Thanksgiving – Time to Give Thanks to Our Mentors

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reach back and thank some of those who helped you throughout your career by serving as mentors.  A mentor may be a friend, a family member, a supervisor, a company executive or a co-worker.

One of my most memorable mentors was Elvira Booker, my supervisor when I was an Eligibility Supervisor in Social Services in Richmond, Virginia.  She was smart, tough, fair and by the book.  After I had been in the position for a couple of years, she told me that it was time for me to go to graduate school.  She assured me that I would likely receive a scholarship from the State, which I did.  Two years later when I received my Master’s Degree, she hired me as a Trainer for Eligibility Workers.  That’s quite important because being a trainer has been my “fallback position” throughout my career.   I have called to thank her a few times through the years and in one call, she said, “I always felt that we had a special connection.”  So did I!

A co-worker said that he is most thankful for the sayings shared by his manager when he worked in the retail industry.  He has repeated the sayings in his own business many times through the years.

Saying: “Every one of our employees is somebody’s daughter.”
Message: Treat every one of our employees with respect. Make sure you are comfortable with what she will tell her parents about work at the dinner table.

Saying: “Thanks for telling me. No surprises!”
Message: Always keep me informed.

Saying: “Don’t be afraid of sleeping on it.”
Message: Don’t always make decisions in haste.

Thanks to all of the wonderful mentors who have helped us through the years!

Julia Aguilar

 

 


Skills Gap

A recent survey from the American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor, conducted online by Harris Poll, indicated that fifty percent of Americans have not heard of the “skills gap”.  However, once the term was defined, twenty-eight percent of the respondents stated they knew someone who had been affected by the skills gap.  Fourteen percent said they had personally been affected.

The ASA president stated that “The gap between workers’ skills and those needed by employers is a key reason millions of individuals are unemployed despite millions of open jobs.”

Three out of four Americans surveyed stated that technology outpacing workers’ knowledge is a factor at least moderately responsible for causing the skills gap.

The workplace environment has changed rapidly and survey participants stated:

  • Few job openings exist for the skills they possess (44%)
  • They don’t have the right skills for a desired job (34%)
  • They had to get additional training to keep or get a job (25%)

What can employers do?

  • Provide training and tutoring opportunities to improve or learn needed skills for both current employees and new hires.
  • Examine job descriptions to see if all skill requirements are truly required…or would some just be a nice added skill. Adjust requirements accordingly.
  • Hire candidates with potential even if experience and skills are lacking. Provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills, new trades or new technologies.

What can prospective and/or current employees do?

  • Embrace opportunities to grow new skills, to improve current skills and to stay current with new technologies.
  • Emphasize during job interviews or performance reviews your interests and potential to learn the needed skills. Sometimes, hobbies and general interest have provided you with a basis from which to grow into a new profession!
  • Remember that soft skills are important; emphasize your soft skills and how they have prepared you for a new career or new skill opportunity.

Accept the fact that it may be time for an industry or career change.  Prepare through appropriate training, schooling or internships.  Be willing to accept a lower starting point in order to learn a new industry or a new job!

Julie Aguilar


Fragrance Free Workplace

Many workplaces, including ours, have Fragrance Free policies. The primary reason for fragrance-free policies is to prevent discomfort or other reactions to employees who may be sensitive to strong odors, whether the odors are pleasant or unpleasant. Perfumes and shaving lotions bring on sneezes and headaches to those who are sensitive. Body odor is offensive to everyone!

When going on job interviews, it is a best practice for both men and women to refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes, lotions and other fragrances. You likely would not be aware of a company’s policy on fragrances in the workplace or whether or not the people who interview you are sensitive to fragrances. No one will be offended by you not wearing a fragrance; some won’t like it if you do and others may actually get sick from the smell. A recent article in “The Good Life” provided explanations on the physical impact of smells. A strong floral scent on an elevator or in an office can bring on a pounding headache for those who are sensitive to odors. This is brought on when the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for bringing sensations from the nose to the brain, is sensitive to a certain odor. It will actually constrict blood vessels in the brain bringing on that dreaded pounding headache.

Bad smells, including body odors brought on by not bathing or not wearing deodorant can make people cranky, stressed or depressed. This is particularly true in small quarters such as a bus, an elevator or an office. The article said this is like any other “annoying sensory stimulus” such as loud noises or extra bright lights as you have no control over the odor.

We recommend Fragrance-Free Policies for all workplaces. We definitely recommend not wearing fragrance when going on job interviews. Both fall under the “Better safe than sorry” category!

Julia Aguilar


More Employees Considering Changing Jobs

Our current almost full-employment job market is bringing on an additional challenge for employers. A recent survey from Robert Half, a global staffing firm, indicated that four in ten workers stated they were likely to look for a new job within the next year. For those in the survey aged eighteen to thirty-four, the number who stated they were likely to seek new employment in the next twelve months was sixty-eight percent.

An increase in turnover is to be expected in today’s employment climate of numerous available employment opportunities at all levels. However, high turnover, can certainly be a challenge for companies of any size.

Employees choose to seek a new position for various reasons. The survey found that workers give inadequate salary and benefits as the top reason to quit. Other reasons included: limited opportunities for career growth or advancement, unhappiness with management, boredom with the job, overworked and lack of recognition.

To increase retention, employers may want to consider:

  • Take time to know your employees. Talk to your staff about their jobs and their career goals. Talk to employees about longer term opportunities within your company and within your industry.
  • Increase compensation. Review your compensation structure to make sure it meets current market ranges. Wages have increased significantly within the past two or three years and, if possible, compensation plans need to be adjusted to the current market levels.
  • Performance bonuses are a viable, less risky way to increase compensation opportunities. Bonuses may be used for special projects, annual performance or any extraordinary success.
  • Freedom to make decisions, to work remotely at times, to work a flexible schedule, to increase time off whether by additional PTO (Paid Time Off), additional paid holidays or shorter work days are all possibilities sought by employees.
  • Be sure your employees know they are valued by celebrating successes, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
  • Implement ideas for change suggested by your employees. Consider a bonus payment for ideas that save the company money or meet other company goals.

Solutions will differ by companies. If implemented, the above suggestions may pay dividends for employees and employers by reducing turnover and the high cost of replacing good employees.

Julia Aguilar


Father’s Day – Quiet Support from Daddy

Father’s Day never seems to demand attention as does Mother’s Day. Children are forgiven if they forget to send a card or neglect to call on Father’s Day. My father neither expected nor received the attention upon which my mother thrived. His contributions were far more subtle than those of my mother. He consistently looked at the big picture!

When I was in high school and thought it would be fun to have a retail job, my father told me not to work as there would be plenty of time to work once I was grown. When it was time for college, he repeated his earlier message that he didn’t want me to take a job during college as there would be plenty of time to work once I finished. I believe that not working during those early years made me enjoy and appreciate work much more during my adult years.

When my husband was transferred to California from Georgia shortly after I received a huge promotion, my father told me he didn’t want me to worry about finding a new position quickly in California. He gave me $5,000 and told me to use it if I needed it and, if not, to return it someday. That financial cushion sure made it easier to make the move without worrying about immediately finding a job. Maybe it also gave me confidence as I secured an excellent position just three weeks after our move to California.

I have many memories of the support received from my father throughout the 40 years we shared. He let me make my choices, but I suspect he would have quickly caught me if I had fallen! Knowing that gave me the confidence to take career risks that I would not likely have taken without his early encouragement and support.

Happy Father’s Day to all those quiet, supportive fathers!

Julie Aguilar


Rejoin the Workforce!

For those of you who retired early and now think you may want to return to the workforce on a part time, full time or temporary basis, this is your time! Opportunities are definitely available. Clerical skills and labor skills are both in demand. Tasting rooms are another popular part time option.

There are many reasons to return to the workforce after a year or two of enjoying the freedom of retirement. You may be bored and want to stay busy. You may want to stay involved in the workforce because you enjoy the environment, but prefer a less demanding position than the one you previously held. You may want to maintain your computer skills or learn more about social media. You may want to save money for the “big” trip you always wanted to take. You may want to have extra money for eating out or you may need extra money to maintain your lifestyle or to pay for some unexpected expenses.

Any of the above are valid reasons to return to work for either a short time temporary assignment or a longer term opportunity. If interested, give us a call and we will be happy to talk with you about the possibilities!

Julia Aguilar


Employees’ Market

San Luis Obispo’s unemployment rate of 3.3% for April 2017 was the lowest since May 2001.  This rate makes SLO very close to full employment.  In our staffing business, we have observed a significant shortage of qualified job seekers for more than a year.  Job boards that brought in multiple candidates in the past now attract only a trickle.  In past years, June brought a major increase in applicants as Cal Poly graduates chose to remain in San Luis Obispo.  Fewer college grads now remain in our area as higher paying positions with greater career opportunities are offered in the Bay Area, Southern California and the Central Valley.

What are the answers?  There is no “one size fits all”.  However, there are some steps to consider:

  1. Hire those who are “under qualified” and/or “lacking job experience”.  Invest in training to improve or teach required skills, accept that more time than in the past may be needed to train some new employees; make sure those providing the training are aware and accepting of that fact.
  2. Be patient with those recruiting for you – whether in-house employees or a staffing company. It is a very difficult time to recruit qualified applicants in this job market.  Reduce expectations for seeing a high number of qualified candidates, particularly for entry level jobs.
  3. Make decisions quickly. With so many job openings and so few viable candidates, companies who make quick decisions, including on-the-spot offers, are the ones most likely to quickly fill their open jobs.

In an earlier blog, I shared the story of two under qualified employees who have both now been with their same employer for more than 20 years.   It is definitely a time to consider “taking a chance” on someone who may not be the ideal candidate.  You may also find that “under qualified” 20 year employee!

Julia Aguilar


Mother’s Handshake Lesson

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am again reminded of how far ahead of the times my mother was when she taught me how to properly shake hands so many years ago.  Through the years, I have met females of all ages who are unsure how to shake hands.  Some don’t offer a hand, some have a half handshake, some have a weak handshake.  The ones who stand out are the ones who have a strong, firm handshake!  For me, it can make the difference in whether or not I hire someone for our staff.

I have demonstrated handshakes to many women through the years.  This has included aspiring politicians, job seekers, employees, relatives and daughters of friends.

I recently met the college-aged daughter of my son’s landlord.  I immediately said, “Great handshake!”  The smile on her face and her mother’s face told the story:  Her mother had indeed taught her how to shake hands.  Of course, I shared the story with them of my mother teaching me to shake hands before I left for college so many years ago.

As Mother’s Day approaches, take time to shake hands with your daughters and their friends.  Take time to teach them the important skill of a firm handshake.  It will pay dividends both personally and professionally for many years.  It will also give your daughters a story to tell about their mother, particularly on Mother’s Day!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Julia Aguilar

 


Phubbing — Mobile Device Etiquette

Though unfamiliar with the term “phubbing” until a recent column in The Tribune by Linda Lewis Griffith, I am certainly both familiar with and guilty of the action. According to Dictionary.com, “phubbing  is the act of ignoring a person or one’s surroundings when in a social situation by busying oneself with a phone or other mobile device. “  Dictionary.com dates the origin of “phub” as between 2010 and 2014.

Observe families while dining in restaurants. It is not unusual to see each person looking at their phone with minimal attention to those they are dining with.   While enforcing my new “no unnecessary phubbing” rule at dinner last night, I noticed a mother and two teenaged daughters at the next table.  Both daughters were on the phone while the mother sat silently waiting for dinner to be served.

I have also noticed “phubbing” in various meetings and seminars. This can be rude to the speaker as well as those seated near you.  People do notice that you are texting or scrolling through emails.  Some of us are better at multi-tasking than others, but it will be deemed by many that you consider the current setting or speaker unimportant.

Our Staffing Managers have commented that job applicants sometimes glance at their phones during job interviews.   Others have apologized as they silenced their ringing phone during the job interview.   It is definitely not a Best Practice to have your phone visible or to have to silence your phone while responding to an interview question.  I’d recommend that you leave it in your car or in your purse or in your pocket and, by all means, set it on silent!

Many employees now keep their personal phones on their desk or close by. This may be necessary for some jobs, but for most it is either a convenience or a bad habit which studies show is significantly reducing productivity.  Verify your company’s policy with your supervisor.  The Best Practice for most jobs, particularly office positions, is to silence your phone and place it in a desk drawer or in your purse.

There are occasional times when it is appropriate to “watch” your mobile device. If you are waiting for serious news from or about a family member or news from work that you have to handle, it’s okay to “watch” your phone.  It’s best to advise those with you of the reason you are “phubbing”.

Julia Aguilar

 

 


Considerations for Your Social Media Accounts When Job Hunting

It’s definitely a “whole new world out there” when job searching due to public and private social media accounts and other technical options.

Consider the following recommendations:

Select an email address just for your job search. Be sure it is a professional email address…not a cute one with hugs or kisses, a reference to materialism (i.e. diamondjane@……) or a personality flaw announcement (i.e.meankaren@……).

Avoid posting photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn that will present a more casual or a more personal look than you want as your professional image.

Be careful what you “like” on Facebook. You could lose a job opportunity (even the opportunity to interview for the job) with a “like” for a controversial project or event.

Be equally careful what you post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Policies and laws remain unclear regarding what may be searched and/or considered from an applicant or an employee’s social media accounts.

Select settings that will block views of information that could potentially impact your career, including political views. You want it to be your choice if you decide not to work for a certain company or industry rather than having a prospective employer “x” you because of a posting.

These guidelines will help protect your privacy and may help you to find just the right job!

Julia Aguilar