Category Archives: Job Search

Five Ways to Work Better From Home

From the Wall Street Journal

 

For millions of Americans, November will mark the eighth month of remote work.

Some have adapted: A recent survey of more than 4,000 people working full time remotely during the pandemic found that 65% would like to make the arrangement permanent, according to FlexJobs, a remote job-listings website.

But a survey of more than 12,000 employees, managers, human-resources leaders and executives in 11 countries released this month by Oracle and the advisory firm Workplace Intelligence found that seven in 10 people called this the most stressful year of their working lives; 41% said there no longer was a distinction between their personal and professional lives.

“For so many people, Round One of this whole scenario was fueled with adrenaline,” said Karen Mangia, vice president of customer and market insights at Salesforce. “What I’m hearing so many people ask is, ‘How long is this going to last?’ ”

Whatever the answer, workplace authorities agree that there are a few simple steps anyone—no matter their industry, seniority or number of roommates—can take to improve the work-from-home experience.

Vet your setup

The best way to a better workday is to put your home setup under a microscope, experts said, and fix what isn’t satisfactory. “What I usually recommend people do is focus on where they feel the most friction,” said Brie Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs. “Where are the biggest pain points during the day? Where do [workers] feel the most stressed or the least comfortable?”

Make space

dedicated workplace helps productivity, consultants agreed. Improving your home office, whether it is a whole room or a corner of a table, can be as simple as taking a moment to consider whether your chair is comfortable, Ms. Reynolds said. If private space at home isn’t possible, try equipment such as noise-canceling headphones.

Eliminating clutter also is crucial, especially in tight quarters, according to Wendy Ellin, a workplace-productivity consultant. “Not everybody has an office with a door,” she said. “If you’re looking around and you see a bunch of piles—junk, laundry—is it serving you well?”

Find your focus

Working from home lets many people organize meetings, emails, conference calls, workouts and personal errands however they choose during the day. While this works for some, others find themselves struggling to focus on individual tasks.

“At home, it’s not just that we’re trying to battle work distractions, it’s also that we’re getting distracted by all the other things we feel like we should be doing there,” said Ms. Mangia, who recently published “Working From Home: Making the New Normal Work for You.” She recommends setting a timer for 30, 60 or 90 minutes of focused work, free of distractions such as email, app alerts and beeps from devices. After a sprint of work, go outside, stretch, have lunch or just take a break. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a small amount of focused time,” she said.

Heed your stressors

In September, the number of people in the U.S. reporting signs of anxiety and depression through an online screening tool from nonprofit advocacy group Mental Health America since the pandemic began hit a high.

Rebecca Haskell, founder and chief executive of Just Design Consulting, a workplace-advisory firm in Oakland Calif., recommended that people identify what makes them feel most stressed and how they can mitigate stress and feel better. “It’s less about having a best practice and more about knowing yourself and what you need,” she said.

Some of her clients say they can’t stop scrolling through headlines on social media, which makes them feel anxious and guilty about wasting time. “I don’t think it’s helpful to not read the news and pretend that things aren’t happening around us,” Ms. Haskell said. Instead, she recommends setting aside time for reading the news and checking social media, especially if it plays a role in one’s job. Afterward, take a short break and prepare to return to work.

Understand expectations

Now—almost a year into remote work—is a great time to ask your manager how things are going, Ms. Reynolds said. Inquire about short- and long-term goals and your manager’s expectations about when you are starting and ending the workday.

It is equally important to be upfront about your own needs, whether it is a few hours to finish a project when you won’t be answering calls or emails or a warning at the beginning of a video meeting about a potential interruption.

“Transparency helps everything,” Ms. Ellin said. “Give me the heads-up and let me know going in that you have a kid that’s napping and they’re going to wake up.”

 

Stuck in your job search?  Let Allied help!  Apply with us today!

Collecting Unemployment vs. Collecting a Paycheck

For the past several years the labor market has held many opportunities for workers in all fields and with all levels of skills and experience.  Often referred to as an “employee’s market”, since the end of the Great Recession companies have been hiring at a rapid pace and motivated workers could be selective about the jobs they chose.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the booming employment market has screeched to a near halt, where the only work available is for workers at essential businesses or those with jobs that are able to be performed remotely.  For many out of work, the solution has been receiving unemployment benefits.  With the CARES Act, weekly unemployment benefits were increased to assist families struggling with the financial impact of this crisis.

Making the decision to file a claim for unemployment benefits can be a difficult one for many people, even with the additional benefit included in the CARES Act.  But in the long run, benefits associated with choosing a job can outweigh the short-term gain of unemployment.  There are a few things everyone should consider regarding working vs. collecting unemployment.

  • Think big picture.  We have always stressed the importance of looking beyond today and thinking about  “the big picture.”  Envision what you want your career to look like in a few years, and how choices you make now might affect that vision.  Passing up an opportunity to work now could close some doors down the road that otherwise might have been open.
  • Beat the competition.  Everything must come to an end eventually.  That means not only will your unemployment benefits eventually end, but the current state of the economy will end too.  If you have ever searched for a job during a competitive labor market, you know how frustrating it can be to find a steady, well-paying job.  Right now there is less competition for the work that is available, so it’s a great time to start a new job.
  • A chance to stand out.  It is easy to imagine that in a few years many, many people will have a big gap on their resume that represents 2020, and it can be tempting to just fall in line with the majority.  But what about people that started a new job in 2020?  Those are definitely going to be the people that stand out.  Even if the job isn’t something long-term or the perfect fit with your prior experience, just the fact that you will be able to share how you spent 2020 differently than most people will definitely set you apart from the crowd.
  • New opportunities.  Essential businesses need workers now, so many positions that previously required experience are being opened up to entry-level employees.  If you’ve always wanted to reinvent your career, now could be the perfect chance. (And if you aren’t quite sure how your skills can be applied to something new, give us a call, we can help!)
  • Benefits.  Wages aren’t the only thing a weekly paycheck includes.  When you are working full-time your benefits may include paid time off, access to health benefits, and contributions to your retirement.  If you are able to retain any of these benefits while collecting unemployment the cost will certainly be higher.  In addition, any benefits that accrue and increase over time will be impacted while you are unemployed.  Other benefits, like healthcare and 401k contributions, are costly to maintain outside of full-time employment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created tremendous turmoil and uncertainty for everyone.  The economic impact of the current conditions will be long-lasting and some businesses will never recover.  The labor market will likely be very different than it has been for the past few years, with more opportunities in some areas and less in others.  Decisions made now about work could affect the trajectory of your career for years to come, so the best advice is always to consider all of your options and try to look beyond the present and put yourself if the best possible position for the post-COVID world of work.

Allied is hiring!  We work with many essential businesses that need workers to support the fight against COVID.  Check out our current openings and apply today!

 

 

 

Your Job Search: The Big Picture

It is never easy to talk when having your teeth cleaned, but recently I chatted with my dental hygienist while she cleaned my teeth. I always ask about her kids – particularly her son, Joe.

A few years ago, Joe was searching for a job and came to Allied. We placed him in a warehouse position at a great company – a company that ended up hiring him. Today, my hygienist told me he is interviewing for a position in that same company’s sales and marketing department, something he was always interested in. If he gets the position, he’ll train in Europe for a few weeks. She also told me the company is paying for him to complete his degree, something else he always hoped to do. I heard the pride in her voice as she talked about him; she was so happy he got into this company because so many new opportunities were now opening for him.

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I love to hear stories like this. They confirm what we in the staffing industry know: temporary work can open doors you may have never known existed nor been able to open yourself. Joe didn’t do well when he went to college straight out of high school so he dropped out. If he had applied for the same sales and marketing job then, he never would have gotten the interview. But now, he’s had the chance to prove himself to a company that recognized his potential and is giving him the chance to move from the warehouse to a job he’d merely dreamed of a few years ago. Plus, he is with a company that will finance the completion of his degree.

When we talk to people about jobs, we encourage them to consider the big picture. Maybe we don’t have your dream job available. We dare you to look at more than that. Is the company part of an industry that appeals to you? Does the company have a variety of departments and positions? Will the experience improve your resume? Will the job help you pay your bills while you continue to look for your dream job?

During a job search, it is important to take a step back and look at things differently. I’m sure Joe was frustrated before he came to us and I’m sure he complained to someone about having to take a warehouse job to get by, but I bet he’s happy with the big picture unfolding in front of him right now.

Want to jumpstart your job search?  Take a look at our current opportunities, and apply today!

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!

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!)

Now Hiring: Warehouse Associates

Allied is hiring warehouse workers for Walgreens’ Distribution Center in Easton!  All positions pay $14/hr, with both day and night shifts available.

 

Allied offers several easy options for you to apply: