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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Guide to Investment Banking: Part 1of 3

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A job in investment banking remains one of the most enduring and sought after positions within the financial sector due to the potentially eye-popping financial rewards for key players.

But, those long-term rewards combined with recent banking industry changes have also made investment banking one of the toughest and most fiercely competitive fields to crack into within the financial services sector.

“They’re definitely unique jobs,” says Richard Deosingh, the regional manager in the New York office of Robert Half, the giant professional staffing agency. “It’s very fast-paced, and it’s not at all your typical 9-to-5 position. It’s long, long hours with big returns, if you can get into it.”

And that “if” is the biggest hurdle for those who have their hearts set on a career in investment banking.

What Is Investment Banking?

Investment banking is non-retail banking that generally serves corporate clients, governments and major institutional investors.

Household checking accounts and handy sidewalk ATMs are not the norm for these financial firms and clients, thank you.

Over the years, due to major regulatory changes and global market forces, the investment banking sector has changed a lot — so much so that someone who started out in investment banking in the 1970s, 1980s and even the 1990s can barely recognize the industry that it’s evolved into today.

Before major regulatory changes in the late 1990s, investment banks were usually smaller partnerships that were more associated with raising capital for IPOs, private placements, bonds, and giant merger and acquisition deals, among other things. As a result of these regulatory changes, today’s investment banking units are often housed inside giant banks that have separate retail banking operations.

In the modern era, investment banks are often huge publicly traded institutions that provide a host of investments services, including corporate finance, trading and research analysis.

However, the “core” of investment banking, strictly speaking, is still associated with raising capital and providing advice on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) — and that’s precisely the field many young investment banker wannabes often want to crack into when they think of careers in this lucrative sector.

A Day in the Life of an Investment Banker

Every job within an investment bank varies, usually depending on the seniority and specialties of individual personnel.

But if they’re all rowing together, the collective goal is to find and raise capital for clients, as well as come up with strategies and solutions to secure capital under the best terms possible for major IPOs, private placements, bond issuances, and M&A deals.

And all those deals are usually, at minimum, measured in the multimillion- and multibillion-dollar ranges. They most definitely don’t fall into the category of routine retail or small-business loans.

The jobs entail long, grueling hours of research into individual companies, industries, markets and even the entire economies of countries and continents, as investment bankers and their small armies of researchers try to measure the potential value and sizes of various transactions.

Investment bankers and their team members will also spend long hours on:

  • Courting potential clients
  • Traveling across the country and globe to research and secure deals

Ultimately, investment bankers are not only savvy about negotiating mergers and acquisitions and raising capital, but they must also be good with clients. In the end, they are salesmen and compete fiercely against each other for very high-stakes corporate business.

One important consideration: Investment bankers are on call 24/7. If a company makes a sudden move over a weekend to buy another firm, all members of an investment banking team had better be ready — on any day, at any time.

“It is a great business for the right person,” says F. Mark D’Annolfo, a former investment banker who’s now managing director of the Stephen D. Cutler Center for Investments and Finance at Babson College. “It is very entrepreneurial, and the work is often highly interesting and intellectually challenging. However, since these jobs often involve a great deal of travel and long hours, they are not for everyone.”

About the AuthorJay Fitzgerald is a business journalist based in Boston. Over the years, his articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Herald and other publications.

When, and How, To Bring Up Salary in an Interview

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There’s no telling when the salary discussion may come up in an interview, but bringing up your desired salary too soon could be a risky move. It’s important that your are able to present yourself, your abilities, and what you can contribute to the company before your price tag.

Employers want to get a sense of your salary expectations as early in the job interview process as possible. They will often press you to name a specific salary number or salary range. Avoid this for several reasons:

1.If you name a figure in response to a question about your salary expectations, it could be well above what the employer had in mind, and your interviewer’s thoughts will shift to another candidate.
2. If the figure is too low, you’ll be stuck with less than what the employer was planning to pay—and you may even come off as less qualified to boot.
3. The employer knows the responsibilities of the job better than you and therefore is better qualified to assign it a dollar amount. Once that happens, you are in an excellent position to discuss why you could bring more to the position than someone else.
Here is an example of how to avoid naming the salary first—even when explicitly challenged by the employer to do so:
EMPLOYER: Do you have a minimum salary figure in mind?
CANDIDATE: I have several opportunities I’m considering, and each one is a little bit different, so I’m taking all of the circumstances into account. Would you mind giving me some idea of the salary range for this position?

In most cases, a hiring manager isn’t going to drop you from consideration just because you dodge the initial salary question successfully. In fact, you may have a better chance at getting the job offer in the end because you had the opportunity to go through your value-increasing presentation first; other candidates who name a salary early in the interview process may never get the chance to present themselves fully, because the manager may be turned off after hearing their asking price.

Small Business Or Big Corporation? How To Know What’s Best For You

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As you go through the job searching process, you will find that there are all types of company sizes within every industry. Although you may be completely confident on the exact industry you want to pursue, you may find yourself wondering whether a large or small company is best. The answer really lies with you and your preferences, strengths, and personality.

Whether you’re looking for your first job or your fifth job, your colleagues and the environment you’ll be in everyday is crucial to the long-term career path you will take. So therein lies the question, “What’s the right company size for me?”

To answer that question, check out some of the job factors below and determine what seems to best suit you overall:

Culture and Processes

In a large company, there are a lot of team members that may be dispersed through different parts of the country and even the world. For this reason, the culture and processes in larger companies tend to be more rigid and defined to ensure everyone stays on the same page. Individuals that excel in this type of culture appreciate following processes and clear expectations.

In a small company, teams will be more agile and less defined. You will get to know team members in the company very closely in a relaxed culture that has likely been built organically. Personalities may be strong and opinionated, but each individual will undoubtedly be working toward the same clear goals of the company. For this reason, strict internal processes will be less important and are many times somewhat lax.

Management

In a large company, you will have a dedicated team that works directly with one or two managers who are in charge of all the team members. It is unlikely that you will interact with, or talk to, management that is above your direct manager(s). The company’s vertical hierarchy helps keep those in high-level positions focused on the bigger picture for the company, and the managers focused on making sure the big picture is delivered.

In a small company, upper-level management, all the way up to the CEO, will often interact and even collaborate with all levels of the team. This can provide an invaluable experience that will help you gain knowledge and skills from top leadership in the company.

Personal Growth

In a large company, by focusing strictly on your major tasks each day, you can easily become an expert in whatever you’re doing. This type of expertise can provide great opportunities later on in your career. Advancing within a larger company generally has defined process, which makes it easy to know what you’re expected to do in order to advance.

In a small company, career advancement does not generally follow a defined process, but naturally happens over time. Because all of the team members work with you on a daily basis, upper management is able to see your growth firsthand. Advancements may come in all different forms — increased responsibility, a new title, or a pay increase.

The opportunity to shift your career focus may also be something that can happen in a smaller company. Because of the agility and flexibility a small company requires, you may happen to stumble upon something that interests you more than your current job and find yourself shifting your career focus.

This is your career path, so choose your steps carefully. There is no right or wrong answer for working in specific company size; you may excel in one and not the other based on your personality, strengths, and preferences. Regardless of which fit is best, choosing the path and environment that’s right for you will ultimately help you advance in your desired career path.

What do you think? Do you prefer a small or large company? Why?

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

 

8 Ways to Bomb Your Interview

 

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1. Go Casual

 You have this interview in the bag- who cares if you’re wearing jeans! You’re Gen Y! Steve Jobs doesn’t wear suits!

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”  – Mark Twain

I’m not suggesting you show up to your interview naked (although that would certainly end your interviewing excursion. Mission accomplished!) Ask the recruiter ahead of time, on the phone or email, about the company dress code. If asking is uncomfortable for you, play it safe with dress pants or slacks and a nice shirt and tie; or skirt and blouse. Even at a “laid back” start-up would be impressed with your professionalism. Better to be over dressed than…well, naked.

2. Arrive Unprepared

 You emailed your resume – certainly the hiring manager had time to memorize it, or at least to print it and bring copies with him. Right?

Bring copies of your resume to the interview. And having a quality notebook or leather-bound portfolio in which to take interview notes will add to the impression that you’re a professional. The more you know about the company and industry before the interview, the better. Do your research to learn the company’s history, major competitors, market niche, products, etc.

3. The Weak Handshake

This is a time-honored first impression killer. The interviewer enters the room. They greet you warmly, smiling, and extend their hand to grasp yours…this can be an awkward moment if you over-think it. Will your hands meet correctly? Will they land slightly askew, resulting in that quasi-handshake, half high-five event?

Use a firm handshake to indicate confidence and potential strength of character.  And definitely make solid eye contact with the interviewer! That will display some competence and social ability.

4.  Your Cell Phone Rings 

This is an easy one to forget since most of us are so completely tied to this little electronic second brain. Turn your phone off (completely off!) before the interview.  If you forget and it does ring, DO NOT answer it, or even consider sending a quick text while the interviewer’s head is turned. This is more inappropriate and annoying than couples who hold hands at the gym! The hiring manager will definitely notice your lack of social etiquette.

5. Your Eyes Glaze Over, Your Shoulders Hunch, You Yawn…

Your body language communicates loudly. Maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Sit forward- it shows active interest with your full body. Nod your head at appropriate times and ask questions throughout the interview. An interview should be a two-way conversation. Give your interviewer time to explain the opening and the company culture, but jump in with quality questions. By “quality questions” I don’t mean: “How long is lunch in this office?” or “I have a vacation with my boyfriend coming up soon. Is that ok?”

6. Show Me The Money!

You’re just starting out in your career – you’ve already earned a big salary! You should bring that up right away, right? Wrong.

Discuss the position first and foremost. Sure, being paid for your time and skills is how capitalism works! But focus on the job details first- discuss compensation afterward, once you and the recruiter agree that you’re the right fit.

Before the interview, research your industry’s salary rates and the cost of living for the area.  You’ll be prepared to negotiate a salary that will cover your living expenses and enable you to set aside savings for emergencies. Having a job is only great when you can afford to pay your bills. Being underemployed is just as hard as being unemployed.

7. Be Really Un-Friendly

With the exception of very technical positions, employers interview for skills, but they hire for personality. Most entry level skills can be learned through on the job training. The interview reveals if you will be a good fit with the manager and their team. (I once got a job where the interviewer was a big golf nut. I play golf, so we talked about golf the entire interview).

Don’t use polite manners, smile or have an engaging and articulate conversation with the interviewer – avoid these as they will most certainly encourage the hiring manager to consider you further.

8. The Follow Up

Your best chance of not being hired is to blend in with the tens, or sometimes hundreds of other applicants… like job seeking camouflage! Don’t fall into the forgotten pile- send a follow up letter after the interview; at the very least an email to thank the interviewer for their time and add a few memorable points from your discussion (maybe even a question or two that you thought of after the interview). Better yet, send an old-school hand-written letter.

Most interviewees send resumes and wait… or interview and hope. If you don’t want to get hired… don’t stand out.

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at YouTern.

About the Author: Dave Ellis, is an original member of the YouTern team and instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals.

How to Ask Your Boss for a Promotion

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Asking for a promotion is a terrifying, nerve-wracking experience that everyone should do at least once in their career.

The mere thought of approaching an intimidating boss and asking them to give you more responsibility is enough to give any person goosebumps.

“What if my boss says no?”

“What if my boss fires me for asking?”

“What if my boss thinks less of me for asking?”

What if? What if? What if? You can think about hypothetical scenarios until you’re blue in the face, but you’ll never know what will really happen until you actually do it.

When you finally do gather the courage to take the next step, here are some helpful tips about asking your boss for a promotion:

Asking for a promotion is a terrifying, nerve-wracking experience that everyone should do at least once in their career.

The mere thought of approaching an intimidating boss and asking them to give you more responsibility is enough to give any person goosebumps.

“What if my boss says no?”

“What if my boss fires me for asking?”

“What if my boss thinks less of me for asking?”

What if? What if? What if? You can think about hypothetical scenarios until you’re blue in the face, but you’ll never know what will really happen until you actually do it.

When you finally do gather the courage to take the next step, here are some helpful tips about asking your boss for a promotion:

Be Knowledgable

You can’t build the nerve to ask your boss for a promotion and then walk into their office without a plan — if you want a better job, you have to prove you’re ready to take it on.

Do some research on the job you’re looking to get and tell your boss why you think you’d be a better asset in that position. Know your previous accomplishments and the contributions you’ve made to better the company up until this point, and show you’ve done work that has gone beyond the tasks of your current position. Giving examples of how, in your current position, you’ve demonstrated the skills needed for the job you’re trying to be promoted to is a fantastic way to show your boss you’re the right person for the promotion.

And even though you shouldn’t be talking about negotiating salary until after you get offered the job, you should still research the pay you’re looking to get from websites such as Salary.com, lest the conversation should turn to that and you’re totally unprepared.

Set Up The Meeting Ahead Of Time

Many businesses have annual performance reviews where employees have the chance to talk about their future with the company, but if your company doesn’t offer one or you want to ask before that time comes, it’s best to set up a meeting with your boss in advance rather than ask them the question on a whim.

Setting up the meeting beforehand not only lets your boss properly prepare to talk with you about future opportunities, but also it shows you still respect their authority enough to not just barge in and blindside them.

When you do set up the meeting, either through your boss’ assistant or directly, make sure you’re transparent in your intentions so as not to catch them off guard — tell them you want to meet with them to discuss your role and potential with the company, or something along those lines.

Follow-Up

Even though you see your boss every day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still follow-up with her after the meeting. Treat your consideration for promotion just like any other job you have to interview for.

If you don’t get the promotion, tell your boss you’re still interested in the position, and ask if they have any advice for you. Make sure you don’t burn any bridges; in fact, use this opportunity to reinforce the ones you’ve already built. Now that you’ve shown initiative, your boss may be more inclined to give you more responsibility.

It may have just been you weren’t in their eyesight before, but now that they know you’re serious about progressing in the company, they’ll take more notice

Be Knowledgable

You can’t build the nerve to ask your boss for a promotion and then walk into their office without a plan — if you want a better job, you have to prove you’re ready to take it on.

Do some research on the job you’re looking to get and tell your boss why you think you’d be a better asset in that position. Know your previous accomplishments and the contributions you’ve made to better the company up until this point, and show you’ve done work that has gone beyond the tasks of your current position. Giving examples of how, in your current position, you’ve demonstrated the skills needed for the job you’re trying to be promoted to is a fantastic way to show your boss you’re the right person for the promotion.

And even though you shouldn’t be talking about negotiating salary until after you get offered the job, you should still research the pay you’re looking to get from websites such as Salary.com, lest the conversation should turn to that and you’re totally unprepared.

Set Up The Meeting Ahead Of Time

Many businesses have annual performance reviews where employees have the chance to talk about their future with the company, but if your company doesn’t offer one or you want to ask before that time comes, it’s best to set up a meeting with your boss in advance rather than ask them the question on a whim.

Setting up the meeting beforehand not only lets your boss properly prepare to talk with you about future opportunities, but also it shows you still respect their authority enough to not just barge in and blindside them.

When you do set up the meeting, either through your boss’ assistant or directly, make sure you’re transparent in your intentions so as not to catch them off guard — tell them you want to meet with them to discuss your role and potential with the company, or something along those lines.

Follow-Up

Even though you see your boss every day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still follow-up with her after the meeting. Treat your consideration for promotion just like any other job you have to interview for.

If you don’t get the promotion, tell your boss you’re still interested in the position, and ask if they have any advice for you. Make sure you don’t burn any bridges; in fact, use this opportunity to reinforce the ones you’ve already built. Now that you’ve shown initiative, your boss may be more inclined to give you more responsibility.

It may have just been you weren’t in their eyesight before, but now that they know you’re serious about progressing in the company, they’ll take more notice of your performance and consider you early on for the next promotion.

What tips do you recommend when asking your boss for a promotion?

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Come Recommended.

3 Ways to Build Your Career Path

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As you continue to move forward in your career, it is important to take a step back and look at the “big picture.” With 70 percent of U.S. workers emotionally disconnected from their workplace, keeping your eye on what you want in your career can help keep you on track and outside of that statistic.

Whether you’re looking at what next steps to take within your company, or within your industry, it is important to think about what you’re working toward — doing what you love to do and what you’re good at doing.

Here are some ways to make sure your career path is headed in the right direction:

Identify and cater to your natural talents

Your natural talents are the positive traits that you are born with. As opposed to your strengths, which are skills that you build up overtime, your talents are things you do often — most of the time without even being aware of it.

For this reason, it can be tricky to determine what your natural talents are. Take a day or two and pay close attention to what you do. Note what seems to come more naturally versus the things that you tend to struggle with or don’t enjoy as much. There are also courses available that can help you to uncover your natural talents.

Once you’ve identified your natural talents, use that knowledge to find ways to cater to those talents in your career path. Whether it is at your current job or networking at events, show off your talents and demonstrate to others your capabilities. If you start to focus on fostering these natural talents, your career path will naturally progress in a positive direction.

Never stop looking for outside inspiration

As you progress in your career, you will undoubtedly meet plenty of people, read a lot of articles, and attend a number of industry events. For those individuals that leave an impression on you, do not lose touch with them — consider making them a mentor. For those articles that inspire you, bookmark them, share them, and integrate them into your daily life. For those events that leave you inspired to do so much more within your industry and job, continue attending and find other events like it. 

Inspiration is an important part of any successful career — it’s what motivates you to go above and beyond your job description. In the end, your career is not about the quantitative, but qualitative. It is about the quality relationships you build, the people that inspire you, and the actions that you learn from. The things that inspire you most will guide your career path in a less noticeable but very impactful way.

Take a look at where you are right now

Take a moment to step back and look at your current professional situation. Two important things you should ask yourself are: “Do the people I’m surrounded by everyday continually inspire me to be better?” and “Does the prospect of getting further in a career similar to what I’m in excite me?”

Moving ahead in your career is exciting, but remember to slow down now and then, take a step back, and see the big picture. Consider if you’re in a place that you enjoy spending your days and see a future in. If you’re doing what you love, and it is catering to your natural talents and strengths, it is likely you’re on the right path and it will naturally guide your career in the right direction.

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

 

Simple Steps to Boost Your Employer Brand

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As employment branding continues to be a trend in talent acquisition, more organizations are starting to see the positive effects of this, while others are sensing competitive pressures by not having one. As more job seekers become advised about performing their due diligence and researching a company before applying or interviewing, companies need to take stock of what a seeker would see if they did a basic search of the organization. Will the company have a robust presence on social media and enticing career pages, or will their social media pages seem abandoned and will the career page fall flat?

Of course, there are plenty of companies who have an amazing brand, but some of them also have a person or team of people dedicated to managing it. But, what about the companies that don’t have the resources or budget to hire a full time employee or consultant? Do they miss out on the chance of showcasing their culture just because they don’t have the means to do it? The answer is no.

There are plenty of simple things that companies can do to build some traction on their brand, and it doesn’t require a full time person to manage it. It’s simply about optimizing on the things occurring at your organization day in and day out and repurposing it for branding. The person contributing to this effort doesn’t need to be a marketing guru or recruiting genius, but someone who understands the fundamentals of both and who has a little extra time in their work week to keep initiatives consistent.

Below are a few easy things to boost your brand:

  • Social platforms: There’s no denying how useful social media can be when it comes to getting your company’s name out there. Some of the best brands even have dedicated profiles for their jobs or specific job roles. Of course, managing a bunch of profiles can be a huge undertaking. In this case, simply using your established company profiles to include employment branding can be perfect. Ensure you’re regularly scheduling out jobs, events and things showcasing your culture. All it takes is a few minutes a week to schedule out consistent messages through tools like Hootsuite. Just make sure whoever’s managing the profiles also remembers to check and respond to messages in a timely manner.
  • “A Day in the Life” campaigns: When candidates research your company, they’re trying to get the most accurate picture of what it’s like to work there. Including little blogs, short videos or employee Q&A sessions can give them exactly what they’re looking for. Take time to connect with internal recruitment and find out what hot jobs they’re recruiting for and then connect with those currently in the position. Taking time to interview them or get some candid feedback about the aspects of their jobs, why they like it and any interesting facts can help you build that content easily. Keep it authentic—include the good and the mundane aspects. That can allow candidates to get a realistic preview of the job.
  • Employee testimonials: Employee testimonials are considered heavily by candidates, so be sure to consider these in your branding efforts. Creating a Glassdoor campaign to get consistent (and candid) reviews is one suggestion. Also, including employee spotlight features on social media or your career pages can be another simple way to boost the brand. Get a quote or two about why they like working at the company or in the specific job.
  • Sharing events: Your company participates in several events a year and this can be a great way to showcase your culture and happenings. From pot lucks, birthdays, “wins”, conferences, holiday events, social responsibilities and just general good times, this can be opportune for getting visual content. Snap a picture or take short videos. Make sure they’re edited and post away on social media, eblasts or the career sites.
  • Optimizing career pages: I have come across career pages that are so boring, it actually turned me off from the company. Even if they were a reputable company with good opportunities, a bad career page can have adverse effects. This is the time you can hype up a candidate and it’s the homestretch before whether they apply to a job or not. Even if you don’t build out multiple pages to highlight specific things like benefits/perks, corporate social responsibility, and so on, it’s still an opportunity to build out the content on one. What differentiates your company? What can you offer your employees? Why should someone want to work for you? Keep these questions in mind when including key information. Also be sure to include the content you’ve been creating for the branding initiatives, and if possible, feeds to your social sites.

Building a brand doesn’t have to be as involved or as intimidating as some companies might think. It’s just a matter of staying timely, consistent and well-rounded. Dedicating some time to this regularly will build up your content quickly.

For this post, Doostang thanks The Social HR Connection.

About the Author, Ashley Lauren Perez: After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in human resources and organizational management, Ashley pursued her passion and secured a career path in the human resources industry. She is currently a Sourcing Specialist for WilsonHCG, as well as a Brand Ambassador for WilsonHCG and #TChat.  Additionally, she uses her experience and knowledge to write a blog focusing on an array of Social HR topics. Even if you aren’t in the Charleston, SC, area, you can easily connect with Ashley onLinkedIn,Twitter and Facebook

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3 Interview Myths

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When it comes to the job search process, job seekers often have false impressions about how things work.  The interview is no exception, and understanding a few common misconceptions about the process can help you do a much better job – and hopefully put your mind at ease!  Read on for 3 big interview myths:

The Most Qualified Candidate Gets the Job

Okay, this is untrue for a myriad of reasons, with jobs going to individuals who know people on the inside, to those who simply reach out at the right time, and so on.  Bear this in mind during your interview, because it’s important to understand that you need to be professional, personable, and on your A Game at all times.  You can be the most fabulous job candidate on paper and in reality, but if you don’t bring confidence to the table, the job could go to someone who had better people skills and impressed the interviewer.  Conversely, if you know your resume may be lacking in certain areas, make up for it by giving a winning interview.

The Interviewer is Prepared for…the Interview

There are several reasons why an interviewer may not be prepared for an interview.  For example, this could be their first time interviewing a candidate and they may be nervous.  Or they could be bogged down with extra work – perhaps the reason they are hiring someone in the first place – and so they haven’t devoted proper time to preparing for the interview.  Thus, the more prepared you are, the easier the interview is for everyone, and the better impression you create.  Decide what you want to tell the interviewer beforehand, and do your best to find ways to mention your past achievements and what you can bring to the table.

The Interviewer will Ask All the Necessary Questions

Again, the person interviewing you might be distracted and might miss some important points. Or you might be speaking with a hiring manager who doesn’t know as much about the job as the person you will be working for, so the interviewer may not ask all the appropriate questions.  Thus, it is your job to bring up skills and qualifications you have that are specifically pertinent to the job, so that the person interviewing you can report these back to the individual who makes the final decision.  If they are the person who makes the final call, make the choice easier for them by addressing every aspect of the job description in a way that paints you as the perfect candidate.  There may be things that you want to bring up that the interviewer never asks about – if this is the case, don’t brush them aside.  Find ways to work these points into the conversation.

Interviews can be nerve-racking for individuals on both sides of the table.  And at the end of the day, an interviewer is just another human being.  If you can enter the conversation confident, prepared, and personable, you’re sure to impress.

Unemployed? 7 Ways to Improve Your Resume

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If you’re unemployed and worried about dust collecting on your resume, there’s no need to panic.

According to CareerBuilder, 85 percent of employers said they’re more understanding about post-recession employment gaps. Whether it’s been six weeks or six months since your last job, it’s important not to stress about the space in your resume. There are endless opportunities to help you fill in any gaps due to unemployment — you just have to know where to look.

But keep in mind that just because employers are more understanding about unemployment doesn’t mean you automatically receive a free pass. It’s up to you to be proactive during your unemployment to gain experience and improve your skills. If you want to quickly land a job, it’s essential to develop your skills and gain experience to compensate for the time you had off from work.

If you’re unemployed and want to strengthen your resume, here are some tips to help you fill in the gaps:

1. Take a class or attend a workshop.

One thing job seekers don’t realize is that their career is more than just having a job — it’s about being a lifelong learner, too. If you’re looking to brush up on your skills or learn a new skill that’s in-demand, this is a great time to take advantage of the opportunity to enroll in a class or workshop. Your skills require constant development as you advance in your career. As you search for classes and workshops, try to enroll in those which will provide you with the most up-to-date training. This will be a sure-fire way to catch the attention of employers by adding an in-demand skill to your resume. Plus, you’ll be able to keep your skills fresh so that when you return to work, it doesn’t feel like you missed a beat.

2. Consider freelance or contract work.

There’s no better way to improve your resume than gaining tangible experience. Freelance and contract work is a great opportunity; you can build your resume and earn a little income at the same time. According to a survey by Intuit, more than 40 percent of the workforce will be freelancing by 2020. Whether you choose to use freelancing or contract work to fill in the gaps, it’s a great way to utilize your time as you figure out your career path. Employers will also be impressed that you took the initiative to continue gaining experience during your unemployment.

3. Polish up your personal brand.

While you’ll be spending the majority of your unemployment searching for jobs, you also need to make sure your online presence is a reflection of your resume. Whether you spend time learning new skills, taking classes, or freelancing, find opportunities to boost your resume and personal brand. Sometimes, it can be difficult to stay motivated when labeled as “unemployed.” But if you take the time to ensure your online presence is consistent with your resume, you’ll be more likely to get yourself noticed by employers.

4. Volunteer.

Another powerful way to strengthen your resume is to do volunteer work. Never underestimate the power of volunteering — it gives you the opportunity to learn new skills, gain accomplishment stories, and give back to your community. When employers see volunteer experience on a resume, it tells them a candidate is compassionate, driven, and enthusiastic. As you gain volunteer experience, take note of your accomplishments and responsibilities. This will help you quantify the experience section on your resume and give employers a chance to see how you can make a difference.

5. Make industry connections.

Believe it or not, networking can be a great way to help you improve your resume during unemployment. Research shows that 40 percent of job seekerscredited a referral for their current jobs. Not only will you make connections that could lead to jobs, but you can also connect with professionals who could serve as a mentor. It’s always a good to have a friend or colleague who can review your resume and give you some pointers. This is especially true if you can make a connection with someone in your field — they can provide accurate advice on improving your resume to make you irresistible to employers.

6. Start a business.

If you really want to strengthen your skill set, consider opening your own business. Although starting a business is a fairly large commitment and investment, it will definitely pay off during your unemployment. Starting a business demonstrates leadership and initiative, which are two soft skills employers strongly desire. Not only will you gain experience, but you’ll also learn the skills that come along with opening a business.

7. Focus on your career goals.

When facing unemployment, it can be easy to lose sight of your career goals. Whether you’ve used unemployment to pursue other goals, or you’ve become discouraged about your career path, your career goals need to be at the forefront of your job search. It will help you know where to look for jobs, and most importantly, find new opportunities to update your resume. For example, think of a goal you’ve always wanted to accomplish, but couldn’t because you were working full-time. Take this opportunity to learn a skill you’ve never had the time to learn. By doing this, you’ll be able to accomplish your goals while adding another line to your resume.

Gaining experience and keeping your skills fresh during unemployment doesn’t have to be stressful or daunting. Just remember to focus on your goals, the skills and experience you have to offer, and improving your personal brand. This way, you’ll be able to fill in the gaps on your resume and impress an employer’s socks off when you apply for a job.

What tips do you have for improving your resume during unemployment?

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.