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9 Ways to Compare Job Offers

September 18th, 2018

When it rains, it pours. Receiving multiple job offers at the same time puts you in a great position.  But it also means having to decide which job is the right match for you.  And it might not be apparent if you’ve only interviewed at places where you could see yourself building your career.

1. Make a List

Before your job hunt, make a list of non-negotiable items that you need to accept a job offer. This list will give you an opportunity to objectively look back and understand why certain benefits, compensation, or job environment are right for you.  In the moment, it can be easy to compromise with an offer in front of you; but there is a reason that these sticking points are important to you.

2. Evaluate the Commute

Are you taking public transportation, riding a bike, or driving? How long are you willing spend on your daily commute?  And what are you willing to pay? If your commute has you going in and out of a large city, public transport costs can run several hundred dollars per month.  Or, if you’re driving, is parking included, or are you expected to pick up the cost? When all else is equal, factor in the commute to determine how valuable your time is.

3. Compare Health & Retirement Benefits

Don’t be afraid to ask to speak with HR to evaluate the health benefits or retirement plans.  Know whether your health plans are paid by you, the company, or both.  And evaluate things like deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, and the overall quality of the plans offered.  Does the company offer a 401k and match it? Or will you need to put more money away to reach your retirement goals?

4. Company History

Dig into the company’s background to determine the stability and viability of the organization.  If they are a startup, what type of funding have they received? How has it been used? The way in which bankruptcies, mergers, or re-organization have been handled can give you a clearer picture of how these events may be dealt with in the future.

5. Learning Opportunities

Is it important in your line of work to know the latest cutting-edge technology? Will you fall behind professionally if you take a higher paying job but aren’t learning new systems or techniques?  If you are concerned that a job won’t provide you with the opportunities to learn and stay at the top of your field, add this to your list of must-haves.

6. Growth Opportunities

During the interview process, learn about how individuals have built their career path during their time at the company.  Does your growth depend on someone else leaving the organization?  What type of system is in place to ensure that you are challenged and working towards your own growth goals?

7. Evaluate the Perks & Benefits

From parental leave to paid vacation, look at your must-haves list to determine how these perks and benefits will impact your work-life balance or bottom line.  If you are expected to be at the office late, will the company pay for a car service home? Does the company offer disability insurance or employee wellness benefits?  How important are free catered lunches in your decision-making process?

8. Culture & Values

How do your values align with the organization?  Do you feel that their mission and vision reflect what you respect and expect from a company?  Look at how their mission and vision parallel their core values to decide if it is the right culture fit. Likewise, if you’ve had a chance to interview with your direct manager, consider the rapport that you built with them during that time.

9. Go with Your Gut

Take your time assessing all offers objectively – but also listen to your gut.  Take a few days to consider what’s important to you, ask questions, and get clarification on anything in the offer that is nagging at you. Chances are, your gut is right if you have lingering hesitations.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

H-1B Premium Petitions: USCIS Extends & Expands Suspension

September 13th, 2018

Employers should adjust hiring time frames when preparing to onboard H-1B employees.  The suspension of the premium H-1B processing means that employers should factor in normal petition and approval time (2-6+ months), particularly if they are considering a time-sensitive hire.

What does this extension & suspension mean?

The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer accept initial petitions for premium H-1B visa processing as of September 11th, 2018.  This will apply to most of the H-1B visa petitions that are filed at the California and Vermont Service Centers.

The California and Vermont Service Centers are responsible for initial petitions for a nonimmigrant worker (H-1B specialty occupation).

When does it take effect?

The expansion and extension of the current policy took effect on September 11, 2018 and is currently slated to remain in place until February 19, 2019.

What is a “premium” H-1B petition?

A premium H-1B petition is a way for an employer to pay an extra premium processing fee to the USCIS to have the H-1B decision within 15 calendar days.

As an employer, what does this mean?

Employers who are willing to sponsor an H-1B applicant after September 11, 2018, will not be allowed (in most cases) to file a premium H-1B visa petition to expedite the process.  Potential employees who require the H-1B visa through the employer will be required to submit their H-1B petition through regular processing.

What if I have an H-1B employee and they need to change their status or extend their visa?

Services will still be available to employers for status changes and extensions of current nonimmigrant H-1B visas.  The suspension of the H-1B premium petitions only applies to those who are beginning a new petition process.

How long does the USCIS take to process a “regular” petition?

Every situation is unique. Average processing times can vary between 2 and 6 months, but it could be longer.

Does the expansion and suspension of H-1B premium petitions affect me if I don’t reside in California or Vermont?

Yes. Only the California and Vermont Service Centers process these types of initial H-1B visa petitions.

Are any employers exempt from this policy?

Yes. Cap-exempt employers, typically higher education institutions or non-profit organizations associated with a higher education institution are excluded from this policy.

Can an employer make an expedited request during the time that premium processing isn’t available?

Yes. They can make expedited requests but the USCIS will generally not approve the request unless there is a compelling reason, backed by supporting evidence.


To find out more information about your specific situation, please visit the USCIS website.

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Posted in Clients, Talener Blog

Interviewer: Do You Have Kids?

August 28th, 2018

Handling Unexpected Interview Questions


Imagine you’ve spent weeks applying to new jobs, doing research, and preparing for interviews.  You’re ready for potential questions about the position and have an impressive list of questions to show your interest.  Interview day comes, and it’s going great.  You’ve established rapport and have confidently answered questions.  Then the interviewer asks you if you have children. You think they’re just trying to continue to build the relationship, but when you answer ‘yes’, the conversation turns.  The interviewer expresses that he doesn’t think that you will be a good fit for the role because the long hours required by the job just aren’t compatible with children.

What do you do?

Unfortunately, this isn’t a scenario. And the candidate wasn’t sure how to react to the situation. She didn’t want to lose out on the job opportunity, but she also knew that what he did was wrong – intentional or not.

Influencing Employment Decisions

Federal law prohibits employers from making hiring decisions based on race, sex, national origin, age, veteran status, religion, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, and more.  Likewise, state and local laws may also apply based on your location.

Interviewing on your own

If you are conducting your job search on your own, you could face situations like this more often than you’d think.  It can be hard to know how to react to a situation where you are in an interviewee position; trying to sell yourself as the right fit with all the necessary qualifications.

While uncomfortable or embarrassing, you have several options to advocate for yourself.

  • Refuse to Answer: While potentially awkward, you can refuse to answer a question. Explain that the question isn’t relevant to your expertise as it pertains to the position.
  • End the Interview: If there is a pattern of these types of questions, politely choose to end the interview. Thank the interviewer for their time and explain that it may not be the right fit for you.
  • Say Something: If no one has ever challenged the interviewer’s questions, they may not think twice about asking potentially inappropriate questions.
  • Report the Situation: If you feel that the questions go beyond inadvertent discrimination or display a pattern of behavior, you have every right to report the situation. Contact the HR department, the interviewer’s supervisor, or the US EEOC. Be aware that you may need to prove that a negative hiring decision was made based on an answer to a question about a protected class.
  • Deflect: Do they want to know if your current (or future) kids will keep you from working late? Instead, ask what their expectations are regarding time demands or reassure them that you are prepared to meet necessary work schedules no matter your family situation.

Staffing Agencies: Your Biggest Advocate

Staffing services go beyond helping you find a job. In fact, in the situation the candidate faced above, Talener took the reins on the issue to advocate on behalf of the candidate.  This direct line of communication with the organization took the candidate out of an awkward situation. It allowed us to educate them about why the question was inappropriate and potentially illegal; particularly since they confirmed that they would make a hiring decision based on the answer. Likewise, we coached them on how they could formulate questions in the future if they are concerned about employee availability.

Be honest with your recruiter. If something happened during an interview that you are uncomfortable with, let them know. Take advantage of their experience and allow them to insert themselves into these types of situations.  Intentional or not, interviewers who ask these types of questions will continue to do so if no one speaks up.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

San Francisco and Massachusetts Prepare for July 1 Salary History Ban Enforcement

June 5th, 2018

The State of Massachusetts and the City of San Francisco are the latest jurisdictions to adopt salary history bans. These bans take effect on July 1, 2018.

In 2017, the City of New York, the State of California, as well as others, have started enforcement of these types of bans.  These laws attempt to eliminate the pay gap and perpetual underpayment that can occur from using salary history as a gauge for hiring decisions or pay determination.  Most of these laws tackle the pay inequality by prohibiting questions about current or past salary (and in some cases, all compensation).

An amendment to San Francisco’s Parity in Pay Ordinance will affect employers and employees in the City of San Francisco.  Likewise, those in San Francisco are also subject to the rules set forth by the state’s Fair Pay Act (part of California’s Equal Pay Act).  Both sets of legislation prohibit employers or agents of employers (like staffing agencies) from asking a potential employee about their current or past compensation.  Applicants can voluntarily disclose their salary as long as it is disclosed without prompting.  Additionally, employers are prohibited from sharing any salary information about current or former employees unless they have received express written consent from the employee or applicant in question.

Two main differences between the Parity in Pay Ordinance and the Fair Pay Act include the time to file a complaint and requests for a pay scale.  Applicants or employees in the City of San Francisco will have up to 180 days to file a complaint for a violation where as the State of California will allow up to two years for filing.  Second, under reasonable request by an applicant, California requires employers to provide a pay scale for a specific position.

On July 1st, Massachusetts will also start enforcement of their salary history ban under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act.  Salary cannot be sought after or inquired about through the application or interview process.  However, once an offer with compensation has been made to an applicant, the employer can confirm wage or salary history.  Claims for suspected violations can be filed up to three years after the incident in question.

These laws place the burden of proof on the employer.  Employers should ensure that they have taken the appropriate steps (within the applicable law or ordinance) to educate their employees and interviewers of these changes. Likewise, training or educational notices will also aid an employer in proving their good faith effort.

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Posted in Talener Blog

The World of Highly Organized Hacking

May 17th, 2018

Takeaways from Hack NYC 2018

“For me, the biggest take away from this event was how well organized the hacking world is,” says Tade Reen, Talener’s Information Security Business Development Manager.  Reen attended Hack NYC  at Microsoft’s NYC headquarters last week to learn more about various types of cyber-attacks and situations that organizations are dealing with today.

“Every minute of every day, the ‘bad guys’ are developing new ways to compromise networks and applications, while the ‘good guys’ are constantly trying to figure out how to stop them,” explains Reen.

As companies and governments go completely digital, the security risks are almost unquantifiable.  It’s a game of cat and mouse; where the mouse has a highly organized infrastructure that rivals many companies and governments.

Many of these hacking operations are in Eastern Europe and across Asia.  But don’t expect dark basements or dodgy back alleys.  The majority of these operations occur in office suites full of employees who are on payroll and have insurance plans.  Many maintain similar lives to your standard sales role; meeting KPIs and generating revenue for the organization. High performing hackers are rewarded with the best working hours, including the holiday shopping season or hours when purchasing traffic is high (especially in the United States).  The competition is fierce.

An event speaker broke down his experience covering, guarding, and shadowing one specific hacker in the Ukraine. The speaker’s client, a big box retailer, hired him to defend their system against this single hacker.  Like playing defense in a one-on-one game of basketball, he had to anticipate the hacker’s next move to ensure he was a step ahead.

Security breaches in financial institutions or eCommerce are at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  But there are much scarier implications to these types of hacking incidences.  In the medical technology field, Reen noted, “Hospital systems can be easily compromised.  From patient records to digitally ordering & mixing IV medications, these new systems and practices open the medical community up to potentially deadly threats.”

One session described how, at the push of a button, doctors can digitally input IV medications.  This means that hackers could replace an intended medication with any cocktail of their choosing.  In 2016, a case from the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center proved just how easily hackers can digitally lock down their target.  A hacker demanded 40 Bitcoin (approximately $17,000) after seizing control of the hospital’s systems.  Due to the gravity of the situation, the hospital paid the hacker to regain access.

This case was one of many that prompted a wave of cyber-attacks. In 2017, WannaCry, a widely known ransomware worm spread through networks across the world. It infected computers and encrypted files, paralyzing users until ransoms were paid.  One widely publicized WannaCry attack locked down the UK’s National Health Service.

Companies are digitizing at a record rate; making the opportunities for hackers endless.  Information security experts are in high demand and a step behind.  The days of filing cabinets and floppy disks have been replaced with cloud-based servers and mobile tap-to-pay.  Every day presents new challenges and tests the information security industry’s ability to outwit, outpace, and outlast a new generation of highly-organized hackers.

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Posted in Talener Blog

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