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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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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Are You Micromanaging?

January 4th, 2019


As a manager, you want your staff performing at their peak. To some, that means pushing employees to their breaking point. To the best leaders, it means inspiring workers to be productive and successful. If your employees keep looking over their shoulder and finding you there, you may see a decrease in effectiveness. Ask yourself if you are micromanaging your team. Here are some of the signs.

Reviewing and Redoing

If you find yourself double-checking employee work, that’s normal. If you’re triple checking and find yourself redoing parts of the task yourself, you might be overdoing it. Take a hard look at what tasks your employee can do unsupervised or successfully without revision and give them some space to do so.

Detail-Obsessed

Tinkering with every sentence of a brief, or doing basic tasks that aren’t in your job description? You’re micromanaging. The art of delegation takes time to learn, but it is your friend. You should be able to assign a task to someone else, trust them to complete it, and move forward with your responsibilities. You can provide guidance and answer questions, but if you’re delegating it, trust that your staff can handle it. Wasting your time down in the weeds may mean your most crucial duties are being neglected.

If you’re experiencing some of the negative side effects of micromanaging, such as low employee morale and turnover, look at your leadership style and consider taking a step back. Also consider the effectiveness of your staff. If you’re struggling to see progress, don’t micromanage: make a change. Consider bringing in new or seasonal staff to bolster your productivity.

For more insight on how you can inspire your team to succeed, check out SmartTalent. Our staffing specialists can help you change your leadership approach, as well as help you find quality candidates to fill out your team. Spend less time sifting through resumes and more time doing the work that matters with help from SmartTalent.

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How to Ask for a Raise

January 2nd, 2019


Requesting a raise from your supervisor can be a difficult conversation. What if they say no? What if they offer you something insulting? How can you adequately prepare for the conversation? If you’re looking for a raise, there are a few tricks and methods that can help. Here are our tips on how to ask for a raise the right way.

Keep Things Professional

There are a few ways to ask for a raise:

DO: Set a specific one-on-one meeting time with your boss

DON’T: Bring the matter up casually in a text or email

DO: Look the part – dress well and have a clean appearance

DON’T: Ask during a stressful time period

If you don’t follow these basic guidelines, you’re starting off on the wrong foot and you’re less likely to obtain the raise you’re requesting. Treat your raise request as a serious meeting, even if you have a good relationship with your supervisor.

Practice Your Pitch

Rehearse what you want to say! Write down a speech, or some bullet points on an index card, and say it out loud a few times. This can be in the mirror, to a trusted colleague or even to a family member! Tripping over words is not a good look when you’re trying to prove your credibility.

Tell a Story

If you want to convince your supervisor it’s time to up your pay, paint a picture. People like to hear descriptive examples, typically in the form of a story. Instead of claiming to improve and saying you’re a great employee, show it. Give specific examples of your experience at work. If you recently pioneered your own initiative, talk about the steps you took to implement tasks. If you’re a team player, talk about your effective method of communicating with workers. Show why you deserve to be paid more for the work you continue to do for the company.

Looking for more ways to prove yourself on the job? Check out the resources from SmartTalent! As a top Washington staffing agency, we know how to improve your abilities and help you take your talent to the next level. Take a look at our resources today to learn more.

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The Importance of a Competitive Offer

November 27th, 2018

When you’re trying to hire a new staff member, it’s imperative you make a competitive offer to the candidate you’ve decided to bring on board. Making a competitive offer will:

  • Help you maximize the chances your offer will be accepted. When you go through the process of interviewing a candidate, it can be a very time-consuming endeavor. The last thing you want is to get to the end of a lengthy interview process and end up with your chosen candidate rejecting an offer, so you have to start all over. By making a competitive offer, you’ll have the best chance the candidate will decide to come aboard.
  • Build your employer brand so you can attract top candidates. If your company develops a reputation as a company that pays fairly, you will have a better chance of other highly skilled workers applying to work for your organization. Some of the most talented people in your industry will want to work for you. If you develop a reputation for low pay, on the other hand, the best and the brightest are unlikely to apply to come and work at your organization.
  • Remain competitive and build a stronger team than others in your industry. Paying a little bit more to bring highly skilled workers on board is a worthwhile investment. You don’t want all the best workers in your industry going to work for your competitors just because your offers are not as competitive. By monitoring what other companies in your industry are paying and making sure your compensation and benefits package is at least as generous, your company will be the one that all the best people want to work for. This is sure to give you a competitive advantage.

Working with a staffing service can also help you find strong candidates that will set your company apart. Contact SmartTalent today to find out how our staffing professionals can help you find skilled workers in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynwood, Everett and surrounding areas.

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Why Should You Apply to a Company That is Always Hiring?

August 16th, 2018

When you are searching for a job, you may see a company is continually hiring. This can make you wary of applying, as the organization’s constant need for new workers may make it seem as if their turnover levels are very high.

The reality, however, is that not all companies constantly on the lookout for workers are bad places to work with high rates of turnover. There are plenty of great organizations that always need to enlarge their staff and tons of good reasons why companies may be hiring regularly. For example:

  • The company may be growing quickly. The economy is good, and many organizations are experiencing a period of rapid growth and expansion. The fact these companies are scaling up fast and adding to their staff as they do it isn’t a bad sign, but instead indicates that the business is profitable and is likely to provide many future opportunities for you to advance.
  • The organization may always be willing to make room for top talent. Some companies may constantly advertise they are hiring because they want to receive applications from skilled candidates. These companies know that if the right person applies, they can make room on their team and it will be worth the investment because of the knowledge and skill that a great new hire can bring on board.
  • They may be quickly promoting employees from within. Companies that have a strong focus on developing the skills of their staff members may help employees to move quickly up the career ladder. If employees are regularly promoted at an organization, that business will continue to need new staff members for more entry-level roles. This is a great thing for job seekers because they stand a good chance of being hired and promoted themselves if they are talented and committed to success.

If you want to make sure you apply only to great companies during your job search, SmartTalent can help you. Our staffing services matches job seekers with top companies that provide competitive wages, great benefits, and a positive working environment. To find out more about how we can help you, give us a call today.

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What to Do If You’re Lacking a Required Skill

July 19th, 2018

When you apply for a job, you may not have every single skill listed on the job ad. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot to try to get hired. But, if there is a key skill or requirement you’re lacking, you typically don’t want to apply.

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth trying to land a position you lack key skills for, here are a few reasons you shouldn’t send in your resume:

  • You’ll waste time you could have spent applying to other jobs. You only have a limited amount of time each day, and you don’t want to waste it chasing opportunities you’re not a good fit for. Instead, find a position that matches your skill set and take the time to create a great application with a customized resume and cover letter. Your time will be much better spent doing your best to apply to jobs you’d be good at.
  • You might hurt your reputation with the organization. Employers may be annoyed to get resumes from candidates that clearly aren’t qualified for the job. When another position comes up you might be a better fit for, you may not be considered because the hiring manager may remember you previously wasted their time.
  • You’ll increase your frustration with the job search. Looking for a job isn’t fun under the best of circumstances, and there is no reason to make it harder on yourself. Getting rejection after rejection can be demoralizing and may lead you to become more desperate, which will come across to potential employers. Unfortunately, applying for a job you’re unsuited for is almost assuredly going to end up with a rejection, so don’t put yourself through that.

The good news? There are plenty of jobs out there you’re qualified for because you possess all the key skills employers are looking for. To help you find a job you’re a good fit for in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynwood, Everett and surrounding areas, reach out to SmartTalent today.

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Why Networking Matters for All Candidates

July 17th, 2018

Many people find their jobs through networking. This is true across all industries. No matter what type of position you are looking for, you’re likely to have a much better chance of getting hired if you come in with a personal recommendation or connection to the hiring manager or the organization.

While networking may seem difficult, your efforts to build professional connections are likely to pay off in helping you advance in your career. The good news is, there are plenty of simple ways to network too. These tips can help:

  • Make use of LinkedIn and online networking. The internet has made networking incredibly easy, and you should take advantage of networking opportunities online. Create an updated LinkedIn profile and connect to people in your industry. Use LinkedIn to show off your successes and join groups to get to know others. You can also use your other social networking sites to see if people in your circle know of any positions you might be a good fit for.
  • Attend job fairs. Attending job fairs is a terrific way to connect with employers hiring people with your skill set. Dress professionally, be prepared with a resume and business cards, and take the time to talk with people who could provide you with exciting new career opportunities.
  • Join online groups to connect with individuals in your industry. Joining professional organizations is another smart way to make connections. You can keep abreast of new developments in your field while getting the chance to build your network and discover opportunities through the grapevine.
  • Work with a professional staffing service. Staffing services have tons of industry connections, and you can tap into their networks by working with a skilled recruiter. Staffing professionals will get to know you and can match you with employers who are hiring people with skills and abilities that match yours.

SmartTalent has connections with a vast number of employers in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynwood, Everett and surrounding areas. You can take advantage of our professional network by working with our staffing service to help you find your next exciting opportunity. To find out more, give us a call today.

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Are You Struggling With Workplace Politics?

June 5th, 2018

The best offices have staff members who work well together and don’t play politics. Unfortunately, very few people get to work in this type of ideal office environment. Coping with workplace politics is often a big part of working with other people and you need to know how to do it effectively to excel at your job and to have the best chance at career advancement.

If you find yourself struggling to navigate workplace politics, the good news is you have options. Some things you should do to overcome difficulties include:

  • Become a keen observer of who the influencers are. While most companies have an official hierarchy and a formal organizational chart, often it’s the informal network of connections that matters most. Take time to observe how co-workers interact. Pay attention to who your boss respects and listens to and watch who the negative nellies are that drag everyone down. Make an effort to befriend and work closely with the people in your organization who are positive contributors with the respect of the higher-ups.
  • Work on your interpersonal skills. The easier you are to get along with, the less likely it is you’ll be caught up in negative office politics. Focus on how you can listen to others, improve your empathy, and understand the best way to approach others. Try to keep a positive attitude and always think before you speak or act, so you can consider how what you are about to say or do will reflect on you.
  • Steer clear of negative politics. Avoid spreading rumors, jumping on the bandwagon to criticize others or taking sides in office disputes. Staying above the fray is the only way to win when you work in an office with negative politics.

Unfortunately, there are some circumstances where coping with workplace politics is not going to ever be possible. If you are unhappy with your job and you want to explore new opportunities in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynwood, Everett and surrounding areas, call SmartTalent today to find out how our staffing professionals can help you.

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Should You Research Companies Online?

May 30th, 2018

During your job search, one of the key ways to advance your prospects and increase your chances of getting hired is to research companies online. There are lots of reasons why doing online research can help you maximize the chances of landing your dream job, including the following:

  • To see if the organization is a good fit for you. By researching an organization, you can learn about the skills required to do the job and about the company culture. By finding out everything you can about the business, you will have a clear idea of whether you would be happy working there. This research can help you avoid taking a job where you end up miserable and have to leave. It can also help you to identify organizations where you’re likely to thrive, so you can focus your job search on those companies.
  • To help you ace an interview. When you learn about an organization, you’ll be better prepared to answer interview questions in a way that shows you will add value to the organization. You can demonstrate you have what the company is looking for if you know what the organization’s goals and objectives are. It also shows you prepared for the interview, which helps to convince hiring managers you’re excited about the job.
  • To help you negotiate salary and benefits. If you’ve moved forward in the application phase and have started to discuss terms of employment, there are important online sources you can use to research salaries and benefits. By finding out what your knowledge and skill should be worth, you’ll be better positioned to negotiate on your own behalf about how much you’ll be paid if you take a job.

While researching companies online can help you find opportunities and be more successful during the application and interviewing process, it’s also beneficial to get help with your job search from recruiters who know local companies inside and out and have the inside track on what organizations in your area are looking for.

If you live in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynnwood, Everett and surrounding areas and you want to work with a staffing service that can help you to be successful in your job search, contact SmartTalent today. We can provide the essential insight you need into companies who are looking to hire people just like you. Give us a call today to learn more.

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