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.

Tomorrow’s Workforce – What They’re Saying Today

Tomorrow’s Workforce – What They’re Saying Today

Lately if you’ve watched anything filmed in 2019 or earlier that showed a busy workplace, you might have felt caught in a time warp. “That was pre-pandemic,” you may have told yourself. “It doesn’t look like that anymore.” You may have also wondered a little nostalgically if it will ever look that way again.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict the workforce of tomorrow will function, think and produce in ways that are much different from the traditional model. What will the changes be? The answer to that question depends both on what’s happening with the current workforce and what high school and college aged individuals are experiencing today.

Change, Accelerated

Even if the first COVID-19 infection never happened, the way people work was already changing. Artificial intelligence was already replacing grocery store checkers, assembly-line workers, proofreaders and market research analysts. Technology also made it easier to outsource tasks to contractors, hire people who lived in another country and work outside the office.

The powerful forces of globalization and artificial intelligence were already reshaping work. Children who started middle school five years ago had already begun experiencing the world through virtual reality, personalized intelligent tutoring and machine-assisted collaboration. Brands looked to technology to assist in their struggle against employee disengagement and to unpack the growing mountains of available data.

Pandemic-induced disruptions accelerated the change that was already happening. As we struggled to understand the long-term repercussions, organizations like the World Economic Forum, Harvard Business School and Deloitte created reports analyzing the current situation and predicting how it would affect tomorrow’s workforce. Here we summarize some of their key findings.

Expect Continued Acceleration

Vaccine development isn’t the only thing traveling at warp speed. Technology adoption is expected to snowball. Businesses that a few years ago were content with the way things always were are now researching cloud computing, e-commerce, data encryption and artificial intelligence.

Lockdowns and economic concerns drove companies to rely more heavily on machines. Artificial intelligence doesn’t get sick, spread germs or need time off to help with online learning. It never shows up to a virtual meeting in sweatpants and doesn’t ask for ergonomic equipment for the home office.

Where before technology adoption and task automation seemed intimidating and expensive, it became a necessity. Now a larger percentage of the work done by humans is accomplished by machines.

Tomorrow’s Workforce is Rethinking Options

If you talk to high school and college age groups, you’ll find they’re looking for opportunity, but not always along traditional pathways. Around half of surveyed Gen Z members (those born between 1997 and 2012) say they’re interested in something other than a four-year degree. They’re worried a college degree might bury them under a mountain of debt, that they might not be able to find a good job even with a degree and that they might not have the skills they need even if they do find work in their desired field.

Gen Z is the most populous generation since the Baby Boomers. Older members currently make up 24 percent of the global workforce.

Training, Reskilling and Upskilling Will be Key

What is tomorrow’s workforce saying today?

  • 29 percent say they are less likely to attend a four-year university because of the pandemic
  • Almost a fourth of them say they don’t intend to continue their formal education after high school
  • 38 percent say they feel companies should pay for some form of continuing education
  • 61 percent say obtaining skills-based education might be a better way to achieve the success they desire

Gen Z and Millennials have thinking and working patterns in common. They want to make a meaningful contribution, to have flexibility in their schedule and to receive recognition for their efforts. Gen Z members are digital natives, and pre-pandemic were predicted to be the most educated generation. They’re more comfortable with technology than older generations will ever be.

They’re interested in learning skills that will help them get ahead, and they’ll be attracted to companies that can help them achieve those goals. Because the economic landscape will continue to shift, holding a four-year degree in one subject might not be as important as the ability to develop proficiency at tasks as they appear.

Takeaways for Employers

One of the best ways to future-proof your workforce is to think now in terms of reskilling and upskilling. Start doing so now to keep existing employees engaged, attract the right kind of talent and prepare for periods of rapid change.

When you need the right person with the right skills now and you don’t have time to send someone through an extended learning program, call Brelsford Personnel. We match East Texas companies with workers who already have the skills needed to get the job done. Contact us online today.

How to Encourage Different Opinions Without Hiring a Bouncer

How to Encourage Different Opinions Without Hiring a Bouncer

People want to feel like their opinions are valued. They also want to work somewhere they feel psychologically safe. However, in our polarized society differing viewpoints can turn to arguments fast. Some managers feel like they’d be safer walking through a field of land mines than encouraging team members to share their opinions.

Successful leaders know how to create an inclusive work environment so people feel like they can share without getting attacked. They understand how to allow, sometimes even encourage healthy disagreements because they can lead to outside-the-box thinking.

Re-Frame Thinking on Differences

When someone disagrees with us, feeling threatened is a common response. We may have to give up an opinion or ideal we believe is “right.” The other person seems to think they know better than we do and it’s hard not to take that personally. We might be about to experience open hostility. It’s unpredictable and uncomfortable.

That tension and defensiveness cause us to shut down. We’re no longer listening to others; instead we’re preparing our stand or looking for a graceful retreat.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In the workplace among professionals, it shouldn’t be. When individuals feel safe, creative tension can lead to learning and innovation.

The first step is becoming aware of our emotional reaction to differences of opinion. If we start to feel tension when we realize someone has a different viewpoint, that tension can act as a trigger to become defensive or it can trigger introspection.

Encourage team members to recognize that tension over differing viewpoints signals opportunity. It means other perspectives or ideas are present. Workers have a chance to add to their knowledge and experience. It’s possible to share opposing views without determining that one person is right or wrong, good or bad, the winner or loser.

Conflict Isn’t Always Bad

Most of us have been in a situation where the majority wanted to move one direction and we weren’t so sure that was best, but we didn’t speak up. Conforming feels like forcing yourself into a mold you were never meant to fit, but sometimes the pressure to do so is intense.

Scaffold the development of better people skills so workers feel encouraged to express their opinions and understand disagreement is okay. Encourage individuals to learn to temporarily suspend the need to be right and instead look for common purposes.

As a team or organization, brainstorm ways to communicate respectfully even when individuals feel that tension. Allow workers to create behavioral guidelines for communicating differences of opinion. Document those guidelines, agree together to follow them, and keep them handy to reference as needed.

Then, start to invite discussions, healthy debates and exchanges. Try not to jump in at the first sign of tension. A competitive environment can be a good thing, and teams that have experienced conflict and worked through it develop a deeper respect for each other’s strengths.

Have Private Conversations

Sometimes you know individuals are too far apart on an issue, all sides have innovative ideas, and there isn’t time to come to a meeting of the minds. In that situation, don’t hold an open discussion.

Instead, have one-on-one conversations or ask for written input from individual contributors. It’s also a good idea to have a formal process for employees to privately submit opinions and suggestions even when you’re not asking for them.

Manage Strong Personalities as Needed

It can seem like the people most in need of sensitivity training are the least interested in reining in their abrasive behaviors. Others might describe them as brilliant but toxic, an antisocial genius, someone who does good work but engages in inappropriate or destructive behavior.

Sometimes leaders have to be the bouncer. That doesn’t mean you have to threaten to send that employee home for the day every time they get cantankerous, but you will have to find ways to keep their negativity from destroying the innovative, inclusive culture you’re trying to create.

Meet with that person or group privately to see if there are personal issues or misconceptions causing them to be unnecessarily combative. Give them prompt, critical feedback and work with them to identify specific behaviors that make open sharing impossible. Review the guidelines your group agreed on. Prompt them to make apologies if they crossed lines and coach them on how they can handle conversations in a more positive manner next time.

Hire the Right Employees

Sometimes certain individuals just aren’t a good fit, and that makes things difficult for everyone. Brelsford Personnel works with East Texas businesses to find employees that are a good match for their existing culture and who have the communication and people skills necessary to be successful in their role. If you would like to know more about working with us, send us a message online.

5 Steps to Solid Workplace Decision-Making

5 Steps to Solid Workplace Decision-Making

In business, we also admire people who are confident, assertive and quick thinking. However, the ones who are successful over time aren’t just lucky, and they don’t leap before they look. Instead, they’ve honed their decision-making skills with experience, and they are continually adding to their knowledge and experience base.

In action movies, the hero makes infallible split-second decisions. Part of what we admire about him or her is that brilliant decisiveness. There’s no self-doubt, no deliberation. They just somehow either have huge amounts of background knowledge or they’re incredibly lucky every single time.

Harvard Business Review says effective executives think in terms of what is strategic. They balance emotions with reason and see one decision as part of a bigger picture, and they follow the same basic process for making decisions large and small.

Clearly Define the Decision

Big problems can create emotionally turbocharged reactions. It’s natural to want to jump right to the fix, especially when you feel stressed, anxious or under pressure. However, successful workplace decision-making starts by making sure you clearly understand the question before you begin to formulate the answer.

Albert Einstein shared his decision-making approach when he said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” The Nobel Prize winning genius believed quality solutions came from careful research. He knew problems contain clues that allow you to better reach a successful conclusion.

Try not to see the decision at hand as positive or negative. Even if there’s a deadline hanging over your head, set that aside for a moment so your grey matter has more energy to fuel critical thinking.

The first step of solid workplace decision-making involves clearly identifying the problem you need to solve or the question you need to answer. Identify your goal as specifically as possible and set a time frame for achieving your goal or answering your question.

Research Options

Gather existing data. Brainstorm with your team to get solutions from multiple perspectives. Identify alternatives. Seek advice from industry experts or solicit feedback from customers. Consult studies, market research and, if necessary, advice from paid consultants. Check out what your competitors have done when they were faced with similar decisions.

Also, in some situations, it’s an option to do nothing, and it might be the best one. Fear of seeming indecisive isn’t a good reason to act, and it could get you in financial or legal hot water.

Identify Possible Outcomes and Consequences

Once you have a list of options, mentally and verbally walk through how each one might play out. Envision the worst case scenario, and who might be affected if that’s how things go. With that in mind, rank your choices from best decision to possibly most problematic.

Implementation

Being thorough is good, but don’t get so bogged down that you end up with analysis paralysis. It’s possible to go to extremes trying to consider every possible alternative. If you’re getting overwhelmed with the possibilities, take a step back and limit your consideration to the choices already showing the most promise.

Eventually it’s time to either take action on the decision you’ve made or decide you’re going to table the deliberation altogether, at least for the time. Come up with a plan to proceed in the direction you’ve chosen.

Analysis

In step one, when you identified the problem to solve or question to answer, you also should have set a time frame. When you reach that date, circle back to review whether or not your choice was a good one.

If things went as planned, were there hiccups along the way? If they didn’t, what can you learn from the mistakes? How can you unpack data and debrief with your team?

For Help With Hiring Decisions

Take the guesswork out of hiring when you work with Brelsford Personnel. We do the research, background checks, skills testing, interviewing and everything else to make sure you get the best employee for your needs. Send us a message if you’d like to know more.

Will Remote Interviewing Go Away Post Pandemic? Why We Say No

Will Remote Interviewing Go Away Post Pandemic? Why We Say No

Texas has lifted mask mandates and business restrictions. COVID infection rates are dropping, and an increasing number of people have received vaccinations. Travel and traffic are picking up.

As people return to in-person instead of virtual interactions, will Zoom meetings and online interviews become a thing of the past? We don’t think so for a number of reasons.

Employers Have Invested Heavily in Remote Interviewing

Remote interviewing technology existed before COVID but most companies weren’t using it because it was just more comfortable to stick to the status quo. Evaluating candidates through phone and video interviews wasn’t necessarily harder, but it was definitely different. Since before the pandemic the bulk of the work would be accomplished in person at the workplace, it made sense to conduct interviews there too.

Then, employers everywhere found themselves forced to shift. Conducting live interviews suddenly presented unnecessary health risks. When the CDC, the state and your local government recommends as few in-person interactions as possible, it doesn’t seem wise to have face to face interviews.

Organizations invested in technology and training to make remote work possible, and the same principles and tools were also useful for remote interviews. They had to overcome these major challenges:

  • Troubleshooting technical difficulties – Interviewers and job candidates struggled with technical aspects like audio, Wi-Fi and video conferencing apps.
  • Communicating company culture – Brands had to find ways to convey what they had to offer despite the fact hiring and onboarding were virtual.
  • Weeding through large numbers of applicants – Because geographic barriers were removed, job openings became available to a much larger pool of candidates.
  • Managing scheduling conflicts – Before 2020 we all felt like if we didn’t have to commute, we would have so much more time. But with remote work, lines blurred and business hours became less concrete.

The businesses that were ultimately successful in terms of staffing and recruiting were the ones who invested in tools and processes to overcome those challenges. Now they’ve made it through the growing pains, many won’t want to switch back.

Good Workers are Harder than Ever to Find – Geographic Flexibility Helps

Hiring managers from almost every industry we work with have expressed frustration with the difficulty of finding people who are qualified and willing to give 100 percent. What’s coming through the talent pipeline seems more like a sporadic trickle than a flood.

One of the main reasons we expect employers to keep using remote interviews is that they become able to evaluate interested candidates from anywhere in the world. Around two-thirds of the businesses that switched to remote work because of COVID-19 say they will keep work-from-home policies in place in some measure for the long term. That means new hires can come from anywhere.

Comfort Levels Have Changed

It’s already hard to remember what it felt like to interact with people before the pandemic. Now it feels more normal to talk through plexiglass or via computer. We stand far apart and think twice about shaking hands. Health officials caution even vaccinated individuals of the continuing danger.

Americans feel less comfortable walking into strange environments and interacting with others. Interviewers worry about taking germs home to their families. Hiring managers could catch something from a candidate and spread it around the office.

Even if COVID-19 disappeared tomorrow, that mindset has unfortunately become part of our culture. Remote interviewing is more cost-effective, it can save time, and it feels safer.

Simplify Your Interview Process

If the talent pool looks to you more like a mud hole and the thought of giving more interviews gives you a headache, we can help. We’ll perform background and reference checks, use state-of-the-art skills assessment and testing tools to verify skills and present you with qualified, pre-screened candidates. Contact us for more information.

Remote Onboarding – Getting It Right

Remote Onboarding – Getting It Right

Some of the best advice for hiring top talent is harder to follow than ever. People want to work for a company that cares about them, that makes a difference in the community and that has a culture in line with their personal values. Wise employers hire for fit. But how do you expose new hires to that company culture when their first days and weeks are spent working remotely?

Today’s new hires can apply, interview and turn in paperwork without a single in-person interaction, but then what? If your offer implied they were about to experience a unique culture, opportunities to get noticed and meaningful collaboration and you don’t deliver, they might not stick around.

Even if your staff works at your physical location, things are different now. The office holiday parties, group participation in local charity races and in-person team building events aren’t happening the way they were before. In many workplaces common gathering areas are closed to protect employee health. Employers have to be more intentional with encouraging new hires to build personal connections, and it starts at onboarding.

Why Onboarding is Vital for Retention

When workers show up (or log in) for their first day, they’re already asking themselves whether or not they should stay. Here’s why your remote onboarding process is so important:

  • Only 12 percent of employees say their organization does a good job onboarding new hires.
  • Workers are more likely to quit when they’re new – turnover can be as high as 55 percent during the first 18 months.
  • Replacing and onboarding someone who quits can cost six to nine months of that person’s salary. Some experts say even more.

People decide to leave one job for another because they feel like the new job will be better than the last. Their decision-making process may have been logical, involving company research and comparing salary, benefits and perks. However, in the end, part of the decision was emotional.

Workers want to know they did the right thing, that their life really will be better. What happens during first interactions and first projects will shape their expectations of whether or not they’ll like working for your company long term.

Start Right by Showing Enthusiasm

New hires know employers are also asking themselves whether or not they made the right decision in offering them the job. They want to feel like you’re excited to have them and consider them a valuable addition to your team.

With any new hire, some employers focus on getting paperwork completed and filed away and training staff to complete tasks. All that has to take place, but before you jump into work, put effort into extending a heartfelt welcome.

Create a welcome thread using your group chat software. Encourage all staff members to join with a welcome message and brief introduction that includes their job title, where they’re working from and a friendly greeting.

Managers might start the day with a brief video call that expresses enthusiasm, then introduces them to the people with whom they’ll be working. Prompt team members to reach out through one-on-one messages to express excitement and offer support.

Assign a Mentor

Give new hires one point of contact they can trust to help them learn the ropes. Choose someone you know will be intentional about making connections and helping them adapt to their new work environment. Mentors might reach out daily at first with questions like these:

  • What are you working on today?
  • Are there any technology challenges that are causing you trouble?
  • What were the most unexpected aspects of your first day on the job?
  • If you could learn any professional skill, what would it be?
  • Where do you want to be a year from now in your career?

Create Virtual Interactions

When people show up every day at the same workplace, there’s regular built-in interaction. New hires note friendly body language and cheerful team members. They discover things they have in common from desk photos, organizational membership bumper stickers, sports team calendars and a host of other visual cues. Friendships form naturally over time.

People can still connect when working remotely, but it takes more work. For successful remote onboarding, managers should be intentional about helping break the ice.

Schedule virtual lunches or virtual coffee breaks for the first days and weeks that allow remote workers to connect. Pick up the tab with a prepaid card or allowance to order from a local delivery service.

Encourage staff to spend an hour a day working with their cameras on. Let workers know they don’t have to talk because it isn’t a meeting, but they have the opportunity to ask questions and exchange ideas.

Ask a few of the new hire’s team members to give a virtual tour of the space in which they’re working. Invite your new hire to do the same.

Send Swag

Give employees a tangible welcome with a company mug, shirt, hat, or all of the above. Send a care package with office supplies they’ll need to do their job. Add a welcome letter signed by their new manager or team and documents that outline your organization’s mission, goals and long-term vision. Make sure you’ve also provided remote hires with the technology essentials they need to get started and a contact person for troubleshooting.

Think Long Term

Your new hire might be able to complete your training videos and paperwork on their first day, but onboarding shouldn’t end so quickly. Don’t stop after a week. Onboarding should be a strategic process with stages for the first day, first week, first few months, and the first year.

One of the best ways to make sure you and your employees have a good experience is to hire the right person in the first place. At Brelsford Personnel, we specialize in connecting qualified, experienced East Texas workers with area employers for whom only the best will do. Contact us online to find out more about obtaining top-performing employees for your business.

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.

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 – Internet Do’s and Don’ts

Create Your Best Job – Internet Do’s and Don’ts

The fact that you’re reading this says you’ve already discovered that the Internet is packed with resources that can help you find a job. You’ll use online resources at every stage of your job search, from browsing job boards to research, to emailing resumes and cover letters, and following up on those emails. However, every day job seekers make online mistakes that hold them back. Follow these online best practices to create your best job.

Stay Out of Rabbit Holes

The Internet is one of the best ways to research job openings, companies, and positions. It also can be a time sucker. Be thorough, but know when to stop surfing and move to activities that will put you in contact with people who can hire you. Limit online research to no more than 30 percent of the time you spend job searching.

Proof Everything

A large percentage of employers now prefer candidates to complete an online application. It’s great to be able to apply for work from your couch, but it’s also time consuming to fill out each employer’s online forms. There’s a tendency to switch to autopilot or to rush through completing fields. Make sure you proofread carefully before you submit every application.

Follow These Email Best Practices

Often you’ll send cover letters and resumes by email. When hiring managers post jobs, they’re frequently inundated with candidates, so you might only have one chance to stand out.

Use an Appropriate Email Address

If you’re currently employed, don’t use your work email address. Send from a personal address that sounds professional and as simple as possible. If your personal email address uses a nickname or something cute, get another one just for your job search.

Write Compelling Subject Lines

Your subject line might be the most important part of your email because if hiring managers don’t read what you sent, you have zero chance of getting an interview. Here are a few examples of subject lines that get hiring managers to look at your cover letter and resume:

  • Paperwork You Requested
  • Bilingual Receptionist Job – Your Name
  • Referral From Tammy Green, Your Name, Candidate for Administrative Assistant Position
  • Job Application – Accountant Job # 45779 – Your Name, CPA

Craft Convincing Body Text

When they open your email, decision makers should find a clear, concise statement of who you are, what position you’re applying for, and why you’re qualified. Think of this as your two minute commercial formatted for email.

Stick to standard fonts and formatting, with black typeface. Avoid using emoji or acronyms. Don’t get too creative even with your signature line. Keep it simple, but include the following:

First Name, Last Name, Title
Email Address
Phone Number

Some companies prefer to receive cover letters and resumes in the email body, while others prefer candidates to send them as attachments. Follow their instructions, since some organizations block email with attachments to prevent viruses.

Send attachments as a Word document unless the job posting says otherwise. Save your documents with clear file names like “First-Name-Last-Name-Cover-Letter.doc” and “First-Name-Last-Name-Resume.doc” so the hiring manager knows what he or she is opening.

Send yourself a test email to double check your spelling, grammar, subject line, and attachments. Sometimes reviewing one more time prevents embarrassing mistakes.

Check Frequently, Reply Promptly

Check your email at least once a day, and reply to prospective employers as quickly as possible. If you can respond immediately, you may catch them while they’re still at their desk and you’re fresh on their mind. Always respond within 24 hours to avoid missing out on an opportunity.

Don’t Let (Social Media) Friends Drag You Down

At this point, you should have already gone through your social media feeds and removed any posts that don’t show you at your professional best. However, your online contacts might inadvertently make it hard to keep them that way. Let your friends know not to tag you in party photos or any other photos you don’t want prospective employers to see. Also, convey your preferences to that friend who always tags you when he or she posts political rants or inappropriate memes.

Silence Technology for Interviews

Part of technology etiquette involves knowing when you shouldn’t be plugged in. Don’t forget to turn off notifications when you’re heading into an interview. If your phone goes off you’ll be distracted and the hiring manager might feel getting a job with them isn’t your top priority.

Use Care With Follow Ups

Apply the same careful proof-reading skills, politeness, and professionalism to all follow-up communication. Don’t limit yourself to online interactions. After an interview consider hand-writing your thank you note to stand out.

Use Free Brelsford Personnel Resources

Visit our job board frequently for updates and check out our dynamic library of online job search resources.

Create Your Best Job – Following Up on Leads

Create Your Best Job – Following Up on Leads

When you’re looking for work following up isn’t optional, it’s mandatory. Let’s talk about when, how, and why you should follow up.

Why Does It Matter?

Employers want to hire individuals who are confident in their ability to do the job and also sincerely interested in working for them. When they have multiple qualified candidates and it’s tough to choose, much of the time they will go with the person they feel is most eager to work for them. You become that person when you follow up.

When to Follow Up

Develop a record-keeping system that helps you remember to follow up in these situations:

  • After you send a resume – In your cover letter, indicate that you would like to follow up a week after submitting it, and then do that.
  • When an employer reaches out to schedule an interview – The day before a phone, in person, or video interview is scheduled, follow up to confirm the details (and show your interviewer you’re both organized and excited at the prospect).
  • After each interview – As the interview comes to a close, ask everyone you met for a business card (so you have their email address). Then, send a thank you letter or email the same day or within 24 hours. Before you hit send, check and double check how you spelled their name and that you entered the correct email address. If a staffing firm scheduled your interview, send them a thank you note as well.
  • After a referral – If someone gave you a lead, let them know when you follow up and keep them informed of your progress.
  • When you provide references – Let everyone on your reference list know they might be contacted.
  • When you get a job offer – Send a thank you note to your new employer to express your enthusiasm for their offer.

How to Follow Up

Email is often the best way to reach out. It might be tempting to call the person directly, but sending an email shows you are extremely interested in the position, but you also respect his or her time. However, if the employer sends you a text message or makes a phone call, follow their lead and reply with the requested information using the same communication method.

If you don’t hear back after your initial follow-up message, it could be due to a lengthy interview process or because the hiring manager got busy. This might be the hardest part of a job search because your mind will suggest all kinds of things that make you swing between fear and hope. Don’t assume the worst; just remind yourself that the process takes time. Wait a full week, then send another polite email.

When working with a recruiting or staffing firm, it is also critical to maintain timely communication. If you are responsible and stay in regular touch with them, they will work actively on your behalf to connect you with job opportunities.

Following up demonstrates professionalism and helps people remember you. It gives you an opportunity to express gratitude and enthusiasm, both qualities employers prize. Review the job search activities you completed this week and identify opportunities for following up today, then get to work doing so right away.