Seeking Administrative, Clerical or Customer Service Hires? Here are Six Things to Look Out For

When you need to bring in the best talent to fill an administrative position, your approach will be vastly different than hiring for other skilled workers or executives. There is a unique set of characteristics you’re looking for, not to mention certain personality qualities to ensure a good fit. You might benefit from reviewing the best practices for hiring administrative, clerical or customer service staff before you begin the process.

Write up the qualities of your ideal candidate before you review resumes and conduct interviews.

Create an imaginary person who would be perfect to fill the position you need filled. Jot down notes on all the qualifications this employee must have, as well as other qualities that are desirable. This process will help you develop a job description for screening purposes.

Start off with email communications.

This tip is one of the best practices for hiring administrative, clerical or customer service staff. Emailing back and forth will give you an idea of how well this employee communicates with others, which is likely to be a large part of their daily tasks.

Consider personality when hiring an administrative, clerical or customer service employee.

It’s up to you to decide the personality traits that you value for your employees, so think about what type of person suits your company. If your own personality is serious and no-nonsense in the office, you’re not going to be happy with someone who’s more free-spirited and has a sense of humor. Determine the personality type which would be the right fit before you start conducting interviews.

Look for a problem solver who can work independently.

While an employee in an administrative or clerical position will require some guidance from you, it’s also important for him or her to think independently under the right circumstances. Someone who’s constantly asking questions before undertaking routine tasks or waiting for instructions isn’t ready for responsibility. You want a person who can act when necessary and solve problems without the need for hand-holding.

Don’t underestimate the significance of references.

You’ll obviously want to reach out to the people a candidate presents as references, but you need to dig deeper when hiring for an administrative employee. Ask colleagues in your industry whether they’re familiar with the references and can verify who they are.

Keep in mind that you’re hiring your replacement.

Whether this person actually does replace you at some point in the future, you should still approach the hiring process as if they will fill your shoes eventually. This methodology moves your business forward, as constant promotion from within is one of the characteristics that raises a company above the rest. You would look for leadership skills, dedication and commitment in hiring your replacement, and you should do so as well for an administrative position.

Of course, you might find that partnering with a staffing firm is one of the best practices for hiring administrative, clerical or customer service staff for your company. These agencies can be useful for busy business owners who can’t invest the time and money involved with hiring an ideal candidate for the job. Please contact the experts at KP Companies for all your administrative staffing needs. We also specialize in recruitment in the fields of accounting, legal, IT and executive search.

Best Practices for Utilizing the Services of an Executive Search

Bringing new talent to your organization is always a tough task, but it’s made even more difficult when you have to fill an executive position that requires a certain set of qualifications. At these times, many business owners turn to executive search companies to assist with the job; however, hiring the right firm also comes with its own set of challenges. If you’re considering retaining an agency to help, you should be aware of the best practices for utilizing the services of an executive search firm.

Do your homework

Just as with any business relationship, you should carefully review the agency that you’ll hire to handle an executive search. Make sure they understand your specific needs and the qualifications for the position, as well as your industry.

Make sure you’re comfortable with the point person at your executive search company

It’s important that you can work well with the individual who will be spearheading your executive search, as you’ll be in constant communication. You’ll need to know who is leading the process, reaching out to candidates, reviewing resumes and handling interviews. Also find out whether this will be the same person from start to finish.

Understand the impact of non-poaching agreements

The best practices for utilizing the services of an executive search firm include an understanding of non-poaching pacts. These are agreements signed by an agency wherein they are prevented from hiring talent away from their former and current clients. The pacts may mean your company doesn’t have access to a certain executive at another organization.

Ask the right questions before retaining a firm

There are certain basics that you’ll need to know about the agency’s operations. Ask how they handle the hiring process and where they initiate their searches. You should also find out what, if anything, the firm will do in the event that a hire doesn’t work out for your company.

Determine how billing will be handled

There are a few ways that an executive search firm is compensated for their services. A contingency arrangement means that you pay when you hire a candidate they brought to you, typically, as a percentage of the executive’s first year compensation. A retainer-based agency will maintain a relationship with your company for a specified time period during which they work to fill a position. These arrangements require you to pay a certain amount in installments that coincide with certain hiring benchmarks.

Know what efficiency metrics an executive search firm uses

The most respected agencies will present metrics to demonstrate their success, so you have access to hard numbers to find out how efficient they are at placements. Common metrics include time to fill a position, their executive diversity ratios and retention levels. You should also ask about the average salary of the executives they place with companies similar to yours.

The best practices for utilizing the services of an executive search firm take time and dedication, but the investment effort is considerably less than trying to find the right employee on your own. These companies are in the best position to find and recruit excellent talent, enabling you to get back to the job of running your business. Please give the specialists at KP Companies a call to hear more details about our executive search and other staffing services.

Less Stress and Four Other Things IT Pro’s are Looking For

by Joe Janasz
kpCompanies Sr. Vice President of Sales & Recruiting

A 2016 Health IT Stress Report found that 55 percent of professionals in the field are either frequently or constantly stressed. What’s more, 38% of tech workers rated their stress intensity as high or extremely high, while 45% said their stress occurs on a frequent or chronic basis. It’s clear that tech professionals are stressed and burnt out, and if employers and IT managers don’t take action, they are going to face major talent shortages. That’s also why finding a less stressful job was the #1 thing IT candidates are looking for according to a 2017 CareerBuilder poll.

Some of the reasons tech work is stressful are difficult to control. One reason is that tech work is unpredictable–one minor change to a website can cause a bug that leads to an entire system malfunction. The shortage of tech workers means that many companies hire inexperienced workers who make more errors and don’t know how to correct those errors quickly. Full-time tech workers also face the stress of being replaced by consultants or having their job sent offshore. Those stresses in the IT workplace are not likely to change soon.

What can change is the way employers look at tech stress in the workplace. Most employers realize that as stress continues growing, employee productivity and and motivation drops. This is how employers can better manage stress on their IT workers and retain IT talent longer:

1. Better Work/Life Balance

Note how often tech employees socialize with one another. If you see IT workers rushing through breaks to get back to work or cutting down on social activities, help tech candidates develop a better work/life balance which may include more work from home or more company social activities.

2. Online Venting & Solutions Portal

Promote an online forum in which tech employees can share stressful situations before they grow out of control.

3. Provide Work-Schedule flexibility

Allow tech employees to structure their each day so they can be most productive. This goes beyond giving some tech employees the right to work from home each Friday. Each tech employee has different stresses outside work from daycare to aging parents. Trust your IT workers to get their job done and let the employee determine how to make the most of each day.

4. Gimme a Break!

Let your employees know it’s OK to take a vacation or break. Recharged employees get more done. Executives should take breaks too and lead by example.

If you are a tech worker, you are probably getting too many calls from recruiters asking you to change jobs. If you want to find a less stressful IT job, trust only those recruiters who have many years of experience placing candidates in the right environments, and recruiters who know what specific employers’ cultures are really like. The same can be said for employers and IT managers looking to add tech talent. Trust experienced recruiters to find candidates who are making job changes for the right reasons and will be good long-term fits for your culture.

10 Things Employers Need to Know When Recruiting Executive Level Candidates

Filling a position in your company isn’t easy under any circumstances, and the higher up the ladder you go, the more difficult it becomes. When it comes to executive level candidates, you’re not just looking for someone with the right skills and experience on paper. You want someone who will really fit in with your company’s dynamic and add value to your organization. How do you bring someone like that into your fold? Here are 10 things you need to know about recruiting executive level candidates.

Planning is Key

The first thing you need to do, before doing any recruiting, is to sit down and create a profile for your ideal candidate. This means more than just education and experience. What kind of personality do they have? How do they approach challenges and resolve problems? How do they interact with both their superiors and their subordinates? In addition, there are issues to determine such as what kind of salary and benefits you’re able to provide, and how high you’re willing to go in negotiations. You might not be able to find someone who fits the bill exactly, but the more detailed you are in outlining who you’re looking for, the better you’ll be able to recognize the right candidate when they come along.

It’s About Making Connections, Not Reading Resumes

Putting listings on job sites is great, but more important is networking. You’re more likely to land someone with whom you’ve made an actual connection, or who at least knows your company and what it’s all about, then someone who filled out your application along with a dozen others online. Social media works well in this regard. By simply posting your job listings on your social media profiles, you open yourself up to a group of people who already have enough interest in your company to connect with it online. It also helps to cultivate relationships wherever you go: conferences, trade shows, etc. By making these connections and staying in touch even when you’re not actively looking for job candidates, you’ll have a great starting point once you finally are.

Assessment Tools Can Help

You’ve cast your net broadly. You put listings on all the major job sites, plus social media and your other networks. Now, a myriad of applications are flowing in. The bigger the pool, the more likely you’ll be to find the perfect candidate. But in order to do that, first you’ll need to weed out the unqualified ones—and that can take some time. The best way to do it quickly is with an online assessment tool. Along with the basic application, have each candidate fill out an assessment questionnaire. It will gauge their aptitude in a variety of different areas, from leadership to teamwork to problem solving skills, and more. The questionnaire can also be tailored to your company’s specific needs and environment. Then, an analytics program automatically determines which are the best candidates for your organization, and which are unqualified, a poor fit, etc. You’re then left with a small pool of highly qualified candidates who are ready to move on to the interview process—in much less time than it would take your organization to go through every application by hand.

They’re Evaluating You Too

For an intelligent and well-qualified candidate at the executive level, it’s a safe bet you’re not the only company they’re interviewing with. So the question becomes, why should they choose to take a position with your organization, as opposed to one of the others? So while you’re evaluating them, they’re doing the same to you. During the entire hiring process, from the moment they first see your name, through each stage of interviews, up until the moment you make them an offer, your executive level candidates are looking at what you have to offer them. So put your best foot forward.

Their Time Is Valuable

A couple of rounds of interviews may be necessary to narrow your list down to a single candidate, but don’t draw things out longer than you have to. They’re busy people, and if you’re going to bring them into your company, you owe it to them not to waste their time or force them to jump through extra, unnecessary hoops. Get your candidates in a room with your hiring manager from the beginning, so they know they’re dealing with the person who makes the ultimate decision, rather than someone who may or may not recommend them to someone else. It is still important to get multiple people’s opinions, to minimize bias, but they can still meet everyone on a single day, rather than forcing them to come back two or three more times. Showing them you respect their time shows that you respect them as well, and goes a long way towards bringing them aboard your organization.

Money and Benefits Aren’t Everything

When we say “what you have to offer them,” we mean more than just starting salary and vacation time. Especially at the executive level, job candidates are looking at what your office environment is like, what kind of opportunities you have for advancement, whether or not you can provide a flexible work schedule to accommodate things like picking up their kids from school, and more. In fact, if you can give them something they really care about, they may be willing to join your company over another that pays more, but doesn’t have what they want.

You’ll Need to Negotiate

Particularly if your ideal candidate has several other offers on the table—or if you’re trying to recruit them away from their current job—they’ll likely have at least a couple of requests of their own. It may be additional money or benefits, or it may be something else. This is where the planning from #1 comes in. It’s important to know in advance exactly how far you’re willing/able to go to accommodate their needs. If their demands take you by surprise, you may find yourself giving in to more than you can reasonably afford to.

You May Need a Backup Plan

Ultimately, even if you present them with the best possible offer, your top choice to fill the available position may decide to go in a different direction. There may be any number of reasons why, many of which have nothing to do with you or your company at all. But it’s important to be prepared. Choose your top three or four candidates, so that if one falls through, you can just go to the next one. Just be sure not to let them know they were your second choice, or make them feel like you would have rather had someone else. Nobody likes that.

You Should Keep the Resources You Gain

So let’s say your top choice does agree to work at your company. Keep in touch with the other three or four candidates on your list, and anyone else who catches your eye during the interview process, but just didn’t quite make the cut. Follow up with them after the interview and keep in touch in the coming months to find out how they are and what they’re up to. You never know when another position may open up in your company that they may be better suited for (see point #2 about networking and making connections).

Onboarding Starts Immediately

Recruiting is only half the battle. Once you’ve brought someone into the fold, your next job is to keep them there. Employee turnover is inconvenient and costly. To combat this, it’s important to integrate your new recruit into your existing company culture quickly and thoroughly. In reality, the first stages of the onboarding process should begin during the interview process, and continue on seamlessly from there. Make them fit in and feel welcome and help them understand their role on your team, and your new recruit will be more likely to become a faithful long term employee.

Recruiting executive level employees isn’t an easy process. It’s important that it be done well, and you can’t cut corners—otherwise you risk missing out on that perfect candidate. But if you know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for, you can greatly increase your chances of finding someone who can benefit your company for years to come.

The Employers’ Guide to an Executive Interview

Remember the first time you were interviewed for a job? You were nervous and uncertain, and the whole experience was a little bit terrifying. But you said to yourself, “Someday, I’m going to be on the other side of that desk, as the one conducting the interviews.” Well, now you are. And to your surprise, you’re just as nervous and uncertain, and the whole experience is just as terrifying, as it was when you were the one being interviewed.

Conducting executive interviews is a big responsibility. What criteria do you use to evaluate the candidates? How do you make the ultimate decision? What if you miss something and hire the wrong person? It can be a daunting task, certainly, but with these basic tips, you’ll hopefully be better equipped to find the best fit for your company.

Know What You’re Looking For

You’ll have a much easier time finding the right candidate if you know as much as possible up front about the type of person you’re looking to hire. That means more than just skills and experience. Hopefully, everyone who’s made it to the interview process has the necessary requirements on their resume. But what kind of personality do they have? What are their problem solving skills like? How do they work in a team, and on their own? Map out what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate and design interview questions around that.

Do Your Homework

Review each candidate thoroughly before they come in for their interview. This includes going over their resume, contacting their references, and looking at any work of theirs from other companies that you may have access to. Treat them as more than just the next person on the list of potential hires. Know, from the moment they walk in the door, exactly who they are and what they’re about. Be ready with specific questions that relate to their history and experience, instead of just the general boilerplate interview questions that everyone asks. This will help you connect with them better over the course of the interview process.

Remember Interviews Are a Two Way Street

Don’t just do all the talking yourself. At the same time, don’t just let them do all the talking either. Experts say that the interviewer should talk about 30% of the time. But use that 30% effectively. Engage them in conversation. Give them an opportunity to ask their own questions and voice any issues they may have. By engaging them in this way, you’ll be able to learn more about them than just a bunch of standard questions and answers, and more effectively gauge what kind of fit they’ll be in your company.

Bring Others Into the Process

Everyone has their own biases. Even when you know what they are, they can be difficult to overcome, and can interfere with your making a fair hiring decision. That’s why it’s important to bring a couple of other people into the interview process. Not too many—maybe two or three at the most. Ideally, in addition to the hiring manager, you should have the person who’s going to be your candidate’s direct boss, and someone from HR. Those extra pairs of eyes can help you evaluate candidates from multiple angles and get a better, more complete picture of who they are and what kind of fit they are for the job.

See Them in Action

Most interviews ask questions like, “How would you react in this situation?” or “Give me an example of a time you dealt with this kind of problem.” The answers can certainly be helpful, but even so, there’s a difference between saying and doing. Find ways of seeing what they’re like in action. Give them a task that they’ll be likely to encounter in their position at your company, and see how they handle it. You can even put them in a team with a couple of your existing employees, to observe how they work in a team, and how they fit in with your existing group dynamic. This “hands on” approach is a great way of finding who’s really best suited to work for you.

The most important thing to remember when conducting an executive interview is that the candidate is evaluating you just as much as you’re evaluating them. If they’re talented and well-qualified, they’ll likely be entertaining several different offers. So always show your company in the best possible light, and let them see what makes you stand out from the rest. With a little effort and preparation, you’ll be able to find the perfect candidate to fill the position and fit in well with your company culture.

Hiring Top Performers

When recruiting new employees, it’s important that you get the very best. But “best” can be subjective. No doubt, your top candidates look very much alike on paper. Their interviews are also likely stellar. So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? How do you even know what you’re looking for when it comes to hiring top performers? Here are a few hiring practices you should look into, to make sure you get the best employees for your company.

Use Data and Analytics

Your company likely has a lot of established hiring practices when it comes to recruiting, interviewing, etc. You may have certain questions to ask, like, “What’s your greatest weakness?” to establish… Well, that’s the problem. The answer to that question, along with a lot of other “standard” hiring practices, don’t really establish anything worth knowing about the candidate or how they’ll perform at your company. Many of your methods are likely outdated. So leave them behind and instead adopt a strategy of data and analytics. The right analytics program can take the raw data about a potential hire and scan it for certain key factors that indicate they’d be a good match for your company. By crunching the numbers, it can provide you with not only the most qualified candidates, but the ones that would be the best fit for your company.

Use Assessment Tools

How do you get the raw data about a candidate?  You use an online assessment tool. These tests determine a candidate’s aptitude in a number of different areas, from leadership skills to teamwork to problem solving and more. They can be customized to fit your company and programmed to find specific traits that will best complement your existing team.

Look for Passion

Computer software and test results can’t tell you everything you need to know about a candidate. You still need to interview them one on one to determine who will be the best fit for your company. But perhaps try a different tack when talking to them. You’ve already determined their skills and aptitudes. It’s clear they’re capable of doing the job. So what you want to determine is, what are they passionate about? Will they find something in this job to motivate them every day and spur them towards greatness? Or will it just be about trading 8 hours of their day for a paycheck? Find someone who really cares about the work you do, and you’ll find a candidate who will not just excel, but stick with you for the long haul.

Look for Unique Individuals

What does your ideal candidate look like? Well, if you’re like a lot of executives, they basically look a lot like you when you were at that stage of life. Or they look exactly like the previous person who filled that position. That attitude turns all of your employees into cogs in a machine. One leaves, so you find a carbon copy, fit them into the hole that was left, and it’s business as usual. That’s not how business works—or life, for that matter. Choose the people you hire based on their own merits and personalities, not just on the qualities that have worked for you in the past. Yes, that means the dynamic of your workforce will change. But if you make the right hire, it will change for the better.

These are just a few of the hiring practices you should look at when trying to find top performers for your company. It’s not an easy process, and it can take some time, but with the right tools and the right attitude, you can fill your company with people who really want to make a difference, and can remain with you for years to come.

Building an Authentic and Inclusive Company Culture

Every company has a culture. It’s how your employees interact with each other and how you interact with other companies. It’s your values and what you stand for. It’s the way you work on a day to day basis: your habits, your practices, etc. In short, it’s everything that makes your company what it is. And it’s a big part of what will ultimately determine your success of failure. Therefore, if you want to improve the direction in which you’re going, you’re going to need to take an active interest in building your company’s culture, to make it authentic and inclusive. Here are a few ways to do that.

Know Who You Are—and Who You Want to Be

What is it that your company stands for? What are your core values? What are your goals for the next year, the next five years, the next century? Determining who you are as a company will help you better establish a more authentic company culture. Don’t just look at bigger, more successful organizations in your field and try to copy them. That will just doom you to failure. Instead, embrace what makes you unique.

Get Rid of What Doesn’t Fit

When you hire a new employee, it’s important to make sure that they’ll fit into your company culture. There are a number of assessment tests and analytics programs that can help you do that. That, plus the interviews, will hopefully help you find the best workers to complement your existing dynamic. But if somehow it doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to replace them with someone better suited. Of course, firing employees quickly doesn’t mean you should have an itchy trigger finger. That makes it difficult to maintain inclusivity. But if it’s clear that an employee simply won’t work in your company, it’s better to let them go sooner, rather than later. Likewise, if some of your practices and policies aren’t meshing with your culture, and aren’t yielding the results they should, eliminate them and find a better way. It’s easy to hold on to old, established ways of doing things, just out of habit and routine. But doing so can be detrimental to your company.

Create Dialogue

Do your employees have a voice within your company? When you make decisions, are you taking their opinions into consideration? When they have concerns, is there an outlet for them to express them and have action taken in response? Your employees are the most important part of your company culture. Maintain an open dialogue with them, rather than just dictating to them and expecting them to follow. This will lead to better job satisfaction and help you to solve problems more quickly and make better decisions overall.

Recognize Exceptional Work

Confucius said that a good government is one that both chastises those who do poorly and rewards those who do well. This can also be applied to business. Unfortunately, a lot of companies only practice the former. If someone’s sales numbers aren’t where they should be, management is jumping down their throat. But when they reach a new milestone, no one says a word. Make sure your employees feel appreciated and recognize and reward them for a job well done. When you do that, you make them feel more invested in their job and in your company and motivate them to continue working hard and doing well going forward.

Authenticity and inclusivity are both essential aspects of your company culture. Your organization should be like a family. It’s where most of your employees spend the bulk of their day. They should feel like they belong—like they’re a part of something great. And by building an inclusive and authentic company culture, you can help them be proud of that fact.

Effective Employer Branding

An important position just opened up in your company. You post a job listing on the most popular employment sites, as well as on your own site and social media, and talk to a recruiter. You end up with a stack of resumes, which you then evaluate carefully to see which candidate will be the best fit for your company.

What you need to realize, though, is that your top candidates are doing exactly the same with you. For the best, most qualified applicants, chances are you’re not the only company making them an offer. Why should your ideal hire choose you over all of their other options? The way you get a better chance at landing them is called employer branding.

What Is Employer Branding?

These days, there are many more factors involved in choosing a place of employment, besides just who offers the highest salary or the best benefits. When weighing their options, potential hires will ask things like, “Is this a nice place to work?” and “What good can I do here, both in my field and in the world?” In fact, they may even be willing to take a slightly lower offer, if it means working at a place they know has a reputation for a good working environment and satisfied employees.

That reputation is employer branding. It’s what separates you from your competition, not just on paper, but in practice. In evaluating whether or not to take the job you offer them, one of the first questions candidates will ask themselves is, what do they know about you—not just from the tour you gave them in the interview, or from your website, but from what they’ve heard. Here are a few factors they’ll look at:

What’s it like to work for your company on a daily basis?

Some of the best employer branding in that regard belongs to Google. Everyone knows that working for them is a dream. They provide free gourmet meals, snacks, and drinks for their employees. You can bring your pets to work with you. There are games, gym equipment, and offers of massages as incentive for a job well done. You’re not Google and don’t have their money or resources, but you can still improve your branding by adding a few perks that make employees look forward to coming into work every day.

Big corporations often have a reputation for being evil

Or at least cold and uncaring. Therefore, companies with a reputation for giving back to the community and making a difference to the world around them are often very attractive to potential hires. Do you care about the environment and reducing your carbon footprint? Do you organize charitable programs that employees can be a part of? Prospective employees will often be more likely to choose your company if you give them the opportunity to do some good in the world.

Once they come aboard your company, what will your hire be able to do there?

This doesn’t just mean opportunities for advancement, though those are important as well. It also refers to what kind of work they’ll do on a daily basis. What impact will it have in your field, and in the world at large? Are you building new technologies? Performing revolutionary research? Maybe you give employees access to your company’s resources to work on their own projects on the side. Giving potential hires the opportunity to do something they’re passionate is a big part of employer branding.

Obviously, your company doesn’t have to provide employees with all of these things. Find your niche, the thing that makes you stand out as an employer, and focus your branding on that. Then, focus a portion of your resources on showing the world that that’s who you are.

For instance, if your focus is on providing a good working environment, post pictures to your social channels of employees enjoying their day at the office and some of the things you offer. If your focus is on giving back to the community, send out press releases for some of your bigger charitable events and get them covered by the media.

Make it clear to the world exactly who your company is and what you stand for, and what sets you apart from every other employer. That way, when you make an offer to a job candidate, they’ll know your reputation and be able to see why working for you is worthwhile, besides just money and benefits. And the employees you choose will be more likely to choose you too.