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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Keeping Your Employees Motivated During the Holidays

December 20th, 2018

The holiday season is a busy time of the year. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when employees frequently become distracted. Your workers may be focused on festivities, eager for a trip to see family, or worried about fulfilling all of their family obligations – and their performance on the job can sometimes suffer because of it.

To help your staff stay motivated throughout the festive season, some of the steps you can take include:

  • Offering incentives for performance: If you want to give staff members strong incentive to work during the holidays, offer incentives to help them concentrate. You could promise an extra holiday bonus if your staff meets certain objectives, or could provide special rewards when specific milestones are met.
  • Providing designated time for celebrations: You want your staff members to form relationships with coworkers and to be happy during the holidays in order to keep motivation strong. Providing time to celebrate together as a team can give staff members something to look forward to, and can also help to boost motivation by making their time at work more enjoyable.
  • Offering flexibility in scheduling: If your staff members are worried about missing their kids’ holiday play or about how they’ll handle their impending visit from family members while finishing up a big project, they aren’t going to be able to concentrate on their work. If you have the opportunity to be flexible about when your staff members get assignments done or come into the office, give your staff a little bit more freedom to fulfill holiday responsibilities on their own time. Your staff not only will concentrate better when they aren’t so worried about balancing family life – but they’ll also be grateful to you for the flexibility, and are much more likely to stay motivated because of it.

SmartTalent can also help you to find temporary staff to help out for the holidays or new full-time staff members who will be excited about their jobs and able to focus even during times of celebration. Just contact our staffing service to find out more about how we can help you find skilled employees in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynwood, Everett, and surrounding areas.

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Is Your Boss Babying You?

December 18th, 2018

Is your boss micromanaging everything you do and not letting you perform your work independently? It can be frustrating to feel your boss doesn’t trust you and worrisome to work with your boss constantly looking over your shoulder. If you find yourself in this situation, some of the steps you can take include:

  • Understanding their insecurities: If your boss is micromanaging you, there’s probably a reason for it. Your boss may be worried you’ll make a mistake that reflects poorly on them or that you’ll fall behind and affect the department’s performance. Try to understand what concerns your boss has so you can look for ways to assuage them, such as handing in error-free work or turning in assignments before the deadline.
  • Finding ways to prove your worth: If your boss doesn’t trust you to complete projects on your own, it can be hard to show you’ll perform up-to-par without intense supervision. But, there are always ways to take on extra projects or assume some additional responsibilities where your boss may not be so hands-on. If you can show you’re able to succeed in one area without strong supervision, you may be able to get your boss to give you more freedom in other areas.
  • Encouraging your boss to delegate to you: If you want more independent responsibilities, sometimes you just need to ask. You can encourage your boss to delegate by watching for the jobs your boss doesn’t like doing or for situations where your boss seems overworked. Offer to take additional responsibilities on your own shoulders. When your boss sees that he can count on you to take initiative – and you relieve your boss of some tasks he doesn’t like doing – you can build trust and your boss may decide to give you more independent responsibilities.

If you’ve tried everything and still find yourself frustrated because your boss won’t stop babying you, it may be time to explore new opportunities. SmartTalent can help you to explore open positions in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynwood, Everett, and surrounding areas so you can find a job where you’re trusted to perform your job independently. Give our staffing service a call today to find out more.

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How to Deal With Your Good Employee Leaving

November 13th, 2018

Every company has some employees who stand out from the crowd because of their knowledge and their skills. These talented workers are likely the lifeblood of your organization, and it can be a major problem when they decide to move on.

If one of your star staff members decides to leave your organization, here are some steps you should take:

  • Looking to promote from within. Although you may have lost one skilled worker, chances are good you have other people on your team who also have a lot of knowledge and talent. If you can move one of your existing staff members into the position, you won’t lose institutional memory or have to start all over with bringing someone new up to speed. Promoting from within can be the fastest and best way to get the perfect person into a position vacated by one of your most talented workers.
  • Getting help from a staffing service to find a replacement. If you don’t have anyone on your current team that’s a perfect fit, don’t be afraid to turn to staffing professionals. You can explain exactly what you’re looking for in a candidate – using your departing worker as your model – and the staffing service can help you quickly and effectively hire a new person who will fill your previous staffer’s shoes very well.
  • Leveraging your star worker’s talent and knowledge to train your new employee. Most people don’t leave without giving notice. When your staff member tells you they are leaving, take time to learn how and why that staff member does their job so well. You can have someone in your office – ideally the person who will be moving into the position – shadow your current worker. And, ask your departing staff member to provide some tips and advice on how the new person can do just as well in the job as they did.

 SmartTalent can help you find skilled professionals to join your team, so you can find another star if your talented staff members leave. Give our staffing service a call to get help finding a great new hire in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynwood, Everett and surrounding areas.

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Change Careers Without Taking a Pay Cut

November 7th, 2018

If your career is in a rut or you want to branch out into a different field, it can be hard to make the change when you count on your salary to pay the bills. While changing jobs does sometimes result in a pay cut, it doesn’t necessarily have to. In fact, if you follow these tips, you may be able to transition into a new position or industry without experiencing a decline in your take home pay.

  • Leverage your transferable skills. You don’t have to start at the bottom of the corporate ladder when you change careers because you already have job skills that can get you a higher-level position in your new field. Just be sure when you create your resume, focus on the skills that will help you excel in the new industry. For example, if you’ve been a manager before, focus on your leadership skills and you may be able to come in at the management level in your new job.
  • Look for a career on the same level. When you start looking for a new position, don’t focus on entry-level jobs that are likely to have a lower salary. Look for positions on the same career level as your current job you’d be a good fit for. Just be sure to tailor your resume to show off to potential new employers why you’d be right for the position you’re interested in.
  • Tap into your network. Chances are good, you know some people in your chosen field. People you know are more likely to give you a chance when you make a career transition, especially if they’re familiar with your current professional success.

 By taking these steps to transition your career the smart way, hopefully you can move into a new job without experiencing a big cut in pay. Keeping your salary the same when you change careers may be essential to transitioning into a new profession, but don’t give up hope that you can change tracks – just be smart about how you make the shift.

SmartTalent can help with your career transition in Kirkland, Fife, Renton, Lacey, Lynwood, Everett and surrounding areas. Just give us a call today to learn how our staffing service can help you.

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What Should You Look for in Your Next Assignment?

October 25th, 2018

When you’re a temp worker, thinking ahead about your next assignment is always important. Finding the right jobs is essential to advancing your career path and staying happy with your work – and you can only do this with some forethought and advanced planning.

If you find yourself uncertain about how to decide what you want in your next assignment, here are a few key steps to take:

  • Evaluate what you like and dislike about your current job. When deciding what your next assignment should be, it’s helpful to think about what’s currently working well and what you wish would change. For example, if you find yourself too isolated in your current position and miss having more interactions with others, you may want your next assignment to put you in a more people-oriented position.
  • Consider your future career plans. It’s also important to think about where you want your career to go and what professional objectives you hope to achieve. By considering your career trajectory, you can look for temp work that will allow you to develop skills that will enhance your resume in your desired field. You can also find work at companies where you can make solid connections within your chosen industry.
  • Talk with your recruiter regularly. Your recruiter needs to know where your mind is and what you’re looking for in a new position. By keeping in regular contact with your recruiter and sharing your thoughts about what you hope your next assignment will involve, your recruiter can be on the lookout for positions that appear to fit the bill. Your recruiter can use the information you provide to match you with the most appropriate future employer, so your next assignment will be even better than your current one.

SmartTalent will keep in regular contact with you as you explore new opportunities for temporary work. We can place you in temp jobs that are the ideal fit for what you’re looking for as the next step in your career, so give us a call today to find out about the ways in which our staffing service can help you.

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Should You Show Weakness on the Job?

October 19th, 2018

Most employees want to come across as strong and capable, and expressing this type of attitude is usually in your best interests. However, that doesn’t mean you never can – or should – show weakness on the job. In fact, there are certain circumstances where you and your employer may be better off when you don’t try to pretend you’ve got it all under control.

So, when should you ask for help, even if you’re afraid it may make you seem weak?

  • When you don’t understand the work you’ve been asked to perform. While you may not want to show weakness when it comes to job tasks, it is far better to admit you need help than to make major mistakes that impede productivity or hurt the company’s bottom line. Asking for advice up front when you aren’t sure how to approach something could give you the tools necessary for success.
  • When you want to take steps to show how you’ve improved. Many employers want to see workers grow on the job. If you have a skill or ability you struggle with, don’t be afraid to let your employer know about the steps you are taking to overcome the weakness and improve. Your manager should appreciate your perseverance and your successful efforts at improving won’t go unnoticed.
  • When co-workers are behaving inappropriately. If you are not being treated properly in the workplace, there is nothing weak about speaking up even though you may feel weak about asking for help. In fact, it can show a lot of courage to say that something is not right at your work. Not only can speaking up help you to hopefully put an end to unpleasant behavior, but you may also spare others from being treated improperly if those people are afraid to speak out about what’s happening on the job.

It’s important you have a position where you’re able to ask for help and support when you need it. If your current job isn’t that position, SmartTalent could help you to find a company that’s a better fit. Give our staffing service a call today to find out how we can work with you to find a job that’s right for you.

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Five Things That Don’t Belong on Your Resume

October 17th, 2018

Your resume is a chance to show a potential employer who you are, so you must include key information relevant to determining if you’d be a good fit for the position. But, you also don’t want to put details on the resume that are inappropriate or unnecessary.

While it can be hard to know what to include and what to leave off, here are five things you don’t want on any resume you send to employers:

  • Your photo. You don’t want to include a picture for several reasons. First, it’s considered unprofessional. You don’t want to be judged on your appearance or create an impression based on the way you look. Instead, let the hiring manager get to know your skills from the resume before seeing your face.
  • Personal information. This includes details about your marital status, race, religion, gender, height or weight. Employers don’t want to know these things because this could set the stage of a lawsuit based on discriminatory hiring. And, none of these demographic issues should be considered by an employer deciding whether to hire you, so there’s no reason to include them.
  • Grammatical mistakes. Since your resume is your chance to show you’re a talented worker who is right for the job, silly mistakes will only undermine your efforts. Most hiring managers will disregard resumes with errors because they’ll assume you’d only make more mistakes going forward if they brought you on board.
  • Irrelevant job descriptions. You want the hiring manager to easily see you have the relevant skills, so focus on jobs you’ve held in the past that have made you qualified for the position. Don’t make the employer weed through a long list of work that isn’t relevant to what you’re hoping to do.
  • A long list of references. It’s best to provide references only on request so you can talk with your references in advance and give them the heads-up that they’ll be contacted.

 With the right resume, you can impress any hiring manager and maximize your chances of landing an interview. SmartTalent can help you get your resume in front of companies hiring people with your skills and abilities, so give us a call today to find out how our staffing professionals can jumpstart your job search.

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Preventing Workplace Bullying and Violence

October 12th, 2018

Workplace bullying and violence are no laughing matter. Bullies can be just as damaging to adults as they can to children, and violence is a major cause of death and serious injury in the workplace. You need to make certain your company is doing everything possible to discourage bad behaviors and foster a supportive, inclusive environment.

While it can be hard to know where to start in your efforts to curb bullying and prevent violence, some of the key steps you can take include:

  • Establishing formal anti-bullying policies. One of the most important things your company can do to prevent bullying and violence is to clarify exactly what behavioral standards apply in the office. You should have a handbook that clearly sets forth expectations for appropriate workplace conduct. This handbook should also provide insight into the swift consequences that could result from behaviors considered unacceptable at work.
  • Setting a good example. If you want to create an environment of respect, it’s imperative every one of the higher-ups set an example. This means senior staff should treat every employee courteously and should avoid behaviors that could be construed as bullying behaviors.
  • Establishing a safe way for employees to report problems. The only way you can nip bullying in the bud is to make sure employees who are being victimized have a way to speak up. All too often, the bad behavior goes on behind the backs of those in charge and no one knows the extent of the problems. Make sure there’s a safe way for staff members to talk about what’s occurring – and there are multiple avenues for reporting in case one of the people who is supposed to take the report is the bully. And, when bullying is reported, show you’ll follow through by investigating the incident and taking the necessary actions to resolve the problem.

Hiring the right team can also help you reduce the likelihood of bullying or violence. SmartTalent will work closely with you to help ensure you can find employees who will work well together and who will treat each other with respect. Contact our staffing professionals today to learn more about how we can help you build a great team.

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