From pandemic layoff to Director of Technology, a Talener candidate recounts his journey.
The Search Begins
As a result of the pandemic, and for the first time in my career, I was out of work and looking for a job. I know that I am respected in my industry and I’ve developed many wonderful relationships. I was confident that I would find something soon. Little did I know…
I started educating myself in job hunting, 2020 edition. Long gone are the days of the NY Times classifieds. Armed with 1500+ curated LinkedIn connections, I tweaked my profile to alert the market that I was available. I hit the major job-hunting sites: LinkedIn, Dice & Indeed. I also hit some of the lesser known (and likely sketchy) ones too.
I was bombarded with daily emails, of which 95% of the roles from my keyword searches were irrelevant. I will never understand how my career as a technology leader could generate a match for an Amazon delivery driver. I doubled down on malware and anti-virus protection for my PC.
I’ll be honest, after initially reaching out to many peers, it became slow going. My initial contacts were all saying, “of course we’ll keep an eye open, but the world is changing, and everyone is adjusting to the new paradigm.” Every day, I would scour the sites for jobs; look at LinkedIn for relevant announcements from my contacts – anything that would allow me to start another conversation.
I applied online to a very wide net. I hid tags in my resume that were specific to each role and this allowed the ATS (applicant tracking systems) to pick me up. I got pretty good at this over time, and I highly recommend it. I kept at it. I told myself that it only takes on interview to get me a job, and today might be the day that something happens.
During the search, there were flashes of hope. A connection would reach back out or I’d be scheduled for an interview. I’d prepare by learning what I could about the job and the company – which isn’t always easy. I’d feel that I had aced it. And then the news: “they’re looking for someone else” or “you’re overqualified.” Or worse, I would get ghosted.
As the months passed, I became more and more frustrated dealing with recruiters. I have worked with recruiters on the hiring side for decades. I have my favorites, but over the years I have met some with questionable skills and worse yet, questionable ethics. My biggest gripe was that they didn’t effectively market the position to me, and more importantly, didn’t market me to the prospective employer.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I saw an ad come in from a recruiting firm I was unaware of called Talener. As I read it, it became evident that the role was extremely well suited for me – in my industry, and in a similar environment in which I had worked previously. My bike ride would have to wait, I needed to apply. Within an hour, I received a response back. I assumed it was an acknowledgement of my application from an automated system. But it was actually a personal email from Henry Boulos. His email told me more about the job and asked some additional questions. I took the time to answer the questions individually and tie them back to my resume. We both got excited. Henry could see that I was a highly viable candidate for a role that I was confident that I would be well-suited for. He arranged for a Microsoft Teams interview with the firm, along with other candidates.
More importantly, Henry spent time preparing me. It wasn’t just about the role, the skills I should emphasize or the people I’d be meeting. More importantly, he prepared my by giving me some frank pointers that he had picked up on my presentation, which I wasn’t used to. I studied the notes I had taken with Henry, reviewed the company website in detail, and set up Google Alerts for current news about the company and its principals.
I felt the first Teams interview went well with the COO. I listened to his questions. I sent a thank you note. And in the hopes of continuing the conversation, the timing worked out that I was able to attend a virtual user conference for the company’s ERP system. Henry updated me on the process moving forward. I had made the first cut. Another Teams interview was scheduled with a larger audience. I put together some notes gleaned from the conference.
Henry and I reviewed in detail what I should further be prepared to discuss. I think we get very focused on telling our story during an interview, and Henry reminded me the importance of listening. I came away again feeling good, that I had “strutted my stuff” well. I also asked about pain points in the role and challenges that leadership saw. I again followed up with a thank you note, including discussing some proposed solutions to the issues discussed during the interview. I made it to a third interview, this one would be on-site. Henry ensured that I was fully prepared, and the meeting went well. Another thank you note sent. The next morning, Henry followed up with the wonderful news that I had gotten the job, and I began the onboarding process. It was less than three weeks from first contact to a signed offer.
Again, I cannot say enough about the professionalism that Henry exhibited throughout the process. I plan to use Henry again and refer him and his firm to my peers.
Yes, there’s a pandemic. But I got a senior-level job. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
Don’t give up. No matter how discouraged you get, you are one person who needs only one job. This can happen at any time.
LinkedIn and your resume are a significant part of your personal brand. It’s the first thing people see. Think of it from that perspective.
Network, network, network. The time to start networking is NOT when you need a job. Do it throughout your career.
Prepare. Look in detail at the company’s website. Look for current news about the company and its principals. Make sure you check Glassdoor. Find out what products they use and learn about them. Bring it up on the interview when appropriate. Everyone always likes to hear about themselves.
Listen. I realized that providing answers to a prospective employers’ challenges are more important than talking about an extensive skillset or describing a list of successful projects.
Always send a thank you note. My wife taught me that.
Layoffs from the pandemic caught many career employees off-guard. We could see the immediate impact in industries like travel or restaurants. However, many employees across industries faced layoffs for the first time in their careers. Even with years of experience, being at the top of your field, and having excellent connections – it’s jarring and overwhelming to pivot quickly.
If it has been years (or decades!) since you’ve written a resume, have had to call up connections, or apply for a job— it can be daunting to start over again. Let the Talener team help you out or provide you with guidance on where to get started.
Attracting talent is a competition. Over the past decade, some companies have ‘reinvented’ their employees’ workday. From nap pods to game rooms, spa treatments to an in-house chef, companies pushed the boundaries of traditional benefits and perks. These became the gold standard for coaxing talent (especially in technology) to join the ranks of unlimited vacation and free healthcare programs.
But for most of the working population, these types of benefits are a pipe dream. Most SMEs can’t provide elaborate benefits – I’m looking at you Microsoft Treehouses. For the rest of us, gym membership reimbursements & in-office snacks are a great addition to health and retirement benefits.
In March, when many office workers were sent home, many of these ancillary benefits were left behind. Employees didn’t quit their jobs en masse without their company-provided extra hot triple foam latte.
Gyms closed, restaurants shuttered, and our commutes started and ended in a hallway. Concern for the safety, health, and financial stability of family and friends became front-of-mind.
What does this mean for 2021? Many companies have shifted their benefit offerings; taking a step back to address what has become important to employees.
Health Insurance – Employees are seeking quality affordable coverage that is comprehensive and inclusive. Attractive plans have lower premiums, reasonable out-of-pocket costs, and provide inclusive coverage for things like reproductive healthcare (i.e. IVF) or gender re-assignment surgery.
Increased Mental Health & Wellness Programs – The demand for mental health services has risen sharply over the past year.Whether employees have access through their health insurance or an EAP, companies are ramping up programs for employee mental health and wellness.
Paid Family Leave – Several states are implementing some form of paid family leave for the birth of a child, adoption, or care of a sick family member. Companies that provide paid leave will be more attractive to new talent and help to retain current employees.
PTO: Mental Health & Recharge – In additional to better access to mental health programs, 2021 may bring more time-off options for mental health and recharge days. The fatigue from the pandemic has left many people in need of time off after daycares have closed, schools have gone virtual, or partners have lost their jobs.
Personalized Benefits Packages – Tailored benefits packages are on the rise. Benefits and perks have relative importance based on the life stage of the employee. Offering tuition reimbursement may not resonate with employees who are closer to retirement than college. Companies have an opportunity to offer optional equivalent perks that make sense to the individual.
Even as we (hopefully) move towards a vaccine and the end of the pandemic, many things have changed over this past year. Some may continue to work from home permanently, while others will be back in the office sooner rather than later. But it’s unlikely that a communal room of nap pods and in-office buffet lunches are coming back any time soon. HR is re-reinventing benefits packages that are in-line with the changing employee needs. If you are looking for a new job and want to better understand how benefits will affect you (and what they’re worth!), please reach out to the Talener Team today.
There are advantages to applying for and accepting a job at the end of the year. Hiring managers are moving quickly to fill positions and use up their budgets. Most companies have shored up their benefit plans for the upcoming year – ensuring uninterrupted service for you for at least the next twelve months.
It is easy to quantify and dissect salary, bonus, or commissions. We can assign a value that corresponds to paying a mortgage, buying groceries, or saving for a vacation. But benefits like health coverage or retirement contribution matching are often overlooked as it is what it is; without assessing true monetary value.
When moving from one job to another, we can see the 401k percentage match or the cost of our monthly health insurance premium. But often, we’re programmed to accept these as inflexible parts of our new employment.
It is not unusual to receive a detailed benefits summary from HR after you’ve accepted a job. From monthly premiums to deductibles, waiting periods to paid time off – these benefits all have value. Accepting a higher paying position is ideal, but not if your monthly health insurance premium negates your raise.
If you are looking for a new job without the help of a staffing agency, you must advocate for yourself. There is a song and dance around compensation during the interview process. When is it appropriate to ask about benefits, salary, or time off? Is it the first interview, the third, in person? No matter the time, it is imperative to understand their value.
Health insurance premiums are some of the largest expenditures for American households. The average American will pay close to $6,000 per year in premiums on an employer-based plan. But beyond premiums, it is important to understand the plans that are offered by your future employer. If something catastrophic were to occur, what do you have to pay out of pocket? It’s critical to evaluate things like coverage, co-insurance, in-network vs. out-of-network costs, or lifetime maximums.
What you are able to contribute to a 401k or other retirement account is likely fixed. But the contribution your new employer makes (or doesn’t make) can have far reaching consequences down the road.
Paid Time Off
Holidays, PTO, vacation, sick leave – however you say it; paid time off has value. Examine how much time you have taken off in the past and compare it to your new plan. While you may be able to sacrifice a few vacation days, it’s important to know how you will be paid for your time off.
Paid Family Leave
Many states are adopting paid leave policies to help new parents or those caring for a loved one. But companies are also creating these internal policies. Paid family leave has monetary value and encourages employee retention. If you might eventually benefit from paid family leave like the birth of a child, this should be a consideration in your job hunt.
Examine life insurance benefits, long term and short-term disability, workers compensation, pet insurance, and more. Every organization will have a unique combination of insurance benefits that you can compare to your current situation.
Lunch is provided every day. You receive a monthly work-from-home stipend for supplies and internet service. Your gym membership is reimbursed, and your commuting costs are covered. If you aren’t currently using a gym – great! It’s a wash. But if your commuting costs are about to double and there is no plan to help defray these costs, then you could be looking at increased expenses beyond your increased salary.
In 2020, some of these benefits are expanding even further than what is considered the standard package. From prepaid legal plans to IT help desks for your kids, telehealth platform access to identity management plans; companies are getting creative with their offerings during the pandemic.
If you are working with a staffing agency to find your next position, you should expect them to advocate on your behalf – knowing the benefits and negotiating for you if these benefits fall short of your needs. Just because you can’t change your future employer’s health insurance offering, doesn’t mean that you can’t negotiate a higher base salary to make up for the shortcomings between your current and future job.
Technology and IT based positions continue to be highly competitive. Hiring managers are motivated to fill their positions with the best talent by the end of the year. Use your staffing agency as a resource to help you compare and contrast benefits as much as you would compare salary, commission, and bonus.
Ultimately, staffing agencies like Talener are here to support and advocate for you. For more information about negotiating and understanding how benefits affect your offer, speak with Henry Boulos today.
The way in which many Americans work changed drastically and abruptly this past spring. Companies made dramatic shifts to create a last-minute remote workforce that could weather the pandemic storm. Now, as we are deep into Q4, the prospects of a return to normal by 2021 seem confusing at best. Over the past several months, many organizations have adapted easily to virtual meetings and off-site staff, while others have struggled with creating a cohesive environment that fosters success.
The Talener team works closely with startups, multi-nationals, and everything in between. And while some companies have been quick to embrace the work from home forever model, others are still scratching their heads at what the future will bring.
Remote work is not uncommon for many software engineers. But there are many people who did not work remotely prior to the pandemic, who now find themselves in this position. We were curious to understand what their company’s plans were over the next several months.
We asked our technology talent community on LinkedIn (who were not working remotely prior to the pandemic) to tell us what is happening next. The community responded and gave us important insight into how their jobs will change as we finish out the year.
It is unsurprising that organizations are split across the board. There is no right answer to the question, and many factors could be out of their control – travel restrictions, capacity limits, local ordinances, or office / workstation setup. Looking at these results opens our eyes to the clear uncertainty that plagues us as a country and as business leaders.
For some, permanent remote work might be the answer to getting out of pricey office leases. While others may struggle with teams who work better in the same space and need to collaborate to be effective. Additionally, this data also tells us that many organizations may need to be flexible to remote options as they hire new talent. This requires a shift in sourcing, interviewing, onboarding, and integrating new team members.
As a technology staffing firm, this info helps us to decide how we will deal with the situation as well. Traditionally, staffing is a relationship-based business where in-person meetings and interviews are the core to building strong foundations with clients and candidates. Talener has learned to adapt over the past several months through remote work and the gradual return of team members to the office. Giving employees the option to use the office (safely) has been a great way to boost morale, take advantage of each other’s expertise, and collaborate more fluidly. It is an opportunity to take advantage of the energy that a traditional office setting can facilitate.
But this gradual shift back to the office may not be in the cards for everyone. Talener’s CEO Michael Dsupin says, “Regardless of a company’s desire to return to a physical space or not, I hope that leaders will acknowledge the real fears that may exist within their staff and take that into consideration when trying to reset policies.” He continues, “Likewise, I hope that our own teammates will be courteous and mindful of the public health crisis by taking the necessary steps not to expose their co-workers to the virus.”
Talener’s experience is not unlike many other organizations. It is imperative that your organization take the time to make policies clear- yet allow for flexibility as circumstances change every day. Setting expectations among staff and new hires will avoid confusion, resentment, and staff turnover.
If your organization is unsure how to address the remote work situation and you are looking for more insight into what is happening in your industry, reach out to the Talener team for help. We can guide you as you make decisions, provide examples of other organizations’ set ups, and give you guidance on bringing in new hires.
Not finding the diverse candidate pool you had hoped for? Review your sourcing process.
Diverse workforces deliver better results, attract better talent, and are better innovators.
Yet, more than three quarters of technology talent in computing-based roles are occupied by men, despite women making up more than 47% of the workforce. Likewise, Wired reports that in 2017, only 9% of graduating students with CS degrees were black and 10% were Latinx.
Over the past 15 years, major organizations have poured money and time into interviewing (and ultimately hiring) a diverse employee base. But very little has changed significantly across the board.
So how do we attract a more diverse and well-qualified candidate base? Even if we are actively demanding more BIPOC and women– we are likely impeding our own success simply through our traditional hiring and interviewing practices. A truly diverse search includes reviewing traditional boundaries like location, education, and experience.
As recruiters, building a relationship with our clients and candidates is the bedrock to successful placements. Our goal is to make the right match, and much of that match comes from the details and step-by-step process that helps us to give you, the client, what you want in an efficient and effective manner.
There is no replacement for an in-person meeting; or mid-pandemic, a video call — to nail down the details of a job. A job description can only tell you so much about the actual job and tells you very little about the ideal candidate beyond specific skills.
The right staffing agency is going to pick apart the job description, drilling down from broad organizational goals to very specific technical needs.
This initial intake call also gives clients the opportunity to tell us who they are looking for beyond the technical expertise. This is the first opportunity to discuss what diversity looks like to you and how to execute a plan to get to the right hire.
Internal questions could include:
What does the team make up look like? Are they remote? In-person? Who runs the team? Talk to me about the group’s cohesion. When was the last time someone new joined the team? Are they still there?
Then, we move to questions about the candidate:
What kind of person do you want to hire? Do they have specific industry experience? What about their educational background or professional experience? Would you prefer someone with a side hustle and a passion for their work? What is a show-stopper or deal-breaker?
These questions lay the foundation and force you to dig beyond surface. From covering remote-opportunities to flexible working schedules or requirements – analyzing your job description forces a closer look at whom you are targeting or not targeting from the get-go. You could miss out on the right person without realizing it when your job description doesn’t encourage a diverse candidate pool.
Attracting a More Diverse Candidate Pool
Not finding the person that you need? The right technical staffing agency can help you to discover where you may be missing out on additional talent.
Consider some of the following:
Is your talent pool restricted to one geographic area? If so, consider the impact of hiring some remotely. Do they need to be in the same city, state, or time zone? What kind of flexibility are you willing to offer for the right skills?
Does your job description or requirements screen-out rather than screen-in? Your requirement for an Ivy League CS degree excludes HBCUs or exceptionally talented engineers who chose bootcamps over traditionally expensive college settings.
Is the requirement for professional experience at an organization of a certain type or size limiting you to a certain background rather than people who are truly passionate about their craft who spend their free time learning for their own benefit?
Are you restricting yourself to specific years of professional experience? Some of the most efficient & effective employees are those who spend time outside of work doing projects and perfecting their craft. So — are you hiring an employee for who they are now or who they can be in the right company and team? Putting hard requirements on years on professional experience can limit candidates who may find themselves over or under the threshold.
The Changing Landscape
Over the past several months, the contrast between the rise and fall of companies has been dramatic. Many have lost jobs, while others have thrived in industries that could weather the pandemic. But no matter the situation, we have all found pause to re-evaluate what we do, how we do it, and with whom we do it.
Within technology teams, many organizations found that they can, in fact, function successfully with a remote workforce. And those that are hiring again after layoffs can reconsider their traditional hiring practices.
This jolt to our norm has acted as a reset. It has opened up opportunities to explore talent that may never have been considered before.
Consider taking stock of how you use your technology staffing agency to meet these new goals. Does a contingency-based service work for you? Or are you looking for an agency that acts as an extension of your TA; a retained search partnership that can provide you with a dedicated team who knows you and your diversity goals?
Hiring the Right Candidate
Some jobs are harder to fill than others. Technology is fluid; ever-changing in its need for people who are skilled in the newest (or sometimes oldest) tech stacks. At the end of the day, there are certain constants where you can’t be flexible: the right person who can do the job and has the requisite skills to meet your organizational goals.
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t broaden your search to include a more diverse candidate pool. It is of the utmost importance that you understand what you need versus what you want.
If a more diverse pool of candidates is critical, tell your staffing agency. We can work with you to help you encourage diverse candidates, write more inclusive job descriptions, and communicate email & ad campaigns that show your commitment to diversity in your own workplace.
Encourage diverse backgrounds; non-traditional paths, location agnostic (as the job permits), different educational experiences, and people who are passionate about their craft.
Be vocal about your commitment by communicating with your staffing agency, your employees, and potential employees.
Auditing your hiring and interviewing practices can be daunting. Traditional ways of sourcing candidates are comfortable, but may not be providing the diversity that you are looking for. Ultimately, the person for the job has the right skills and the right fit –but if you’re limiting your search to geography, age, specific experiences, etc. , you might be missing out on talent that would otherwise be the perfect fit. If you are looking to review your process, let Talener help. Our team of experts can drill down into your process to help you get the best talent for you company. Reach out to Henry Boulos to get started.
If you are employing remote workers due to COVID-19 or thinking about a more remote-based workforce, consider the following tax implications.
COVID-19 has forced numerous companies to temporarily shutter their workplaces. This has resulted in in employees working at new or remote locations – be it a disaster recovery site, at home, at the home of a friend or relative, etc. With the increasing availability of communication and productivity tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as well as the continued uncertainty of how to best keep their people healthy and safe, employers have been mixed on return-to-office timelines. So, what do you need to know if you have individuals working remotely?
Remote work raises the question of whether an individual or a business has established a tax presence in a different state. Tax presence, or nexus, is determined by 3 factors – payroll, property, and sales.
Payroll taxes, or employment taxes, are an inevitable part of hiring and paying employees. And they occur at both the federal and state level. State income tax withholding is necessary for the state in which an employee provides services, not where the employee resides or the location of the company’s office. Thus, remote work may cause some complications. For example, an employee whose company’s office is in New York, but who lives in New Jersey and has spent time at a family’s home in Colorado during quarantine, may have earned income in 1 or all 3 of these states.
Each state has its own rules as to the time an individual needs to work before considering income earned in that state. For example, in some places, workers could owe taxes to their temporary state after just one day of work. In others, it applies after a 30-day period. Often, a taxpayer may get a credit from their home state for taxes paid to another. It is therefore important to know where your employees are working.
The good news? Currently, thirteen states and the District of Columbia have indicated that they won’t tax workers who have relocated temporarily due to the pandemic, according to the American Institute of CPAs. Instead, those people will continue to pay taxes to the state where their employer is located.
What could this mean for you?
If you have employees whose remote working is not expected or deemed to be temporary, or you are hiring new employees into remote positions, you may have to withhold payroll taxes in these remote states. Fortunately, registration is relatively easy.
Register your business with your state’s tax agency. This will allow you to withhold and remit state withholding taxes.
Register for workers’ compensation insurance within your state. All states, without exception, require that employers pay workers compensation insurance in case employees are unable to compete work.
Register for unemployment insurance with your state’s work force or employment agency.
Property & Sales
Property is fairly straight-forward. If you have bought or rented property in a state, you may have created nexus there. Creating sales nexus is more specific to the type of business you are in (i.e. product versus service). In addition to understanding whether your remote workers have created the need for you to file income or other regulatory filings within a state, one of the most important areas to be aware of is whether your business has become subject to sales and/or use taxes.
In summary, a remote working model may be advantageous to your business – beyond serving as a temporary solution while we continue to fight through the pandemic. But it is important to understand the potential tax ramifications.
Know where your employees are working from
Monitor their times spent working in that location
Stay up-to-date on guidance issued by states where you have employees
Track the time spent working at your temporary remote location
Monitor your tax withholdings on each paystub
Communicate with your employer if you are planning to stay remote after it is time to return to the office
As we approach the end of the year, without a clear picture in sight for 2021, it is important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of a remote or partially remote workforce. For many companies, the past several months were a fast-track introduction to remote work for their existing workforce. If you are considering on-boarding new employees remotely, the Talener team can help you to fine-tune your process and create the best plan to hiring new staff in a remote environment. From expectations to geography, interview process to on-boarding – our team is available to you.
Creating a modernized resume is imperative to breaking through hiring barriers. The right resume is clean, succinct, and provides the exact information that an employer needs to move forward.
Call to Action
Your name and contact information are your call to action. They are the first elements of a resume that a potential employer sees. It must be immediately clear to the resume reader how they contact you. Even the best resume will be thrown into a pile if it is not easy to decipher your whereabouts.
Emphasize your name clearly
Include your telephone number and denote the type of phone (cell, office, home)
Do not provide your specific street address. Instead include your city / state or metropolitan region
Use a modern, professional email address with a simple extension, like gmail.com. If necessary, create an email address for job searching purposes.
Include your personalized LinkedIn URL. If you have not personalized this link, learn how, here.
Avoid redundancy and save space on your resume by eliminating the summary of experience. Instead, provide a clear objective that a future employer can grasp: What do you want? What are you looking for? Is it a new industry, technology, job title, job function, etc.?
Your experience already paints a picture of your past and present, but it doesn’t tell an employer about your goals and needs for the future. Defining your objectives turns a snapshot into an on-going story.
Let Your Experience Speak for Itself
Your experience and skills set are the most important parts of your resume. Unless you are targeting a creative position where artistic design is a critical element of your presentation, keep your resume simple and clean.
Muted hues like grays or blues provide a pop of color without distracting from the important information. Keep your organization simple, easy-to-read, and in logical order. Layouts should work universally with standard file types that most companies require for upload – PDF & Word documents.
Keep your resume to one page. Find impactful words that pinpoint your experience and avoid explanations. Instead, build a meaningful story that lends itself to interest and inquiry from future employers.
Your base resume should allow for modifications that meet the expectations set out by employers. It is OK to tailor your resume and try different avenues to make your resume stand out. If something isn’t working, make a change or A/B test your resumes.
Consider adding a headshot to help an employer place a face with a name. But be mindful of any blind-hiring policies or applicant ingestion systems that do not accept embedded images.
Stay Up to Date
Before distributing your resume, ensure that you any links you are including are updated. Your portfolio, GitHub, personal webpages, and LinkedIn pages should be robust and up-to-date.
Just as you research potential employers and individual hiring managers, you must assume that they are also digging into the entire picture of your experience. This is also a great time to update, hide, or eliminate social profiles that a prospective employer are able to access.
The References Page
Requests for references should absolutely be expected in technology-based positions. Prepare your references in a separate document. This can be done prior to starting your job search and even before you set up your resume.
Your references are a source of knowledge and know you well. They may remember specific events, projects, or successes that you haven’t considered. Additionally, they are a great networking source when you start your search.
Your reference page should Include updated contact information, preferred names, title, and the capacity in which they know you.
And, of course, give your reference a heads up if you think you are moving into the stage where they will be contacted.
Before & After
Re-writing a resume can feel like a tedious process. But it is an evolution as you mature and grow professionally. When you have finished your new resume, look back and compare where you are now versus where have been. You should see that evolution and maturity in your resume.
If you are looking for resources to help craft your resume, consider using tools like Google Resume Templates, LinkedIn Resume Assistant or Canva.
If you have a Google account, you have access to Google’s library of templates. Sign into your Google account and navigate to the templates to access resumes, cover letters, and more in your Google Drive.
Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn helped the two join forces to bring better resume templates and a resume assistant to Microsoft Word. If you are an Office 365 subscriber on Windows, customized templates and resume writing help are at your fingertips. Check out LinkedIn’s Blog or get started in Word by opening a new document and choosing a resume template.
If you’re looking for a template to give you more creative license, sign up for a free account on Canva and get started with more free templates. Or, sign up for the pro-version to get custom-tailored designs.
Make your agency work for you by using all of the services that they have to offer.
You wouldn’t expect your TA team to send you stacks of resumes without having reviewed them or having matched them to your needs. So, take advantage of your staffing agency’s expertise and screening abilities by telling them exactly what you need in your next hire. The more information that you share, the more likely that your staffing agency can give you what you want the first time around. This is especially important when you are dealing with highly technical positions where HR or TA may not be familiar with technical skills tests.
If you’re only using your staffing agency as a vessel to obtain resumes, then you’re not using it to its full potential. And if the only thing that your staffing agency offers is pushing resumes –then it’s time to get a new one. Your staffing agency should be your partner; an extension of your TA team that is working for you before, during, and after your hire.
A good staffing agency is anticipating your needs, looking at your long-term goals, as well as providing immediate staffing solutions. The fee that you are paying a staffing agency should extend far beyond emailed resumes and setting up interviews. So, how do you take advantage of everything your staffing agency offers?
Treat them as an extension of your TA team
You wouldn’t expect your TA team to send you stacks of resumes without having reviewed them or having matched them to your needs. So, take advantage of your staffing agency’s expertise and screening abilities by telling them exactly what you need in your next hire. The more information that you share, the more likely that your staffing agency can give you what you want the first time around. This is especially important when you are dealing with highly technical positions where HR or TA may not be familiar with technical skills tests.
Take advantage of consulting services
On-boarding consultants should be quick and easy. You have an urgent need and must find a solution fast. Use your staffing agency’s tools to take the administrative work out of hiring temporary staff. From on-boarding and eligibility verification, to logging time and processing payroll– your staffing agency is there as your liaison and your partner so that you can get your contractor working faster. Need to use your own time-clock system? Your staffing agency should work with you to make the process convenient for you.
Let them negotiate
In many states and cities, you are no longer allowed to ask about past compensation history. While this helps to close the wage gap, it may leave you wondering how much you should compensate someone, especially if it is a new position or a newly created department. If you’ve never hired someone in a similar position before, use your staffing agency as a resource to get comparable market compensation information.
Additionally, take advantage of your staffing agency’s negotiating ability. They go through negotiations day in and day out. They know which candidates are serious about making moves, what motivates them (it may not be $$$!), and what might make or break the deal. Make your agency work for you by leveraging their existing relationships.
Use your agency post-placement
The relationship doesn’t end when the placement is made. Just as your staffing agency will ask you about new open positions or follow-up on a recent hire, you can also continue to build your relationship post-placement, even if you aren’t hiring. Just because a placement has been made or a deal was done weeks (or even months) ago, doesn’t mean that the relationship is over. Staffing is an inherently human business – it is relationship based and growing, even if it feels like every placement is an individual transaction.
Ask questions, get job description writing feedback, or review your hiring / interviewing processes with your agency’s team. These lines of communication help your agency improve and help you make your process more efficient for the future.
If you are looking for a new technical staffing partner, make sure that you are asking what services they offer beyond the placement. While Talener would love to be everyone’s technical staffing partner, it is also important that you find the right fit and get the right services for you. If you want to learn more about Talener and what services we provide, please reach out at email@example.com.
If you’re interviewing and on-boarding candidates remotely, auditing your hiring process is critical.
Pre-pandemic, there was a quiet confidence that remote employees had (at some point) met another team member in person, had an in-person interview, or were available for an in-office meeting. Should the need arise, face-to-face interaction was readily available.
But even as many states start to re-open, some companies are
opting for remote onboarding and full or partially remote work. However, with
many offices closed, companies restricting visitors or practicing social
distancing – the opportunity to meet someone before they start working, even
once, has been limited.
While your current employees may be thriving remotely, they
have a distinct advantage over new hires.
They’ve worked in-person together, understand their positions, and know
their projects. The rapport is already
built. Expectations are clear.
But hiring and on-boarding someone you’ve only met via video
chat is daunting if it isn’t part of your regular practice. There is a real
risk of underperformance or lack of engagement from someone who otherwise would
be a spectacular hire. Navigating these virtual changes, clearly defining the
process, and accepting that you cannot hire the same way will lead to
productive, remote hiring.
Hiring & Interviewing Process
While the overarching hiring
process may not change – screenings, interviews, skills tests; the way in which
these occur does. Defining the process means understanding the details. Who is
taking on the responsibility for the process – who is managing it? Often, a
hiring manager or HR manager will act as a point person on-site, introducing
candidates to their interviewers, providing check-ins, and serving as the
welcoming committee. But virtually, this
cohesive and automatic progression is replaced with meeting invites and email chains.
important to audit your hiring process and adapt it to the current
situation. If timed skills tests are
traditionally taken on-site, what is new procedure? Does a tech test now weigh
more in the consideration process? Is it more important than hiring for the
right culture fit or hiring someone who is eager to learn and be part of the
Defining the process
gives a clear picture to internal stakeholders as well as candidates. Everyone can expect and understand the
interviewing timeline, the priorities, and what factors are the most crucial in
deciding to hire.
The hiring process isn’t
over when an offer is extended. This is
truly the beginning of building a rapport with a new employee. By accepting a
position, an employee has bought into the job, but buy-in and engagement are
critical every step of the way. We think
of ‘Day One’ as meeting colleagues, filling out paperwork, and observing
company culture. But when this interaction disappears, who takes over to
welcome and engage the new hire?
The details matter. How
are work authorizations being filled out? Will there be a virtual welcome happy
hour? Has someone been in regular contact with the new employee; giving them an
outline of what is expected their first week? It may seem like a lot of
fanfare, but it’s a ritual we automatically perform when a new employee arrives
Hiring is about filling a business need. Projects aren’t
finished and goals aren’t met without the right talent. And this means setting up your employees for
success. Regular in-office contact and feedback is natural, but it’s easy to be
out-of-sight and out-of-mind in a remote position, especially as the new guy.
Remote employees (particularly if this isn’t your regular practice) aren’t
adjunct members of the team.
Who is responsible for the new hire’s success? Who can they go to with issues? Who will
introduce them to managers or co-workers? Who will help them understand and
thrive in the team dynamic?
Setting up an employee for success means starting on day
one. It is your responsibility as the employer to provide this support and
structure. It is less haphazard than sending someone down the hall to fill out
forms or grabbing a coffee with a manager.
Broadly defining the goals of the job should occur before
the first interview takes place. These
goals should narrow and be explicit by the time your remote employee gets starts. Without measured goals, you are setting up
your new hire for failure.
It should be abundantly clear what the work product is the
first days, weeks, or months. Both sides need to understand the measures of success
and how evaluations will be performed.
What does remote on-boarding actually mean? Even if your
organization hasn’t made formal return-to-office plans, it’s important to
clearly communicate the expectations to your new hire. What is the narrative
around returning to the office? Will some people continue to work remotely?
Be upfront about the changing situation. Whether it is temporary, evolving, or unknown
– it will save a lot of confusion and frustration later.
Don’t assume that you are the only company that is hiring. In areas like technology where unemployment continues to be at record lows – candidates have multiple competitive offers. They’re spending less time commuting and have more time to interview at their leisure. Whatever hiring process you define, consider the timing, be competitive with your offer, know what you want, and assume that you aren’t the only one pursuing this person.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to hiring during this
time. Successfully hiring and on-boarding remotely is new for many
organizations. It is likely more involved, and more process driven than what
we’ve come to know as standard practices. But maybe this shake up will force us
to audit ourselves and clarify what is most important.
If you are unsure how to begin to define your process or
haven’t worked frequently with remote employees, Talener can help. From sharing
current market data to helping you audit your hiring practices; we are
available to provide insight and guidance to navigate the ‘new’ normal.
Finding balance, giving yourself grace, and accepting that everything isn’t just fine.
Working from home is a privilege that does not require risking our own health and safety every day. We know that the inconvenience of barking dogs or tiny city dwellings are annoying, but far better than the reality that many are facing.
However, even in what we could call the ‘best of conditions’,
there is a real risk of burnout that can affect productivity, expectations, and
overall mental well-being. We have scraped together new routines over the last
several weeks; all while dealing with some level of anxiety and frustration. What
signs of burnout should you look for and how do you change the mindset?
You feel guilty about the work that you are doing (or not doing). Perhaps you should have done one more item on your checklist, finished up one last project, or made one more phone call. After all, you’re saving time on the commute, going out for lunch, and socializing with co-workers.
Perhaps you are comparing yourself to your co-workers and it’s causing anxiety & guilt? If your co-worker sent an email at 6:30 am, does that mean that you should be doing the same? It is easy to want to create benchmarks. You can rationalize the decisions that you are making when there is a beacon guiding you. But this is a time when we’re juggling new systems, children at home, and schedule disruptions. Focus on what is expected of you and lay out those expectations with your manager so there are no ‘should have’, ‘could have’ feelings.
making yourself available 24 hours a day
Your office phone is forwarded to your cell phone, the video conferencing app is downloaded, and your email notifications come through to every device you own. You’re feeling the need to be available and accessible 24 hours a day – trying to avoid the ‘out of sight, out of mind”.
Being in a cycle of constant visibility and accessibility to your co-workers or managers is exhausting. If you wouldn’t do it in a normal office setting, then you shouldn’t be doing it in a work-from-home setting. Even if you are not working all-day, every day — if you’re feeling the need to be available all of the time, this may affect your ability to wind down and recharge . Find the right time to turn off notifications, stop answering emails, and communicate with co-workers. If you’re feeling uneasy about not being available at a moment’s notice, talk to your manager about your schedule and when you cannot be immediately available.
Not only are
you available 24-hours a day, but you are working many more hours than you
normally would. You’re skipping meals, breaks, and exercise in favor of getting
may think that you’re being more productive by stretching out eight-hour days
to twelve, fourteen, or more – it’s likely that you’re not taking care of yourself
as well as you should. There are many instances in which working too much
actually provides diminishing
returns in work quality.
This is the
time to set boundaries and create a schedule to force yourself to stop and take
a breath. Schedule breaks, exercise,
lunch, and shutdown times. Ensure that
meetings are scheduled within normal working hours. It is imperative to draw a line under the day
and end it when it needs to end. If you wouldn’t have answered a late-night
email before working from home, then you shouldn’t be doing it now.
find your groove
Working from home is not for everyone . It just isn’t. It can be a nice break from time-to-time, but for many, it just isn’t part of their routine that gets them out of bed and ready to tackle the day. Some people genuinely enjoy the in-office interaction or the face-to-face meetings with clients.
If you’ve never gotten into the WFH groove and you are resenting the situation as time passes, this can trickle down to other parts of your life. Are you overreacting to professional and personal situations that wouldn’t normally irk you? Are you struggling to use the makeshift home-office that you set up? Are you accumulating take-out containers as you work from bed (for the 3rd week in a row)?
Acknowledging the burnout is the first step to dealing with the situation. While it may seem like everyone else has got this down, it’s very likely that they’re facing similar challenges. There is only so much that you can see in a video conference call or via email.
At the end of the day, it may be hard to avoid the burnout. You may be in a situation where you’re playing the role of parent, teacher, and employee. Dramatically changing your routine may not be in the cards; but very small measurable steps can help you get through each day and help you to slowly take control of the burnout. Things may not go back to the normal that we now yearn, but this situation isn’t permanent and we must take care of ourselves in order to be better employees, families, and members of society.
There is an allure to working from home if you are an on-site employee. Just once a week, it would be nice to skip the commute, work from bed, and play music while you type away. If you regularly work from home, then you likely have a schedule, a set-up, and have chosen this type of work lifestyle. You’re prepared and your daily life likely hasn’t changed too much.
But for many, navigating the work-from-home model during the COVID-19 outbreak means a drastic adjustment to everyday life. There are plenty of great tips and tricks to making your space work-friendly and keeping yourself focused. But what happens when you hate working from home? What happens when you thrive on your office environment for conversation, motivation, and energy?
Particularly in this critical
moment, work-from-home doesn’t mean work-from-anywhere — libraries, cafes,
and public spaces are closed in many states and people are being strongly
encouraged to isolate themselves.
As inherently social creatures
(even introverts!), forced isolation can be tough. Spending a weekend binging
your favorite show and never leaving your home is a choice. But somehow, when
it’s forced, it’s no longer enjoyable.
So how do you get through the
dread of working from home while everyone else is celebrating in their pajamas?
Take a Break
Sometimes lack of motivation is tough for newly minted work-from-home employees. But sometimes the opposite is true. Overworking yourself to make the day go by faster — without taking your normal breaks can burn you out. It’s far easier to leave a physical office at the end of the day and mentally shut down.
Being motivated and productive is
great, but if you are going to be in a forced work-from-home environment for
the foreseeable future, then scheduling breaks and a firm end-of-workday time, are
Take a walk, bake, call your
friends, check in on your parents, or catch up on your favorite drama. Take a few moments to stop working and bring
some normalcy back into your life.
It’s so easy to ask a question
and collaborate when you’re in a shared office space. “Have a minute? Can I run something by you?” –
it seems trivial until you have to try to schedule a time to meet or need an
If you have a team, or a close
group of co-workers with whom you have regular contact, schedule a few five or
ten-minute sessions every day to video conference with them. These are the people
who make your in-office experience great.
It’s easy to chat via instant messaging, but socialization and communication
needs aren’t always met this way. Maybe
it’s a laugh or a quick catch up to get you re-energized before the next big
Change it Up
Chances are, if your company has allowed (or mandated) work-from-home, then you have some flexibility in your schedule. If you are in a position where you only need to be physically present during core hours or mandatory meetings, talk to your manager about working when you are most productive. Try to align your schedule with your natural cycle of productivity. Take advantage of your night-owl or early-bird tendencies. You may find larger chunks of time during the day that you can focus on yourself, your family, or your home.
At the end of the day, for many, this mandated work-from-home model is short-term. For the weeks ahead, we can adjust, adapt and know that we are doing this for the greater good and to stop the spread of Coronavirus. But it’s important to acknowledge that working from home is not for everyone. It isn’t always as simple as eating breakfast in bed, in your pajamas, and going about your day as if nothing has changed.
Talener is committed to the safety and health of its employees, clients and candidates. All Talener offices are currently working from a work-from-home model. It is important that we are able to have a happy and healthy team who can continue to help candidates find jobs and help clients fulfill business needs during this unprecedented time. We thank you for all of your patience and for adapting your practices as we all navigate these changes.
Planning for modified hiring processes, handshakes, and video conferences
Businesses and people across the country are preparing for a
potential pandemic of COVID-19, the Novel Coronavirus. But today, like any other day, millions of
people woke up, got themselves ready, and made the commute to work. For the
vast majority of employees who don’t work 100% remotely, physically coming into
work is a reality, pandemic or not.
Employers are making business continuity plans, and major
companies like Twitter
are banning all non-essential travel.
Google and Facebook both canceled their developer
conferences in the wake of the outbreak. Some have even restricted their
own employees from offices until they complete a mandatory quarantine after
traveling to high-risk areas for business or pleasure.
But businesses must continue to operate. And part of
operating means hiring new employees as business needs arise. The use of phone interviews or video calls is
widespread for early stages of the hiring process, but most companies require
an in-person meeting at least once before extending an offer.
If you are working with a staffing agency like Talener, your
representative is your advocate – especially if you have concerns or questions
regarding on-site interviews. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get answers
prior to going on-site. If companies have enacted work-from-home policies, ask
how it affects your ability to interview as well as your potential start with
If you are working on your own, most hiring managers or HR
will appreciate the heads up about any concerns you may have.
If you have traveled to a high-risk area recently, please be
courteous to your interviewers and give them a heads up to confirm if they
would like to re-schedule, conduct a video conference, or have you come into
Likewise, if you know that the company at which you are
applying has international offices in high-risk areas and employees who travel
frequently, you should ask the hiring manager or your staffing representative
if they are taking any precautions with their own staff.
Experiencing sever cold or flu-like symptoms before your
interview? It is in your best interest
and the interviewers to give them as much notice as possible if you are feeling
under the weather. While canceling an
interview is never ideal, providing as much notice as you can is always the
This is particularly true if you have traveled to risk-areas
or if you live in a densely populated area where you are in constant contact
with people at shops, restaurants, or on public transportation.
It is OK to let your interviewer know that you are trying to
follow universal precautions during the outbreak. If you’ve been on public
transportation, take this approach, “I was just on the subway, could you point
me to the restroom to wash my hands before we get started?”
If you are uncomfortable skipping the handshake, keep hand
sanitizer with you or ask to use the restroom to wash your hands before you
begin your interview.
Many companies have business continuity and disaster plans
in place, particularly in densely populated areas or if they have employees
that travel regularly. During the
interview, ask about work-from-home policies, policies on personal and
work-sponsored travel, and expectations.
During this time, your Talener representatives are in
constant contact with clients. They are learning about continuity plans as they
emerge as well as making alternative arrangements if in-person interviews are
not a viable option. If you have questions about a company with whom you are
interviewing, use Talener as a resource.
For more information about the Novel Coronvirus (COVID-19),
the WHO, CDC, and National Institute of
Health provide universal precautionary measures as well as information
about the spread of the virus.
The perfect employee isn’t always standing on your doorstep waiting to apply for your job. Or, the right fit for your company might be missing a few ideal skills. And sometimes, it isn’t about the employee at all. A project could terminate early or evolve into something that requires creating a permanent position. Business needs change and temp-to-perm employees solve an immediate talent shortage that organizations face– while providing the opportunity to keep a long-term employee.
Should you hire a temp-to-perm employee?
Consider the following.
You need talent, fast. You can expedite the interview and on-boarding process by bringing on contract talent quickly. You avoid the lengthy perm interview process as well as the possibility that the talent you want is scooped up by another company while you get through your standard interview process.
You want to try before you buy. Temp-to-perm gives both you and the employee the opportunity to see if the job is right for them. The prospect for a long-term position is available, but neither side is obligated to extend past the initial contract period. The contract portion of this model is defined and gives both parties an out.
Off boarding is easier. The contract has a clear end date that both the company and employee have agreed to. Off boarding a contractor is faster and doesn’t come with the potential morale dip that permanent employees may feel if they were to lose a colleague hired into a permanent position.
Initial feelings on long-term fit aren’t critical. You need to create an immediate, temporary solution to a business problem. You can hire someone with the right skills, even if you aren’t sure that they will be the right fit for a long-term position. This gives you both the opportunity to try out the relationship through the contract. You may be surprised about how well someone integrates into your team– especially if they didn’t initially feel like the right long-term hire.
Saving Equity. If you are looking to save equity that is typically offered to permanent employees, consider hiring a consultant and paying them a higher hourly rate.
The right culture fit. If you’ve found the right person to fit your position but they are light on a few skills that you’d ideally like in a permanent employee, this contract is an opportunity to see how they learn and develop their abilities. The right employee who is equally as talented and motivated to learn can be critical to sustained success.
After four rounds of interviews, exchanged emails, and the OK from HR, you’re ready to make the hire. You send over the job offer and wait for them to accept. But instead, you get a polite rejection; ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’
Where did it fall apart? Were there warning signs? In many industries, competition for talent is tight and candidates have more opportunities than ever. It’s easy to blame a better last-minute opportunity or a fickle personality –but what if the reason they didn’t take the job was because of your hiring process?
The competition worked faster. You may have gotten the offer letter out first, but did you create a sense of urgency with your new hire? Did you schedule interviews quickly, avoiding lag time where the candidate might question how enthusiastic you are about them? If there was no way to shorten the process, did you ensure that the applicant knew next steps and provide timeline expectations? Chances are, if they are as good as you think they are, other companies will feel the same way and act quickly.
Compensation & benefits were unclear.Compensation and benefits are a sensitive subject, but at some point in the process, applicants must weigh factors beyond the base salary. Being upfront about benefits might save you and the candidate from any confusion when the offer rolls around. While your benefits may be comprehensive, if, the cost of your health insurance premium is significantly more expensive than what they are currently paying – the salary increase, or ancillary benefits may not matter in the long run.
You didn’t showcase your working environment. If your candidates are whisked from reception to a conference room and back again, they can only imagine what they will encounter as an employee. From décor to seating arrangements, more than one-third of their day will be spent with co-workers in that space. Showcasing the day-to-day, allowing them to take in the buzz, and get the lay of the land goes a long way in getting them to imagine themselves physically and mentally in the space.
Your offer is one-size fits all. Sometimes, bureaucracy gets in the way. There are strict salary caps or non-negotiable vacation policies. But a little creativity and flexibility go a long way. Decipher their motivations and offer solutions or benefits that seal the deal. Flexible hours, work-from-home opportunities, or extended lunches to get in a gym session can tip the scale in your favor.
They took a deep dive into your company culture. Entertaining multiple interviews or offers affords candidates the ability to take a closer look at your company – online and offline. As they move forward in the interview process, reviews and feedback on Yelp, Glassdoor, or social media influence final acceptance decisions.
They feel rushed. You can’t wait around forever – but you can give candidates a few days to mull over an offer. It’s unfair to make a candidate run the interview gauntlet for weeks or months; only to pressure them to accept the offer immediately.
If you are looking to streamline your hiring process, please contact Talener for advice and guidance about creating a more candidate-friendly, efficient system.
Job hunting is a full-time job. And on top of that, you may
be working a full-time job. Prepping for
interviews, researching companies, and crafting the perfect eye-catching resume
takes up valuable time in what can be an already stressful process.
But how do you take a step back and let someone else do some
of the work? By using resume templates,
you can create clean, formatted, and easy-to-read resumes in minutes. Instead,
spend your valuable time on crafting the perfect content.
Once you’ve mapped out the important talking points around
your experience, education, projects, and specific skills, you can identify the
right template for you.
Consider the following:
How long is my resume?
At some point in your career, your resume will spill over
onto a second page. Your skillset or
industry might demand very detailed information that takes up space, i.e.
technology languages or frameworks. Evaluate how the template will display the
information. Is the most important
information displayed first? If the hiring manager doesn’t make it to page two,
will you still be in the running for the position?
Is my resume going through keyword-matching software?
If you are conducting your job search on your own, do you
know how the resumes are reviewed at the companies at which you are applying?
Are you joining the black hole of keyword-matching software or is a member of
staff looking at individual resumes?
What file type do I need?
If you know the companies you are targeting, take a quick
look to see what file types they accept. It’s frustrating to craft the perfect
resume, just to realize that the file extension isn’t accepted.
Is the format right for parsing?
We’ve all been here: ‘Please upload your resume’
type in almost the exact same information – even though you just
uploaded your resume’
‘Or, let us
pull the information from your resume’
ever allowed resume parsing, you know that it rarely matches the fields exactly
and you must retype your resume information anyway. If parsing is a standard in
your industry – opt for simple, clean formatting without all of the bells and
of template matches my job aspirations?
is a reflection of you as well as the type of work that you do. Your resume is the first glance into your
abilities. How creative, organized, long, or colorful does it need to be to
catch and retain the attention of your future hiring manager?
If you have
a Google account, you have access to Google’s library of templates. Sign into
your Google account or navigate to https://drive.google.com/templates
to access resumes, cover letters, and more in your Google Drive.
Resume Assistant in Microsoft Word:
Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn helpted the two join forces to
bring better resume templates and a resume assistant to Microsoft Word. If you are an Office 365 subscriber on
Windows, customized templates and resume writing help are at your
fingertips. Check out LinkedIn’s Blog or get
started in Word by opening a new document and choosing a resume template.
If you’re looking for a template to give you more creative license, sign up for a free account on Canva and get started with more free templates. Or, sign up for the pro-version to get custom-tailored designs.
Americans are not known for taking their allotted vacation time through their employers. According to the Washington Post, “Even when Americans get paid time off, they don’t use it all. And when they do use their days – it may not come as a surprise to learn – many of them fail to leave work fully behind.” According to Allianz, nearly three quarters of Americans take micro-vacations, amounting to less than 4 days away, often including weekends.
But as we move into the summer of 2021, hotel bookings, private rentals, and planned time off is surging. TripAdvisor is anticipating more than 67% of households taking an extended vacation during the summer months, a surge that is leaving many employers scrambling as many people have not had any leisure time off in nearly fifteen months.
The increased need for qualified technical talent complicates the interviewing process, training, and successful hiring of new employees this summer. For the first time in many years, vacation-goers are indicating that they will finally cut the cord during their time off and recharge without a direct line to the office.
How are companies coping with current hiring managers and TA decision makers who are slated to take back-to-back time off for the next three months? Organizations have gotten creative with their current employees – limiting the amount of vacation days that can be taken between Memorial Day & Labor Day, closing down operations to force paid time off, or offering incentives to use vacation time after the summer rush.
But this doesn’t address the pile-on of PTO usage when organizations are in dire need of help, particularly in areas like technology. Only 16% of tech jobs were filled in March – leaving over 300,000 open, according to CompTIA.
Companies need to take action now to ensure they’re not facing a double staffing shortage; back-to-back time off of their current staff, and the missed opportunity to have new employees onboarded and up-to-speed in Q3. Additionally, some flexibility will be required as new employees likely have their own vacations booked prior to joining a company. Beyond global PTO policy changes, clear communication and direction amongst individual teams will be critical in successfully making new hires.
Prepare your staff by defining every person’s role in the upcoming hiring process. What is expected of them, and when? If they will be on vacation, set boundaries and choose potential alternative interviewers who can fill in.
Get Buy In
Leaving your team in the dark about hiring goals means that no expectations have been set or preparations made. It’s difficult to get buy-in when you’ve left them out of the loop. Prepared staff are more likely to take an hour out of their vacation time if they are anticipating it.
Empathize & Validate
We’re all exhausted. It’s been 15 months of uncertainty and we all need a break, whether it’s on a beach in Mexico or building a deck in the backyard. Time off is valid; no matter how employees spend it.
In addition to preparing your own employees and getting buy-in from them, it is valuable for your team or TA to know general hiring timelines. Setting up a framework of timelines sets expectations and provides more clarity into how they play a role in the upcoming weeks or months.
Create a Process
When preparation doesn’t account for unexpected projects or shifts in organizational goals, create a process that delegates responsibility. Consequently, If you are hiring a new team member or if a team member leaves and needs to be replaced quickly, everyone understands their role in the interviewing, hiring and onboarding process.
If you are faced with staff turnover, a surge in PTO requests and are understaffed this summer, consider bringing in consultants who can hit the ground running and relieve the immediate burden that your tech teams may be facing. If you have questions about the process of hiring a consultant, reach out to the Talener team for more information.
Over the last year, we’ve adapted, learned, and transitioned our jobs in ways we’ve never thought possible. Remote work has become the norm. Teams were picked up, scattered, and put back down across cities and time zones. Physical proximity changed; but overall, teams understood their hierarchy and team dynamic, even remotely.
As companies begin to re-hire and consider permanent remote positions for many people, the bubble of employees who have worked together before and during the pandemic is being altered. Increased hiring across industries is great news. However, the remote setup that was assembled in a hurry isn’t destined for long term growth and overall success of growing teams. Great thought is needed to develop new work norms and creating a culture of fulfillment.
Keeping team members remote for the sake of being remote isn’t enough. There must be purpose and it must be sustainable. Employees who were too afraid to leave their jobs during the height of the pandemic may begin to search elsewhere, upsetting the familiar balance and bond that teams have created over the past year. It is inevitable that new people with join these teams and we must be ready for the impending change.
So, how do you create a remote culture that isn’t just about having employees at home?
Design a strategy
We sent people out of the door with laptops and well-wishes last year. But in any other circumstance, a plan and strategy would have been formulated prior to making such an important decision. Many companies are just getting back to building back their teams. This is the perfect time to take a hard look at what is working and what isn’t. Your strategy should include a basic hierarchy, even within a relatively flat organization. This alleviates any confusion, particularly for any newly onboarded employees. Who do they look to for expectations, for help, and collaboration?
Defining the type of communication that needs to be undertaken is also a critical part of building your strategy. What warrants a phone call, a video chat, or an instant message? Additionally, a system that accounts for employees in different times zones will avoid potential confusion. Communication extends to the expectation surrounding how and with whom files are housed and shared.
Transitioning seasoned on-site employees remotely was challenging, but it wasn’t impossible. Rapport already existed and managers knew their employees’ strengths and weaknesses in the office. It is difficult to imagine treating new employees the same way that as your current team. Be clear about your expectations of work hours, work-product, and goals. Set boundaries by creating check-ins that are scheduled and have a clearly defined purpose.
Individuals Make up the Team
On-site, it is easy to pass by a colleague and read their body language. You can observe if they’re sick, exhausted, happy, or struggling. A successful remote culture means finding new ways to connect with individuals. Individuals make up the larger team. Their struggles and successes need to be addressed and celebrated. Establishing and maintaining rapport with your team builds trust, loyalty, and provides you the opportunity to follow their work more organically.
In-office, you define expectations of work product. Other expectations come naturally as part of the flow of the company’s culture — working hours, lunch breaks, social events, etc. Employees, especially those joining a company now have no reference point as to what is acceptable and expected remotely. Without micromanaging, you can still set expectations from work product to working hours. Be clear about what is expected from day one. Define core hours, methods of communication, performance measurement, check-in frequency, attendance, etc. It is far easier to outline expectations from the get-go.
How many impromptu meetings did you call in the middle of your employees’ day that interrupted their work? Likely, very few. If you wouldn’t call an impromptu team meeting in-office, then you shouldn’t do it virtually either. Will an email suffice until you can get something on the calendar that doesn’t disrupt workflow? With the exception of an urgent matter, consider building in a recurring time slot on your team’s calendar that allows for unforeseen issues. You avoid disruption while also giving your team members a time slot opportunity to raise any issues or bring the group together at a dedicated time.
Build in Professional Development
Virtual professional development through webinars or workshops can feels as tangible as in-person training. But learning and training from one-off questions that occur at the desk are eliminated when the team is working remotely. It is imperative to build a well-defined professional development plan and training process with milestones, check-ins, and support. Beyond the training goals, choosing the appropriate delivery for your virtual team members is vital.
Examine the Virtual Work Environment
The right tools enhance the remote working environment. When we closed office doors last year, we left with laptops and monitors in hand. There wasn’t a second thought about other tools that would help remote workers thrive in their new environment. Examine what tools have been or could have been most beneficial to you when you started to work remotely. These tools range from file management systems, document collaboration, communications equipment, office supplies or something as simple as a desk chair meant for 8 hours of daily work. What do employees no longer have access to at home that they would have otherwise used in-office?
Every team and every team member should have a plan that guides them through remote work from day one. A clear plan defines their professional progression, outlines expectations, and supports them just as they would be supported in the office. Virtual teams need structure and goals in order to find a common purpose to deliver work product and remain engaged within their organization. A company that operates remotely is not equivalent to a company that builds a remote strategy as part of the organization’s operations.
How Madeline transitioned to her new career as a full stack engineer during the pandemic
The Talener team has only recently gotten to know Madeline Stalter over the past few years. Her story and progression from a psychology student to a full stack engineer (with a tech recruiting stopover at Talener!) is an important one to share.
As we celebrate International Women’s Month, we acknowledge the achievements and visibility of women, particularly in STEM. But it is also a reminder to all of us that women are a minority in technology positions. Women make up half of the workforce, but only occupy a quarter of high-tech jobs. This number diminishes further in a tech-based, executive level job.
Madeline’s transition from a psychology degree to completing her full stack engineering training at the Flatiron School in NYC is important. The traditional four-year computer science degree still dominates the software engineering job market. But the demand for talent outweighs the pool of four-year CS graduates. Madeline sat down with us to talk about her transition, the challenges she’s faced, and some of the decisions she made along the way to change her career path.
My background is diverse. But there are three motifs that have been evident in all facets of my professional trajectory: the desire to be challenged, the ability to act to actively seek out what challenges me, and aligning myself with my passions. I stand by the phrase “you didn’t come this far to only come this far.” My desire for learning is ever present. My path to software engineering may seem curious, but it isn’t.
I studied psychology to focus on discovering the ways of the world; understanding why people behave the way they do. This is not all that different from computer science and engineering. At the end of the day, technology is all built around, for, and by people. We influence buying habits, build visually stimulating websites, and curb security threats from malicious minds.
But learning psychology wasn’t enough. I needed more. I sought out a student research position that relied heavily on statistical analyses using software like R, SAS, and SPSS to test hypotheses, create and maintain databases & publish scholarly articles. I was hooked and I worked harder. My mentor recognized my desire to push for more and promoted me to a paid position running the laboratory. From there, I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 and embarked on a research fellowship at the world-renowned McLean Hospital. Unfortunately, the position didn’t offer a lot in area analysis and I realized that research was likely not my forever career path as I had previously planned.
How could I have already hit my professional ceiling and growth when I had barely left college? It was time for a reevaluation. Not one to remain idle, I started my own pet care business and planned for my future very carefully. I didn’t want a job; I wanted a career.
I looked back at what I loved about psychology and immediately thought about manipulating data and creating databases– my link to software engineering. I wanted to build and maintain applications. But without a technology background, I needed to get as close to technology as possible without previous experience. This was a stepwise process, but I trusted it; knowing that I would put my full weight behind being successful. This led me to technical recruiting. I used my vast network of engineering candidates and tech-talent seeking clients to learn more and ultimately piece together how I could further pursue a career in technology.
I started independently studying open-source languages outside of work. This continued for a year until the pandemic opened an opportunity for me to go back to school and learn full stack web development. The most efficient way was through a fifteen-week software engineering bootcamp. Those fifteen weeks stood between me and the ability to build robust full stack web applications and completely transform my life. I chose the Flatiron School in NYC for its comprehensive program, distinguished staff, and post-graduate outcomes.
This process hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. The initial knowledge acquisition in the bootcamp was difficult. I had to rewire how I approached problems – becoming more creative in my solutions (as there are seemingly infinite ways to approach code). I also had to bolster my self-confidence. The term “imposter syndrome” has become quite colloquial these days, but it is real; especially with my non-traditional background and working in such a male dominated field. To ward off this feeling of inadequacy, I remind myself daily that I am worthy and capable of making significant impacts in tech as I “didn’t come this far to only come this far.”
I advise those who are considering making a career change/shift into technology to do so! However, do so wisely. Take the necessary steps to ensure your success. If you combine this methodological approach with your passion, very little should tangibly get in your way. Love the life you live – work included
Nearly a year ago, companies were put into a position that seemed unfathomable: let your employees work fulltime from home. Teams that were willing to pivot and invest in a fully remote workforce are thriving. In many IT based positions, deliverables are up and companies are enjoying a more diverse pool of candidates available to them.
The forced changes over the past year make it clear that most technology positions should be considered remote first. Thriving employers shouldn’t mandate their employees’ return to on-site work and should continue to hire a remote workforce after the pandemic is over.
The argument to bring successful, productive employees back to work is impractical. According to Gallup, nearly two thirds of workers in the US who have been working remotely during the pandemic would prefer to continue their new routine.
Remote Work Doesn’t Hurt Company Culture
Increasingly, the Talener team is hearing the call from leaders and HR teams to bring employees back-on-site because the company ‘culture’ is hurting. What is company culture, how is it measured and quantified? And what is the link between the time spent in a physical office and productivity?
Culture should not be an argument for bringing a successful remote employee back into the office. Using culture to explain lagging company performance due to broader economic factors like changed customer behavior or pandemic related restrictions is not the answer.
How do you tell an employee whose production and delivery are good that they need to come back on-site because of corporate cultural insecurities? With so many remote opportunities, forcing good employees back to the office sets them up (particularly in tech) to potentially look elsewhere.
It would be easy to blame attrition on lack of culture rather than a lack of employee growth or better compensation elsewhere. Not every job has an unlimited ceiling for growth. People change jobs for real personal and professional reasons – not because of physical proximity to their co-workers.
The Transition is Over. This is Transformation
Last year, we upset decades of work culture and business standards in the blink of an eye. We completely altered how we work, when we work, and with whom we work. It was a fast and furious transition that left many organizations and employees behind in its wake. But now, it is time to stop treating the move to remote work as a temporary transition period.
It is certainly a period where we continue to learn about how to function successfully, but it is not a temporary situation anymore. Changing the fundamental 9 to 5 routine, bookended by a daily commute has not been easy. There was no roadmap for such a transition. This was and will continue to be a learning experience where organizations are quite literally rewriting the history of labor, productivity, and business relationships in real time. We are transforming the future of hiring, employing, and retaining talent.
It does no one any favors to fall back into comfortable norms like curating an on-site culture of standard production hours. In fact, it stifles the very thing that companies are trying to do; innovate and be the best in their industry. We have the opportunity to use this forced change as a catalyst to expand workforce possibilities, erasing regional borders and tapping into a more diverse (and potentially more talented) candidate base.
The Talener team is ready to help you streamline your remote IT recruiting and hiring process. We can give you the tools to build a remote technology team. For more information, get in touch with us today.
Over the past year, companies have scrambled and adapted to the chaos of the pandemic. Even software engineers, who are typically in high demand (and often insulated from layoffs) have found themselves looking for new jobs. But looking for a new job and committing to your job search are two very different paths.
This year, we break up with the casual job search. Maybe not forever, but for now. We move into 2021 with the prospect of an effective vaccine, traveling, and seeing friends & family again. We’re also looking forward to more stability in the job market. And for some industries, 2020 has catapulted businesses into rapid growth. This year we expect that the fintech, online gaming and health tech industries will continue to grow and hire.
The way businesses are hiring and how they are deciding to expand their teams is undeniably linked to what has happened over the past year. Casual job seekers who are not motivated to make a move or aren’t dedicated to the jobs they are applying for will be overlooked.
Take it Seriously: It’s expensive and time consuming to hire a new employee. Some TA or HR teams may be short staffed as furloughed employees have not returned. Hiring managers are stretched thin; trying to rebuild and reorganize teams to meet demand. Just as your time is valuable, so is theirs. Take your application and interviews seriously.
The First Impression is More Important than Ever: Not only do you have to get off to the right start in the interviewing process, but you also need to show that you are an employee capable of transitioning to your new job. This is particularly important if you are working remotely or partially remotely. You are asking a new employer to trust you without them ever having seen you interact in-person with clients or co-workers. Your first impression isn’t contained to the first video interview. It is extended into your first days or weeks of work, where you must build their trust in your abilities as you meet (or e-meet) your team one-by-one. You will be making a first impression over and over again. Even living room video meetings need to exude professionalism.
Ask the Right Questions: It has always been important to ask useful questions in an interview. But now, more than ever, you need to research and prepare your questions (with follow up questions & researched responses) prior to your interviews. Time is a premium – your ability to ask insightful questions will start a conversation in lieu of a back-and-forth Q&A. This is the time to show your investment in the job and the company.
Know the History & the Market: You know the company and the job inside and out. But do you know what their hiring looked like pre-pandemic? How have they adapted or changed their structure over the past year? Know their pain points and show them how you can concretely contribute to solving their business needs.
Be Ready: Your resume, or at minimum, a strong foundation for a resume should be ready to edit and send on-demand. While many companies are abandoning cover letters all together, it is important to have bullet points and a general format prepared. Expect potential technical tests and think about how you will need to plan your time – especially if you are home with children or other distractions.
If you’re not sure how to get your technical job search started, the Talener team can help to guide you as you consider whether a change in position is right for you.