LinkedIn Tips for Job Seekers in 2022

LinkedIn Tips for Job Seekers in 2022

If you’re looking for work, updating your social media profiles should be one of your top priorities. Your cover letter and resume will most likely be what employers see first, but most of them are probably also going to review your online presence before they give serious thought to making a job offer.

LinkedIn is a powerful resource because it allows you to share your qualifications and network with an almost unlimited pool of professionals. Follow these tips to make your LinkedIn profile stand out.

Show Your Face

According to the LinkedIn Official Blog, members who post a headshot receive, on average, 21 times more profile views and nine times more connection requests than people without. Your photo doesn’t have to be taken by a professional, just follow these suggestions:

  • Dress the part – In your photo, wear what’s common for people in your industry. Simple solids look better than busy textures. Keep jewelry to a minimum.
  • Have someone else take the photo – Use the camera or smartphone you already have.
  • Stand against a simple background – Avoid patterns or cluttered interiors.
  • Opt for natural light – Stand in front of a window or take the photo outside.
  • Turn slightly – Stand at a ¾ angle with arms and hands relaxed.
  • Upper body only – Full body shots make the subject appear too small. Take your photo from the waist or chest up.
  • Use LinkedIn tools – Play with provided filters to get a look you’re happy with.

Add a Professional Cover Photo

Your cover photo is the big banner at the top of the page. It contributes to the “feel” of your profile.

Use a meaningful quote, word art that details your skills, a landscape, a photo of you at work or other background that matches the type of work you’re looking for. If you need help, Canva has templates and free to use images for social media banners.

Choose Related Keywords

When employers have a job opening and they look for candidates on LinkedIn, they enter what they’re looking for into the platform’s search bar. Then LinkedIn suggests matches and allows them to further filter results.

The results they see depends on where they’re located, their search history and the words they use. When your profile contains matching words and phrases (keywords) they’re more likely to see it in their list of results.

Find relevant keywords by running your own searches and making notes. For example, if you’re looking for an Office Manager job and you type that into the search bar, you’ll notice LinkedIn immediately suggests additional options like “Office Manager Executive Assistant” and “Office Manager Bookkeeper.”

Look at other peoples’ profiles and note the words they use to describe what they do. If you’re interested in specific companies or applying for posted job openings, use their online information to expand your keyword list. Any time they list a skill, certification or degree you have, add that to your list.

Use Keywords Where It Counts

Once you have your list of keywords, what should you do with them? Fill out your profile or review what you’ve already written. Then go back and add them where they fit.

Add them to your headline, your About/Summary section, and the Job Description section. You can also list up to 50 under Skills/Endorsements, but only do so if it makes sense in context. Then have someone you trust look over your profile to see if the phrasing sounds natural.

Complete Your Entire Profile

The goal is to provide a comprehensive picture of who you are and the value you bring to the table. Every section of your profile presents an opportunity to tell your story (and sprinkle in more of those keywords).

If you’re pressed for time, focus on your profile picture, cover photo, headline, summary and most recent job experience. But circle back later to make sure your Accomplishments and Licenses and Certifications sections tell the whole story, and that your Skills and Endorsements section doesn’t leave anything out.

Using LinkedIn For More Job Search Tips

Did you know Brelsford Personnel regularly posts jobs and job search resources on our LinkedIn page? Find us here, then click “Follow.”

Must-Have Qualities For Managing a Nonprofit

Must-Have Qualities For Managing a Nonprofit

People who choose to work at a nonprofit tend to share a common desire to make the world a better place. They’re passionate, dedicated, full of heart. They can accomplish much…if they have great leadership.

A good nonprofit manager keeps all that passion and dedication focused in the right direction. He or she makes sure each individual knows their responsibilities, has the resources to carry them out, and stays energized along the way.

Strong nonprofit leaders are able to do this while also recruiting new members and volunteers, staying connected to donors, building nonprofit equity and other tasks. Let’s take a closer look at the qualities that allow leaders to manage their nonprofit successfully.

Skillful With Limited Budgets

Money is an issue for almost every organization, but in the nonprofit sector, the stakes seem higher. With a for-profit company if there are funding challenges or dips in income, the organization might not be able to grow as quickly or make as many widgets or give bonuses to employees. With a nonprofit, money problems could mean kids go hungry or life-saving medical research can’t proceed.

Successful nonprofit managers aren’t intimidated by the weight of the organization’s mission. They collaborate with the Board of Directors to develop and manage budgets responsibly. They always have an eye toward increasing efficiency and finding lucrative partnerships, grants and contracts.

Dynamic, Energizing and Magnetic

Effective nonprofit managers seem to have a super power when it comes to finding and attracting the right sponsors, donors, staff members and volunteers. They connect with people, and they’re so passionate about what their nonprofit does, those people can’t help but be inspired. They don’t have to be talked into donating their time or their money, they catch the vision and they want to help make a difference.

A good nonprofit manager’s skills don’t end there. It’s easy to get people fired up for a time, but emotion can fizzle quickly when staff and volunteers have a daily struggle with money constraints, apathetic or oppositional community members and the ongoing reality of the problem the nonprofit exists to solve.

Strong nonprofit managers know how to encourage and motivate. They keep teams focused on the mission. They honor individual contributions and positively influence teamwork.

Flexible and Agile

A good nonprofit leader can deftly switch between hats or wear several at a time. To illustrate the flexibility that’s required, check out this list of responsibilities for a current Executive Director opening with one of our clients:

  • Responsible for all aspects of the operation. Leads day-to-day operations and staff and is accountable to the Board of Directors.
  • Responsible for hiring, developing, retaining, managing, and evaluating staff members.
  • Develops and manages the annual budget in collaboration with the Board and staff.
  • Ensures all necessary licensures and accreditations are in place and adhered to.
  • Works with the Board to position the organization as a strategic collaborative partner in developing better local and state mental health policy.
  • Secures grants and contracts (local, state, and federal) and develops creative entrepreneurial partnerships that will enhance the future development of the organization.

They’re responsible for pretty much everything. They have to manage the staff, answer to the Board of Directors and ensure compliance with regulations, all while raising money and building the nonprofit brand.

Compelled to Make a Difference

Why would someone take on such a challenging task? Good nonprofit leaders aren’t satisfied if they’re not in a career that makes a difference. They feel they make the best use of their skills and abilities when they’re helping make the world a better place.

If you’re looking for a job where your daily work has meaning and makes a positive impact on others, your dream career might mean working with a nonprofit. At Brelsford Personnel, we want to help. Send us your resume and we’ll be in touch.

Benefits of Taking a Temp Job in an Uncertain Economy

Benefits of Taking a Temp Job in an Uncertain Economy

Should you take a temporary position or keep looking for the perfect fit? That’s always been an excellent question, and right now we’re hearing job seekers ask it much more frequently.

People straight out of high school or college ask whether they should accept a short-term position and start making money now, even if that money isn’t the greatest, or if they should hold out for something that better aligns with their long-term career goals. Experienced individuals getting burned out at their current job wonder if they should quit now, take what they can get and figure it all out later, or if they should keep slogging along until they find a long-term solution.

If you know exactly what you want professionally and you have the skills and qualifications for that role, we created a step by step for finding work in our free download “Create Your Best Job.” It’s good reading for every job seeker.

But if you need time to figure out what direction you’d like to go next or you need income right away, a temp job might be the way to go. Right now there are a broad range of opportunities available, and many employers are desperate for help. Also, while they’re optimistic about the potential for business growth in the near future, they’re also aware how quickly things can change, so they’re also trying to run as lean as possible. Hiring temporary staff meets today’s staffing needs and can benefit job seekers in several ways.

Make Money Now

The sooner you start working, the faster you’ll get paid. That’s a powerful motivator, especially if you’ve been out of work recently. When you have bills, you can only wait so long for the perfect job opportunity to present itself. Here are just a few examples of the types of temp jobs out there right now (that don’t just pay minimum wage):

  • Order fulfillment workers: People are shopping online for everything from housewares to groceries. Order fulfillment workers, also known as pickers or packers, work at a warehouse to gather orders to send to stores or ship directly to consumers.
  • Retail associates: If you’ve been shopping at all this year, you probably noticed almost every store has a help wanted sign on the door. As we move into the holiday season, there will be even more opportunities for workers willing to help customers, process transactions and restock merchandise.
  • Administrative assistant: Temporary administrative assistants might take over short-term for an employee on leave, or they might provide extra support during busy seasons. Note – if you’re a fast learner, organized, manage your time well, and are able to handle multiple tasks, a Brelsford Personnel client is currently seeking a temp to hire administrative assistant to assist senior management.
  • Call center associate: If you’re looking for temporary work you can do from home, call centers are often looking for cheerful, helpful workers with great people skills.

Try New Things

Temp jobs also benefit people who are interested in exploring a new career field. Maybe your original career path turned out not to be for you, and you want to sample the next thing before you go all in. Taking a temporary job in a new industry or role allows you to evaluate whether something longer term might be a good fit.

Bridge the Pandemic Resume Gap

Long stretches of unemployment can be hard to explain. If you were one of the millions of Americans who spent time out of work because of COVID, future employers are going to notice the gap. They’re looking to hire people who demonstrate they want to work and who show resilience during tough times. When you take a temp job, you show initiative, a willingness to learn new skills and a desire to be productive.

Apply for Work Today

At Brelsford Personnel, we seek to know each candidate and to understand their career goals. Submit your resume on our website and we’ll be in touch to talk about yours.

The Real Brelsford Personnel Difference

The Real Brelsford Personnel Difference

Sherry has spent her entire working career in insurance and she’s very, very good at her job. However, last year she realized she wasn’t happy at her current place of employment, and decided to see what else was available.

She saw a Brelsford Personnel job posting through Indeed, but she hesitated. Eventually she sent in her resume but she wished she hadn’t waited, because by the time the Brelsfords received it, they had filled the position.

Brelsford Personnel’s Application Process

Sherry describes the Brelsford Personnel application process as very detailed. First, she had a phone interview with Driedra Brelsford, who she said immediately put her at ease.

“She’s so funny and personable. I’m a licensed agent and I knew what direction I wanted to go in, but I needed a little assistance, and she provided a lot of assistance.”

When the opening she originally wanted became available again, Sherry got her chance. Brelsford Personnel already had her information on file, and she says Driedra helped her get the job. “She thought I would be a really good fit for the office. She knew the company owner personally, and I feel like it helped. Plus she had my resume and had already done all the background work.”

After that, things moved quickly. “I had an interview with the office manager at my new job within a pretty short time,” Sherry said. “Within a little over a week they let me know I was hired.”

She says Driedra helped her through the waiting process between interview and job offer. “Mrs. Brelsford kept me updated. She checked in with them when we hadn’t heard within a week. She contacted the office manager and found out someone was on vacation. She made that process easy too, that way I didn’t have to feel awkward.”

Brelsford Personnel vs. Other Staffing Agencies

Several years ago Sherry says she tried to work with a different local staffing agency, but they didn’t provide the same level of service, and she had to take time off work to meet their requirements.

“They were not helpful. You had to go in and do a typing test, then interview with the staffing agency person. It’s difficult when you’re working to make an appointment and do something that takes that much time. Brelsford Personnel did it all on my lunch hour. We had a phone interview, then after hours I filled out the application and all of my background information and emailed that in.”

Instant Connections

Sherry felt Brelsford Personnel’s community connections made all the difference in her job search. “My personal opinion is that Mrs. Brelsford is very well connected and very active in the community. She knows a lot of people. Because she’s well connected, if you establish a relationship with her it’s very positive and you’ll get to see the results.

“And I loved talking with her on the phone. We talked about the serious stuff and just in general. I honestly don’t think I would have gotten that position if it hadn’t been for her. She made it really easy. It was very seamless. She kept me updated, and she’s just a great person. If I were ever going to look again, and I don’t plan on it, I would call her.”

What She Thinks of Her New Job

Sherry doesn’t see herself changing jobs again, ever. Of her new position she says, “I love it. I love the people that I work with. They’re an old establishment and they’ve been here for a long time. I thought it might be kind of stuffy, and I was prepared for that, but it’s not. Everybody is very laid back. It’s just a great atmosphere.”

If you’re looking for a new career opportunity, our services don’t cost job seekers a thing. We look forward to hearing from you when you apply to one of our online job postings.

I Wanted a Career Change – Here’s How Brelsford Personnel Helped

I Wanted a Career Change – Here’s How Brelsford Personnel Helped

Working With Brelsford Personnel

After more than a decade of management in her industry, East Texas resident, Lauren Alexander felt it was time for a career change. While researching her options, she contacted Brelsford Personnel. She recently shared the process that led to her successful placement in a new field in a position she is excited about and believes is for the long term.

Lauren was open to possibilities, and she wanted to transition to a position that was a good fit. “I knew I had a professional skillset. Yet I knew it wasn’t going to be easy changing industries and it wasn’t going to be a quick change.

The team at Brelsford Personnel took time to get to know me. I learned about them and we worked from there.”

Lauren appreciated that she wasn’t constantly flooded with area job openings that weren’t right for her, like she had heard peers say happened with some other staffing agencies.

“The Brelsfords were so professional, but had a personal touch. They want their clients to receive the best employees through their agency, but they’re truly not going to send you to or discuss an opportunity with you that is not a good fit for you.”

“They respect your time and that you’re putting your energy out there trying to find something, and they work hand in hand with you. They are so friendly, so easy to work with and very efficient in communicating, whether by text or email or phone call.”

During a season of intense life change, Lauren took comfort in having Brelsford Personnel on her team. “No matter whether it was Mr. Brelsford, Mrs. Brelsford or Regina, they were so relatable. I never felt that I was overlooked or slighted on time or anything like that. It truly was a professional but relational experience. They know their clients, what they need, and get to know their job seekers. They’re looking for that perfect fit. I’m thankful I found them and things worked out like they did.”

And here at our staffing agency, we’re intensely thankful for the chance to work with candidates like Lauren and humbled by her kind words. People like her are why we love what we do.

If you’re looking for work, we’re here to help. Get started the same way Lauren did, by applying for one of our posted positions.

Soft Skills Series – Nurturing Confidence

Soft Skills Series – Nurturing Confidence

Confidence is being assured of one’s judgement and abilities. It’s critical to decision making and problem solving. People with the soft skill of confidence have an accurate view of what they can do. They aren’t held back by fear of failure, because they understand that making mistakes can be part of a process that leads to ultimate success. Because they believe in themselves, they’re empowered to accomplish much of what they set out to do. Sometimes capable employees struggle with confidence, but their insecurity doesn’t have to handicap them permanently.

Reasons Confidence is In Short Supply

There are a number of reasons employees struggle with developing the soft skill of confidence. Those who have trouble trusting their own judgment do so for reasons like these:

  • They don’t have the skills necessary for the task or decision
  • They’re trying to be someone they’re not
  • Past experiences made them question their abilities
  • They have a naturally reserved, cautious temperament
  • Their thinking has been influenced by uncooperative or critical colleagues

When employees lack confidence, they balk at making decisions because they fear the wrong choice will lead to failure. Worry over what might happen wears away at them. Their presentations or sales calls fall flat because their audience picks up on their own self-doubt. They might try to avoid tasks that involve problem solving and force other staff members to take up the slack.

A Harvard Business Review article points out, “insecure people are so concerned with how they look and how they are perceived that they either fail to solicit critical feedback or completely ignore it when it’s given. And this robs them of the opportunity to improve.” Their lack of confidence is bad for business, but the good news is, confidence is a soft skill that can be improved.

Give Timid Employees a Boost

So many managers say the same thing – they see their staff member’s potential and wish they could help that person get past their fears and doubts so they can be more productive and self-assured. Here are techniques leaders can use to nurture confidence one employee at a time.

Connect New Tasks to Existing Skills

Note your staff member’s skills and how those abilities have served them well in the past. Help them draw on the memories of previous successes to give them confidence when approaching new, similar tasks.

For example, if Gina’s research and suggestions were what made your last product launch a success, and you hope she’ll tackle the next project with less hand-holding, help her see what you see. You might say something like, “Gina, you did such a great job with ABC project, both with how you used focus groups and customer surveys and how you accurately summarized your findings. I’d like to use you in the same role again. Go ahead and use the same thorough exploration and groundwork, this time you choose the tools and approach.”

Explicitly Communicate Expectations

Sometimes insecurity happens because employees aren’t sure what you want, so they don’t know if they can deliver. Give them a clear picture of the end result you’re looking for, and tell them if there are tools or methods you expect them to use to get there. Start small, with well-defined tasks or projects and encourage more autonomy and independent decision making over time.

Help Them Reframe Mistakes

If they struggle with confidence, slip ups hit them hard, but time spent beating themselves up isn’t productive. Encourage them to see mistakes as opportunities instead of failures and recognize innovation almost always requires trial and error. When a mistake happens model how to own it, fix it and learn from it.

Give Clear Feedback

Don’t assume employees know how good they are. Help them see the same strengths you see. Instead of just saying, “Nice job,” detail what the staff member did right, and do it as soon as you notice. Spend as much time (or more) on tasks at which they’re gifted at as you do on what they still have to work toward.

Assign a Mentor

Pair employees who lack confidence or need to hone their skills with employees who exhibit the desired traits. A mentor can be extremely effective at sharing career experience and modeling decision-making because they’ve been there. Once they’ve had time to shadow or work with your more accomplished employee, encourage them to make the knowledge and skills they’ve gleaned their own.

Brelsford Personnel is a full service employment agency with the ability to serve you in fulfilling your professional, administrative and temporary staffing needs. When you need new hires with specific skills, we provide qualified, pre-screened candidates. Send us a message if you’d like to know more.

Related articles:

Why Problem-Solving is a Must-Have Soft Skill

Teaching Soft Skills to New Hires

Active Listening – What is it and Do You Have It?

4 Signs Micromanaging is Damaging Your Team

4 Signs Micromanaging is Damaging Your Team

Maybe you’re the perfectionist in charge and you overheard employees describe you as too nitpicky. Or maybe you’re concerned one of your administrators could be creating problems. Micromanaging means trying to control every little detail all the time, and it has a negative impact on morale. The Journal of Experimental Psychology reports when employees feel they’re being micromanaged, they perform at a much lower level.

But how do you differentiate between strong leadership and being too controlling? Employers search far and wide for people who take responsibility and initiative, who go above and beyond, who are extremely detail oriented. How do you know the difference between someone who shows hands-on leadership and a problematic micromanager? Look for these four signs.

These Behaviors Are the Norm

Micromanagers want complete control over everyone on their team and every aspect of the projects with which they’re involved. They do things like the following:

  • Check frequently on what staff members are doing, not always to be supportive, but to make sure employees are on task and doing things the way the manager wants them done. A micromanager might repeatedly stop by offices or cubicles or hyper vigilantly monitor active time within online work environments.
  • Require frequent changes to little details that don’t really have an impact on the outcome.
  • Take over tasks or projects because they feel like they can do it better or faster, and it would take too much time and effort to explain what they want to the staff member originally assigned the task.
  • Demand progress updates and documentation much more frequently than necessary.
  • Almost always express dissatisfaction with or want changes to deliverables.
  • Want all decisions run by them before anything is finalized.
  • Stay stressed and overworked because they have trouble delegating.

Micromanagers have a hard time trusting staff to do their job and do it well. Their actions signal they think for something to be done right, they have to be directly involved with every detail.

Employee Motivation Plummets

Because they’re so controlling, micromanagers squash creativity and diminish engagement. Staff starts to think, “She’s just going to find fault with my work anyway, so why should I do my best,” or “Why should I even bring up that idea when he’s just going to insist we do it his way.”

Employees feel like they can’t do anything right, and that their hard work doesn’t matter. Over time that can start to erode their desire to meet deadlines or to go above and beyond. They start second-guessing their abilities. They may be hesitant to take risks or think outside the box. They don’t feel valued, there’s no room for growth, and every day there’s the potential for more criticism.

Turnover and Sick Days Increase

There’s a growing body of evidence that indicates work-related stress has a huge impact on mental and physical health. It can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, decreased immune response, gastrointestinal disorders and a range of other problems. Plus, some people overeat, smoke or turn to substance abuse to cope. Unhealthy behaviors make them feel even worse, and make it more likely they’ll get sick.

One by one, employees may wake up, realize they don’t want to do it anymore, and decide to take their skills somewhere else. Then their knowledge and abilities become available to your competition and the cycle starts over with your new hires.

If you have a manager who exhibits the behaviors listed above, and you’re seeing an increase in sick days and resignations, that’s a sign micromanaging is becoming a problem.

Teams Fail to Meet Deadlines

Micromanagers cause bottlenecks because they can’t do the work of an entire team. If work can’t proceed until they’ve signed off on every decision, processes bog down. When managers take on tasks they should delegate, everything takes longer. And, the fact that they sweat the small stuff way too much can get in the way of working efficiently.

Sometimes micromanagers aren’t conscious of what they’re doing and how it’s impacting their team. Communication and leadership training can make a huge difference. Other times it stems from compulsive behavioral issues or deep confidence deficits, issues that require more comprehensive interventions.

Good managers communicate clear expectations, then empower employees to do their best work and reach organizational goals. They offer feedback and support while showing trust in employees’ abilities to deliver. They encourage creativity and innovation and foster trust and loyalty within their organization.

When East Texas employers need to hire strong leaders, they call Brelsford Personnel. You can learn more about what we offer on our Employers Page.

Do These 5 Things to Minimize Worker Anxiety

person indoors sitting at computer

Employees feel stressed when bosses ask them to do things outside their knowledge and they don’t feel like resources and support exists to help them succeed. They’re anxious when they don’t feel like they can cope, and that failure is going to hurt.

Anxious employees are less effective. They’re more likely to make mistakes. They have reduced energy for creative thinking. Over time they may come resentful or develop long-term mental health problems.

Top Causes of Anxiety

SHRM cites a study finding 80 percent of American workers are stressed out by at least one thing at work. Top stressors include:

  • Low salaries
  • Few opportunities for professional growth or advancement
  • Too many responsibilities
  • Extremely long hours
  • Unrealistic expectations from management

The shift toward remote work has exacerbated anxiety issues. Schedules became flexible, and lines blurred between work time and personal time. Some employees had a harder time taking a mental break from work and put pressure on themselves to be always available and endlessly productive. Here’s how employers can help.

#1 – Teach Workers to Recognize Anxiety Early

Stress creeps in quietly, settling in like a shadow that eventually becomes a monster. People cope better when they notice anxiety early and refocus their thoughts in a positive direction. Have a frank conversation about how to recognize the symptoms of anxiety, relax in the moment and replace negative self-talk.

First, employees can self-check for physical symptoms. For some, anxiety feels like butterflies in the stomach or jittery hands and feet. Others feel tension in the neck and shoulders, headaches, an elevated pulse or shortness of breath. Sometimes it’s enough to listen to your body, take a few deep breaths and let go of things outside your control.

Next, identify the thoughts lurking in your subconscious that are causing anxiety. You may be telling yourself messages like these:

  • If I don’t get this right, I’ll never have a chance at a promotion.
  • I’m totally out of my depth here, I’m going to fail.
  • I just sounded like a total idiot.
  • I’ll never get everything done.
  • They must think I’m _ (taking too long, not working hard enough, unqualified etc.)
  • My boss will be furious if I let him/her down.

Replace those with statements that are truthful, supportive and kind.

#2 – Review Expectations

This past year, job responsibilities may have shifted so that employees are doing very different tasks from those for which they were hired. Employees might have said yes to new responsibilities, then found they didn’t have the time or the resources to keep up.

If things have changed, clarify how. Document which responsibilities they’ve taken on and ones for which they’re no longer responsible. Define expectations for work hours and communication outside of those times.

Employers and human resource professionals might analyze what changes have taken place to see if the expectations are still reasonable and if pay is fair for the skills and effort required. Adjusting responsibilities or providing a raise could turn stressed out workers into ones who are grateful and engaged.

Adjusting responsibilities or providing a raise could turn stressed out workers into ones who are grateful and engaged.

#3 – Express Appreciation

Send an email or stop staff members in the hall to thank them for their hard work. When projects pile up and you know teams are putting in extra hours to deliver, express recognition and gratitude. Offer an afternoon off or flexible scheduling to say thank you as they reach milestones.

#4 – Request Feedback

Encourage employees to speak up if there’s something they need. It might be training, software, office equipment, or clear pathways for growth. If it isn’t feasible have those conversations one on one, use a survey, email or comment box.

#5 – Hire More Staff

Many hands really do make light work. If there aren’t enough hours in the day to get the job done, and the workload is too heavy for existing staff, the best choice might be hiring additional employees. Tell us what your organization needs and we’ll be glad to help.

Customer Service Skills – Definition and Examples

Customer Service Skills – Definition and Examples

Is customer service a job or a skill? Sometimes job seekers see an open position with a title like “customer service representative.” Other times, they might look at other types of positions where the job description requires they have ‘customer service skills.’ Sometimes providing support is the position. Other times it’s a soft skill candidates need to demonstrate on a regular basis.

For example, at grocery and department stores there’s typically a counter marked “customer service” staffed by people who handle returns and complaints. Employees’ main role is to effectively solve problems and keep customers satisfied.

Other jobs might have a different primary function, but still require customer service skills. A restaurant manager, receptionist or sales rep aren’t hired primarily to deal with grumbles and requests, but if they don’t have the soft skills associated with customer service, they won’t be successful in their role.

Skills Plural

Customer Service involves a set of skills and the ability to choose the right ones depending on the situation, much like a craftsman choosing different tools depending on the job.

Strong Communication

Most people have had the frustrating experience of trying to explain to a customer service rep what they need and just not getting through. One or both sides lack the communication skills needed to deliver a clear message and work through problems to a resolution.

People who are good at customer service have the ability to understand what the consumer or team member is saying, converse in easy to understand terms and rephrase or paraphrase where there’s confusion.

Attentive Listening

People with solid customer service skills give the speaker their full attention and focus all their senses on what he or she is trying to communicate. They’re engaged, non-defensive and non-judgmental.

They make eye contact, repeat back statements to clarify, ask open-ended questions and allow the speaker plenty of time to articulate their concerns. Active listening goes a long way toward diffusing potential conflict because the consumer or team member feels “heard.”

Problem Solving

Problem solvers pinpoint the problem, brainstorm solutions, evaluate options, implement the plan and evaluate results. If their first try isn’t successful, they start over. They’re quick thinkers, and they’re not intimidated when they face an unexpected challenge.


Most people try to solve problems themselves before they reach out for help. Once they exhaust DIY options and contact support, they’re already frustrated. They might be angry because things aren’t working right or embarrassed to admit they don’t have the knowledge needed to find their own solution. Frustrated individuals aren’t always friendly.

Good customer service representatives and people with the soft skills of customer service listen and react with patience. They don’t take bluster personally. They’re also not in a hurry to just make the individual go away. Their main goal in that moment becomes finding lasting resolution. Sometimes that means teaching the customer or staff member what they need to know to avoid that type of frustration next time.

People with good customer service skills might need to help a certain number of people in a day, but they never seem to be watching the clock. Every interaction is personalized and focused on the individual they’re currently helping.

Friendly and Empathetic

Good customer service representatives and people who demonstrate this soft skill communicate with warmth and empathy. They are able to identify with customers who are in a hurry, frazzled, irritated or confused. They make an emotional connection when they speak with kindness and sympathy, then they use positive language as they work toward a solution.


There’s no replacement for knowledge when it comes to customer service. You can be super nice and eager to help, but if you don’t know how, the problem will continue to exist. Customer service involves knowing what your company offers and, when it breaks, how to fix it.

Having extensive knowledge also creates confidence. Consumers or staff immediately sense you aren’t going to be thrown off by their request. You’ve seen it all before and you know how to solve their problem, so their frustration will be over soon.

Acting Abilities

Sometimes even if you fix the problem, replace the product, refund the money, offer freebies and do everything else at your disposal, the person you’re dealing with still isn’t happy. When they keep expressing their dissatisfaction, when they’re rude and combative, people with customer service skills are able to be diplomatic, even when they don’t feel that way inside.

Hiring Customer Service Unicorns

If you own a business or are in charge of hiring, you already know how hard it can be to find employees with customer service skills. Brelsford Personnel has an extensive database of pre-screened candidates. We can connect you with new hires who create a positive view of your business at every interaction. Tell us what you need when you get in touch.

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.