Interview Question 101: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?"

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The cliché question arises in almost every interview:

Describe your personal strengths and weaknesses.

The question in straight forward but seems like a trick question but if you establish an appropriate context, then you can give an honest and well thought answer. Answering this way will showcase your professionalism & awareness. A hiring manager or recruiter ask these types of questions to qualify or disqualify you as the type of person who would excel in this specific position.

Even if you are not directly asked this question it is still a great way to prepare and frame your interview about what you can bring to the table. When you are prepared for these questions, it sets you up to answer almost any popular interview question.

What is considered a strength or weakness is different for almost every position. What is a weakness in one role can be considered a strength in a different role. There are a general scope of strengths and weaknesses that should be mentions during the interview.

Examples of General Strengths: Analytical, communication, leadership skills, team player

Examples of General Weaknesses: Hard & soft skills, and examples on how to spin your weaknesses so they don’t knock out out of the running for the role.


“What Are Your Greatest WEAKNESSES?”

The focus is on the job description so all your answers whether a strength or a weakness should be tailored to the position you are interviewing for. For example, if this role requires a lot of team projects and tasks, you would want to tailor in the fact that you are a crystal clear communicator who excels in managing and or working under a spectrum of people for a common goal.

When on the topic about weaknesses make sure to avoid any weakness that would automatically disqualify you for the position. For example, if the job requires a lot of designing and writing, do not say your weakness is creativity. No matter what weakness you mention, make sure you have a positive spin on your answer.

As an example you might want to bring up your weakness and explain it as a strength:


Example: I can be very critical of my work. Often after a project I have always felt I could have done more even thought I can look back and say I’ve done well. This pattern has left me burnt out and negative. I have decided in the past two years to make mental notes of my achievements and do little things to celebrate them. This has helped shift my thinking and to appreciate my team and other who support me”

It is only natural to have weaknesses and we rarely want to put them out there on display to someone we’ve just met, but a truthful answer can help show your fit within the organization.

Some examples of weaknesses include:

  • Unorganized

  • Critical / Sensitive

  • Perfectionism (Note: this can be a strength in many roles, make sure to give an example how perfectionism has posed a problem for you)

  • Shy / Not adept at public speaking

  • Competitive (Note: Similarly to perfectionism, this can be a strength)

  • Limited experience in a non-essential skill (especially if obvious on your resume, face this one head on)

  • Not skilled at delegating tasks

  • Take on too much responsibility

  • Not detail-oriented / Too detail-oriented

  • Not comfortable taking risks

  • Too focused / Lack of focus


Examples of Strengths

If you aren’t sure about your strengths, ask coworkers, your past managers, and friends what they see as your strongest qualities.

Some examples of strengths include:

  • Creative

  • Patient

  • Empathetic

  • Determined

  • Flexible / Versatile

  • Honest

  • Enthusiastic / Passionate / Driven

  • Collaborative

  • Disciplined / Focused

  • Committed / Dedicated

  • Respectful

  • Innovative

  • Attentive / Detail-oriented

  • Action-oriented/entrepreneurial

Some final points to keep in mind when these questions come up:

  • Remember to tailor your answer to the job description

  • Not be overly humble, and

  • Be specific in your responses. (specific situation where you were weak or strong)

When prepared, your answer this this question can really get a clear picture of who you are and how you would fit into the role. Turn your weaknesses into challenges you’re on your way to conquer and your strengths into the reasons why you should be placed perfectly into your new role.


WE’RE RECRUITING!

Welcome to ITH Staffing, a healthcare and information technology industry trusted leader.

If you are looking for a new top paying opportunity with benefits, then send in your resume to Staffing@ITHStaffing.com to be connected with a seasoned recruiter. We serve over 3,000 organizations through all 50 U.S. states.

Learn more about ITH Staffing

Check out our job board

Read more of our job advice blog

Contact us today!





8 Secrets Recruiters Won’t Tell You (But REALLY REALLY Want To)

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Working with a recruiter may seem intimidating but recruiters truly want the best for both the candidates and the company they are recruiting for. Their goal is set up a great pairing that is set for success through the application, interview process, all the way to your first day and beyond. Even though a recruiter is doing their best for you, there are some things that recruiters can’t share.

Salary caps, candidate competition, internal HR tactics — let’s call them trade secrets. They are the confidential information that, unfortunately, recruiters cannot hand out.

Omer Molad, CEO/Founder of Vervoe, gives a few secrets out.

1. “We could have gone higher if you had negotiated.”

Salary negotiations “are like a game of poker — both job seekers and recruiters are trying to maintain control and win the hand.”

Recruiters will not tell you exactly what the company values you for, you have to know your own value. Each role has a salary range a recruiter can work with but their initial offering is rarely at the top of this range, so you must view their first offer as a starting point. - Benefits like vacation, work hours, etc. can usually be negotiated.


2. “Don’t go overboard with buzzwords — we can tell.”

It’s key to include keywords in your resume and to showcase your knowledgeable about your particular industry. However, “don’t try to look smarter than you really are,” says Molad. People forget that recruiters also want your personality to shine through to make sure it meshes well with the positions and the company culture. Tossing out big words and phrases can just get in the way and backfire.

“It’s not about specific questions or answers that stand out, but rather the candidates who display a great deal of passion about what they do that really stand above the rest,” says employer Academy Sports + Outdoors.

3. “You never had a chance after that bad first impression.”

You get one chance at a first impression and this goes especially true in your career. According to Molad, few recruiters can get past a bad first impression. Unreturned calls and emails, bad manners, tardiness to interviews, and interview slip ups will damage your chances of landing that position. Rarely will a recruiter let you know “We just don’t like you.”

“Interviewers often care more about the likability of entry-level candidates than whether or not they’re actually qualified for the job,” says career coach Peter Yang. “This is because the person interviewing you will often also be your future boss and mentor” If you show off your personality along with your skills while making a personal connection with your interviewer/recruiter then you can count that as a strong interview.

4. “Your references weren’t very flattering.”

Most recruiters won’t tell you if you had an unflattering reference that may confirm their doubts or concerns. Molad says. “Your references should talk about your strengths in specific situations — not just basic information.” Your references should be able to pull up examples of real projects where you successfully exceeded expectations and be able to bring up a situation where you showed your strength and skills.

“Bad references can ruin your candidacy as much as good ones can strengthen it,” says Sam Keefe, Digital Marketing Manager at AVID Technical Resources. Her advice - “Give only references who will say positive things about you. Work hard to build good working relationships with coworkers and bosses.”

5. “I back-channeled you, and found out the truth.”

Commonly known as a backdoor reference check (or off-sheet reference check), it refers to obtaining information about a candidate from a source other than those referrals specifically listed in the candidate's application. This is one of the sneaky ways hiring managers and recruiters gain insight on two things – personality traits and past performances..“This phenomenon is even more prevalent in the last five years or so because of LinkedIn’s growing popularity,” says Keefe. “Even if you choose not to give anybody there as a reference, backdoor references can reveal the skeletons in your closet.”


6. “We already gave the job to an in-house employee.”

Depending on the data source, companies report that between 15% to 28% of hires are internal. Some research even shows that internal hires for the most part excel at their task than external ones. However many companies post “phantom jobs“ where a role is posted online as a corporate process while they are already considering internal options. Some times recruiters have to go through the motions of interviewing outside candidates to be able to ensure a “fair“ hiring process. Therefore, Molad says, don’t expect recruiters to come right out and say, “It was a beauty parade to show management we ran a process, but it was a sham and you were never really considered.”

Instead, shake it off and keep on your search for a new job— there are plenty of opportunities out there, and the job that fits your life is just a few clicks away.

7. “Your last few social media posts were deal-breakers.”

70% of employers are snooping candidates’ social media profiles, which is up significantly from 60 percent in 2016. Recruiters are on the hunt for information that supports their qualifications for the job, if the candidate has a professional online persona at all, what other people are posting about the candidates, or for any reason at all not to hire a candidate.

“Hiring managers are reviewing social media pages to become educated about the background and brand the person is articulating and to look for red flags,” says Alan Weatherbee, senior vice president of talent search for Allison+Partners. “They aren’t using it to find ways not to hire someone who is qualified, but to make sure they present themselves in an accurate way.”

You want to make sure your social media pages are void of any political comments, inflammatory messages or anything else that might offend the person who might just hold your future in their hands.


8. “The team is dragging its feet waiting for another candidate’s response.”

You might just be a “Plan B” but your recruiter won’t just go out and say that. If it seems the candidate is dragging their feet and taking their time but keeping you somewhat in the loop — then they might have another candidate in the pipeline.

This should not be taken personally - it can be a very close race for the position and other times the other candidates fall out of the race because of personal circumstances, others jobs offers, or they decide the position isn’t for them. If you feel you may be in this runner-up position then now is your time to take the challenge to let convince your recruiter that you are fit and qualified for this position.

Always remember these "trade secrets” are kept with the business in mind, there is no malicious intent on anyones part. Many times candidates are faced with one or a multiple number of these roadblocks, but the best way around the issue is to be upfront with a recrutier and communicate your goals and concerns.


WE’RE RECRUITING!

Welcome to ITH Staffing, a healthcare and information technology industry trusted leader.

If you are looking for a new top paying opportunity with benefits, then send in your resume to Staffing@ITHStaffing.com to be connected with a seasoned recruiter. We serve over 3,000 organizations through all 50 U.S. states.

Learn more about ITH Staffing

Check out our job board

Read more of our job advice blog

Contact us today!


50% of Americans Are Skipping Their Lunch Breaks

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For one in two people, lunchtime is for crunching and cramming in more work. We shove snacks or meal-preps into our mouths while we type, plan, calculate, and schedule meetings. According to a new survey of 2,000 workers, it is unrealistic to be able to get away from your desk to eat a proper break. The research by OnePoll in partnership with Eggland’s Best, found that one in two Americans say that they cannot get in a full lunch break and that it even counts as a distraction. People seem to cling to their desk instead of going outside to eat in peace.

Lunch breaks are more vital than you think…

For the rest of us who take our lunch to enjoy some outside relaxation, a lunch breaks not just a getaway from out desk, but a moment to recharge for the last half of our workday. But this concept is generational. The group of works 45 and under claim that it was not practical to take a lunch break while the 45 plus age group gave a completely flipped response and disagreed.

“With a lot of work and little time in the day for themselves, the results indicated that eating habits are changing to suit such hectic routines, with an emphasis on snacking prioritized over lengthy meals. “ - source

When we skip our lunches we start picking at food throughout the day so we don’t get too hungry. According to swnsdigital 68% of American workers snack twice a day, and three in ten workers enjoy snacking three times a day or more while at work. All this snacking does not go without consequences. Research shows that eating frequently is actually unhealthy and detrimental to weight-loss goals. The latest endocrine science tells us that eating every three or four hours actually sets us up for not only exhaustion and premature aging but also less fat burning. A designated lunch break is not just a way of satisfying your hunger, but of also satisfying your unhealthy snacking habit.

Physical health reasons aside, a lunch break has a strong impact on the mental health benefits. In the U.S. half of the states do no mandate the employers to give their employees lunch breaks or a 10/15 min break, but research finds that breaks can replenish the psychological costs associated with working hard, improve work performance, and boost energy. Spending less than one minute looking at nature (Lee et al., 2015) improves employee performance after they return to the work task. Personally I have found that a complete lunch break gives me the metal and energy recharge for the second half of my day. It is a reminder that we are all people with lives outside of our meetings and deadlines and it gives us a fresh look on ideas and tasks when we return.

In the end if you have a lunch in your daily work schedule it is still up to you if you eat lunch at your computer non-stop working or cherish your gift of a break.


WE’RE RECRUITING!

Welcome to ITH Staffing, a healthcare and information technology industry trusted leader.

If you are looking for a new top paying opportunity with benefits, then send in your resume to Staffing@ITHStaffing.com to be connected with a seasoned recruiter. We serve over 3,000 organizations through all 50 U.S. states.

Learn more about ITH Staffing

Check out our job board

Read more of our job advice blog


 


The Dos of Unemployment (and Don'ts)

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It's a frightening thought and position to be in when you find yourself unemployed. It's a place we hope we never find ourselves in, but we can all suddenly find ourselves in this predicament at any point in our lives. Regardless of our unemployment length, it can cause great damage to our finances and our mental health. We've outlined some steps you can take to limit the damage and impact of unemployment. These steps can also help you in the long run with your credit.

File for Unemployment

For some great in-depth tips on unemployment and filing for these benefits, you can take a look at this blog. The US government offers a safety net to eligible candidates so that you can have some cash coming your way while you are in job search mode. When you are working, you put part of your earnings into these programs so there should be no shame in taking advantage a program to help protect yourself when you're vulnerable.

Alert your Student Loan Provider

A second safety net can be deferment of your student loans.

"If you are experiencing financial hardship, go back to school, are unemployed, or are on active duty military service, postponing payments with deferment may be right for you. Subsidized Stafford loans and subsidized consolidation loans will not accrue additional interest" - source

Your student loan provider would rather you defer your loan to later than for you to default on your payments. They are willing to work with you, if you reach out to explain the situation. When your loans are in deferment you avoid late fees, penalties, and missed payments so you can protect your credit score.  Protecting your credit score keeps you in good shape to be able to take out loans in the future after you've landed your next position.

Apply for Marketplace Insurance

Losing your job and losing your health insurance go hand in hand but that doesn't have to be the case. 

"Since losing your job is considered a life event, you will be eligible to get insurance through the marketplace once you’re unemployed. Not only will this protect you if you have a health emergency while you’re unemployed (and allow you to get coverage for your existing needs), but it will also be much more affordable than other options, like COBRA." - Source

Begin your Job Hunt

To remain on unemployment you must apply to a minimum of three jobs a week, and provide proof. This helps you stay on top of your job search and provides you a guaranteed benefit check.

The best place to begin a job search is with people in your network! According to Payscale, "some estimate that upwards of 85 percent of open positions are filled through networking. If you’re looking for work, it might be better to put your time into building your professional network rather than pouring through all those listings online."

Reaching out to friends, family, and former colleagues can be the first step to your new job. They may not be able to land you a new opportunity, but they may be able to point you in the right direction.

Turn to your Emergency Savings

An emergency like this calls for use of your emergency savings. Hopefully you have been able to stash away some of your income for a moment like this. If you are still employed and have not, make sure to begin saving now! Your savings were meant for a moment like this. Your savings should be spend on housing, food, and bills to keep a roof over your head and your belly full.

Ask for Help 

You may be unemployed for longer than expected with a family to feed and watch after. In times like this it is okay to find some extra help from family or ask close friends to borrow money to pay back. Family and friends can offer borrowed money for less interest than banks so this can be helpful when you're tight on money. Remember to only borrow what you need and to create a repayment plan with deadlines and have it documented for both parties to agree on. Be honest about when you can repay and if you are having trouble repaying, make sure to communicate as this is important to not causing any problems in the relationship.

Don’t Borrow from your Retirement

If it'there's one thing you take away from this article, it's this: Dipping into your 401(k) plan is generally a bad idea.

Maggie Germano from The Ladder says "I will yell this from the rooftops for the rest of my life. Never borrow from your retirement! You will be much worse off later if you do this. -- If you borrow from your retirement account before the aged of 59.5, you’ll be penalized. You will have to pay taxes and fees for withdrawing early. This means that you will lose a lot of that money you’ve diligently saved for your retirement years. 

Don’t Rely on your Credit Cards

Credit cards are a slippery slope so avoiding credit card use as much as possible during your unemployment. This will help you avoid a hole of debt that you may not be able to climb out of even after landing you new job. 

If you do decide to turn to your credit cards, you do have a few options to limit your debt and avoiding some interest. Call your creditors and let them know about your situation. Creditors want to be paid back and if you can't pay, that hurts them so they are willing to work things out with you. You may be able to ask for a lower interest rate while you’re unemployed, so your interest charges don’t take over and make it impossible to repay.

Some credit cards have payment protection insurance for times like this. This insurance suspends your interest rates and you can pay your minimum payment for a short specified amount of months. This prevents you losing control of your debt and credit while you deal with finding your new job. This might be something to research if you are still employed and you think you might need it someday.

Can Healthcare Professionals Have Tattoos?

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Tattoos are becoming increasingly more popular and accepted in the US. They're cool, sexy, controversial and eye-catching; a tattoo makes a statement that a thousand words cannot. It is no surprise then that 36 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 25 sport at least one of these markings somewhere on their bodies. As tattoos continue to gain popularity, they gain social acceptance as well. In certain professions, however, tattoos are still frowned upon by employers. Nursing, for the most part, is not one of them.

If you have tattoos and want a career as a healthcare professional, it may be comforting to learn that the healthcare profession as a whole is fairly accepting of tattoos and body art. For many nurses and doctors, tattoos are not an issue. Many healthcare professionals have easily concealable tattoos where they do not need to worry about it coming to the attention of a supervisor or a patient. Even difficult-to-hide tattoos can pass, as long as they are not excessively large or explicit.

Even thought most tattoos can be a non-issue at work, there are still some circumstances that may become a problem. Here are some examples:

Large Tattoos

Massive tattoos, or too many tattoos, can pose a real problem in the healthcare field. Not all employers are strict on their tattoos, but some facilities have dress codes that require all professionals to conceal their tattoos while on duty. Tattoos on your neck and arms will be difficult to keep out of sight, so employers with strict dress codes may not give you a chance and will disqualify you if they notice them at your interview. 

Employer Policy

Most facilities are somewhat lenient to visible tattoos, but this is not always the case.

"Some employers’ tattoo policies are stricter than others. For instance, there are still facilities out there that do not allow their nurses to have visible tattoos or body piercings of any kind. If you have tattoos in hard-to-cover locations, like your hands or neck, there’s a good chance you’ll have trouble meeting some potential employers’ dress-code policies." - Source

Offensive Tattoos

Harmless tattoos like names, hearts, music notes, and other innocent symbols won't cause much of an issue to most employers. Some tattoos could be considered offensive and shocking and this could affect your job search and even keeping your current position. It's best to play on the safe side and not display or tattoo any art that showcases nudity, drug use, or any art that can be connected to gangs. Any tattoos in these categories should be kept completely out of sight while working in the healthcare industry.

If one of these topics above are an issue for you, we have some ideas that will help you tackle most of the issues you may encounter while working in the field with tattoos:

 

Cover-Up Strategies

The best way to deal with the tattoo-healthcare field related issue is to avoid tattoos altogether. 

"If your current employer’s tattoo policy is fairly strict, simply keep your tattoos out of sight while at work. Long-sleeve shirts can be used to cover tattoos on the arms in most cases. Alternatively, skin-tone sleeves can be used to cover arm and leg tattoos without wearing an additional layer of clothing, which is great for the spring and summer months. For tattoos on the face and neck, try keeping your hair down to keep them out of sight. If that won’t work, there are special concealers that can be used to hide tattoos quite well."  - Source

Job-Hunting Tips

If hiding your tattoos daily is a deal breaker, then you should do a thorough research of possible employers and their dress codes before going in for your interview or sending in your resume. Most hospitals and large organizations have their policies posted on their website and if they do not, then asking someone (preferable a friend) can be another route. It may be more work, but it will all be worthwhile if this is an important issue to you, and you want to be stress-free about your tattoos in your workplace.

Tattoo Removal

If your tattoo(s) are destroying your chances at employment and opportunities, then you may have to remove them as a last resort. Unfortunately, this will take months-if not a year or more.

"Tattoos don't just disappear after a once-over with the laser. It takes a long time to complete because each time the tattoo is lasered, particles are broken down and digested by the body's immune system. The regeneration period is up to eight weeks, and the next time you go, the laser breaks down new particles of pigment. And so on and so forth." - Source

What are your thoughts on nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals with visible tattoos on duty? Should they be allowed or banned from the healthcare workplace? Leave your comments and thoughts below.

4 Reasons Nurses Quit (And What You Can Do Instead)

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It's been known for years that the gap between job openings in healthcare and the amount of people joining the workforce is opening wider and wider. There is a massive shortage of nurses in the workforce, with too many nurses leaving their careers prematurely.

Nurses exiting the workforce outnumber the amount of nurses entering the profession, and at the same time, many current nurses are inching closer and closer to retirement.

Patients' lives and health greatly depend on turning this around.

Nursing Supply and Demand

Nurse.org says approximately 50% of American nurses are over the age of 45. It’s predicted that the nursing shortage will worsen over the next ten years, in large part due to the number of nurses reaching retirement. 

Meanwhile, a lack of qualified instructors means that we turn away thousands of potential nursing students every year because we simply don’t have the capacity to teach them. 

Leaving in Droves

Aging and retirement are not the only reasons nurses are leaving in droves. There are many nurses with less than 10 years experience who leave their jobs early for their own reasons. Becoming a nurse requires jumping through many hurdles and hoops with years of schooling, testing, and hours of volunteer time, so it is concerning to see many nurses leaving what they worked so hard to get into.

Becoming a nurse is no easy task. Many personal, professional, and financial sacrifices are required, so when a nurse leaves the nursing profession, it’s cause for concern. 

Let’s talk about the top reasons nurses are leaving and how you can protect yourself from suffering the same fate.

1. Lack of Opportunity In Your Area

There’s no shortage of job opportunities for nurses in the current economy, but these jobs are relative to an individual’s life path.  

According to Nurse.org -- Many nurses are returning adult learners and second-degree students who’ve settled down, bought a home, and are likely to be married with children.  While there may be job opportunities in other locations, not everyone can uproot for a job. 

What to do: Understand your life goals (short, mid, and long term).  Does your specialty fit with your life needs? Can you get certified in a more in-demand specialty?

2. Get a Reality Check About Nursing

From the outside looking in, nursing can seem so different. Most do not understand what the job will look and feel like until they begin actually working in the field. There are so many unrealistic and warped portrayals of what the field is like. Movies, TV shows, and the internet will not give you a grasp on the difficulties of being a nurse. These often aren't discovered until you've already started with your license and you're on shift.

They say "Nursing isn't for everyone" and it's advice not to be taken lightly. All nurses will be put through the test mentally, physically, and emotionally. To be a nurse, you need to be skilled in multiple facets of life from time management, great communication skills, empathetic, patience, detailed, physical endurance and more on a daily basis. This nonstop marathon can be something many are not prepared to handle.

What to do: Ask, ask, ask, and find a mentor. Before you begin nursing school or before you begin working in the field, make sure to find a mentor or ask advice from experienced nurses you may know. This can really prepare you for your career.

 

3. Eating Our Young

This unfortunate scenario holds some validity in the real world of nursing. 

As a new nurse, you need strong coping mechanisms.  Lateral violence and workplace bullying are nursing’s dirty little secret, and while it’s not the standard,  bullying does exist. These poisonous actions are debilitating if you don’t have appropriate coping mechanisms.  

To be clear, it’s not just fellow nurses who are responsible for bullying and incivility.  In the world of healthcare, the human condition is unpredictable and emotionally charged.  Every member of the healthcare team – including patients, families, and doctors – can be both a target or a perpetrator. 

What to do: Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How can I better manage difficult people and stressful scenarios? 
  • Do I have skills for assertive communication?
  • Can I be more assertive in my communication?
  • Do I possess healthy coping mechanisms? 
  • How can I develop healthy coping mechanisms?
  • What can I do to maintain a good work/life balance?

4. Faster Pace

Nursing is not for the faint of heart. It will seem like a jolt to jump from nursing school to the fast paced real world working situations you will have to handle as a nurse. There are some things that going to school cannot prepare you for, and you must take the twists and turns and embrace the learning experiences that are to come.

What to do: Be prepared for the change in pace. While in nursing school, take the tougher assignments and challenge yourself to work and function as close to the real world as possible. Time management and delegation will be essential.

Stay Engaged

As you go on this path as a nurse, you must have a goal and direction. Stay up to date on healthcare, learn more about your profession, and remain a key team player at your facility.


Find an engaging nursing job you’ll love!

High-paying nursing opportunities are here and there is one just for you. As a registered nurse, you are in control of your career. Check out the best jobs from coast to coast on our job board. Get the pay and career path you deserve. Click here to see open positions for nurses now.

To connect with a recruiter call us at 909-545-6265 or email your resume to Staffing@ithstaffing.com. 

How To Select and Coach Your Job References

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A great reference will be your biggest cheerleader and your #1 fan! A well picked reference can single handedly convince the hiring manager that you are perfect for the role with their raving recommendation. On the flip side, a reference that has been placed on your resume in an careless manner can cost you the job you're chasing after.

"A hiring manager is influenced by whom they speak to and what they learn in those crucial job reference calls. They know that up to 81% of job seekers lie during job interviews, and they will be on the hunt to sniff out information about how excited and prepared you really are for the role." - Source

If you want the right information about your skills and energy, then you need to really think through who and why you select your pick of references. Once you have your references in order, it's time to prepare them for questions they may face. Here is how:

Give your job reference proper notice

It's common courtesy to give your job reference a heads up on the upcoming call from the hiring manager. The last thing you want is a "umm... I don't know who you're talking about?" when your unsuspecting reference is called out of the blue during a busy work day.  

The first step should always be to ask permission to list them as a reference so you don't intrusively push this role on them.  Fifteen percent of employees said they were putting down references who had no idea they were being listed as references. Don’t do this.

When you reach out to ask if someone can be a reference, you can feel out their excitement or dread to do so. This is vital to understand if someone truly wants to be a great reference and will put you in a good light for your new possible role. If you have any red flags or question what a reference may say about you, then it's best to keep them off your reference list.

Coach them about what kind of questions they’ll be asked

Monica Torres from The Ladder says "Once you’ve picked your team of cheerleaders, you need to coach them about what kind of questions they’ll be asked. There is no shame in updating them about what you have been up to in the last few months if this is someone you do not work with closely. Send them a copy of recent projects you have done, your resume and the cover letter you used to apply for the role. Recognize that different colleagues are able to speak about different skills. A peer will have different knowledge about your internal influence and leadership abilities than a boss." 

Know the role you are applying for. Your reference needs to be able to relay the qualities and skills the hiring manager is looking for so they can attest to your fit for the job. You want them to be able to answer on your SEO skills if the job calls for excellent SEO skills.  “Tell them why you believe the company wants to hire you and how you are likely to be useful for that company so they can reinforce that,” Priscilla Claman, the co-founder of Career Strategiesm, told Harvard Business Review. “One could talk about your ability to establish relationships with colleagues, another about your technical skills, and another about your project management abilities.”

Recognize that common reference questions will ask how you perform under adversity like “How well did the candidate perform under stressful conditions such as facing sale” or “Are there any areas that the candidate could use improvement?” If you know your reference may have a difficult time answering something similar to these questions, then it may mean you need to select a different reference. 
 

The vision of your character and skills that a hiring manager can see in you depends entirely on who you select as your references. They can see who you selected as your recommendations and that directly reflects on to you and who you are as a professional, in and out the workplace. Do your research and methodically select your team of references; they can be the key to landing your next opportunity.


Looking for a new opportunity ? Take a look at our job board here

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4 Ways to Get Out of a Productivity Rut

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You can't have an all-star productive day every single day you walk into work. This is what you need to do once you are overloaded with distractions and are up to your neck in work.

 

Get Your Rest

Kristin Wong, a freelance writer and author of Get Money: Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Affordwrites about this in Lifehacker (the piece is written with the idea that you’re normally able to get things done, but you experienced a “short-term setback.”

Wong’s first tip is to “get an early start.” - source

"So your binge of unproductivity is over and you’re now on the mend. Great! The first thing you can do is resolve to wake up earlier the following day.

“Let’s say you got jack done Monday. Once you realize the day has been a waste, make it a point to get to bed earlier that night, so you can get a head start on Tuesday (getting up early is hard, but lucky for you, we’ve got a whole list of ways to make it happen),” she writes. “When you get up that morning, don’t dive straight into work, though. Indulge in something you love. This starts your morning on an optimistic note, putting you in the right frame of mind for tackling the day. Instead of approaching it with the stress of having to catch up, stay calm and approach it optimistically and methodically.” 

 

Start all over again

Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice and more, told Fortune about how to do this when things aren’t going as planned in terms of everything you have to get done.

“Forget the original plan. … What would success look like now, given my new constraints? Which problems are the most important? What would be the most valuable use of my now reduced time?” he told the site.

You should get comfortable moving forward in a different way.

 

Go ahead and clean your desk.

Kate Hanley, a mindset coach and author of the forthcoming book A Year of Daily Calm speaks out on the topic to Fortune: “I find one small thing I can easily knock out even in that agitated state, and then I do something indulgent to reward myself.” Maybe it’s a bit of online shopping or a walk to get a coffee, but whatever it is, enjoy it. “The most destructive part of a day that feels off the rails is how much we beat ourselves up for it,” she says.

 

Feel free to switch gears for a moment

Amanda Zantal-Wiener is a writer for the HubSpot Marketing Blog, strategist, editor and owner of creative consultancy Amanda Zantal-Wiener, LLC. She writes on the HubSpot site about helping her mother with computer troubleshooting on her day off, it redirected her brain from her to-do-list to something else but when she was done with her "break" she was ready to go back to work and hit the ground running.

“If you’re feeling stuck, use your brain for something else. Maybe there’s a colleague who you’ve been meaning to get back to on an unrelated project, or maybe you just need to do a quick online puzzle. Keeping your mind active while giving it a break from the dredge of your to-do list might leave you feeling re-energized and ready to hit the ground running, wherever you left off,” she writes.

Don’t be afraid to do this.


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Professional Voicemail 101

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In the modern day and age, it is simpler to email someone in a moment than to pick up the phone and call them . Leaving a proper professional voicemail has become a forgotten art. We have all had that moment of panic after the "BEEP" and rambled and stumbled through our introduction and message on the phone, so we should all recognize the need to master the skill of a proper voicemail.

Whether this is part of your daily workflow, or if this is a once in a while task, here is the breakdown of a great voicemail.

Get to the point and then hang up...

First thing first, you need to pin point the exact reason for leaving a voicemail in the first place - to get a call back. There is no need to fluff here. This is a case of stating who and why and leave the rest for the call back when you're both on the line ready to discuss.

After the "beep" is your moment - state your name and contact number with a, "Hello, this is [NAME], I'm calling you from [YOUR JOB] to [REASON FOR THIS CALL]. My number is 555-555-5555." Restate your name and contact info once more at the end to wrap it up and you've successfully left a concise, professional, to-the-point voicemail worthy of a call back.  

"As Tori Keith wrote for the women lawyer’s advocacy group Ms. JD, “A good rule of thumb is 40 seconds. Anything longer risks getting deleted or ignored. Repeat your name and number at the end of the message too, as sometimes a message will cut out or be hard to hear.” - Source

Smartphones today now have a handy feature that automatically creates a transcription of your call, so avoid awkward "uhhs" and "umms". Practice recording your voicemail message so you can nail it when the time comes. It may be easy to get nervous when it's a one way conversation with no one to cut you off, so it can be helpful to write down your message, practice, and read off your notes. Check the speed of your voice and make sure to speak clearly at a slow pace (but not too slow). 

 *Transcription example 

*Transcription example 

 

Proficiency in the art of the voicemail will be key at any stage of your career and life. The key is being considerate to the receiver of the voicemail. You wouldn't want to receive a voicemail that drags on with no meaning, so be thoughtful when leaving voicemail messages.


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This is the one and ONLY reason to have a morning routine

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They say the early bird catches the worm, and it seems like people with morning routines are just winning at life.

In our eyes, it appears they had a hearty breakfast of champions with fresh fruit, milk, and juice, dressed professionally with no wrinkles, have a clean cut with perfect hair, and the kids are ready and dropped off to school in time, all neat and tidy before going in to work.


Early Risers Benefits Infograph

- Info graph Source

 

Wake Up With a Mission

If you truly want to have a morning routine that really accomplishes something Laura Vanderkam, time management expert and author of Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done says this is the secret. - Source

“Think about what would make you excited to get out of bed. There’s no reason to have a morning routine just to have a morning routine,” she told Ladders. “The reason to do it is that there’s something cool you want to do in your life that is not fitting in your life otherwise.

“For many people, that’s something like exercise because it is hard to fit it in the rest of the day or creative pursuits like writing a novel. You are probably too tired at the end of the day to write,  but if you get up in the morning, it could work. Or maybe it’s family time and a dinner just doesn’t work so go for family breakfast. This is anything you want to have in your life that you can’t make space for otherwise.”

 

Marie Kondo your morning

It’s similar to Marie Kondo-ing your life, you are just doing it with your morning. You want to be getting up for something that brings joy into your life. If you are just doing it to say you did it, that is just adding more clutter. 

This new mindset can put less pressure on yourself and your day to figure out what you really want to get out of your morning routine. Going to bed early opens up this wide space for a morning routine. “Going to bed early is how grownups sleep in! If you go to bed earlier, you can get up earlier,” she said. 


 

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