Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do Personality Tests Really Determine If You're a Good Fit For a Job?

From what I've seen more companies are having applicants take personality tests. The question as always still lingers however, do these tests actually help figure out whether a person is a good fit for a job?

According to a 2011 survey completed by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), nearly 20% of employers use personality tests to help with hiring.

The tests are designed to measure attitudes, emotional adjustment, interests and interpersonal skills. For example, they might include questions about whether an applicant likes parties and social events or dislikes being told what to do.

Some critics say personality assessments disqualify candidates for the wrong reasons. Others raise the question, is the test being used by the hiring company the right test. For example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is not meant to be used in selection situations. The technical manual even goes so far as to say this and it is generally used for team-building.

There are multiple factors that can impact a person’s performance and a hiring company needs multiple steps in the hiring process to make an informed decision, keeping in mind there are no sure bets. The selection process is an attempt at identifying the best candidate to the best of the hiring teams’ ability given the information they have at hand at that moment. 

The typical process could include: resume; application; interviews (minimum three, including initial phone interview); employment and credential verification; background check if required; reference check (minimum two); income verification; assessment tool; team meeting.

I’m all for the use of assessment tools if they are used to help identify areas to focus on during the actual interview.  I admit, however, that I’m not a big fan of the all or nothing process used by some companies with the assessments. Testing can be a tool used to ask more informed questions that help you dig deeper. I believe that testing should be a guide and not a fixed label.

There seems to be a trend where these assessments are being used to rule people out without even an interview verse using them as a tool. What are your experiences?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to Stand Out at This Year's Holiday Party... In a Good Way

Here we are headed towards the end of another year. And December means that it’s that time of year for the company holiday party. My resident staff expert on fashion, which definitely is not moi, shared some advice on what to wear that will help you stand out (in a good way, not in a, “I drank one too many glasses of holiday cheer!” way).  Great piece that is always worth referencing: Eat, Drink and Be Classy: Do's and Don'ts for the Office Holiday Party, by Emily Gladnick.

I would also like to share a fun article (below) from Businessweek that gives some solid advice on dos & don’ts as you head to that company event. Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sitting at the Computer Is So Much A Part of Our Daily Lives

My goal with my blog posts is to hopefully provide readers useful information as it relates to insurance industry staffing as well as job seeker insight, tips and advice. This post is a different twist to my usual tidbits, but if it helps anyone, anyone at all, it serves its purpose.

For years I've suffered with eye strain & excessive dry eyes. Sitting at a computer for hours every day and then a mobile device when I’m out and about (home) certainly has not helped my situation. And I know I’m like many professionals out there; sitting at the computer is so much a part of our daily lives. We are all finding it increasingly difficult to break away for a well-deserved and needed break. Or maybe just an eye break.

A couple weeks ago I actually had to take some time off one day as I was having a pretty nasty headache caused from eye strain. That following Monday, on the front page of our local paper I read an article about dry eye. There is a new technology in Iowa only available at one provider in Des Moines. I figured enough was enough and scheduled an appointment for an evaluation. They actually had an opening for the actual procedure so I took advantage of already being there, and when they told me I was a candidate for the procedure based on the evaluation, I jumped at it.

So the dry eye treatment is only a piece of the overall problem. There is still the eye strain that accompanies the dry eye issue. Again, realizing this was all an issue I still procrastinated. My excuse: just not enough time to make the adjustments needed to give me a better quality of life. Oh my. Saying that out loud really sounds ridiculous.

Don’t be like me. Improve your quality of life at work immediately. Here is a very informative article by Gary Heiting, OD, and Larry K. Wan, OD entitled:  Computer Eye Strain: 10 Steps for Relief

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Current Insurance Jobs

Capstone Search Group works on a national basis exclusively within the insurance industry. Our professionals work across all lines of coverage and across all disciplines.

Commercial Lines Underwriting Manager

Brief Description:
For over a 100 years our client has come to stand for excellence through steady growth and financial stability. They have been rated A (Excellent) or better by A.M. Best. Their specialty division focuses on market segments and situations many other carriers don’t want to insure. These include child care centers, beauty salons, fitness centers, YMCAs, and pest control companies. This specialty division currently offers an opportunity to join their underwriting team in a leadership position.

  • Bachelor’s degree in Business, Insurance or related field
  • Completion of Associate in Underwriting program and CPCU designation
  • 5 to7 or more years of experience in commercial middle market underwriting
  • 2 to 3 or more years in underwriting leadership with proven leadership skills, with the ability to coach, mentor and develop others
  • Analytical skills
  • Verbal and written communication skills

Capstone Insurance Search Group is a search firm dedicated to the insurance industry. We work nationally with expertise that spans top executives, middle management and technical level positions. We can provide assistance with a variety of product lines to include Property and Casualty, Life, Health, Disability, Annuity, Employee Benefits and Pension. Our services exclusive to the insurance industry: Traditional Contingency solutions, Contract Employees solutions, Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) and Customized Retained solutions. We will provide you with a service that is of the highest degree of confidentiality, professionalism and integrity.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What is the Salary Range for this Position?

“What’s the salary range for this position? You won't tell me the top amount they're willing to offer?”

I've been doing this for a very long time, here is the reality of the scenario.  Some companies have very specific ranges. Some companies have a rough idea. Some companies simply let the market tell them what they should be paying for a job. Some companies ask me to help them arrive at a fair range. Some companies will flex to a degree on what they are targeting for the hire. So as you can see there are numerous scenarios. No two situations are exactly the same.

It always depends on a person’s experience and how directly applicable it is to a company’s needs. Is the person more junior in experience? Is the person more senior in experience? How does the person’s experience compare to other people already on staff?  And how is internal equity kept in line?

So there is never a real easy answer as there are so many variables. In the many years of doing this, my opinion of the best approach is to be certain that a company’s ideal number for the hire and a candidate’s ideal number on what they’d expect are in line. Do they have to be spot on? No. Sometimes there is flexibility on the company’s end, sometimes there is flexibility on the candidate’s end. Sometimes if the company feels the candidate is the person they want and the candidate feels that this is the opportunity for them there are creative ways of bridging possible gaps as well.

Last but not least, it is human tendency to always gravitate towards the top of a stated salary range. It never fails. The moment a range is thrown out in conversation the candidate will gravitate towards the top number. Right or wrong, consciously or unconsciously, I've seen it happen time and time again where a recruiter will tell a candidate a range, $65,000 to $80,000 for example, and when the offer comes and it is at $70,000 the candidate protests, “Hey Mr. Recruiter, you told me the job paid $80,000!”

The best way to avoid this, just be certain the candidate’s expectations and the company’s expectations fall within the “okay place.”

The bottom line:  If I do my job correctly and all parties are forthcoming with information, then the hiring manager has an idea where they want to hire in, and the candidate has an expectation of where they need to be.  Based on what I know from the candidate and from the hiring manager, if the situation were to move in a positive direction the candidate’s expectation will be met.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Will My Age Hurt Me in Landing a Job?

Yesterday I overheard one of my colleagues speaking with a candidate about their resume. He asks why they didn't include any dates of employment. The response from the candidate was that he was instructed to leave dates off in an attempt to mask his age.

Frequently I’m asked the question by candidates, “Do you think my age will hurt me?”

The reality is that there will always be age discrimination in hiring decisions. It’s is a shame, but there will always be those making hiring decisions using age as a decision-making factor in their process. That’s just never going to change. However, I truly believe the majority of hiring managers do the right thing and base their decisions strictly on skills and applicable experiences as well as other factors, but do not allow age to enter into their selection.

In fact I have to say that I have seen more of my clients specifically saying that they are looking for someone with seasoning. And I believe that is true because companies are doing more with less and they need an impact player immediately as they don’t have the luxury of time to train someone.  Budgets are tight and every hire has to make a difference as quickly as possible.

So what do you do with the resume? Don’t leave off dates. If you do, you will either be eliminated because you left them off, or you will be asked to include them on a revised resume. Instead simply include your last 10 to 15 years of experience and then include a section entitled previous work history to include…..and leave dates out in that section and just summarize the experience. Or you could even state, “Previous employment provided upon request.”

50 is the new 40 and 40 is the new 30 right?  Attitude and outlook play a huge part in a person’s perceived age. Other than nasty tricks mother nature plays on us, age to a degree is just a number. I often hear from people that they are a young “whatever the number may be.”  And I believe this as I feel the same about myself. I’d put my energy and stamina against any 20 something.  I start my day at 3:30AM and end it only when I have finished what I set out to do that day. People tell me I look ten years or more younger than I am. I’m no Dick Clark freak of nature so I know plenty of other folks out there are just like me.

So while age discrimination may never disappear, in this market I feel as though it is less of a factor than in years past. Instead it’s not about that for many job seekers. It’s not about you. It’s about the job market. Keep positive and stay focused. Do something every day that moves you towards your goal.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bringing Your Parents to Your Job Interview?

There is a lot of buzz around the new iPhone. Everyone I know that is talking about it is excited to see what the latest and greatest features & functions will be. Not to mention the colors. I on the other hand never even knew it was coming out until I visited with a wireless provider over the weekend seeking a better way to monitor our kids’ text & voice activity. Yes I’m involved in my kids’ lives. Technology has created more opportunity for kids to get into trouble and no doubt be bullied. It is a huge problem everywhere. So I learned about the new capabilities of the new iPhone operating system that allow me to create an allowed list of phone contacts and allows me to block web sites.

So I’m concerned about my teenagers, but when I saw this article on WSJ Online I had to do a double take.

Should You Bring Mom and Dad to Your Job Interview?

I recall years ago I had a candidate that brought their mom along to an interview. The candidate didn't bring her with the intent of her being part of the process, but instead to just accompany her on the drive as it was a couple hours. That decision cost her the job however, as the company did not view that favorably upon her.


Oh how times seem to have changed. Check this out….

Should You Bring Mom and Dad to Your Job Interview?
Employers Are Embracing the Involvement of Millennial Parents to Attract and Hold On to Talent
By: Anita Hofschneider

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Small Fish, Big Pond or Big Fish, Small Pond

My daughter has been in a great school district since kindergarten through her 8th grade year. This school district is ranked at the top in our state. Needless to say we have been very pleased with the quality of education she has received. It has, however, been growing rapidly. In fact, if I’m not mistaken it is the fastest growing school district in our state. Because she has always been a kid that tends to feel more comfortable in a smaller environment we decided to explore options for her for this upcoming school year. We toured some different schools and found one that seemed like a good fit. The school Administrator asked her, “Do you like to be a big fish in a small pond or do you like to be a small fish in a big pond?”

Small schools offer certain advantages, as do big schools. The bottom line, each individual must weigh out all these things and make the decision based on what is best for them.

This whole process reminds me of a question I often ask a candidate that I've met for the first time. That is, "Do you prefer a smaller company environment or a larger company environment? Or do you even have a preference?"  To be best positioned to assist someone on their search, understanding their interest only helps us better help them.

It is strictly a personal preference but there are, no doubt, things to be considered.

In a small environment you can often have more opportunities. More opportunities to take on responsibilities that perhaps in a larger organization you would not. In a smaller environment you are often challenged to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Not exclusive to a small environment, but often more frequent. In smaller environments often you can move more nimbly. More opportunity to put your thumbprint on something.

In a larger organization, on the other hand, sometimes you have access to more resources. You can have opportunities for more advancement simply because there are more positions in the organization and often more layers. You can have opportunities to steer your career in different paths that may not be available in a smaller company.

I could certainly take both of these lists much further. And many people certainly will have their own thoughts on how those lists should look. The thing to think about from all this is that this is simply another piece to the search equation that should be addressed.