NorthBridge Blog

Pat DuganNo matter the burdens we’re facing of a divided government or a deeply affected constituency with its own divides, the light is always there —if we care to see it.

The future is bright, and getting brighter according to observations made about a new generation whose pragmatism, entrepreneurial curiosity and realism are being tapped into as the next best thing.

Generation Z is available for hire.

Generation ZFollowing the Millennial generation is a group making up approximately 25% of the population; all-in-all, bigger than the Baby Boomers or the Millennials. According to Hal Brotheim, author of Introducing Generation Z, they’ll be better future employees.

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Pat DuganWe can sincerely say we work hard at North Bridge at being good partners for both our clients and our candidates, each and every day. That’s not too hard to do when you’re enthusiastic about the business you’re in. And when you know there’s a right way and a wrong way to conduct yourself as you try to connect the right people with the right positions.

7 Signs Quality RecruiterBut there are obviously going to be some people who play fast-and-loose with the rules, don’t play it straight with candidates, or don’t particularly care if they’re trying to shove square pegs into round holes when it comes to filling a client’s open positions.

If you’re a jobseeker, how can you tell – or maybe it’s better to say, smell – the difference between a good recruiter and a bad one? Here’s a list of seven qualities pretty common to good and great recruiters. Keep them in mind: if you ever come across a recruiter who doesn’t follow these tenets, find another one to help you out. Never forget that when you’re making your next career move, you deserve the attention of a true professional.
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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_smallLet’s be honest: many employers don’t invest enough time or energy in determining if temporary workers have the same level of commitment, loyalty and career focus they look for from permanent hires.  They’ll spend a great deal of time auditing just how engaged and committed the latter may be…while being offhand in their expectations from temps.

Why?  Well, they are “temps” after all – which somehow implies they’re less important, in the long run, to the success of your business.  But if you’re employing them in significant volume, in positions where they can substantially impact your situation – and many professional-level temps are doing exactly that – then you’d better be certain they’re performing at a level of investment and dedication – “professionalism,” simply put – that’s equal to any other employee.

So when an employer is conversing with their temp agency, it’s important to be clear about the level of commitment to be expected from the temp hire.  Don’t be afraid, if you’re consulting with the agency or interviewing candidates, to demand that commitment — and screen temps based on what their long-term plans are, and thereby get a reading on whether their true interests align with your needs.

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pat_smallMany people, even some HR professionals, don’t realize there aren’t many places with laws or regulations — or any at all, in some states — to govern what constitutes an “employment agency.”  That means the individual with little or no real training can hang out a shingle and call themselves a “recruiter,” and try to present themselves on the same footing as the established agency with resources, experience, top-notch personnel and a sense of professional responsibility.

What are the implications for companies — and job seekers? They’ve all got to ask the right questions, and vet the prospective recruiter just as diligently as they would each other.  A few tips on how to separate the fly-by-nighter from established pros:

One good rule of thumb is to ask if they’ve got any professional certifications;  some certifications require only a modest amount of effort to obtain, but it’s still an indication they did something to earn that shingle.

References – we’ve brought it up before: it may be the best way of judging a potential recruiter.    If they’re truly professional, they should have no problem giving you a list of satisfied clients.

Promises, promises? No honest professional will make blue-sky promises to you, as a client or a candidate.  They’ll give you an honest appraisal, but the truth of the matter is that in any professional counseling-based business, you don’t count chickens before they’re hatched.  Anyone who promises you the moon and the sky is doing it to play on your sympathies or situation.

If it smells bad, it is. There are too many good, honest recruitment professionals in the business for you to deal with anyone who seems the least bit iffy.    They may not be dishonest, just inexperienced or unqualified — but there are still plenty of sound options out there for a candidate or company that wants to trust its employment future to a trustworthy resource!

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Pat DuganIt’s yet another sign the jobs market is making upward headway: the number of jobs for recruitment professionals is apparently on the rise, after a couple of rocky years.

In many cases, companies that downsized their staffing and recruitment capabilities are now trying to “re-build capacity and expertise quickly,” as one expert puts it.

One of the negative impacts of the downturn, for those companies and staffing firms that elected to cut personnel, is the loss of valuable expertise that’s a difficult commodity to come by even in healthy times.  It’s one of the reason North Bridge Staffing is glad to say we came through the past couple of years in relatively good shape, thanks to the quality of our team and the foresight of our clients.

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Pat DuganHere’s a relevant survey by that puts numbers to something that nearly anyone in recruitment and staffing has observed or themselves instituted: the practice of using the social networking aspects of the Web to evaluate potential hires.

What that means for those firms, for staffing consultants and for jobseekers is that there may very well be reasons not to hire an individual, reasons that have nothing to do with his or her resume or stated experience – and everything to do with what they post or reveal via the Internet.

Here are some of the reasons cited in the survey for not making a hire, based on what surveyed employers discovered by checking prospects’ profiles and posts on social media sites:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 53 percent
  • Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs – 44 percent
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients – 35 percent
  • Candidate showed poor communication skills – 29 percent
  • Candidate made discriminatory comments – 26 percent
  • Candidate lied about qualifications – 24 percent
  • Candidate shared confidential information from previous employer – 20 percent

What a prospect posts on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn or other sites is perfectly fair game for any staffing consultant or HR person who wants to make a comprehensive investigation of an applicant.

There’s also good advice here for jobseekers: the barrier between our “public” and “private” selves is pretty thin on the Web.  The offhand gripe about your last boss that you post today may very well come back to haunt you tomorrow.

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Are employers and staffing firms properly positioned for an improvement in the job market? It can be a mixed blessing if you’re not prepared.

Just one of the complications is skills scarcity, as the most qualified and valuable prospective hires find their talents are in greater demand and go off the market. Whether you’re a staffing firm or an employer, you might find yourself really scrambling to fill positions with good, qualified people — if you haven’t been laying proper groundwork ahead of time.

There are a few simple questions any smart HR department or staffing firm should ask itself about its preparedness for a job market uptick of lasting duration:

  1. Do we have a plan in place? Be certain you — and your team — have a strategy in hand to guide you in sourcing and recruiting the right prospects when the need arises. Remember, waiting until only the actual moment you need them most means you’ll have to make last-second choices – not advisable in any business situation.
  2. Are we willing to scale up our staffing team? If there’s a sudden influx of job requisitions, possibly even a new slew of clients to handle if you’re a staffing firm, do you have the personnel on board it’ll take to maintain solid due diligence?
  3. Are we willing to invest in staffing skills? You should always be looking to strengthen your hand; whether you’re an employer or a consultant, you should stay on top of the latest training and work resources available that can help your staffing team succeed.
  4. Are we keeping the prospect file full? Even if you’re not in hiring mode, always be sure to stay abreast of what roles you might have to fill if the situation changes – and try to maintain outside staffing resources or a database of prospects that can give you a quick head start when you do need to put hires in place.
  5. Are we jumping the gun in hiring full-timers? Temp and temp-to-hire personnel are probably still a wise option to keep in mind, unless you’re absolutely positive about your business prospects in the upcoming year.

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