Category Archives: Career Advice

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!

Professional Career Opportunities

Allied is more than just temporary staffing! We are also a leader in the staffing of Office & Professional roles for companies across a diverse set of industries within the Lehigh Valley.  And working with a professional recruiter can transform your job search!

Here are just a few of the roles we currently have available:

images-1HR Manager

Senior Operations Manager

HR Generalist

HRIS Analyst

Staff Accountant

QA Documentation Coordinator

Network Engineer

Desktop Support

Project Coordinator

Corporate Recruiter

These full-time positions are all located in the Lehigh Valley and offer the chance to work with some of the best companies in the area. If you are interested in one of these openings, please email your resume to janell@alliedps.com for immediate consideration.  (Haven’t updated your resume recently?  Check out our tips for giving it a refresh!)

The Psychology behind New Year’s Resolutions

imagesNew Year’s resolutions are usually based on forming new habits or changing current habits. This means changing human behavior and that is, by far, one of the hardest things to accomplish. Why? There are many reasons, but here we will focus on two; negative motivation and enduring the entire process of change.

Negative Motivation – Many people’s motivation comes from negative thinking such as fear or guilt. You have much better odds of long-lasting success when the motive is positive. For example, your motivation to start exercising comes from a feeling of guilt or fear that not exercising will negatively affect your health and could develop into disease. This thinking may get you started, but the motivation for long-lasting success isn’t there because there’s nothing to feel excited about, especially when the actual effort of coming up with an exercise plan day in and day out starts to wear on you.

It is much more likely that you will form lasting change if you attach your negative thinking to positive thinking and a positive goal. For example, “I know I need to exercise so that I don’t become unhealthy, but I also feel great physically and mentally and rid myself from stress when I exercise. Plus I really want to look more like I did 5 years ago.” This positive thinking gives you something to look forward to rather than only something to avoid.

The Process of Change – Most of the time, in order to change behavior, you have to undergo a process and there are several stages, each which take time, but are necessary. According to an article by Harvard Health Publications entitled “Why behavior change is hard- and why you should keep trying” these are the following stages…

Precontemplation. This is the stage where you have no conscious intention of making a change. People in this stage tend to avoid discussing and thinking about the unhealthy behavior or may be unaware of how unhealthy the behavior is. BUT, your interest could be sparked by outside influences, such as a public health campaign or a concern from a doctor, friend, or family member. You can’t move past precontemplation, until you feel that the unhealthy behavior is hindering your life.

Contemplation. At this stage, you’re aware that the behavior is a problem, but you’re still not quite ready to commit to action. You are probably fluctuating, weighing and re-weighing the pros and cons. You may be considering how you could overcome some of the obstacles.

Preparation. At this stage, you know you must change, believe you can, and are making plans to do so and soon. You’ve taken some preliminary steps — joined a gym or fitness class and bought a new pair of sneakers. At this point, it’s important to anticipate obstacles and create a real action plan with realistic goals. What obstacles may arise?  You have no time? You’re too tired? What are the solutions to these obstacles? If you’ve been sedentary a long time a realistic goal may be to start with 15 minutes of walking a day and you can move up from there.

Action. At this stage, you’ve made a change (Yay!) You’ve started exercising and you’ve begun to face and overcome the challenges that come with trying to plan exercise regularly. You’ll need to practice the solutions you identified during the preparation stage.

Maintenance. Once you’ve practiced the new behavior for six months, you’re in the maintenance stage. Now your focus shifts to integrating the change into your life and preventing relapse into your old ways. This may require other changes, especially avoiding situations or triggers associated with the old habit.

One frustrating thing is that the track between stages is rarely straightforward. A lot of people relapse at some point in the process and end up in a previous stage all over again. Sometimes when people are in the maintenance stage they will find themselves back at the contemplation stage. This is common and each time it happens you will need to reevaluate your strategy and tweak it to work better moving forward.

Source: Occupational Athletics, Inc. OAI

Do your New Year’s resolutions include a career change?  Apply with us today for a positive start to your 2019!

Job Search and technology

Wondering how to navigate the technology related to your job search and hiring? Our Director of Corporate Services, Janell O’Brien shared some insights with The Morning Call.

Technology has changed hiring for both job seekers and recruiters

tech job search

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.

Reviews

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.

Mobile

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!

What To Do After An Interview

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!

Marilyn

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!

Temporary Staffing: The Shepherd’s Hut of Careers

A daily morning read that never fails to provide a huge amount of insight in a tiny amount of time is Seth Godin’s blog.  A recent entry makes a great case for the value of temporary employment:

Can you live in a shepherd’s hut?shepherd's hut

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.

Can you be Too Prepared for an Interview?

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.

Check out Allied’s available jobs and apply today!

Criticism: Can You Take It?

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.