4 Tips for Becoming a Great Remote Employee

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Curious about taking a remote role? Already working virtually but want to improve your success? Check out my latest blog on VentureFizz for some tips!

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Why Recruiters Lose Candidates

Being a job seeker again showed me the many ways the recruiting process has changed, for better and for worse. While looking for work, currently and in the past, I’ve worked with some fantastic recruiters who provided a great candidate experience from start to finish, but that is beginning to be far and few between. Unfortunately, bad experiences with recruiters have somehow become commonplace. Yet, these are the same recruiters who are wondering why they’re losing candidates right and left.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sit on a high horse. During my talent acquisition career, I’ve definitely made some recruiter faux pas. But I learned from it and changed my approach. Some bad experiences with recruiters were obviously a one-off event, while others blatantly show that it’s an ingrained function. Perhaps they’re in an environment that promotes that sort of behavior. Maybe they were trained that way, or not trained at all. Or maybe they just don’t belong in a role that deals with people in this capacity. Regardless, here are some of the top reasons that make candidates not want to work with recruiters:

 

  • They don’t listen: In many cases, candidates will tell a recruiter what they do and do not want out of an opportunity. Some things would be salary, job function, company culture, benefits, type of employment (i.e. temp, contract, perm) and distance. Some things may be negotiable but there is at least one that is firm. Despite recruiters knowing this, some still aggressively pitch jobs that clearly do not meet the requirements set by the candidate. After a couple of times, a candidate could become frustrated by the fact that the recruiter clearly didn’t listen or didn’t care about the expectations set forth.
  • They’re too pushy: This one kills me. Recruitment is not supposed to make people feel like they’re being pressured by a creepy car sales person or an obsessive ex. There is no need to call someone, leave a voicemail, send an email and send a LinkedIn invite and THEN call again within the hour if someone doesn’t answer. Even if we were free, that many touches in that short amount of time is overwhelming. The same could be said about pressuring a candidate to do an interview with a company/job they aren’t 100% sure about. If a candidate says they need a day to think about it, give them the day to think about it. Hounding them to make a decision and trying so hard to sell a position during their thinking period can be a huge turn off for many candidates.
  • They aren’t respectful of people’s time and/or situations: I completely understand that there’s a level of urgency in recruiting. Hiring managers are demanding candidates for positions that may have been needed to be filled weeks ago. That pressure can trickle down to the recruiters and some may not be able to mask that high level of stress when they’re talking to candidates. For one example (and this has happened on more than one occasion), I’ve had a recruiter call me about an opportunity and ask me to go in for an on-site interview within a couple hours. They barely explained the job or the company. A couple hours wouldn’t be enough time to even do extensive research on the company/opportunity. But besides that, the recruiter knew I was still working somewhere else at the time.Even if I wasn’t working, why do some recruiters think people can just drop everything and run to an interview? I’ve heard recruiters claim candidates aren’t serious about finding a job, otherwise going to a same-day interview wouldn’t be an issue.  But working candidate or not, there are some other situations that may not make it feasible, such as: the fact that a candidate needs time to research a company to even see if it is what they’re looking for; coordinating logistics around kids; transportation issues (especially if people commute via public transit); other responsibilities in life, such as caring for someone/something other a child; continuing their education; and so on.Once again, I understand a level of urgency and candidate control. Recruiters can’t let candidates lollygag, but there is also a line that shouldn’t be crossed. The aforementioned are understandable and recruiters shouldn’t be rude or blackball someone if a candidate reasonably asks them to respect their time and situations.
  •  It’s all take and no give: Some recruiters will bombard a candidate nonstop every day with phone calls and emails, trying to get the candidate interested in a role or trying to prevent the candidate from falling out of the interview loop. But if something doesn’t work out, some recruiters may fall off the face of the earth. For example, if a candidate who didn’t get hired or pulled out of the interview process decides to connect with the recruiter about other opportunities, they may be met with silence. After days, weeks or even months of a recruiter staying tight with them, suddenly they disappear. This only shows a candidate that the recruiter wasn’t trying to forge a professional relationship and that the candidate was quickly discarded once the recruiter had no need for them. Even if the recruiter had nothing available, a simple email or phone call saying as much could keep that relationship intact.

Taking a new job or changing a job is not as simple as buying a pack of gum. This is someone’s livelihood and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Even if a candidate is in a very bad situation, such as being underemployed, unemployed or in a hostile work environment, that still doesn’t mean they are willing to jump at any opportunity. A candidate is looking for something better, whether that is better promotion opportunities, culture, salary, benefits, or what have you. The point is, they are taking special care to make sure they’re trading up, even if it’s a slight change. Therefore, let them have a moment to breathe and assess their options before making a decision. It can save a lot of time and headaches for all parties involved. If recruiters continue to give a negative candidate experience, they may not only lose a candidate for the current position they are recruiting for, but indefinitely.

* Note: I am not generalizing all recruiters, because there are plenty who are great at their jobs. This is merely a post to showcase why some candidates aren’t willing to work with ones who have these traits.

Employee Retention: Is Offering More Time Off the Answer?

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Losing an employee can have negative impacts on an organization, even if the separation was initiated by the employer. Despite terminating an employee for poor performance or something else unsavory, the cost of replacing them can add up. From recruiting costs, time and lack of productivity due to being short-staffed, employers need to consider all that goes into this. But what about voluntary turnover? How can this unexpected disruption in the company’s workforce make a difference?

Regardless of the situation, human resources professionals understand the importance of employee retention and are consistently considering ways to make their offerings, benefits and perks better to stay competitive and attractive to their employees and future hires. Offering things like free lunch, tuition reimbursement, bonuses/incentives, training and development or flexible work schedule have all been things companies incorporated into their offerings, but what happens if that’s not enough?

All of these things can cater to different employees’ needs, but truth be told, employers can’t always offer everything that matters to employees. As we discuss the importance of work/life balance, employees are consistently encouraged to take their vacation time but with a capped amount of paid time off, many employees have actually taken less time off despite having it. This could be due to various reasons, ranging from: stress from getting behind in work and/or coming back to a large workload; determining what’s worth taking time off for; or worries something important will come up after all paid time off (PTO) has been used. I know I’ve even been guilty of saving vacation time only to reach the end of the year and realize I have a ton of days left that will be lost. So what can employers do? Remove the limit.

In my career, I’ve come across many companies that have removed the limitations of PTO. Some of the most interesting concepts I’ve come across are as follows:

  • Breaks for learning: A little over a year ago, I came across a few technology companies that offered their employees several weeks off a year for learning. I thought this was brilliant and felt the employer most likely would progress because employees are bringing back outside learning and applying to their work. Employees are given the freedom to learn about the things that truly inspire and interest them without the stress of having to take time off to do it. And the employer benefits because these new insights can help the organization progress in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • Sabbaticals: A company I interviewed with about 3 years ago offered month long sabbaticals for every three years of employment. Throughout my career, I’ve had many coworkers quit their jobs to take time off to travel, find their calling or soul search. Perhaps this is more common in younger generations before they have the responsibility of taking care of children, pets and mortgages, but with the influx of generation Y coming into the workforce, it’s something employers need to be prepared for more and more. Rather than lose employees due to their wanderlust or desire to get involved in personal projects, employers offer these sabbaticals to allow them to do the things they want to do without losing their key employees. Pair this with good workforce planning, and employers would be likely to incur less costs than if an employee quit.
  • Unlimited vacation time: Another company I’ve interviewed with also offered unlimited vacation time. I asked them how this affected productivity if employees took time off constantly but learned that it didn’t make much of a difference as if they were capped. The reason was because this structure led to accountability and reward. Employees are able to take unlimited time off if they finished projects and completed work on time. This offered them a little more flexibility in their schedules to get their work done and the reward for finishing projects early or on time was something that kept the team motivated.

Are these options feasible for every employer? Of course not. But in the pursuit to find retention initiatives, this should be considered. Employees can’t get everything they want out of life from their employer and may occasionally come to a crossroad between work and personal desires. Employers offering better PTO benefits might help mediate a person’s individual work/life balance needs.

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Please Excuse My Brief Hiatus

I would like to thank you all for the support you’ve given me over the last two years. When I first started this blog, I never dreamed of the reach it could have and the opportunities it would present. As a blogger, I do believe in keeping a consistent schedule and putting out content that can teach others. As much as I like to strictly follow these rules, there are occasions where I just can’t keep it. This is one of those times.

For the last four years I’ve had the pleasure of living in Charleston, SC. It’s been quite a developmental experience for me as I ventured here on my own to learn how to grow up without the safety net of my family and friends close by. I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve had here but, as of late, I’ve felt the hunger for more and I knew that staying in Charleston wasn’t going to provide me with the things I needed to ensure my continued growth, learning and development.

Recently, an opportunity to move to Boston presented itself and within the next few days I’ll be making my way up north to start a new chapter of my life. Needless to say, it will be very busy over the next few weeks and rather than trying to keep my consistency and risk quality, I’ve decided to take a momentary pause in my blogging schedule.

Many blogs fall off the wayside if bloggers don’t make it a goal to keep a regular schedule, but I’ll assure you that this blog won’t fade away due to a brief hiatus. Once I’m settled in Boston, I’ll be sure to post regularly again. In the meantime, please excuse my break and thank you again for all of your positive support.

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Have an Effective Onboarding Program?

A strong and efficient onboarding process can make or break the engagement of your new employees. Unfortunately, the onboarding process is often overlooked. How can your company ensure it’s hitting all the key points of an effective onboarding program? Check out my recent blog post on WilsonHCG to find out more: What You Can Learn About Onboarding From the Sochi Olympics.

Are You Making the Most of Your College Years?

After listening to the #InternPro radio show the other evening, I couldn’t help but wonder if there were any college students taking notes. During this show, different Talent Acquisition Specialist and University Recruiters were able to provide some wonderful details in regard to internship and entry-level recruitment. Some of the tips and information were slightly surprising but honestly made sense. Being that I currently recruit for entry-level positions, I could confirm that I run into these issues regularly. More often than not, I hope that college students are taking the time to research the job markets that they will be entering soon. Also, I hope they are able to determine the things they need to do to make themselves an attractive candidate upon graduation.

It’s time to get real about your professional future:

  • College degrees are not enough: in some specialized instances, it may be. However, the college degree has become so common that it does not make a candidate special anymore. Think of it as if it were the high school diploma a few years back- a large amount of people have it. You need to be strategic and determine the best way to build soft skills, in and out of school.
  • Even entry level positions want some sort of experience: maybe your GPA is looking mighty fine but do you have any real world experience? It doesn’t necessarily have to be job related (even though that would be ideal), but recruiters are looking to see if you took initiative to build skills during college.
  • Don’t think you don’t have time: I get it, college class loads can be daunting to the point where you don’t believe that you have time to take on anything else. Maybe that’s true but getting a job isn’t the only way you can gain attractive experience. Join clubs, networking events, fraternities/sororities, volunteer, or intern. This can not only help you build skills but it could potentially help you network with people who will aid in your job search down the line.
  • Stop templating your resume format: I know that writing resumes from scratch is tough but using common key words and formatting will not do you any favors. Don’t use the common words to describe yourself on your resume, or if you do, make sure you have something to show so you can back it up (such as a portfolio).
  • Put your social media skills to good use: we all know how you’re an expert at social media but casually socializing on it isn’t its only function. Take time to build social media profiles that are professional and use it to build your personal brand. This can help you gain momentum before you’re ready to start your job search.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute: getting a job is really hard. It is time consuming, the interview process can be long, and you need to be strategic. Don’t wait until 2 weeks before graduation to look for job. Job searches can sometimes take several months (unfortunately, that seems to be more common than not these days), so make sure you start early so you aren’t left scrambling around graduation time.
  • Do your research: no one likes a job hopper and most candidates fall into that category because they are unhappy with the employer that they selected. To avoid making a bad choice or to avoid getting into a job-hopper scenario, make sure you take the time to research companies, their cultures, and so on. This can help you find out if it’s a good option and fit for you.

College is apparently some of the best years of your life but don’t let your fun and socializing stop you from keeping your eye on the prize. You need to make sure that everything you do during those years are going to help you when you are ready to enter in the workforce, so keep these tips in mind.

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The Work-Life Balance Challenge

Over the last few months, I’ve had plenty of friends and family get on my case about my work-life balance. As always, they’ll ask me what’s new in life and I’ll go off on a tangent, telling them all the different things I’ve been involved in or what I’m currently learning. Once I catch my breath and the glazed-over look leaves their eyes, they feel the need to express their concern for my work-life balance. “You need to give yourself a mental break,” my family will say. “You need to get out and have a life,” my friends will add. Of course, this annoys me to no end. It might seem like I’ve dedicated my whole existence to work or networking or blogging or whatever else to help my career, but such is not the case. What they don’t realize is that I can accomplish all of these things easily in a 40-45 hour work week. Therefore, the balance is fine- I’ve just learned how to make the most out of my time.

No, I’m not a superhuman by any means. I’m just a woman with a type A personality and a slight obsession with whiteboard calendars. My whiteboards and my intense scheduling skills are another thing that my friends and family feel the need to critique but these things are what help me accomplish as much as I do within a reasonable time. Maybe not everyone is great at working their lives around a schedule, but here are the things that help me:

  • Determine necessary time for each task: Take a couple weeks to determine the appropriate time each task takes you to do. This can help you regulate how much time you would need to block off.
  • Schedule accordingly: every person has their favorite way to schedule things, such as phone task apps, email calendars, and so on. Although I use those forms of technology, I still like to keep it old school. Writing it down and seeing it in front of my face each day can help reduce any anxiety about potentially forgetting something. It also keeps me on track. I literally have three whiteboards: monthly, weekly, and daily.
  • Set realistic goals: the reason why I put things on a schedule is because it automatically makes it feel like a goal that I need to achieve. Nothing motivates me more than seeing all my “to dos” crossed off on my list. It also makes me feel like I’m making steady progress.
  • Give yourself wiggle room: I usually set my to-dos to be completed at least a couple days in advance. I also try to give myself a few minutes in between each task. Life is crazy and you never know what can happen that could potentially knock you back a bit. Giving yourself some wiggle room can help you still accomplish your things on time without stressing, even if an unexpected situation occurs.

Maybe some of my friends and family don’t get it at this point in time but doing these things have honestly allowed me to progress in my career, professional development, and professional education. I spend less time running around clueless and more time getting things done. And like I said earlier, it might seem like I have a lot going on but setting up my days like this have truly allowed me to be the most efficient that I can possibly be. I work hard but I get things done within the 40-45 hours a week which allows me to have plenty of time to “relax” and “live a little” like I’ve been advised to do. Take these tips and test it out. See if it makes a difference in your life, whether it is for work or your own personal goals.

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Are Applicant Tracking Systems Helping or Hurting?

Today, I spent some time thinking about the many different HR topics I could share with you all. After some careful consideration, I felt that a post about applicant tracking systems (ATS) may be a useful subject for both recruiters and job seekers. As we navigate through the technology age, more companies are using online application systems for their job posting and candidate selection processes. This can be a very useful tool when it comes to finding a candidate/job fit. However, many recruiters and job seekers are not using it to their advantage. Thus, making the applicant tracking systems hurt rather than help.

ATSs are used to help weed out resumes and applications that are not qualified based on the job description criteria. This can help the recruiters tremendously by cutting down the time they need to spend sorting out these resumes. However, if your resume is not formatted in a way that is favorable to the system, you may be losing out on opportunity.

First, I would like to go over information and suggestions for the job seekers:
in order to properly restructure your resume in a way to benefit you, you need to know what type of information these systems pull from it. Keywords are one of the most important things you can focus on when reformatting your resume to your advantage. ATSs look for specific keywords unique to the job description and then rank your resume against those metrics. So, in order to be ranked in the top percentile, you may want to consider trying the following:

• Use keywords and phrases that are similar to the content in the job description.
• Send your resume in format that ATS can read, such as a .doc or rich text (ATSs have a hard time reading PDF format).
• Get rid of things that ATS can’t process, such as tables, graphs, or pictures.
• Don’t get too creative with your section headings. If you have “Professional Overview” for your job experience but the system is looking for “Work Experience”, your work history may be overlooked.
• Your employer and title should be presented before your dates of employment.

Those little tips could help you get your resume noticed by the recruiter which is the first step to proving that you are a fit for the job. After that, it is up to you to stand out in the interview process. Feel free to look at some of my previous posts for tips and suggestions on how to do so.

Now, onto the next part: it’s not only up to the candidate to find ways to best utilize the applicant tracking system. It’s also up to you, recruiters. I’ve done recruiting before in different roles and have used ATSs like Taleo and Field Glass. One issue that I noticed on our end (and really irked me) was the lack of documentation in the systems. I know there is only a specific amount of information that we can place in those systems for legal reasons, however, there are things you can do to create a useful and detailed history. Some suggestions of good applicant tracking from a recruiter standpoint are:

• Update statuses through the hiring process (i.e. referred to hiring manager, interview set, offer, etc.).
• Make notations of information gathered in each step. (i.e. Candidate interviewed well and has brought in an interesting portfolio that is attached to hard copy of resume).
• Document the outcome (i.e. candidate has great potential but was passed due to lack of education. Currently finishing school and is interested in applying again once he/she meets the requirement).

I feel that having this documentation could help recruiters make better decisions. If a recruiter saw that an applicant had the status of “Not Hired” in the system they may wonder things such as: what was wrong with the candidate that they weren’t hired; did the candidate interview poorly; did the candidate fail pre-employment checks; and so on. These thoughts could potentially make them pass on a perfectly good candidate. This candidate could have been well suited for the company but the recruiter would never know because the documentation wasn’t there, nor would they know which recruiter to ask if they were trying to get more clarification.

Applicant tracking systems can be great tools. They can help impressive candidates get noticed by recruiters and they can help recruiters find qualified candidates sooner. In order to make that situation happen, we must use it for its intended purpose to the best of our abilities. Hopefully, some of these suggestions will make your experiences with ATSs more successful.

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I’d love to hear more suggestions on how you made applicant tracking systems work for you. Send me a comment or tweet @ashlaurenperez

Some great articles to read on the subject:

5 Insider Secrets to Beating Applicant Tracking Systems
LinkedIn Q&A

Companies Mentioned:

Taleo
Field Glass