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Become a Better Leader: Avoid These Mistakes

May 15th, 2015

Being a great leader is not about being perfect. In fact, many would argue that you need to try and fail a few times, if not a few dozen times, to qualify yourself to lead. That being said, there is nothing wrong with learning from the mistakes of others before you make them yourself. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of common mistakes that leaders make so you can hopefully avoid making them too.

  • Taking Everything on Your Own Shoulders – As a leader, it is your responsibility to delegate. That doesn’t mean you hand every responsibility off to someone else, but you need to trust that those around you are capable of getting things done.
  • Failing to Set Goals – For every decision you make, you have a desired outcome in mind. Make sure that your team knows exactly what you want and how you will judge their performance.
  • Relying on Quick Fixes – You are a leader because you are willing to put in the long hours and hard work it takes to accomplish something great. Always resist the urge to fall back on a solution that is too fast or too easy.
  • Communicating Ineffectively – Your team looks to you for direction. If you don’t make yourself clear and accessible, you can’t expect to get the outcomes you require.
  • Repeating Mistakes – Even after reading this post, you are going to make mistakes. Make sure you learn from them so they don’t happen in the future.
  • Refusing to Change – Change is inevitable. It’s your job to forecast it, prepare your team for it, and then react to it before it has a chance to affect you.
  • Cutting Yourself Off – Leaders are also members of teams. Remember to keep yourself accessible to employees at any time, for any reason. If you’re too busy, schedule a meeting for later.
  • Being Too Serious – Work is a serious thing, but that doesn’t mean it has to feel like a jail. Leaders often set the tone for the office, so make sure you inject some fun and humor into it when you can.
  • Withholding Praise – If someone on your team does something great, let them know about it, and think about offering some kind of reward. As the leader, keeping your team motivated is one of your biggest responsibilities.

Being a leader is not easy. But if you approach the position with some self-awareness and a keen sense of what your team needs and when, you can push them to be better than they could be without you. Find more resources to help you get the most out of your staff by partnering with the team at The Concorde Group.

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Should You Include a Temp Job on a Resume?

April 28th, 2015

In recent years, companies have increasingly relied on temporary or contract employees to fill holes in their workforce. Over those same years, a tough job market drove many professionals to take on temporary positions. That means there are a lot of job seekers with temporary experience in their past who are wondering if it belongs on their resume.

The short answer is yes. A temporary job is still a job, and you can pick up a lot of valuable skills and experiences spending just a few weeks or months with a company. And since so many companies have turned to temporary workers, they understand this as well as you do.

It’s important, however, to put this experience into context and frame it appropriately on your resume. You can leverage these positions to bolster your credentials but only if you are honest about the nature of the job. Use these tips to cover your bases:

Decide on a Grouping

You can either list all of your temporary positions together under one heading marked “Temporary Jobs,” or elect to discuss each one separately. If you have worked a lot of temporary jobs and mostly want to demonstrate that you have been keeping busy, collecting them together makes more sense. But if you have worked temporarily for a major company in your industry, or had a responsibility that is particularly worth highlighting, it’s perfectly appropriate to single this one job out.

Filter Your Experience

Hiring managers don’t want to waste time reading about experiences that are irrelevant to the position they are trying to fill. If your temporary experience was especially varied, avoid mentioning the positions that have nothing to do with the one you are seeking now. For instance, if you worked as a construction laborer for a few weeks it won’t help you get a job in an office.

Format Correctly

When listing temporary positions on your resume, write down the staffing agency you worked through, the company you worked for, your title, and the dates of employment. Then be sure to designate that this was a temporary position. If you didn’t get the job through a staffing agency, don’t hesitate to characterize yourself as a consultant or freelancer. This can help establish your industry authority.

Highlight Your Achievements

Even temporary workers make a contribution to the company. If there are any achievements you can point to, be sure to highlight them. Just make sure you are not stretching the truth or exaggerating your role. Whenever possible try to cite specific metrics, and be sure to focus on high points that are relevant to the position you’re seeking.

Every detail of your resume must be carefully considered and closely scrutinized. It’s not an easy process. Get the help you need to optimize your resume and your job search by working with The Concorde Group.

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Why Teach Current Employees New Skills?

April 16th, 2015

Employee training is a time and labor-intensive process that can have a number of attendant costs. For that reason, it’s tempting to put new hires through an initial training process but leave everyone else on your workforce to go about business as usual. After all, it they’re getting their work done, why do they need more training?

As pervasive as this attitude is, it’s almost always a shortsighted and incorrect one. The simple fact is that prioritizing ongoing, strategic training with your existing workforce has significant benefits that serve the aims of your business for years to come. Learn about a few, and decide if it’s time to rethink the way you handle training.

Increase Employee Loyalty and Morale

There is a common fear that if employers train their workforce in new skills, then employees will simply leverage those skills to find a better position elsewhere. However, this cynical attitude rarely reflects the realities of the workplace. In fact, employees that receive more training tend to be more loyal to their employers because they feel valued and respected by the companies they work for. This strategy creates a feeling of shared objectives that has a powerful effect on productivity, efficiency, and morale enterprise wide.

Introduce Flexibility into Your Workforce

Hiring managers across industries are struggling to close skills gaps within their ranks and find qualified candidates to fill in their vacancies. The obvious but often overlooked solution is to cross-train your employees. Not only does your workforce become more dynamic and innovative when your team members aren’t confined to discreet roles, but your projects don’t have to grind to a halt when someone leaves. Another employee with overlapping skills can pick up the slack until you find a qualified replacement. This strategy also makes it easier to promote from within, enabling you to refocus recruitment efforts on easy-to-fill entry-level positions.

Work with a Broader Pool of Talent

Recruiters typically look for a candidate who ticks every box on the job description. That ends up disqualifying a lot of talented applicants simply because they don’t posses every single one of the required skills at the time of application. Organizations that prioritize training and professional development are able to be more creatively selective because they know they can mold promising talent into the professionals they require. This expedites the recruitment process while enhancing the overall quality of the workforce.

Building dynamic teams is a complicated process, and ongoing training is only part of the strategy. Find resources to help you meet your other recruitment and retention challenges by working with The Concorde Group.

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How to Write a Solid Cover Letter

March 26th, 2015

If you are struggling to write a great cover letter, you are like most job seekers. These documents are notoriously hard to craft, and if you don’t consider written communications to be your strong suit, they can seem like a big obstacle to getting the job you want. The good news is that all writers and all job seekers can craft a cover letter that sounds great and commands attention if they focus on some basic strategies:

Don’t Summarize Your Resume

This is a common mistake. Instead of just rehashing your education and experience, use the cover letter to show off some of your personality, to mention your passions, and to state explicitly why you are a valuable candidate.

Write With the Company in Mind

You should never send out a generic cover letter. Instead, start fresh with each one, and tailor it to the position you are applying for and the company you are applying with. Sprinkling in company-specific details helps demonstrates your enthusiasm and highlights your level of preparation.

Always Be Concise

The general rule of thumb is that your cover letter shouldn’t be longer than three paragraphs and half a page. Exceptions can be made in certain instances, but you should make it as brief as possible, strip out all redundancies and repetitions, and focus on making every sentence valuable.

Nix the Greeting

Lots of times you don’t have an individual’s name or even a title to address your cover letter to. Instead of falling back on a generic greeting like “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madame,” leave the greeting off entirely and just jump straight into your introduction.

Use PDF Format

You will probably be submitting your cover letter electronically. Don’t risk sending it in a format that the recipient’s computer can’t access. The most reliable cross-platform format to use is PDF.

Start Strong

A recruiter might not read your whole letter, but they will probably read at least the first few lines. Don’t waste this space on a bland, casual, or unfocused introduction. Make a statement right off the bat that will grab their attention and make them want to keep reading.

Close Strong

If the recruiter has made it all the way to the end of your letter, you’ve done something right. Make sure that the last idea you leave in their head is a strong one. Be bold, and, as always, say it as quickly and clearly as you can.

Now that you know how to write great cover letters you need to find eager employers to send them out to. Kickstart your search for Westchester County jobs by partnering with The Concorde Group.

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How to Stay Productive as a Telecommuter

March 12th, 2015

Many people who start telecommuting are attracted to the freedom this type of work allows. But they quickly discover that when you are working out of the office and away from the boss, the lure of procrastination is a lot stronger. Day in and day out, it’s tough to stay productive, to make efficient use of time, and to avoid distractions. If you’re struggling to get more work done as a telecommuter, try these time-honored strategies:

 

  • Make Space – Set up a home office. Whenever you are in that space, you will feel like you are in “work mode.” And, if possible, close the door between your office and the rest of your home. This subtle separation helps keep you at your desk longer.
  • Follow a Schedule – Committing to regular work hours can give your time form and purpose.
  • Prepare for Work – Each morning go through your ritual of bathing, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. After that, work starts.
  • Tidy Up – A tidy desk is a sign of a tidy mind. That’s just as true when you work from home.
  • Disable Distractions – When you really need to focus, unplug the TV, log out of your email, Facebook, and IM, and put your phone in another room. Surround yourself with work and work only.
  • Don’t Quit – When you are feeling brain dead, it’s easy to set telecommuting work aside and call it a day. Even if you feel uninspired, try to be working ahead every single day.
  • Create Lists of Threes – Every day, make a list of things that must be done, things that could be done, and things that you would like to be done. That way you always have something to be working on.
  • Take Breaks – You need to take breaks even when surrounded by the comforts of home. Spend at least 15-30 minutes away from your desk every few hours.
  • Commit to Quitting Time – If you define a time when you will absolutely stop working, you will be more motivated to stay productive in the time leading up to it.
  • Focus on Finances – When your attention begins to wander, remember that all the time you spend not working is time when you are not making money.
  • Equip Yourself – Upgrading to a nicer office chair or wearing noise-canceling headphones when you are concentrating can both help you get more done.

Staying productive when telecommuting is a constant challenge. But lots people prefer it to commuting to a cubicle every day. If you’re interested in pursuing telecommuting opportunities or other types of non-traditional employment, contact The Concorde Group for Fairfield County jobs as well as jobs in Westchester NY.

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How to Negotiate Better in an Interview

February 25th, 2015

If you are entering into a salary negotiation, congratulations! It looks like your job search is over. But just because you’ve secured an offer doesn’t mean the hard work is over. The salary negotiation process can be long, confusing, contentious, and especially consequential if you accept a disappointing offer. Make sure you get what’s fair while staying in good standing with your new employer by following these strategies.

Do Research in Advance

It’s fairly easy these days to figure out what similar professionals in the same part of the country earn, and then factor in cost of living differences. Determine what the average level of compensation is before the first negotiation so you know if the offer is high, low, or about normal. Use sites like Salary.com to find the average wage for your industry.

Highlight Your Value

Clearly you are qualified for the position. But what kind of extra value can you bring to the table, and how will that affect the company’s bottom line? You can make the case that you deserve more because you can offer more, but you need to back it up with concrete statements.

Focus on Professional Matters

You might be eager to make more because you have unpaid medical bills or a kid heading off to college, but it is never appropriate to bring up your personal finances during a salary negotiation. Stick to the level and volume of work you will accomplish when justifying an increased salary.

Value Your Time

It’s common for companies to counter a salary offer by offering more pay for more work. Ask yourself if you have the time and drive to take on the extra work, and make sure that the additional pay is fair compensation for what’s being required of you.

Consider the Total Package

It’s important to look at health benefits, vacation time, tuition reimbursement, and other perks in addition to salary when calculating the value of an offer. And if the company holds firm on salary, you can negotiate other variables to improve the offer.

Be Reasonable

You might be tempted to throw out a wildly inflated figure and then expect to negotiate it down, but this only makes you look unprofessional and unrealistic in the eyes of your new employer. Shoot instead for the mid-to-high range of the average salary.

Remain Professional

No matter how the negotiations go, it’s important to remain cordial, civil, and perfectly professional throughout. If you reveal yourself to be petty or greedy, the employer has every right to withdraw their job offer.

The team at The Concorde Group is here to help you find the right job opportunity, get in front of the hiring  manager, ace the interview, and coast through the salary negotiation. If you’re ready to improve your job search in Fairfield CT, contact us today.

 

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How to Make Better Job Postings

February 11th, 2015

If you have a vacancy and you’re just not finding the right candidates to fill it, the problem could be the way your job posting is written. Use these tips to help improve your current posting and all the ones you write in the future.

Use Relevant Keywords

You might use phrases like “IT Brainiac,” or “Sales Ninja” to add some character to your posting and help you stand out, but ultimately this kind of esoteric phrasing just makes it harder for job seekers to find you. Using relevant keywords ensures you will narrow your candidate field to the actual qualified applicants you are looking for.

Create Attractive Postings

A job posting is similar to a resume. Both need to be attractive, attention grabbing, and easy to read/digest. Make sure you are using bullet points, add your company logo to the top, and consider making a brief recruiting video to connect a human face with your company.

Make Your Expectations Clear

If a job comes with special requirements – lots of travel, working unusual hours, the need to relocate regularly – make sure those points are made clear in your job posting. It helps no one if you try to obscure the true nature of the job you’re offering.

Be Brief

The average job posting is filled with extraneous information. There is no reason to mention that candidates “must be punctual and professionally dressed,” or to recount the entire history of your company. Cut out all but the most important information.

Start Strong

The most important and relevant information should appear at the top of the job posting. If you need to explain or elaborate, you can do that further down.

Mention Compensation

Every job seeker will be wondering about it. If you are prepared to offer generous or at least competitive compensation, say that explicitly. If your budget is tighter, emphasize other types of compensation or perks like vacation time, flexible scheduling, or tuition reimbursement.

Sell Your Company

This is especially important if you want to attract top talent. Try to answer these two questions – “Why would someone love having this job?” and “What do your employees love about working for your company?”

Position Yourself Honestly

If you are a small startup, it’s dishonest to describe yourself as the rival to Google. If you are honest about who you are as a company and where you are headed, you’ll attract candidates who are eager to work in the environment you provide.

Writing a better job posting is only part of the process. You also need to get that posting in front of more promising candidates. Get the help you need to connect with a vast pool of talent by partnering with The Concorde Group, a full-service staffing firm.

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How to Find What Your “Passion” Is

January 26th, 2015

You have probably been told since you were very young that you need to find out what your “passion” is and then make it the focus of your life, especially your working life. And if you are like most people, you are still searching for the answer, and fairly convinced it has nothing to do with your current job.

It’s a big question, and the answer is undeniably elusive, but you should never give up trying to find it. Below are some practical strategies that can help you get a deeper, truer sense of what you’re meant to do with your life.

Don’t be Afraid to Quit

For most people, finding their passion is a process of trial and error. That’s why it’s so important to know when something is just not the right fit, and be willing to leave it behind. It’s rare to hear someone encouraging quitting, but the longer you do something you don’t feel passionate about, the more you’re stuck doing it. Remember that you can’t find out what you truly want to do if all your time, energy, creativity, and focus is being sapped away by something you hate. Once you leave that dead end behind, there is nothing left to do but find a different, better path to follow.

Scrutinize Your Curiosity

What would you do if you had a billion dollars? Answering this question helps you think about what you would do with your life if you took away all limits. And it’s only by thinking in these terms that you can figure out what you are genuinely curious about. Setting aside all fears, hesitations, restrictions and expectations reveals your true interests, the things you would ideally dedicate your life to if you could. They may not be as unattainable as you realize.

Make Money a Secondary Concern

You might be rolling your eyes, but the simple fact is that finding and pursuing your passion often requires sacrifice. And if you are concerned first and foremost with making the most amount of money, you are severely limiting your options, and probably doomed to end up on a path you don’t want to follow. If you put those instincts on hold for a while, you are more likely to uncover your true passion and turn that into a lucrative and personally satisfying endeavor down the road.

Invest yourself in these strategies and you are well on your way to discovering your passion. Once you know where you’d rather be, it’s time to turn the dream into a reality with the premier boutique staffing firm in Westchester County. Find resources to help make you more agile and mobile in your professional life by relying on the team at The Concorde Group.

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Micro-Management: Does it Work for Your Team?

January 12th, 2015

Micro-management gets a bad reputation, but it’s only partly deserved. The simple fact is that micro-management, like all management styles/strategies/philosophies, works in some scenarios, and doesn’t work in others. Before you commit to it, or reject it, it’s important for you to consider the effect it will have on your team. Ask yourself these questions to determine if this is a strategy to embrace or avoid.

How Long Has Your Team Been Together?

If you team has had the same makeup for years and demonstrated a long track record of success, there is probably no reason for you to get more hands on. Conversely, if you have just assembled a new team, added a crop of new members, or otherwise made a consequential change, it might be helpful to get more involved.

How Large is Your Team?

Keep in mind that on some teams micro-management is simply logistically impossible. If you oversee a lot of people, or have multiple projects running simultaneously, there is no way to be a part of every process. You simply waste your efforts, and the people/projects you do focus on could feel like they are under unfair scrutiny. Micro-management works much better on smaller teams where your efforts can have a real impact.

What Timeline is Your Team Working on?

Some timelines are diffuse and open-ended, while others require strict adherence to deadlines and a careful commitment to a schedule. In the case of the latter scenario, a micro-management approach can be beneficial. Since your team members are occupied with their responsibilities, it’s up to you to make sure they are meeting daily/weekly/monthly benchmarks. If the schedule demands less precision, take a step back and let your team work at their own pace.

How is Morale on Your Team?

If morale on your team is low, you might try to rectify the problem by getting more closely involved. This is almost always a mistake. Your employees will likely feel patronized, and you probably won’t address the underlying cause of the issue. Make motivation your priority instead, and take a hard look at the culture that exists on your team and throughout your office.

How Will Micro-Management Affect You?

Micro-management takes a lot of time, focus, and attention to detail. Be aware of the effect this has on your performance as manager. You might get wrapped up in the specifics and comprise your ability to lead, forecast, strategize, and inspire. If your team thrives under the leadership of a bold, visionary, big-picture type of manager, switching to a micro-management style will only sacrifice what made you successful.

Find more resources designed to help you manage more efficently, effectively, and strategically by contacting The Concorde Group.

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5 Good Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates

December 30th, 2014

Interviews give you a limited amount of time to gather a huge amount of information about a job seeker. And, in most cases, you will only have the impression from one interview to help you differentiate a large pool of candidates. That’s why it’s so important to pick your questions carefully, strategically, and for maximum effect. Here are a few questions that work in any job interview setting:

How can You Make a Contribution to this Company?

Ultimately, you’re not just trying to fill a vacancy, you’re trying to improve the way your company does business. This question clearly asks the candidate to define the skills/experiences/qualities that will most benefit your mission.

Why Do You Think You’re a Good Fit for this Company?

You will probably interview at least several candidates that have similar skills and experiences. Use this question to help differentiate them. Look for candidates that have studied your company, made an effort to understand your present and future needs, and done everything possible to align their professional credentials with what they know about your operation.

Where do You See Yourself in Five or Ten Years?

This question helps you judge how committed a candidate will be to your company. Someone with lofty goals might be more tempted to jump ship or leave to seek out more education, but don’t penalize candidates that vocalize their ambition. The best candidates are the ones you can imagine hiring for this position, and then promoting to something higher.

Tell Me about an Unexpected Situation You Adapted to.

The unexpected is inevitable, but, unfortunately, flexibility and adaptability are not skills that are easy to measure. Asking candidates to give you an anecdote helps you judge what kind of pressures they have worked under in the past and whether they have the professional agility to continue thriving when the job description suddenly evolves.

What is Your Ideal Working Environment?

When vetting candidates, it’s important to consider how they will fit into your existing company culture. This question helps you create a prediction. If the work environment the candidate describes sounds like the one already in your office, it’s a good sign. Just be sure to consider all the factors – coworkers, boss, workspace, office atmosphere etc.

These are some good general questions, but be sure to ask more specific questions based on information from the candidate’s resume. Also, it helps to create a simple form or checklist to record candidate’s answers to make it easy for you to do side-by-side comparisons later. Find more resources to help you build a strategic workforce by working with Concorde Staffing Group.

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