Can a candidate be rejected based on lack of enthusiasm?

July 23rd, 2012

In the hiring process, the words on a resume only tell part of the story. One question that recurs is what propels a candidate into a true job contender, and then on to be a valuable employee? That process speaks to something that is not measurable or quantifiable: the enthusiasm shown by a job candidate in all parts of the hiring process. Is “enthusiasm” the be-all and end-all that marks your next hire? Not necessarily, but Olympic Staffing has these tips to offer as to when and how to evaluate enthusiasm as you bring your employees on board.

The Application

It’s easy to find sparks of enthusiasm in an individual’s application. Identify this early sign by looking for two things. First, look for an indication that the candidate has done some research and included details about the company. These would go beyond description and into some deeper thinking and musings about what level of competence and expertise the candidate brings. Second, a truly enthusiastic candidate will talk about how excited or interested he or she is in joining the company, and would provide compelling reasons to support that.

The Interview

An interview is give-and-take between two separate – but not opposing – forces. As an interviewer, you use that time to explain your company’s needs, and how a candidate could meet those needs.

Qualifications aren’t the only factor in hiring, so the interview is the best chance to let those intangible characteristics shine through. Interviewers can counter cool and seemingly-disinterested candidates by asking some leading questions, like “What makes you enthusiastic about this position?” and “Why do you want to be hired?” Those should draw out telling answers, and allow you to filter out people who are only passively looking, or who aren’t able to muster any energy about the opportunity.

The Follow-up

Though some say the thank you note is an old-fashioned artifact of an earlier age, truly enthusiastic candidates across most industries will follow up, either with a note or an email, with sincere gratitude for the interview opportunity. While it’s not a deal-breaker, look for it, and add that into your hiring decision as a positive.

The Offer

When you make the offer to an enthusiastic candidate, you should see how candidly his or her happiness with coming on board will shine through. This step gives you a final check on making sure your selection has the right stuff, and that your decision will pay off.

Olympic Staffing can work with your company to bring enthusiastic, motivated and qualified candidates into your hiring process. Contact our staff to start working with us on your next recruitment project.

Use Praise, Not Criticism, When Managing Staff

July 16th, 2012

The Italian political philosopher Machiavelli once said, “It’s better to be feared than to be loved.” As a manager, allowing your supervisory style to follow that line of thinking is a step toward disaster.

As a manager, you want to accentuate the positive as much as you can when dealing with your employees. Ask yourself, would employees see a barrage of criticism as positive, or as overwhelmingly negative? And of course, you know the answer!

Criticism can have a short-term payoff, as workers step up their pace and pour all their energies into fulfilling stated expectations – no matter how unreasonable, and in the face of negativity. But in the long-term, a company will find that it will end up losing. That outcome will show itself in low staff morale, overall lower productivity, and in the end, your best employees will move on to new positions in another business – and most likely won’t hesitate to spread the word about a toxic, unsupportive environment with you in charge.

So, you might be asking, what type of “praise” should I be providing as a manager, and how will it motivate my employees? The answer to that is simpler than you think. Come up with a plan for each of your supervisees – as much as is feasible – using the following tips.

Acknowledge Employee Failures

When an employee takes steps to work outside his or her comfort zone, or to take a risk, that is an opportunity for learning and improvement. History’s best innovations have often come from multiple failed attempts; find ways to encourage and support your employees in their own innovations.

Be Specific

Being specific with your praise shows an employee that you are paying attention. Don’t just say “you did great work on the Smith account” – talk about how the employee was instrumental in bringing in 20 percent of the new business in the last quarter.

Mention Great Work To Others

Sometimes it isn’t enough to praise an employee. Another even more powerful tactic is to mention your employees’ work to others. Whether it is to your own superiors, to your peers in other departments, or the rest of your staff, talk about your employees’ good deeds and great performance in ways that showcase their accomplishments.

Managers look to Olympic Staffing for support and advice when working with staff members to create a positive work environment. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.

Hiring Blacklists: Do they exist?

July 9th, 2012

Mention the word “blacklist,” and you might conjure up memories from a U.S. history class, of a time in the 1950s where government workers, celebrities and ordinary people were blacklisted: tainted with a bad reputation and actively excluded from working in their chosen profession and passed over for advancement opportunities.

Thankfully, we have moved beyond that sad chapter of history, but that doesn’t mean that “blacklisting” has disappeared. Whether you have left a position because of a poor relationship with a supervisor or co-workers, or were asked to leave a position because of poor performance, your past may continue to haunt you as you search for a new position.

Employers do keep records of former employees, and make particular notes of who is not eligible to be rehired. Ordinarily, as you leave a position, an exit interview with human resources personnel will reveal whether or not you would be considered for a future opening. As for formal reference checks, HR offices will generally only reveal dates employed, salary information, job title and duties. They may also reveal if asked whether you are eligible for rehire.

What is critical to remember is that your reputation is the one thing that you can’t buy, you can’t steal, and it’s tough to get back once you’ve lost it. Your reputation matters, so when you are dealing with your career – in a job, in a volunteer position, or in any other capacity – don’t burn bridges. That is the surest way to lose face and to put holes in the armor of your reputation. Leaving a position in a blaze of glory might sound appealing, but it will damage your reputation – in some cases, permanently. There is little question in cases like this that a file with your name on it will end up with “Not Eligible For Rehire” stamped on the front.

The informal references – ones informed by vendor relationships, associations through professional organizations, and other personal contact – are the ones that you have no control over, and might not ever hear about. While no actual list is involved, your name may be passed over in favor of people who are equal to you in skill and experience, but not sullied by poor opinions.

Are you willing to work to overcome a damaged reputation? The answer for moving past a space on an informal “blacklist” ultimately depends on you, and your willingness to acknowledge past mistakes and demonstrate what you have learned. It may mean switching to a new industry with a new set of professional contacts. It may mean retraining for a new type of job that would keep you in your industry. It may mean changing geographic locations, opening yourself up to a network well outside your current circle.

Olympic Staffing works with qualified candidates who may have had bad employment experiences in the past. We can assist in finding the right position to fit your skills and knowledge.

Write Better Job Postings to Attract the Best Candidates

July 2nd, 2012

Every story starts with a great opening. As a hiring manager or supervisor, you should consider that the story of each of your employees gets its start not when you bring them in for interviews, but before that, as they read your carefully-crafted job postings.

Even with jobs that are available on the “quiet” job market – where job postings never make it to the newspaper or other open forums for the general public – most of the time, job postings are written and evaluated by potential new employees.

Now that it’s summertime, here are some tips from Olympic Staffing to give some sizzle to the next job postings you write.

Think “Keyword Rich”

With the explosion of websites that aggregate and republish open job postings, it’s important that you think like your potential applicants and include the keywords that they will be using to search through hundreds and thousands of job postings. Include notable certifications, licenses or industry experience, but make sure that the core job functions of this position are also adequately represented.

No buzzwords need apply

Do not include the dreaded buzzwords that circulate in the business world. You don’t want to hire a thought-leader or visionary; you are interested in effective communicators or experienced project managers. Test your job postings with existing employees; this will be a good gauge of whether your writing matches up with the real world of your industry.

Be thorough, but not exhaustive

At Olympic, we have seen every type of job posting, from sentence-long summaries to two-page long dissertations. Strike a balance between those two extremes by aiming for a complete description of what you are looking for in this position and in what your company is about; do not write an exhaustive laundry list of all possible tasks and projects.

Include salary, or at least a range

Save time by including the salary range for the position in the job posting. You will weed out the employees who simply won’t accept that salary, and indicate to qualified applicants where you pay in the spectrum of employee compensation. You will lose those applicants in the interview process anyway, so include a range or state something to the effect that you pay an industry standard or by some other quantifiable measure.

Corporate culture matters

The best job posting descriptions include a statement on corporate culture. Give a potential employee a sense of what working there is like. Is business casual the standard of dress? Do you offer on-the-job training? Paid time off? Office picnics? These intangible benefits are real enough to make a difference to your best candidates.

Hiring managers rely on Olympic Staffing throughout the recruitment process, which includes the writing of effective job postings. If you are looking for more tips on how to attract candidates through better job postings, please contact Olympic Staffing today.