable candidate, but you don’t want to be unforgettable for the wrong reasons.
Despite what you perceive or expect a company’s culture or dress code to be, always dress professionally for an interview. Avoid wearing jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, etc. If you’re not wearing a suit, consider dress slacks and a button down or collared shirt or blouse.
If wearing a dress/skirt, consider wearing stockings as they ensure a more professional presentation. Also be mindful of the length of your skirt/dress. Those that fall at or below the knee are best.
The shoes you choose are equally important. It’s best to be more conservative and opt for closed toed shoes. Avoid sandals, flip flops, or any overly casual footwear.
Above all, remember that you only get one shot at a first impression. If you find yourself questioning any part of your interview attire, go the conservative route. You never want something like wardrobe obscuring an employer’s perception of you and your professionalism.
Looking for a great job in the Lehigh Valley? Part of the process will almost certainly include interviews. In addition to placing people in career opportunities with some of the leading companies in Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, Allied provides our candidates a crash course in interview preparation. Here are what we consider our top 3 tips to prepare you for an interview.
Always research the company and the position.
The Internet provides the means for gathering extensive information on a company. Visit the company’s website to read up on their history, their product line, and any current news. Many smaller companies also profile members of their management team. A company website will likely also offer a full description of the available job and may even include general information on the benefits offered. LinkedIn is also a great resource to learn more about the company, as well as the person who will be interviewing you. By doing your research ahead of time, you will also be better able to formulate intelligent questions during your interview.
Be courteous to everyone you meet.
We always encourage candidates to be friendly to the first person they meet when they walk in the door of a company. Many interviewers will ask the person at the front desk or at the security desk for a quick first impression. If you were rude, if you were talking on your cell phone, or if you were pacing nervously, they will share that information with the interviewing/hiring manager so it is important to not get off on the wrong foot. Greet everyone with politeness and wish them well when you leave, turn the cell phone off in the car (vibrate isn’t good enough – it needs to be off), and sit calmly while waiting. Consider your interview starting the moment you arrive at the company.
Even if it seems like common sense, think about it.
Most people look at us oddly when we provide this advice but you would be surprised how often simple common sense errors trip up an otherwise decent interview. Before you walk in the building make sure your sunglasses are off of your head and that your suit jacket lapel isn’t folded under. Make sure you’ve left food and drink in the car (this includes gum and mints). Always take at least three extra copies of your resume in case you meet with more than one person, and ensure those resumes are neat and are free of coffee stains, folds, and pen marks. Make sure you have reference information with you including the person’s full name, phone number, and email address. And most of all make sure you know who to ask for when you arrive!
Despite low unemployment rates, the job market in the Lehigh Valley is always competitive and employers will be considering multiple candidates when hiring. If you’ve done your research, remember your manners and pay attention to the common sense details, you will absolutely have a leg up on the competition. Rest assured, we’ve seen enough people stumble to know what gets you noticed in a positive way.
Good luck with your search, and be sure to check out Allied’s available jobs regularly.
You have likely heard about “soft skills” before. But what are they? Sometimes referred to as “21st-century skills,” “interpersonal skills,” or “applied skills,” they are the skills that are non-technical or specific to a certain job. They are the skills that help you think, communicate with people, and reflect on your experiences. Basically, your young adult needs them to thrive in the workforce. Career coach Jane Horowitz says the basis of her coaching practice is “hire for attitude, train for skills,” and she sees will and drive as being the greatest determinants of young adults getting hired.
“We hear it time and time again, it’s the soft skills,” says Terri Tchorzynski, 2017 National School Counselor of the Year. “That’s what allows you to keep the job. Employers can hire our students and train them, but if they don’t have the soft skills, it’s really hard for them to stay employed.”
According to the Harvard University “Pathways to Prosperity Project” study in 2011, U.S. employers are increasingly seeing students graduate from college unequipped to survive in the 21st century workforce. Specifically, they are “deficient” in skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and communication. Bruce Tulgan, founder and CEO of Rainmaker Thinking and expert and author on young people in the workplace, has been tracking the generational change in the workplace since 1993. According to Tulgan (and many other experts and employers), there is a gap in soft skills from previous generations to the generation entering the workforce today. Employers want certain skills in their employees, regardless of the field. And not only do employers want these skills, but employment and wages have increased in most occupations that require higher social or analytical skills (like communication, management, or leaderships skills), according to Pew Research. Most workers understand this too; according to Pew Research, workers say softs skills are more important than technical skills in order to do their jobs.
The value of these soft skills can be considered good news! No matter what students study in school or what path they take after high school, they can work to learn these skills to help them be successful in the workplace. These are the six skills your young adult will need no matter what their career path:
The ability to communicate effectively is one of the most essential skills for the workforce. No matter the job or field, communication is required both inside and outside an organization. Parents see the value, too! According to the NBC News State of Parenting Poll, sponsored by Pearson, 54% of parents said good social and communication skills are most important for their child’s future success (more important than grades). Pew research found the same; communication skills were the most important skills Americans say kids need to succeed in life.
“Communication is a big one,” Tchorzynski says. “A lot of students struggle with it because they are used to communicating electronically and they are challenged when having conversations face to face with somebody.”
Having communication skills that make your young adult career-ready means they can articulate thoughts clearly, express ideas through oral, written, and non-verbal cues, and listen to ultimately gain understanding. In addition, with the increasingly digital world, it is essential that they are able to share and deliver information through digital means. Having relationship skills and social awareness are two central components of effective communication. Young adults should understand how to be respectively assertive, think about themselves within the context of a greater organization, understand the social rules of the workplace, and know how to communicate within that structure.
Teamwork and Collaboration
Most jobs will require some sort of teamwork and collaboration between employees. Young adults must have the ability to work in a team structure. When young people enter the workforce, they need to learn to think beyond themselves and their own desires, and toward the common goal of the company or organization they are working for. As a new employee in the workforce, young adults are rarely the bosses and need to learn to be team players. They must use their skills as something they offer to the company. In the early years of a career, teamwork is often demonstrated through hard work, commitment, and sacrifice. This means playing whatever role is needed to support the mission of the organization. It also means celebrating and supporting the successes of other employees. Teamwork requires employees to foster relationships with their bosses and coworkers and to be socially aware about the context of these relationships.
The shift from college or high school to the workforce can be a big adjustment for young people. The responsibility and self-management required to be successful at work can be totally different than environments young people are used to. The key to professionalism is forming good work habits. Being on time, responsible, and organized; these are all skills that are important in professional settings. Being on time is perhaps the simplest, yet most essential part to professionalism. “When you clock in for a job, and my job starts at 8, I am there and ready to work at 8, not walking through the door,” Tchorzynski says.
Young adults must be able to keep their work organized and be responsible for deadlines and projects assigned to them. Young people should be sure to communicate clearly with their bosses about these expectations. These basics are all part of learning to manage oneself and one’s time.
Self-Management and Initiative
Employers want workers who have leadership qualities. This does not mean that young adults will be a leader of the project or boss in the department, but it does mean they possess certain skills that show leadership potential. This means they have self-management and initiative. Self-management in the workplace includes the ability to plan, organize, and prioritize your work. This means having follow-through and discipline to stay on track with assignments and projects. Initiative is the ability to act or take charge to do things without being asked. This quality is highly sought after for employees as it shows a deep level of motivation and curiosity for the work they are doing. It’s also often extremely beneficial to a manager to be able to rely on employees to take initiative without waiting to be asked to do a task first. Finally, young adults should be able to self-evaluate their performance by assessing their actions, work, and projects against goals, timelines, and general work guidelines.
Critical and Creative Thinking
Critical thinking is the ability to make an evaluation of something by assessing, analyzing, and examining the issue or topic. It requires not just accepting what is, but looking further for other possibilities. Creative thinking, on the other hand, is a way of looking at problems or situations with a fresh perspective and suggesting new or nontraditional solutions and ideas. Critical and creative thinking go hand in hand, and both are required for the workforce today. Young adults need to be able to make decisions and solve problems using their creative and critical thinking skills. This may be examining data and providing an informed analysis to report to their boss or coming up with a creative solution to a project hurdle.
Global Fluency & Perspective
In today’s economy, workers need a broad understanding of the world around them. More and more employees are finding themselves interacting with people who are different from them. Having a global perspective means respecting diversity, and being open, inclusive, and sensitive to all people. People must be able to interact with and be respectful to people from different cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, political ideologies, and religions. Being globally fluent includes having digital skills, which are essential in today’s economy. However, this does not just mean having the technical skills, but also the knowledge of appropriate social media use, informal vs formal emails, and how to effectively communicate online.
As the warmer weather approaches and we swap our sweaters and winter work wear for summertime garb, it’s important to keep dress code in mind.
What is appropriate professional dress for summer? Naturally, dress code varies a bit for every employer, but there are some general rules of thumb to follow.
Skirts & Dresses
Be very conscious of the length of any skirts or dresses you choose for work. They should fall at the knee or below. Find yourself questioning the appropriateness of length? Save it for an occasion outside of work.
Tailored shorts have become a trend, and they are often paired with a blazer giving them the feel of a professional dress option. However, they are most likely not suitable for those adhering to traditional, professional dress code standards. If you are working in a business casual environment, they may be acceptable provided that the length is appropriate, falling at or below the knee.
Spaghetti Straps & Tank Tops
Any top with thin straps is best covered by a cardigan or blazer. Some employers have no problem with a sleeveless, but tailored blouse. Remember, however, that a bare or nearly bare shoulder is not regarded as professional.
Traditionally only a beachfront staple, flip flips have become a summer dress essential for many. While employers with a casual dress code may allow flip flops in the summer months, many others adopt the conventional mindset that they are not at all work appropriate. Check your employer’s dress code policy, but know that flip flops are to be absolutely avoided when dressing for interviews, professional events, or meetings with clients. An open-toed, professional shoe, however, is often acceptable in the summer months.
Always be sure to have a clear understanding of your company’s dress code policy and whatever you’re wearing, in any weather, aim to present yourself as a polished professional destined for success.