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

April 27th, 2016

June 3

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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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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Small Business Web Design Tips That Appeal to Customers and Attract Job Seekers

February 8th, 2016

July 21st HR Managers

Designing a website for your company is more than just creating one that attracts the right customers. It also has to take into consideration the job seekers you are hoping will apply. Candidates should benefit from visiting the site to learn about your corporate culture and any career opportunities available as well. It is possible to create a website that serves the needs of all of these potential visitors, but doing so requires more than just putting up your average three-page website.

Attracting Customers with a Website 

Most businesses need to use their website as a tool for attracting customers – this could be your first and primary tool. If this is important, use these tips:

  • Stand out with your design. Ensure your site is different from everyone else’s.
  • Use images and lots of them. You do not want the website to load slowly, but you do want to use images to attract customers.
  • Make sure the site is easy to navigate. One of the biggest drawbacks of a website can be making it hard to find products or services.

If your website has personality and properly markets your brand, it will do well with customers. This makes it easy to meet your business goals.

A Website Focusing on Job Seekers

A business website can also appeal to those who are looking for a job. If you are hiring and are seeking employees to fit key roles, or just want to make sure you are accessible when the very best applicant is looking, design your site with job seeker benefits. Here are some tips.

  • Do not just say you are hiring. Most applicants will not apply unless there is potential in getting hired. If your site does nothing more than say you are hiring, it is not doing enough.
  • Provide information about the positions available. You should list information about the skills, experience and even the pay for the potential employee.
  • Ensure there is a way for candidates to apply to you. Provide a specific email address. Some companies allow applicants to apply for positions on the site by submitting resumes.
  • Use a hiring page to convey your needs, but also to encourage those with skills to apply. You will want to ensure the best apply, not just anyone. A hiring page can provide all of the information an applicant needs to answer the question, “Should I apply?”
  • Use your company blog to discuss working aspects of your job. This is the ideal place to discuss what it is like to work with your company. It is also a good way to get traffic to your hiring page if you are looking for candidates.

For applicants, finding a hiring page that lists positions and hiring requirements is like getting all of the information they need to know if they should apply. Hands down, this is one of the most effective ways to ensuring you get the best applicants.

Your business website needs to meet the goals and needs of any person visiting it. Just as you do not want to lose that value customer who stops by, you also don’t want to lose the top notch employee who is looking for a position. Make it work for all.

 

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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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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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Will Competitive Salaries Lead to Better Job Candidates?

November 18th, 2015

As a hiring manager your ultimate goal is to attract the best and the brightest. Unfortunately, competition for top talent is fierce, and the best available professionals essentially have their pick of employer. If you have struggled to attract these elite workers the problem may be simple – you’re not offering high enough salaries. Money is a powerful motivator, and investment in talent is one that pays dividends down the road. Learn what kind of impact competitive salaries can have on your recruiting efforts and decide for yourself if it might be time to loosen the purse strings.

Eliminate the Negotiation Process

In a perfect world, a top candidate would accept your very first offer and get to work immediately. But when you offer them less salary than they expect, it’s only natural for them to hesitate, look for other offers, and eventually initiate a bidding war. This is good for the candidate but bad for you because heated salary negotiations can push compensation levels higher than you ever intended to offer. By offering a fair and generous salary at the start, you show the candidate that you value their expertise and are eager to bring them on board. Once that respect is established the candidate is a lot less likely to go looking elsewhere.

Establish Yourself as a Top Employer

When you’re trying to attract top talent, you need to sell your company to them as much as they need to sell their credentials to you. Companies that are able to offer competitive salaries project an image of success and confidence. By contrast, companies that low ball candidates appear middling, back of the pack, and manipulative. No one wants to go to work for a company that seems to be struggling to stay afloat.

Gain a Bargaining Chip over the Competition

In the conversation around recruiting today, people like to talk about alternative perks, the work/life balance, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. All of these are nice to have in a job, but the simple fact is that compensation remains the single most important reason for going to work. Your competition may be trying to steal your candidates away by offering abstract benefits, but you can easily re-establish yourself as the top contender simply by offering more money. When asked to choose between a higher salary and flexible scheduling, most smart professionals will opt for the salary.

Competitive salaries are an important part of your recruiting efforts, but they shouldn’t be the only part. Learn about other effective, low-cost ways to attract talent into your orbit by contacting The Concorde Group, the premier boutique staffing agency in Westchester County.

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Create a Complete and Effective Reference List

September 30th, 2015

Hiring managers get paid to be suspicious. Every candidate they vet claims to have extensive experience and impressive credentials. It is the hiring manager’s job to figure out how many of those claims are true. That’s why assembling a list of references is such an asset to job seekers. These references can provide independent, objective conformation of a candidate’s credentials – the kind of information that hiring managers consider closely. Use the following tips to help you put together a complete and effective reference list.

  • Be Brief and Relevant – Rather than listing contacts for every place you’ve worked, limit your list of reference to three or four entries and pick the ones that are most applicable to the job you’re applying for. The best policy is to condense everything to one page.
  • Stick to Bosses – You may have had a close and cordial relationship with former co-workers, but their opinions won’t carry much weight with hiring managers. As you are assembling references, limit it to supervisors and bosses.
  • Don’t Eliminate Friends and Family – Typically, you will not want to put friends and family on your reference list. But if you have a professional connection to them, listing them as a reference is perfectly valid. If, for example, you worked at a family business or had a close friend as a boss, these would be valid references.
  • Stay Recent – It will raise red flags with hiring mangers if your reference list doesn’t include any contacts from jobs you’ve held in the recent past. As much as possible, try to populate your list with the most recent entries possible.
  • Notify Your Choices – You should always notify a reference that you have included them and alert them that they may be contacted. You should then explain the position you are seeking and request that the reference highlight certain aspects of your hard and soft skills. You don’t have to dictate their answers – and they should never be dishonest – but don’t hesitate to give them some guidance to follow.
  • Rotate and Refresh – If you are applying for a lot of jobs, you won’t want to include the same references over and over. They could find themselves fielding daily calls and quickly grow resentful. Try and rotate your entries to avoid this fatigue, and be sure to constantly update your list when new references become applicable. This is a document that should be constantly evolving throughout your career.

Assembling a list of references is an essential part of the application process. But your resume, cover letter, and portfolio need to be just as polished. Learn how to put your best face forward by working with the team at The Concorde Group who can help you find Stamford jobs and more!

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How to Properly Deal with the Counteroffer

August 31st, 2015

Dealing with a counteroffer can be one of the most challenging parts of the recruiting process for a job seeker, which is something of a paradox. You’ve been looking for a job, and now more than one company wants to work with you. It should be cause for celebration, but often it just produces stress and anxiety. After all, you want to make sure you pick the right company, but it’s not always easy to choose. If you find yourself in this situation, use these strategies.

Determine What You Really Want

Ultimately, your objective is to find the right position for your long-term personal and professional goals. So what features would help you get to where you want to be in your career? Are you looking for more money, more advancement potential, more interesting work, or more flexible scheduling options? It’s unlikely that any one job can offer you all of these, so pick your priorities and examine each offer in those terms.

Don’t Start a Bidding War

It can be tempting to try and play both sides against each other to get more money, better benefits, or a more esteemed job title. In practice, however, this is always a bad idea. It takes a fair amount of cunning and strategizing, and if you overplay your hand, you might end up losing both offers. That being said, if you have multiple offers on the table, you should make that known to each of the hiring managers you’re working with.

Understand the Consequences

If you already have a job and another company is trying to lure you away with a counteroffer, there can be serious consequences if you accept a promotion or raise and agree to stay where you are. You may have gotten more, but now your employer will always question your loyalty and may begin to push you to the margins of the company, whether consciously or unconsciously. A seemingly rosy situation can quickly turn into a workplace nightmare.

Remain Professional and Gracious

Any time a counteroffer gets thrown out, there will end up being a winner and a loser in the end. Make sure you don’t gloat or disrespect the company you end up turning down. That kind of behavior is petty and unprofessional, and there is no reason for you to burn bridges. If they were eager to recruit you now they may be eager to recruit you in the future.

If your goal is to make the smartest possible choices for your career, rely on the recruiting experts at The Concorde Group.

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Turn Temporary Assignments Into Permanent Positions

August 19th, 2015

July 13th Candidates

Despite the challenges of starting or re-establishing a stable career, there is a smart option for landing a rewarding job that can last. By signing up for temporary assignments through a quality staffing agency, like Concorde Personnel, you can turn temp work into permanent positions in very little time. The key is knowing how to use temporary staffing to your advantage to land a great long term career with a top company. Here’s how to turn your next temporary assignment into a permanent position.

Dress for a Successful Image

One of the best ways to impress the company for which you will be temping for is to show up to work on time, always dressed for the part. People judge temporary workers on many levels, so you don’t want your appearance to be one of them. Come to work in the right attire, wear socks or hosiery, and be neat and groomed professionally to give a great impression at all times. This will give you a successful image early on.

Be Adaptable and Flexible

In order to position yourself for a possible regular assignment in the future, be willing to adapt to the needs of the company for this you are temping. This can mean taking on extra work hours, new tasks and accepting change as part of the assignment. When the company decides to make permanent placements, this will give you the advantage because you will be known for being ready to take on the challenges of the company.

Demonstrate Your Skills

Outside of the interview you will be doing with the recruiter at the staffing firm, make sure your immediate supervisor on the work site knows your full capabilities as a candidate. Ask to take on new work duties and really show your stuff. Demonstrate what you are capable of and why you would be a valuable member of the team if the company were to make you an offer of employment in the future.

Adopt the Corporate Environment

Another great way to turn that temp job into a more permanent situation is by learning what the company stands for and adopting the values of the workplace environment. The more you can show that you fit in well with the rest of the permanent employees, the better chance you have of being thought of for regular work opportunities.

Convey Your Desire to be Permanent

A mistake that many temporary workers make is forgetting to let the immediate supervisor know being hired permanently is desired. Do not assume that the people you work with know that you want to become permanent. After a few days on the job, take a moment to let your immediate supervisor know this, as well as the staffing agent who has placed you on the assignment.

Become Indispensable

The very best way to get offered a permanent job as a temp worker is to become an indispensable member of the team. Work hard in the first 2-3 months on the assignment and provide a great value to the company. If you do this, you will most likely be considered when it’s time to make a decision about your contract. Remember, it’s up to you to make the most of your temporary assignment so that you can end up with a great long-term career.

Want to find a great temporary to permanent assignment? Visit Concorde Group today and take advantage of our candidate resources!

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The Secret to Changing Your Career After 20 Years

May 31st, 2015

July 5th Candidates

Everyone knows about the anxiety of not having a job. What gets talked about much less is the anxiety of feeling trapped in a job. Professionals who have worked in one position, company or field for 20 years or more often feel like it’s impossible to make a career change after so long doing the same thing. As a result, they come to hate what they do. The good news is that a career change is possible at any stage – if you prepare in advance and handle the transition intelligently. Use these strategies to make a bold leap into something new.

Stay Current and Relevant

Employers are often unconsciously biased against older job seekers because they assume their skills and technological fluency are reaching an expiration date. Show potential employers that you can still make an impact by learning the technologies of today and tomorrow, picking up new trainings, certifications or degrees, and follow along closely with the issues and ideas that affect your industry.

Freshen Up Your Look

Several decades into your career, it’s easy to become complacent about your professional appearance. But if you look like an employee from another era, employers will be a lot less enthusiastic to offer you a job. You don’t have to make drastic changes, just make sure your professional image establishes you as someone modern and vibrant.

Take Advantage of Your Network

This is one area where you actually have a leg up on younger job seekers. Since you have likely built up an extensive professional network over the years, turn to those contacts when you’re ready to make a change. This is a great way to learn about unadvertised vacancies, and insider recommendations carry a lot of weight with hiring managers.

Optimize Your Application Documents

Your resume and cover letter don’t need to cover your whole career. Rather than listing jobs and responsibilities from the distant past, focus on the last 5-10 years. This gives recruiters the most relevant look at your present skills and potential value, and helps to draw attention away from the length of your career.

Use Your Age to Your Advantage

There are some companies that actively recruit older professionals. For example, someone like you with a lot of experience would make a great trainer/educator for a company with a young, inexperienced workforce. Find ways to turn your experience and industry expertise into an asset.

If you’re ready to start the next phase in your career, make the transition as smooth as possible by working with a professional staffing firm. They have extensive resources available to help you find and connect with companies eager to hire professionals just like you. Start accessing these resources by contacting The Concorde Group, a leader in staffing in Fairfield and Westchester.

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