The health and well-being of our employees, clients, and our community are important to us. While many questions regarding the novel coronavirus remain unanswered at this time, there are practical, common-sense ways for you to take care of yourself, protect others, and monitor the latest developments.
Based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Allied recommends that employees:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stay home when they are sick
  • Cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Not wear a face mask unless they show symptoms of respiratory illness, including COVID-19
  • Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing (if soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol)
  • Follow guidelines in CDC’s Travel Information – Travelers Returning from High Risk Countries.
To learn more about the novel coronavirus and keep up with the latest developments, see the About Coronavirus Disease 2019 and CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions and Answers webpages. For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website.

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.


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!

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.


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.

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!



Nonprofits as First Steps

From The Wall Street Journal


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.