Posts Tagged: career


Placers Announces ‘Agent to the Workforce’ Service

June 24th, 2013

Agent to the WorkforceMembers of the Placers team now provide an added advantage in this tight job market: an Agent to the Workforce.

Placers is the contingent workforce solutions company that in the 1990s was one of Delaware’s largest employers.  Headquartered in Newark, Placers returned to the job scene in 2011 as an Outside-In® partner of CBI Group.

Currently, Placers employs contractors in a variety of positions including manufacturing, healthcare, banking and information technology in positions ranging from support to management.  After being part of Placers, each employee now has the option of working with a job/career coach with Barton Career Advisors (BCA), another Outside-In® partner.

“We believe strongly in supporting and empowering our people,” says Placers and CBI Group Founder and President Chris Burkhard.  “And that includes offering career coaching and support which we think has a lot of value in any economic climate, boom or bust. As our partnership with Barton Career Advisors deepens, we think this is a lasting benefit in support of our people,” Burkhard adds.

Once a Placers employee expresses interest, he/she gets access to a BCA coach for three half-hour sessions usually by telephone, explains Greg Moore, the BCA coach leading Agent to the Workforce. “Then we hook them into our online portal and its modules for career change, resume writing and job searches. And from that one they can just apply online for positions that interest them.”

While this is great for the worker, might it narrow the pool of Placers people making the transition from temp jobs to full-time? “That certainly could happen but we still feel this is an important service to offer,” Burkhard says. “The way to success for a workforce management organization is to have positive, productive people and we see Agent to the Workforce as playing a positive role.”

Placers team member Ginola Johnson says she finds the program very informative and the online components, especially the job search tools, “much easier to use than having to sift through a lot of emails.”  Each participant has access through Barton Career Advisors to a one-source job lead program that issues a daily job lead e-mail message including multiple leads in the person’s field, eliminating many potential messages.

So does she feel a sense of support when it comes time to look for her next opportunity?  “I sure do!” Ginola says.

To learn more about Agent to the Workforce service feature visit the Placers website for more information.

CBI Way: The Candidate/Applicant Experience

June 19th, 2013

Guest blog spot by Lisa Van Ess, Recruiter On-Demand and Managed Staffing Practice Leader

There is a lot out there today on improving the candidate or applicant experience, speeding up the time it takes for applying on-line, integrating systems so candidates (as they journey from applicant to employee) only need to type their name and address 3 times not 8, and (the one that makes HR and Recruiting professionals cringe) – the dreaded auto-response telling the candidate that just spent 45 minutes applying on line “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

So yes, automation and system improvements do help, but here’s how I try and think about the treatment of candidates:

1. Candidates you hire evolve into employees who often rise to management – keep in mind that this person could be your boss someday.

2. Candidates you don’t hire will have something to say to their friends in the same candidate pool. think of the best experience you have had when you didn’t get the job, that is most likely how you want someone to talk about their experience with your company.

3. Candidates with multiple job offers do consider the company where they had the best experience – where they were greeted on-time, got a bathroom break, had an agenda ready, didn’t get asked the same questions over and over again by each interviewer, ya’ll know the drill.

4. You were a candidate once, too! (And that auto-response letter really sucks.)

So be sure to remember the human aspect of Human Resources and the talent aspect of Talent Acquisition. If we only serve to drive the resources and acquisition components of our industry, instead of the people needed to fill the positions, we are not fulfilling the needs of our customers.  Automation and systemic tools serve to expedite the hiring process but at the end of the day our candidates are people with their own feelings, needs, and ambitions. Be Outside-In®, put yourself in the candidate’s shoes, and take into account all that’s involved in the candidate/applicant experience!

The CBI Way blog series explores the tools and practices used in Talent Acquisition. CBI Way is CBI Group’s recruiting approach and methodology – it’s how we do what we do! Check in with CBI Way for insights around workforce education and training, the latest trends in recruiting technology, and how to best utilize these tools towards improving your own recruiting practices.

CBI Way: Managing the Nightmare Candidate

February 27th, 2013

CBI Way blog spot by Glenn Koetz, Search Practice Lead and Lisa Van Ess, Outside-In® Group Lead

We have all had those days when we are sitting with our trusted colleagues talking about the nightmare candidate who came to the interview with a bulls-eye tattooed on his forehead, or the one whose answer to “Why would you like to work for us?” is “I am eating dog food at this point and will have to change to cat food if I don’t get a job”, or the one whose interview turns into a disaster right from the start. We all chuckle and agree that if we wrote a book on what we have seen throughout the candidate management process, we would make millions and could all retire… Yet sometimes in that same conversation we actually get to the, “Well, how did you handle that?”, and the wisdom shared at that point is a rare gift.

One of my favorite sayings is “You can’t manage crazy.” Unfortunately, if you have chosen a career in HR or recruiting you are called upon to do just that. Here are some proven tactics I have found helpful in managing Candidate Crazy.

Remember, as a recruiting professional you have the ability to say No.

This means you can tell the person who comes in for the interview with the bulls-eye on their forehead, “No, you are not meeting with the hiring manager.” It is up to you to screen out candidates and not waste your hiring manager’s time. In this case, I took the time to meet with this individual and tell him that the position required the quick building of face-to-face relationships in a very conventional firm and that he would be better suited to work in a more casual environment; mentioning both he and the company would be happier. The candidate thanked me, we parted ways and all lived happily ever after…

Educate, coach, and use a personalized No Thank You letter if needed.

For my dog food gal…she was a really talented, experienced candidate who made it beautifully through the phone and in-person recruiting interviews. When she got in front of the decision makers – the dog food versus cat food answer was the one she gave when asked why she wanted to work for the company. I called her to let her know she did not get the job and specifically why. I will tell you that I was very sympathetic and agreed to present her to another hiring manager with the coaching, even direction that she answer the question with why working that job for that company was important to her – we even rehearsed her answers. (File this under no good deed goes unpunished).

Fast forward to interview number two: Interviewer: “Why do you want this job at our company?” Dog food Gal: “To keep me and my kids from living in a refrigerator box in an alley.” This is when the call explaining to the candidate she did not get the job (and why) is followed by the specific No Thank You Letter to ensure that they understand they will not be coached any further and that the official rejection is required.

Maintain control when an interview starts to unravel.

And then, there are always those interviews that are complete disasters right from the start. The candidate comes in an hour and a half after the scheduled time and fails to communicate that they’re running late…or the candidate becomes emotionally unstable halfway through the interview because they realize they are not going to make it through to the next round…or maybe, the candidate becomes desperate and starts to beg you to review their resume credentials when both parties know the damage has already been done.

In these situations, it’s important to communicate to this person that the mistakes they’ve made, can be used as lessons learned or motivation for their next job interview. If they’re going to be late, they ought to communicate it! There’s nothing worse than a no-show, without any reason for it, right? When emotions get out of hand, its important to remind them that this interview is not the end-all be-all, and that the reason they are not moving forward is not because of something they lack. And finally, when it comes to credentials, (this scenario is often found most with recent college grads or young professionals), tell them that its about their potential value and capacity to grow within an organization that’s important, not always what they’ve already accomplished. Reinforcement is key to managing this type of nightmare candidate.

I am sure we have all been on either or both sides of this, the moral to the story is to take a proactive, openly communicative position with all your candidates to ensure the very best time, energy and matches among hiring managers and hire-ees!

The CBI Way blog series explores the tools and practices used in Talent Acquisition. CBI Way is CBI Group’s recruiting approach and methodology – it’s how we do what we do! Check in with CBI Way for insights around workforce education and training, the latest trends in recruiting technology, and how to best utilize these tools towards improving your own recruiting practices.

WDEL Interview: Chris Burkhard discusses Workforce Realities

January 4th, 2013

CBI Group Founder and President Chris Burkhard was interviewed today on radio station WDEL 1150AM in Wilmington, DE about his thoughts on the job market in 2013.  Chris expressed optimism while emphasizing that today’s work world is far different than even a generation ago.

“There are lots of opportunities developing as long as workers are open to thinking about employment differently.  Being creative and open about the nature of work is key today because what can be called non-traditional opportunities and jobs do exist and are out there.”

As the job market has slowly recovered from the 2008-09 recession, the temporary or contract work force has been one of the fastest growing sectors.  And, as WDEL anchorman Peter MacArthur pointed out, “Gone are the days of working for two or three decades for a single company.  Today its more ‘every man for himself’ so it seems that patchwork is the next logical way to look at jobs and careers.”

Chris agreed using an analogy of the Wild West where most people worked for themselves and the concept of big companies as employers hadn’t developed yet.

“Every man for himself was the culture then, people were responsible for their own careers as farmers, shop and saloon keepers and tradesmen… they were on their own.  Today I think even large employers would encourage workers to be like our ancestors and be more responsible for our own careers.”

Chris pointed out that contract and independent workers take on that initiative and responsibility and that some are even using this work as a strategy to find permanent employment.  “What better way to get to know a company, and that company to get to know you, than to work for them as a temp first?”

Chris added that CBI Group and Placers, the temporary workforce company re-launched in 2011, continues to experience that growth first-hand.

Listen to the interview here:

Click to listen to the recording.

 

CBI Way: Enhance the Interview Experience

December 5th, 2012

CBI Way blog spot by Lisa Van Ess, Outside-In® Group Lead

Have you ever interviewed for a job, met with five people (four are late), one reads your resume in front of you, and – get this – all five ask the same exact questions circa the 1990’s? Wow! Everyone already knows your strengths and weaknesses! They even know why there is a three year break in work on your resume! You leave thinking, “Why did I bother coming in at all?!

Yes, I have had that interview, too.

One of the great things about CBI Group is that we view our candidates and our applicants as our customers. Therefore, we work to make sure the type of interview experience mentioned above does not happen within our conference room walls. So let me ask you this, as a recruiting professional, how often do you think of the hiring manager as the client? Candidates are probably viewed as inventory, right? Well, if they are, they shouldn’t be….

There is a lot of hype in the ATS community about the Applicant Experience. The movement considers everything from the time it takes to apply online for a position, to the number of times duplicate data entry is performed, to those horrible “Thanks but no thanks. Your resume is on file.” automated responses. So what if you are not the CTO and are dealing with some restrictions on the automated front? Let’s not forget good, old fashioned human touch. Let’s look at planning the interview process.

Here’s a simple and effective way to enhance your client’s and candidates’ interview experiences:

  1. Have an agenda. Make sure each interviewer has a subject to cover with the applicant.
  2. Provide sample questions to each interviewer. These sample questions should be different and unique. This ensures that the hiring decision is made from a fully informed, and well-rounded collection of  perspectives, covering all aspects of the job and cultural requirements.
  3. Leave time for questions.  Give the applicant time to ask questions and/or to wrap-up.
  4. Enclose a rating form for the interviewers. This will accelerate the speed of decision making. Speedy decision making makes applicants happy!
  5. Enclose an Interview Experience Form for the applicant to share with the interview team. (Uh oh! Peer pressure and a little friendly competition to consider!)

Taking one (or all) of these steps will markedly improve the applicant experience. While an interview does not guarantee that the applicant will get the offer – it may mean that they are not the “right person, right now”.  However, your candidate may very well become a paying customer, vendor, partner, or competitor in the future, so be sure to leave every applicant with a great experience.

The CBI Way blog series explores the technology tools used in Talent Acquisition. CBI Way is CBI Group’s recruiting approach and methodology – it’s how we do what we do! Check in with CBI Way for insights around workforce education and training, the latest trends in recruiting technology, and how to best utilize these tools towards improving your own recruiting practices.

Hiring Under Duress: How to Avoid Making a Bad Hire

September 12th, 2012

Guess blog post by Lisa Van Ess, CBI Group team member

OK, we’ve all done this. Admit it, we all have this story. Sometimes it stays hidden away, locked in the closet: the embarrassing ‘lesson learned’ that we diligently strive to never, ever repeat again. Other times, we share the story with others to try and save them from making the same mistake, but shockingly, history does sometimes repeat itself! Some of us, when we share the various responsibilities of HR, Recruiting, and Team Leadership, may still be painstakingly unraveling all the fun that comes in the aftermath of making the bad hire, the gift that may keep on giving for weeks and months to come…

Most commonly, the reasons I have seen or (gasp!) participated in making a bad hire under duress, fall into the following categories:

  • Time -”We must fill this job yesterday!” Whether or not someone vacated the position suddenly or a promise was made to a client for an immediate start, one of the primary root causes really, simply is time.
  • Energy -The hiring manager is also doing the job responsibilities of the ‘vacant’ position and is burned out, stick a fork in him, he is done and will settle for anyone who fogs up a mirror when you hold it in front of their face just to get the work off his plate.
  • Relationships -”The potential hire worked for me or for someone I really respect back in the early 80′s and they were totally, totally awesome 20 years ago!”

Recognize any or all of the above? Yeah, me, too!

So, what can we do as recruiting leaders? The solutions really are simple:

1) Slow down. Slow your client down and reset time-to-fill expectations. This means not settling, this can also mean making the call to say, “I need another two weeks to do this right. I don’t want to do it fast and risk presenting or making a bad or inferior hire.” It is important to get in front of this one early, don’t miss a delivery deadline THEN tell your hiring manager or client it will take longer. Engage in the conversation as soon as you see the issue arise. We often agree to challenging, even impossible deadlines (as recruiters we are a competitive, fast-paced bunch) with the intent to quickly help our clients and solve problems. Being candid and informative with your clients to allow the time to hire the right talent goes a much, much longer way than the I-beat-the-impossible-time-to-fill-deadline by 5 hours! Ever start someone pending the last 24 hours of a background check being complete? (C’mon, admit it, we all know that story – classic example of do it right vs. do it fast.)

2) Offer a contractor or consultant. Help this poor hiring manager manage their work and life with an interim solution while the search for full time talent continues! Oh, and if you negotiate a nice ‘contract-to-hire’ deal, the contractor just may be your hire.

3) People change. Really, they do. Sometimes they change for the better, sometimes for worse, sometimes they’re just different. Even if the potential candidate used to work for you, you worked for them and they taught you everything you know, was at your wedding or college graduation party and is a wonderful person (and they still are). Interview them anyway. Not only is it a great opportunity to catch-up, but you need to take the time to make sure the journey they have been on since you last worked with/for/near them is a match for the next stop on their journey: your current opening. Don’t deviate from your proven successful, consistent recruiting and hiring practices no matter who the candidate might be, and last (but not least) do make sure to complete your background check process and check current references.

“Fancy Meeting You Here!” Discovering Unexpected Talent

August 15th, 2012

Guest blog by Lisa Van Ess, CBI Group team member

Hi Everyone! It’s me again, still hanging on to the catch phrase Talent Acquisition. Most of us, whether we are corporate or agent recruiting professionals, spend the vast majority of our time practicing “Fill-the-Open-Job” recruiting and often, in doing so, stumble across some really great talent.

Hmmm…so you stumble across a Wildly Talented Individual and don’t have the open requisition. What to do?

Those of you in the retained, engaged, and contingent search space may dust off your “Most Place-able Candidate” hats and begin to market this person to your favorite partner clients, and/or start researching companies who just might have the opportunities for this unearthed treasure. On the corporate recruiting side, do we do the same?

Many of us are still realistically dealing with an economic and employment market where approved requisitions are carefully managed, perhaps resulting in an avoidance or difficulty in marketing talent to internal or external clients when there is not a direct fit to that super-duper, triple confirmed, approved headcount detailing the exact requirements of the recruited talent.

I’ll offer some thoughts and techniques to use in any market under any hiring condition:

1. My last blog focused on determining whether or not a person can and will do an open job, so the first item of business is to offer to your hiring management how wonderfully this talented candidate will culturally and behaviorally fit with the team, company, or client.

2. Have your homework done on what exactly they can do! Can they perform a ‘hard to fill’ job that, when open, takes forever to fill but just isn’t open right at this moment? Can they do two different jobs or portions of responsibilities needed to ’round out a team’? Do they possess the specialized industry, competitive, or technical experience needed?

With these thoughts in mind, don’t pass up on the pleasant surprise of finding ‘Will Do Talent’ – in fact, plan for it! Engage, market, and explore the opportunity to make your clients and candidates even happier and even more effective!

Why Aren’t there Entrepreneurial Olympics?

August 1st, 2012

So, I am sitting with my family watching the opening ceremonies Friday evening (I think I am the only one I know that liked it…must be that strange, British wit!) and I kept thinking about all of the human interest stories about the athletes.  I thought about their struggles…family sacrifices…the long hours training…the obstacles overcome…and the incredible courage it takes to truly be the best in the world.  I find that is truly the best part of the Olympic experience.

All of us can identify with the moms sitting on the edge of their seats wringing their hands in agony as they watch their sons and daughters compete! Or the sense of pride that wells up inside us when our country earns a medal.  There is an emotional connection to the athlete.  All of us seem to identify at some level to the people…badminton or air rifles? Not so much.

This got me thinking about business and the world that entrepreneurs enter every day.  There aren’t any “Entrepreneurial Olympics”, but, there should be.  Yes, there are growth awards, there are special lists for your company in your industry, and you can even become Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2010, I was the Entrepreneur of the Year, and the hardest part of the whole thing was to bring the story of my success to life. My journey up to that moment  had been embroiled in so much risk.  My first office was a coat closet. My first desk, a card table. No customers. Little kids at home. A wife counting on me. Long, arduous days. Shifts in the marketplace. The emotional toll of the terrorism on 9/11. Not to mention the unexpected challenges of IT failure, theft, and flooding on the new furniture – and this was just during my first month!

I can just imagine what would happen if Bob Costas were to interview me or another entrepreneur.  Bob would ask, “How did you continue to train 14 to 16 hours a day while knowing you had put a second mortgage on your home?  What was it like to grow a business from an idea and attract that first, second or third employee to your vision?”, or maybe, “What is it like on Sunday nights when you need to meet payroll?  Does that feeling ever go away and how do you manage that anxiety when you lead and direct?” 

Would the interviews be as riveting?  Would you well up with emotion the way we do for Olympians? If you think, “Eh, maybe not”, I have some zingers for you. Like when our office caught fire and flooded on Super Bowl Sunday a few years back. How I almost lost everything, AGAIN! Video footage would help but, frankly, I am not sure if folks would get it or like it! Pop culture does not quite understand the life of an entrepreneur (unless your family has or is one!) but we all should try.

There are so many parallels, so many comparisons, so much in common between athletes and entrepreneurs.  The odds are steep. The time commitment is exhaustive.  The accolades and medals?  For professional athletes, there is a wide range of possibilities even outside of Olympic medals. For entrepreneurs? Well, they are earned only by a few.

The Olympic metaphors are so much an entrepreneur’s life story:

  • Like athletes, most entrepreneurs do not make the “games”.  So few make it to one year, five, or ten!
  • Athletes and entrepreneurs must train to win,  the athletes that don’t medal seem to lose their focus and routine.  Same for entrepreneurs.  Focus, priorities, and routine are critical to maximizing energy and using limited resources to get the result you want!
  • Playing the sport is all that matters. The lessons learned about yourself, about competition, self esteem and confidence, being a part of a team all apply to small business.  Without them no one earns a spot on the medals stand.

Now imagine your own interview with Bob. Or better yet, put yourself on the podium with flowers in hand, a gold medal around your neck and your company’s logo flying high above you as its raised above your head in flag-form. What would that be like as an entrepreneur?

“I would like to thank my mom…

Workforce Realities: Advice for College Grads

May 2nd, 2012

Today’s workers have it tough. So much continues to change and there is too much new happening to fully absorb it all. For so many generations now, the western world has viewed education as the key to a better life for their kids. Education improves our quality of life, earning power and the ability to make a difference. All of us want this for our children. But there is a rude reality to all of this as of late. A college education is no longer a guarantee of anything. The numbers traditionally show that college education increases earning power over ones lifetime and also that less college graduates are unemployed than those with lesser education. But don’t ask this of recent grads.

Just this week it was announced that the number of recent college graduates unemployed or underemployed is well over 50%.
I can’t say that this statistic really shocked anybody. I am in the field of employment and my company certainly was not surprised. We all hear about high unemployment numbers on the evening news. Yes the economy is better, but there is a long, long way to go.

I was taught by a great mentor that the key to life is to make decisions with better information. See. Think. Act. Such simple words right? Try and apply them. So many times in work, life and play we don’t gather information before we act. We hope to, but we don’t know how to gather it. So instead, we simply act and shoot from the hip. Job seekers perceive any action as progress… they send resumes, surf job boards, do Internet research — feeling “good” about their job search.

So at the risk of being preachy, I have some hard-fought, earned advice for a college graduate looking to start their career and get their first real job. Perhaps the initial steps towards better information… But first, this disclaimer:

Each generation grows up heavily influenced by the events and trends of the world around us and with four generations working today? Well, let’s just say it is hard to walk in each generation’s shoes, to seek to understand other generations. While I may not know exactly what you’re going through because of these differences, bear with me.

Also, there are reasons why companies are not creating jobs for college grads. That is not your fault. However, you need to know what they are. Businesses add jobs when they can get a return on the investment, when they can grow and when the economic and political environment is more certain. So in the short-term over the next year or so the world is going to be extra competitive!

My Advice to College Graduates:

  1. This is not the first recession. Yes this is a bad one. But there is work if you are willing to work for it. Start in retail management if you have to. Think retail is below you? If you are a business school major, why not learn about hiring and firing, budgeting and customer growth in one of the few places that will give this responsibility to a grad. This is what I did.
  2. You are not owed anything. You have to work for it. Starting in an entry level job is not below you. Not even close. Your boss does not care about your debt or your life style. Starting at the bottom is where all of us have to start. The key is what happens next.
  3. Starting is the key. Once you have the entry-level job, take on the challenge. Ask for the tough project. Ask for the learn. Learn the business. Every business needs employees that are willing to grow themselves.
  4. While you just “finished” school, the learning has just begun. You and only you are responsible for bettering your skills and knowledge.
  5. Knowledge is followed by success. The more you know the more money you will make. The more your title will change. The more you will get to wherever it is you want to be. But…
  6. You can’t skip steps. In baseball, you can’t score if you miss a base. In work, you cannot be VP and drive a BMW without being of real value to a business. Risk and Reward.
  7. Take the risk and get the reward right? Well, life is not always fair. Starting a company is not easy, most fail. Working for a start-up builds great skills and will broaden your exposure. But it does not make you an entrepreneur.
  8. Your first job is not the rest of your life. The first one is like your first year of college, it is to grow up in the world of work. To learn about business, clients, culture, styles of leadership. The first job is about how to fit in and find your place. And most importantly, the first job is probably more about what you do not want to do for the rest of your working career.
  9. What you do not want to do. This is the most honest advice of all. It is up to you to fit in. The workforce won’t change for you. I know you want the world your way… working from home, time off, promotions, whatever. Work is about your ability to earn and gain influence. Your influence and trust (AND your ability to get results) get you what you want.
  10. There is a gap. And you don’t even know it yet. The gap is the space between who you are today and what you are capable of. Know that employers today long for a worker who knows this and works at it closing it.

Big words right? Are you now a college graduate that needs help? Do you know someone who is? Get them in contact with me. We will get them some help. Why? Good karma.

A Workforce Realignment

March 7th, 2012

With a career dedicated to recruitment and staffing, I am a student of the workplace and workforce. I pay close attention to the realities of the industry as trends emerge and realignments change the way we do things. What do I mean? Workforce realities are the collective impact of globalization, technology, government, demographics and social norms on running a business. And currently, there is a lot of debate about how business is doing workforce planning.

Post-recession thinking has it that business is prone to using a contractual workforce for six months–one year after a recession ends to handle increasing productivity needs. This mild, tenuous recovery followed right along with history, with one big exception! That one year quickly became two, and now three years. So what gives? What happened to the shift where companies stopped using temps and started hiring directly to the payroll? There has been a fundamental realignment in workplace planning thinking.

The business leaders of today know that the range and fluctuation in business can be extreme. Does anyone remember the last recession? Of course we all do. The last recession was akin to that 100 year flood that none of us can imagine happening to our town. But this time around, it was us that lived through it.

We will continue to use temporary workers to be flexible and adaptable to fluctuations in business demand. But the realities of today’s workforce is that we need to get used to it. The social norms still suggest that everyone should go get a good job and work for a great company where they can feel secure. But that security may come from our skills and our focus on building them — more so than where we work. Loyalty may not be completely dead, but almost. No company can make forever employment promises any longer.

Today, we are all responsible for our own career. It is our job to build our skills and to manage our career. And with a shift like this, skill building will come in the form of projects, contract work and temporary assignments.

Are you ready for the shift?

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