Monday, October 26, 2015

Brain Drain: Just One More Reason to Consider Contract Employees

In the U.S., roughly 10,000 people reach retirement age every day. And though not everyone who turns 62 or 65 retires right away, losing veteran workers is a challenge, even for big companies.

When you have large numbers that are leaving and a pipeline that is not entirely as wide as the exit pipeline, you will have temporary gaps.

It's a big crisis within the industry where they're trying to recruit young talent and keep young talent, but loosing veteran workers to retirement.

The veteran employees already know how to speak the language, know how an insurance company operates, know how the businesses operate, know how they make money, know how projects proceed, and know all the processes.

Brain drain is only one reason Contract Employee Staffing continues to be a necessary and critical part of the overall staffing picture for companies.

The growth in this area continues even now that direct hiring has started to pick up.

One of the biggest changes from what is viewed as traditional in the US is the transition from a direct hire workforce to a blend that incorporates both direct hires and contractors. In the blended workforce model, companies maintain a core of traditional, direct hire employees supported by contractors that can be adjusted to meet business needs. This provides companies with flexibility, cost savings, and reduced liability. 

The growth of the Internet and mobile devices has changed employment, allowing employees to work remotely and giving rise to “virtual teams.” In fact, the number of people working from home at least one day a week increased by 80% between 2005 and 2012. These remote workers are the perfect candidates to take on the type of project-based work that is common to contract assignments.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

U.S. Work Visas - How Many Are There?

Did you know there are almost 60 different types of temporary U.S.visas in addition to several routes to permanent residence (known as a “green card”)? Unfortunately, green card applications usually take a long time, so even if this is the ultimate goal, you will probably need to begin by applying for a temporary work visa.

So let's lay this out as this topic is oftentimes a discussion with both our clients and candidates who have questions about the processes. There are three main categories of U.S. work visas for professionals. I hope this information proves helpful, and will serve as a resource to you the next time a situation pertaining to visas arises.


The H1B visa is probably the most well know. This is for Specialty Occupation Workers.

Congress determines how large the H1B quota should be. These quotas can run out rather early in the fiscal year.

The US H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, and medicine. Under the visa a US company can employ a foreign worker for up to six years.

Applying for a non-immigrant visa is generally quicker than applying for a US Green Card, therefore the H-1B visa is popular for companies wishing to bring in staff for long-term assignment in the US.

Individuals are not able to apply for an H1B visa to allow them to work in the US. The employer must petition for entry of the employee.

The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  1. Have a minimum entry requirement of a Bachelor's or higher degree or its equivalent.
  2. The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree.
  3. The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position.
  4. The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree.

For you to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Have completed a US bachelor's or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university.
  2. Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's or higher degree in the specialty occupation.
  3. Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment.
  4. Have education, training, or experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.


Canadians can often gain entry to the US with greater ease than others; this preferential treatment for Canadians is linked to treaty provisions within the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

While there are many NAFTA related visas, the most useful one is the TN1. The TN1 visa was modeled on the H1B; it may only be used where the employer is based in the US, and the candidate is a professional in a specialty occupation.

Where a candidate, by their profession and nationality, qualifies for the TN1 visa, it has the following advantages over the H1B:

  1. It is granted for one year, but can continue to be renewed indefinitely.
  2. It can be applied for at the border with the US, and is usually granted immediately.
  3. The documentary requirements and procedure is far less burdensome than the H1B visa.
  4. The TN1 is granted for a specific employer. If needed for more than one employer, multiple TN1 applications need to be made. Self-employed professionals would not be able to come under this particular visa category, and may consider the E2 Treaty Investor category under NAFTA.

While it is possible to apply under the TN1 visa with minimal documentation, it is prudent for candidates to arm themselves with the following documents at the border with the US:

  1. A description of the position from the US employer. This should also confirm that the candidate will be a direct employee, and state the salary level. Further, some information about the nature of the employer's business should be included.
  2. Proof of the candidate's qualifications, including, where appropriate, confirmation of the US equivalency of any foreign qualifications.
  3. A copy of the candidate's resume (curriculum vitae).
  4. The original Canadian passport (if applicable), and, if relevant, copies of the candidate's previous passports, visa stamps, and I-94s.
  5. A copy of the employment contract.


The F1 visa category is reserved for academic students enrolled in colleges, universities, and other academic institutions. Upon graduation, the F1 student may apply for the OPT (Optional Practical Training)visa program. Students studying with an F1 visa are eligible to work in the USA under the OPT visa program, which affords the student the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge obtained in an academic program to a practical work experience. Any employment opportunity that the student encounters must be directly related to his or her major field of study in order to qualify as OPT. OPT may be full or part time, depending on the circumstances and may take place anywhere in the country. F1 students can transfer / change status directly from F1 to H1B by obtaining a suitable H1B sponsorship position with an H1B sponsor company. However, many students choose (or find themselves requiring) to use the OPT visa program as an interim measure in the overall process of getting to H1B visa status. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Get a Real Job Mr. “Recruiter!"

So here’s the scenario:

 While we are traditionally a direct placement firm, we have a contract employee solution for firms seeking contract staffing. We have had a Work Comp Adjuster contract employee out on assignment with an insurance carrier, and this contract employee has been assigned a pending case load of claims for one of this carrier’s larger organizations. This organization for the carrier was looking to hire an adjuster to handle their claims internally.

The organization had this position posted to their website. A “recruiter” saw this adjuster job posting, then went onto LinkedIn and found a profile for a Work Comp Adjuster and presented/referred this profile to the organization for review. The organization actually knew the candidate who was presented by this “recruiter” because it was the contract employee handling their claims through the carrier as mentioned above.

Now the organization feels obligated to pay this “recruiter” a fee because he “referred” the candidate to them. Okay let’s stop right there. I had never heard of this “recruiter” beforehand, so I took to Google to do a little research. They call themselves an IT recruiter. They are located in CA. So….

  1. First thing to take note is that this person is outside their area of expertise. They are not an insurance recruiter. They do not recruit claims. They recruit IT, or so they state.
  2. Next thing to take note. This type of practice is precisely what gives the recruiting profession a bad name. The good, respectable recruiters are constantly battling this type of behavior. It is not acceptable to ambulance chase in our profession. Respectable recruiters don’t peruse employer websites looking for openings, then locate a profile on LinkedIn, and then send in that profile with never even telling the candidate. This is a completely unacceptable practice.

To make things even worse, the organization tells us that this “recruiter” was hard to reach, did very little to assist them when they did start the interview process, and the candidate even stated that the “recruiter” bullied and threatened them.

Get a real job Mr. “Recruiter,” there is no place in this profession for people like this.

Dear Hiring Manager/HR Professional,

This is not an acceptable practice. You do not owe this “recruiter” anything. First, you knew the candidate before this “recruiter” ever shared the LinkedIn profile with you. Second, the candidate didn’t even know their profile was being sent to you. Third, this “recruiter” had no business sending you this profile…period. Their tactics are despicable.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Job Interviewing To Get to the Heart of What You Really Want to Know, and Quickly…….

The right hire can create excitement and energy among team members. A hiring mistake can quickly undo employee productivity.  

Focusing on achievements and accomplishments comes in a number of forms, but particular interview questions get to the bottom line more efficiently than others.

“Tell me about your career progression, leading me up to what you do now in your current role.”

Focus on progression and assuming of greater responsibilities. Often people who strive for progression also have a greater achievement awareness that translates into higher productivity, creativity, and employee engagement. Keep in mind that progression doesn’t always meet changing in position. A person can add to their experiences and skill sets by taking on added responsibilities without change in position/title.

An interview question such as, “What makes you stand out among your peers?” can be an excellent measure of an individual’s level of self-esteem and awareness of accomplishments. 

If the job candidate stumbles in coming up with an answer, you could gently lead them to a similar interview question, “Why would your former bosses say you’re a valuable employee? What do you think they would remember most about you?” Be sure and watch interview body language and eye contact while a candidate responds.

A good question to give you insights into how well candidates can quantify their achievements could be done by asking, “What have you done at your present/last company to increase revenues, reduce costs, or save time?

Remember that intelligence, prior experience and credentials don’t mean much unless new hires are willing to apply themselves to the new job. An excellent interview question to learn more about a candidate’s initiative is, “What’s the one achievement that you’re most proud of in your career?

People who focus on achievements and accomplishments tend to get to the results faster.