Job Search Tools: Wordle

Have you ever heard of a wordle? Self-described as a “toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide”, they offer an interesting way to visually represent text. Words that appear more frequently in the source text are displayed larger than other words. It’s an interesting exercise to create a wordle of your blog feed to see if the resulting image accurately represents the message you are hoping to deliver with your posts.

The wordle created from our blog feed is below, and it perfectly captures the goals and message of this blog. (Click to enlarge.)

Wordles aren’t just for blogs. You can cut and paste any text and create an image. Try creating a word cloud from your resume. Are the words that represent your strengths, skills and experience that you want to highlight the largest? If you have multiple resumes that you use for different positions, creating a wordle for each is an easy way to see if they are emphasizing the correct things. And what about your cover letters? A wordle can help you see if the keywords and important points of the job description or posting that you are responding to are prominent enough in your letter.

Wordles are a fun “toy”, but also have some possibilities to help you with your job search, even if only to help you look at it a bit differently. Sometimes being able to take a different perspective can be a big help, especially with something like your resume that you may have looked at over and over. And that new perspective might be the spark your job search needs.

Once you have that resume ready to go, check out our current openings and get it over to our recruiters!

Winter Weather Warnings

 

Do you know the difference between a watch and a warning?  Is a storm warning the same as a blizzard warning?  Winter is upon us in the Lehigh Valley, so it’s important to understand the terms used to forecast the weather.

WinterWeather_graphic

Familiarize yourself with the following weather alerts so you know what actions you may need to take:

  • Winter storm watch: Be alert, a storm is likely
  • Winter weather advisory: Experts expect conditions to cause significant hazards, especially to motorists
  • Frost/freeze warning: Experts expect below-freezing temperatures and damage to plants, crops or fruit trees
  • Winter storm warning: Take action, a storm is entering—or is already in—the area
  • Blizzard warning: The combination of snow and strong winds will produce blinding snow, near-zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill—seek refuge immediately

With the Farmer’s Almanac predicting a “Polar Coaster” this winter for the Northeast, it’s going to be important to understand the differences and be prepared.  Some other resources to help you get through the winter:

Ten Things Everyone Needs to Know About Winter Weather Forecasts

Lehigh Valley Weather

Things To Do In Lehigh Valley In The Winter

How to combat business e-mail compromise scams

A human resources representative at a small mining company received an e-mail purporting to be from the CEO and requesting employees’ W2 information. That rep—who had been trained on the risk of e-mail fraud just a month earlier—complied, providing the requested data to the source via PDF.
Fishing hook catches email.The problem: It was a business e-mail compromise (BEC) scam. Because HR hadn’t taken the time to confirm the request, highly-sensitive employee data was now in the hands of fraudsters.
The potential fallout from such a mistake is significant. Employees of the breached organization and their families are now at risk, as the scammers could monetize the stolen information by filing false tax returns with workers’ compromised Social Security numbers, as well as access past tax filings to steal personal data on spouses, partners, and dependents.
With the employee having recently been trained on avoiding such scams, HR also could face challenges. Some are questioning how seriously the department takes security issues, and the trust that employees and the leadership team put in the organization’s HR professionals has taken a hit.
BEC scams have been around a long time but they’ve become more sophisticated in recent years. These old scams are getting new twists, largely due to social media and the widening availability of valuable business information. Hackers can now gather insight online into how a business is run and who’s who in the hierarchy.
Fraudsters are able to target their scams to specific individuals, using their names and sometimes even nicknames, and they know who in the organization is likely to have the authority to request highly sensitive information. They also know to hit a business when things are busy, impersonating high-ranking people within the company and quickly extricating cash or data while everyone is too swamped to notice.
The W2 scam is a popular flavor at the moment, but other common BEC variants involve requests for wire transfers of large sums of money—either to a third-party “business partner” or sometimes to the supposed requestor directly—or for help in accessing other valuable accounts or internal systems.
Even with their increasing levels of sophistication, these attacks can still be avoided. Fortunately, HR is perfectly positioned to deploy some choice strategies that can help prevent the organization from becoming a BEC victim.
The risks of BEC
Criminals stand to reap big financial gains any time an organization falls for a BEC scheme. Wire fraud losses, for example, vary widely. Some companies have been being impacted for as little as $5,000, others a whopping half a million dollars. These scams hit companies big and small, and the FBI’s figures show the average loss to BEC victims is $130,000.
Near-term monetary rewards are the primary objective in most BEC scams, but cyber thieves may also target valuable data such as bank routing numbers, personnel lists, or salary details.
Other threats associated with BEC include the compromise of network credentials, which are often heavily guarded and can be difficult and time consuming for criminals to crack. This makes gaining quick access to internal databases and financial systems a tantalizing prospect for a determined crook.
With a well-crafted BEC, it may be much easier for a cyber thief to trick an unwitting employee into divulging passwords and protected account information than it is to hack into a system the old-fashioned way.
Why is BEC a threat to HR?
Human resources typically holds a privileged position within the organization. Executives share highly sensitive information—strategic, legal, and financial—with HR. In turn, it’s not uncommon for an executive to request the assistance of HR in a matter that requires a quick response or discretion in seeking additional approval, and that trusted relationship is exactly what cyber-thieves prey on when executing a BEC scam.
Compounding matters is the fact that HR is often the gatekeeper for the types of data these criminals use to initiate their ruse. Human resources is commonly the department that verifies employment and maintains personnel records. They also often have contact information and other details about board members, another layer of data that cyber criminals sometimes target.
In all, these scammers count on the recipients’ fear of disobeying upper management and they know that targeting employees who handle sensitive data offers the best chances of success. This puts the bull’s-eye squarely on the HR department.
Preparing the HR team against BEC scams
A solid preparation strategy is key in the fight against BEC threats. Since BEC scams are caused by human error, rather than a technology weakness or sophisticated hacking techniques, they often fall into the gray area between the IT and HR groups. With its focus on human capital, HR can step up and play a critical role in minimizing exposure to cyber threats by educating employees on these avoidable threats.
The first tool HR should leverage is education, both within the department and across the rest of the company. Employees must be aware of the risk of BEC and have the knowledge necessary to avoid becoming a victim.
In addition, the entire workforce should know what to do if they suspect a BEC exposure has occurred. The steps to limit BEC risks aren’t complicated, but some may not be obvious to employees trying to quickly respond to what appears to be valid, time-sensitive requests from senior-level management.
First, advise the executive and leadership teams that they should only use their company-provided e-mail account for potentially sensitive work-related activities. On the flip side, warn employees about the dangers of acting on any message that originates from a Google, Yahoo! or similar free e-mail address, as it’s far easier to forge e-mails using a service that’s outside the IT department’s control.
Employees who would normally process wire transfers, vendor invoices, incoming customer payments, and employee payroll need to be on the lookout for changes to established routines. Put protocols in place that require workers to verify any modification regarding where vendor payments are sent or who has authorization to increase signatory levels. Multistep verification processes are encouraged for wire transfers so that fraudulent transactions can be spotted and stopped.
The HR team can take steps internally to help protect the organization from becoming a BEC victim. Cyber criminals commonly use social media to harvest data about which individuals would make good targets and how companies operate, and HR professionals must be judicious about posting information about employees or the company’s dealings. Personal information on high-ranking leaders should be kept to a minimum, but even knowing who to contact within the HR team could get hackers one step closer to successfully carrying out a BEC scheme.
Given the tremendous level of financial and reputational harm that could befall a company that’s stricken with a BEC scam, organizations may also want to consider additional support tools. Cyber liability insurance is available to help provide protection from monetary damages and many policies include proactive tools such as assistance identifying weak processes and educating employees about good information security practices.
Source:  blr.com

Lehigh Valley’s Best Employment Agency

For the 13th time, Allied Personnel Services has been named the Lehigh Valley’s Best Employment Agency in The Morning Call’s Reader’s Choice awards!

2019 marks Allied’s 35th year serving the Lehigh Valley, and we are humbled by another Reader’s Choice win.  The commitment and hard work of our staff and temporary employees continues to set Allied apart as the top staffing service in the Lehigh Valley.

Thank you to everyone that voted for us!

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Nonprofits as First Steps

From The Wall Street Journal

By DENNIS NISHI

imagesWhile her friends interned at big investment-banking firms, Molly Heitzman chose a summer job in 2009 with Fundación Paraguaya, a microfinance company in Asuncion, Paraguay. She believed that giving the poor access to basic banking services was an effective way to fight poverty, and she’d also gain some global work experience.

The nonprofit was experiencing an abnormally high 13% loan default rate so Ms. Heitzman went out to investigate the problem. She discovered that many small businesses had defaulted because of poor to nonexistent accounting practices.

“I proposed a program that would school borrowers in the business basics of marketing, accounting and saving money,” she says, uncertain as to whether the organization used her ideas.

Ms. Heitzman’s efforts actually made a stronger impression on Deloitte Consulting in Minneapolis, which hired her for a full-time job as a business analyst a year later in 2010.

Although career experts say college graduates will continue to face a tough job market in the new year, volunteering for nonprofit work like the Peace Corps can fill an experience gap and provide a competitive advantage. That’s especially the case since nonprofit work can be like an accelerated management course. Volunteers are often pressed into management and administrative roles they might otherwise not attain for years at for-profit companies.

First, find a nonprofit organization that you’re interested in working with since commitment to the job and the cause is important, says Mark Lonergan, founder of the Redwood City, Calif.-based recruiting firm Lonergan Partners.

“Any way you can show that you genuinely applied yourself in a very important way can count as a very important component of any résumé,” he says. “Employers want to know that you were serious about the work.”

Seek out roles that offer transferable experience. Managing volunteers, for example, to build an irrigation system in Honduras is relatable to many different for-profit job duties. Working as a museum docent may be harder to sell.

Be prepared to aggressively promote and even defend your nonprofit experience during interviews. There is still a stigma associated with nonprofit work at some companies, career experts say.

Turn your more esoteric experiences into a narrative that illustrates how you overcame obstacles and achieved goals. People respond well to stories. Highlight the intangibles that employers are always looking for during interviews.

Emphasize your flexibility, communication skills and ability to deal with ambiguity, says Patricia Tourigny, vice president of talent acquisition for Avon, Conn.-based Magellan Health Services. “We don’t see a lot of entry-level résumés with that kind of experience, but when we do, we take notice. And we’re always looking for it.”

The pay for volunteer work may be negligible but full-time volunteers can defer or even have federal student loans forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program from 2007. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t help with private student loans.

 

Interested in exploring non-profit careers?  Allied works with a wide range of not-for-profit organizations in the Lehigh Valley.  Check out our job openings and apply today!

Summer Hiring

Summer is right around the corner! Your busy season may be coming, vacations may be looming, and interns may be knocking on your door. This year think about how Allied can help you make summer hiring a breeze.

Allied has a network of new and returning college students that can help you:

  • Meet peak production times by supplementing your staff
  • Ensure shipping deadlines are met by covering staff vacations
  • Complete projects you’ve saved for later
  • Cover your front desk during vacations

Do you already supplement your staff with the use of interns?  Check out these guidelines for unpaid interns and make sure that you follow the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Consider offering your interns a modest hourly rate and payroll them through Allied. We can: 

  • Screen, on-board, and pay the interns you’ve recruited  
  • Handle employee paperwork and payroll processing
  • Ensure compliance with all applicable employment laws

For more information or suggestions on how you would benefit most fully from our summer offerings, contact us.  We can help you get the most out of your summer help. 

First 90 days: Helping New Hires Start Off on the Right Foot

Setting an unachievable bar for new hires is unproductive for the long-term health of your company and your employees. While it’s reasonable to hope that new hires will hit the ground running, regardless of their skill level and experience, employees just starting out are entitled time to onboard — and will benefit greatly by you providing a career roadmap for their first 90 days on the job.

So how long is a fair amount of time to allow them to get up to speed?84619535-welcome-new-employee

A majority  (54 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed for a recent Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey said they give new hires less than 3 months to prove themselves. Another 9 percent of respondents said they give new hires less than 30 days to prove themselves.

Clearly, the burden of success during the first 90 days doesn’t rest entirely on employees’ shoulders. It’s in your company’s best interest to set your new hire up with the tools needed to succeed and become a productive member of your team. Ensuring that you avoid the costs of a bad hire begins with the candidate vetting process long before a job offer is made.

Here are five tips managers can follow to bring new employees into the fold and help them thrive in their new role.

1.
    Make onboarding a priority

You worked hard with human resources to craft an accurate job description, sift through applications, interview candidates and negotiate an attractive offer. After you pause and pat yourself on the back knowing the hiring process is behind you, now’s the time to help the new employee get acclimated with the work environment, office technology and duties.

You’ve already laid the groundwork by having IT set up the work station and voicemail before they arrive. You’ve contacted campus security about scheduling your new employee to get a new ID badge and office keys. Onboarding is the component that continues your work and will help your new hire be more productive and, with any luck, more inclined to stay with the company.

2. 
   Elements of a successful orientation strategy
Structure. Onboarding periods vary depending on an individual company’s needs, but it’s wisest to begin with a schedule. This will enable staff members involved to understand their roles and budget appropriate time. You should also provide new hires with a schedule so they know what the expectations are for the first few days and weeks on the job.

A proper welcome. Make it a priority to introduce new hires to their immediate colleagues and others at your company with whom they will interact on a regular basis, and encourage tenured workers to reach out to them. This period of icebreaking will be beneficial to both sides.

Education. During the first 90 days, encourage new employees to learn as much as possible about the company, its history, priorities and best practices. During this time, provide new hires information in digestible bites on special initiatives, products and services, major clients, dos and don’ts, quarterly and annual goals, and, most importantly, how their role contributes to the overall organizational picture.

3.
    Set targets for success

During the starting weeks, provide new hires with tangible short- and long-term goals to work toward in their first 90 days. It’s easier for new hires to hit targets when they know what to aim for. Explain that this list of goals will be part of their 90-day performance review.

4.
    Provide regular feedback and an open-door policy

Don’t make new hires wait until their annual review for an assessment of their performance. They need praise and constructive criticism at regular intervals. Schedule frequent check-ins during the first 90 days to recognize successes and pinpoint areas for improvement.

Most new hires, especially members of Generation Z, crave consistent and frequent feedback. Envision this time as a training ground for your company’s future top performers. Encourage them to come to you with questions or issues.

5.    Be on the lookout for warning signs

In an ideal world, every new hire would be a perfect fit. In reality, that’s easier said than done. Even if you’ve avoided making hiring mistakes, sometimes you just don’t know whether an employee will work out until they’ve been tested in everyday work situations.

During the first few months, be on the lookout for red flags, which include:

  • Absenteeism
  • Missed deadlines
  • Poor performance on assignments
  • A negative attitude
  • Conflict with coworkers
  • Complaints

If you notice any of these characteristics in the first few weeks, don’t wait to see if things improve. Take action immediately if you want to salvage this hire. Poor performance could be an indication of either inadequate training on your part or a lackadaisical attitude on the employee’s part, but you won’t know until you dig deeper.

Meet with your new hire and construct a plan for improvement, with benchmarks. If there’s no improvement over a set period of time, then you’ll have to cut your losses and terminate them for the good of client relations and team morale.

It takes time and effort to get new hires off on the right foot. By providing them a clear roadmap, you and your team can help new hires quickly acclimate to the workplace culture and become contributing members.

 

Source: in2vate