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Is Your Cover Letter Ready for a Job Search in 2016?

April 27th, 2016

Your resume and cover letter are equally important but completely opposite kinds of documents. Your resume is basically an outline of your skills and experiences. It gives hiring managers an easy way to scan your credentials. Your cover letter is where you make the case for why you’re fit for the job and better than any other candidate. It frames your credentials in the most relevant and enticing way possible. That’s why it’s so important to craft and revise the document carefully. Watch out for these common mistakes:

  • Bad Writing. Your cover letter must be impeccable. Typos, grammar mistakes, and awkward phrasing all make you look unprofessional. If you don’t consider yourself a strong writer, have a friend or family member help you edit.
  • Too Long. The goal is to make the biggest impression in the least amount of time. You cover letter should not be longer than one page, and should ideally be only three paragraphs. Make sure every sentence communicates something important.
  • Too General. It’s never a good idea to rely on a stock cover letter. Start each one from scratch, and be sure that the language and details you include relate directly to the company and available job. Show them your the best fit for this
  • Being Humble. Your cover letter is not a place to qualify your credentials, downplay your accomplishments, or be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknessses. In the short window of time you have, make yourself look as good as possible, just make sure you don’t lie.
  • Being Arrogant. The opposite is just as big a problem. If you were a totally perfect, one-of-a-kind professional, you would either have a job or have recruiters beating down your door. Don’t make it sound like you deserve a job without being fully vetted.
  • Over Explaining. You may be tempted to describe why you quit or were laid off from your past job. In most cases, this information is irrelevant and will only hurt your case. Focus on the positives and focus on the future.
  • Bad Formatting. Something that looks great on a printed piece of paper may not look great in an email, inside a form, or posted on a social network. Make sure that you format your cover letter so that it makes an equal impact across platforms.
  • Stopping Short. Most cover letters end with a pledge to follow up with the employer. End yours the right way, and then actually follow up. This helps demonstrate your interest in the position and keeps your name fresh in the hiring manager’s mind.

A great cover letter is important, but remember that it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You also need to have a polished resume, and turn in a great interview performance. Find resources to help you through every step in the process by working with The Concorde Group, a top staffing agency in Westchester.

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Are the Job Candidate’s Answers to Behavioral Interviews Questions Real?

April 13th, 2016

As a job interviewer, your main priority is to determine whether the candidate in front of you is qualified for the job you have available. Unfortunately, that’s impossible to judge if you’re not getting accurate, honest information from the candidate. And separating truth from fiction can be extremely tricky.

A simple solution is to rely on a different kind of interview question, namely behavioral questions. Essentially, these questions ask candidates to relay anecdotes describing their credentials, character, and past performance. Since a good response requires so many specific details, many of which you can verify, it’s a lot harder for candidates to lie, exaggerate, or obscure information. Follow these tips for getting the most out of this line of questioning.

Be Open Ended

The narrower your questions are, the easier it will be for candidates to fabricate information. Make sure that your questions are very general and tie into the kinds of experiences and situations that all professionals face. Examples include “Tell me about a time when you took on a leadership role” or “Describe a situation when you had to overcome adversity.” With broad prompts like these, it becomes a lot easier to tell when information is being created off the cuff.

Explore the Nature of the Problem

You’re trying to determine if the candidate has faced the kinds of pressures and problems they’re likely to encounter in their new role at your company. When posing behavioral interview questions, ask candidates to describe these problems in depth. If they are able to provide specifics, it indicates that this was a real professional obstacle, and one they’ll feel confident tackling in the future.

Focus on Resolutions and Results

It’s far too easy for candidates to be vague and “wishy washy” when describing solutions to the problems mentioned above. Don’t let candidates get by with simply asserting that they were successful. Ask them to provide actual metrics and detailed examples. Later, you can follow up on these facts when you check the candidate’s references.

Pay Attention to the Long Term

The true efficacy of a solution is often not apparent until months or years have passed. After learning about the solutions put in place, find out how they affected the candidate, team, or company over the long-term. There is a lot of important information contained in the response, and a lot of potential red flags to look out for.

If you don’t feel like you’ve gotten the complete story, keep asking questions. And if you doubt some of the candidate’s claims, be sure to check references, run a background check, and hunt for inconsistencies on their application documents. A little careful sleuthing can help you avoid the consequences of making a bad hire. Learn about other ways to connect with the best talent on the market by contacting The Concorde Group, a leading staffing agency in Westchester.

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Are You Sure You Want to Refer a Friend?

March 30th, 2016

Referring a friend for a job seems like a win-win situation. You help someone you know and like find work while also helping an employer fill a vacancy on their staff. Plus, you could be eligible for a referral bonus or reap professional rewards down the road. Be warned, however, that there could be consequences for you if the person you refer doesn’t perform as well as promised. Always ask yourself the following questions before making a recommendation:

“What is Your Link to the Employer?”

If you happened to come across a random job listing and you think a friend might be well suited, don’t hesitate to let them know about it. You have little-to-no relationship with this employer, meaning that your friend’s performance won’t reflect on you. It’s up to the hiring manager himself to determine if this person is a good fit. If, however, you are closely linked to the employer or currently employed by them, you need to give the referral a lot more thought. Your professional reputation could take a hit if the person you refer doesn’t live up to expectations.

“How Close are You to Your Friend?”

There are different degrees of friends. Some people are merely acquaintances, while others are your oldest, best, and closest connections. For obvious reasons, you will be willing to do more and stake more on the latter than the former. Keep in mind that by referring a friend you also become a part of the recruitment process. You will likely be fielding questions from both your friend and the hiring manager throughout. It may be worth spending that time to help a close connection, but not worth it to help a distant relative or someone you barely know.

“Do You Honestly Know Your Friend’s Work Habits?”

As a general rule of thumb, don’t presume to know or understand a person’s work habits until you have worked with them directly. Everyone claims to be a smart, capable, hard worker, and no one is willing to admit that they are lazy, irresponsible, or unmotivated. If you haven’t actually seen your friend in action, you can’t accurately vouch for their credentials and character. It’s not inappropriate to ask your friend for a copy of their resume and to do some online research before agreeing to make the referral. Remember that you also have something to lose if this doesn’t work out.

It’s never a good idea to rush into decisions that impact you professional life. Find more advice, guidance, and resources to help you throughout your career journey by contacting our team of great recruiters at The Concorde Group. Partner with a leading staffing agency in White Plains today!

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Why Your Current Employees Are a Great Source for Your Future Employees

March 15th, 2016

When you need to fill a role at your company, you have two options: Look internally for someone to promote, or look externally for someone to hire. Both of these approaches have advantages, but significant disadvantages as well. Consider that there is a third way – looking internally to help you find someone externally. Your current employees are one of the best resources you have for recruiting. Here’s why you should make them a part of the process:

  • Expedite the Hiring Process. Impressively, as high as two-thirds of the candidates that come from referrals end up getting hired. If you can’t afford to run a protracted recruiting process and need to bring someone into your ranks fast, relying on referrals cuts down the time to hire significantly.
  • Connect with a Higher-Quality Candidate. There is a lot of uncertainty in hiring a complete stranger. You have to take a leap of faith that their credentials are real, their character and work ethic are up to par, and that they’re a good fit for your culture. When you make a hire based on a referral, you have actual confirmation that these things are the case.
  • Cut the Cost of Recruiting. The cost of recruiting can be significant and unpredictable, sometimes prohibitively so. Basing your decision on a referral cuts this cost, allowing you to make a necessary hire without putting a strain on your budget.
  • Motivate Your Employees. It’s awfully satisfying to be able to get a friend or acquaintance a job. When that referral also earns the person a bonus, they feel a much stronger link to your company.
  • Find Specialized Skills. The biggest problem facing many employers these days is finding talent that has a very narrow sets of skills. Doing that type of recruiting takes a large input on the employer’s part, and frequently produces spotty results. Basing a hiring decision on a referral gives you unique access to highly specialized talent.
  • Speed Up the Onboarding Process. Since the person you end up hiring has been confirmed to be a good fit for your company, your culture, and your position, they’re likely to start making an impact on day one. That spares you the time and expense it would take to train someone without any connection to the way you do things.

It should be pretty clear by now that referrals work. If you can’t find the referral you need, however, the good news is that there are other staffing strategies that work, too. Dip into a pool of high-quality talent by contacting the recruiters at The Concorde Group. As a full-service staffing firm in White Plains, we have a number of options to help all companies in the region.

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Is Your Online Job Presence Ready for Your Job Search?

February 24th, 2016

As a job seeker, you need to put your very best face forward at all times. That means submitting carefully crafted and edited employment documents, acing your job interview, and acting professionally at all networking events. It also means you need to clean up your online presence.

The simple fact is that many of us have information that is “less than professional” floating around online. And while it may not be embarrassing, it’s not the kind of thing you want a potential employer to see as they evaluate your credentials and character. Here a few tips to help you clean up your online image:

Search for Your Name

It’s now standard practice for any employer to do a basic internet search of a candidate. Visit the major search engines and do the same – you might be surprised at what comes up. Information that you thought was lost in your past or buried deep in the list of search rankings might show up in the top few spots. Look at both sites and images.

Check Your Social Media

This is an area that trips up a lot of job seekers. You might not like the idea of an employer going onto your Facebook profile, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. If they are able to view photos of you getting wild on a vacation or acting in a way that calls your character into question, it’s going to reduce your standing as a candidate.  The first step is to remove any embarrassing photos and information. The second step is to set all but the most basic information to private viewing. Make sure you don’t overlook any old profiles that may have sat dormant for years.

Watch Out for Your Friends

You may not have posted anything embarrassing online, but that doesn’t mean your friends and family haven’t. Don’t make the shortsighted mistake of only cleaning up your own profile. Scrutinize your entire presence on social media, even if it takes some digging. Get rid of the content you have control over, and politely ask friends and family to remove anything you don’t have control over.

Turn Negatives into Positives

There is some information that it’s simply impossible to scrub off of the internet. If you find embarrassing information that’s permanently imbedded, the solution is to bury it. You can do this by establishing profiles on additional social media sites, starting a blog or personal website, and getting active on message boards and professional sites. Over time the embarrassing content will fall in the rankings and eventually become invisible to all but the most determined searchers.

Cleaning up your online presence is not something you should do, it’s something you MUST do. To learn about other job search essentials, connect with the team at The Concorde Group to work with a top staffing agency in Connecticut and Westchester.

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A Diverse, Welcoming Workplace Leads to More Success

February 10th, 2016

Diversity is more than just a buzzword. In all things, and especially in the character of your workforce, diversity is an asset that has a measurable impact on productivity, efficiency, and innovation. Just consider a Forbes survey of 321 companies with at least $500 million in revenue in which 85 percent of respondents agreed that diversity in the workforce is an essential consideration. So why does diversity lead directly to more success? Just consider these overarching benefits:

  • Rely on Multiple Skill Sets – A person’s skills extend beyond their schooling and career history. They also relate directly to the person’s background. Homogeneous workforces tend to have identical and overlapping skills, which is great in some situations but not in all of them. A diverse workforce, by contrast, is made up of professionals who each have something unique to offer. When you need to meet a new challenge, that multiplicity of skills proves to be an immediate asset.
  • Improve Your Recruitment Efforts – Today’s’ employees, especially those from younger generations, are motivated by more than just salary and benefits. They are eager to work for companies that share their beliefs/values and commit to a mission they want to be a part of. A diverse workforce can help retain vibrant talent – both minority and otherwise – and encourage that talent to stay with your organization for longer. Rather than adding an extra wrinkle to your recruitment process, diversifying could be the solution to many of your recruitment woes.
  • Build More Vibrant Teams – No one likes to feel like an outsider. But if your organization is only slightly diverse and has a large majority of a certain demographic of employee, it’s likely that someone feels left out. Making it a priority to build difference and variety into your workforce can lead ultimately to stronger, more cohesive teams. Everyone, regardless of demographic, feels like an important participant and learns to work more effectively with people unlike themselves.
  • Attract a Diverse Customer Base – Much like 21st century employees, 21st century consumers want to patronize businesses they believe in. If your company has a reputation as an all-white boys club, you’re likely losing a lot of minority business. Making a real investment in diversity and making that investment part of your public face can help to change the perception of your company and attract huge new swaths of business.

Understanding the benefits of diversity is easy. Actually diversifying your workforce is much harder. As you work to recruit a different kind of employee, rely on the resources of a staffing firm with a diverse pool of candidates already established. Contact The Concorde Group to find your next great hire from our recruiters in Westchester and throughout Connecticut.

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4 Skills to Showcase to Stand Out to Hiring Managers

January 26th, 2016

Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. You’ve listed a vacancy, and the resumes have begun to pour in. As you read through the stack, you notice that the majority of the candidates have degrees from solid colleges, skills that are relevant to the position, and experience working in the industry. Basically, everyone is equally qualified. When this dilemma presents itself (and it often does) hiring managers have to look past hard credentials and evaluate candidates based on character and personality – soft skills. There are the four soft skills that you will want to showcase in order to stand out from all the other candidates:

Manageability

You might be a top performer, but if you are hard to manage, you will only be a disruption to a team. Hiring managers want to know that the person they hire can take direction, respond to criticism and feedback, accept assigned roles, and defer to the decision of superiors. Candidates can demonstrate this skill by highlighting instances when they met goals and earned extra responsibilities.

Communication

You can have tons of great ideas, but if you can’t communicate them, they don’t do anyone any good. Conversely, if you can’t hear and digest the ideas of others, then you will cause a lot more problems than you solve. Hiring managers will hesitate to hire anyone who can’t communicate clearly in all formats and all settings. Candidates can demonstrate this skill by submitting a polished resume/cover letter and turning in a great interview performance.

Cooperation

You don’t get hired to work on your own; you get hired to work as part of a team. That is true regardless of the position or setting. If you can’t be a team player, you will hold everyone else around you back and put the biggest and most important plans in jeopardy. For obvious reasons, hiring managers don’t want to hire people who can’t work with those around them. Candidates can demonstrate this skill by highlighting team accomplishments and describing their individual contribution.

Resilience

You might do great when things are going smoothly, but if you fall apart in stressful situations you’re not much of an asset to a company. In business, the unexpected is inevitable and stress is unavoidable. Hiring managers only want to bring someone onboard who can perform during the good times and the bad. Candidates can highlight this skill by describing moments of adversity and how they overcame them.

Rather than explicitly stating that you have these skills, prove that you have them using anecdotes, metrics, and demonstrations. Those carry a lot more weight with hiring managers. Find more resources to help you catch attention by contacting the Concorde Group.

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Does Your Performance Review Process Really Work?

January 12th, 2016

When done well, a performance review is a chance for you to provide guidance, set expectations, and improve productivity/efficiency. When done poorly, a performance review is a waste of time for all parties involved. In order to avoid missing out on a major managerial opportunity, look for the signs that indicate your performance review process may not be working.

You Barely Prepare for the Review

You have a lot to do already, which can make it difficult to spend much time preparing for performance reviews, especially if you have a big team. But ultimately that preparation is the substance of the review. If you don’t make the effort to fully survey an employee’s performance, output, and attitude it’s impossible to provide them with an honest or meaningful critique.

You Don’t Prepare the Employee

Too often, the performance review process lacks transparency. The employee doesn’t know exactly what they’re being appraised on, what period of time has been reviewed, what benchmarks they’re being compared to, and how the appraisal was conducted. This uncertainty naturally puts the employee on edge and makes them suspicious of the process. Start your review by clearly laying out your agenda and methods.

You Have a One Way Discussion

A performance review should be a discussion, not a lecture. If you’re doing all the talking, you’re missing out on a lot of valuable information and making the employee feel like they’re under attack. Provide your perspective, but make sure to ask the employee how he feels about his own performance, what goals were and were not met, and what changes he would like to make in the future.

You Hesitate to Offer Praise

Performance reviews should provide a balance of positive and negative feedback, but that doesn’t mean you should temper your praise. If an employee has turned in an outstanding performance, let her know about it and be sure to offer your gratitude. Recognition can be a powerful motivator, and a valuable resource to draw on when you can’t offer more tangible rewards.

You Shy Away from Criticism

More common is the opposite of the previous point. In an effort to provide balance you tone down or walk back from criticisms you planned to address. You shouldn’t be aggressive, but if there are clear performance issues this is the time to point them out and establish a clear plan for improvement. Let the employee know what you expect, when you expect it, and what kind of consequences are on the table.

You End Early

Make sure not to end your performance review until both parties are on the same page. If an employee is unclear about what is working, what is not, and how things will operate moving forward, then the whole process has been a waste. Take some time at the end of the review to address any confusions/concerns.

You probably just completed end-of-the-year performance reviews, which makes now a natural time to reflect on the success or failure of the process. Be honest about what is not working and your next review cycle will be your best one yet. Learn more about effectively managing your team by contacting the Concorde Group.

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What Does “We’ll Keep Your Resume on File” Actually Mean?

December 28th, 2015

All job seekers have heard it before – “We’ll keep your resume on file.” Most of us interpret this as a polite way to say “Thanks but no thanks,” but there is always the tantalizing possibility that someone will reference your resume in the future and offer you a job out of the blue. So what does this overused phrase actually mean? Should you look elsewhere or hold out hope? It all depends on the job and the company, but usually this phrase means one of three things:

“We Like You as a Candidate, but Not for This Job”

There are some job seekers who have a lot of impressive credentials and interpersonal skills but simply aren’t the best fit for the job they’ve applied for. In this case the hiring manager may be legitimately interested in keeping you in the recruiting orbit, but doesn’t have a job to offer right now. You should only come to this conclusion if you have had at least one interview that you felt went well and received warm sentiments when you reached out to the hiring manager subsequently.

“There Was Never Really a Job Available”

Too often recruiting is more about optics than efficiency. Companies will often initiate a perfunctory recruiting process knowing the entire time that an internal candidate will be tapped to fill the role. That means you likely haven’t been vetted very closely and the offer to keep the resume on file is simply a polite sentiment. The good news, however, is that while you didn’t dazzle, you didn’t make a bad impression either. You should feel welcome to apply for future opportunities and can use your previous experience to demonstrate a longstanding interest in the company.

“Please Do Not Contact Us Again”

After an interview, it’s appropriate to follow up once but not more than that. There are a number of professionals, unfortunately, who haven’t learned this lesson and incessantly reach out to hiring managers post-interview. They will often get the resume on file line simply as a way to sever the string of contact. If you proved yourself to be a bit too eager (be honest with yourself), you should give up on this opportunity and look elsewhere. Use the experience as a learning opportunity and find a better way to demonstrate your enthusiasm.

No matter which of these responses applies to you, one thing is clear – you’re going to need to continue your job search. Don’t be deflated, just do things better. Access resources from The Concorde Group to help you find superior job opportunities in Westchester NY and get your foot in the door faster.

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Using a Staffing Firm Will Get You Talent, Not Just a Body

December 14th, 2015

It’s a common misconception that staffing firms only supply low-level candidates who fill temporary roles in times of an emergency vacancy. The reality is just the opposite. Staffing firms work with accomplished talent who have versatile skill sets, often supply candidates who grow into full-time employees, and support the strategic staffing initiatives of the county’s top companies. If your recruiting is costing too much, taking too long, and producing unimpressive applicants, partnering with a staffing firm is likely the solution. Here’s why:

  • Access the Entire Candidate Pool – Staffing firms work with both active and passive candidates (professionals currently employed). Since more professionals are included in this group, your candidate pool is both larger and more dynamic.
  • Enhance the Vetting Process – Since staffing firms recruit on a limited basis they can dedicate more time and resources to vetting candidates. The candidates they deliver to you tend to be of a higher caliber overall.
  • Connect with Top Talent – Top professionals have learned that working with a staffing agency is a great way to find more career opportunities and move up the ladder faster. That means the candidate rosters these firms have built have a lot of impressive talent among the ranks.
  • Speed Up the Recruiting Process – When you need a qualified candidate fast, the resources of a staffing firm directly support your interests. They can dip into established candidate pools strategically and find you the professional you need in a fraction of the time.
  • Find Talent to Meet Real Needs – Staffing firms succeed by understanding the real needs of client companies and hiring managers, and the real abilities of the candidates they source. That makes these firms uniquely capable of delivering employees who can make an immediate impact.
  • Shrink Your Candidate Pool – For the most part, staffing firms get paid when they make a placement, not when they produce a flurry of candidates. That creates a powerful incentive for them to locate a limited number of highly qualified candidates. You have the luxury of selecting the best of the best.
  • Lure Away Passive Candidates – It stands to reason that professionals who are gainfully employed will have more to offer than professionals scrambling for a job. Unfortunately, recruiting this talent is a time – and labor-intensive process that requires a lot of finesse. Most corporate recruiters simply don’t have the necessary resources, but staffing firms do.

If you’re intrigued by the opportunities that come from partnering with a staffing firm, have a conversation with the team at The Concorde Group today to work with a top staffing agency in Westchester!

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