Retaining Your Team

People are your company’s greatest asset : How are you keeping your folks happy?

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People are a company’s greatest resource. Not the product a business creates, the membership it drives, or the apps it produces. The people who keep the machine running are the most critical asset of an organization. People are your company’s walking reputation.

The employment data that WunderLand has at its fingertips shows that it takes 64 days on average to open up a requisite and have your dream candidate start the job. That is over two months of sifting through resumes, conducting interviews, executing background checks, and too many tours of the office cafeteria. We all know it’d be much easier to keep the folks we have engaged, happy, and employed than to start the 64 day cycle.

There are two main reasons people share with me, time and again, as to why they leave a job: not being heard and not feeling valued. So what are some things you as a hiring manager can do to keep your employees happy?

  • Ask your team members what they truly think. This is the most critical thing. Job seekers constantly share with me that their managers don’t listen to them—either about an idea or the trajectory of their career paths. Employees who express desire to manage, mentor, or lead and are told that the organization doesn’t support it will leave. A round table meeting is held but only a few folks’ ideas are acted upon—they will get frustrated at not being heard and will leave.
  • Write down all ideas and listen. Listen to what your folks say and find ways where they can mentor, manage, and lead with or without a staff…open up discussions around leading by example. Help identify and enroll in classes, provide the ability to spearhead a specific project of influence. Make your team members feel valued…think creatively and respond.
  • Treat Others With Respect. Feeling respected translates into feeling valued. Valuing your employees is more about doling out raises, praise, and promotions. Instilling an open, trusting environment is paramount to keeping your employees happy and engaged. Permitting (or worse, participating in) gossip, G-Chat rants, and negative chatter can cause folks on your team to feel untrusting and unvalued. Think about how you respond and interact with your team members when they bring up concerns—or simply how you greet them on a Monday morning.

It’s hard to stop in the moment and give your employees the attention they may need—you are pulled in so many competing directions that taking a moment to connect can seem like a moment wasted. You hired these folks because you know they are the best ones out there—as good as they may be, they don’t always know they’re on the right track. Take a moment to tell them they’re doing a great job. Be proactive to keep  your office positive, trusting, and open.

Today’s job market is ripe for the picking—create an environment of value so your star folks stay with you. It’s as easy as stopping to listen.

How you treat folks who are interviewing for your positions is another way you can set the tone for your business’ reputation…watch for those tips in a future article. Meanwhile, I’m always here to help you should you want to break out in a new direction or you need to help your staff develop their skills into a new role.

Be 35% Better

Starting a new job typically brings a monetary increase–what if you applied that money to personal growth?

alone-back-view-blonde-247195You got the job. The one you applied for on a whim at midnight after you reached your breaking point. Well, they called you back. And you went to three onsite interviews. And you got the job. Along with that job came a whopping 35% raise. That job is paying you 35% more than you were making in your current job. Let that sink in for a moment and then think about how you can be 35% better as a person when you walk through those new doors.

Leaving a job to start another gives you the chance to redefine yourself. Negotiating that pay bump isn’t just about adding to your take-home pay. Think about translating that bump into creating a more enhanced version of you.

A Crafted Life

Starting a new job, at a new company, means more than swapping out one Keurig for another. You’re embarking on meeting a whole batch of new people, navigating an entirely new commute, and figuring out the Office Politics Dance. There’s a reason that folks who jump to new jobs typically net an increase—it’s to help pad the stress and offer enticement to wandering into new territory.  Starting a new role is your chance to jumpstart a new habit, pick up a new tool, or modernize your appearance. People you worked with for five, six, or seven years knew you. Your predictable one-liners were always good for a groan at lunchtime. They knew your commuting backpack, your schedule, your routine. Now is your moment to choose to craft a New You. Instead of sitting at your desk every day glued to CNN while scarfing down lunch you can be the one making healthy choices that truly benefit you in the long run, like running off to the gym or going for a walk.  What an opportunity! Visualize a new way to present yourself to the world. Your habits, image, conversational ability, stress management tactics—pick an area and give yourself the gift of reflection to make yourself that much better.

Don’t stress about piling up a mound of debt registering for costly certification programs to help you realize your reinvention. Plenty of free options exist including  downloading thought-provoking podcasts that present new, timely perspectives. Checking out a book from the library on a current trend or new communications style is another way to flex your transition muscles.

A day, week, or short span of time is enough to download a new Podcast, pursue many of the fabulous, inspiring TED Talks,  or to visit Lynda.com to peruse numerous courses on business leadership, communications, and tools. Shifting your focus to enhance your skills instills a strong sense of accomplishment and confidence as you bust into a new office wondering who do I sit next to at lunch?

Reinvention is Free(ing)

Whether your overhaul is cosmetic, spiritual, or toolbox -oriented, you can control its cost and financial output. Maybe you were in your last role for over ten years—your choice of outfits and self-care was on auto-dial as you knew all of your colleagues and felt very comfortable in your decade-old desk and office environment. However, breaking out of that mold is a great time to yank open your closet doors and pitch the outfits you hated or the pants that really never were quite the right length. Get things tailored, shop sales, pitch items that didn’t work and come up with your unified closet that puts your best foot forward. You don’t have to run out and drop a ton of cash to realize your modernized outward presentation. Tossing outdated pieces and tailoring what you already have are great ways to modernize without breaking the budget.

Revel in YOU

Finally, look your next transition squarely in the eye with confidence. Yes, this new role may seem (several) ladder steps above your comfort zone. Yes, this new commute weaves you down unchartered highway lanes. But you got the job! An entire panel of experts brought you in and in today’s uber-selective job market that is amazing! Revel in the knowledge that YOU ARE THE ONE THEY SELECTED and face this new experience with confidence.

Take a few moments to remember why the company hired you. Jot down those reasons in a place you can quickly visit when you feel challenged or doubt that you have what it takes to be 35% better. You are who the company needs. This is the right job for you—you are exactly where you are supposed to be. And, you’ve got a new pair of boots to, well, boot!

I’m always here for you to help you navigate this exciting—and daunting time as you get situated! Good Luck!

 

 

Sharon’s List: Top 5 Quiet (Enough) Places in The Loop

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Nothing’s more awkward than scrambling to find a quiet (enough) spot to conduct a phone interview. Duck into a Starbucks and you’ll compete with the baristas’ Dave Matthew’s playlist. Dodge into a hallway and sure enough, your boss will end up strolling right past. Working in the ‘burbs may afford you the luxury to retreat to your car cocoon–but if you work downtown it’s tricky to find a quiet place to chat. Well I’m here with the rescue–check out my list of top 5 places to have a phone interview in Chicago’s Loop!

Set Time to Walk Your Path

Hiking Path

How often do you pause to reflect on your career or job search path? The momentum of 9-5 and post-work duties can easily overshadow time to reflect on possibilities or envision your Next Step. Setting a date to walk your path will bring vision—and action—to the surface.

At times our career paths are very well defined. They may be well defined by a clear rank and file or by the yearly goals you set with your manager. One step on the path clearly leads to another. But what happens when we feel stuck? Or directionless? That uneasiness can permeate through months or even years of our professional lives. Our life circumstances may begin to dictate, or interrupt, our next steps. Taking time out of a busy day to “soul search” may feel like wasting valuable time along your career path. Oftentimes, soul searching becomes “Indeed.com searching” involving frantic, urgent keyword searches on the train to work or while you eat your sandwich at your desk which quickly leads to feelings of defeat or shoulder shrugging as if to say, “Well, there’s nothing better out there.”

Set Sites on Priorities 

The New Year/New Start mantras we see through our LinkedIn feeds are either highly motivating or highly stifling. The endless scroll of opportunities, job descriptions, and off-track job titles is very daunting. In these times of uncertainty, reflect (or build) your Priorities List. I’ve touted the importance of a strong Priorities List before—the priorities list is your quick, 3-5 non-negotiable life and career pillars that work for you now, in this moment.

Making Strides

If you crafted your priorities list over the summer it’s a good time in this New Year to reflect and see what has—or could—change. Here are some tips to initiate change:

  • Build time into your routine during a commute, five minutes before bed, first thing in the morning, whatever works to give yourself time to meditate or contemplate (some might even say “pray”) over your priorities and visualize yourself feeling fulfilled, content, and motivated.
  • Ask for your vision to materialize. Why don’t you mark a date in the new season of spring, a date that feels right to you, to realize your manifestation of what is your right move.
  • Devote the time to yourself to take control of feeling stuck and take a step toward what’s next.

Change your New Year into a New Season.  You can do it and I’m always here to help.

Your Parachute Plan

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No matter if you are happy in your current role, faced with unemployment, or foresee organizational restructures looming, the New Year is a great time to define your your path for what’s next…your parachute plan. Individuals with decade-spanning careers have common threads: they stay relevant and are hands-on. Spend some time contemplating your talents, wishes, and capabilities to prepare your plan.

A parachute plan prepares you for the unexpected and helps you strive toward your goals and aspirations. You will breathe a bit easier in facing obstacles and frustrations with a fresh perspective knowing that the 9-5 isn’t your only game. If you do need your parachute plan, you pull some strings and you’re free. Here’s some tips:

  • Seek out company-provided training (typically free) or certifications within your financial reach. Online certifications are less expensive than intensive MBA programs. Local libraries are treasure troves of relevant software and business training—you’d be surprised.
  • Look for ways to contribute beyond your assigned role. Volunteer to run lunch and learns to share your expertise (you’ll grab experience in Keynote), write blog posts to share your expertise and perspectives (you’ll build up your social profile), mentor fresh new hires (what a way to stay current….), or develop training materials. Being creative in thinking of ways to offer and contribute your talents will build and enhance your skills.
  • Think of how you present yourself. If you’re feeling trapped in a negative work atmosphere because of your salary, flexibility, or benefits the organization provides to you or your family, write down new ways to shift your perspective to the value you provide your organization. Companies tend to hire (and promote from within) those with a positive demeanor.  Any scent of negativity you cast during your tenure or job interviews will be detected.
  • Craft case studies and use those as a framework for a new, digital, relevant portfolio. WordPress and SquareSpace are awesome sites to venture into and explore if design isn’t your forte. Portfolios are not just for creatives. Marketing executives who include visual samples and case studies on their LinkedIn profiles are effectively translating their hands-on communications abilities.
  • Play up and accentuate your hands-on capabilities in your resume and LinkedIn profile. While it’s absolutely valuable to discuss your high-level strategy, budgetary experience, and team leadership abilities, demonstrating your ability to be hands-on and produce positively monetizes your background for your current and future organization.
  • Mock up a business plan. If you haven’t professionally freelanced or comprised an income based on independent contracting, carve out some time to consider what you would need to bill on a weekly basis to cover your budget. If optimizing blog sites is part of your parachute plan, think about how many sites you’d need combined with how many billable hours you’d require as an independent contractor to make a viable income. Putting some Excel behind your plan helps you understand your plan’s viability.
  • Stay in trend with fashion and appearance. It’s uncomfortable for me to write that without feeling trite or cliché—but our industry is appearance focused and it’s certainly important to stay in step to your comfort level with what is out there.

Developing a parachute plan is a powerful step as your career progresses. Taking ownership of your destiny is a route to empowerment and unshackling yourself to an organization. Setting your path helps you feel in control. Let’s discuss your strategy—I’m here for you!

Searches: The One Who Wins

pexels-photo-730614The whirlwind of spending over a decade in the creative and marketing staffing has taught me many things…one of which is what candidate is most likely to be selected for the role. I’ll spare you the decade of experience and fast-forward to the answer. It’s very simple. The candidate the client chooses is the hardest one to get.

Here’s a common scenario. I will present three candidates to a hiring manager. Candidate #1 and Candidate #2 are super eager, less active on the market, and will do anything to work at the company. Candidate #3 is actively interviewing, maintains an updated portfolio, and optimizes her LinkedIn profile on a regular basis. Candidate #3 knows her value and sets the tone accordingly with a “you’re lucky to get me” mantra. Her confidence, swagger, and perceived un-attainability lends to her candidacy. When I ask my hiring managers to stack the candidates in order of interest, Candidate #3 is always at the top. So just how does Candidate #3 become Candidate #1?

 Strong Search Momentum

The cardinal rule above all others is to always be fielding job activity: update your LinkedIn profile & portfolio, solicit meetings and interviews, engage in conversations with recruiters, and network your heart out. Check out this tip for really working your LinkedIn connections and join a MeetUp that resonates with you. You may only be interviewing for one position but no one has to know that. Keep that business to yourself but keep your activity up. Make job applications a part of your everyday routine. Engage in conversations.  Continue to explore. A confident candidate wins the game and while that confidence can be very hard to muster during a months-long job search it’s important to put on a cloak of positive attitude…even if it doesn’t feel super authentic. Every drop of energy in your search should be pushed toward creating a multi-faceted job search. Create the aura that you are a hot, viable commodity on the market and you will be. Hiring managers want who they can’t have.

Curb your Enthusiasm

As a hiring manager yourself, consider what level of enthusiasm from a prospective candidate would be flattering versus a turn-off? As a candidate, the method of which you display your enthusiasm really is key. Turn-offs include candidates who come across as over-eager and compare their affinity towards a brand to their personal feelings versus their professional capabilities. Yes, it’s important to share that you’re passionate about a brand’s values but also share or follow up with samples or thoughts about how your work in digital marketing will really move the needle. Give the hiring manager something tangible, of benefit, and on brand to make them want more.

Keep Materials Current & Updated

There’s a difference in having a current portfolio and one that is Updated. If you’re keeping a portfolio site that you created 5 years ago updated, it’s current. If you’re constantly engaging with your site to see how it renders on new technology, pushing the envelope with your design, and ensuring your site stays fresh…well, you’re keeping it Updated. Have the courage to reinvent yourself. It can feel daunting to embrace new technology or to reinvent your personal brand. Start small and consider your site’s platform (are you using Wix when maybe SquareSpace might be more modern?) to leveraging some of LinkedIn’s tools such as SlideShare to tell your story with case study examples.

Stay confident in your search. I’m here to help you along your path so always feel free to reach out to me. Good luck and stay confident!

Hiring Trends: Fall/Winter 2017

The staffing industry typically mirrors the economic and political state of affairs and this year was no exception. Q1, 2, and 3 were each comprised of drastic ups and downs in the staffing market–both clients and candidates had difficulty making commitments. One thing did ring true across the trifecta of quarters: adequate salaries are not the problem in the offer stages. Salaries continue to be strong and within market demands. The competitive energy of 2017 is palpable. As you look forward to hiring or starting a search in the New  Year (a very common resolution), check out some more tips and trends to carry you into a successful Q4:

Hiring Trends: Fall/Winter 2017

Cook County launched a new Paid Time Off policy. Its intention is good—the gist is that folks who need to care for sick family members or are sick themselves maintain both wages and job security.  Many jurisdictions within Cook County have opted out of this policy—many states around the country already embrace this policy so the tide is turning in the policy’s favor so it’s time to think about how your HR team will handle organizing and tracking employee PTO days. Read more on the WunderBlog about this important HR policy!

Passive Candidates are a myth! 2017’s slow start regarding candidate responsiveness  rapidly shifted to a candidate-driven and in-demand market. A candidate-driven market results in a  “passive candidate” falsehood. Hiring managers always cherish the coveted “passive candidate.” A candidate not actively on the market is always a catch but the moment the recruitment process commences that passive candidate is now a Hot Commodity. The candidate is in full job search mode now–her resume is polished, the suit is dusted off, she’s pressed and ready to go.  Increased confidence and an updated resume makes a job search much easier. Time is of the essence. Don’t let your lengthy vetting and interview process cause your sleeper of a candidate to become an in-demand commodity.

Career Mantras: Fall/Winter 2017

Always wondered WHO lands the job? Check out this in-depth article to read about the one hiring managers usually select. The answer may surprise you.

Are you using your LinkedIn Connections effectively?  Having 2,000 connections is great but when you’re out looking for a job how do you ensure you’re actually reaching out to all 2,000 people? You can learn the very same tip that I use to organize my many connections and stay in touch with my network.

 

 

Connecting with Your Connections

LinkedIn is the most powerful tool you can use for an effective job search. You’re one click away from your 200, 500, or 1000+ connections for your next role. Many folks I speak with in a job search aren’t accessing their connections in the most effective way to really ensure they are maximizing their reach. There’s an easy trick for this!

Use this simple process for your search and you can guarantee that you’re out there, contacting every single connection you know! The trick? Download your contacts into a .csv and then convert that to a Google Sheet. The document gives you all of your connection information including their email address and date you connected so you can reach out and ensure you’re effectively connecting with all the folks you know.  Here’s how to get your list:

Access Settings & Privacy 

LI Step One

 

 

Access Your Archive

LI Step 2

 

Access Your Archive & Happy Contacting!

LI step 3

 

Online Job Applications

pexels-photo-276459Ugh…just the mere thought of an online job application can make you completely sick to your stomach. They always crash. Always. And they crash riiiiiight as you complete the Tell Us Something Amazingly Unique About Yourself box. Always.

These Online Job Applications reside within robust Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS, that were typically used by larger corporations to track and house the thousands of applicants pounding on their door for a job. As competition has crept into the staffing and online recruiting space, all sizes of organizations are warming up to implementing these systems. While these systems allow for internal recruiters or human resources executives to safely house, store, and search candidate information they do yield a hands-off, less cozy application process for the job seeker.

Empowering yourself with reverse engineering these tools will allow you to raise above the competition. Check out this great article on Glassdoor (my opinions included!) for some great tips on circumventing this time-consuming, yet ever-important part of the job search process.

Trend: Digital Marketing Certifications

Meetups are awesome ways to stay connected and be visible in the design and marketing communities. They always are worth the time and if you meet one person or learn one new thing they are certainly of value.

I recently attended a Meetup sponsored by the folks at DigitalMarketer.com–a site and company that I was unfamiliar with until I attended the group. Their Meetup is still in its infancy stage which is always a wonderful time to join–you can really get to see the group expand and hopefully become an influence in the group as it evolves.

The topic of the Meetup was valuable enough covering effective social media. I found myself more intrigued by the whole concept of DigitalMarketer.com, however, and ended up googling news on its co-founder while also paying attention to the social media lessons. How had I not heard about Ryan Deiss before? He’s the co-founder and brainchild behind DigitalMarketer.com’s online-procured digital marketing certifications.

The certifications offered by Deiss’ company offer two interesting possibilities: the chance for individuals to learn digital marketing skills without a formal secondary education/college program along with the real possibility that hiring managers can use these certifications as a qualifier when reviewing digital marketing talent. Check out my blog post on The WunderBlog for additional reading of this interesting topic!