NAILING THE INTERVIEW – IT’S ABOUT PREPARATION

NAILING THE INTERVIEW – IT’S ABOUT PREPARATION

Perhaps you’ve had this experience:  you had an interview, you felt it went great, and then you were completely mystified when you weren’t selected for the position.  What you might have missed is an understanding of what hiring managers are looking for in the selection process.  There are several steps involved in the preparation process, and addressing each step is critical to assure you truly will have a great interview and a stronger likelihood of being selected for your next career move.

Reading through a job posting, you think “I can do this job, just give me a chance.”  Yet, your application and resume submission only generate a “thank you for applying” email response.  Hiring managers are looking for ability and suitability.  Nearly every Abel Recruiter can recall a candidate who had a strong desire and motivation for a position but didn’t illustrate the skills and qualifications in their previous work history or training.

Step One:  Orientation Research

You know you have the skills to do the job based on the posting (I recommend that you keep the job post handy to refer to as you prepare for the interview.)  Beyond your ability, suitability means that you have an understanding of the industry, the terminology, how to do business, and why things need to be done the way they’re done.  If this would be a new industry for you, do your research.  Go on LinkedIn and look up people who currently hold the role, read through their profile and posts.  Another good online resource is the Occupational Outlook Handbook to obtain detailed information about the role and the industry.  These are just two resources.  You’ll find so much by exploring YouTube and following industry influencers.

Two important foundational thoughts to keep in mind as you prepare yourself for interviews:

  • Every role exists to solve a problem.
  • Every company wants to make money.

As you look at your past roles and the responsibilities you handled, flush each of those items through the filter of how did this task solve a problem and contribute to the company’s goals.  WRITE that down.  How did it solve a problem (specify the problem)?  How did it prevent a problem?  How did you anticipate a problem?  How did it provide a solution?  The answers to these questions are critical when it comes to interviewing preparation.  Make detailed notes because you’re going to refer to these in the next step of your preparation.

 

Step Two:  Identifying the Soft Skills or Transferable Skills

Looking at what you’ve noted in the previous step, you want to consider which soft skills you applied to accomplish each task.  Identifying soft skills and being able to convey them is a priority when comes to the interview itself.  A hiring manager wants to know how you’d do as an employee.  It’s not enough to list your soft skills as strengths or capabilities (never “I’m an organized, results-driven, team player…”).  You need to illustrate these skills, paint a picture, tell the story of you as an employee so that it conveys an image in the mind of the hiring manager.  And when you do this well, that person will be able to envision you in the role and working with you.

Let’s take a look at some of the top behavioral skills employers have identified as what they look for in employees (this is the shortlist;  your Abel Recruiter can help you identify more skills that employers consider critical no matter what role, what level):

  • Critical thinking – The ability to think through a problem, define the challenges, generate possible solutions, and then evaluate and implement the best solution.
  • Communication Skills (there are a lot of variables to this):
    • What you say and how you say it
    • Listening to understand rather than thinking about what you want to say
    • Clearly communicating in writing including email and texting (knowing the protocols as to how written communication will be perceived)
  • Self-Presentation Skills – These support your Communication Skills:
    • Dress and grooming
    • Cordial and social graces
    • Body language
    • Emotional IQ (self-awareness and maturity when dealing with others)
  • Multitasking – We all do this in one form or another, and I’m not referring to driving while sipping coffee listening to your favorite motivational podcast on your way into work. We want to boil it down to time management, prioritization, and organizational skills (be prepared to describe what methods you use to stay organized, establish priorities, and manage your time).
  • Teamwork – This skill insists on a commitment to the team and that its success comes first. You illustrate this by always cooperating, consistently making decisions based on team goals, keeping team members informed, upholding commitments, always sharing credit –  never blame.
  • Leadership Skills – This is the most complex skill and refers back to Teamwork; when others believe in your competence and believe you have everyone’s success as your goal, they will follow you.  People don’t follow those who are disrespectful and have self-interest at heart.  To quote Spider-Man (written by Stan Lee), “with great power comes great responsibility.”  Flipping this quote around is also true:  with great responsibility comes great power.
  • Creativity or Creative Thinking – This is different than having ideas. It is the ability to develop those ideas with the strategic know-how that brings them to life, obtaining tangible results.  This skill generally springs from technological skills, multitasking, communication, teamwork, and leadership.

Additional criteria hiring managers are looking for are your professional values:

  • Ability to make a judgment call in any given situation.
  • Your motivation and energy, engagement and enthusiasm:
  • Motivation is expressed by your energy; you always give that extra effort to get the job done and get it done right.
  • Your engagement and enthusiasm for the role may be expressed by keeping up with trends, changes in the industry, and how they apply to your role.  You incorporate new and relevant changes within your areas of responsibility as well as share them with the team.  You also bring commitment, reliability, and dedication to your profession and the knowledge that comes from how your part contributes to the whole.
  • Determination is illustrated by not avoiding challenges; you step up to the plate.
  • Pride and Integrity – pride equals doing your work well, having and maintaining high standards you set for yourself. Integrity/honesty applies to all of your dealings in the role, including when you made a mistake.
  • Productivity through efficiencies of time and money resources (frugal know-how, making the most of what you’ve got, using everything with the greatest efficiency).
  • Systems and Procedures – understanding the chain of command, you don’t implement your own improved procedure;  you work through the system to get it changed.

 

Step Three:  Scenario Planning

Now that you have considered the above criteria, it’s time to fill your “toolbox” with actual real-life scenarios from the list you’ve created.  Writing out these scenarios will help you to set up your responses to interview questions.  Write out the scenarios including:

  • State the problem/situation
  • What was the cause
  • What was the desired outcome
  • What skills did you use to tackle the problem; include if the situation illustrates some of your professional values
  • Recall the solution, who benefited from it, and how (put numbers to it if applicable).

Your “toolbox” is now full of excellent resources that will help you when it comes to the interview.  Going back to suitability, consider how any of these scenarios may be applicable in the industry you are pursuing.  Perhaps you correlate the terminology from your past industry to the new industry.  Put this information into your scenarios as well.

That’s the bulk of the preparation.  Abel Recruiters have more tips and information, but we don’t want to give away all of our trade secrets!  Reach out to a recruiter today to assist you in your job-seeking journey and help make that next interview a successful interview (we’ll also help you navigate through the job offer and salary negotiation).

Resource:  Author, Martin Yate, Knock ‘em Dead Job Interview.

WILL YOUR RESUME WIN YOU THE INTERVIEW?

ALWAYS REMEMBER: The primary purpose of a successful resume is to win an interview.

Melissa Davis is the Information Technology Recruiter at Abel Personnel, as well as a successful Certified Professional Resume Writer. From her experience, it is important that you know exactly what a company is looking for. Put yourself in the employers’ shoes and ask, “Who would make the perfect candidate?” Once you can answer that as best as possible, determine what it is about your background and who you are that makes you best suited for the job. Crafting an effective resume means convincing your potential employer that you are “just what the doctor ordered.” This is the first C of the 5 C’s of Resume Writing.

Prepare a convincing and clean resume that will put you in the best light possible. Be clear about the direction you wish to take and back up your statements with concise, clear, consistent facts about yourself.

The 5 C’s of Resume Writing

  • Convincing
  • Concise
  • Clear
  • Consistent
  • Clean

Four Major Reasons Your Resume is Rejected

1. THERE WERE TOO MANY APPLICANTS

On average, each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes. Of these candidates, four to six will be called for an interview and only one will be offered the job. Because we have such easy access to online job postings, it’s common to feel like there must be something wrong if you don’t get a callback. The problem is that even if you’re completely qualified and are a great candidate for the position, you may get passed over due to the sheer volume of candidates applying. Often there are so many applicants that determining which candidates should move forward is like finding a needle in a haystack.

How to Fix It

You should focus on getting your resume in front of the right eyes by targeting your search. Often that means reaching out directly to a hiring manager via LinkedIn or through a mutual connection in your network. That’s a talent that Abel Personnel brings to the partnership in securing your next career move.

2. YOU DIDN’T CUSTOMIZE YOUR RESUME TO THE JOB YOU WERE APPLYING FOR

With the number of applicants increasing, many hiring managers and recruiters default to either using an Applicant Tracking System or doing keyword searches to determine if candidates are qualified. Keyword searches are an easy way to determine if it’s worth taking the time to look at a resume or not.

How to Fix It

The best way to ensure that you come up on keyword searches is to go through the job descriptions that you’re interested in applying to and integrate those keywords and phrases throughout your documents. Do your desired job descriptions utilize keywords or phrases that you can use in your resume? Does a job description have a more eloquent way of wording one of your job duties? If you’re not using current job postings to help you write your resume, you’re doing yourself a disservice. See how industry professionals talk about jobs and utilize that in your documents. Using industry jargon will also help you appear more professional and knowledgeable about what you do. Your Abel recruiter will also discuss your resume and work history with you to glean any additional key words that will support your career goals or qualifications to a specific position.

3. YOUR RESUME HIGHLIGHTS YOUR JOB DUTIES AND NOT YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS

Studies show that hiring managers and recruiters look at individual resumes for an average of 6 seconds each. Because recruiters and hiring managers don’t have time to thoroughly go through every document, you need to make sure that your resume immediately reflects your achievements and what you can bring to the company.

How to Fix It

Anyone can say that they’re great at their job, but very few people can actually show it. When you’re noting your achievements, think about how you can quantify what you’ve done. Some examples of questions to ask yourself include:

  • How many people did you manage?
  • Did you increase productivity or sales by a percentage or dollar amount?
  • Did you save the company money?
  • Did you secure any partnerships?
  • Did you get awarded or recognized for anything?
  • Did you work with any big budget or notable clients or partners?

The more evidence that you can provide to your claim of being a great employee, the stronger your document will be. By including hard metrics and facts, recruiters and hiring managers will be drawn to look at the numbers and immediately recognize your achievements.

4. YOU DIDN’T USE ACTIVE VERBS IN YOUR RESUME

Subjective terms and clichés are seen as negative because they don’t convey real information. Instead of using the phrase “results driven,” try saying something along the lines of:

“Pitched and cultivated a relationship with [Company Name], securing $10,000 partnership for 2021.”

This sentence shows that you actively pursued a client and generated results. Using active verbs and integrating metrics creates a stronger claim than using common “resume phrases”.

How to Fix It

Still struggling with verbiage? A handy way to find action verbs is to use the Thesaurus (Shift+F) in Microsoft Word. Remember, active verbs that articulate achievement and motivation are extremely important. Don’t use the same verbs over and over again, try to use different versions to make your document interesting and ensure that you don’t continually repeat the same information. If you need additional guidance or suggestions, Abel Personnel is here to assist you!

BEST READ THIS BEFORE YOU WORK WITH A STAFFING FIRM!

You areconsidering applying for a job through one of the online job sites, and realize the posting is from Abel Personnel, a staffing firm. You hesitate, unsure of how Abel Personnel (and other staffing firms) can support your job search, and perhaps whether to consider a temp job. Below are the answers to many of the questions we regularly receive.

Q. What is the purpose of Abel Personnel?

A. Simply put:

  • You, a job seeker, are looking for work.
  • An employer, Abel’s client, is looking for workers.
  • Abel Personnel is the link between both parties.

Q. What does Abel Personnel do for job seekers?

A. Abel does everything possible to match you, the job seeker, to the right job and get you started with the employer. We guide you through the application process (phone screening, interview with a recruiter, identify your employment goals and strengths, assessments, etc.) and if all goes well, you, the job seeker becomes an active Abel Personnel candidate, ready to be considered for any of the many positions Abel has open to fill.

What else does Abel Personnel do for their job seekers?

  • Provides guidance related to their career goals and ambitions (including transitioning to new career paths).
  • Offers resume assistance.
  • Suggests interview tips.
  • Places your resume in the hands of HR or the hiring manager, so no more wondering if your resume has been seen.
  • Acts as your advocate AND we have relationships with these employers. We help to explain your work history, employment goals or career ambitions, what makes you a strong fit, and any circumstances typically not addressed on a resume.
  • Advises those looking to transition into clerical/administrative roles from other industries/positions in their work history.

Q. What do we charge for these services?

A. This is a free service for job seekers (if you come across a staffing agency that wants to charge you to find you a job or takes money from your paycheck, use caution!).

Q. Why do we provide all of this service to job seekers for free?

A. It’s our objective to find the right person, match them with the best job, and help them get hired. We’re paid by our client, the hiring company, and only when we place an Abel candidate with them. Sending them unqualified people jeopardizes our relationship with that employer and potentially any future business. It’s also not a good situation for the job seeker. We want to ensure that our candidates are hired for a position that is the best fit for their skills, interests, and goals.
Alternatively, if a job seeker interviews and doesn’t get the job – or decides professionally that the job isn’t a good fit – Abel Personnel can sometimes provide other job options (pssst…we have jobs that aren’t posted to the job boards because we reach into our database and only offer those jobs to qualified candidates we’ve already met with).

Q. should you consider a temp job whenyou’re looking for long-term stable employment?

A. The majority of the “temp” positions we fill are for long-term, full-time employment with excellent employers.

Q. What’s the difference between Short-Term Assignments, Temp-to-Hire, Direct Hire and Long-Term Temp?

A. Glad you asked!

  • Short-Term Assignments: Abel’s client requires some additional help (project work or their employee is going out and they need coverage, etc.). These assignments can be for any length of time (days, weeks, months). Typically, they are for an immediate start.In these cases, the candidate placed in these assignments are Abel employees on loan to the client (temps). It is for this reason that you will rarely find short-term assignments posted on the popular online job boards. They are a great option if you’re in-between jobs, waiting for the ideal opportunity to come along but need to bring in some income in the meantime. More often than not, we’ve had success with candidates placed in these assignments going from short-term to hire because the client wants to hire them in some capacity and will find a spot for them.If you’re interested in short-term assignments, look at Abel Personnel’s website/job board.
  • Temp-to-Hire (or Contract-to-Hire): This is the majority of the positions Abel fills. A better description may be Term-to-Hire. Once a candidate is identified and placed in this type of assignment, there is a term period (number of hours) before the candidate (Abel employee) transitions over to be the employer’s employee. When you think about it, this isn’t any different than being hired directly by a company; they may use the phrase “Training Period” or “Probationary Period”. Ultimately the goal is the same: to make sure the employee is a good match to the position and vice versa – which again, is what Abel does best.
  • Direct Hire (sometimes the term Permanent Placement is used): This occurs when a client has reached out to Abel to use our recruiting services. Again, Abel is paid by the client – there is no fee to the job seeker. This typically occurs when the client requires filling an upper-level role (supervisory, management) or is in need of a specialty degree or certification. These are usually candidates currently employed looking to make a change.
  • Long-Term Temp: These positions do not have a specified term to hire. Typically, the contracts with these clients offer benefits and pay increases to Abel employees as with any employer.

Q. Why do companies use staffing firms?

A. The short answer – because we save them time and money.

Since this is about what Abel Personnel does for job seekers, we won’t go into too much detail here. One of the main reasons companies come to Abel Personnel to assist them with their hiring needs is that Abel provides a screening process of identifying qualified candidates, interviewing the candidates, checks references, etc. We’ll only submit the candidates to the employer that are suitable for the job, saving the company (and the job seeker) a lot of time, helping them to fill the opening quickly to meet their objectives!Because Abel only submits candidates we’ve met with, we encourage you to take a call for an interview with our agency seriously and present yourself professionally as you would for any potential employer.

Q. Can you register with more than one agency?

A. Sure…HOWEVER, just know that companies may work with more than one agency for the same position and each agency may have different terms to their contract. If you are presented with the same job by different agencies, we strongly suggest that you be upfront and disclose that another agency has already presented you to the client for this position. This avoids a conflict for the hiring company potentially resulting in you being rejected altogether. Abel will never present you to a client without obtaining your permission first. If you’ve already been submitted by another agency let us know – your honesty will go a long way! We can then move on to other possible job opportunities.

Q. How big is the staffing industry?

A. Here are some stats:

SIX ACTIONS TO FOSTER EMPLOYEE RETENTION

At Abel Personnel, we’re accustomed to the unhappy tales of valued employees suddenly submitting a letter of resignation without any prior indication of dissatisfaction or interest in moving on. Replacing such employees can be an arduous, time consuming and costly task, beyond the process of posting the job, receiving resumes, arranging interviews, checking references and negotiating an offer. Even with Abel Personnel assigned the burden of most of those tasks, there is your time investment to address the morale dip when the news is shared, temporarily assigning job duties to others until a replacement is on board, notifying clients and vendors of the new temporary contact, training the replacement, and introducing the replacement to staff, clients and vendors. Your time spent in the transition might be better invested beforehand in actions that might mitigate the reasons for a departure.

In our experience, there are six actions that can reduce the risk of unexpected staff departures

  • Provide an Amazing Onboarding Experience: From the moment that new employee finally arrives for their first day of work, there should be no question that you and your team are excited for this addition to the team and will be making every effort for that person to succeed at the new job and have a great career at the company. Never underestimate the power of that first impression.
  • Reinforce a Culture of Caring : Employees value most a direct supervisor who demonstrates sincere care about an employee and that employee’s career. Culture starts from the top. This can be demonstrated by your touching base a few times a year about the employee’s career goals and how you can support their achievement; recommending continuing education opportunities, both formal and conferences/webinars; taking an interest in the employee’s family, hobbies and vacation plans; and occasionally stopping by (or phoning) the employee to ask how things are going at work and outside of work without any other action to request or information to share.
  • Recognize Achievements : Everyone wants to be appreciated for their above-and-beyond efforts. Some of this recognition will be public, such as a companywide announcement or an award. Others should be private, such as your hand delivering a spot bonus or a gift certificate for dinner-for-two to an employee that stayed late hours one evening to complete a critical task. Recognition should be tied to specific actions, and not just all-around good performance.
  • Be Transparent : When we are not given full information, as human beings we naturally try to guess how to fill in the blanks. Your actions may be easily misinterpreted that the company is in trouble and there will be layoffs soon, or someone else has received the choice assignment. Those conjectures can lead an employee to look elsewhere before the bad news is confirmed. A culture of fully sharing information, even some that is company-sensitive, can both avoid employees acting on partial knowledge, and create an atmosphere of trust that you’ll let the employee know at once if anything has occurred that might threaten their position, compensation or advancement.
  • Be Approachable : Failures and mistakes happen, but rarely do they warrant suspension or termination. Be very clear that you are open to wanting to hear bad news (preferable before you hear it from someone else!). You never want an employee to resign in anticipation of being fired. This will hold true for employees who are dealing with outside-of-work personal challenges who may need PTO or schedule flexibility that they think is unavailable. They need to know that if they don’t ask, the answer is always “no;” if they approach you, they may be pleasantly surprised at what you can work out together. Each staff member must feel like they have a connection to leadership.
  • Acknowledge the Reality of Job Changes : Make it clear that you expect ambitious staff to be on the lookout for advancement both inside and outside the department and company. That’s a fact of the business world. Respectfully request a heads-up just before they start a new job search with a promise of no repercussions and the flexibility to go on interviews without having to call in short notice PTOs. While this is a hard commitment to make, it results in a chance to ask the employee why they are interviewing and therefore an opportunity to address irritants and culture issues. Sometimes that’s enough to dissuade the employee from interviewing without your exerting any pressure.

Employees will continue to change jobs despite their company’s best efforts a staff retention: families relocate, opportunities for advancement await openings to occur, a different work experience is sought. The key is to retain those employees who really want to stay by addressing misunderstandings and unintended consequences that unexpectedly prompts them to consider leaving. And if they do leave, be sure they have a great offboarding experience, too. Don’t burn any bridges: they may be interested in returning someday and may also be sending their colleagues your way based on how well they were treated.

DIVIDENDS OF A GREAT ONBOARDING EXPERIENCE

Your applicant (of course placed through Abel Personnel) has accepted your offer. You are both pleased and relieved. Your applicant hopefully is as ecstatic as those football players when their names are announced at the NFL Draft on TV. After all that effort, you want to make sure that your new hire first shows up on the start date, has a smooth acclimation to your company and stays ecstatic, at least until the inevitable first time an expectation of your newest employee is not met (perhaps signaling the end of the honeymoon period).

We recommend three sets of actions that can render dividends beyond the first weeks of the employment period:

Secure the Deal

In hot labor markets, there is sometimes as little as a 50% probability that a person who accepts the job appears on the scheduled start date. Remember, this person may have posted resumes and had job interviews with numerous potential employers, some of whom may finally present an offer after yours was accepted. Your new employee already gave notice at their current firm, so switching new employers might seem a no-risk financial plus. How to counter this? Start with integrating the new hire into your culture within 48 hours of acceptance:

  • A personal note from their immediate supervisor, and perhaps their new team, welcoming the new hire on board, stating how much they are looking forward to the new hire’s contribution and possibly identifying specific tasks that are awaiting the new hire’s involvement.
  • Send a gift card for a celebratory dinner. A small price to “seal the deal.”
  • Provide the new hire with a list of available office supplies, field supplies (if appropriate) and software, all of which will be at the new hire’s workstation on the first day.
  • Ask the new hire’s shirt and hat size so there will also be company swag waiting at the workstation.
  • Provide a robust onboarding time schedule a few days in advance of the start date.

Deliver a Memorable First Week

An underwhelming first week could have the new hire still talking to others about a new job. Aside from sticking to that onboarding schedule, here are some other actions:

  • Have the new hire’s supervisor waiting for them at the office entry to greet them.
  • Have a welcome sign posted in the lobby or at a prominent place in the facility.
  • Assign a buddy to give the new hire a tour, to assure the new hire arrives at scheduled meetings on time, to answer questions about how to really get things done that a supervisor or HR might not handle as well, and to circle back over the first 90 days to be sure everything is going fine and to answer additional “insider” questions.
  • Have the new hire’s supervisor take them out to lunch the first day, one-on-one. On the other days that first week, have the new hire go to lunch with other team members, individually or in groups.
  • Have the new hire’s boss’s boss meet with the new hire to provide a strategic view of the company’s business plan, and how the new hire will be able to grow within the company.
  • Consider a Tuesday start date. Besides giving the new hire a long weekend, this avoids trying to onboard someone in the midst of Monday review meetings, report submissions and timecard checks, or when key staff are taking a long weekend or are working from home.

Keep the Work Experience Great

Continue to show the warmth you presented with the first two sets of actions, make it part of your evolving company culture:

  • Check in over the first 90 days to make sure that the new hire needs any additional office equipment and software needed to do a great job.
  • Have their Abel Personnel recruiter also check in to make sure everything is going well. The new hire might express concerns that they are reluctant to share with anyone at the company.
  • Seek to involve the new hire in company-sponsored volunteer groups (social committee, sports teams, day of caring).
  • Arrange tours of nearby company facilities, if applicable.
  • Present the new hire with an award (perhaps including a gift certificate) after 90 days at a section or company meeting, to congratulate them on surviving the “probationary period” and to share with their peers what you’ve come to appreciate about their newest teammate.

These actions may not be applicable to all new hires: You will treat a new accounting supervisor differently than 15 new call center staff starting the same day. We can help you tailor the onboarding experience that will have the most positive impact on your new rising star.

THE GREAT RESIGNATION = A GREAT OPPORTUNITY

In 2019, Texas A&M’s Anthony Klotz foresaw a “Great Resignation,” a significant number of US workers voluntarily quitting their jobs. A recent article in Inc. Magazine by Phillip Kane asserts that this prediction has come to pass in 2021, by presenting the following statistics:

Some of the elements that our client has included that may inform your efforts:

  • In May, June and July of 2021, 11.5 million US workers quit their jobs.
  • One survey of over 30,000 workers found that 41 percent are considering quitting (54 percent for of Gen-Z).
  • A Gallop poll found that 48 percent are now actively searching for a new opportunity.
  • A third survey counted 38 percent are planning to change positions in the next 6 months.

We saw these numbers before, some as high as 70% employed-and-wanting-to-jump, during the Great Recession of 2008-10, but at that time there was pent-up desire to move to advance careers but waiting to leap until the risk of being last-in-first-out dissipated. The reasons for this turnover are different now. While the thought of 38%-48% of your workforce actively looking to leave is a scary proposition for any business or institution, there are opportunities here to make changes that will both retain existing valued staff and attract talented workers as they exit your competitors’ shops. Looking to why workers are resigning offers clues to what changes may be needed in your own house:

  • Current Work Situation: Inc. Magazine quotes a survey by LinkedIn that 74% found that working from home inspired them to rethink the traditional work paradigm. Opportunity: Provide flexibility for work sites.
  • Stress and Burnout: We are all experiencing stress about how the pandemic is affecting our businesses and our own health, and in many cases, the health and education of our (unvaccinated) children. Work conditions are much harder and burnout is a growing concern. Over 50 percent identified this as a factor to looking elsewhere. Opportunity: Publicly acknowledge that everyone at the company is feeling stress and burnout, and identify ways to address these.
  • Cost Cutting Measures: The arbitrariness and lack of transparency of these actions have caused both fear and dissatisfaction, especially how the pain is shared between high and poor performers, and between management and staff. Opportunity: Carefully present why such actions are being taken, who is being affected, and how past performance is being recognized in these actions.
  • Two-Income Household Economics: The additional day care costs during school closures or trying to work and oversee at-home on-line schooling devalues that second paycheck, especially as these situations keep changing during infection peaks and valleys. Opportunity: Consider programs that offer flexibility for households with young children, and encourage parents to stay on a career path that will offer both financial and professional rewards soon enough so their weekly paycheck is no longer being signed over to their daycare provider. Resume training programs that lapsed during the pandemic to emphasize career development.
  • Safety: Many of those who were sent home and/or chose to work from home voiced a concern that their management seemed suspicious that they were not really putting in a full day’s work. This led to feeling untrusted, micromanaged, and receiving more oversight than when they were just two cubicles down from the boss. Opportunity: Establish a culture that focuses on performance rather than being seen working for 8 hours, with a means of check-in between worker and supervisor that is no more frequent than would reasonably occur at the work site.
  • Current Work Situation: As long as there are virus variants, less than universal vaccination and uneven mask-wearing mandates, employees will be feeling unsafe to be at the workplace, for themselves as well as their families; this was cited by a third of those surveyed. Opportunity: Stress the importance of everyone feeling safe, and allow for different work site conditions to accommodate what each person needs, when fully mandating vaccines and mask wearing is not practical or achievable.
  • Recognition: There was a 63% correlation between workers being regularly recognized and saying they are unlikely to be looking for another job. Opportunity: Publicly and privately recognizing great performance reinforces a feeling of being valued. Many companies put these their recognition programs on hold during the pandemic, awaiting a day when awards to top workers or farewells to retirees could be done in person at legacy events. Time to rethink how we always did it.
  • Company Pride: Not unique to this moment, workers want to feel pride in their company, either how their products and services make a difference in the world, or company-sponsored community involvement makes a difference to their neighbors. Opportunity: Be clear how the company is making a difference. Many of the community outreach programs were suspended for the pandemic; find a way to reimagine these in the current environment.

Many of those local workers now considering resignations are in touch with Abel Personnel, which offers the best opportunity to our clients who have stepped up and made the changes to the conditions that are driving these talented workers from their current job.

WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT ASK ABOUT VACCINATION STATUS

“Can I ask the candidate about vaccination status, or does that violate HIPAA?” Many of Abel Personnel’s clients are expressing considerable confusion and frustration over what they can ask job candidates (as well as their employees) about their COVID-19 vaccination status. Those applicants who are questioned (whether “pro-” and “anti-vax”) may respond, “you can’t ask that because of HIPAA,” or “I can’t disclose that because of HIPAA.”

The short answer is, “HIPAA regulations do not prevent questions about vaccination status.”

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a federal privacy law originally enacted in 1996. With its since added Privacy Rule, HIPAA only applies to the transmission of patient information by specific health-related entities, such as insurance providers, health-care clearinghouses, health-care providers and their business associates. HIPAA is about sharing PHI, not about having it.

For all other types of businesses and institutions, HIPAA does not apply. There are other state and federal confidentiality laws that may require employers and schools to protect privacy. There are also state laws in effect, being considered or under court review that might limit inquiries of vaccination status; consult legal counsel for current status in your area.

Those questioned may not want to provide vaccination information, but the employer is not at risk to ask (even due to HIPAA).

If it’s okay to ask about vaccination status, should you? And how should you address a response that is not a clear “I am not vaccinated” or “I am vaccinated?” For our recommendations, please click here.

Will job seekers return in droves soon?

Federal Unemployment payments of an additional $300/week of unemployment compensation are set to expire the week of September 6. Currently there is no expectation that this federally-funded benefit will be extended. There is speculation that this benefit resulted in a significant number of potential job applicants choosing to stay on unemployment as a more financially advantageous choice. While the additional $300/week may be enough to make unemployment payments competitive with a paycheck, saving the cost of commuting, lunches, business attire and, of course, daycare, the argument may have merit.With the benefit set to expire, will that be enough to “force” those collecting enhanced unemployment insurance back to work? One way to answer that question is to examine the data of the two dozen states that elected to end this benefit prior to September 6, some as early June 12. The results are surprising.

As reported by CNBC on July 22, “Census Bureau data suggests recipients didn’t rush to find jobs in the weeks following the first batch of state withdrawals, according to Arindrajit Dube, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.” For the states that cut benefits in June, benefits fell by 2.2% translating to a 60% reduction in unemployment rolls. However, the report continues in noting that for those states “the share of adults with a job fell by 1.4 percentage points over the same period, according to Dube. (Employment rose by 0.2 percentage points in states that didn’t end the pandemic benefits.)”

The conclusion is that, so far, there does not appear to be a correlation in increase in job seekers with loss of this benefit. There may be other factors that slowed an uptick in applicants, such as concerns about contracting COVID-19 and perhaps an effect from wanting to stay on vacation (or even on staycation), without benefits, through the end of the summer. There may also be some uncertainty among unemployed parents of school-age children about whether schools will be re-opening in person or virtually, with or without mandatory masking, that may be impacting a segment of the workforce from committing yet to return to fulltime employment. A few more months of data will provide better insight.

If waiting out the federal unemployment benefit expiration will not be the cure-all for the labor shortage, here are some ideas on how to proactively attract applicants to suddenly hard-to-fill positions.

Can It Be: The Vaccinated-only Workplace?

Recently private and public employers announced they are requiring that all onsite employees be vaccinated.  Well-known companies such as Disney, Walmart, Google, Facebook and Tyson Foods have mandated that all or some of their employees adhere to this requirement (the largest exceptions being retail locations or conditions of union agreements).  In the public sphere, certain federal agencies are issuing vaccination requirements.  A recent US Supreme Court pronouncement upheld the right of the University of Indiana to insist that all students, faculty and staff on campus be vaccinated.  Most of these requirements do have religious and medical exceptions.

Abel Personnel and the clients we serve had been speculating ever since vaccinations became available whether corporate human resources will mandate that staff be vaccinated (as a requirement for employment).  This month we’ve received our first notification from a client company requiring vaccinations or weekly negative tests.  As we adjust our staff recruiting and management practices to accommodate this, we recommend that you anticipate your company reaching the same conclusion, and develop policies and procedures now for once that mandate is received.

Some of the elements that our client has included that may inform your efforts:

  • This requirement is presented as the company fulfilling its duty to provide and maintain a workplace that is free of known hazards, to safeguard the health of employees and their families, customers and visitors, and the community at large from infectious diseases that may be reduced by vaccinations.
  • The guidelines and recommendations are cited from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and state and local health officials.
  • The company will pay related vaccination costs and these can be scheduled on company time.
  • Individuals may seek an exemption from this requirement for medical or religious reasons by completing a request for accommodation.
  • The vaccinations must be received by a specific date, roughly 5 weeks from notice.
  • While there is still no word on what proof employees will need to provide that they were vaccinated, we expect this company will follow the lead of their peers in requiring employees to certify their vaccination status subject to disciplinary action, including termination, if the vaccination status is misrepresented.
  • No options for masking or working remote as an alternative.

We will keep you updated as this process is refined.  Your thoughts and your company’s new requirements would be appreciated so we can all learn together how to best navigate this new normal.

Melissa Davis

Abel Personnel is pleased to announce the expansion of our recruiting services with the addition of Melissa Davis, an experienced IT Recruiter. Melissa has over 20 years of experience, including 15 years in management and 5 years in placement in the IT field. This background benefits our clients in two ways:

First, you will be assured of an immediate understanding of your specified IT staffing requirements, whether direct hire or contract. Melissa is expert at sourcing and evaluating IT candidates, maintaining relationships with talent and vetting the right people for your positions. She is motived to quickly source and present the right people for you.

Second, Melissa’s tenure in management grounds her in the roles of hiring supervisor, personnel engagement and employee retention. She has been where many of our clients are today, tasked with bringing on board talent and expertise in a tight labor market. Melissa is able to look beyond the skills and experience you seek, to assess how a candidate can contribute to your team.

Most importantly, Melissa brings a level of passion and professionalism to her position at Abel Personnel, as your trusted partner in sourcing, retention and building a staffing relationship.