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7 Ways Evaluate Your Contract-to-Hire Job

October 9th, 2018

If you find yourself in a position to consider or accept a contract-to-hire job, use this opportunity to evaluate the company, the job, and whether it is the right permanent fit.

Try before you buy

A contract-to-hire job is a great way for both a consultant and employer to try each other out before making a long-term commitment.  During your contract period, you and your manager can assess whether the job and the company is the right fit for you.  At the end of the contract, you can choose to continue the relationship or part ways, ending the contract period.  For an employer, the end of a contract may not cause the ripple among employees that can occur when a permanent employee departs. And for you, it is easy out if you really don’t like the job or your co-workers.

Assess the company & its culture

Contract-to-hire jobs put you in a unique position to evaluate the company from the inside.  From procedures and hierarchy to organizational stability and operational structures, this time gives you a snapshot of how you will interact with the organization on a day-to-day basis.  Likewise, assess whether the company’s culture matches your values.

Find your fit

Knowing that a new job is the right fit can be tough to decode after a few interviews.  Chances are, you haven’t had a chance to meet with everyone and see the team dynamic before starting your job. Figure out where you fit into the team and the organization through your contract. Decide whether it is the right structure and environment to meet your needs and goals.

Assess work-life balance

What kind of hours do permanent employees work? Are they expected to eat lunch at their desks? Are there flexible arrival and departure times? Are vacation days hard to come by – or does this vary by manager or department? Evaluate how a permanent position will affect your lifestyle and whether you would need to make changes.

Evaluate the perks & benefits

Since most contracting positions do not offer full benefits or perks, this is a great time to evaluate what other employees have through the organization.  Get an insider’s look at their 401k plan, wellness benefits, company-sponsored insurance & more.  Plus, there may be some non-advertised perks or incentives that help you in your decision-making process.

Build your skill set

Add new experience and skills to your resume. Whether you decide to stay with the position or not, take the opportunity to learn new systems, programming languages, or methodologies.  These skills build on your existing experience and give you a leg up if your contract-to-hire job also has to be advertised outside of the organization before it is officially offered to you.

Answering: Why did you leave?

Explaining short stints on a resume can be tough. And it can make future employers weary that you won’t stick around if you’re hired permanently. In a contract-to-hire job, you can roll right into the position without needing to jump through the question hoops that outside candidates may face.

Or, if you decide to leave at the end of the contract, it’s easy to confirm that your contract finished without any further explanation needed.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

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

Eight Tech Resume Red Flags

September 5th, 2018

Your resume is a short reflection of your experience.  It doesn’t tell the whole story, but it invites potential employers to learn more about your background and open a door into how you can potentially fit into their organization.  Typically, less than 30 seconds is spent scanning a resume before it is moved from one pile to another.  Here are eight resume red flags to watch for as you craft your own:

  1. Perm Job Hopping: Consulting or project-based roles have become increasingly popular for tech jobs. Employers can wrap their heads around this type of work because they have a defined start and end. But hopping from one perm job to another raises eyebrows- even in a market where tech talent is in high demand.

 

  1. Your Resume Isn’t Relevant: Creating a detailed, yet concise resume is tough. But one or two pages of relevant and focused information about you generates further interest without overwhelming your potential employer. Listing every position you’ve held creates noise that dilutes what’s actually important.

 

  1. Being the CTO in a Team of One: Did you start or join a start up as a junior or mid-level engineer? If you were the only technical person, it may be tempting to list yourself as the CTO when you apply to new jobs. But unless you can back up your skills and experience, potential employers may have a hard time translating your resume into your actual capabilities.

 

  1. Your Timeline Isn’t Specific: Are months or years missing on the resume? Asking an employer to fill in the blanks as they read through your resume is a sure-fire way to raise red flags.  Including the to-and-from specifics eliminates guesswork, uncertainty about months or years of technical experience, and provides a neat timeline to assess your abilities developed within a position.

 

  1. Inflating Technical Experience: If it is on your resume as a technical skill, be prepared to answer questions about what you’ve done and how you can apply it to a future job. If you haven’t used a program or language since college and can’t answer a technical question or whiteboard – leave it off your resume.

 

  1. Out of Order: If your resume isn’t listed in chronological order that lists the most important / relevant information first – you’re forcing an employer to seek out information that is pertinent to them.  Provide them with an easy timeline that lists the most important facts about your experience first. Chances are, the 5th bullet point listed under your third job isn’t getting read at all.

 

  1. Resume Photos & Personal Information: In many countries, it is not uncommon to include photos, gender, birthdate, marital status, or citizenship on a resume.  However, this can send warning signals to an employer who may think that you don’t understand local customs. While you may be the best candidate for the position – including this information also sets you up for unintentional bias or discrimination before your resume has even been read.

 

  1. Buzzword Overload: While resume screening systems search for keywords to match resumes up with jobs– too many buzzwords (or too many of the same buzzword) may turn off a human resume reader. Use the most important keywords to convey your experience; but avoid taking up valuable resume space using words or phrases repeatedly that don’t create any additional value.

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Posted in Career Tips, 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

Learning from Negative Interview Feedback

January 25th, 2018

“Take criticism seriously, not personally,” encourages Talener’s Gabe Klein.  The Chicago Director echoes this sentiment when he delivers negative feedback to his candidates during the interview process.  Whether he is conveying constructive criticism or relaying a ‘no’ after several rounds of interviews, Klein tries to focus on providing honest information.

Hearing negative feedback about yourself is never easy.  “Delivering it is just as tough,” says Klein.  “After making it through three or four rounds of interviews, candidates are often hopeful that they will get the call asking them, ‘when can you start?’”.

Whether you use a recruiting firm, or you are applying to a position on your own, it is important to objectively digest the negative feedback.  Did lack of sleep contribute to a less-than-stellar interview? Were you late? Or simply, was someone else more qualified for the job? Receiving negative feedback without understanding why you’ve gotten it, puts you back at square one in your job search. If you are taking on the job hunt alone and have received negative feedback, it is paramount to ask your HR team / interviewer what went wrong.

“Often, candidates don’t dig beyond surface feedback,” explains Klein.  “I’m trying to help both my candidate and client, so my goal is to listen for understanding rather than for debate. I can dig for detailed feedback that candidates may be uncomfortable asking for or too upset to address.” Klein says that he uses the feedback as a means for prepping the candidate for future opportunities. He has seen some of his best candidate relationships stem from a role in which they had been passed over or had received negative feedback.  Likewise, this feedback is an opportunity to qualify future candidates for that client.

“I often take responsibility for an unsuccessful interview process. It is my job to make sure that candidates are appropriately and effectively prepared. If they aren’t, I know that I have to do better as their recruiter.”

Overall, Klein advocates for open dialogue and transparency.  This includes things like knowing the number of candidates who are being considered, the interview type, and general information about the organization. The more questions you ask and the information you know, the better prepared you will be. Open dialogue and transparency all go hand-in-hand with providing feedback. Klein’s opinion is that any feedback can be good feedback, if you are willing to be open-minded and transparency on all sides shows that expectations are being managed and maintained.

Klein promotes cautious optimism. Being excited about an opportunity is part of the job hunt, but that doesn’t mean that a candidate should put all their time and energy into a single role. By looking into multiple roles, you’re given the chance to further develop your interview skill set as well as understand that each role and process is different.  And who knows? You may receive negative feedback from an interview on Monday and apply it to an interview on Wednesday.

If you are unsure about how to ask HR or an interviewer why you’ve not been offered a role or what you could have done differently, reach out to Gabe at gklein@talener.com for tips and tricks to successful interviewing.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

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