Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Top 10 Ways to be a Top Notch Candidate

By Jennifer Phillips

Steffan and Co., Incorporated works with top-notch employers throughout the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area, providing them with quality employees in a wide variety of professional fields. The following are 10 ways that you can stand out from the “crowd” and be the best permanent placement candidate you can be.

1. Be On Time! It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But many of us have honest issues with time management, and during the candidate screening and interview process is NOT the time to let these issues get the best of you. When a professional placement candidate is late (regardless of what the appointment is for, whether it was a scheduled phone contact or face to face interview or meeting) there is little that can redeem that candidate’s professional image. Nothing can set a meeting, interview, or conversation off on such an immediate wrong foot than a candidate, who cannot, for whatever reason, be on time. It shows a severe lack of respect to the person waiting on you. Please note that being on time does not mean rushing in at exactly the right minute, out of breath and with some dramatic story of your travels. True professionals always arrive 5-10 minutes early, calm and well prepared. Scheduled phone interviews should be conducted in a quiet environment and you should have paper and pen ready to take notes. Being prepared and professional is key. If your using a cell phone make sure you charge your phone and have a full signal.

2. Be honest about what you really want Let the Steffan & Co., professionals know exactly what you want to do, and do not in your next job. Flexibility is usually acceptable and expected regarding certain job requirements, but it benefits all parties involved if you are clear about the “must” and “must not” of your next job. Before you begin your interview process sit down and make a list of 15 criteria your next job must have and then out of those 15 pick 5 that are nonnegotiable. This will help you know exactly what you want. Why waste everyone’s time arranging and participating in an interview for a job that you know for a fact you would not like or want?

3. Be truthful and consistent With today’s interviewing process involving reference and background checks regarding previous employment, education, criminal and credit histories. Never fudge on dates, duties, or education. Being truthful on resumes and job applications usually ensures consistency, while fibbing invites discrepancies that could affect your reputation as a trustworthy person. Many companies directly compare resumes sent at an earlier time to official applications specifically looking for differences in answers. It’s a huge “red flag” that a job candidate may not be what they seem, and one that can be difficult to explain your way out of.

4. Answer your telephone Don’t avoid phone calls from your permanent placement agency for any reason. People tend to avoid phone calls for a myriad of reasons: you are undecided and want a little more time to think, or you have changed your mind and are nervous about admitting it. This step is simply a part of Step #2 (Being honest). Your permanent placement representative is working within many different time constrictions, and truly needs and appreciates timely responses from candidates. If you need more time to think about an offer or have changed your mind, simply say so!

5. Dress the Part A true professional is always dressed as such. Never assume that “business casual” is acceptable for any interview, testing, or meeting. Save the business casual attire for after you have obtained employment and are certain of dress codes and requirements. First impressions are important and rarely do you get a second chance to make a first impression. Don’t let sloppy or inappropriate dress cast a shadow over your first impression to potential employers or the agency that is recommending you. If you have any questions just ask the professionals at Steffan & Co.

6. Rethink your Email address Don’t expect top employers and agencies to take anyone seriously whose email address is inappropriate. or along with similar types of email addresses are just wrong in the business world. Just set up a new account with your name only.

7. Keep your appointments Your permanent placement agency will not work hard for you, or refer you to their valued clients, if you are unwilling to keep commitments and appointments.

8. Check in regularly with your permanent placement agency. A quick email is always best. Once a week is appropriate and encouraged.

9. Listen to advice offered to you from your agency representative. Whether it is about your resume, your interviewing skills or anything else, you are being offered advice from a professional in the Human Resources field—you will always benefit from their advice.

10. Feedback Please let your representative know how you feel about them and the service provided by Steffan & Co. The only way we get better is if you tell us how too. Constructive criticism and compliments go along way.

This article was written by Jennifer Phillips

Thursday, July 19, 2007

10 Sure-Fire Ways To Get A Raise

by Jennifer Phillips

Many professionals believe (albeit secretly) that they are not paid enough for their work and dedication to their company. Some of them are earning average or above average salaries for their positions, and just have the general feeling that “I should earn more money!” yet in comparison with the general market, they are compensated fairly.

But what about the professional that has been doing their job for a significant amount of time, doing it well, and thinking that it might be time for a raise? What is the best way to earn a raise? Should a person just wait until one is offered or should they be proactive and ask for one if they feel it is deserved?

First, a person needs to do a little investigating. How does your company handle performance reviews? Are raises in conjunction with them? Are raises given at certain time intervals (say, after one year, two years, etc)? Or are raises typically only given when promotions are granted? Finding out how your company handles increasing their employees pay is the first step to figuring out the best way for you to get the raise you feel you deserve.

That brings up the second point. Do you deserve a raise? The job market is full of smart, well-performing professionals and often just doing your basic job, and nothing more, does not merit a raise. Raises are often given to those who go above and beyond the average employee. Take some time to honestly rate your performance and dedication to your job. Is there any room for improvement, anything you could change that would ensure you would get the raises that you deserve?

Of course there is! There is a certain type of employee that, although they may perform their actual job no better or worse than their co-workers, will be the first to earn raises. What do these employees do differently that makes them stand out from the crowd? Following are 10 sure-fire tips to help you get the raise you deserve:

1. Arrive early and leave late every day: It only has to be 15 minutes early and late, but the dedication and reliability it shows is immeasurable.

2. Offer to stay late for big projects: If you see those around you or your superiors are staying late to wrap up an important project or to prepare for an important presentation the next day, offer to stay late and help. Although it may not be required (or even asked of you) the willingness to stay late and help your team greatly increases your chances of getting a raise. Even if your team doesn’t always take you up on your offer, they will remember the offer!

3. Ask for periodic mini-reviews: Monthly or bi-monthly mini, informal reviews are a wonderful way to help you understand your strengths and weaknesses in your job performance, as well as let your superiors know that you are serious about improving your performance level and doing your job to the best of your ability. These reviews will not happen unless you ask for them, so simply ask your boss “If you get a chance this week, I would love to sit down with you for just a few minutes and get your feedback on how I am doing, and if there is anything I can be doing better or differently.” This shows tremendous initiative and will take you far…but be prepared for constructive criticism!

4. Never show up late: Weather is a legitimate excuse for why some professionals are occasionally late. Snow, heavy rain, ice, etc. make morning commutes challenging for many. Don’t let it affect you…be prepared by watching evening newscasts for upcoming weather events, road closures, etc. and plan your commute time accordingly. It shouldn’t matter what the weather or road conditions…a true professional is always on time!

5. Dress professionally at all times: Don’t let trendy fashions or what your cube neighbor “gets away with wearing” dictate your wardrobe. Keep it professional, minimal jewelry, tasteful make-up and hair, and always wrinkle-free. If you look the part, your superiors will notice.

6. Volunteer for cross training: Ask to be trained on new software or business techniques; ask to attend any classes being offered both on and off campus. If you hear of a great off campus seminar that relates to your job, ask to go! Taking on new responsibilities is a very important part of earning a raise.

7. Get involved! Business social functions, softball games (you don’t have to play…just go watch!) movie nights, having lunch with your team, volunteering with a group of your co-workers; any way to get involved more with your co-workers to let them know what a team player you are.

8. Keep an eye out for information relating to your job: Whether it be a newspaper article about your biggest competitor or a magazine article relating to your particular job field, it shows great initiative if you keep an eye out for information relating to your company and pass along whatever is appropriate.

9. Be respectful and responsible in all company-wide areas: It may sound silly, but pick up after yourself in break rooms, lunch rooms, and conference rooms. Be respectful and responsible on all company grounds, and in restrooms and waiting areas. Keep your own workspace neat…it can be hard for some supervisors to see past poor personal habits.

10. ASK!! It’s hard to ask for a raise, isn’t it? A great way to ask for a raise is to approach your superior something like this: “I was wondering if we could sit down in the next couple of days/weeks and discuss ways in which I could earn a raise. I feel I am performing well and may deserve one, and I would like your opinion on my performance.” This manner asks for a raise without demanding one, and admits that although their might be ways in which improvements could be made, it’s quite possible you already deserve a raise and your superiors have just been to busy to remember the last time you got one!

Occasionally, a quality employee will run up against a “salary wall” and will be stuck in a certain pay bracket for too long. If you feel this may be your case, consider speaking with the professionals at Steffan and Co. about your situation. They can review your particular skill set and qualifications, possibly offering suggestions of employment opportunities that may earn you more money or better chances for advancement. Steffan and Co. works with the area’s premier employers and regularly places their candidates in higher paying jobs than they had previously. Give Steffan and Co., a call and find out how they can help you maximize your income potential.