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, “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. “ 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

Key Reasons Clients Choose to Work With Staffing Companies

Some companies, particularly smaller companies, work with staffing firms on the majority of their job openings. Others contact staffing firms only after not finding the right candidate through their own recruitment efforts.  And, of course, many use staffing firms for temporary replacements and special projects.

A report shared by the American Staffing Association provided the following reasons for working with staffing firms. Some respondents selected several reasons thus the well above 100% number.

47%        Opportunity to gauge the fit before making a regular or long-term hire

41%        Gain access to more candidates

38%       Ability to fill positions quickly

32%       Flexibility to easily change size of workforce based on project load

26%       Access to talent with specialized skills

The flexibility provided by working with a staffing firm can save time and money for businesses whether for regular long-term employees, temporary needs for special projects or particularly heavy workloads, or for short-term replacements to cover vacations or various leaves.

Julie Aguilar

Tremendous Increase in Number of Employees 55+

The Department of Labor recently published a blog on the aging labor force. The blog started with this fact:

“Our workforce is aging. By 2024, nearly 1 in 4 people in the labor force are projected to be age 55 or older.”

In 1994, 11.9% of the labor force was 55 or older.  In 2004, the percentage had grown to 15.6%. In 2014, the percentage reached 21.7%. By 2024, the percentage is expected to be 24.8%. That’s quite a trend!

Reasons include:

Many of those 55 or older are healthy and active with long-life expectancies. More income is needed to maintain healthy, enjoyable lifestyles.

Changes in pension plan offerings has taken away the guarantee of traditional pensions. In 2015, defined benefit pension plans were offered by only 8 percent of private industry establishments.   Defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans, were offered by 47 percent of private industry establishments.  However, voluntary contribution plans are dependent upon the amount that workers choose to invest and how the funds perform.  There is uncertainty of earnings as opposed to the defined benefit pension plans which provide lifetime periodic payments to the retiree.

Many of those 55+ enjoy being a part of the workforce whether in their traditional industry or in something completely different. In addition to extra income, remaining in the workforce allows individuals to maintain or increase skills levels, to stay “on top” of technological changes and to enjoy the camaraderie of co-workers.

In our staffing company, we encourage retirees to return to the workforce on a temporary, part-time or full-time basis. Temporary or contract assignments provide the flexibility of time off for travel, hobbies and other commitments.  Part-time provides “just enough” work to stay involved without the heavy commitment of a full-time career.  Full-time is an option for those who want to continue to build their savings or who just want to “not retire”.

The number of people 55 and over remaining in the workforce is a trend that is likely to continue. It is likely that an article within the next few years will discuss the growth in those 70 and over who choose to remain in the workforce!  The many options make this a wonderful opportunity for both employees and employers.


Julie Aguilar

Outstanding Time to Rejoin the Workforce

Recent research commissioned by the American Staffing Association found that unemployed adults in the U.S. identified lack of experience as the main obstacle that prevents them from finding a job. Other obstacles identified were: gaps in work history, lack of education, lack of available jobs in their area and being too old. With the current need for employees from entry level to highly skilled, the listed obstacles can often be overcome.

Consider accepting a temporary position. Temporary jobs are a wonderful way to learn about a company, to improve work and communication skills and to gain needed experience.

Educational and training opportunities are often available online, through community resources and on-the-job. If you don’t have your high school diploma, consider taking a GED course. For skills improvement, try online programs or visit America’s Job Center for advice.

Gaps in employment are best honestly explained. Staying home to care for a child, parent or other family member is not an obstacle. Returning to work after several years of retirement is not an obstacle.

Age is definitely not an obstacle for most positions. Many people are working well past retirement ages of the past. Some work because they need to supplement retirement income; others work because they continue to enjoy being productive in the workplace.

The obstacles identified in the research can often be overcome. It’s time to rejoin the workforce!

Julia S. Aguilar

It’s a Prospective Employee’s Job Market

With numerous job openings and a very low unemployment rate in our area, it is the perfect time for those thinking of returning to work or of making a career change to take action. For those who took time off to provide child or family care, those who retired and want to return to work, those who took time off to travel or those who want to make a career change, this is the time to study your options and to review opportunities.

There are many opportunities available for both part-time and full-time positions. Many employers are offering more flexibility in work schedules, particularly for part-time positions.

If you are concerned about your current skill level, there are tutorials available to help you prepare for testing or for new positions.

Whether you want to reenter the work force, change job responsibilities or move to a different industry, this is the time do so!

Julia Aguilar

Job Interview — What to Wear and What Not to Wear in 2016

We’ve been asked quite a few times recently what the appropriate attire is for a job interview. The “anything goes” fashion rule that applies in some workplaces does not apply for most job interviews!

While suits and ties are no longer expected, conservative dress is still our recommendation. There is never a second chance to make a first impression!  The outfit you select to wear for a job interview is a big part of that first impression so don’t miss the opportunity to make a positive impression.

Prior to an interview, research the company you want to work for. By looking at employees’ photos on the company website, you can often see what dress is appropriate.  If you know employees at the company, ask them about the dress code.  If you are working with a staffing company, ask the Staffing Manager or Consultant who is sending you on the interview what they would recommend you wear.

Our basic guidelines are:

  • Wear a conservative outfit. Be sure the outfit fits—too tight or too short outfits are not a good choice. For women, pants and a conservative blouse are always a safe choice. Suits and dresses (preferably with sleeves) are also appropriate choices. For men, slacks and a dress shirt with or without a tie are safe choices. For most jobs, slacks and sometimes jeans and a polo shirt are appropriate. Tee-shirts with or without messages are not recommended.
  • Wear conservative shoes. For women, either flats or heels are appropriate. For men, casual shoes are fine and in many cases, sports shoes are fine. Flip-flops are not a good choice for anyone!
  • Avoid perfume, cologne and fragrant after-shave lotion. Many people are sensitive to fragrances and a sneezing interviewer does not make for a positive interview.
  • Jewelry and scarves are appropriate and can add a professional touch.
  • Visible tattoos and piercings are sometimes a negative so know the company culture.
  • Unique hair colors and styles may also make a negative impression so, if practical, a conservative color and style is recommended.

Some may feel that it is not fair to be judged by what you wear or how you look. That may be true, but the reality is that you are judged by the first impression you make.  Employers want employees they will be proud to have represent them.  Following these recommendations will help you be the one selected because you will make a positive first impression.  And, don’t forget, to use a firm handshake!

Julia Aguilar

Fond Farewell to Katy

The experiment worked! A year ago, we decided to add an entry level HR position to our recruiting team. We contacted Cal Poly for applications and hired Katy, a rising senior at the time. Our goal was to help prepare Katy for a career in HR whether with us or with another company.

Katy’s aptitude, skills and attitude were superb from the beginning. She quickly became adept at job postings, resume evaluations and phone screens. As the year went by, she learned to help administer employee benefits and worker’s compensation requirements. Her Senior Project was to update our Procedures Manual for the HR Coordinator position. Of course, she received an “A” from her professor and from us!

About six months ago, she and her fiancé made the decision to move to Montana after she graduated from Cal Poly. They did everything right—researched the area, arranged temporary living quarters, and secured jobs. Katy will receive her B.S. in Business Administration with concentrations in Human Resources and Management this weekend. She and Colby leave for Montana on Tuesday. We wish them great happiness and success in Montana. We also want to thank Katy for making our experiment work!

Julia Aguilar

Glossophobia — Fear of Public Speaking

Glossophobia is the fancy word for fear of public speaking. Research indicates that approximately 75% of the population has a certain amount of fear of public speaking.   One survey indicated that men are less fearful than women with 37% of men and 44% of women stating they are fearful in front of an audience.  Other surveys indicate that men and women are equally fearful.  Extroverts often share the same fear of public speaking as introverts.

Way too many professionals that I have worked with through the years have let this fear damage their careers or certainly limit their opportunities. Early in my career, I realized that I had to overcome my fear of speaking before a group if I wanted to reach my career potential.  Following graduate school, I took a position training social workers.  When you teach classes, there is certainly no way to avoid public speaking.  It was one of my smartest career decisions.  As you successfully “face your fears” and present information to groups of co-workers, you become more confident in your speaking abilities.

People often say, “I’m fine talking to small groups, but not large groups.” Talking in small groups is a good way to build up to speaking to larger groups.  Start by asking or answering questions in small office meetings and in social settings.  Whether talking to a small group or a large group, keep your tone and message conversational.  Don’t be afraid to tell the group, “I don’t know the answer, but I will research your question and respond back to you.”  Email sure makes this easier than it was 20 years ago!

Know what you are talking about. I once had to present a method for budgeting services that I knew “didn’t make sense”.  I truthfully got laryngitis and couldn’t speak!  That’s not a recommended solution.  Rather, be sure you understand and agree with the material you are presenting.

Share your own relevant experiences with the group you are speaking to. Personal stories help you relax and help the audience to be more accepting of your messages.  Don’t forget to laugh at yourself as you share your stories.

Visualization does not work for me, but I do find it helpful to identify a few friendly faces that you can concentrate on making eye contact with.

Practice, practice, practice prior to speaking. Stand in front of a large mirror and look into it as you practice.  Time your speech, including allowing time for questions if appropriate.  Practice answers to questions that may be asked including the uncomfortable ones.  It’s a good idea to have notes with a few key points written down just in case your fear becomes overwhelming.  Having written notes makes it far less likely that you will actually need to use them!  It’s  fine to have a shorter than scheduled speech.  It’s not okay to run over a scheduled speech time.

My decision to force myself to overcome my fear of public speaking paid great dividends throughout my career as it has provided me a “go to job” as a trainer several times when I wanted to change positions and it has made me an “almost fearless” speaker!

Julia Aguilar