How Often Should You “Take a Breather” at Work?

November 29th, 2018

Working too much can lead to burnout, so it’s important you take regular breaks. Not only should you take a few minutes during the workday to take a breather, it’s also important to take longer vacations as well.

Determining when to step away from your desk and take a break can be difficult, but these tips can help:

  • Pay attention to when your focus starts to wane. You can usually tell when you’ve had enough work and need a break. You’ll find your eyes start to glaze over when you’re looking at the computer screen or you start to get frustrated more easily when tasks you’re doing don’t work out perfectly. Pay attention to when this starts to happen to you and monitor how long it takes before you reach that point. Then, in the future, you can take a break a few minutes before you reach that burnout time, so you don’t push yourself to the point where you start to feel frustration.
  • Schedule regular breaks after routine work. Most people can only concentrate for a limited amount of time. In fact, there’s an entire Pomodoro technique which is built around the idea you should do work for 25 minutes, and then take a five-minute break in order to be as productive as possible. You can consider applying this technique to your own work. That way, you’ll always be focused.
  • Step away from your desk after intense tasks that require a lot of concentration.  Sometimes, work you’re doing requires a strong attention to detail or a lot of focus. In these situations, you should try to take more frequent breaks in recognition of the fact that the work is more challenging.

SmartTalent will help you find a great job where you’ll be motivated to work hard, but that also allows you the leeway to take breaks when you need them. To find out how our staffing service can help you find the right position to keep you focused at work, give our staffing service a call today. We can help you to find a great company to work for in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynwood, Everett and surrounding areas.

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Selecting and Working With the Right Staffing Service

January 7th, 2013

Tips for Identifying and Evaluating Temporary Agencies

Part 3

There are many factors that can make or break your level of success with a staffing service.  There are many factors that can make or break your level of success with a fortune 500 company.  Why is it that people see them as different when they are actually the same?

In this third and final part, we will discuss how to select the right staffing service, what homework you need to perform to avoid a bad experience and how to make the most of your time while looking for the right opportunity.

Top staffing services can get you in the door with organizations you may not otherwise know or have access, but don’t expect to go fishing while letting your networking contacts do all the work for you.  So, how do you make the right decision?  Here are some things to think about.

Research Various Staffing Services

Not all staffing services are the same.  Each service will have a unique set of clients. Some offer and don’t offer benefits.  Some hire specific skills and are specialty firms, such as IT, healthcare, engineering, accounting, labor and office while some are general in nature and place in a wide variety of skills.  Some will only allow you to work with only one recruiter and with some you will be able to work with all of the recruiters in the office.  Some hire for only temp, temp-to-hire or direct hire and some will offer each option.  So, make a list of what is most important to you so you can choose the staffing service that matches your needs.

In addition, you can search various on-line job sites and view the various types of positions the staffing service is advertising. You should go to their website and review their job board.  While not a complete listing, it will give you an idea as to the positions they place and whether those types of positions might offer you new opportunities.  Be selective, but also feel free to register with more than one service.

Ask Questions

A few questions up front will give you an idea of the opportunities they may have waiting for you.

  • How do you decide who to employ?  Yes, it is a pain to take a lot of tests, but a good service needs to match your skill with the client expectation and needs to be confident they can place you within their client base.
  • How long will it take to get placed?  Of course, the answer to this question will depend on why you are going to a staffing firm.  It is ok to be selective and wait for just the right kind of opportunity, but just know it will most likely take longer to be placed.
  • What percent of people get hired?  If you are applying for a particular job, ask about the client, how often they hire from that service, why the position is open, have others worked the assignment and why did they leave, etc.

Don’t Take the Staffing Service Interview Casually

A staffing service hires people only with talent that meets their client’s skill requirements.  That means you will be asked about your résumé, job experience and experience just as you would anywhere else.  Most likely, your skills will be tested.  So, do your research, be on time, look your best and don’t be vague with your answers during the interview.

Tips for the Staffing Service Interview

  • Be clear about what your goals are and what you hope to gain through temp work. At that point it will be easier to identify the organization that might benefit you the most.
  • Be flexible and keep a positive attitude.  The more flexible you are with your work requirements, the more assignments and interviews you will receive, if you are qualified for their client requirements.
  • Find out about the agency’s specializations, client companies or industries, typical work assignments, benefits and training that may be available to you.
  • Make sure you know the best way to communicate with your recruiter or with the recruiters in the office.
  • Some recruiters only work on specific clients and some recruiters are aware of all the clients in their office so find out what you need to do to keep working and how to develop a working relationship.
  • Give complete, crisp and truthful answers.  They can always tell when you are not forthcoming.
  • Find out about their policies; asking for time-off, calling in sick, getting hired by their client, your responsibility in turning in a timecard and most importantly – getting paid and the various options that may be available.  For example: direct deposit, pay card, paycheck, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.  Beware, if they find out you have violated any of their policies or procedures, your time with that service and the assignment may come to an abrupt end, just like any other company.
  • Follow-up; thank them for their time just like you would with any other company.  Believe it or not, it will set you apart.

Don’t Sit Back and Wait

We get a number of people who register with our service and then never follow-up or call back.  You do need to check-in regularly and let them know you are still looking.  A good staffing recruiter can be working with a lot of different candidates and it is difficult for the recruiter to remember everybody.  Those that distinguish themselves and call in regularly get the greater amount of their attention.  But don’t be a pest or stalk the recruiter(s).    Find out the best time and way to stay in touch.  Continue looking for work on your own as well as with other staffing services.  This is just one step in the process of networking and finding a job that fits your lifestyle.

Be Flexible with Assignments

The service may stop calling you if they offer you several positions and you keep turning them down.  Give a few temporary positions a go even if you were hoping for temp-to-hire work, and don’t be afraid to work for companies you’ve never considered. One of the advantages of working as a temporary is sampling several experiences without making a commitment; if you’re unhappy with one position, remember it won’t last forever.

A temp job is not a good choice for someone who is trying to climb the corporate ladder. Those who don’t like change would also find temp jobs undesirable. If you like to explore a variety of work settings, discover innovative industries, meet new people, gain and improve your skills, and investigate the possibility of immediate, short-term or long-term positions then you may really enjoy this lifestyle; millions do.  Working as a temp isn’t for everybody, but it can help you gain visibility in a crowded and uncertain job market.

Learn more about writing a Résumé and what Key Words to use on your résumé.

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Selecting and Working With the Right Staffing Service

December 28th, 2012

Myths and Understanding – How They Will Work Against You If You Buy Into Them

Part 2

There are many factors that can make or break your level of success with a staffing service.  There are many factors that can make or break your level of success with a fortune 500 company.  Why is it that people see them differently when they are actually the same?

In the second part of this three part series, let’s take a look at a few myths or things that create misunderstanding.  I am not trying to make excuses for staffing services (although, there are no excuses for some of them), but knowledge creates understanding.  Sometimes, knowing the reasons a service may do certain things, makes it easier to understand and what actions you can take to make your experience a successful one.

Staffing services hire everyone who walks in the door – No, they don’t.  Does anybody?  So why do people go into an interview with a staffing service with that impression and then complain that they never hear from the staffing service.  A first impression always counts.

They don’t have real jobs or they’re not a real company. – Then who are these people working for and what are they doing?  Getting great jobs and starting great opportunities, that’s what they are doing.  Temp workers made up over one-third of the job gains last month.  There were over 2.5 million temp workers in the first quarter of 2012.

They never really hire people or They just interview to fill up their database – If they don’t put people to work, they won’t be in business long.  However, sadly, there are staffing services that require their recruiters to interview a certain number of people each week regardless of whether they have an open position; such a waste of everybody’s time in our opinion.

Often, a service will get a call asking for a person to start the next day; sometimes at 4:30 or 5:00pm, which is a staffing recruiter’s worst nightmare coming to reality, that end of the day call.  The client wants the person to start the next day.  The service doesn’t have time to start the recruiting process.  If they don’t have someone, the client often calls another service and they lose that opportunity.

Understand that a staffing service only makes money when you are working.  It is in their best interest to place you on assignment and not just any assignment.  That will work against them with the client.  The client wants what they want, when they want it.  If the service takes too long to supply the client with résumés or to set-up interviews, the client goes elsewhere.  But, just because you don’t get that job, doesn’t mean you won’t get other opportunities with future orders.  It might be disappointing, but remember: The first impression counts.  And it counts all of the time.

They’ve never called me since I registered – The better question is, have you called them since you registered?   There can be literally hundreds of people who are currently contacting the recruiter, have contacted and following up or are already in their database looking for a job.  You want a job.  Show that you want it, professionally.  Calling and scolding your recruiter will not move you to the top of their list.

I don’t work with a staffing service because the process is too long – Yes, this is an exhausting process and depending on the jobs you are offered might seem like a waste of time.  With many staffing services, you can complete much of your registration process, application and testing, from home.  The paperwork is arranged so that once you’re done, you are done.  You don’t have to keep coming back to complete pieces of legal documentation that might pertain to where the service is sending you.  It is not just one company they are recruiting for; there are potentially hundreds depending on the size of the service; all with different hiring criteria.  Staffing services really wouldn’t do it they didn’t have to, but somewhere there is an attorney saying, “You’d better get this up front to cover all your bases on this topic.”  Just take it in stride as part of the “price” you pay for a free service.

The jobs available through staffing companies are low paying jobs – That is simply not so.  If your skills are entry level, you will most often be offered entry level work.  If the work is entry level, then that is what you will be offered.  If the position requires more skill, the pay will reflect that skill needed.  Don’t apply for an entry level job and expect to be paid as a highly skilled employee.  The pay is based on the skill of the job, not on your skills.  If that assignment is not for you, then decline the assignment.  If it is at a company on your target list to work for, you might want to accept it and show them what you can do.  Companies develop budgets to hire a set number of full-time employees on an annual basis, and include in that budget an amount of money that can be used to hire temporary staff throughout the year to handle the ebb and flow of business. When the time comes for the company to open up the temporary position as full-time, you are perfectly positioned to interview for the full-time job.

Staffing services only staff entry level and administrative type of jobs – Staffing services range from specialty firms that place professional, managerial and technical candidates, to agencies that are more general in nature.

Case in point:  We had placed an employee as an entry level Machine Operator on a temp-to-hire basis for a privately-owned manufacturing company.  He was converted as a full-time employee and by the end of the year, promoted to a Shift Supervisor who now hires, trains and develops people for his shift.

Assignments only last a couple of weeks at a time at the most – Assignments can last from one day, a couple of weeks, several months or can turn from a 1-day assignment to temp-to-hire.  It’s one of the easiest ways to find out what you like about different companies in a very short period of time. After three or four long-term assignments, you’ll have a much better idea of what you’re looking for in terms of company culture, the type of boss that you work best with, and the type of work you enjoy doing.

Staffing firms don’t offer benefits – This is not necessarily true.  Depending upon the staffing service they offer a variety of benefits just like a “real” company: direct deposit, 401K, medical, dental, holiday, etc.

 As part of your job search strategy, working with a staffing firm can be a great way to supplement your search, but not a substitute.  Next time, we will explore how to select the right staffing service for you and create a great experience while landing a great job with the right company.

Learn more about writing a résumé and what key words to use on your résumé.

Learn more about getting the job of your dreams.

Learn more about open jobs with SmartTalent.

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Follow SmartTalent on Twitter and Facebook today! Be one of the first to receive new job openings that will interest you or someone you know, job hunting tips, announcements and news.

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A Good Fit – Staffing firms have this temp coming back for more

December 19th, 2012

We’d like to reprint and share this article from Kendra Payne.  You can find the original article at  We hope you enjoy the article.


I have relied on staffing agencies to locate work for me since I graduated from high school. They have been a good fit for me, even today. The firms have filled in the gaps during life transitions, helped me get my foot in the door and offer real assistance when I need it.

Providing that break. My first assignment was when I was fresh out of high school as an accounts payable assistant. I quickly learned that by working with a staffing agency that I could get real world insight into the professional workforce, gain experience and make more money than my teenage counterparts working in food service or retail.

Filling in the gaps again. I’ve returned to staffing agencies when I was just finishing up college and planning to relocate. I wouldn’t have been able to find work that quickly on my own, much less be able to find an employer that would accommodate someone with one foot already in another town and place.

Widen horizons, income. Many times since, I’ve called on my friends at the staffing firm for support. I continue to use the staffing firm to supplement my freelance work as an independent graphic designer and illustrator, as well as gain introductions to new markets and clients. They’ve even helped me land a few of my dream jobs along the way. With their help I’ve been exposed to a variety of fields and client types and made matches that I am forever grateful for. Thanks to them, my client roster reads like a telephone book.

Creating stability. By working with staffing agencies I know I can expect some level of stability. My work as an independent contractor often is paid weeks after the fact, but my work through a staffing firm is paid promptly.

Quality clients. There’s also a certain level of client quality I associate with when working with staffing agency. I know they are vetted and have the funds and proper technology and tools that will allow me to feel that the client is as committed as I am to doing a great job. Compare that with jobs I find on craigslist or other online bidding sites, where I often find the client isn’t versed in standard creative business practices and know-how. I also feel that to be competitive, I have to reduce my rates significantly because I’m competing in a global market where international rates are pennies on the dollar. By working locally with a staffing agent, I don’t have to think twice about the overall ethic, process and culture and know that I’ll be compensated fairly. Thank you for that.

The right agent. Of course, all of the above is only possible if you have the right folks in charge of your career. My experience has taught me that I need an agent who really listens and fully under- stands my specific skill sets and what I’m looking for. I’ve definitely suffered in the past with the wrong agent and talent paring. I’m also completely aware when my portfolio is being presented to a client just so an agent has something to show and a personal quota to fill. If I’m not the right fit, don’t try to sell me to the client. The client doesn’t want their time wasted, and neither do I.

The basics. I have been lucky to find some dedicated professionals who have helped me land the right gig. But I would also ask that staffing firms remember the basic needs of any worker. We need feedback. Any feedback is welcome — whether it’s comments from a current client or insight as to why someone wasn’t interested in bringing me on, I’d like to know about it. Good, bad or indifferent, it’s helpful to have constructive feedback. I truly appreciate a realistic assessment, so that I can grow from here.

Work with me. Straddling the line between being an independent free- lancer and working with a staffing agency can be a challenge, as I often will have freelance projects that overlap a temp assignment. It would be helpful for my staffing firm to understand this and work with it. Don’t automatically dismiss me for asking about flexible hours, working from home and a reduced work week, for example. Your temp workers are your bread and butter. Consider working with your clients to embrace flexibility and the technology that makes remote work a real possibility and have us coming back for more.

Kendra Payne is an art director, designer and illustrator who specializes in advertising, branding and design for corporate, retail and commercial clients. Her design studio, Jolly Jackalope Studios is based in the Bay Area. She can be reached at

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Selecting and Working With the Right Staffing Service

December 7th, 2012

Why is temporary work worth it?

Part 1

There are many factors that can make or break your level of success with a staffing service.  There are many factors that can make or break your level of success with a fortune 500 company.  Why is it that people see them differently when they are actually the same?

We will present in a three part series the pros, cons and how to select and work with the right staffing service.  As part of your job search strategy, working with a staffing firm can be a great way to supplement your search, but not a substitute.  First, you do have to decide on what you want from the staffing service to determine which service or services you want to apply and whom you will secure work.  Do I want a full-time job?  You may be saying that is a dumb question, but the growing number of people who work with a temporary service are not looking for full-time work with the same company day-after-day, year-after-year.  Why work with a staffing service?  You do have to know what you want out of the experience.

You can find work quickly – If all you want is to make some extra cash for school, Christmas, etc., and don’t care about the length of the assignment, a staffing service is the place for you.  This takes flexibility.  The more inflexible you are with your duties, schedule, pay, hours and transportation the fewer opportunities that will be offered.  The client firms want people based on their schedule, not yours.  Just remember, stats show that 33% of all temporary assignments result in an offer of full-time employment.

Staffing services represent hundreds of companies – On your own, you have to search one company at a time.  With a staffing service, you have one place to apply for employment; one résumé, one interview, etc.  Many staffing services will help you with your résumé, provide career counseling, coach/prep you on your interview technique not to mention the opportunity to evaluate the working environment and negotiating a salary.  Once you have shown the assignment employer what you can do for them before you say yes it is a huge advantage versus being an unknown entity when working on your own.  The right staffing company can certainly reduce the time you spend looking for a job.

Strengthen your résumé. Taking on a position with a staffing service helps you avoid gaping holes in your résumé. Just as important, it also may give you an opportunity to develop or enhance skills, references that will speak for your work ethic and skill set as you continue your search for full-time employment.

You have a great deal of flexibility and freedom – Many people want the ability to work or not work when they want.  They don’t want the same thing day in and day out; they like the variety.  Variety is not for everyone; meeting new people, learning how things are done with different companies, meeting different expectations from place to place is what some people like the most about working temporary.  It allows them to gain experience and new skills, but it does take the right attitude.  Not every job you’ll be offered will be your life’s work.  Take it for what it will give you.

Staffing firms often have the inside track to positions that are often not advertised.  Many companies only hire for certain positions through a staffing firm.  They engage a staffing service in a temp-to-hire arrangement.  The try before you buy philosophy is a two-way street.  You have the opportunity to evaluate them as much as they are evaluating you.

In addition, countless assignments that originated as a one or two day assignment turn into long-term projects or were hired; usually in a position of better pay and more responsibility.  You have such a huge advantage when actually showing an employer what you can do while working for them versus someone who is interviewing and telling the employer about their abilities.  If you enter the assignment with the wrong attitude; such as “this is just a temp assignment.”  The employer can always tell and will just move on to the next person.  You just never know what opportunity lurks behind each new door.  As always, it is up to you to make the most of each opportunity.

Working with a staffing service often provides a bridge-to-employment.  Most people are looking for a fulltime position, but you do have to decide on what kind of bridge you want to cross.

I just want to keep working to earn extra money

  • I want to stay busy until the right position is available
  • I have the financial ability to wait and only interview for direct positions
  • I have the financial ability to wait and only interview for temp-to-direct positions

And of course, it’s Free!  There is a time commitment completing hiring paperwork and taking evaluations, so the service can match your skills with their client expectations.  Still, nothing is ever free and your time with your staffing recruiter is just as important and your interview with a fortune 500 company.  You want to make your best first impression.

When you’re making money, the truth is you feel better about yourself. You feel valued. It builds confidence. That’s far better than sending out résumés and not getting a single response. But here is some advice if you decide to go down this path.

  •  Take temporary assignments seriously – The impression you make will influence future jobs with your staffing service, references from the staffing service and/or their client, the prospect of a full time position with their client, and more. Even brief assignments can offer a great opportunity to develop or strengthen skills and build a better résumé.
  • Ask for help and request feedback – As organizations become leaner and meaner you will be expected to “hit the ground running.”  This may require you to ask the proper questions in order to get started and be successful.  Don’t be shy.  They are expecting questions.  If you don’t ask, they assume you know what you are doing.
  • Understand your responsibilities – Make sure you understand your job duties and objectives with the work supervisor. This will help you perform better and make the most of your opportunity.
  • Treat every day as the interview – That means being on time every day, meeting deadlines and reaching or – better yet – exceeding goals. If you treat each day like an interview you’re more apt to shine in your position than if you just look at it as short-term work. If it was an interview you wouldn’t be late or come in looking unprofessional or show frustration, would you?
  • Be the best that you can be – We’ve all heard clichés such as “giving it your all” and “being the best you can be.” But don’t let that be a reason to simply dismiss them – in this situation it’s actually your best strategy. If you want to get noticed and ultimately land a full-time position at the company you are working for, you have to do a top-notch job. You can’t slack off, do mediocre work or give it less than your all and expect to be brought on or get future assignments from the staffing service.
  • Be flexible – When employers are looking to hire full-time workers they want people who are flexible both in the hours they can work and the tasks they are willing to do. If you display those qualities, chances are you will be in the running when the employer is looking to fill a position. If you’ve heard through your manager there’s a need for someone to help out on an additional project, you should be the first one to raise your hand and volunteer.  You never want to be inflexible when working on a temporary assignment.

Even if the assignment was the worst, and that’s always possible, find a clever use for it in a future job interview. It can be a great example of your work ethic, initiative, perseverance and ability to slide in and solve a problem, or fill a need for a company. All are characteristics in big demand by employers today.  Make the time spent part of your personal career story.

This all sounds great!  Life is good and I can go to any staffing service and get exactly what I want from all the services; life is grand!  Wrong.  Not all companies and recruiters are the same and staffing services are no different; not all services are the same or even place the same kind of people on the same kinds of jobs.  You have to know what you want from your experience and you need to do a little up front work to know if you are with the right service.

In part two, we will discuss the downside of a temporary service if you don’t do your homework.

Learn more about writing a résumé and what key words to use on your résumé.

Learn more about getting the job of your dreams.

Learn more about open jobs with SmartTalent.

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Follow SmartTalent on Twitter and Facebook today! Be one of the first to receive new job openings that will interest you or someone you know, job hunting tips, announcements and news.

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Preparing for the Interview

October 4th, 2012

You’ve done your research and networking.  All that hard work has finally paid off and you’ve scheduled an interview.  Congratulations!  A sense of euphoria and relief comes over you as you believe you have finally landed a job.  The interview is the easy part you think.  I’ll ace this and all will be right with the world again.  So you sit down, turn on television and kick your feet up until it is time for the interview.  That is the biggest mistakes you’ll make in your life when it comes to landing that job you’ve worked so hard to find.  But this is exactly what many people do after they schedule the interview.  They don’t prepare.  They don’t give themselves the best shot of impressing the employer so that they stand out.  And since so many people don’t prepare, if you do, you will stand out.  So, what should you do?

One important aspect of preparation is to review the job posting and take a look at what the employer is looking for in an employee.  Take note of the knowledge, skills and qualities that are necessary to be successful in this job.  With this information, you can begin to determine what questions will be asked and how you might respond to those questions.

One of the last things you want to do is go into an interview and ask the employer, “What does your company do?”  Wow…How unprepared do you look?  Is it possible for you to display more lack of interest about their company than with just one question?  It appears that you are just looking for a job; an impression that can stop many interviews in their tracks.  Always research the company.  This will not only help you determine what questions to ask, but help you prepare for questions which you might be asked.  Ask your network what they know about the company.  This may help you determine whether you will be a good fit in their culture.  Remember: You are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you so it goes both ways.  Go to their website and determine 4 or 5 questions you can ask about them their organization.

Take time to practice answering questions that you might be asked.  Not only will it help calm your nervousness, but you won’t be fumbling for words while you are responding to questions.  Practice with a friend or family member.  Think back about previous interviews and review those questions you believe you struggled to answer.  You’ll find it much easier this time around if you are prepared

Don’t wait until the last minute to choose your interview clothes.  That first impression should be a great one.  Have something ready to go so you don’t have to think about it when the time arrives.  Regardless of the position, dress in business attire.  If you are interviewing for a more casual environment, it is still important that you are well-groomed, neat, and tidy and present a positive impression to the employer.

It is now time to leave for the interview.  What should you bring with you?   You should bring a folder or something professional to carry a few items with you to ensure crispness with your presentation.  Bring that list of questions you have developed as well as a pen to record answers and highlights of your conversation.  You should also bring a list of references as well as a fresh résumé.   If they don’t ask, then you’ve lost nothing by being prepared and everything if they do.

It is also worthy to note what not to bring with you to the interview: your cell phone, a cup of coffee or soda, take your gum out of your month and anything else that is not part of your personal qualifications leave in the car.

Make sure you get directions before you leave for the job interview.  You should always arrive 5-10 minutes early for your interview.  Lateness is not the first impression you want to make with your prospective employer.  Some employers, if you are late, will cancel the interview.  Things happen, so it is important if you are going to be late, that you call and let the employer know and have a very good reason why.  I’m lost is not one of those reasons.  Many people do a dry run the day prior so they know exactly where they are going and how long it will take.

When you arrive, there may be other people whom you will need to make an impression on that may give feedback to the interviewer.  The first person is the receptionist.  Make sure you are polite, not overly enthusiastic, shake hands firmly and make eye contact with everyone you meet all the way through the process.  When you are in the interview, don’t slump in your chair, keep your feet on the floor and look interested.  You don’t want to appear too relaxed, too casual and disinterested as this will not make the best impression on the interviewer.

Of course, if you are not paying attention, you’re not going to be able to give the right answers.  You want to engage the interviewer.  Listen and take time to answer the question if you need it to determine the correct response.   If you believe this is the job for you, let them know.  Share your interest level with the interviewer.

Whew…The interview is now over, but you’re not done yet.  Everything could have gone extremely well, but you still have a chance to blow it.  Make sure you follow-up and send a thank you note telling them of your interest.  Restate why you believe you want the job, your qualifications as well as how you would be able to make an impact, etc.  I would suggest a personal hand-written note which is more personal versus an e-mail, but an e-mail is acceptable as long as you thank them for their time and follow-up.

With each interview comes strength.  If you don’t get the job and can get feedback, learn from your mistakes and apply those lessons to the next interview.  Don’t get bummed out because you didn’t get the job.  Yes, it is disappointing, but it is not the end of the world.  Competition is tough, especially today and the more you prepare versus “winging it” the better your chances will be to hear “Congratulations.  We’d like you to start Monday.”

Learn more about writing a Résumé and what Key Words to use on your résumé.

Learn more about getting the job of your dreams

Learn more about open jobs with SmartTalent.

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Getting the Best from Your Temporary Staffing Recruiter or How to Ruin Your Chance of Getting a Job

September 5th, 2012

I have often wondered why many people have different expectations when interviewing with staffing firms than they would with about any other hiring organization.  Perhaps it is because most people don’t really understand what a recruiter does.  Ever heard someone complain about a recruiter “not finding them a job?”

Yes, times have changed.  Twenty or thirty years ago, people would go to a staffing firm and everyone was hired – from the highly skilled to the unskilled.  The exact skill mattered little as most organizations were broader in their organizational structure and had the time and manpower to teach and train anybody to their specific business needs.  The staffing recruiter would literally call and find you a job.

Through the years and many economic downturns, those organizational structures have been whittled away.  Today, the lean and mean organization has little time to train and even less time to wait until someone unskilled is trained enough to be productive.  They expect the new employee to be productive just about from the start.  Today, recruiters don’t go out and find jobs, recruiters find candidates. They match candidates with open positions given to them by their client companies often looking for very specific types of candidates. So, don’t get offended if you don’t match.

So who do they hire?  Remember: Staffing firms are hiring for other hiring organizations so the traits don’t differ much. Registering with a staffing firm today should be another piece of your job search, job networking strategy and not an end all solution.  Staffing services can open many doors for you especially at companies where hiring through a staffing firm is the one way to secure some positions.

As more and more companies get leaner, they have less time for hiring.  While that seems rather strange, since people are the most important resource for any company, it is just a matter of time and the amount of duties a hiring manager has to accomplish in a day.  So, they turn to a staffing service and outsource this function while the hiring manager focuses on their daily core job duties.

Like any other hiring organization, Staffing firms hire candidates that have the following characteristics:

  • They show up on time.  Don’t be late for your appointment with a service.  A staffing firm begins evaluating you from the moment you call to inquire about a job right up until the moment they offer you a position.  When you are late without calling, it tells the service that you might not be a responsible person; unable to get to work on time.
  • Bring a résumé free of misspelled words and errors.  Doesn’t matter whether you previously sent a copy of the résumé originally, you should always be prepared with a fresh copy for the interviewer in case they do not have a clean copy to review your skills.  You should have a résumé that is tailored to the job you are applying for; otherwise it might tell them you are lazy and the wrong person for the job.
  • Don’t apply for jobs you are not qualified. If you still do, don’t be upset when you don’t get a call.  The recruiter just doesn’t have time to respond to everyone and will concentrate their recruiting time on those résumés that more closely match the expectations of their clients.  If you get an unsolicited call over the phone, there is a reason they are calling; take it as a compliment and have a productive and professional conversation.  You never know where a call might or might not lead.
  • Don’t lie on your résumé or about your work history.  Vagueness doesn’t help either.  Not personalizing your cover letter usually guarantees it will get passed over.  Just a single uncertainty in your résumé can result in your rejection.
  • Keep your recruiter updated.  Most people fail to tell their recruiter when things change with their job search, compensation or even their job preference.  They also fail to talk about personal commitments that might interfere with their job search.  Last minute changes can make you look untrustworthy or complicated and can wreak the whole deal.  The recruiter will just move on to the next candidate who doesn’t do those things.
  • Don’t bring your kids.  It is unprofessional to other job candidates and they are disruptive to the application process.  This will tell the interviewer how prepared you are to interview as well as how professional your actions are towards them as a potential employer.  Most services feel that what you do in their interview, you will do in the interview with their client and if it viewed as unprofessional, you probably won’t get a call back.
  • Dress for the job.  Don’t arrive in flip flops, curlers in your hair, jogging suit or other such unprofessional attire.  It is an immediate turn-off and suggests you don’t take work seriously and certainly you don’t take them seriously.  If in doubt about what to wear, ask at the time you are scheduling the appointment.  Some jobs just don’t require a tie and suit, but do require professionalism.
  • Prepare for your staffing interview as you would for any other interview.  Remember, they are looking for a quality employee that will represent their service well.  Give detailed answers, offer specific examples of your successes, ask good questions that will show your interest, etc.  You are competing with other job candidates not only for a specific job, but other jobs that might be more suitable or future jobs, so sell yourself.  It is not their job to tell you what you are good at.  One of the great things about a staffing firm is that if you don’t get this job, there are potentially other jobs that will match your skills, but you don’t have to interview each and every time.
  • Be flexible when you can.  Depending on your reason for working with a staffing service, the more flexible you are the more you are likely to work and keep working.  Sometimes, the service may start you out on short-term assignments to see how you do, which can open the door to long-term assignments, projects or temp-to-hire opportunities.  Just don’t tell them something you will do, if you can’t or won’t.  Once they suspect they can’t trust you, it is all over.  Honesty and communication always win the day.
  • Keep in touch with your recruiter, but understand they may have a lot of other employees and prospective candidates for other positions wanting to connect with your recruiter and there is only so much time in the day.  Understanding and respecting their time in a professional manner will go a long way in helping to secure new job opportunities.  Send a note or e-mail thanking them for their time; remind them of your skills.  They are not ignoring you.  Generally, they are working on other pressing items with clients that you are not interested in or qualified.  If you are the best candidate, rest assured they will call you.  Staffing services make money by putting you to work; period.  They get no extra compensation for interviewing of “filling” their database with candidates.  That is a waste of their time. To get the most from your recruiter find out what is the best way to keep in touch with them.  The more they hear from you, the more you will stand-out from the crowd of other names they see on a daily basis.  Don’t assume or take anything for granted.
  • Communication is the key.  Things happen and we don’t always have control over them.  As your employer, the staffing firm needs to know what is happening with you.  Again, if they feel they cannot trust you to keep them informed, you might find the jobs with that service begin to dry up or stop altogether.  The client is expecting the service to keep them informed so their business work flow is not disrupted.  They have a customer they are providing service to and will need to make the necessary arrangement due to your absence, but be truthful.  Don’t tell your recruiter you got a call last night at 7pm and need to go to court today.  Please…  Certain things just don’t happen that way.  And if they can’t trust you…  All things can be worked out with communication.  The recruiter wants things to work out.  It is in their best interest for things to work out, but you play the key role if that is to happen.
  • Follow-up.  Even if you are no longer available for work when a recruiter calls, call them back or e-mail them of your progress.  Don’t just disappear and then expect to call in the future and be treated as the long lost prodigal son or daughter.  Give the treatment to the recruiter that you expect to receive from them.

It is all about team work.  If you are honest, open about your compensation, understand that sometimes temp work is just that, not your life’s work but a way to earn extra cash while your search continues, then the staffing recruiter will get the interviews going.  All too often job seekers expect royal treatment. Candidates sometimes don’t understand the fact that recruiters don’t work for them, but with them. A staffing recruiter will always have your best interests in mind (and they want you to get hired), but they can’t make individually-tailored jobs appear out of thin air.

Working with a staffing recruiter really isn’t that complicated.  It should be viewed as one of many valuable resources in your networking toolkit.  You need to pursue every avenue available to you and when done in the proper manner, a staffing firm can not only be productive, but a pleasurable experience.

Learn more about writing a Résumé and what Key Words to use on your résumé.

Learn more about open jobs with SmartTalent.

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Preparing for the Phone Interview

August 10th, 2012

Telephone interviews are often used in the selection process as a result of a résumé you have submitted.  They are usually done to speed up the selection process and are usually conducted by one person.  Your preparation should be just as thorough as for a face-to-face interview, but with the advantage that you can use notes.

When conducting a telephone interview, it helps to remember that the other person cannot see your personality or body language.  Instead, you will be relying on your voice to convey your qualities.

Talking on the phone isn’t as easy as it seems.  It’s helpful to practice. Have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview and record the conversation so you can see how you sound over the phone. You’ll be able to hear your “ums” and “uhs” and “okays” and you can practice reducing them from your conversational speech. Also, rehearse answers to those typical questions you’ll be asked.  Once again, you will be relying on your voice to convey your qualities.

In preparing for your phone interview, there are several things you can do to be ready.

  • Tape your résumé to a wall in view of the phone.  It will be there for the call and will be a constant reminder for your job search.
  • Use a real phone.  It’s harder for some people to hear on a cell phone, and this is one occasion where you want to be heard as clearly as possible and you certainly don’t want to have the call dropped.  If you MUST use a cell phone, make sure there’s no wind blowing (that’s really noisy on the other end), and don’t ever conduct a phone interview while driving.  It makes it look like you don’t care enough about the job to even pull over (not to mention the whole safety thing).
  • Make sure you know something about what the company does.  Prepare some questions of your own. The depth of your questions should be proportional to the length of the interview.  For a 20 minute screen, just a couple of questions should do it, unless they’ve been really cryptic about the job or something.  If you’ve spent an hour on the phone, they should spend some time answering more questions for you.  Keep in mind that the screener is usually an HR person, not the hiring manager, so you’ll want to save your deepest and best questions for the person who is actually doing the hiring.  Your last question should always be about what’s going to happen next:  What’s the next step in this process?  When should I expect to hear back?  When should I follow up if I haven’t heard anything?  You’ll be glad you asked these things during the long wait after the call ends.
  • Keep all of your employer research materials within easy reach of the phone.
  • Have a notepad handy to take notes.  
  • Place a “Do Not Disturb” note on your door.
  • Turn off your stereo, TV, and any other potential distraction.
  • Warm up your voice while waiting for the call.  
  • If your phone interview is at a set time, make sure you answer nature’s call first.
  • Disable the call waiting.  If the interviewer is calling you, and the call waiting beeps, don’t even THINK of answering it.  You’re in a job interview, and you don’t interrupt a job interview to take a more important call.

During the phone interview

  • Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink.  When you smoke on the phone, your breathing sounds funny.  It’s weird.  It also make you seem very nervous.  Wait until it’s over.
  • Do keep a glass of water handy, in case you need to wet your mouth.
  • Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice.
  • Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
  • Use the person’s title (Mr. or Ms. and their last name) Only use a first name if they ask you to.
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
  • Take your time – it’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.
  • Give short answers.
  • Remember your goal is to set up a face-to-face interview. After you thank the interviewer take the initiative for moving the interview from the telephone to a commitment to meet.  You could say:  This opportunity sounds very interesting, and I know I could use my (mention either skills or background).  When can we get together?
  • Write down the interviewer’s name, telephone number and e-mail.  Ask permission to call them back if you have any additional questions.  Don’t forget to follow-up and thank them for their time.

Relax. It’s just a phone screen.  This is hard to remember when you really, really need a job.  Phone screens are just that, though:  screens.  Truly, they’re just making sure you’re not a freak, a jerk, or completely unaware of what the job entails.  Don’t get overly excited, and don’t put too much stock into it.  Consider it a good practice run for your next real interview.

The Stand and Deliver Technique

Here is a simple technique to increase the enthusiasm and positive image that you project over the telephone: stand up. Whenever you are talking with a potential employer on the phone, stand up. It gets your blood flowing, improves your posture, and improves your response time.

The Vanity Technique

In preparation for a telephone interview (or any telephone contact), try having a mirror within view.  Why?  Because you will want to look into that mirror consistently throughout the phone call and smile.  You will improve your telephone presence 110 percent just by using this simple technique. You will find yourself coming across much friendlier, more interested, and more alert.  If you are at all self-conscious about seeing yourself in the mirror, you can use the mirror as an occasional checkpoint.  But for most of us, seeing oneself reflected back gives us the kind of feedback necessary to make instant modification toward a more positive presence.

Learn more about writing a résumé and download our Résumé Tips brochure.

Learn about what Key Words to use on your résumé?

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Getting a Job with a Great Résumé – Tips to Help Secure the Interview

July 20th, 2012

You see a job posting.  You quickly send off your résumé, sit back and wait for the call that is sure to come.  Instead you hear nothing; silence or worse the annoying sound of a lone cricket.  Sound familiar?

A résumé is an employer’s first impression of you as a candidate.  Its purpose is to get your foot in the door for a person-to-person interview.  And once in the door, it is all up to you and your personality.  Most surveys indicate that 40% of the decision to hire a person is based on their personality and how they come across and interact during the interview, but first, you have to get in front of your prospective employer.

Why is there so much emphasis on the résumé?  In today’s economy, the competition for a job is tough.  No doubt about that.  A prospective employer sometimes receives hundreds of inquiries and résumé documents.  The prospective hiring manager now has more work on their plate than ever before.  They view the résumé as their best tool to pre-screen and reduce the time it takes to hire a person; phone screening, in-person interviews and reference checking is very time consuming.  So, the less time they spend on the hiring process the more of their core job duties and running their organization they can accomplish.  Thus, the more your résumé stands out and is tailored to the job requirements, the better your chance for securing an opportunity to speak and interview with the hiring manager.  And that’s a big Yahtzee!!

Here are some things to think about when constructing your résumé.

  • Know Your Audience – Tailor your résumé to the needs of the employer.  This may mean that you have more than one formatted résumé to submit to different employers.
  • The Objective – Most employers do not care about your objective.  What the employer does care about is his, so I’d get rid of it.  If you are going to use an objective at the beginning of your résumé, keep it generic enough so that you do not exclude yourself as a candidate from other positions within the company.
  • Skills– Organize your résumé carefully and list your skills that match the position.  Use bullet points to emphasize key points.  The easier it is to absorb, the more likely your audience is to read it.  List goals achieved and what role you played on the team.  Stories sell.  Numbers, statistics and percentages get attention if you use a bold type; Increased profit by 28% or Came in under budget by 30%.  Fuzzy key words and phrases should be avoided. These include customer-oriented, excellent communication skills, and creative. These words lack meaning and do absolutely nothing to help you get an interview.  Use words that refer to titles; Customer Service, Controller, Manager, Accountant.
  • History – Make sure the dates line up and are easy to follow.
  • Length – Keep your résumé limited to one page.  Descriptive words will keep your résumé brief.  If you have extensive work experience, technical skills or education, it may require a 2-page résumé, but keep the key skills and selling points on the first page.
  • Job Transition – Don’t explain why you left each company, but be prepared to answer if the interviewer asks.
  • Salary – Don’t put salary requirements on your résumé.  However, if you are screening companies this way, or a company asks for this information, put it in a cover letter.
  • Paper – Unless you are trying to obtain a position in creative advertising or public relations, stick to white, light beige, bone or grey paper.

Remember, the overriding rule in résumé writing is to keep it simple enough to secure the interview.  Once you get there, you can sell yourself.

Getting an interview is hard work.  No one likes to be rejected, but the sooner you face this reality the sooner you will be able to find a job.  Don’t be shy about picking up the phone and calling the employer.  Sometimes, you have to take that risk and face the possibility of someone telling you what you don’t want to hear; no, but nothing ventured nothing gained.  Get over it or stay at home.

Learn more about writing a résumé and download our Résumé Tips brochure.

Learn about what Key Words to use on your résumé?

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