NorthBridge Blog

Pat DuganEvery holiday season, of course, businesses bring on a flood of temporary or part-time hires to handle all the workload they’ll confront over November and December.

And just as predictably, those jobs will disappear faster than Christmas cookies after the joyous season (and all the gift returns) have passed us by. Most of them.

But anyone looking for a long-term job who turns their nose up at a holiday position might be making a mistake.

This article about UPS needing to hire 95,000 people for the holiday deluge points out why — the UPS spokesman shares an interesting factoid:

About 37% of seasonal hires over the last three years have been hired permanently, he said.

Remember, when you’re taking on a temporary position, you might be actually auditioning for a permanent job — even if the employer doesn’t say so.

Source: CNN

Source: CNN

That’s because hiring needs always change. And if you’re an employer who finds a need for full-time help in the New Year, what better place to look for candidates than the pool of temporary workers you’ve already got on the job?

Some employers even use this as an evergreen hiring model, knowing they’ll have to add staff in Q1 and beyond. So the first place they go fishing is their contract or temp pool.

So if you’re interested in snagging a permanent role with a specific employer, check to see if they’re bringing on extra help for the holidays. That might be your best chance to prove your case for a full-time gig!

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Pat DuganAt North Bridge, we’ve learned a few things by trial and error over the years about why good candidates apply to a job posting — and why they don’t.

And as the dynamics of recruiting change, thanks to social media and word-of-mouth, it’s important to stay alert and aware of candidate behaviors and mindsets. Because there’s no worse feeling for a recruiter than to post a job…and then get very few applications. Sometimes? None at all.

What’s up with that?

A new survey by LinkedIn probed the reasons why candidates don’t apply for a job, asking 20,000 people (including 7,000 recent job-switchers) why they don’t apply to listed jobs. The results bear out something we’ve observed ourselves — that in an age where more and more information is available about companies, work cultures and jobs, the employers who don’t serve up enough information are the ones who don’t get applications.
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Pat DuganWe’ve talked about the benefits of treating your temps right in the past, and this is a complement to that notion. Because once a temp or contractor has left your business, there are real positives in maintaining a relationship with that person.

That idea is supported by statistics about how companies benefit from delivering a good candidate experience to potential hires. A 2013 report by an offshoot of TalentBoard called the Candidate Experience Awards (yes, there is such a thing!) profiled 63 companies that excelled at it, and among their findings:

  • Nearly 60% of survey respondents (candidates at the included companies) felt they need to have a relationship with a company before they apply for a job there. Nowadays, with information about a company and its culture available within a few clicks of your smartphone, no HR manager can afford to ignore this.
  • But amazingly, 75% of candidates who apply for a job get no response at all — zip, zero, nada, according to a CareerBuilder study. Maybe HR at these companies think that applicants should just get used to it. But how hard would it be for autoreply with a polite turndown?

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pat_smallThe trend toward having more workers spend more time working offsite is growing, according to a recent Gallup study of telecommuting.

Whether they’re full-time or temporary/contract employees, more and more of the workforce is embracing the flexibility that technology allows.

“Technology has made telecommuting easier for workers, and most companies seem willing to let workers do their work remotely, at least on an occasional basis if the position allows for it.” – Gallup

What’s this mean for recruitment professionals and company managers? What are some solid best practices you can use when it comes to managing and motivating full-time telecommuters?

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pat_small5 HIDDEN BENEIFITSWe’ve mentioned the many benefits of hiring temporary staffers and independent contractors in the past, and most hiring managers are probably aware of the main advantages, like flexibility, seasonality and cost savings.

There are other benefits, however that aren’t exactly “hidden” but may not spring right to mind when considering hiring temporaries:

  1. Leveraging specialized skill sets: To reach your organization’s goals, there may be a need for ultra-specialized proficiencies that might not need to be permanently engaged, or for worked with particular accreditations or licenses. Temp hiring can be a perfect route to adding these talents to your company for as long as you need them.
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pat_smallAs the new baseball season moves forward, we’ve got to wonder – did anybody really have faith that the Cubs would have the season they did last year? Even those of us who have been known to raise a cheer (or a beer) or two for the boys on the South Side have to give credit where credit is due…

And we’d say a lot of that credit goes to Joe Maddon, who’s made a practice of getting teams to perform to their max potential.
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pat_smallThis article about developing “alumni networks” of former employees to spread good word-of-mouth about your company got us thinking – about the idea of the “walking brand” and how it relates to temporary staffers, who might be one of the best tools available for creating positive buzz about your enterprise.

If you don’t know it already, “walking brand”  is a longtime marketing term for an employee (or extremely brand-loyal consumer) who represents their company in an outgoing, affirmative way. Think of a car company employee who shows up at track days or auto events wearing their company jacket, or any of us who are proud to tell others, when we’re off the clock, where we work, why we enjoy it, what our firm’s advantages are, and more.
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pat_smallTemporary workers are an increasingly important asset to every kind of organization and business across Chicagoland and the rest of the U.S.  But to make sure you’re getting the most possible value and performance from your use of temps and contingency hires, here are some proven tools for success:

Tool #1: The Right Temp Agency It starts with having the best partner, and that’s an accredited agency that minimizes the amount of work and worry you have to put into finding and deploying the best possible candidates.  There are plenty of fly-by-night “agencies” that claim they’ll deliver the goods, but do your due diligence: make sure they’ve got the right professional accreditations (like an NATSS membership), good referrals and testimonials from other clients, and that they can answer your questions quickly and directly.

Tool #2: Your Relationship With That Agency The more familiar they are with you and your company’s needs, the better-equipped your temp agency is to give you the right temp workers to fit them.  The benefits here extend not just to finding those candidates, but to the costs of training, too: top candidates may be able to jump right in with a minimum of fuss.  Plus, having a solid relationship with your agency helps them know which temps performed well, and would be good to put back on the job the next time there’s a need!
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Pat DuganThey may not work for a company directly, but they’re often among the most IT-astute or technically-proficient workers in that company’s office.

They’re temporary employees, of course.  Often, they’re better-trained or more broadly-experienced in technology than the full-time employees in that office, and there are several good reasons why that happens.
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Pat DuganWe’ve entered the age of the American freelancer, everyone pretty much agrees.  Temporary and contingency staffing has become the norm, not the exception, for companies big and small, in nearly every segment you can name.

One reason why it’s become so acceptable is, obviously, economic.  Companies pressured by competition and increasingly-thin margins have had to save on human capital, and flexible staffing can help in that regard thanks to the reduced overheads involved.
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pat_smallSome of them are basic etiquette.  Some of them are plain common sense.  They’re also just good advice we give some candidates about how to be poised, productive and impressive to the employer when they’re on a temporary or contract job.  Which means they’re good advice for anyone in the workplace!

DON’T avoid asking questions.
Afraid of looking dumb?  If you don’t ask the questions that help you do your job properly, you’ll come off as even dumber – or, just as bad, you’ll appear indifferent or cocky.  We value curiosity among others about what we do, because it shows interest and investment.  Be the person who isn’t afraid to ask questions, to demonstrate your involvement and willingness to learn and, potentially, take the conversation in interesting – and productive – new directions!

NOT to DoDON’T waste your time on the job.
It’s not your time – it’s the company’s time.  They’re paying you for it.  That Facebook post will wait until you’re on your own hours.  If you’ve finished a project, go find another one, or ask someone if they need help.   Or use the time to get better at your own job somehow – plenty of firms can fill up downtime with training, especially virtual training, that’ll help you ratchet up your skillset.

DON’T stay in your cubicle.
“Cubicle” is metaphoric – whether you’ve in a cube, a corner office or on the road, you need to interact with others and become part of the culture of an organization.  That engenders a positive reputation, which engenders opportunity.  Not to mention the fact it’s simply healthy to have relationships in any place where you’re putting in a good share of your waking life.

DON’T multitask in meetings.
You’re making a presentation or trying to make a point…and Joe from Operations over there is hammering away on his Blackberry.  How’s that make you feel?  Like you’re getting your point across?  What if it’s about an item that’s relevant to him?  His loss.

So imagine yourself in his seat at the table.  When you stay focused on what’s happening in that meeting or conference, you not only pick up on the information being dealt with, you’re observing body language, understanding team dynamics, and being viewed as a participant who’s engaged and on top of their game.  Guess what?  It makes co-workers a lot more likely to come to your meetings – and give them the attention you think they deserve.

DON’T check your phone while talking to someone.
“I gotta take this.”  “Let me reply to this text.”  Or maybe you haven’t even said that much – you’ve just turned your attention to your phone, mid-conversation.  Would you do it to your boss?  Guess what – if you make a point of focusing on the person at hand, they’ll appreciate it.  It’s just common courtesy…and there’s a reason we observe those courtesies: they make a workplace easier and more beneficial for everyone.

DON’T talk behind others’ backs.
If it’s not your place to talk to a person, it’s not your place to talk about them.  It’s idle gossip – and in some organizations, it’s part of a culture of “triangulation” where criticism is never direct.  That’s toxic, both to you as a participant and to the organization.  If you can’t say something directly to somebody, then it’s probably something that doesn’t deserve to be said, frankly.   Keep conversations direct and productive, and you’ll be doing more good for yourself than you’ll ever gain through gossip.

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pat_smallIt’s a simple, unfortunate and unavoidable fact: nowadays, with multiplying digital and social communications channels, it’s important to protect your reputation and good name.

We’ve posted before about the fact that recruiters are relying increasingly on the Web as a mean to check out candidates – not just in terms of resumes, prior experience or track record, but in terms of what those candidates may have posted.  Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, as a comment on a blog or anywhere else, it’s available and visible if it’s been done online.

One easy way to keep track of your online reputation?  Use Google Alerts to give you notification whenever your name occurs online.  You can set the search terms, frequency of searches and other particulars, and be regularly alerted whenever you – whether you’re an  individual or a company – has their name appear, you’ll know – and you can view the context it’s occurring within.


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