6 Common Mistakes in Hiring Support Staff


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by Bob Brady | BLR 

118251024[1]Support staff are not interchangeable parts. Sidestep these 6 mistakes and you can hire and keep the best.

In the army, it’s the infantry; in the factory, the line workers; and in the office, the administrative staff. Every organization has its “troops”—the people who carry out the basic tasks of the business.

Think of these folks as interchangeable parts, however, and you could be making a big mistake, says the website, AllBusiness.com.

The site published a list of things to keep in mind and do in hiring support staff. The basic message: Put the same kind of care into hiring your “troops” as you would anyone else. Because any chain of command, whether it’s in the heat of battle or the heat of business competition, is only as strong as its weakest link.

We’ve paraphrased and condensed some of their advice.

Don’t rush.

Because support staff is often urgently needed and relatively cheap in payroll impact, it may be tempting to simply go out and hire the first candidates in the door. Not a good idea. Instead, make a list of the specific skills and characteristics you’re looking for, whether it’s proficiency in certain office systems or a cool attitude to fit in a pressure situation. Then make sure your job ad clearly projects your needs.

Screen, as you would for any job.

Who needs to spend time comparing resumés and calling references for a file clerk? You do! These screening steps are as essential for support jobs as for any other and will help you whittle down the field to the best candidates, without going through a lot of unproductive interviews.

Bring others in.

Support staff usually interact with a lot of people, so it’s wise to call on others and get their needs and preferences before hiring and to invite them to meet or even interview your top candidates. And don’t hesitate to test skills. If the skills are technical in nature, such as computer operations, have the testing done by the relevant manager.

Don’t overhire!

When things are piling up and everyone’s screaming for help, it may seem wise to hire as many support personnel as you can. Remember, though, that crunch time is the exception, not the rule. You can always bring in additional support staff (perhaps through temps). It’s a lot harder to let people go, or worse, to spend your time coming up with things for them to work on when things get slower.

Retention counts for support staff, too.

While you’re dreaming up uber-benefits to keep your CEO or CFO, don’t forget the folks who turn their grand plans into reality. Assemble the best benefits package you can for your top support staff, then use those perks as a recruitment and retention lure.

Don’t be stampeded by cries for help by your internal clients.

Sending them a bad hire is worse than sending them no hire. Work diligently to find the right candidates and those cries will soon turn to cheers.



Things You Should Never Do When Applying For A Job


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              Vivian Giang | Business Insider

ResumeWritingTips[1] copyNever make your cover letter or introductory email longer than three paragraphs

Here’s what you should include:
  1. Why you are sending the cover letter.
  2. How (or from whom) you heard about the opening.
  3. Something specific that cannot be inferred from your resume (i.e. work situation, special skills or the kind of job you’re looking for).
Here’s what you shouldn’t include:
  • Don’t state what kind of pay you’re looking for since there are many different components in a salary package that can confuse a recruiter. This is the kind of thing that can be discussed during or after the interview.

Don’t put your name and contact info on the side, bottom or back of your resume — they should always be at the top

This is how it should be done:

  1. Put your name in bold face and/or regular caps.
  2. Include your full address and home, work (optional) and/or cell phone numbers and your email address but do not bold these.

Education should never be listed above experience

Unless you have five higher education degrees.

Or if you’ve recently completed a degree and don’t have too much of a work history. The rule here is that you can list “Education” first if you’ve graduated within two years.

  • Also, always list the most recent degree first and continue in descending order.

Don’t break the one-page rule unless you have more than 8 years of experience

But if you have a lot of experience, then two pages can be used — just don’t fill up the second page.

Here are the basic rules:

  1. A full-time job that lasted less than three months doesn’t need to be included.
  2. If you have 3+ years of work experience, omit summer jobs, but internships related to your current job experience can still be included.
  3. If you have 15+ years of work experience then your first job doesn’t need to be included, especially if it’s unrelated to your industry or to the position you’re applying for.

Don’t include short, worthless descriptions. Back up your credibility with some impressive numbers

If you’re applying for a job within the same industry, include some big numbers that will surely place you closer to the top of the pile.

For example:

  • Manage a portfolio of $750MM
  • Billed over $500k in 2010
  • Market to Fortune 1000 companies with a minimum of $1B in sales


How to Rehearse for Your Next Job Interview


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By Caroline M.L. Potter | Monster

There are a lot of steps that usually happen before you get to the interview portion of your job search: writing a resume, networking, compiling your references. Most folks are able to put a lot of effort into getting the interview, but many fall apart during the actual interview. Why? Poor planning and a lack of practice.

Instead of winging it, or relying solely on your professional skill set, you should stage a rehearsal for your next job interview.

Not sure how to go about doing so? Start by enlisting a family member, friend or partner to play the role of interviewer, and ask that she stay in character from start to finish. Set up a space, such as a desk or table, where you can create a suitable setting. Then use these 10 tips to from corporate trainer Marlene Caroselli to make your interviews — both mock and real — successful.

Do Your Homework

“Learn all you can about the organization in advance,” advises Caroselli. Share this information with your mock interviewer, perhaps in the form of crib notes. She can use this to grill you.

Tune In

“Watch people being interviewed on television and make note of what works,” she advises. Look for traits that make people likable and competent.

State the Unobvious

“Create one really intriguing statement about yourself,” she says. “For example, a woman I know, expecting to be told, ‘Tell us a bit about yourself [the most popular interview question],’ replied, ‘I think I should tell you I’m a nonconforming conformist.’ She explained what she meant and wound up getting the job.”

Think Outside the Box

A little visualization can go a long way, according to Caroselli, author of Principled Persuasion. “Think about a visual that really represents what you can do,” she says. “It can be a photo taken at an event you organized, for example. If you have nothing that symbolizes your capabilities, then look for a pattern not readily apparent in your resume and be prepared to talk about that particular interest or talent, apart from your official work history.”

Know Your Lines

Actors do it, and you should, too. “Memorize a few short quotes and have them ready,” Caroselli says. “They’ll help you respond articulately to virtually any question.”

Sum It Up

The very first request an interviewer may make is, “Tell me about yourself.” In order to answer this interview question quickly and succinctly, she urges interviewees, “Have an elevator speech ready in case they want a brief overview of your career.”

Be Tough on Yourself

Research tough interview questions and provide them to your helper. Also, point out gaps in your skills or holes in your resume and instruct her to grill you on those points. “By comparison, your own, actual interview will seem like a walk in the park, and that prospect will encourage you,” Caroselli says.

Capture It on Camera

“If possible, have someone video you doing an interview rehearsal,” she says. “Then study your body language to see if it reveals confidence, poise and enthusiasm.”

Listen Up

Close your eyes and listen back to the recording of your replies to interview questions. “Play the tape back and analyze your responses,” she says. “Ask yourself, ‘Would you hire you?'”

Stay Calm

Work on being relaxed before your big meeting. “When you get to the interview site and are waiting to be called in to the interview room, work on a brainteaser,” Caroselli advises candidates. “Research shows it calms the nerves and takes your mind off the challenge ahead.”



No Job Description? No Go for Recruiting


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by Stephen Bruce | BLR

In legally dangerous territory of recruiting, there are a lot of potential mistakes. But the biggest mistake is setting out without a clear picture of what you are looking for.

Good Applicants Steer Clear

First of all, think from the point of view of the applicants. They are trying to  figure out what you are looking for and if it’s a good fit for them. If your  description of the position is vague, two things happen:

  1. The really good candidates steer clear—they can tell you don’t have it together, and they pass on by. 
  2. Unqualified candidates will line up in droves—with a vague description, almost all candidates can convince themselves that they are qualified.

You’ve lost the game even before you start: Your pool of candidates doesn’t even include the best prospects, and it’s full of unqualified people that you’ll  have to wade through.

Evaluations Are Meaningless

Then you start the evaluation process, comparing candidates to pick those to move  along in the recruiting process. 

But with no clear picture of what you need, you’re really just guessing. Your evaluations are essentially meaningless. But, OK, eventually you get a list of  finalists to interview. 

Unfortunately,  when you don’t know what you are looking for, your interview will devolve into  chitchat, small talk, and general beating-about-the-bush. You’ll make some  decisions about candidates, but based on what? Probably personality and  likeability. (Were those the discrimination bells ringing?)

Eventually, you’ll make a job offer. What’s the likelihood that you’ll end up with a  well-qualified hire? Not high.

Bottom Line—Start with a Job Description

Let’s  go back to those applicants. If you’ve used a well-written job description to  prepare recruiting materials—that is, the information you post or print or  share with recruiters to advertise the job—applicants can make a meaningful  self-screening. 

The  better candidates will eagerly apply when they see a believable job description  that matches their expertise and desires.

Will  unqualified candidates still apply? Sure, but most will screen themselves out,  and the ones that do apply won’t be angry or surprised when they don’t advance  to the next round—they’ll know it was a long shot.

Then comes the selection of candidates to interview. From the job description you  prepare a clear list of the skills, abilities, and attributes you need. It’s easy to screen candidates against that.

Is it time to interview? Actually, before you interview, ask yourself, is an  interview the best way to find out what we need to know about these candidates? 



What Are Your Applicants Looking For From You?


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by Stephen Bruce | BLR

hrda_02262014[1]Recruiting today has gotten complex. People want to apply online or use their phones. And services abound to help you with the process. A good place to start is to ask what applicants are looking for and what they are seeing when the check out your company.

What You Say About Yourself

First, check out what you are saying about yourself.  General company website. Does it make the company attractive?  Would a candidate say, I’d be proud to work there? Recruiting website. Does it give an attractive picture of  what it is like to work at your company? (This is often done by video tours and  videos of workers.) Is it easy to navigate? Easy to apply? Social media. Is your organization active on social media?

What Others Say About You

Look at  social media again—what is being said about your organization? And check out websites  that collect comments from workers and former workers. Sometimes these sites  are “trash” sites. Still, it is interesting to know what is being said. If  candidates are going to be reading these comments, you want to be ready to  offer your version of the story.

For example, maybe the comments say that your workplace is an “evil sweatshop.” You  might be ready to say, “It’s true that we work hard here; we have a highly  motivated team of achievers that is working on exciting, cutting-edge  development. But we also play hard, and we reward our workers very well and you  set your own hours and take time off whenever you want. If you’re looking for a  workplace where the work is repetitive, slow, and deliberate, we’re probably not the place for you.”

What Are Candidates Looking For?

First of all, recognize that they will look. Surveys suggest that many jobseekers are researching potential employers by visiting their websites. So, as mentioned,  make sure your site is well-designed and friendly. 

You  know your audience, I hope, and what they are looking for in a company and in a  job, and you know what you offer. Find a way to marry those two things.

And  then there’s the issue of applying online. Today’s applicant wants it to be  easy, and reports suggest that many will give up if the site is too confusing  or doesn’t work the way they want it to.

Visit  your site. Try to apply. Try it from your home computer, your tablet, and your  phone. The exercise could be revealing.


Apply-by-phone  is in the news these days, with some calling it a “must-have” feature. One  advantage is that many people who don’t have easy access to a computer do have  access to the Internet on their phones. But most phone applications systems are  clumsy and difficult. Further, it’s often hard to upload a résumé from a  phone.  This is an issue you will have to  face if you think you’re losing good applicants over it.

There  are many recruiting avenues for you to use and most experts recommend trying  several—you’ll soon see which ones work for you. And, as an aside, from a legal standpoint, you want to use several avenues to avoid charges of discrimination.

But  there are still certain basics that need to be in place no matter what system  you use to attract and evaluate candidates.



Important Purposes for Job Descriptions


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by Bridget Miller | BLR

Job descriptions are not just a “nice-to-have.” They serve several important purposes for employers, employee, and applicants. How many can you name?

What is the Purpose of a Job Description? 

Let’s take a look at some of the many purposes a job description serves. A job description: 

  • Keeps everyone on the same page in terms of what is required from a role. This helps applicants, employees, and the employer. 
  • Helps with meeting Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) obligations by delineating essential versus nonessential job functions.
  • Helps the employer to find the best fit during the hiring process. It also helps applicants assess whether they are a good fit for the organizational needs. Clarifies who is responsible for what tasks.
  • Explains the primary objectives and responsibilities of a position.
  • Outlines the qualifications needed for a position.
  • Assists with performance reviews by acting as a basis for employee goals and performance expectations. This improves employee accountability.
  • Identifies where a role fits within the organization.
  • Helps to determine employee training needs.
  • Can be a tool to convey the company’s core values, mission, and goals. 
  • Helps an organization determine gaps and overlaps in responsibilities and roles.
  • Can be the first basis for determining what pay grade a job fits into, and can also be used as a basis for comparison of pay among various job grades.
  • Can help to assess whether a job should be classified as exempt or nonexempt for the purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). 
  • Can be used as an assessment tool for compliance with other employment laws, such as equal pay laws.

This list is long, but it’s not intended to be comprehensive. It’s meant to serve as a thought-starter when assessing the true purpose and role of a job description in your organization. 

Keeping Job Descriptions Up to Date

With job descriptions fulfilling all of these varied purposes, it’s easy to see why it’s important to keep them up to date. They’re certainly not a “set it and forget it” type of task. Here are some reasons why it’s important to continually update job descriptions: 

  • Jobs evolve over time and essential tasks may be added or removed.
  • Needs change.
  • Technology changes.
  • Teams grow and jobs get more specialized.
  • Keeping the job descriptions continually updated is also what allows it to be used as part of the performance review process.
  • Keeping job descriptions up to date at all times is better than scrambling when a role becomes open and needs filled quickly.
  • It allows the job descriptions to fully serve the organization in all of the ways described above.

For all these reasons and more, job descriptions should be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect the most accurate depiction of what the role actually entails. Updating a job description typically requires speaking with the person in the role and his or her supervisor (and maybe even others on the team). This allows HR to fully understand how the job is evolving and what updates are needed.


Ways to Incorporate Social Media into the Hiring Process


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by Bridget Miller | BLR

With the prevalence of social media, employers are finding more and more uses for it in the workplace, for example, as a component of the talent management process. More and more organizations are taking advantage of the growing reach of social networking. 

Here are some ways to incorporate social media into the hiring process. It can be used to:

  • Search for candidates, even finding potential new hires who are not actively job-seeking. 
  • Conduct background checks, if done carefully.
  • Receive online applications.
  • Post job openings or increase the reach of existing job posts.
  • Present a consistent and complete company image to potential job seekers.

Which of the various social media platforms is best for each of these activities? The answer is: it depends.

Each of the various social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, can be used for each of the points above. Which site to target depends on your organization and the ideal candidate for the role. This is because the demographics of the typical user vary for each site. Research the demographics of each site and compare that to your ideal candidate to see which might be a good fit for your organization to target. Don’t be afraid to research some of the smaller social media sites as well.


The Only Resume Advice You’ll Ever Need


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by Trudy Steinfeld | Forbes

If you have ever been looking for a job I’m sure asked yourself:  “What can I do to make my resume stand out and get an employer to seriously consider me for a job”?   If you Googled the term “resume”, you know that there’s a dizzying array of information and advice out there about what works best in putting something together that presents you best.  How do you make sense of it all?  I’m going to make it easy for you – I have looked at well over 50,000 resumes and talk daily with Recruiters and HR Directors who are often the ones making the first pass at your resume.

No matter your experience level or what kind of job you’re looking for, these are the most important “insider tips” you will need to know and do:

  1. The “one-size fits all” approach won’t cut it in a marketplace of increasingly specialized needs.  So plan on having several versions of your resume adjusted for the different jobs you are applying for. Include ways you can make an immediate contribution to the organization that reflects the homework you should be doing about the organization you’re applying to. Make sure that you – and at least one other person you trust – carefully review your resume and adjust it to contain the “key words” that recruiters will be searching for.
  2. Don’t worry about an objective – employers will skip over this, or worse, will screen your resume out based on an objective that is not a perfect match for the job they are hiring for. Instead let your experience, skills and results-driven descriptions make the case for you.
  3. “Space equals importance”, so put the most critical information first and spend more time and space talking about the skills, experiences, and results that are directly related to the job you are applying for.
  4. Avoid all complicated fonts or design elements. To be considered an applicant, you will likely be uploading your resume to an applicant tracking system (ATS) on a company or third-party web site. These systems have a difficult time deciphering elaborate fonts or design elements and if your resume can’t be read easily, it won’t be read at all.
  5. Quantify whenever possible. We live in a metrics driven work culture and it’s no longer enough to state that you increased sales or productivity, you need to back it up with quantifiable data whenever possible.
  6. Check your resumes for errors of fact, typos, formatting woes or omissions. After you checked it and before you send it to an employer, let a trusted person in your network review it as well. One inaccuracy or misspelling could cost you a second look.
  7. Omit any unnecessary, or potentially controversial, information, including sexual orientation, religious or political affiliations. It’s illegal for employers to ask for this information and irrelevant to whether you are a strong candidate for the job.
  8. “Size matters” and no one has the time to spend a long time reviewing a resume. Keep the resume to one or two pages depending on your experience. If your resume is more than a page, be sure to include your name and email contact on subsequent pages and do your best early on to make sure the recruiter will want to read more!


Not landing interviews? You could be annoying employers


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by Val Matta | CareerBuilder

Phone%20-%20red%20vintage%20-%20iStock_000008641460Medium[1]This time of the year, many employers review up to 100 resumes per job opening — and that’s if they’re getting looked at all. With so many applications, there’s clearly a certain etiquette that needs to be upheld, particularly when it comes to following up after you apply. Unfortunately, following up incorrectly can send your résumé to the trash can.

While it’s always advised to follow-up after you apply for a job, doing so in the wrong way can severely impede your chances at landing an interview. If you’re uncertain on follow-up etiquette, here are some do’s and don’ts to consider:

DO contact the right person. It’s so important to contact the right person in the follow-up process. After all, you’d probably be peeved if people were contacting you for the wrong reasons. While the job description may not include contact information, there are some easy ways to obtain it. Use databases or check out who posted the job on social media. By doing a little detective work, you’ll be able to find the right point of contact.

DON’T call or email if the job description explicitly says not to. It’s vital that you follow all directions, even if they go against follow-up protocol. For instance, if a job description explicitly says no phone calls or emails, this means no phone calls or emails. Although it’s not exactly the best scenario for your candidacy, you have to respect the wants and needs of an organization.

Instead, do little things to “follow-up” such as becoming a fan of the organization on Facebook or mentioning them on Twitter. While you shouldn’t be too obvious, these little gestures can help you to stand out.

DO take schedules into account Employers are busy people. They may not have time to respond to every email or call back every candidate. Although you did take the time to apply for the position, you have to understand the schedules of the hiring department, especially if the position is highly coveted.

Here’s a tip: Following up after one week is pretty customary, no matter how busy an employer may be. If the job description says anything else — such as following up after two weeks or sending them a message on LinkedIn — be sure to keep these methods in mind, as well.

DON’T follow-up more than twice. While not everyone may agree, it’s okay to follow-up on your follow-up. Emails can always get lost in the shuffle or the employer may have forgotten to respond to you. However, anything more can be seen as annoying and overbearing, especially if it’s the same message twice. Oftentimes, an employer may have “mentally” acknowledged they got a message or voicemail and simply decided to leave it at that. Once you’ve followed up twice, you’ve done your part and should wait for things to unravel organically.

DO cut your losses if there’s radio silence. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but sometimes you need to cut your losses. It’s nothing personal — nor should you take it as such — but sometimes someone was just more qualified than you. When this happens, you can either get angry or you can learn from your mistakes.

If you’re not landing interviews, take a look at how you’re following up after you send in your application. You’ll likely find a connection between how you contacted an employer and the outcome of your candidacy.


How to Dress for a Job Interview


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by Lauren Messiah

Nothing is more exciting than landing a job interview with a company or a person you really respect and admire. The emails or call comes, you jump up and down, you call your friends and family to share the news, you start visualizing your future at this magical company.

Then the panic sets in.

What are you going to wear? Do you buy a new outfit? Do you go conservative or do you show off your personal style? Should you get a haircut? What about your nails?

So many questions, so much stress. Lucky for you, I have all the answers.

dress[1]1.) It’s Better to Overdress than to Underdress. When in doubt, dress up. No one can ever fault you for looking too good. Dressing up shows you respect yourself and the company you are interviewing for.

2.) Keep Your Personal Style to a Minimum. Are you known for wearing crazy hats or are you a real fan of nail art? That’s wonderful but there is no room for that during an interview. Show off your personal style with a great pair of shoes (closed toe), a bold colored handbag, or a statement necklace. I always say one conservative piece (a compliment inducing accessory) will do the trick.

3.) Get Groomed. You aren’t getting ready for prom but do set aside to get yourself together. Manicured nails and fresh blowout will not only make you feel more confident, potential employers take notice to how you care for yourself.

I know what you are thinking, all that talk is great but seriously, what do I wear?

And finally, I have just had to throw in these seemingly obvious no-nos …

  • NO cut off shorts. I’ve had the extreme displeasure of interviewing a girl who wore cut off shorts
  • NO crazy makeup. Save your YouTube tutorial makeup experiments for another day. Go natural and avoid bold lips- the chances of you getting lipstick on your teeth is too high.
  • NO crazy hairstyles. Again, you are the star of the show – not your hair or your makeup. Keep your hair out of your face and “normal”
  • NO ill-fitting clothing. Sure it fits the criteria style-wise for an interview outfit but if it doesn’t fit then it’s not perfect.