Coach vs. Mentor – What’s the Difference?

Coach vs. Mentor – What’s the Difference?

Coaches and mentors both exist to help an individual develop their potential. They come alongside and offer support from a position of greater knowledge and experience. In both professional and personal development, having a coach or mentor is a good thing.

However, if you can only have one, which should you choose? Let’s look at the differences between coaches and mentors in the context of professional development.

What is a Mentor?

A mentor is someone with career experience who is willing to take a person under their wing and share what they know. Mentor and mentee form a relationship that is often mutually beneficial.

Over time, the mentee gathers knowledge and input from someone who has been where they are now. He or she might receive decision-making advice instead of having to rely on trial and error. They might make fewer mistakes and find a more efficient path to achievement.

Mentors get something out of it too. In their role of trusted advisor, they receive respect. They develop their own leadership skills. Communicating their views and thought processes often crystalizes that knowledge. They often report feeling personal satisfaction from knowing they’ve helped someone. They feel pride in the growth they nurtured.

What do Mentors Do?

A mentor might take on the following roles:

  • Teacher – He or she might pass on practical knowledge regarding skills helpful at their company or in their industry.
  • Advisor – A good mentor is a sounding board. He or she doesn’t tell the mentee what to do, but instead helps them refine ideas, explore solutions and become self-reliant. Mentors serve as a trustworthy confidante.
  • Role model – Good mentors show as much as they tell. They embody core organizational values. They walk the talk, are there when it counts, honor their commitments and persevere through challenges.

Mentoring tends to be more long-term and holistic than career coaching. The mentor and mentee might meet on a schedule, but they could also interact on an informal, as-needed basis. Growth happens because of repeated interactions over time.

What is a Career Coach?

Coaching is typically more targeted and structured than mentoring. While a mentor might help with overall professional development, coaches often take a systematic approach to focus on one skill or goal at a time.

Mentors might not have any formal training in mentorship, and they don’t always specialize in what the mentee most needs to learn. Coaches often have training in the areas of desired growth. They can train or up-skill, and they may offer a way to measure results.

Usually the coach is in charge of development. The trainee can have input, but they’re not responsible for driving sessions. Where a mentor might share personal experience to advise on next steps, coaches focus more on reaching the next goal or level than sharing their own background. Career coaches are more likely to charge for their services.

Coach Responsibilities

In the workplace, businesses basically use coaches to help individuals and teams fill in gaps. Coaching develops the skills workers need to solve problems, form and reach long-term goals or develop missing soft skills. A coach might

  • Use survey data to measure current employee behaviors, link them to business outcomes, then recommend appropriate training.
  • Conduct personality and behavior assessments to help decision makers better understand current culture.
  • Help individuals or teams set goals, develop action plans and overcome challenges.
  • Work with executives to improve leadership skills or plan for succession.
  • Help supervisors and managers develop lacking people skills.
  • Assist older and younger workers in eliminating stereotypes.
  • Develop programs that encourage employees to make better health decisions.

Mentoring and coaching both have the goal of helping workers reach their potential. Organizations don’t have to choose one over the other, both will create a ripple effect of learning, support and ongoing development that will make your company stronger and better over time.

Active Listening – What Is It & Do You Have It?

Active Listening – What Is It & Do You Have It?

In almost every industry, if you look for professional career guidance, before long someone will advise you to focus on developing soft skills. Job seekers are wise to highlight soft skills on their resumes. Hiring managers are on the lookout for candidates who have them because those individuals tend to be more successful in the workplace. Active listening is one of the soft skills at the top of almost every recruiter’s list.

So what exactly is active listening? How do you know it’s a soft skill you already possess, and one you should include on your resume? If you don’t have it, how can you develop it?

About Soft Skills

When they say someone has good “people skills,” they’re talking about one of that person’s soft skills. Hard skills are things like your ability to use computer software, your certification to teach high school math or your knowledge of tax laws.

Soft skills are just as important as hard skills because candidates who can’t solve problems or work with a team are much less likely to be successful in the workplace. No matter what your role, active listening is one of the most important soft skills to develop.

Active Listening – What It Is

Active listening means giving people your full attention and focusing all your senses on what they’re trying to communicate. Among other actions, it can also involve repeating back or paraphrasing what they said to encourage more dialogue and to communicate your understanding.

Why It’s Important

Hearing is passive. You can be aware someone is speaking and feel like you’re getting the “gist” of what they’re saying but not be demonstrating active listening. Developing this soft skill will benefit your career for these reasons:

Active listening will earn you trust and respect. People who really listen are rare. Most people appreciate being fully “heard” because it shows their thoughts, input and concerns matter to you. Employees and team members will be more likely to communicate openly when they can trust you to be supportive and understanding.

Active listening helps staff work through conflict. When you listen with all your senses and put all your energy into truly understanding the speaker’s thoughts and feelings, the focus is on them. You aren’t defensive or judgmental. Your neutral stance has the ability to diffuse tension. Because you consistently reflect back what you hear, you avoid missing critical information or allowing misunderstandings to develop.

Active listening achieves organizational goals. People who feel understood are more engaged. Reduced conflict means more energy for innovation. You and your team are better able to talk through challenges and find solutions.

What It Looks Like

How do you know if you already use the active listening soft skill? Next time someone is talking to you, evaluate your actions, attitudes and body language. Active listening looks this way:

  • Making eye contact
  • Paraphrasing or summarizing
  • Leaning slightly toward the speaker with uncrossed arms
  • Asking open-ended questions
  • Nodding to demonstrate agreement, encouragement or understanding
  • Offering brief verbal affirmations
  • Mirroring expressions and body language to show empathy
  • Waiting through periods of silence

Bad Listening Habits to Avoid

Bad listeners do the opposite of what’s listed above. They think they’re listening, but they’re really just waiting to talk. They daydream instead of paying attention. They interrupt to “one-up” the speaker. If what the speaker says doesn’t align with their own beliefs or preferences, they argue and get defensive. If the topic doesn’t interest or benefit them, they tune out.

Bad listeners don’t really want to listen at all. They demonstrate impatience with their body language and end conversations as quickly as possible. They always seem too busy to make time for conversation, and they make co-workers feel like they’re wasting too much time.

How to Develop Active Listening

Active listening is a skill you can improve through practice. When a conversation starts, think of yourself as a sounding board instead of a problem solver.

Start by adjusting your body language. Lean forward and maintain eye contact. Nod your head occasionally. Note the speaker’s body language and see what you can infer about their current emotions and goals.

Switch off your own internal dialogue so your thoughts don’t wander. Avoid thinking about the tasks you need to get to or how much time is passing so you don’t demonstrate impatience. Instead of offering opinions or advice, reflect back what they’ve just told you. Say things like, “In other words, what you’re saying is….”.

Suspend judgment and be open to new ideas. Remember you don’t have to agree with everything the speaker says to genuinely seek to understand their point of view.

Recruiting Active Listeners

At Brelsford Personnel, we try to identify candidates with strong active listening skills by practicing that skill ourselves. We’re successful at matching East Texas job seekers with employers because we don’t view open positions as simply a spot to fill. Before we send a worker to an employer, we’ve spent time learning about both the candidate and the company seeking to hire. The right candidates don’t just look good on paper, they are a good fit for that company’s culture.

That’s why comparing us to other staffing firms is like comparing apples to oranges. Contact us for direct-hire, temp-to-hire, temporary and contract staff with the skills your company needs.

Workplace Holiday Celebration Ideas for 2020

Workplace Holiday Celebration Ideas for 2020

What you did for holiday parties in the past probably won’t work for the 2020 season. “Last year we had clients booking huge, extravagant events at places like Maude Cobb Convention Center and Villa di Felicita for hundreds of people,” the owner of a Tyler event planning agency said, shaking her head. “This year no one is doing anything like that. Instead, they’re looking for solutions that allow for social distancing.”

Employers recognize they’ve asked a lot from employees this year, and they want to celebrate milestones and accomplishments. Do so safely with these workplace holiday celebration ideas that will even work in 2020.

Plan a Virtual Office Party

If your staff works remotely, a virtual office party might be the way to go. It’s cost-effective because there’s no need to rent or decorate a venue or provide transportation back and forth. You can choose to celebrate during business hours, which gives staff members a break from the work week. Or you might give them the gift of an after-hours event with zero commute time. Some of the top trending virtual office party ideas include a virtual game night, virtual happy hour or shared experience.

Virtual Game Night

Turn video conferencing into a team or individual challenge to build morale and foster a sense of comradery. Employees can participate from home or at the office to solve puzzles, answer trivia, or get in on game show style entertainment. Companies like Let’s Roam and Outback advertise virtual team-building with challenges companies can tailor to their team’s interests, size and preferred activity level.

Virtual Happy Hour

If your previous office party included libations, consider celebrating the 2020 holidays with a virtual happy hour. Ship them options from local vendors like Kiepersol or Briar Creek Vineyards and schedule a time to enjoy them together.

Or, leave the entertainment to someone else with an online hosted happy hour. Vendors like Cocktails from Home or Sourced allow corporate event planners to send employees mini cocktail or mocktail kits. Then attendees join in on a demonstration video where a mixologist or bartender teaches them to use the ingredients they received and enjoy their creation from wherever they are.

Share an Experience

Hire a local or big name entertainer to perform a live video concert that goes straight from their studio to staff homes and offices. Or send staff members tickets to an online concert and schedule to watch livestream shows together. Websites like Grammy.com maintain a list of free online concerts, while sources like StageIt allow employers to purchase tickets for paid events.

Or, make your office party an escape with virtual corporate travel. Take your group on a video trip to Paris with a free virtual tour of The Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, Egyptian Antiquities and the Galerie d’Apollon. Go on a virtual tour of Yellowstone and explore the park’s main attractions together. Hawaii has severe travel restrictions, but their online tour allows you to virtually fly over an active volcano and click and drag to explore shorelines and landscapes. Or tour Wilson Island in Queensland Australia using Google Maps Street view, then take a virtual plunge to see coral reefs beneath the surface.

If online travel isn’t your thing, plan your virtual holiday party around visiting a virtual escape room or taking a shared painting or cooking lesson.

Send a Gift

In-person holiday parties are expensive. If your company isn’t planning one this year, you might instead splurge on staff holiday gifts. Mail or deliver a wellness box stocked with self-care items from a local spa. Send foodies a carefully curated package of local, artisan foods. Or, keep things simple with gift cards for food delivery or a subscription to a snack box or streaming service.

Give Them Time

If you get the sense the last thing your employees want is another Zoom meeting, give them the gift of time. Let them know in lieu of a holiday party, you’re giving them hours or days off. Share how you hope they’ll spend the time doing whatever makes their life meaningful because you value their contribution to your business and appreciate the hard work they’ve put in throughout the year.

At Brelsford Personnel, we wish you happy holidays and look forward to working with you in the year ahead.

Create Your Best Job – The Truth About Job Security

Create Your Best Job – The Truth About Job Security

Throughout our Create Your Best Job series we’ve focused heavily on identifying your skills, strengths, passions, and career goals because in our decades of helping people find work, we’ve come to accept a difficult truth: There is no job security.

If you’re looking for work now, it likely will not be the last time. Once you find your best job, continue to add to your skillset so your value to employers grows over time.

Average Number of Jobs in a Lifetime

The Bureau of Labor Statistics published a report in 2019 that tallied the number of jobs people born in the years 1957 to 1964 held from between 18 and 52 years of age. This group, often called the Baby Boomers, held around 12 different jobs in their lifetime.

That number might be significantly more or less, depending on age, ethnicity, education, industry, gender and other factors. For example, data shows that some workers currently between the ages of 25 and 34 stay an average of 2.8 years at each job. Public sector employees have longer median tenure than their private sector counterparts.

Still, whatever way you look at it, gone are the days when people work 40 years for the same employer and retire with a pension. Loyalty isn’t what it used to be. Employers hire and fire based on marketplace changes and demand fluctuation. Employees will readily leave for better pay or more attractive benefits. Local, national and global events change economies without warning.

So actually, there is no job security. The best job security is maintaining a marketable skill set. It’s best to be proactive so the next time you’re looking for work, you’re even more marketable than you are now.

4 Tips for Making Yourself More Marketable

Think of yourself as an actor or actress, currently evaluating scripts to find a job that will enhance your value. Let’s say you land what might be the role of a lifetime, a part that fits you perfectly. You throw yourself into that role and for a season, that character is your reality. However, at the same time, you know eventually the show or play will come to an end, so as much as you love the part, you’re constantly preparing for the future.

As an actor, you hone your skills. You note where you excel, and make a plan for correcting weakness as you see it emerge. And, you keep your ears open for the next opportunity, hoping to find a new job before this one ends.

It’s the same way in the job market. Once you find your current best job, prepare yourself for the future by doing the following.

Constantly Acquire New Skills

Keep track of what skills employers are looking for, and start acquiring the ones that aren’t already in your toolbox. Use online tools to add accreditations and certifications. Take advantage of employer-sponsored education whenever possible.

Learn New Technology

The more you know about computer operations and software applications as they apply to your field, the more valuable you are to employers. Technology influences almost every line of work, and it’s always changing, so it’s always a good idea to keep adding to your knowledge base.

Look the Part

Once you find your best job, don’t give in to the temptation to let things slide in terms of professional attire, grooming, posture and presentation. Maintaining a professional appearance and demeanor helps you look and feel like a winner every day. Both managers and recruiters will take note.

Keep Networking

Stay active in your professional association. Mentor others who currently are where you’ve been. Volunteer in your community. You’ll build satisfying relationships now and have useful connections should you need them in the future.

Why Use Brelsford Personnel

Even if you change jobs every two or three years, there’s still a period of searching and waiting between jobs. At Brelsford Personnel, helping East Texas candidates and employers connect is something we live every day. So perhaps we can help.

The job market can change drastically. But we’ve been a part of area employment for long enough that we’re uniquely qualified to help you know what to expect and how to navigate the waters. If you are ready to pursue a new career or have been caught in a lay-off, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help!

Create Your Best Job – Your Two Minute Commercial

Create Your Best Job – Your Two Minute Commercial

To land your best job, you need to sell yourself. We advise job seekers to come up with a two-minute commercial, a quick summary of why they’re a perfect fit. It’s also sometimes called an elevator pitch because you can deliver it anywhere, in the amount of time it takes to go up a few floors in an elevator.

Why a Commercial?

“But I’m not in sales,” you might be saying. “I don’t want to sound like a salesperson.” When you craft a strong elevator pitch, you’re not trying to put pressure on hiring managers or make promises you can’t deliver. You’re delivering a quick presentation that positions you as invaluable to their company.

You’ll use a variation of your two-minute commercial in your cover letter, during interviews and when you’re networking. It should take between 30 seconds and two minutes to deliver and show how you can solve their organization’s problems or create more success.

When you give them a memorable snapshot or sound bite that summarizes your professional self, they’re more likely to retain your message. You stand out, you show you respect their time, and you’re more likely to get an interview.

What’s In a Good Elevator Pitch?

Create your two-minute commercial around your unique selling proposition. Identify what makes you better and more qualified for the job than all the other humans on the planet, and lead with that.

Many people feel uncomfortable talking about themselves, but you can motivate hiring managers to listen by focusing on how your unique skills can help them. Explain how what you do can solve a pain point and back that up with examples from your past work experience.

Make it clear you want a job. You’re not just having a conversation; you have a goal. Offer them a way to follow up by leaving a business card or following up through email.

How to Write Your 2 Minute Commercial

Your brief speech should explain who you are, what you do, what makes you stand out, what you want and include a call to action. It might go something like this:

  • Introduce yourself – First 5 seconds
  • Briefly state what you do – 5 to 10 seconds
  • Grab attention by asking a question or stating a problem – 5 to 10 seconds
  • Deliver your unique value proposition and connect it to their pain points – 10 to 15 seconds
  • Share achievements – 10 to 15 seconds
  • State your goal and call them to take action – 15 seconds

Use the above as a basic framework for getting started but make it your own. You may need to spend more time on one aspect and less on others.

Two Minute Commercial Examples

If you’re currently out of work and looking for a job at a networking event, an appropriate two-minute commercial might be:

“I am currently looking for a new opportunity in B2B sales. I have ten years of successful sales experience with a technology firm and a marketing degree from UT Austin. If you know someone who is looking for a sales rep with my experience, I would certainly appreciate a referral. May I give you my card? I am ready to work and excited to find a new career home!”

Or, if you’re sitting in front of a hiring agent, you might say something like:

“I have spent the last five years as the top sales representative out of twenty-five reps for a leading technology company. I will bring my ability to generate revenue and profits to your company. I’m extremely confident in my sales abilities and have a very high level of interest in working for you and your company.”

Use your elevator speech to highlight what you’re good at and illustrate what you can do for them. For example:

“I’ve been the Office Manager at ABC Organization for the past five years. Some of my main responsibilities were planning and overseeing corporate meetings and events, sticking within budgetary constraints by finding the most cost-effective venues and vendors, making sure the office ran like clockwork and serving as the central point of contact for the entire office. I’d like to bring my experience to your company. May I give you my business card?”

Don’t Stop At One Elevator Pitch

Once you’ve created your basic two-minute commercial, develop variations for different situations. You might create one version for career fairs, a second for networking events and a third for use during interviews. The written version you use for online profiles and in your cover letter will most likely be different from the ones you deliver in person.

Delivering Your Two Minute Commercial

A carefully crafted two-minute commercial grabs attention, makes you stand out and helps you sell yourself, but it’s also useful because it helps you relax. Memorize your speech, then use it in response to questions like these:

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What kind of job are you looking for?
  • What are you doing these days?
  • What kind of job are you looking for?

Practice giving your speech in front of a mirror. Rehearse until you can deliver it naturally, with confidence and positivity. Practice more with friends and family members so the first time you present it to a person isn’t during a high-stress interview. Soon you’ll be ready to sell yourself in a variety of situations, giving you the best chance to land your best job.

Create Your Best Job – Expert Advice on Resumes

Create Your Best Job – Expert Advice on Resumes

Your job search is your job right now, and your first official duty is to prepare your resume. Don’t just open the file and add your most recent work history, then start blasting it out to every prospective employer you can find. If you read our post on developing the right mindset, you put some serious thought into the type of job you really want. Now it’s time to give yourself the best chance at landing that job by creating a resume that shows you’re qualified for the best job that fits.

The Absolute Most Important Part of Your Resume

This next statement might shock you, especially coming from a staffing agency. Nobody reads resumes. Not the whole thing, anyway.

Every word is important, and mistakes could disqualify you from the chance at an interview, but recognize prospective employers aren’t going to read every line of what you send. They don’t dig to find out if you’re the one.

They skim.

So if you want a chance at the job, you need to hook their attention, to sell yourself in as few words as possible. The most important resume component is a brief summary placed near the top, right under your name and contact information.

In the past, the job seeker’s objective went in this space, but that didn’t add anything the hiring manager didn’t already know, it just took up space. Replace that with a two to three sentence summary that explains:

  • What skills you have that apply to the job
  • Your relevant work experience and accomplishments
  • How you would add unique value to their company

Hiring managers and screening software tools look for keywords. Where applicable, use words from the job description you’re applying for. Make your summary as precise and engaging as possible to get noticed, get interviewed and get hired.

What Else a Winning Resume Contains

The hiring manager might not read every single word of your resume, but they’re going to look for this:

  • Contact Info – List your name, address, the best number to reach you and an email address. Don’t use your old work email address or one that doesn’t sound professional.
  • Work Experience – Start with your most recent job experience and work backward. Provide work history for at least the last 10 years. Include the name of the company and its location, your job title and a summary of your duties. Use data if possible to convey how your work benefitted your company. Especially focus on experience that matches the job description for which you’re applying.
  • Education – Start from your highest degree and work backwards. Include the name of your school and the degree you received. Also include any honors or special recognition.
  • Skills – List hard and soft skills, again referring to the job description and including all the words that apply to you. Soft skills are things like problem solving, critical thinking and flexibility while hard skills are more concrete like ability with computer software or a degree or certification.

It’s okay to state that references are available on request, but go ahead and compile your reference list so it’s ready to go.

Now Remove These

Read back through your resume and take out industry jargon that isn’t common knowledge. Avoid using acronyms or military terms. Use familiar language.

Examine your verb tenses and change any that are inconsistent. You shouldn’t have statements like “Managing big data effectively for a large marketing agency. Crafted digital experiences for clients in multiple industries.” If you did the work in the past, both verbs should be in past tense.

Use a proofreading tool like Grammarly or Typely to check for errors in spelling or grammar and remove them. Then go to that friend who is a stickler for being grammatically correct and ask him or her to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.

Resume Formatting and Length

Unless you’re a professor or a doctor, your resume should be two pages or less. When you finish crafting your resume, go back through and see how many words you can take out and still maintain the meaning. The more concise you are, the better chance you have of getting your message across.

Use clean, easy to read fonts. Some of the best choices are

  • Calibri – Good for anyone
  • Times New Roman – Excellent choice when applying for legal, financial and corporate roles
  • Arial – This font is a good choice for creative or marketing jobs
  • Verdana – Verdana is clean and appealing for any type of role
  • Book Antiqua – If you’re applying for a job in education, the arts or humanities, this font has a traditional feel
  • Trebuchet MS – This cheerful font is a positive choice for creatives

Use 12 point font for most of your resume text, with larger bold print in the same font for headings. If you’re sending a paper copy, use white, beige or light gray paper. When you mail it, hand-address the business-sized envelope in blue or black ink and mark it “Personal and Confidential.”

Turn Your Resume Into an Interview Ticket

Start creating multiple versions of your resume. Each time you apply, tailor your resume to highlight your experience and qualifications that match what that employer is looking for.

For example, you might start out by applying for a job as a staff accountant. Your resume summary could mention your experience preparing tax returns, analyzing corporate financial operations and forecasting and budgeting. Your employment history showcases how your duties at previous roles gave you experience relevant to that position.

Then you might see a job posting for a payroll job that also fits your skills and interests. Don’t send the same resume you used for the staff accountant job. Change it to show employers the type of experience you have calculating wages, detailing earnings and streamlining payroll processing. In your job summary, if you have three years of payroll experience, make sure you say so.

Resume Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Chance at an Interview

Your resume could be your ticket to an interview. But if you make these mistakes, it could get dropped in the recycle bin.

  • Resume is generic and doesn’t explain what makes you uniquely suited to the position
  • Your document is too long or is hard to read
  • You use language that identifies your religious beliefs, political affiliations etc.
  • You leave out accomplishments at previous jobs
  • Work history starts with the first job you ever held and proceeds forward
  • Text is copied and pasted from somewhere on the Internet
  • Resume contains spelling and grammar errors

The Next Steps in a Successful Job Search

Each day, plan to send at least five resumes to a hiring authority to keep your job search rolling. If you haven’t already sent yours to Brelsford Personnel, view our open jobs and upload it here.

Create Your Best Job – Start Here

Create Your Best Job – Start Here

Don’t Send Resumes Until You’ve Adjusted Your Mindset

The “new normal,” as it is termed, is in fact a “harsh reality.” Unemployment is radically higher than it has been in recent years. The economy is struggling to recover from a global recession, COVID-19 shutdowns, oil industry woes and disrupted international trade. Employers are cautious as the Texas economy reopens, and many of them are only slowly taking on new staff. Jobs are scarce.

If you lost your job, you could have a challenging road ahead. Government unemployment assistance has helped, but that won’t last forever. If you wait until the checks stop coming, you will be applying for work at the same time as many of other Americans who are in the same predicament.

At Brelsford Personnel, we’re committed to matching as many East Texans as possible with area employers who do need staff or might soon. To give candidates their best chance at getting back to work, we’ve put together this series with tips on how to experience success in not just getting work, but finding your best job, so you can start living your best life. The first, and possibly most vital step is to start with a self-check.

Why It Matters

Being without work when you need income is one of the most difficult situations to be in, even in the best of times. These are not the best of times. There are fewer jobs available and there is more competition for the ones that are out there.

However, there’s something you can control that will give you a powerful edge – your attitude. Before you start your job search, get your head in the right place and determine what you desire the outcome of that search to be.

Setting Your Attitude for Success

Someone once said your attitude is only 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you react to it (or don’t react to it). Start your job search by determining to have and maintain a positive attitude toward the process. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts like these:

  • There is an opportunity out there for me. Each experience I have along the way brings me one step closer to finding my next opportunity.
  • I am qualified and talented.
  • The positive choices and attitudes I have today will shape my future.

Your mindset determines your reality. If you listen to fear and doubt, you’ll become discouraged and lose confidence in yourself. However, if you intentionally fill your mind with positive thoughts, you’ll be able to face each day, each challenge, and each potential opportunity with confidence.

How To Find Your Dream Job

Last year, a Gallup report found that 60 percent of Americans felt they were in mediocre or bad jobs. That’s a pretty significant dissatisfaction rate, and far from a best job situation. While right now you might be thinking that any job would be a good job, but wouldn’t it be better if you could find one you really enjoyed and was best suited for you?

Instead of listening to your fears and uncertainties, look within yourself to refocus on the type of work that makes the most of your skills and talents to keep you happy and fulfilled. Take the time to mentally re-visit each of your past jobs you have held in your career, as well as your education and coursework. Then jot down answers to the following questions about your jobs:

  • What aspect of the job did you enjoy?
  • What functions of the job did you excel at?
  • What functions of the job were a challenge?
  • What salary and compensation did you earn?
  • What was the company culture like and did you thrive in it?
  • What was your boss like, and did they bring out the best in you?
  • What would you have liked to do more of?

If you struggle coming up with some of the answers, keep coming back to the questions. This is your opportunity to gain deeper insight into yourself and what inspires you in your career. You can find true, lasting career satisfaction, and turn a difficult situation into a chance at a happier future. But to create that future, you have to define it and know what you want it to look like.

Your Powerful, Personal Statements

If you write down answers to the above questions, you should end up with a good understanding of what you will be happy with. Use the results to create a positive picture of what you are looking for. Begin to envision your life as you live out that outcome.

Place your statements somewhere you can read it every day. Come back to it. When you don’t feel like looking for a job, or if you experience setbacks, read it more frequently. Recognize that as long as you have, or develop, the needed skills and qualifications, that your future is within your reach.

Check back soon for more in our series on how to create the future you want by finding your best job. Until then, browse our online job postings to see East Texas jobs that are available today.

Everything You Need to Know Before Your Next Video Interview

Everything You Need to Know Before Your Next Video Interview

Video interviews used to be just one tool in a hiring manager or recruiter’s toolbox. Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, they might have become one of the most important ones. That isn’t going to change any time soon. If you’re looking for a job, give yourself the best chance of success by preparing for your online interview ahead of time.

The most common type of online interview is the video call, where the interviewer uses Zoom, Facetime, Skype or a similar platform to interact with you just like they would during an in-person interview. Some companies also might ask you to make a recorded video of yourself answering a series of questions.

Either way, candidates are sometimes caught off guard by how their stress level skyrockets during a video interview. Something about a camera makes you feel under intense scrutiny, even more “on the spot” than you would be during an in-person interview. Like with any other type of interview, preparation is the key to minimizing nerves and showing yourself at your best.

Preparing Your Video Interview Background

Choose a quiet spot you can completely close off from noise and distractions. Make the background as plain as possible.

With an in-person interview, the person you’re talking to is familiar with the surroundings so they’re not a distraction. However, through video you expose your interviewer to a completely new environment. You don’t want them to be distracted by what’s in the background. Instead, you want them to focus on you and what you bring to the table.

Everything You Need to Know Before Your Next Video Interview

If there’s a lot to look at in the background, their eyes are going to roam all over the screen instead of looking at you. It’s harder to make a strong first impression and harder to keep their attention. Your décor could prevent them from recognizing your skills.

To keep that from happening, seat yourself against a blank wall or other monochromatic backdrop. Then, let in as much natural light as possible and turn on the other lights in the room to ensure your face is brightly lit. Consider placing a lamp on either side of your monitor to minimize dark shadows and harsh lines.

Avoid sitting in front of a window, or you’ll just be a dark silhouette on the screen. Sit in a chair with a straight back, not on the couch or in a recliner. Put your computer or phone with camera on a desk or table instead of holding it on your lap. It’s hard to look enthusiastic while lounging, hunched shoulders or a double chin.

Everything You Need to Know Before Your Next Video Interview

Remove These Distractions

Ask someone else to watch young children during your interview and turn off everything that makes noise. Silence notifications on your phone and computer.

Make sure your cat or dog can’t wander through. Even your goldfish shouldn’t be on camera, he or she is guaranteed to do something to try to steal the limelight. Turn off your overhead fan so shadows won’t flicker and your hair doesn’t blow. Make sure the dishwasher and coffee pot don’t kick in on delay start.

Don’t sit in front of anything with text. You might think your library makes you appear well-read, but it could also have your interviewer trying to read all those titles sideways instead of focus on your answers. Family photos or dishes in the background are visual clutter you can do without.

Take mirrors down temporarily so you don’t have to worry about what they might reflect during your interview. Then pre-adjust your camera so only your face, torso and a small amount of plain background are visible.

What to Wear for a Video Interview

Dress for a video interview in the same type of professional attire as you would for an in-person interview. During your company research, watch for images of employees at work and wear something similar or slightly more formal.

Just like with regular interviews, avoid loud colors and prints. If you wear jewelry, stick to just a few simple pieces. And, just like with in-person interviews, wear pants or a skirt. If you just dress from the waist up, you’re sending yourself the message it isn’t a “real” interview. You also might end up showing your interviewer more of yourself than you intend.

Best Colors to Wear for Online Interviews

Black and navy are almost always a safe bet. It’s also flattering to wear a soft, light colored shirt. White, cream and soft blues and greens can be flattering, but red, yellow and orange don’t always look good on camera.

Video Interview Makeup Tips

If you are interviewing on Zoom, Bluejeans, FaceTime or any other platform, your goal is to highlight what is best about you. If you wear makeup, aim for a natural, healthy look. Evening skin tone and darkening lashes are fine but avoid heavy or dramatic shades in your eye shadow and lipstick.

How to Prep Your Technology

If you haven’t used the meeting client, you may need to download it. Here are links for accessing some of the most frequently used video interview tools:

Google Meet doesn’t require a download, just click on the link and follow the prompts to start a meeting. GoToMeeting has a 14 day free trial, but there are a few steps to signing up. Facetime is a feature on iPhones.

Your interviewer will send you a link to find your meeting room when it is time for your actual interview, but it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the software before you get to that point. Ask a friend or family member if they’ll pose as your interviewer and schedule a practice session with them over the technology you’ll use when it’s time for your real online interview.

Testing 1-2

Use a desktop or laptop computer if possible, not a cell phone or tablet. A computer is more stable and will likely have a more reliable internet connection.

Video uses significantly more bandwidth than web browsing. For video conferencing, you need a stable connection of 1-4 Megabits per second. Google will run a free speed test on yours here. During your interview, ask other family members to stay off the Wi-Fi so they’re not using your bandwidth.

If you won’t be connected to power, make sure your device is fully charged. Access your camera, first and make sure you are centered in the middle of the screen.

Content Preparation

Get your mind ready using the interview tips on our resources page. Then schedule that practice video interview with your friend or family member.

Once you’ve established your connection with them, ask them how the background looks on their end, whether or not the sound is clear and how and if you appear on the monitor. Make adjustments as needed.

Provide them with these seven common interview questions and have them pose as the hiring manager. Treat it like the real deal and you’ll uncover areas you can improve and build confidence for your actual interview.

Acing Your Online Interview

If you completed the above steps, you’re ready to make a good impression during your video interview, but there are still challenges ahead. When you meet with someone face to face, it’s often easier to establish rapport than it is when talking through a screen. Before you connect, take a deep breath, relax your shoulders and connect with your most positive, confident self.

Establishing Rapport

Start with a friendly greeting and by thanking them for the opportunity. Sit up straight or lean slightly forward to express attention and interest. Mirror their talking speed, volume and energy levels. If appropriate, nod when they do, and occasionally repeat back to them or paraphrase what they say.

Eye contact matters, and it’s a little tricky to maintain it during a video interview. Because your interviewer appears on your screen, that’s where your eyes go. However, for most people, the camera is located at the top of their screen. If you focus in the middle of the monitor, you appear to be looking down.

Put a sticker behind your camera as a reminder to frequently look at the lens, essentially making eye contact with your interviewer. Don’t be put off if they don’t do the same.

If You Make a Mistake

Sometimes the unexpected happens, and if it was caught on camera mistakes can seem insurmountable. If it happens to you, don’t over-analyze while your interview is still going on or you’ll have a hard time concentrating on the remainder of the meeting. If you made a simple mistake and you can correct it, just explain you may have miscommunicated and you’d like to provide additional information.

If you’ve finished your interview and you fear it’s a make or break blunder, include a concise statement providing correct or omitted information in your follow-up email. If the problem relates to a technology malfunction, follow up with an email request to reschedule.

Wrapping Things Up

It’s common for managers near the close of an interview to ask if you have any questions. Prepare a few that show you’ve been listening during the interview, you did your research and you’re excited about the possibility of a job offer. It’s also a good idea to ask about the next steps in the process.

When it’s clear the interview is over, express your appreciation and sign off. Follow up with a thank you email and any additional information they requested.

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4 Indispensable Skills for a Customer Service Representative

4 Indispensable Skills for a Customer Service Representative

Customer service can make or break a business. Dimensional Research found consumers rank customer service the number one factor impacting whether or not they trust a business. When Microsoft surveyed consumers around the globe, 96 percent of them said customer service was the deciding factor in brand loyalty.

Good customer service wins trust and loyalty, but poor customer service loses business. Eighty-nine percent of consumers report they’ve switched to a competitor because they had a bad customer service experience. That’s what makes the right customer service representative indispensable to East Texas employers.

At Brelsford Personnel, those employers sometimes ask us to send them workers who will be an asset to their customer service department. Here’s what we’re looking for when we evaluate customer service representatives.

Professionalism

People don’t typically chat with, call or visit customer service because they’re having a nice day and they have positive things to say about what the company offers. They call because they have a problem and they need help. Problems make people feel confused, frustrated, angry and impatient. Often they wear those negative emotions on their sleeves.

A strong customer service representative can act professionally even in emotionally charged situations. They remain polite and friendly, even if the customer is rude. If they can’t resolve the issue or the customer’s emotions get out of control, they know when to transfer the situation to a supervisor.

Empathy

A good customer service representative can turn problems into positive interactions because they empathize with the customer. They can identify the emotions that person is feeling and remember a time they felt that way. It helps them form a connection with the person they’re helping. That connection helps the customer feel heard and eases their frustration.

Strong customer service representatives realize just having to contact support is a headache most people would rather avoid. They’re sensitive to the feelings that come from having to navigate a long phone menu or wait on hold. They make things a little better when they sincerely thank the customer for their patience and loyalty.

Good Listening

Great customer service representatives have strong listening skills that allow them to answer questions quickly. They’re attentive and engaged, even when they’ve been on the clock for hours. Customers know they’re listening because they note small details. They never sound bored or like they’re reading canned responses from a script.

Problem Solving

Sometimes there’s not an easy solution to a customer’s request. It’s not just a matter of issuing a refund or providing an exchange. That’s when a good customer service representative’s problem-solving skills become invaluable.

Consumers appreciate when support representatives take personal responsibility for their care. When you stay positive and don’t give up, customer loyalty often results.

Workers who come with all those traits are so hard to find, employers sometimes wonder if they’re unicorns. Brelsford Personnel has an extensive database with highly qualified customer service representative candidates. Learn more about what we offer employers or get in touch today.

Job Search Emotions – Surviving the Roller Coaster

Job Search Emotions - Surviving the Roller Coaster

Looking for a new job is exhilarating and exhausting, electrifying and draining. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right fit. Every time you fill out an application or submit your resume, your emotions yo-yo from hope to nervousness to frustration to excitement.

If you know what’s normal, it can help you survive the bumps and curves. Let’s look at common job search emotions, and then talk about how to make the ups and downs a little less extreme.

Normal Emotions During a Job Hunt

Whether you’re a 16-year-old applying for your very first job or a seasoned member of the East Texas workforce, these emotions are all completely normal.

  • Excitement – You’re energized by the possibility of change and ready to go find that great new job.
  • Overwhelmed – When you start to realize how many choices there are and all the work you face finding a new employer, it can feel like too much.
  • Fixation – You apply at one company that seems like a perfect fit, and suddenly all you can think about is working there. You feel like you can’t wait to hear from them and your life just might be over if they don’t offer you the job.
  • Hope – The employer calls you for more information or to request an interview. You see a potential light at the end of the job search tunnel.
  • Frustration – Time goes by and you’re tired of knocking on doors, tired of waiting to hear something, just fed up with the whole process.
  • Impatience – You’ve lost track of how many times you checked your email, voicemail and text messages. It feels like you should have heard something by now.
  • Deliriously happy and relieved – You finally hear you got the job.

Tips for Staying Focused

Just recognizing what you’re feeling is normal will go a long way toward making things easier. Most people connect what they do for work with who they are as an individual, so it’s understandable if you feel unsettled when things are up in the air.

If you’re out of work, treat job hunting as an actual job. Make sure your resume is mistake-proof and accurately showcases your skills. Use your contacts to find openings that might not yet be posted. Apply for more than one position at a time so you have a chance of hearing back from multiple employers.

Recognize when you don’t get the response you hope for, most of the time it isn’t because you aren’t likeable or skilled at what you do. Sometimes organizations promote from within. Other times they’re looking for something specific that wasn’t on your resume. When you stay positive and keep moving forward, eventually you’ll find the right fit.

Work With a Staffing Agency

At Brelsford Personnel, you’re not just a list of qualifications on a piece of paper. Our primary mission is to provide truly personal staffing services. We love what we do for work, and we thrive on helping others find ways to do the same. Search our open positions and see if we can help you find the job of your dreams.