Take Advantage of the Outsourcing Trend

Dear, Anita,

I’ve seen in a couple of different places that 33% of businesses will be outsourcing employment. Is this why I can’t find work? Are all the good jobs going overseas? Do I have to give up stability and benefits and become a freelancer to make a living?

Dear, Third Degree,

I found the source of the statistic to which you are referring.  A survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) reports that in the next five years, more than a third of organizations expect half of their workforce will be made up of external talent.

But you don’t need to become a freelancer or a consultant to get in on this action. Staffing Industry Analysts touts U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers that show the increase in temporary positions.

Temp Stats Source: Staffing Industry Analysts

 

To understand this trend, take a look back at recent history. The Great Recession between 2007 and 2009 forced employers to lay off workers by the millions (according to the BLS, 8.8 million jobs were lost in the U.S.). Businesses are understandably cautious about adding jobs, particularly smaller companies who may find recent Affordable Care Act mandates expensive to implement.

Enter employment agencies. Staffing agencies specialize in one or more of three areas: temporary staffing services, personnel placement (often in a specific industry), and executive recruiting. The Select Family of Staffing Companies offers temporary jobs, temp-to-hire positions, or full-time job opportunities.

How Job Seekers Work with Temporary Agencies

A temporary staffing agency actually has two types of clients that it matches up: businesses needing staff and job seekers needing employment. We’ll just look at the job seeker side here.

Inventory_iStock_000017376317_SmallAfter completing an application and proving work eligibility documentation, you’ll likely go through some assessments, skills testing, and interviews to determine your suitability for placement. Once accepted, the staffing company will try to fit your skills with requirements from area employers who may need a temporary for anywhere from a day or two to a long-term temporary assignment (that’s an oxymoron like “jumbo shrimp”).  Businesses often have seasons when they need to ramp up production – think of accounting offices in the first quarter of the year or retail stores taking inventory before year-end.

You’ll actually be an employee of the staffing agency, who will provide your paycheck and take out the appropriate withholding and taxes.  Fees are paid by the hiring companies, so there are no out-of-pocket costs for you (except for your snazzy interview outfit!). Employees are eligible for health care benefits – not from the client company, but from the staffing agency.

Temping is for you if you like a flexible schedule, enjoy diversity of tasks and working environments, need an entrance into a new company or job type, or want to use and increase your current job skills.

Temps: What made you choose to work with a staffing agency?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Move for Money?

Anita,

I heard on the news that lots of states now have higher minimum wages. Should I quit my entry-level job and move to one of these states to make more money?

Dear, Show Me the Money,

MoneyIt is true that there have been a number of states, as well as cities, who have adopted legislation raising their minimum wage above the Federal mandate.  Eleven states increased their minimum wages in 2014, and as of January 1, 2015 nine more states joined them — for a grand total of 29 states with higher than the current $7.25 federal minimum wage. Some states have scheduled increases, stepping it up gradually. See the list by state.

Before giving your notice, do your homework. Moving to another state is a big step, especially if you don’t have a support system of family and friends in your new hometown. There may be a period of unemployment while settling in, unless you are fortunate enough to work for a large company where transferring to another location is an option. Are you financially prepared with a cushion of savings for a transition period with no income?

Speaking of budgeting, the cost of living in a potential city should be a deciding factor. For instance, while San Francisco’s $11.05 hourly pay rate is higher than the minimum wage for most of California and the U.S., you’ll shell out a whole lot more of your paycheck in the city by the bay. Numbeo has a useful online cost of living comparison  tool that can open your eyes to things you might not think about, like the difference in your monthly utilities or the cost of chicken breasts at the supermarket.  State income taxes vary, too, from no state income tax in six states like Texas, to the highest rate of 13.3% in California. This calculator at WhyNotMove.org uses the difference in various taxes (including property and sales tax) to show you how much you will gain – or lose – by moving to another state.

Change – even for the good – is always stressful.  If and when you do find a new job, you’ll be the “new guy” both at work and in your personal life, hundreds or thousands of miles away from your former home.  Depending on your personality type, this can be the beginning of an exciting adventure or an overwhelming transition.

There are other ways to increase your earning potential, no matter where you live. Further your education, whether through college, a company training program (ask your supervisor about opportunities), or free and low-cost courses on the Internet. See my Back to Class post. Just going the extra mile at your current job can be a pathway to promotion and increased wages.

Readers: Would you move to another state to make better wages?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Very Superstitious


Dear, Anita,

I manage the business development team, and I have one otherwise stellar sales rep who is superstitious to a fault. Just this week, he refused to book a flight back from a client presentation on Friday, the 13th and cost the company an extra $120 for an alternate flight on Saturday. What recourse do I have?

SuperstitionsDear, Stevie Wondering,

The writing’s on the wall – and there’s probably not much you can do to erase this grown man’s irrational fears. Heck, as many as 85% of buildings skip from the 12th to the 14th floor. Triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) coupled with an ages-old notion that Friday is an unlucky day to begin a journey or project lead to this superstition that survives to this day for 17-21 million people.

Friday the 13th is known as Black Friday in some countries – but not in the out-of-the-red-and-into-profitability denoted by the retail industry in the United States. American businesses actually lose $800-$900 million on Fridays that fall on the 13th, according to Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina.

Depending on the stringency of your company’s travel policy, you could require your employee to reimburse you for the difference in airfare. Since you mention that this salesperson is otherwise superior, I would cut him a little slack. We all have our idiosyncrasies. Who hasn’t crossed our fingers to wish for little good fortune? A ladder is much easier to walk around than under – just in case. A coworker may comment that we shouldn’t “jinx” a project by saying how smoothly it’s going. Maybe you have your own “power suit” or lucky tie that you always wear to interviews or important meetings.  Some of the most successful professional athletes have their own superstitious rituals that their managers indulge, and fans celebrate.

Unfortunately, there are two more Friday the 13ths this year – in March and November. So stock up on four-leaf clovers and rabbits’ feet and hope your rainmaker’s sales can weather 2015. Knock on wood.

Readers: What are you superstitious about that might affect your job performance?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Functional Format for Résumés

Dear Anita –

I’m unemployed and job hunting. My work experience is in many different areas – Purchasing, Product Management, Operations, HR & Training, Management, Executive Assistant and Accounting. The areas with the most recent experience are probably not the areas I want to pursue. What’s the best way to find a job in a field that I’ve been out of for 7 years or more? What types of résumés work best for this kind of job search? Will I even be considered if my experience isn’t recent?

Multiple_Job_Functions(Small)Dear, Jack of All Trades,

You may want to try a functional résumé format (arranging content according to skills) rather than the traditional reverse chronological listing of your experience.

Who should try this? This format is best suited for:

  • Individuals with multi-industry careers
  • Job seekers wanting to change careers
  • Employees who have held many diverse positions
  • Recent grads with little or no job experience
  • Stay-at-home moms/dads or caretakers of aging parents trying to reenter the workforce
  • Those terminated from position(s)
  • Long-term unemployed wanting to make their gap in employment less noticeable.
  • Older workers who wish to deemphasize a long employment history

So, how do you transform your reverse chronology into a skills-based résumé? First, select the skills that you want to highlight for your desired position. Choose 3-5 broad competencies that you can back up with an impressive number of bullet points. Then using the power phrases I taught you in Better Résumé Words, describe your experience and accomplishments. Remember, this is not chronological, so don’t get hung up when you are mixing and matching proficiencies from multiple positions.

End with a simple listing of companies and dates for Employment History (technically making this a hybrid of functional and traditional résumés). Include Education, if applicable.

Resume_Functional_0115
The functional/skills-based résumé style is not without its drawbacks, however. Hiring managers may feel like you are trying to hide something – like a gap in your employment history. Note that in our example résumé, only the years are given, which could hide a few months of unemployment, but not large periods such as child-rearing or caregiving for a family member with a lengthy illness.

Another potential hurdle is getting a non-traditional format through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) so many companies now use to screen applications. Résumé parsing is how the ATS software scans documents (as well as search engines, career websites, and social media) for keywords to populate its applicant database fields without manual entry. While advances in syntactic and semantic parsing are becoming more prevalent among ATS programs, some algorithms may still get confused when they “read” information in a different form than expected. While it will transpose the commonly titled “Experience” easily, it may not find an appropriate field to place your ambiguous “Training” skills header. So don’t offend further with any fancy formatting on a non-traditional résumé. Stick to basic fonts like Ariel, Times, Tahoma, and the like, and swap those bullets on your printed resume with an asterisk (*) or simple dash (-) to prevent them from being converted to strange symbols.

Readers: Have you used a non-traditional résumé format with success?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Keeping Employees Happy

Dear, Anita,

I have a hunch that one of my direct reports may be looking for another job. I’d really hate to lose her, as she is so dependable and, after being with us for four years, really knows the ins and outs of the business. We did give her a 3% raise about 5 months ago, so it’s too early to give her another pay bump. What else can our company do to keep her happy here?

Dear, Sweating Bullets,

There are numerous studies on the reasons that people leave their jobs. I won’t make you feel terrible by quoting “The Savage Truth” blog: “It’s not the company they are leaving. It’s you.” Whoopsie.

Most managers assume it’s about the money. PricewaterhouseCoopers found that compensation was actually number 3 on the list, with limited career/promotion opportunities and lack of respect/support from supervisors as number 1 and 2, respectively.  A survey by Staffing Industry Analysts found the top three reasons employees left a staffing job were bad management, bad environment, and a lack of opportunity. Entrepreneur cites advancement, work/life balance, and money as the top 3 reasons people leave jobs.

So what can you do to manage your team in a positive environment where workers feel valued and have room for professional growth?

It may be helpful to look at businesses people are dying to work for — such as Google, named a “Best Place To Work” by Fortune and Glassdoor’s 2015 Employees’ Choice Awards. Not every company can offer on-site haircuts and dry-cleaning, subsidized massages, and rec rooms equipped with foosball and video games, but there are feasible things you can do. I_Love_My_Job_SmallWhen Google changed its maternity leave from a 12-week plan to 5 months taken at the new mom’s discretion, the attrition rate for new mothers reduced by 50%. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the cost to replace and hire new staff is estimated to be 60 percent of an employee’s annual salary. That may be reason enough to keep your current employees satisfied.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests employee incentive programs such as flex time, workplace wellness programs, project completion perks, and corporate memberships.

You didn’t mention your employee’s age, but Generation X may want different perks and purpose than their predecessors. According to researchers Charlotte and Laura Shelton, 51% of Gen Xers said they’d quit if another employer offered them the chance to telecommute and 61% of Gen X women would leave their current jobs if they were offered more flexible hours elsewhere. The top 3 things Gen X want in a job: positive relationships with colleagues, interesting work, and opportunities for learning.

You’ll have to probe to determine what the silver bullet is for this particular staffer and see if your company is willing to make changes not just for her, but to increase employee retention in the future.

Readers: If you were considering leaving your job, what could your employer offer that would make a difference?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Stay or Quit?

Dear, Anita,

I’ve been unhappy at my current job for a while. I am butting heads with my moody supervisor, and the daily grind (not to mention the commute) is getting me down. But I make decent money and have pretty good benefits. How do I decide whether to stick it out or quit?

Dear, On the Fence,
IOn_the_Fence_iStock_000009524325_Smallf, like The Clash, you are asking yourself “Should I stay or should I go?,” take the time to write a list of the positives and negatives. Sometimes the grass looks greener elsewhere because you are stewing on the few aspects of your job that get you down instead of ruminating on all the plusses. Putting it down on paper – or in Excel – may lead to a visual “aha” moment.

An online decision tool like helpMYdecision adds weight to each factor in the choice. Are your salary and benefits extremely important (10) or not very (1)? (Answer this after looking at your monthly bills.) Does working at something meaningful rank higher than money for you? Is a more cooperative relationship with a boss a 7, a shorter commute a 5 or an 8? Does having an office with a window versus a cubicle not matter at all to you? After weighting the determinants, rate your current situation then let the computer give you its “Best Choice.”  Sometimes, when we ask advice, we are really just seeking validation for the choice we’ve subconsciously made. So take notice if you think hooray! when the decision appears, or if you feel disappointed. Then go with your gut.

Manager_Employee_Serious_SpeakIf you’ve decided to stay, see what you can do to repair your relationship with your boss. Relationships are based on trust. Can your boss count on you to do your assigned tasks? It’s even better if you “go the extra mile.” It’s your job to make your supervisor look good to her superiors and/or customers.  Perhaps her bad moods crop up after she’s had an unpleasant interaction with her boss over problems or productivity issues.  She’s only human and may unwittingly take it out on those around her. Try the “kill her with kindness” approach, no matter her mood. Find something – anything – to compliment. It may not happen overnight, but you may be surprised how a little positivity can change a relationship or an entire workplace.

If and when you leave your current job, don’t burn any bridges. Use that 2-week notice timeframe to tie up any loose ends and leave your replacement with an organized desk and files. Telling your supervisor exactly what you think of her management style on your last day won’t really help you or her.

But don’t leave until you’ve found another position. It’s easier to find a job if you have a job (there’s some psychology at play – if you’re currently employed, you’re obviously a desirable hire.)  And it may take you longer than you think to obtain better employment. Keep your pro and con list in mind when searching for a new job to keep from jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Readers: Are you contemplating quitting your job? Why?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Better Résumé Words, or How to Improve Your Résumé by a Thousandfold

Dear, Anita,

A few months ago, our company was purchased and I was found “redundant.” I’ve been searching diligently for a sales job ever since, but I haven’t gotten many nibbles (responses), much less bites (interviews) with my applications and online résumé. I’ve got a wife and teenage boys to feed – and you know how much they eat! What advice do you have for me?

Dear, Displaced “Papa,”

During an interview, Ernest Hemingway revealed that he rewrote the last page to A Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied. When the journalist asked what had stumped the famous author, Hemingway replied, “Getting the words right.”

If your résumé isn’t getting the response you desire, it may be time to take a fresh look with the goal of “perfecting your language” (see what I did there with the help of Thesaurus.com?).

You want to optimize your résumé for both humans and the computer software that may scan them first. Tailor your wording to speak their language. While your title may have been Sales Manager, another company may call this Business Development. When applying for a posted job, be sure to use some of the exact words in the ad – particularly the nouns and position title. This will ensure the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) will pass you through the gateway so a real live hiring manager will actually have the opportunity to read your résumé. And that’s when those sexy verbs come into play. The Daily Muse offers 185 Powerful Verbs that you can swap out with your templated jargon to make your résumé more dynamic.

Forgo the boring listing of duties following the trite, “Responsible for…” The recruiter is far more interested in what you accomplished while performing your job functions. Here’s where you pair your lively verbs with winning nouns and throw in a quantifier for good measure to create power phrases. Can’t you just hear the implied exclamation point at the end of the verbiage in the right column?

BORING: COMPELLING:
Responsible for client management… Increased new clients by 172%
Duties included sales… Acquired a $2.3 million service contract
Provide administrative support Document 200-275 customer notifications weekly

 

And while we’re on the subject of literary style, let’s discuss that lackluster cover letter yawner, “Please accept my résumé in response to your ad for…” Before you even walk in the door for an interview, your cover letter is your first impression. This is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd with a carefully crafted opening sentence. I wonder how many rewrites it took the Jerry Maguire scriptwriter to polish Renee Zellweger’s classic line, “You had me at ‘hello.’ ”

Readers: Take a crack at one entry in your résumé and share your rewrite below. Or if you’re stumped, let the Clew Community help out.

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Work Toward 10,000 Steps

Dear, Anita,

Like lots of people, I’ve made a resolution to get in better shape this year. But with an 8-to-5 office job, it’s really hard to be active and lose any weight. What’s a desk jockey to do?

Dear, Cubicle Commando,

What? Your boss won’t agree to the hamster wheel standing desk?

A Japanese researcher in the 1960s, Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, determined the people should walk 10,000 steps a day to burn about 20% of caloric intake through activity. A pedometer company made this their sales slogan, and the 10,000 step recommendation (or challenge, as the case may be) is now, well, pedestrian. But with the typical American sitting 7.5 hours at work each day, according to JustStand.org, it’s hard to squeeze in 10K.

Would you like a few reasons to make the effort? According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is the main cause for 21-25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes, and approximately 30% of heart disease. It’s being said, “Sitting is the new smoking.”

Let’s see how we can sneak more activity into your workday. First, you’ll need a tracking device. One of those pedometers should do the trick – just attach to the waistband of your PJs (you want to count those groggy morning schleps to the coffeemaker!) and switch it to your pants or skirt to capture your workplace steps. There are also cell phone apps like Pacer, Runtastic Pedometer, or Pedometer++. The drawback to a cell app is if you forget to take your phone to every meeting or trip to the bathroom, it can’t record every step. And they can deplete your battery more quickly. Wearable devices such as Fitbit or Jawbone fitness trackers come in clip on or wrist versions and allow you to monitor your progress on your computer or mobile device.

If you take public transportation to work, get off one or two stops prior to your usual and hoof it the rest of the way. If you drive to work, instead of looking for that rock star parking spot, leave your vehicle in no man’s land to log an extra 50, 100, or more steps on your pedometer.

Shoot for the stairs instead of the elevator. You work on the 13th floor? Lucky you (some buildings skip from the 12th to the 14th floor for the superstitious)! If the average flight of stairs contains 20 steps, you’ve just added another 260 steps before you even clocked in.

A trip to the break room to get your morning java – and the necessary restroom visit shortly thereafter – all start to add up.  Several times a day, pretend email doesn’t exist and walk to your co-worker’s office to hash out a project or ask a question. Is your printer within arm’s reach? Move it across the room so you have to get out of your chair more often.

A strenuous workout during your lunch hour may not be feasible, as you don’t want to offend your officemates if you haven’t time to shower before returning to your desk. Schedule the gym before work (yes, that means setting the alarm for o’dark-thirty) or after work if you’re nervous about finishing up in time. A lunchtime walk requires no change of clothes, though women may want to swap heels for sneakers. Make it a habit to window shop or stroll briskly through a nearby park. (If you’re opting out because you live in a cold, snowy climate, know this: your body burns even more calories to regulate your core temperature in cold weather. Bonus!)

Get a wireless headset for your office phone so that you can pace while on those conference calls. Schedule walk and talk meetings if you don’t need to access documents on your desktop computer.

Can you pat your head and rub your belly at the same time? If you’re coordinated, try an under-the-desk pedal exerciser if you feel you just can’t take walking breaks in your oh-so-busy workday. Test your pedometer to see if it measures cycling as steps.

Watch this British office worker reach and surpass her 10,000-step goal:

Keep the momentum going after work. Remember to take your phone out of your purse in the grocery cart so that all those trips up and down the aisles count on your pedometer app. When watching TV, get up during commercials – but don’t walk to the refrigerator every time.  Or, do what I did. Move into a second-story condo with a cute but incontinent dog who requires walks five times daily.

Readers: How many steps do you think you can tally each workday? Share your results below!

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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2014’s Top 10 Posts

Dear, Readers,

Many businesses conduct annual performance reviews. Why should I be exempt? (Gee, I’m as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.)

I took a moment to reexamine the questions asked and answered in 2014 to assess readership, analyze traffic, identify employment trends, and see which posts merit a second look.

Adult male adjusting necktie.And the most viewed articles of 2014, in order of popularity, are (drumroll, please)…

#1: Tattoos & Interviews
Before you spend that crisp $10 bill your Granny taped inside your Christmas card on skin art, read up on why tattoos could limit your career path.

#2: Applying for a Job When Not 100% Qualified
How many times have you read through an online job posting thinking I’m perfect for this… until you come to one or two bullet points that you don’t possess? See when to apply and when to not waste your time.

Woman with "Hired" Sign#3: Explaining Away “You’re Fired”
Should you include an employer from which you were fired (ahem, “relieved of your duties”) on applications and résumés? There’s no black and white answer.

#4: Top 10 Interview Fails
Top 10 lists must work; you’re reading one now! Read about interview faux pas and make a resolution to avoid committing even one of them at your next interview.

#5: How to Find Jobs Not Advertised on the Top Job Boards, Part 1
Think beyond CareerBuilder and Monster.com when it comes to searching for employment opportunities. Why Part 2 didn’t also make the top 10 list is a mystery. I suggest reading both.

Team Player#6: Top 10 Attitudes Employers Should Look For
While written in response to a question from a manager, job seekers can use this insight to make sure they convey these attributes in their résumé and cover letter and during interviews.

#7:  10 Commandments to Avoid Email Miscommunications: Tablet 1
Communication is 7% words, 38% tone of voice, and 55% body language. Since a whopping 93% of nonverbal cues are missing in emails, it’s no wonder there are so many misunderstandings! Use the tips in this post (and the rest in Tablet 2) to prevent slipups.

#8: No Payroll Deductions
Being paid under the table? Not receiving an itemized paycheck stub? Learn what’s legal and what’s not.Raising_Hand

#9: Salary Negotiation Mistakes
Avoid these 10 mistakes while asking for a raise or negotiating a starting salary.

#10: Applying to Internal Position
Here is advice on deciding if you want to move up (or laterally) within your company, and how to negotiate this potentially tricky scenario.

Readers: What was your favorite Anita Clew article this year?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita. Your question might make next year’s Top 10 list!

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Holiday Missive


Dear Readers,

I wish you a joyous season celebrating
your traditions of faith and family.

Blue_Candles_1200

I’ll be back to my custom of offering pragmatic advice after the holiday season. If you are a job seeker, an employed person, or a manager/supervisor, ask a question at http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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