USING FLEX TIME TO ATTRACT JOB APPLICANTS

USING FLEX TIME TO ATTRACT JOB APPLICANTS

The Accounting Department Manager, Maureen, shared with an Abel Personnel recruiter a common predicament in the business world. “We posted the position of staff accountant for four weeks. We
need to replace some recent departures plus meet growing demand. Those applicants that were qualified wanted to work from home or flexible hours. Those that were willing to work a standard 40-hour week needed salaries above our pay scale.”

The Tight Market Pay Rate Dilemma
“In a tight labor market, you need to expect to pay higher salaries. Desired pay rates may come down with a recession. However, there’s no certainty if or when a recession will happen,” the recruiter responded.

“I’ve explained that to my management. All they see is the need to control costs and keep our clients happy. Besides, if we pay what the better candidates are requiring, then I’ll be bringing in new employees at higher rates than existing employees. Some of those current staff have the same or better qualifications. Meanwhile, I have unsatisfied clients who rely on us as their ‘inhouse accountants.’ Plus, I’m behind on my revenue budget because I don’t have the staff to bill out.” Her despair was palpable over the video connection.

The recruiter had been busily keyboarding as Maureen was presenting her concerns. When there was a pause, the recruiter shared her screen:

Hiring Factors

  • Position requires 5-7 years of experience, 8 hours per day availability, regular in-office and client office meetings of significant duration.
  • Qualified candidates want more flexibility or higher salary (or both).
  • Higher salaries will result in payroll budget overrun.
  • Higher salaries will result in salary disparities that could affect morale and require existing salary adjustments (see #3 above).
  • Positions left open result in unhappy clients, unable to serve new clients.
  • Positions left open result in missing revenue budget.

“You nailed it,” replied Maureen. “Perhaps I should rethink my requirements and be more flexible. My clients won’t be happy if we aren’t on call during all regular business hours and can’t stop by. I may lose some of them. What other choice do I have to meet cost and revenue budgets?”

A Better Approach to Staffing
“Not so fast,” the recruiter counseled. “Asking clients to settle for less is a ‘race to the bottom.’ Your client base will shrink to the size that your reduced workforce can handle, or worse. We need to accept the needs and wants of your client as a given. I do think we can recruit based on which of these options might be acceptable to you and your management.”

This was the next screen the Abel recruiter shared:

Recruiting Options

  • Reorganize into teams. Each client would be assigned a team of two. The team members could flex as long as full coverage of the week and needed office visits could occur. Teams could even have part time staff, but only if this arrangement does not increase cost to clients. This would also allow knowledgeable coverage when one team member was on vacation or otherwise out.
  • Determine what salaries could be paid to new staff, and adjusted for existing staff. This would be done in a way that would still allow full coverage of existing and new client needs. This will meet or exceed revenue goals and still yield an acceptable margin of profit.
  • Add new staff as a contingent workforce through Abel Personnel. As economic conditions become clearer, some positions could be made direct and salaries adjusted per Option B. Otherwise, some contingent staff could be released.

Maureen was intrigued, but needed to run some numbers and discuss these options with her senior management.

The Abel recruiter emailed Maureen copies of the two slides that had been shared, adding a word of caution, “If the candidates you have seen are requiring higher salaries or more flexibility than you are delivering to your existing staff, then there is a risk that your competitors are going to contact your staff and offer these higher salaries and benefits. This is what I’ve been seeing in current accounting staff recruiting. Sometimes we need to realize that a high profit experience is coming to an end for a while. We cannot always see high profits regardless of changing economic conditions.”

“Funny, that sounds like advice my firm gives to our clients!” Maureen chuckled. “Sometimes you need a vendor partner to help you discover what you already know.”

STRATEGIC HIRING OPPORTUNITY

The software customisation company was thrilled with their newest hire. The company COO chose to call their Abel Personnel recruiter to thank her directly for her efforts in making this key addition possible. The COO characterised this hire as “strategic,” a position that needed the right person to assure the company’s ongoing growth in market share. The COO confided that the process from authorising the search to position acceptance had required about eight months, including the company’s six month effort to identify candidates using web-based services before coming to Abel.

The recruiter, grateful for the praise, confessed that her efforts to locate hard-to-find talent had become easier in the last few months because of three factors:

  • High-Tech Staff Reductions: The announced layoffs, plus anticipation of more workforce reductions coming, increased the number of high talent individuals with highly specialised qualifications into the job market. A number of these she had placed in their jobs several years ago were returning to her as a trusted advocate.
  • Great Resignation Returnees: Those who had left the workforce at the start of the COVID pandemic, either as early retirees or to stay home with children attending virtual classes, have decided that they now really want to work, to go back to an office after three years. In some cases, the government subsidies have run out. For others, their vaccinations have made them less fearful of an office environment.
  • Great Resignation Remorse: There are others who used the pandemic and accompanying high labour demand to switch jobs and even careers. Two to three years later, they find that the switch was not the better opportunity or lifestyle they thought that they wanted. For some, that time period is also what they normally expect to elapse before moving on to advance their careers.

Through this presentation, the COO asked many questions, including specific position inquiries. He then scheduled a video conference with the Abel recruiter and his HR manager two weeks later. By that time, he committed to updating the company’s strategic human resources plan, to present a list of positions with unique background requirements that the company needed to fill in the next year or two to achieve their strategic business plan. The recruiter complimented the COO on his understanding that acquiring high talent was a long game, akin to securing high revenue clients. The time investment, with the right person representing the company, had a higher probability of yielding a better return than a quick hire over the internet.

Is it time to start considering strategic hires as high talent has suddenly become available? Be in touch with Abel Personnel at 717-561-2222 or at abelpersonnel.com.

GET OFF YOUR FEET AND INTO AN OFFICE JOB

You feel or have been told you do not have the skills to be in office administrative work, such as office clerk, customer service, receptionist. So, you feel stuck in:

  • Retail, food service or warehouse work.
  • Working odd shifts, resulting in no time for family or a social life.
  • Waiting to start a career with growing opportunity.

Chances are that your existing skills and experience are highly transferable to an office environment. You just may need some help to see this and help possible employers visualize how you can make this transition. Staffing agencies like Abel Personnel have knowledgeable recruiters that can help you identify your shining attributes.

Ready for that career transition? First, you need to invest some time in these 5 steps:

  • Evaluate What You Offer: What skills and experience have you developed in your previous jobs that could be relevant to an administrative role? These might include customer service, problem-solving, time-management, and communication. Make a list of your skills and think of examples that will showcase them to potential employers.
  • Research Potential Job Titles and Industries: Conduct an online search of potential job titles and industries that might be a good fit for you. Look for positions that align with your interests and goals, and consider industries where your skills may be in high demand.
  • Update Your Resume and Cover Letter: Make sure these are both up to date and tailored to the administrative roles you’re targeting. Use industry-specific language to describe your skills and experience, and highlight any relevant education or training you have.
  • Network and Seek Out Opportunities: Talk to your friends and family letting them know that you are looking for work in a different environment. Ask them if they know of anyone who you can reach out to in order to get more information about the opportunity.
  • Consider Internships or Volunteer Work: If you need to brush up on your computer and MSOffice program skills (Word, Excel, etc.), consider seeking out internships or volunteer work to gain experience and make connections in the field. These can be a great way to build your skills and demonstrate your commitment to a new career path.

Your recruiter at Abel will help you determine which of your skills to focus on and how to work towards your goal. Give Abel Personnel a call at 717-561-2222 or visit us on the web at abelpersonnel.com.

NEW YEAR, NEW CAREER: 6 JOB SEARCH TIPS

The start of a new year is a natural time for many people to reflect on their careers and consider making a change. Many potential employers also now are looking to fill newly approved openings. Six tips and some questions to answer before starting your job search:
NEW YEAR, NEW CAREER: 6 JOB SEARCH TIPS

Overall, the start of a new year is a great time to consider making a change in your career. With some reflection, preparation, persistence and guidance, you can find that new career in the new year. Abel Personnel has just what you need!

NEW YEAR, NEW CAREER: 6 JOB SEARCH TIPS

  • Reflect on Your Goals & Priorities. Think about what you want out of your career and what you’re looking for in a new job. What are your long-term goals? What are your values and priorities? What opportunities do you want in your next job?
  • Update Your Resume & Cover Letter. Are your resume and cover letter up to date? Do they highlight your skills, experience, and accomplishments? Is there a professional resume writer or career coach you could approach for additional guidance?
  • Network to Seek Out Prospects. Networking is a key part of any job search. The start of the year is a great time to reach out to connections and let them know you’re looking for new opportunities. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and networking online!
  • Be Open to New Opportunities. Don’t be too narrowly focused on one particular type of job or industry. Are you exploring new opportunities and considering positions that may be outside your comfort zone? Do you have skills and experiences that would transfer well to other industries?
  • Stay Positive & Persistent. Finding a new job can be a challenging process, and it’s important to stay positive and persistent. Are you allowing yourself to become discouraged while applying for positions and networking? Are you embracing the opportunity to learn about other companies and industries?
  • Work with Abel Personnel. Pursuing a new job and perhaps a new career direction does not need to be a DIY effort. Are you aware that there are experts in identifying the job opportunities that align with your career goals and priorities? May we suggest Abel Personnel?

ADDELINE ALANIZ EDWARDS JOINS ABEL PERSONNEL TEAM

At the start of the new year, Addeline Alaniz Edwards assumed the position of Business Development Specialist at Abel Personnel. In her new role, Addeline will become a key contact for companies and organizations of all sizes to provide them with temporary, temp-to-hire, or direct hire staffing solutions. Her mission will be to introduce new client partners to Abel’s wide range of staffing services, and ultimately to connect them with the Abel recruiter who specializes in the types of positions to be filled.

Addeline joins the Abel Personnel team after serving as the Executive Director of the Rotary Club of Harrisburg for four years, and a 10+ year career in banking and accounting. This included regional member service coordinator for New Cumberland Federal Credit Union.

In addition to her full-time roles, Addeline has been a dedicated Rotarian since 2012. She has volunteered as a public image consultant for the Rotary Club of Baltimore, facilitated Rotary Mid-Atlantic President-Elect Training Seminars, has been a featured speaker to Rotary clubs around the world, and has had her writing published in Rotary Magazine. Addeline is a graduate of Rotary Leadership Institute, Judge/Bradley Leadership School and Leadership Harrisburg Area’s Community Leadership Series.

Locally, Addeline is a member and two-time Past President of the Harrisburg Keystone Rotary Club. She is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow and enjoys coordinating fundraising efforts such as the 0.5K and the Polar Plunge for her club. Other local volunteer activities include serving on the Supervisory Committee for Americhoice Federal Credit Union. Most recently in 2021, Addeline was honored as one of Central Penn Business Journal’s Forty under 40.

Addeline and her husband Josh live in Camp Hill with their three children. Addeline enjoys music, dancing, kayaking on the Susquehanna River and lounging by the patio campfire with a cold beer.

Undersharing

Jay asked, “you’re worried that if you tell your supervisor after you start the new job, you’ll probably get the same reaction as your acquaintance did?”

“I hadn’t thought about it,” Steve replied, “but I have a few long weekends scheduled. There is my usual spring fishing trip with my old frat brothers and a destination wedding where I’m a groomsman. I have plenty of vacation time to cover this at my current job, and I already have my supervisor’s approval for most of these absences. I’d like to move on from this job, but can I do that and keep these plans? And if I tell an interviewer about this, I’ll sound like someone who always seems absent and not just a guy with a good work-life balance.”

Jay considered Steve’s concerns. He responded, “the recruiter I used at Abel Personnel called this ‘undersharing’. Like the opposite of oversharing, when you say too much about your outside-of-work life or your past experiences that aren’t relevant to your qualifications or how you would uniquely contribute to the agency’s success.”

Steve responded, “maybe if I present these in a way that makes me appear to be an interesting person that is well-rounded and perhaps even fun to work with, that might be a positive thing.”

“Something like that,” Jay replied.

“But what if there are things I feel uncomfortable discussing or may make the interviewer feel awkward, like medical stuff, or worried that I might trigger an EEOC concern?” Steve worried.

“Ah, that’s where having a savvy recruiter comes in to help you. They can guide you on what you should probably not share, what you should share as part of the interview process, and what the recruiter can share before the offer is made to avoid any discomfort between you and the recruiter. That way, if there are any deal breakers, we can address them long before any hiring commitments are made. The recruiter can also work out how you can keep those planned days off, even if it’s an advance on future allowed days off. I think most bosses of new hires dislike surprises about previously planned vacations or medical procedures. Rather than requiring perfect attendance in the first six months of work!” Jay encouraged.

Steve was impressed with Jay’s response and found Abel Personnel’s website on Google.

POST-PANDEMIC REALISM

The search for the software customization specialist proceeded for several weeks without a single candidate proposed as interview-worthy. The Abel Personnel recruiter suggested that the IT Firm’s HR Manager and the recruiter have a virtual huddle to review their approach before continuing.

“I’m not surprised you weren’t immediately successful,” the HR Manager began. “We weren’t being inundated with resumes when we had tried finding qualified applicants on our own.”

“Oh, finding well-qualified candidates has not been the problem. We’ve spoken with several who we knew were passively looking for a new opportunity. Many felt enthused about the software you handle and your reputation for the team you’ve put together. Your compensation, benefits, and career opportunity were also meeting their expectations. Those haven’t been the problem,” the recruiter reported.

Hearing that surprised the HR Manager, who now wondered if their software customization process was no longer cutting edge or if they were missing something the talent market now wanted. In a way, the HR Manager was right about both these concerns.

“In the last few years, during the Covid Pandemic, there has been a shift in the market. For example, employees gravitate more to hybrid work conditions,” the recruiter continued.

“Oh, but we did that, and within weeks of the start of the general industry office lockdown. We were one of the last local IT companies to call everyone back to the office. Based on that record, applicants can bet that if there is another flare-up, we will be ready to switch back to hybrid or full-time work from home.” The HR Manager then proudly added, “Our employees are our greatest asset!”

“I gathered from several potential candidates that hybrid work is no longer a ‘pandemic thing.’ Many found that they were more productive working from home. One person wants to have two days a week out of the office to allow her to have long stretches of sustained focus and the ability to control phone calls and people stopping by her cubicle to chat. Many want to continue to work that way regardless of positivity rates,” the recruiter explained.

“But teamwork is the hallmark of our company culture. A few programmers, meeting together spontaneously to solve a glitch, that’s what I’m told works for us,” insisted the HR Manager.

The recruiter paused here. How to convey, as many candidates had patiently explained, that there is not necessarily a causal relationship between being in the office and the opportunity to spontaneously solve problems as a team? Using an imaging technique, she pressed forward. “If I may ask, what was the effect of working from home on productivity during the height of the Pandemic? And, aside from the PPP Loan, were there any great losses in profitability?”

“None whatsoever. The PPP loan helped cover the cost of the receptionist and some maintenance and janitorial staff that we did not need when no one was working in our offices,” the HR Manager responded.

“And if you are, rightly, focused on the well-being of your staff, does that mean you must treat them all the same? Does everyone work just as well in the same work environment? One size fits all?” the recruiter then asked.

The HR Manager first chuckled at this. “One size does NOT fit all” was a slogan that the company often used to promote its software customization services. That was followed by a long pause, as there was a visible change in the HR Manager’s expression, mirroring their internal shift. Diversity of experience, needs, and opportunities was a very familiar HR concept.

“I get your point. We’re preaching one approach to our customers and a different approach internally,” was what had evolved for the HR Manager.

That became the starting point of a “what if” conversation, identifying broader work parameters for the still-open position. The conclusion: work conditions were negotiable. The recruiter then reconnected with the applicants that had declined their interest. Within a few weeks, four candidates were interviewed, their references were contacted, and a background check was completed for the preferred applicant.

When the HR Manager called the recruiter to present the offer to the candidate, the postscript was added, “Of course, we had to extend the same flexibility to current employees. We couldn’t offer new employees a better deal than existing ones. My management was quite overwhelmed by the positive feedback from this announcement, way beyond holiday cheer and yearend bonuses. One employee told her supervisor that the flexibility was even better than the bonus. We were also surprised that there wasn’t an urgent rush to go hybrid. The ones who declined still said they were grateful to have a choice. So, what else should we be doing to attract and retain talent?”

This was a conversation that the recruiter loved to be having with client partners. Customizing recruiting approaches that recognize that every company, position, and applicant is unique.

5 Interview Questions You Need To Ask

In every employment interview, there comes a time when the hiring firm asks, “So, what questions do you have for us?” Aside from questions about job responsibilities, career opportunities, compensation and benefits, the workplace responses to the shifts of the last few years suggest there are 5 other questions you might also want to consider posing:

5 Interview Questions You Need To Ask

  • WHAT ARE THE HYBRID WORK ARRANGEMENTS?
    Whether or not the firm now has everyone, most or some back in the workplace, they likely have a plan for those who work remotely, or will need to work remotely when exposed to or recovering from COVID. What are the expectations around your communications and performance when working remotely?
  • WHAT ARE THE TECHNOLOGY POLICIES FOR REMOTE AND HYBRID WORK?
    Part of this question focuses on what hardware and software will be provided to you for use outside the office. The other deals with the ability of employees to buy and use their technology. In either case, security and backup protocols will be important.
  • HOW DOES THE COMPANY HANDLE SICK LEAVE?
    Significant legislation has recently been passed on this subject. You should be clear on the policies for caring for a sick relative and working remotely when doing so, within those new laws.
  • WHAT ARE EXPECTATIONS ON APPEARANCE?
    This includes the dress code in the office and in virtual interactions. This will ensure you are appropriately attired for a better first impression, but also tell you a lot about the hiring company’s culture. Included here are both religious garb and required safety protection for hairstyles.
  • HOW DOES THE COMPANY STAND ON MARIJUANA USE AND TESTING?
    While marijuana is still illegal under federal law (but perhaps for not much longer), its allowed usage for medical only or recreational purposes requires companies to decide how to test for and respond to usage, and to determine what constitutes impairment. Whether or not you use marijuana, those policies offer another window into the corporate culture.

You may feel uncomfortable asking these questions, if only that these may affect the interviewer’s opinion of you (even though they shouldn’t). An Abel Personnel recruiter can greatly assist here, asking the questions for you, even before the interview. Seeking that level of support in your job search? Connect with us at abelpersonnel.com.

Sourced from HR Dive, “5 employee handbook sections that may need an overhaul in 2023,” Katie Clarie, November 21, 2022

NOT TOO EARLY FOR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

Caroline, the head of her company’s staffing function, had met with her Abel Personnel recruiter for lunch in early December every year for the past seven years (at outdoor locations before Covid vaccinations were available). This tradition dates back to Caroline’s predecessor when company policy allowed vendors to take their clients out to lunch. Now everything is “separate checks.” The two women enjoyed having lunch together. It was a great opportunity for Caroline to give her recruiter a heads-up on planned staffing needs for the coming year, and to hear what trends the recruiter was seeing in staffing in Caroline’s company’s industry.

Once Caroline had shared what sets of skills and work experience the recruiter should be on the lookout for after the first of the year, the discussion turned to holiday plans and traditions. They each recounted how many activities that had been canceled due to the pandemic were reinstated for the first time this year, and how many (some thankfully) would not be returning. This discussion naturally turned next to the tradition of New Year’s resolutions.

“You mean ones besides ‘exercise more, spend more time with family, be kinder?’” Caroline joked.

“I was thinking of business-related resolutions, particularly in staffing,” the recruiter replied. “Those types of aspirations that often don’t make it to the company’s business plan, except perhaps how much staff needs to be hired or to improve staff retention.”

Caroline nodded at this, before observing, “As you know, we underperformed in staffing this year, though thanks to you we did better than most of our competitors for the same talent. But you’re right, there are things we could be doing better. I bet you have some ideas?”

Over the next half hour, the women together identified five “New Year’s Staffing Resolutions:”

  • Update Job Descriptions: Too often the process of filling positions is delayed as a new job description needs to be developed and approved. In many cases, the position’s responsibilities and expectations have evolved since the leaving staff member had first taken that spot. Updated job descriptions are also a good practice for performance reviews.
  • Identify Key Staff Replacements: The first response to a two-week-notice departure on critical functions is often a scramble to find someone to temporarily assume that position, typically while also covering their current position. Next, a decision is needed on whether to try promoting from inside the company, to look outside, or both. By creating a process to annually identify interim and internal replacements, the time from resignation to completing the training of the replacement is shortened.
  • Face-to-face Interviews at Workplace: The practice of having interviews online was convenient during the height of the pandemic, but should be curtailed now whenever possible, for the sake of the hiring manager as well as the applicant. In-person interviews pass along many nonverbal clues to both these people. Having the interview, as well as a tour, at the workplace allows the applicant to better picture themselves at that location, and spurs questions and opportunities that might not come from an online interview.
  • Don’t Wait to Schedule Interviews: The policy of scheduling all candidates for interviews in a single day is an ideal way to compare the applicants side-by-side. This might work in a normal employment market. In current conditions, waiting for multiple persons to be scheduled to interview on the same day may result in the first person being identified as already having accepted another job. Wanting to meet three candidates is not the same as requiring three proposals for every purchase. Interview as soon as possible, and don’t be committed to having to meet other candidates before selecting one to receive an offer. The first one interviewed may be the best candidate!
  • Onboarding Program to Keep New Hire Hired: As soon as the applicant accepts the job offer, have an onboarding plan in place to make the new hire feel welcome and confident that they made the right decision in accepting the offer. Most likely the new hire will keep receiving phone calls from prospective employers and may be tempted to “de-commit” to the offer recently accepted. Having the sense that the position they accepted will be at a great place to work often dissuades someone from the last-minute switch for slightly more compensation.

These five “resolutions” all made sense to Caroline, although for some she was unsure how to begin implementing them. The Abel recruiter was pleased to help with this, committing some time to Caroline to have these in place before the first of the year, which is when other business urgencies typically take precedence.