It's no secret: this fall, good help might be hard to find. This fall, applications for jobless benefits fell to the lowest level in 8 months. What does this mean? The pool of people looking for jobs is quite small, so companies face tough competition for top talent, or an investment in keeping their existing workforce intact. Employee retention is the name of the game as we head into Q4, and though it may sound daunting, we've broken it down into some key areas that need attention to ensure your team remains truly happy and healthy as you head into the new year.

Hint: it's not about hosting more golf outings...

5 Employee Retention Strategies that Work

Keep communication lines open.

No, like really open. Set expectations for everything from high-level goals to working hours and availability, and establish quick regular check-in meetings. Keep your employees in the loop when something's going on or there's trouble in the industry. Keep them in the loop when there's good news to share.

Not only should you emphasize your openness to feedback with your direct reports, but try a more consistent and less demanding format like pulse surveys or HR chatbots, which allow for short and casual surveys and are open for employees to report issues in anonymous mode. An additional step in a project timeline could include post-project feedback collection: what could be improved about the process next time around? 

Respect their time.

A broad statement that represents many other tips, boiled down to their core message: respect the time of your employees and they will be more satisfied. What exactly does this entail? Well, lots of things.

The first is to establish working hours and non-working hours. State them, share them, adhere to them. Working outside of these hours? Schedule your email for later. If you have flexible working hours overall, then set core hours people are expected to be available (they could be the middle of the day, like 10am-2pm EST, or could take place in both morning hours and afternoon hours, like 10-12pm and 1-3pm EST). Whatever works for your company – and hey, you can ask your employees – will do, just so long as you are setting boundaries that will allow people to protect their solitary work time and their home life. 

The second is to make sure their "on" hours at work are used as efficiently as possible. Meaning: solid deadlines, no unorganized meetings, and goals broken down into actionable items. Before you call a meeting, be clear on what's to be discussed, and prepare any needed information so minutes aren't wasted searching for documents or data.

Emphasize the importance of wellness. 

Job satisfaction is largely dependent on the vague measurement of "is this working for me?" Does it offer the flexibility I need? Does it offer the benefits that are important to me? Encourage the use of vacation days, offer understanding or time off when an employee is struggling, and learn (and teach others) the signs of burnout. Sticking to the set boundaries for work hours also displays a respect for the mental health and wellbeing of your employees.

Set a great first impression.

The onboarding process is a new hire's first interaction with the inside world of your company – set them on the right track, from the start. Educate them on their responsibilities and how they fit into the bigger picture, giving them ownership over their role. Put forth your company mission and values, and explain how you and your team achieves and monitors them. 

An interesting idea to try: pair all new employees with a "buddy," someone else who works at the company, at any level or in any department, to meet with them, grab lunch, or check in to see how their time is going. Having an acquaintance from the start is a powerful step towards feeling a part of an open and welcoming environment, and one in which there is already an ally. 

Encourage professional growth.

This can be done through the age-old practice of attending conferences, but also can be as simple as setting aside time for micro-development. An example: every Friday afternoon for one hour, members of your team are encouraged to learn something new related to their job. Some ideas that come to mind are learning a few new functions in Excel, watching an InDesign tutorial, or reading an article about the future of A.I. This freedom, with boundaries, allows for a break from work and an increase in knowledge, something workers today crave.

The simple act of asking your team if there's anything they'd like to learn more about can open floodgates to an invigorating work environment. Have them report back to each other, in order to keep the enthusiasm going.

Keeping a team satisfied is no easy feat, but making the effort is the first, and most important, step in ensuring your professional environment is one that retains employees. Try some of these suggestions, and let us know how it goes! 

Posted: 11/7/2023 11:04:58 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

Although generative AI has been around for years, its prevalence in daily life has increased since the explosive growth of tools like ChatGPT, Midjourney, Dall-E, and others in the last year. If you aren't familiar, generative AI tools have been trained on extensive amounts of data, much collected directly from the internet. Through exploring this data, it is capable of detecting patterns and relationships within the information, and uses that to generate new content, at the request of a user. Everyday people, creative professionals, and small business owners are exploring the potential of this powerful new tool, simultaneously amazed at its capabilities and increasingly wary of its effect on careers, lives, and our global future.

Spend more time doing this and less time updating your resume!

Its impact on humanity-as-we-know-it aside, we do see AI as a valuable tool for making certain tasks a little more effective and efficient. Exhibit A: the resume update.

Nowadays, hiring at 90% of large companies involves an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which processes applications from the hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of people that apply for each open position. Hiring managers and HR departments are using these systems to review stacks of resumes, eliminating "unqualified" candidates who don't meet certain qualifications or use specific keywords they have required. AI tools like chatbots can be useful to ensure your resume includes all relevant keywords and explains your qualifications as effectively as possible.

Cater your resume to a specific job description:

How to do it:

Gather your current resume and the desired job description. 

Ask a chatbot to rewrite your entire resume, with this prompt: 

"Rewrite my resume to tailor it to this job description. Here is my resume [paste your resume text here]. Here is the job description: [paste your job description here]."

After a rewritten resume is generated, you can request follow-up changes, like condensing it to one page, or emphasizing certain skills over other skills.

Write interesting bullet points that sufficiently reflect your work experience:

How to do it:

Paste a bullet point or paragraph from your resume into the chatbot.

Ask it to rewrite the bullet point, but pasting an existing bullet point, and then adding this prompt:

"Rewrite this bullet point [or paragraph] to be less than 20 words, including keywords from the job description, use compelling language, and include details from my resume. Here is my resume: [paste your resume here]. Here is the job description: [paste the job description here]."

After new bullet points are generated, you can request that it creates more than one version of that same bullet point. Pick your favorite, and repeat for other bullet points on your resume. 

Identify important terms to use

Suspicious of AI, or just don't want to turn your entire resume over? Have it dig  a little deeper into the job you're applying for, by asking it to review the job description and isolate key terms for your industry.

Try this prompt: "Review this job description and identify industry specific keywords. Job description: [paste job description here]"

Then, ensure you use those terms in your resume and/or cover letter.

Write a stellar professional summary

Your intro statement / resume headline / objective is your first impression. Have a chatbot review your resume and craft a compelling and creative professional summary.

Try this prompt: "Review my resume and write a professional summary for me. Resume: [paste your resume]"

Some tips for using AI to improve your resume:

  • include metrics on your inputted resume, and request that metrics be a part of the chatbot's output (prompt example: "... and include metric-based achievements")
  • review all results for accuracy - in many cases, if there's a lack of information provided, a chatbot may add in skills and responsibilities that you may not have but are typical in the job you are doing
  • don't be afraid to refine a bit's responses with direct requests (example: please rewrite this paragraph but do not talk about [responsibility that was not yours])
  • consider its responses to be a starting point and not finished work - expand on its framework with your own personality and wording

The best part about chatbots like ChatGPT  is that they are conversational. If you're unsure of what information it may need to assist you, you can just ask, with this prompt: "I'm a [insert your current role] that wants to work in [insert your desired field] in [city]. I want you to rewrite my resume. What information do you need from me to do this?"

AI tools can be an excellent starting point when tweaking your resume for a specific position. Try these ideas out, have some fun with it, and let us know how it goes!

Posted: 8/4/2023 12:56:11 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

When it comes to finding a new job with a prospective employer, you have lots of questions specific to the job itself. What are the responsibilities of the position, what’s the day-to-day workload, what are the skills needed for the job, etc. But, there’s always a bigger looming question that demands answering: what is it really LIKE to work there?

The term "company culture" grew in popularity over the last several decades as the workplace became a second home to many working Americans. What was once an indefinable quality with less importance to a job seeker now bears weight for a potential hire. Are you completely qualified but not a “culture fit”? Does the company offer a work-life balance that works for you? Now more than ever, companies are making efforts to establish what makes them, them. Picturing yourself working somewhere should be easier than ever, but company culture is often the mystery puzzle piece at the end of an application process. How exactly can you determine what the company culture is like?

Understanding what "company culture" really comprises is essential to create a framework for evaluating if it is a good fit. The main components of company culture:

  • Values and mission - what really matters to the company? 
  • Communication / Leadership Style / Team Dynamics - how do employees work together, how does the company communicate with their employees?
  • Work environment - what is the physical workspace like and what workplace actions does it promote?
  • Diversity and Inclusion - is there adequate representation at all levels of the company?
  • Employee Engagement / Development - are employees engaged with their work and encouraged to grow professionally?

For many of you, the typical ways of learning about a company will be perfectly sufficient: look at their website to peek at their workspace, browse their mission and values, and see if their employee page is as diverse as they claim. Check their social media accounts for any indication of employee championing, camaraderie, or recognition. But if you're looking to get even deeper than the words their marketing team has very intentionally prepared, we have a couple places that will suggest even more about what to expect if you joined the team.

Dive into job postings 

Job postings often require a company to sum itself up in a way that’s appealing to a prospective employee. Read about the company in one of their job listings to see what terms and phrases they've chosen to communicate as, potentially, a first impression to a prospective employee. What they decide to prioritize stating in a job posting could be considered at worst an unattainable intention, and at best a direct reflection of the essence of the company.

Much like real estate listings riddled with coded language like "charming" (old) or "cozy" (small), job postings can be excellent indicators of life at a company. Take a look, paying close attention to the words they use in a few different areas. First, what kind of benefits are offered? If they have a more lenient vacation or PTO policy than some, or flexible work hours, or even offer earned sabbaticals, they likely support a healthy work-life balance. Paid parental leave outside of the traditional maternity leave can indicate the same. Next, examine the required skills and qualifications listed. If there are several specific technical skills listed, they may place higher value on expertise and skills. On the contrary, emphasizing soft skills like collaboration, teamwork, or a positive attitude might suggest a supportive, people-oriented workplace. Also consider the tone of the writing - is it formal and traditional, or casual and conversational? In many cases, this is a direct reflection of the workplace. Last, review the level of detail provided about the role. A more elaborate and detailed description of the position may be an indicator that they value transparency and clarity. A much more condensed or succinct description may be your first clue that this is a fast-paced working environment.

Find their employees on LinkedIn

Look for employees on the team you're considering, as well as elsewhere in the company. Is there a diverse range represented? Are they active and engaged on LinkedIn? Do they belong to any professional groups or affinity groups? Do they share company news and events? Looks for signs of enthusiasm, passion, and dedication to both their fellow employees as well as the mission of the company. Sharing company news and projects with their network demonstrates pride and engagement with their work, and being supportive of others is a great quality to have in a work colleague. This is also indicated in the Recommendations section of a profile: have they written any thoughtful recommendations for others or received any from colleagues at their place of employment? A company is nothing if not a collection of individuals, so you might as well dig in and learn more about them. 

Explore the path some of these employees have taken within the company. Have they been promoted or moved around departments? This may indicate that success is tracked and rewarded. If several employees appear to be moving up the ladder, the company may be growing and prioritize promoting from within. Employees' loyalty to the company, rather than jumping ship and working elsewhere, suggests job satisfaction. Overall, joining a team of supportive, collaborative, and passionate people will yield successful results in your career, and looking through LinkedIn profiles can reveal a lot about potential workplaces.

There are many different ways to approach evaluating company culture, and getting an accurate reflection of it can be a real journey. We encourage you to invest time into determining company culture before starting a new position, and don't be afraid to think outside of the box. Investigating job listings and LinkedIn profiles with a mission to reveal the true ethos of a company can be an enjoyable and informative process!

Posted: 6/28/2023 2:53:50 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

Some standard must-do's from the job search process, like dressing professionally and sending a post-interview follow-up thank you are here to stay. The interview itself is pretty straightforward, but at the end of the chat, there's one last opportunity to leave a lasting impression: "Do you have any questions?" Ask nothing and you risk appearing uninteresting or worse, uninterested. Ask disingenuous questions and they'll see right through it. Here are some excellent, thought-provoking questions that will seal your deal as an intentional and curious must-hire.

I saw you worked at Company A for 10 years before this, but how did you get started in this industry, and why did you make the move to this company?

Show you went above and beyond the standard company research (while still skipping a complete recap of their career journey) and they will not only be grateful for your preparation, but will also appreciate your interest. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and inquiring about someone's beginnings reminds them of the often winding path they took. Asking a question like this allows them to leave with an empathetic and understanding attitude towards this meeting. 

What types of personalities are the best fit for this role?

The answer to this question, while potentially not your preferred response, will give great insight into the type of person who is most likely to succeed in the role. If the given response is a distant description of yourself, maybe reconsider your interest, or be intentional about favoring certain habits and personality traits so you are better prepared for the challenges.

Can you give me an example of a time someone in this role failed? What did they do wrong and what could be done differently? 

The answer to this question can be incredibly revealing. Not only will you hear specifics about a situation of disappointment for the employer, but you'll get insight on how they respond to conflict and challenges. Their answer will give a peek into how you'd be treated when failure is involved. Pay careful attention to how the employee was notified of any issues and what opportunities they were given to remedy the situation.

How do you ensure your team is continuously growing and learning new skills?

Burnout and stagnation are huge causes for job dissatisfaction and abandonment. A company that invests in their employees' skills and creativity is one worth joining. Find out what opportunities they encourage so you know the team you're joining will not only be professionally motivated, but also encouraged creatively.

Is there anything in my background that gives you concerns about my ability to fit well in this role?

Possessing an openness to feedback and a willingness to confront issues head on displays your worth as a collaborative team player. Addressing their concerns directly is an opportunity to exemplify the persona detailed on your resume: a well-adjusted professional who's willing to improve themself.

How often do employees receive evaluations and feedback?

Asking if they have a structure in place for company reviews and employee feedback provides you with an expectation for your first evaluation of success in the role, as well as an early understanding of how much they value the employee-employer relationship. You could also discover that their structure includes post-project debriefs to review anything that came up while it's still fresh in everyone's minds.

As a job seeker, having a supply of good questions can be what distinguishes you from the crowd. Be remembered, be intriguing, and be a promising candidate when you start with some of the suggested questions here. 

Posted: 4/25/2023 1:58:07 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

Hiring managers have seen it all. They've talked to every type of person, met every level of employee, seen every type of resume enhancing you can imagine. When it comes to hiring employees, there's no better gatekeeper than the hiring manager, someone who knows best what type of person is a good fit for the company. They have painstakingly weeded through resumes and spent hours crafting job postings, all in an effort to diligently grow their team in an efficient and thorough way. 

That being said, there are just some parts of this hiring and job application process they could do without. Some trends they've been seeing for years just aren't doing it for them anymore, and releasing this information is only to your benefit, job seeker! Read on.

Etiquette for etiquette's sake

After an interview, for example, it's a knock against you if you don't send a thank you, but it's not necessarily beneficial if you do. Why? For years the trend has been to send a follow-up message post-interview, but sometimes it can sound a little... forced. Do your best to avoid your thank you sounding like a form letter or a thoughtless note. Use this opportunity to further the conversation - send a link to an article you discussed in the interview, or personalize it in a way that indicates you paid attention and genuinely enjoyed the interaction. Hiring managers read a ton of these, so keep it short, sweet, and to the (personalized) point.

Omitting location from your resume

Between 2019 and 2022, the number of people that primarily worked from home tripled. Some companies abandoned offices, others only tiptoed back into hybrid work once the world reopened. Many of us came to see working from home as the norm, assuming future employers will be completely open to a remote employee. But, what's the reality? Only 15% of work opportunities in the U.S. are remote jobs, with most requiring at least one day in the office. With the data showing some level of hybrid work as the model of success, it's no surprise. 

You may think removing location from your resume goes unnoticed - maybe you're assuming, or hoping, the employer will consider a remote employee. Unfortunately, we have been seeing many resumes moving to the bottom of the pile specifically because the applicant has omitted their location. There's no detriment to being forthcoming with your geographical information - either a company is open to remote work or it isn't. And a company that's local may keep you around because they know you're local as well. Check the listing beforehand - if they don't mention remote work and you're not in the area, include your location.

Using a new job offer to increase your current salary

What's something hiring managers can't stand? Going through the entire hiring process, interviewing candidates, and finally offering the position to someone, only to have it turned down and used in a power play to increase their salary with their current employer. It's a risky move,  and there are plenty of better ways to push for a raise. 

Including every little thing on your resume

Take a look at your resume. Does it include your high school GPA? Positions you held over [ten] years ago? Time to revisit and evaluate what information is sensible to include. Around three to five years after you graduate, you can move the Education portion of your resume to the bottom of your resume, and remove your GPA. Any high school information is seen as filler content by hiring managers, unless you're currently a college student. 

Microsoft Office is an assumed skill in this day and age, so no need to mention any programs unless you have, say, advanced Excel skills that would be relevant for a job. A quick mention of personal interests can be a great conversation piece for an interview, but avoid a lengthy list of everything you've ever cared about.

Unrealistic salary expectations

When the economy gets a bit rough and inflation is taking off the way it has, an adequate solution can be to seek a new job and give your salary a boost. We're all for warranted pay increases, but have seen an uptick in overvalued salaries. Do everyone a favor: do your research. What does someone in this position, with your experience, in this location, typically make? What do overall salaries look like at this company? Go in with a number or range and be prepared to justify it based on your experience, skills, and competence. There's nothing that can throw off a decent interview more than an overvalued salary expectation.

Hiring managers have a vast amount of exper

Posted: 3/21/2023 3:27:01 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments