Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Identifying the Right Recruiter For You

My recently posted blog regarding 11 Recruiting Myths surrounding recruiters posed a question from a reader that was along these lines:

I enjoyed a recent article you shared regarding recruiting myths. As a job seeker, for a company you are interested in, what is the best way to find out if a recruiter works with that particular company?

It struck me that this is probably a question many job seekers face. So I will share my response........

We feel that the first thing you need to do is identify a recruiter, or recruiters, that specialize within the insurance industry. Screen your recruiter(s) so you have a comfort as to their actual understanding of the industry and your specific discipline within the insurance industry. Next be certain the chemistry is good between you and the recruiter(s). Next, what is the philosophy on how they proceed? What I mean here is, will they secure your consent prior to ever sending your resume out? If not, perhaps you don’t use them. In addition, will they share the name of their client with you? If not, perhaps you don’t use them. You have to do all this first.

Once you've screened out the recruiter(s) meeting these expectations, then you ask them if they work with ABC company. Here’s the scoop: Some recruiters work with a handful of companies and that is all. However, we at CSG, for example, work with virtually any company within the insurance industry. So for our firm it is more about who we DO NOT work with. And there is a reason we do not work with those companies. Then there are a few companies that simply do not use recruiters, period. These companies are what we call recruiter resistant. So you as a candidate are always better going direct regardless of what a recruiter may tell you. A recruiter’s job is to help you get seen by the right people. It should not be about their best interests but your best interests. It should not be about whether they can try to make a fee verse your best interests.

Now there are some companies where you must be on a “preferred vendor” list. If the recruiter is not on it then they will not work with that recruiter. Or they may be open to the recruiter being added to their list. They may be open to that! Or they may not be. A recruiter should know if they are on the “preferred vendor” list. A recruiter should know whether a company is open to adding an additional recruiter. That is simply industry knowledge. An experienced recruiter should know this.

There are companies that we are not willing to represent as well. Based on our interactions with them we do not feel it would be in our best interests to serve as a representative for that particular company. That decision could be based on various factors.

In addition and worth noting, the days of companies being loyal to using a certain recruiter/recruiters is long gone. This is not a jab at insurance organizations. It is simply a statement on where the job market is at currently. A company is interested in hiring the best candidate. Companies will happily accept qualified candidates from the recruiter that can bring them to the table, assuming they use recruiters and assuming they are not restricted by the “preferred vendor” list.

Our firm enjoys established relationships with countless quality insurance organizations across all 50 states. We've earned those relationships by being knowledgeable, being ethical, and providing quality service to the client. But we also understand that if another recruiter brings the right candidate to the table they will accept that candidate. And they should. It is about making the right hire.

So in summary, screen your recruiter(s) based on the above. Then simply ask them if they work with the company you have in mind. They should tell you one of the following:
  1. The company does not use recruiters and you should go direct.
  2. The company uses a “preferred vendor” list and they are or are not on it.
  3. They are actively working with them and happy to contact them.
  4. They are not actively working with the company but glad to contact them.
  5. They only work with specific companies and this is not one of them.

Friday, December 12, 2014

11 Recruiter Myths

I was speaking with a member of my staff the other day regarding a search assignment project we were working on, and as we were speaking I had told them that we (our firm) continue to battle the various stereotypes that surround our profession. The fact is that every profession has stereotypes; some not so flattering. But the professional recruiting profession seems to have more than our fair share. I find it frustrating that there are recruiters out there who still practice with limited knowledge of those they serve, and practice the “resume dumping” technique. Then you have the job posting chasers. And the ones who operate under the practice of throwing the job out on a job board and just referring on to the client company anyone who responds verse actually “recruiting.”  Although that kind of stuff really does happen, there are certainly very reputable and knowledgeable recruiters. So this goes out to all the great professional recruiters that share the love and passion for helping out individuals reach their career goals, helping families get closer together, and helping individuals better their financial position. And also to those professional recruiters who enjoy an excellent partnership with their clients because they are knowledgeable and truly care about sourcing and securing the best talent for their clients.

Here is a list of common recruiting myths from a candidate perspective as well as hiring manager/employer perspective, and the truth about those myths! 


MYTH: You should only work with one recruiter at a time.
You can work with multiple recruiters (2-3) at a time. Recruiters often have a relationship with many companies but certainly not all companies in an industry. So working with a few recruiters simultaneously can help you be exposed to multiple opportunities. However be certain you tell your recruiters who else you are working with and what companies they are submitting you to.

MYTH: A recruiter will find me a job.
Working with a recruiter is just one piece to a job search. Just one tool in the job search tool box. (along with networking, direct contact with employers, and other methods).

MYTH: Recruiters can help me make a career change.
Recruiters are often working from very specific search assignments where the employing company’s criteria is well-defined. Therefore, they are looking to find candidates with those specific qualifications, not someone with an interest in the field. The better your credentials meet the search assignment specifications, the more likely you will be considered as a candidate, and the more likely you will be successfully placed in the role. If you want to make a career change, working with a recruiter isn’t likely to be an effective strategy.

MYTH: It doesn't matter which recruiter I contact, they all do basically the same thing.
Some recruiters are generalists, but most are specialized. Specialization may be by industry, role, professional area of focus, region or location, experience level, or other factors. It’s important to understand what a recruiter specializes in, and whether that’s a good fit for you and what you’re looking for. One of the largest factors is whether they work with the clients or types of clients you’re interested in.

MYTH: If I’m interested in a company I should apply online or give my resume to a friend first. If that doesn't work, then I’ll try a recruiter.
If your resume has already been submitted to a company, then the process has likely already moved beyond the point where a recruiter can get involved on your behalf. If you’re working with a recruiter that has that company as a client, contact them first. Or figure out what recruiters that company uses and get in touch with them. The recruiter can help you evaluate whether the position is indeed a good fit for you, and present you to the client to get primary consideration. If that position is not a good fit, they might know of other roles the client is looking to fill that would be better suited to your needs and experience.

MYTH: The recruiter doesn't need to know what I've applied for, or all the details of my background and career.
A recruiter can be a strong advocate in helping you gain consideration for a position you’re interested in, but they are only as good as the information you share with them. If a recruiter contacts you about a position that you’ve already applied for, let them know right away. Details of the situation matter…how long has it been? What job did you apply for? Did you have an interview? Nobody likes surprises--if the recruiter knows what’s important to you. If you keep them in the dark, you’re not helping them help you.

MYTH: You make less money when you are placed by a recruiter.
Not true. Companies who seek the assistance of a professional agency pay the agency based on a pre-negotiated contract. Those fees are completely aside from the candidate compensation. No fees will be taken out of your base pay or annual compensation to pay the agency. If a company were to reduce your salary to cover part of the recruiter fee, that is not a good company to work for anyway.


MYTH: I can recruit myself.
You certainly can recruit candidates yourself, but have you ever wondered why even companies with large HR departments still work with recruiting agencies? It takes a lot of time and effort to recruit effectively. Improve your efforts and get more quality candidates quicker. Recruiting takes two things companies don’t have in excess: A lot of time and specialized skills to dedicate toward just one vacancy. Even if you have an amazing recruitment team and/or HR department, they can’t dedicate the equivalency of a full-time job to filling each vacancy that comes up. A recruitment agency, on the other hand, can.

MYTH: Recruiters don’t specialize in my industry.
Actually, you probably can find a recruiting agency in your industry. A niche recruitment agency is always your best choice. So be certain you partner with an agency that understands your business and industry.

MYTH: Recruiters take a huge commission.
Obviously recruiters get paid for what they do, and if you want the best recruiting agency on your side, that’s going to cost you. Break down the cost-benefit analysis, and ask yourself what the best workers are really worth. In the long run, those commissions aren't as costly as you think. Time taken out for background checks and interviews all add up quickly. In the grand scheme of things, it can cost several thousand dollars to hire a new employee, so the fee paid to a professional recruiter is actually pretty comparable.

MYTH: Recruiters don’t work.
A recruiter isn't a magician, and if you don’t treat the relationship as a partnership then even the best agency in the world isn't going to be able to fill your opening. There is no pixie dust. There is no magic wand.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Job Search Phenomenon

An object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. This means that there is a natural tendency of objects to just keep on doing what they're doing. All objects resist changes in their state of motion. Okay this is a non-human way to describe the phenomenon we see with some professionals when it comes to not making a job change that could benefit them. The benefit I refer to could be: 
  1. Provide career growth
  2. Provide an opportunity to learn new things
  3. Provide a better work/personal life balance
  4. All of the above 

Professionals may remain stuck in the wrong positions, not living up to their potential and sacrificing professional fulfillment. The problem lies in basic human motives: we fear change, lack readiness, are unwilling to make sacrifices, sabotage ourselves.

Perhaps you've been with the company for a number of years so you have the emotional attachment; the guilt of what will they think about you, or leaving them in a bad situation should you leave.

Perhaps your social network is centered within your co-workers. If you leave the company, you are leaving your friends.

Maybe you feel a strong loyalty to your employer. After all, they were the company that gave you your first break into the industry.

Or maybe the job opportunity involves a relocation. Upsetting the household with a move is unsettling to you.

At the end of the day, only one person is responsible for your career: you. Just as it’s unwise to impulsively leave a job for the wrong reasons, don’t allow fear of the unfamiliar to hold you back from accepting a new one. As for the move, look at it as a temporary inconvenience. One that after six months will likely be ancient history. Moving your household is never easy, but if it is the right opportunity for you and your family, this should not prevent you from following through on a good opportunity.

The bottom line is that changing jobs always carries some degree of risk. But, if you've thoroughly analyzed the situation and your gut is telling you to make a move, trust your intuition. At some point you need to stop second-guessing yourself and embrace the new opportunity. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Keep Your Foot on the Job Search Gas Pedal During the Holiday Season

Frequently I hear from job seekers as we enter November, “I don’t expect much will happen during the next couple months because of the holidays.” Quite the contrary, November and December can be very active months. So I caution you, do not take the foot off the gas pedal during the holiday season.

There exists a notion that many employers do hire over the holidays; personal lives may get more hectic this time of year, but oftentimes within companies the hiring managers actually get a little breathing space to think about staffing and even conduct interviews. Many companies are working on staffing decisions for 2015 and putting the pieces in place for 2015 projects and want to bring new people on board before then.

In fact, in some ways, the holidays are a great time to find a job.

Here are several reasons why you should ramp up your job search during the holiday season:

1.     Others that could potentially be your competition could be easing up on their job search. Many other people are taking a break from their job search this time of year, which makes it a great time to position yourself against the competition.

2.     The holidays are an excellent networking time. You’ll probably attend more parties, open houses, happy hours, and fellowship events. All of these events are opportunities to expand your network. And a huge network is what every job seeker needs.

3.     The holidays are a perfect time to reconnect with others. This is the time of the year when it’s natural to get back in touch with neighbors, former neighbors, former bosses and co-workers, people you met at industry conferences. A greeting from you puts you back at the top of their radar.

4.     It shows you're serious about finding the right position. Continuing to job hunt over the holidays shows a potential employer that you're diligent and serious about locating your next opportunity.

5.     Companies may have money in this year’s budget that they need to use. Some employers are looking for ways to utilize the rest of their hiring budgets for the year.

6.     Maintaining your job search helps you keep your momentum. Stopping a job search and then trying to pick it back up later only means you’ve lost the wheels in motion. Everything takes time. Networking is about keeping the message moving. It just takes that much more effort to try and make up for lost time and lost momentum.

7.     Finally, January is often one of the biggest hiring months of the year. The interviews for January hires take place in November and December. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

10 Happiest States in America

Working a national insurance recruiting practice for near 20 years provides a person an opportunity to be exposed to countless individual stories as to why a person wants to be in a specific region, state, or city. For the majority it seems to be about being closer to family. For some it is about being in an area that affords them the opportunity to be near a major insurance hub in case something were to happen to their job. Let’s call that job risk management. For others it may be about being close to things they enjoy. Or being in an area that supports their interests and/or hobbies.


It is always however about an individual’s priorities. What they and their family members feel is most important to them at that stage in their lives or family situation.

While all this is true, I found the following story interesting. My own state of Iowa makes the following list, yet I have found Iowa to be a tough sell when speaking with candidates. The article is suggesting that the largest metropolitan areas may be losing some of their appeal. Perhaps, or maybe people are shifting their priorities? Interesting read regardless.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Resumes: To Include or Not To Include, The Burning Question

Recently I was involved in a discussion with my peers regarding the Education section on a resume. The question posed lead to some interesting points presented by those involved. However the discussion never lead to a firm conclusion or if there was even a firm conclusion to be made. Curious to see if there was some sort of rule of thumb or general consensus to be had I wanted to explore this further. I didn't however expect that there was necessarily a wrong or right to the question. I felt that researching this further could provide some useful advice and/or direction to candidates as they look at their own Education section of their resume. Of course this certainly does not apply to everyone but I’m certain pretty much everyone knows someone who is does apply to and you never know when you might even be asked this question as a friend or co-worker seeks your advice.

So I contacted 20 accomplished Human Resources professionals that I know and asked them the question:

“If a person attended one or two colleges before attending at the one from which they obtained their undergraduate degree, do they include those colleges on their resume? Or do they only include the one in which they actually obtained their undergraduate degree from?”

The responses first confirmed that indeed there is no wrong or right. In addition there seems to be no real rule of thumb or general consensus. The responses varied and really seem to be a matter of opinion over anything else. Overall there looks to be a slight edge to only listing the final school in which the person obtained their undergraduate degree. However it can also depend and here are some interesting thoughts that should be considered when an individual creates this section of their resume.

  1. Sometimes listing all colleges attended can catch the eye of a fellow alumni of a particular school and create interest. (Within my company we actually see this quite frequently. There seems to be a stronger bias in certain areas of the country such as the deep south. Hiring managers specifically look for alumni from their alma mater.)

  1. If it could benefit you by listing the other college(s) then by all means list it.

  1. If the candidate took courses at one college that are directly related to the position they are applying for then they should include it.

  1. Another reason for listing all the colleges is that one college may be more prestige and the candidate would like a future employer to know that they attended that college for a period of time.

It was pointed out by all however that all colleges attended must be included on the application. Background checks typically only include graduation date, major and degree obtained.

In summary, look at your resume as a strategic marketing tool. With that in mind, if it will benefit you to include all schools attended, then include them. If it does not benefit and could perhaps even place you in an unfavorable light by creating questions, then do not include.

Some other pieces of advice that came out of my research regarding the Education section of your resume….

Typically put Advanced Degrees first:
Usually, you should lay down your educational background by listing the most recent or advanced degree first, working in reverse chronological order. But there are exceptions. If you earned a degree in agriculture, but are now working in the field of  marketing. If you more recently completed coursework specific to social media or digital marketing, list that first to catch the reviewer’s attention.

Attended but did not complete Degree? Mention it anyway:
It is completely acceptable to list completed coursework  List it something like this:
Master of Business Administration degree candidate
Anticipated completion June 2015
Drake University, Des Moines, IA


20 credits earned at Drake University towards undergraduate degree

List Honors, Not GPA:
If you graduated from college with high honors, make note of it. While you don’t need to list your GPA (especially if it’s under 3.0 or if you’ve been out of school for more than three years), show the summa cum laude status or the fact that you were in the honors college at your university.

Position it strategically:

Most people list educational background at the end of the resume, which is perfectly fine. However, if you have a degree from a prestigious university or one that may serve as an advantage for the types of positions you’re pursuing, consider listing your education at the beginning of your resume instead.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Managing Virtual Teams


Yahoo and Best Buy recently put an end to their remote work programs; however, these moves are the exception. The trend toward virtual, or remote, “employees” continues to grow. Various surveys suggest that about 30 to 46 percent of all companies have at least some contractors, freelancers, or remote workers who rarely, if ever, come into the office.
This places a greater need for human resources departments to handle the challenge of managing a remote workforce. Automation and a different set of expectations will be part of the solution. This will include producing more results-driven performance analysis.

Managing remote isn’t a skill you can pick up on as you go. The trend toward remote workers is a growing challenge to managers who are not effective in managing people at a distance.

Companies need to develop their current managers as well as look to hire managers that know how to effectively manage remote employees. Knowing what criteria to use in selecting a manager for a virtual team is critical. In your selection process you should consider whether the candidate has a proven track record and demonstrates the following:

  1. Good communication skills — using digital services and the phone — are a must.
  2. A strong teamwork ethos.
  3. Reliability. When the manager says they will do something, they do. This builds trust based on performance reliability, and trust has been described as the single-most-important component of virtual team management
  4. Motivation and reward is even more important for virtual managers to ensure workers don’t feel overlooked or marginalized.
  5. Previous remote work experience. If they’ve ever been a remote worker themselves they’ll have an appreciation of the advantages as well as the downside to telework. That perspective can help them connect with their virtual team.

Here is an interesting article that speaks to this in more detail: 6 Specifics to Look for When Hiring Managers for Virtual TeamsI highly suggest looking it over, good information.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Top Job Search Practices

It seems as though all of my posts involving the actual job search process seem to stir up the most questions, and really just resonate with readers. I wasn't too surprised, and then thought why not highlight my top read blogs in the past all in one place? I have outlined my top read posts below.  I hope these top 5 posts help you with your search, but please know you can always reach out with any questions, comments or concerns.  If you have any topics you would like me to cover down the road please don't hesitate to let me know.

Completing Employment Applications with a Cautious Eye

Before you fill out a company’s application for employment you better read this. This certainly has to be the wildest thing I have ever experienced in my 16 years in this profession. Let me paint the picture for you. Our client is a leading international broker & risk management firm. Well respected. We've worked with them for years. The professional we are assisting is a well-respected & accomplished broker. The broker client HR Recruiter requests that the candidate complete their employment application. Offer extended. Offer accepted. Background check completed by third party company at client’s request. Third party company reports three discrepancies. Offer revoked. Here are the discrepancies:
  1. Candidate worked for a broker previously in their career that was acquired by another broker. Instead of breaking the two brokers out the candidate listed their employment as continuous from date of original broker through end date of acquiring broker. Background check found that the candidate was employed with a different start date naturally. 
  2. At two previous employers the candidate’s job title per offer letter and stated on business card provided by each respective employer stated one title. Upon background check the “official” title on record in HR department records was different. 

Upon being told of found discrepancies the candidate produced offer letters from both of these past employers stating title they used to complete the employment application. Candidate also was naturally able to easily explain the discrepancies in employment date regarding the merging companies. So all should be well, right? Nope. Even after the HR Recruiter at our broker client requested the documentation to clear up the discrepancies found by this third party company, they still would not reinstate the offer. Come on, why make this professional provide this supporting documents believing the offer would be reinstated only to not reinstate? This entire fiasco simply boggles my mind.

It certainly has served as an inspiration for this blog topic however. So here is the message to all of you out there completing company employment applications. Be absolutely certain that you complete everything on the application in 100% accurate detail. Be absolutely certain you use the same exact title for a previous position that can be confirmed by your previous employer’s HR department not necessarily what you think your job title was. Be certain if you worked for a company that was acquired by another that you list these out separately with exact dates. 

While this is about completing employment applications, I would certainly say that this also applies to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Leave nothing to chance. This was an extremely unfortunate situation for this person. One that frankly should never have happened. However it serves as a reminder to be absolutely certain to have all information on your resume accurate and detailed out, be certain your LinkedIn profile is also accurate and that you complete employment applications with a very cautious eye. 

Things You Do Wrong on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great tool for sharing ideas with other professionals. However like it or not, it has become a powerful tool for career networking. And yes, there are right ways and wrong ways to utilize this tool. And do remember it is just another tool in your networking tool box. Because I’m all about giving credit where credit is due verse simply reinventing the wheel, I’d like to point to what I found to be a very good piece in Forbes.com regarding the proper use of LinkedIn. Any questions or thoughts, please share.

8 Things You Do Wrong on LinkedIn by Molly Can, Forbes.com

The Hook on your Resume

The hook:  What was one of the biggest injustices done to the American Natives?  The Trail of Tears was a horrible event in American History.  I’m sitting here working in my office at home while my daughter is working on her English paper.  She is writing about Andrew Jackson and his part in the Trail of Tears. She starts her paper with what is called a “hook.” The hook draws you in. It makes you want to keep reading.  So what is your “hook” on your resume? What makes the reader (hopefully a hiring manager) want to keep reading verse placing you in a pile of other resumes and forgotten? How can you make your resume stick out? Get noticed? Get separated from the crowd? What is your hook?

A resume hook is going to tell the reader what you can do for them. The best way to illustrate what you can do for them is by providing examples of success stories and accomplishments. If you saved your current company $100,000, tell about it in your resume. If you created a new innovative product, tell about it in your resume. If you collected $6,000 on a subrogated claim, tell about it on your resume.

All these success stories are the best way to illustrate to a company what you can do for them. It draws the reader in. It creates interest. It separates you from the other 25 resumes the reader just reviewed, or scanned or glanced at.

Don’t just regurgitate your work history and job description at each company and in each position. The savvy reader knows what a Product Manager does, what an Underwriter does, what a Claims Adjuster does. Nothing will put the reader asleep faster than simply inserting your job description. Add some pow. Add some wow. Add a hook!

What Do You Wear For A Job Interview?

Today the question of what to wear to an interview has a whole new meaning. This blog highlights the ins and outs of what you should wear for an interview, and then how you should handle tattoos, piercing, etc.  It also provides a couple picture examples, but I would encourage you to check out Capstone's "Interview Attire" boards on Pinterest. We have pinned multiple pictures of acceptable interview attire for both men and women

What is Considered Business Casual?

A question I come across somewhat regularly is “what is the definition of business casual?” These times of business casual leave much open to interpretation. Oftentimes candidates head in for their first day on the job and get nervous about what is acceptable.  Here are my thoughts...  Again, I would encourage you to check out Capstone's "Business Casual Attire" boards on Pinterest. We have pinned multiple pictures of acceptable attire for both men and women. If there are any other examples we missed that you would like us to include just let me know.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Posting Your Resume Online?

Recently a job seeker reached out to us seeking advice on their search. It was the first time they had proactively searched for a job, and they were baffled by what they had experienced thus far. This person posted their resume on line and was immediately bombarded with calls and emails about 100% commission sales jobs. He had no experience in sales nor did he have any interest in sales.

My first piece of advice: if you post your resume online, expect to get these types of calls regarding sales roles. Firms looking for sales people typically have individuals on their staffs that peruse the resume databases looking for job seekers and reach out to anyone and everyone in hopes of getting a bite.

1.   One way to manage this is to create a separate email account for your job search. At least your email inbox won’t be flooded with this kind of contact.
2.   Don’t include your phone number on your online resume/profile unless you are prepared for these types of calls.
3.   Specifically and clearly state in the profile that you create that you are not interested in commission based sales opportunities. It won’t stop all of these inquires, but if they are respectful it will at least cut them in half.

Some other tips:

1.    Create an internet friendly resume written with keywords that directly pertain to your background and experience because it will be read by a company ATS (applicant tracking system).
2.     Utilize the online job boards’ job email alerts and RSS feeds. 
3.     Write a cover letter speaking to the job you are applying for. 
4.     Keep your job search organized. Most online job boards allow you to save your searches in your account, so be sure to take advantage of this. Also, keep a log of the positions and organizations to which you’ve applied.
5.     Only apply to openings you are qualified for. Applying to numerous jobs that you are not qualified for is never a good idea. Another position may become available later that you are perfect for, but because you applied to a job earlier that you weren’t qualified for your credibility with the organization will be ruined.
6.     Keep your information up to date. Your resume must have current dates and contact information. Your employment and salary history must be exact.
7.     Double, triple, quadruple check your resume and online profile information for misspelled words and proper grammar.
8.     Your resume title/subject line/objective statement in your online profile is important. Be certain it is accurate and professional. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Managing Remote Employees

A growing number of Americans are working from home. The increase in the use of contract employees is just adding to that rapidly increasing number in the U.S.  At last count, that amounted to some 3.3 million people working remotely (not including the self-employed), or 2.6% of the U.S. employee workforce. That number is expected to increase by 63% in the next five years. Given the rapid increase in contract employees that number could grow even larger.

With more companies allowing their employees to work remotely managers are increasingly tasked with overseeing workers scattered across cities, states, and time zones. Remote work has created an entirely new subset of employees, with their own habits and routines.

New technologies are making telecommuting more feasible and before too many years, the challenge of managing a team of remote workers might be the norm for many supervisors. With this increase in remote employees comes also the need to establish an understanding of how best to manage the people and the work. Below are a few recommendations.

1.       Making clear, reasonable expectations for their workday.

2.       Helping them develop habits that help them focus and achieve their goals.

3.       Developing a structure that supports their priorities.

4.       Help them develop boundaries with people, technology and other distractions. 

5.       High-quality communication is especially important with remote employees. Stay connected with them and available.

6.       Watch out for overwork. Employees working out of their homes can have a harder time setting boundaries between their work and personal lives. Some might prefer to work at 2 AM. Others might work until 10 or 11 at night. While others might like chunk work throughout the day. There is a danger for employees to overwork themselves and burn out. It's the boss's responsibility to guard against this and make sure employees take enough time for themselves. 

7.       Schedule regular one-on-one check-ins. At least once every few days managers should make time to check in with their remote workers. The goal is to maintain an open line of communication so that any potential issues get addressed and don't have a chance to pile up.

8.       Establish a culture of trust and respect. Trust, of course, is essential to all work environments. When you're working away from your colleagues, however, it becomes even more important.

Great managers of remote workers do everything that great managers of physical offices do, there's just a little more distance between the two.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Choosing Your Professional References

While recently working with candidate in preparing their client presentation, I asked for professional references. Standard procedure. This experience reminded me however as to the importance of carefully selecting whom you provide as your references. There are numerous writings on the internet regarding this topic, and I don’t want to reproduce what is already readily available, but instead just take a moment to stress the importance of this part of your job search. This candidate provided high profile co-workers from a previous employer; not only peers but supervisory types of references. The candidate provided references that were in a position to be able to accurately speak to their work product and provide a positive reflection upon the person’s abilities and work they had done at this past employer. Well, they could have anyway. The problem with these references was that the company had a policy against providing opinion, aka: references, regarding former employees. So all these references were basically under a gag order by their employer. So bottom line, none could help. All positioned well to be excellent references if only they could have spoken to me. Instead I only got title and employment dates. That was not so useful.

So I asked the candidate to consider other individuals they worked with at this employer that have since left. That is one possible solution anyway. So we are still working through that but it certainly reminds me of the importance of considering whom you use as references. And in this case, know the company’s policy of providing references. Be certain to talk to each reference to see if they are in a position to be able to provide useful information.

In the spirit of this topic I have included a link to an article on TheLadders.com that adds some additional useful information regarding references. It’s a quick read. Straight and to the point.

How to Choose Your Job References

How do you pick the directors, coworkers and direct reports to be your job references
By Lisa Vaas