Candidate References

The hiring process can sometimes be long and anxiety-laden for both the candidate and hiring manager. The candidate thinks: do they like me? Am I on the short-list of candidates? Will they ask me to move on to the next round? The hiring manager thinks: will this candidate be able to perform this role? Are they a good cultural fit for the company? Will they accept the offer if we were to extend it to them?

Careful Selection
These questions sometimes aren’t all answered until a hiring decision has been made, however, speaking to a candidate’s references can offer perspective and insight into a candidate that the hiring manager might otherwise not get just by speaking to the candidate directly. For this reason, candidates should be careful when selecting references to present to either a hiring manager or recruiter.

Get Permission
It is customary to have a former supervisor or coworker agree to serve as a reference for you before you distribute their contact information. This allows them to be prepared when being contacted by a prospective employer on your behalf but it also gives them time to think and bring memories of you and your work to the forefront of their mind.

Having someone agree to serve as a reference largely ensures that they will speak positively of you and want the best for you and your career trajectory. However, you should still give careful thought to who you want representing your work, knowledge and skills. A lukewarm reference, while not terrible, won’t put you a notch ahead of another candidate of equal standing that supplied spectacular references. Also, a reference from so far in your past will have the safe effect. While not a deal-breaker, this might bring up more questions than reassurances for the hiring manager, such as: why didn’t the candidate supply a person from the recent past? Is there a reason the candidate went so far back in their job history? Has their work or temperament shifted?

The Icing on a Cake
Reference checks and conversations can be viewed like the icing on a cake. Usually by the time a hiring manager or recruiter speaks with a candidate’s references, an opinion has already formed of the candidate based on their resume, cover letter and direct conversations with them. Maybe writing samples have also been provided and they’ve met multiple members of the team. Now, the references come in and solidify an already favorable opinion of a top candidate.

Worst Case Scenario
Instead of being the icing on a cake, reference checks could also be a bad litmus test of a candidate, if not handled properly. If a candidate passed along reference contact details thinking it was just a formality and didn’t take the time to touch base with the reference and that person either didn’t want to serve as a reference or spoke negatively of the candidate, this candidate’s chances of getting offered the job are slim to none. This scenario applies to recruiters as well as direct hiring managers. If a candidate is working with a recruiter and the recruiter (or HR representative of the staffing agency) has a negative conversation with a reference, the odds are good that the recruiter will not want to represent this candidate for a job.

Hidden Benefit
A positive benefit of having conversations with people you would like to serve as references is that you get to keep in touch with people that have either shaped or been a part of your career journey. If you used to interact with someone during every business day, both of you would enjoy updating each other on your professional life.
Reference checks are an important piece of the hiring puzzle and one that should be given adequate thought and attention.

You’re Hired! Now What?

The phrase that every job candidate loves to hear: “you’re hired!” Emotions run strong and all the preparation that was put towards securing the position finally feels validated. However, now is the time to actively transition from having secured the job to starting off on the right foot with your new company. Consider the following:

Appearance

Chances are you had at least one in-person interview, during which time you noticed how the employees dressed. Now is the time to take stock of your wardrobe to be sure you have clothes that match the culture of your new environment. As formal corporate suits and khakis with a polo are completely different office cultures, it is important you meet expectations in the clothing department, especially if you will be interfacing with clients or external visitors.

Bonus: treat yourself to a haircut! Walking in the office on day one with a fresh haircut will give you a confidence boost and after working hard for the position, you’ve earned it!

Training

If you commented during an interview how you would be willing to learn a program or skill, now is a great time to research class offerings or watch a few online tutorials on the subject. Actively trying to improve yourself already will be an impressive quality that your new boss and coworkers will appreciate.

Network

So you’ve done your homework on the company to prepare for the interviews, but now is the perfect time to do research on LinkedIn to figure out team structures and everyone’s experience. If you already have some semblance of faces, names, and job titles, you will be ahead of the game and will feel less intimidated when meeting a lot of people on your first day.

Travel

Taking a dry run of your new commute at the time you would actually be commuting will prove invaluable as you will be able to get an accurate picture of how much time you will need. Traffic patterns, probability of accidents given certain roads or highways and bus or train timetable accuracy are all issues to be conquered ahead of your first day so you don’t leave anything to chance.

These four items will help you get into the right mindset for your new role and company and will alleviate, as much as possible, the first day jitters.

Interview Ready Resume

The beginning of the job process is centered around a candidate’s resume. Whether you submit your resume directly or work with a recruiter, the company will first judge your candidacy based on your resume. Don’t let the below resume pitfalls keep you from a job opportunity that could be a great next step in your career.

Basic Grammar

Not using the proper tense for present and past jobs can not only confuse the hiring manager, but make you appear sloppy and not having attention to details. Same goes for spelling and punctuation. It is imperative that you take your time when writing your resume and each time you make additions with current jobs and experiences. Even if you have the exact experience a company is looking for, they will proceed with another candidate that has the same background but with a flawless resume.

Accuracy

Exactly reflecting the month and year you started and ended with each company is a basic expectation on a resume. Unfortunately, people either don’t include the months or include inaccurate or false dates. This could have very negative consequences on your candidacy.

Accuracy in what you list as your experience is equally important. Each line on your resume and each skill that is included is fair game for interview questions, so be sure you are able to expand upon everything that your resume contains.

Formatting

Depending on the industry, a clean, reader-friendly resume is your best option. Consistent formatting of titles, companies, dates and bullet points throughout the resume is key. This will allow the hiring manager to quickly scan for salient information while also viewing you as an organized, professional candidate.

Length

A resume should not be an exhaustive list of every task you performed at every job you’ve had. Reflecting on the title of the job you are applying for, it is optimal to tailor your past experiences and skills to what is required and desired by the company for that specific role. Be sure to include all the experience you have that matches what they are seeking, and then offer additional details of your work history during the interview process.

Your resume is the first example of your work product and you want it to reflect positively on you as a candidate. If you follow these tips, you will be in great shape to begin discussions with a company that could be your next employer!

All I Want for 2018 is a Job Change: How to Make it Happen

With under 3 weeks to go until the New Year, scenes of family dinners, fireplaces and presents are already dominating peoples’ minds. If one of those “presents” you are hoping for is a different job, you are in luck because December is a great time to put the wheels in motion for a start date with a different company come January.

Apply-Network-Apply some more

If you have been dreaming of sitting behind a desk at a certain company and want to make it come to fruition, put yourself out there and not only apply to open positions that you are certain are in your wheelhouse, but tap into your network to start relationships within that company organically.

Do some research on LinkedIn and try to leverage your contacts for an introduction and take it from there, being sure to let them know of your interest in the company and willingness to meet them for coffee to learn more about the company and their career.

As your relationship grows, make sure to let them know when you’ve applied to positions at the company and if they could put in a good word for you to the HR department/hiring manager. Any personal connections/recommendations from internal employees goes a long way and will likely shorten your wait time in hearing about interviews/next steps.

Even if you don’t have a specific company you are pining for but instead are on the hunt for a change of title, more job growth, culture change, etc., the same process applies. Do some research and come up with a list of companies you think would fit the bill and then put the time into developing personal relationships with people that could open the necessary doors for you.

Call Friedman Williams

As fruitful as your job search can be on your own once you leverage your contacts, working with us will instantly put you in front of hiring managers. Our deep relationships with our clients puts you ahead of the pack and maximizes your chances of securing an interview. And, the more interviews you go on, the better your chances are in getting the offer you want. Let our recruiters help you today: 855-FW-HIRES or https://friedmanwilliams.com/submit-a-resume/.

Build your portfolio of skills

Right before the New Year is the perfect time to sharpen your skills and take advantage of workshops, seminars and certification classes that will add knowledge and value to not only your resume but your next potential company! Putting in the time to invest in your career will not only help you be a better employee but it will also showcase you as someone that takes their career seriously and is proactive and engaged in bettering themselves. Knowledge is never wasted!

If you have a solid skill set and the right attitude and personality, it will only be a matter of time until you find a company that aligns with your goals and experience. And December can be that time!

Q4 Projections and 2018 Forecasting of the Job Market

November is a month that brings the arrival of many things: Thanksgiving, the precipice of the holiday season and the realization that 2018 is almost here. In terms of the job market, Charles Schwab explains that Q4 connotes budget discussions, personnel adjustments and year-end money management. Thankfully, these corporate agenda items will be discussed in the midst of the continuing bull market.

But First, Some Q3 Notes

ADP made some interesting notations about Q3 performances in their “Workforce Vitality Index.”

They noted that the companies making the most hiring were the ones that had fewer than 500 employees.

ADP also found that the strong vitality growth in the construction and manufacturing industries has contributed to men having vitality that hasn’t been this strong for three years, even exceeding the vitality of women.

Strong Q4

“The market has been very strong over the last few years with our clients looking to hire top talent before the end of the year. And plenty have had the budget to do so,” explains James Martinos, Client Account Manager and Senior Recruiter with Friedman Williams.

Experts from Charles Schwab agree.

Historically since 1952, Charles Schwab experts Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Jeffrey Kleintop explain that November and December remain among the strongest performing months of the year.

James has found that in his experience Q4 has been “consistently strong” and he is expecting this one “to continue the recent Q4 trend with the budget and head counts being strong for hiring. The need to hire qualified candidates with the overall profit growth of companies is driving the market.”

Sonders, Sorensen and Kleintop reference the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey as reflecting job openings topping over six million, a banner rate.

Prosperous Job Market

Survey participants of Dr. Richard Curtin, Director, Surveys of Consumers at University of Michigan and Brilliant corroborate the same results while also detailing important predictions for Q4.

The survey findings were of over 850 hiring managers and human resources personnel that hire within accounting, finance and information technology. Respondents predict job openings remaining prosperous with also reflecting the most successful hiring being done through recruiting firms.

An interesting survey conclusion is that the participants noted that corporate accounting jobs such as financial analysts and tax accountants were the most common accounting and finance job openings, with software development and database administrators being the most common in IT.

Christopher Lee, National Group Manager for Friedman Williams, feels that “leadership positions and client facing roles are more and more available; a slow-down in hiring is not what is ahead.”

Not only will the job market be plentiful but the rate at which companies will be making these hiring decisions will be fast.

Quick Hiring Decisions

“If we have the right candidate, our clients are moving very quickly,” states Martinos of Friedman Williams.

The Curtin/Brilliant survey data makes the same conclusion that “nearly all open positions are of recent origin. Of the 38 percent of businesses that reported open accounting / finance positions, 34 percent have been unfilled for 3 months or less.”

These rates support the current successful job market as employees feel comfortable to make job changes knowing that competitive salary and benefits will be offered and, oftentimes very significant to candidates, a quick hiring decision will be made.

Q4 Skills to Improve

When looking for a job change, deficiencies in current skills are highlighted for candidates as they move through the interview process (if there are any). Survey participants were asked to identify the biggest skill gaps and within accounting and finance, the largest was problem solving, followed by communication. This shows that not only are technical skills important but so is the ability to translate information and opinions.

An important notation about skills within the hiring process is made by Lee’s 2017 experience: “The battle of talent is always a crucial one for clients. Many clients are driving their hiring with the most interpersonally qualified candidates, even if they are lacking some of the technical proficiencies needed for a position. They desire the will, the drive for learning and the demonstration of a focused work-ethic and can train in areas not yet developed. This has been even present in 2017 and I see this trend continuing in 2018.”

Harvey, Irma and Maria

As strong and stable as Q4 is projected to be, the recent hurricanes will have an impact on the economic data, albeit not at an overwhelming rate. Charles Schwab explains that since the economic numbers have been steadily increasing, rebuilding in the affected areas may constitute a short bump, but will overall not largely affect the economic numbers other than a slight downward curve. In their National Economic Outlook of September 2017, The PNC Financial Services Group noted that gasoline prices were most affected by Hurricane Harvey this past September.

Q4 Glass Half Full

As with any optimistic outlook, there are usually cautionary factors to consider. Charles Schwab thinks that the bull market is here to stay for the time being and will begin to change to a bear market when the stock market begins to sense a recession.

Tight Labor Market

PNC and the Curtin/Brilliant survey are reporting on the tightening of the labor market.

James Martinos has found that in his experience “great candidates are always in need, more so now than ever. The labor market for highly qualified candidates is thin and our clients are relying on us more than ever to find the skilled candidate for their open positions.”

James’ experience supports the survey result of recruiting firms having the most placement success. As the survey points out, companies oftentimes have to pay a higher salary to replace an employee than if they were continuing that person’s modest wage increase.

Inflation as a Factor

Charles Schwab explains that the factor of inflation could come into play in Q4: the “key to watch will be whether traditional measures of wage inflation starts to take hold…” Charles Schwab expert Kleintop further investigated the issue of inflation and found that the current bull market may be undermined if central banks aggressively anticipate inflation through the tightening labor market, specifically the global labor market. He explains that since the current unemployment rate hasn’t been this low since 2001, wage inflation can start to increase at a faster rate next year if unemployment dips even further.

Thumbs Up for Moving Forward

In their Economic Outlook, Edward Jones assesses the current economic climate as indicators for what will most likely happen in the near future. They anticipate the economy to experience continued growth with regulatory relief, confident consumers, low interest rates, wages continuing to modestly grow and increases in spending due to the unemployment rate lowering.

The possibility of tax cuts may even improve the 2018 numbers even more if it comes to fruition.

Christopher Lee anticipates that “projects and initiatives are continuing from the previous year and being green-lighted for the current year. Our business is accustomed to seeing an uptick in hiring during this time of year; our clients want their new and key team members in place early in the year, helping to drive these projects forwards towards the desired results.”

2018 By the Numbers

The PNC Financial Services Group published their National Economic Outlook this past September and their findings align with those of Edward Jones. They anticipate the Real GDP to increase as well as the amount of payroll jobs (Real GDP has been increasing steadily since 2016).

PNC details that “with solid fundamentals for consumer spending, business investment, and the housing market, the U.S. economy will continue to expand throughout 2018. Real GDP growth will be 2.2 percent in 2017 and accelerate to 2.7 percent in 2018, with support from rebuilding, expected tax cuts, and an expanding global economy.”

In terms of the job market, no matter what year or time of the year, Lee explains that “our recruiters know that constant education and reinforcement of critical market information leads to everyone’s desired career results.”

In short, the current and predicted near future is ripe for exploring the job market and feeling confidence about how the stock market has and will continue to perform.
—–
Sources:
“ADP Workforce Vitality Index 3rd Quarter 2017.” ADP, 20 Oct. 2017. <http://workforcereport.adp.com/2017/3/wvi.aspx>

“Economic Outlook.” Edward Jones, 5 Oct. 2017. www.edward jones.com/market-news-guidance/quarterly-market-outlook/economic-outlook.html

Faucher, Gus, et al. “September 2017 National Economic Outlook.” The PNC Financial Services Group, 5 Oct. 2017. <pnc.com/content/dam/pnc-com/pdf/aboutpnc/EconomicReports/NEO%20Reports/NEO_092017.pdf>

Kleintop, Jeffrey. “Infation May Be The Biggest Question For Investors in 2018.” Charles Schwab, 5 Oct. 2017. <https://www.schwab.com/resource-center/insights/content/inflation-may-be-biggest-question-investors-2018>

Kleintop, Jeffrey, et al. “Schwab Market Perspective: Fourth Quarter Fun…of Folly?” Charles Schwab, 5 Oct. 2017. <https://www.schwab.com/resource-center/insights/content/market-perspective>

Lee, Christopher. Personal interview. 9 Oct. 2017.

Martinos, James. Personal interview. 9 Oct. 2017.

Wong, Jim. “Brilliant Q4 2017 Accounting, Finance and Information Technology Hiring Forecast.” Brilliant, 5 Oct. 2017. <BFS_2017_Q4_HiringForecast_WEB.pdf>

Position Profile: Executive Assistant

Basic Scope of an Executive Assistant’s Duties:

  • Serve as gatekeeper to executive with both people and information
  • Manage communication and correspondence with a highs sense of confidentiality
  • Timely alert executive with relevant news, updates and messages
  • Manage complex calendar, meetings and itineraries
  • Serve as host to visitors of the office
  • Manage transportation and trip details as well as updates and changes
  • Manage finances by drafting expense report and other necessary financial reporting
  • Think ahead and present suggestions and tips to executive to ensure seamless flow of daily tasks

What are the usual requirements of an Executive Assistant?

  • Bachelor’s degree, dependent on the organization
  • Strong written and verbal skills
  • Strong organization and resourcefulness
  • Ability to think on your feet and be a problem solver with minimum instruction
  • Sense of decorum and confidentiality
  • Strong ability to multi-task and be proactive
  • Software and other technical skills will vary depending on the organization but often include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook
  • Flexibility to work after hours and be reachable when necessary

How does an Executive Assistant differ from an Administrative Assistant?
An Executive Assistant has an enhanced role and directly supports an executive of the company as the first point of contact for the executive’s office. The scope of duties is often more complex and rigorous and focused on one executive, as opposed to an Administrative Assistant supporting more than one person. The Executive Assistant is also privy to a larger scope of sensitive and confidential information about the organization and executive and will need to exhibit a high degree of decorum and professionalism at all times. Depending on the organization, an Executive Assistant may mentor and or supervise Administrative Assistants within the same department as the executive.

What education is usually required or most beneficial?
This all depends on the organization itself and the type of industry but generally speaking, a Bachelor’s Degree is usually preferred or required. If the job description notes that a degree is required, there is typically no room for negotiation. In terms of specific areas of study, all education can be relevant and useful if presented the correct way. If a candidate has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and applies for an Executive Assistant role at an accounting firm, that will be of interest to the employer. If a candidate is a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s in English and conveys strong writing ability and communication skills in the interview, that is relevant and helpful.

What is a typical salary range?
Salary can vary greatly depending on the organization and industry. For example, a nonprofit will pay a lot less than a law firm or financial sector organization. What a candidate should keep in mind when considering salary is how the overall quality of life will be in the position relative to the salary, such as benefits, commute, etc.

What will give me an edge when interviewing for an Executive Assistant role?
Prior Executive Assistant experience is always helpful and a plus, but the necessary qualities and characteristics of the position must be conveyed in the interview. Supplying these through exact examples of past experiences and work product is the goal. With such a key position as this, oftentimes personality, presentation and demeanor are as important as technical skills. If the executive doesn’t feel he or she can trust you with sensitive information, you will not be offered the role.

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