Do You Know Your 5-Year Plan?

February 19th, 2019


Five years ago, you were staring blankly at the front wall of your cubicle, lamenting another day sacrificed to a go-nowhere dead-end job. Now? Still staring blankly at the front wall of your cubicle, lamenting … well, you get the point.

The problem? Five years ago, you didn’t make a plan to energize your career. Without a plan, one day rolls into the next, days turn into weeks, weeks into months, months into years.

To make progress, you need a plan.

Even if your job isn’t an existential nightmare, a five-year plan can help you maximize your potential. Here are a few tips on how to best chart out your next half-decade to reach your optimal career:

Picture the Future

It may sound like a granola, shaman-in-desert-induced exercise, but the first step to plotting your five-year plan involves a little vision. You have to imagine where you want to be.

You also have to look beyond the five-year horizon. Careers are long – decades long. As soon as you finish this five-year journey, it will be time to plan another one.

Ask yourself: What’s my ultimate goal? Do you want to maximize income? Job satisfaction? Flexibility? Retirement prospects?

Figure out your ideal long-term destination, and then use the five-year plan as a roadmap to get there.

Research

Once you set a career destination, you need to figure out the best way to get there. That requires research. Find out what training you’ll need for the career you want and what steps you have to take to achieve your goals.

Interested in a high-salary career? Look up what professions have the best compensation prospects. Want to maximize job security? Find out what skills are likely to be in demand far in the future.

Break It Down

A five-year plan shouldn’t consist of the words “become CEO” scrawled on a cocktail napkin. Getting to your dream will require accomplishing a series of small, distinct steps.

Think of it like instructions for putting together furniture you bought on the internet. Two-hundred otherwise simple moves – a few screws here, a few dowels there – turns a pile of parts into a chest of drawers. Same with your career. Split the journey into reasonable chunks, so you can progress on a day-to-day basis.

Leave Wiggle Room

As you plan for the future, don’t forget goals outside of work. You have family, significant others and children to spend time with (and even if you don’t have all of those now, you easily could have them in five years).

Looking far into the future, it’s easy to focus too intently on limited goals. But life is a messy, sprawling adventure. Don’t become so narrow-minded you eliminate all ability to improvise and react.

Another way to achieve your long-term goals? Finding a good partner. Teaming with an industry-leading staffing firm will help you plan and obtain your five-year objectives.

SmartTalent can put you in the best situation to leverage your skills and determine your future. Contact them today to find out more.

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The Cost of a Bad Hire

February 14th, 2019


The direct financial cost of a bad hire can mount quickly. Start adding up the time and effort of the recruitment process, plus the onboarding and training for the short-lived employee. Throw in that person’s salary for the brief time they worked for you and it can really add up.

As painful as the financial costs of a hiring mistake can be, it’s at least relatively easy to compute. The financial cost is obvious.

However, there are other negative impacts that ripple out from a bad hire. And these can prove much subtler. You might not notice them immediately but rack up enough questionable hires and it can significantly impact your ability to grow as a company.

Here are some of the more pernicious hidden costs of a bad hire:

Opportunity Cost

Most hires come down to a choice among a few stand-out candidates. Make the wrong decision and you’ve likely lost your chance to hire one of those other top contenders.

Meanwhile, a hire doesn’t turn bad in the instant you make the decision – there’s no red “x,” with accompanying buzzer, that appears when you make the wrong selection. It takes time to figure out the mistake. That process involves burning of through significant resources.

You probably won’t know for weeks whether the new employee will work out. Those are weeks you don’t get back. Meanwhile, you’ve taken time training the new hire and integrating them with your current team – all time that was fundamentally wasted.

Morale Suffers

A bad hire has a negative impact on the current staff. They suffer the direct results of the bad hire’s worst qualities, whether it’s attitude or incompetence or some combination of those. Your hardworking team has to deal with it. And there’s one person they’ll blame for it: you.

A bad hire creates a distraction that can cut into the productivity of your other workers. Meanwhile, it lowers your overall approval rating with your team, a fact that further cuts into morale and could fester for long after the terrible hiring choice has been fixed.

Starting Over

The worst part of a bad hire, at least from your personal perspective: starting the whole recruiting process again.

You can try bringing in some of the people who just missed the cut last time around, but they have likely moved on to other opportunities. In all likelihood, you’ll have to start from scratch. Another round of resume sifting. Another cycle of dreary interviews.

The prospect of repeating the process means many of your projects will stay at a standstill. You have longer-term goals you are trying to accomplish. Filling this position is just one step in that process. Now, you’re back to the starting line, with your ultimate goal seemingly getting further away.

Partnering with a staffing firm can help mitigate the risks of a bad hire. A strong recruiter, like SmartTalent, will do the legwork for you, maximizing your chance of getting a top-level candidate, while minimizing your workload.

Contact SmartTalent today to find out what they can do to streamline your recruitment process.

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What to Do If You Don’t Feel Useful

February 12th, 2019


You feel like the company is moving on without you. You see exciting new projects coming up, but other teams get the lion’s share of the work. Opportunities that might become fast-tracks to promotions and recognition don’t even come on your radar anymore.

In short, you feel useless.

But you can’t just sit on the sidelines waiting for someone to tap you on your shoulder. You need to seek out the opportunities. You need to make yourself useful.

Talk to Your Boss

Your boss might not know you want more action. They might worry about overburdening you and have purposely held back on issuing you new assignments.

Your manager also might not be aware of all your abilities. They don’t walk around with a copy of your resume cued up on their phone. You do your job and you do it well – at this point, that’s all they really know about your skill set.

Schedule some time to talk to your boss about the situation. Let them know you are looking for higher-level assignments. And remind them about the other qualifications you have that you’re currently not getting a chance to leverage on the company’s behalf.

Find Something New to Work On

You can’t always wait for your boss to notice you. They’re busy running the team and working to achieve their own goals. Your ambitions might get lost in the shuffle.

So, look for ways to create your own opportunity.

Seek out the projects you’d like to work on and ask to be assigned. Or develop projects of your own. Find situations that need addressing and write up a formal proposal on how to fix them.

At first, these attempts might not go anywhere. But your boss may start to see you in a new light. Once they recognize your ability and ambition, they might become more open to your suggestions. At some point in the future, they may grant one of your requests.

Learn a New Skill

Perhaps there’s a reason you’ve been left out of your company’s more interesting endeavors. Investigate whether you have a gap in your skill set that is holding you back.

If you discover you have a hole in your training, take steps to fill the inadequacy. Ask your boss if there are competencies you can add that will make you eligible for more interesting assignments. You can pursue the necessary training to bring yourself up to date.

Help Other Departments

If you can’t get the engagement you want within your current team, look for opportunities elsewhere in the company. In other words, if the breakout chances aren’t coming to you, go to the breakout chances.

Find out what departments get the most opportunities and look to transfer there. You may have to start at the bottom of the pecking order on a new team. But, eventually, you’ll be in line for the more interesting assignments.

Feeling engaged and useful makes for a more rewarding work experience. Teaming with a staffing firm can help you find a perfect position to utilize your skills. Contact SmartTalent today to find out how they can steer you to the ideal situation.

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How to Handle an Employee Who’s Losing Interest

February 7th, 2019


You hired them with high hopes. At first, everything was great. You predicted superstar status. However, over time, things have started to change. Output has slipped. Engagement is down. The days of volunteering for overtime are long gone.

The team member you had once slated as a likely top performer hasn’t slipped to the bottom of the employee evaluation stack yet, but you have watched them slide from “great” to “average.”

How can you turn things around? How can you return your former superstar prospect to their original potential? Here are a few steps you can take to re-engage an employee who has started to lose interest:

Start a Dialogue

Don’t jump to conclusions. It’s easy to assume that a lackluster employee doesn’t care or doesn’t have enough initiative to engage in their work.

However, it might be more complicated. The issue might stem from an external factor, like a death in their family.

It’s also possible the slacking employee hasn’t recognized their fading interest. They may feel like they’re doing an adequate job and may not realize you expect more from them.

The cure for both these situations is a conversation. By talking to the employee, you can let them know your expectations and find out if there is an external (hopefully temporary) factor impacting their work. You can also chart a plan to get them back to the stellar performance you had previously expected.

Set Goals (And Offer Rewards)

It’s difficult to reach vague expectations. Without clearly defined goals, people tend to figure out their own benchmarks, which are probably less strenuous than what you’d prefer. Or they settle into a rut. Bottom line: It’s hard to have direction if you don’t know where to go.

Set clear goals for your floundering employee. Let them know what you expect from them, including quantifiable benchmarks and a detailed timetable. Meanwhile, offer rewards for achieving their targets, things like bonuses or days off.

The added incentives should spark their buried ambition. Hopefully, the strategy will work like priming a pump. Once they get back into an active flow, they’ll keep up the more energetic involvement on an ongoing basis.

Break Them out of Their Routine

A loss of interest may indicate a sense of boredom. If a potentially high-achieving employee gets stuck in a rote position without much engagement, they can grow listless.

This isn’t really a problem; it’s an opportunity.

Find ways to challenge your disengaged employee. Start with a small project without significant stakes, just to test how they will respond to a more difficult assignment. If they do well, you may have discovered a diamond in the rough.

Management becomes easy when you have the right workers to start with. Teaming with a recruiter like SmartTalent allows you to bring in people primed to become high achievers.

Contact SmartTalent today to find out more.

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What to Do When You Love Your Job, but Not the People

February 5th, 2019


Your workweek probably breaks down a lot like this: Most of your time spent at work, with some small blocks of the day reserved for grooming, meals, getting to and from the office, and maybe a couple of sleepy hours in the evening for Netflix, Facebook and family. The weekends free up a little more personal time, but in general, you spend a good chunk of your waking hours with your co-workers. If you don’t like them, it can be a real bummer.

In a dreary, dead-end position, the fact you don’t like your co-workers just puts another log on an already raging fire. You’re probably on your way out anyway.

However, in a position where you’re otherwise satisfied, a bad relationship with those around you can make everything feel worse.

Yet a rocky relationship with your office mates doesn’t mean you have to abandon a position you love. Here are four things to keep in mind when dealing with a touchy personal situation at work:

Is It Me?

If you don’t like anyone at your company, there’s a clear existential question you need to ask: Is it them, or is it me?

Before disrupting your work life to fix a cultural problem you’ve preemptively blamed on everyone else, do a personal inventory. Check if you bring some negative energy to the situation.

Learn to Get Along

Not every personality mismatch has a culprit. That is to say, the situation might not be anyone’s fault

Look to bridge the gap. If you get to know your coworkers better, you can minimize any personality issues. Familiarity and understanding can sand down a lot of sharp edges.

Organize some get-togethers outside of work. A little time at happy hour might solve the problem completely.

Overcome Your Co-Workers

Some gaps can’t be bridged. Maybe your co-workers don’t want to make a connection. Maybe your attempts to build a relationship fizzled. Whatever the reason, you tried to get along, but nothing has changed.

You’re going to have to be the bigger person. Find ways to accept the situation and do what you can to keep things professional.

If a dispute develops, don’t escalate. Stay calm and professional, even if your co-workers are purposely pushing your buttons.

If it gets too bad, you can look for ways to avoid the worst people in the office. Ask to transfer to another team. Work some flex hours so your schedules don’t match up. Physically move your workspace.

Don’t Let It Ruin the Job

Ultimately, your work life is about the work. If you have an engaging, interesting, inspiring position that fits into your long-term career plans, that’s an enviable situation. Don’t let the other people bring you down. Put your head down and focus on the work.

A great job is one thing. A great company is something more. By partnering with a top-flight staffing firm, like SmartTalent, you can find opportunities that include warm, encouraging cultures.

Contact SmartTalent today to find out more.

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Addressing Gaps in Your Work History

January 30th, 2019


During an interview, you need to navigate tough questions like a professional. Speaking to your strengths, answering scenario questions, and discussing conflict-management styles all help you prove your candidacy. But addressing gaps in your work history can be challenging. Job seekers know this can often be a “red flag” for employers, but if you follow our short guide, you’ll be able to talk through it honestly and impress a recruiter. Here’s how you explain the blank areas of your work history:

1.   Honesty Is the Best Policy

Be straightforward with your interviewer. If they ask a question like: “We don’t see anything listed for 2015, can you talk about that?” here’s your plan. Take a deep breath and remember that having a lull in employment doesn’t make you less qualified for a position. Your reason for being without a job for a stretch is probably a good one. Talk it through and be honest about your situation if your work history gap was due to:

  • Being laid-off
  • Poor fit
  • Unhealthy working conditions or toxic company culture
  • Education-based (you were an active student or just graduated from a course of study)
  • Taking time off to raise a family

If things were a little more complicated, for example, you had urgent personal issues to attend to that required you to leave your job, leave it at that. Your potential employer doesn’t need the dirty details of your family’s transitions or challenges.

2.   Discuss Your Growth

A small pivot can be handy so the recruiter doesn’t focus too much on how long you were out of work and why. It’s great to be able to discuss the constructive things you were able to do during this time. If you have a gap in your work history on your resume, discuss the skills and abilities you worked on. If you took on freelance work, volunteered long-term, started online courses or began learning a new language, talk about it with your interviewer. This shows you’re a self-starter with initiative, and employers always look for a candidate that can develop their skills independently.

3.   Prove Your Performance

If you were terminated from a previous job which led to a spell of unemployment, this is where you need to impress. Any specific information you can give about your excellent productivity on the job will assist you in making your case. It may be helpful to bring a particularly successful report or be able to provide web links to successful projects you worked on. Hard evidence can help your potential employer prove to the team you are an asset.

Ready to find the perfect position for your qualifications? Try SmartTalent, a top Washington staffing agency that offers professional guidance and premium listings to help you further your career on your schedule.

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Managing Remote Workers

January 25th, 2019


If you’re managing staff members who work remotely, setting your team up for success is more important than ever. As the telecommuting economy booms, you need to be prepared to accommodate and effectively manage your remote workers. Managing remote workers isn’t just about making sure tasks get done, you always want to focus on making remote workers feel included. Everyone wants to be a part of the team, even if it’s from the comfort of their couch. Here are our best tips on how you can manage your staff from a distance.

Tools

As you manage your off-site team, you’ll notice the importance of communication and making it simple for your employee to succeed. Talk with your remote workers about how you can effectively communicate back and forth and make a plan to invest in tools to help your team succeed. Try Slack, Skype for Business or another quick communication tool specifically to address day-to-day proceedings. Research what tools cater to remote workers and find out how your staff members can incorporate them into their routines.

Expectations

There are several ways you can help your staff members succeed in a remote setting, and one is to help them have precise expectations. Are deadlines fluid based on your employee’s workload, or is there a rigidity to what tasks need to be accomplished. If you require a weekly update, be clear about when that is due and what it should include. With telecommuting staff, it’s extra important to clarify your expectations with your staff members. A “work plan” with detailed descriptions of tasks with their due dates may be a helpful way to stay organized.

Be Communicative and Respectful

With so much to juggle in the workplace, it can be easy to neglect the workers who aren’t right in front of you. Schedule a monthly check-in to discuss progress and any concerns and go above and beyond when it comes to communicating. When a remote worker sends a message, remember they can’t just pop in to follow up with you, and they may be frozen on a task until they hear back. Even if you don’t have an answer for them right away, follow up to tell them you’re aware of their inquiry and you’re working on it. This little update can help your remote workers feel like you’re looking out for them.

Looking for better ways to manage an effective team? Try SmartTalent. As a top staffing firm in Washington, we can help you kickstart productivity or bring in fresh talent to keep your team motivated. For more info, check out our website today.

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What to Do When Your Boss Doesn’t Seem Invested in You

January 18th, 2019


One of the most important aspects of your job is your supervision. Great leaders make time for their workers, provide detailed feedback, and show appreciation. It’s essential for you to feel recognized in the workplace because overlooked staff members typically experience low morale and decreased performance.  If you’re feeling like your boss is not invested in you, consider some small changes to help you feel like you belong.

Make Your Mark

One way to gain respect from your supervisor is to stand out in a professional manner. Prove your worth by volunteering for assignments or even innovating your own projects when possible. The more initiative you take, the harder it becomes for your boss to overlook you. Don’t hide if you feel like your boss doesn’t see your potential: prove it to them! Contributing to the team’s success will help you feel inspired to stay on and gain appreciation from your colleagues and your supervisor.

Stay in Touch

Keeping your boss in the loop is an essential way to mitigate any doubt your employer may have. If your boss doesn’t seem invested, frequent emails about your progress are a tangible way to measure your productivity. Your boss may be ignoring you because they are concerned you’re not being efficient. Sharing updates is a positive way to connect and keep your boss in the loop. The more you communicate, the less likely it is you’ll make an error.

Have a Conversation

Even if you don’t have an ideal relationship with your supervisor, it’s necessary to sit down and discuss your contribution to the team and your overall success in your position. The best way to understand your supervisor’s motives is to ask. Plan a one-on-one meeting where you can discuss your duties and ideal career trajectory and bring up your impression that the boss isn’t invested in you. Hopefully, a productive talk can ensue where your employer can discuss changes and mitigate your concerns. If not, it’s time to look elsewhere for employment.

If you need a new position, contact SmartTalent! As a top temporary staffing agency, we can help you find the right role immediately if you’ve decided it’s time to move on. Take the guesswork out of the job search by teaming up with our staff today.

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Is Your Onboarding Process Working?

January 16th, 2019


Evaluating your systems should be a way of life, especially at the beginning of the year. Take a good hard look at how you can improve your processes early in 2019. Today we’re focusing on onboarding. But how can you measure where you might be going wrong? One way to know your onboarding process isn’t working? Turnover. If you’re seeing a rapid cycle of employees quitting, it could be your onboarding system.

Be Inspirational

Remember starting your job? There’s always uncertainty. A new position can create several emotions and reactions, from excitement and curiosity to confusion and fear. Remember where you started and encourage new workers to settle into their new positions. Workers that don’t feel welcome or are overwhelmed by an ineffective onboarding process simply won’t stick around.

Assess the Process

What does it look like when your new employee completes preliminary training? Or even walks in the door? Evaluate your onboarding process from start to finish: including the more trivial details. Go through the onboarding procedure yourself, as if you were a new staff member. When you enter the workspace, is it welcoming? Do you have specific staff training new workers, and are they cheerful and well-versed in the procedure? Review what onboarding entails: You shouldn’t be tossing a packet of rules on the table and throwing them right into the deep end.

Check Your Timeframe

Is your onboarding process two days of training? Training shouldn’t be on overview of the bare minimum that a new staff member needs to know. Onboarding is referred to as a “process” for a reason. You should be looking at what your new employee receives within the first day, the first week, and even the first few months of their tenure.

  • Day One: Introductions
  • Week One: Understanding of job expectations and projects
  • First Months: A scheduled one-on-one meeting with you to discuss highlights and challenges within the new role

To learn more about how you can onboard and retain quality staff members, consult the professionals at SmartTalent. As a top Washington temporary staffing firm, we can help you gain access to top-level candidates and help you fill gaps in your team today. Check out our website today to learn more.

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How to Sell Yourself During a Phone Interview

January 11th, 2019


Impressing your interviewer over the phone, where you can’t make a visual impression, can be challenging for any candidate. To sell yourself over the phone, you’ll need to be cool and collected, while also appearing vivacious and enthusiastic, yet not over the top. Sometimes the phone interview can be more difficult than an in-person interview. Here’s how you can impress a potential employer during a phone screen.

Be Prepared

No matter what your expectations for this interview may be, it’s important to treat this opportunity seriously. You need to dress sharp (to inspire confidence), speak clearly and concisely, and have all necessary information promptly at hand. Cover the basics: Set aside an hour for the interview in a quiet, private location. Take time to review your resume, cover letter, and the job posting before the call. We highly recommend printing a few copies of each of these documents to spread out in front of you for quick reference. You don’t want to get stuck trying to remember what months you worked in your previous position, or what skills the posting seeks. Creating visual reminders can be helpful and even necessary, so don’t get caught unprepared.

Be Aware

Have you ever had a conversation with someone on the phone talking a mile a minute, where you can barely understand what they were saying? Don’t be this person during your phone interview. Take deep breaths when you need them and speak slowly and clearly. Running away with the conversation does not impress employers. Monitor your speed and breathing, and make sure you’re not making any thoughtless mistakes – breathing intensely into the phone, chewing gum or food.

Be the Best

Remember, the guidelines for phone interviews are similar to those of in-person interviews: be the best candidate. Prove your abilities and demonstrate the experience that will make you a perfect fit for the position. Use personal anecdotes to answer questions instead of listing your skills. They’ve seen your resume, now it’s time to make it come alive. Impress your potential new employer by confidently and thoughtfully answering questions, and the in-person interview may be just around the corner.

Are you a job seeker looking to stand out in a field of candidates? Check out SmartTalent! As a top Washington staffing agency, we can review your job application materials and find you the perfect fit fast with our staffing agency. Take a look at our resources today to learn more.

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