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.

Retaining Diverse and Other Top Notch Employees

Diversity is an important factor in your hiring process. There are plenty of tried and true methods for recruiting top quality employees of all different backgrounds. But the question is, how do you get them to stay? Is there a high rate of turnover among your diverse talent? How do you maintain a high quality, diverse workforce over time?

A Vicious Circle

A recent survey of companies in the Twin Cities found that a lot of employers were having trouble retaining people of color in their workforce. 16% of diverse employees overall and 22% of those under 30 expressed a desire to leave the area within the next five years.

There may be a number of reasons that make Minnesota less than appealing as a place to work, but the main reason cited was the lack of diversity in the area. So essentially, diverse employees don’t want to stay in the Twin Cities because there aren’t enough diverse employees. This leads to a vicious circle which continues to make employee retention difficult going forward. How do you break the cycle?

Making Connections

But of course, the problem goes deeper than that, and the underlying issue also lends itself to a solution. It’s not just a lack of diverse faces that drives people of color away, but a general lack of inclusion and cultural awareness.

The lack of diversity can make existing diverse employees feel alone and isolated. Many employees found their coworkers closed off and insular, making it difficult to connect with them in any meaningful way. Even if you’re not actively being made to feel unwelcome, when your working environment has a passive feeling of exclusivity, it’s easy to start thinking about seeking more inclusionary conditions elsewhere.

Furthermore, though many companies did exhibit diversity, far fewer people of color were found to occupy leadership positions. This could partly account for the insular nature of existing employees. When the lack of cultural awareness is coming from management, it can make connections even more difficult. Additionally, it could indicate a lack of advancement opportunities for employees of color.

Diversity vs. Inclusion

So how can you fix the diversity problem in your company when it comes to employee retention? The first step is not to think of it in terms of filling a quota, but instead looking with an eye towards actual inclusion. That means making sure there are top notch employees of color at every level of management, and that your diverse workers have real advancement opportunities. For your entry level employees, provide mentors who can help them map out a career path and help them on the road to success.

Encourage connection between employees of all different cultures and backgrounds. You can even hold events that encourage an understanding and appreciation for all different cultures. And make sure that the recognition of those cultural differences doesn’t stop with those events.

For instance, remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays. Everyone gets off for Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, but do Jewish employees get off for Yom Kippur? Do Muslim employees get off for Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, which are celebrated during Ramadan? Or do they have to cut into their vacation time to observe those days?

Cultural awareness and inclusion are an ongoing process, and an important part of retaining diverse talent. Simply having people of different colors in your organization is not enough. You need to make sure they feel like they’re truly a part of the family. Take an active interest in your employees, their wellbeing, and their inclusion in your company, no matter their color or creed. By doing that, you’ll be on the road to maintaining truly lasting diverse workforce.

How to Get That Promotion

You’ve been at your current position at work for far too long. You’d love more responsibility, more money, and a better title. You see what your boss does, or the day to day tasks of the people above you, and you know you have what it takes to do that too. The question is, how. What can you do to convince your superiors that you have what it takes? Here are a few things you can do to get that promotion.

The Initial Conversation

Before you begin the process, let your immediate supervisor know that you’re interested in advancement. It’s important that you make sure they’re on the same page as you, rather than just hoping they notice that you’re working harder.

Starting that conversation can be a little nerve-wracking, but there are ways to make it easier. First of all, don’t just spring it on them out of nowhere. Schedule a specific time to have a conversation with them. If you just walk into their office and start talking, they’ll likely be in the middle of something else, and what you say will go in one ear and out the other. Instead, make sure you have their full attention.

Tell them you believe you’re capable of doing more, and would like to work towards increasing your responsibility within the company. Tell them what position you want to work towards. Then—and this is the important part—rather than telling them what makes you right for that job, ask them what it will take to get it. What do you need to do? How can you improve yourself? Let them tell you how to get the promotion, then work towards doing that.

Once you’ve gotten the initial conversation out of the way, then you can work towards actually getting the promotion. You can start by

Getting a Mentor

After your boss outlines what you need to do to rise up the ladder, ask if they’d be willing to help you. If not, maybe someone else in the company will. A mentor, who understands the position you want and what it entails, can be a tremendous asset in helping you achieve your goal.

Building Your Knowledge and Skillset

Does your company pay for continued training, such as workshops and seminars that are relevant to your field? If so, look at classes you can take to help build your skills. If not, find other ways to increase your knowledge and abilities within the company. Keep up with the latest news of your industry, so you can understand what’s going on and how it relates to your job—and the job you’re working towards.

It’s not just what you know

It’s also about who you know that will help you get promoted. Make connections with the important people within your company. Try to bond with them and show them that you’re hardworking and dependable. Don’t suck up to them or spend all your time trying to “prove yourself.” Focus mainly on doing your job and doing it well. But stay on people’s radar and try to establish a connection if you can.

Being Professional

This is one of the simplest, but also one of the most important steps in working towards a promotion. Show that you have not only the skills and knowledge, but also the attitude to succeed. Treat everyone with respect, from your bosses to your coworkers to your subordinates. Don’t complain about what’s going wrong, but instead take steps to correct it. Be friendly and sociable, but not the one who’s always talking rather than working. Above all, show that you’re glad to be there. Do your job rather than watching the clock and don’t be afraid to take initiative when you see that something needs to be done. Show that you’re a leader, but also a team player. This is the best way to show your superiors that you deserve something better.

Promotions aren’t achieved overnight. Be patient, as well as persistent. Don’t fret if it takes a while for the position you want to open up, or if you’re passed over this time in favor of someone else. Just keep working harder and showing your bosses that you’re what they’re looking for. Eventually, your hard work and perseverance will be rewarded

How to Reach Your Potential at Work

Do you ever feel like you’re wasting your talents? Particularly at work—you know your job and you know the company backwards and forwards. You feel like you should be able to rise higher or earn more, but something’s holding you back. How can you reach your full potential at work, in order to achieve your career goals? Here are a few tips.

List Your Strengths

The Greeks said, “Know thyself.” Harvard Business Review says it, too. They recommend beginning by taking stock of your current skills in your job and the things you do well. Just list the two or three biggest or most important ones on a piece of paper. What is it that makes you good at these things? What can you accomplish with these skills, both now and in the future?

List Your Weaknesses

Write down your two or three biggest weaknesses. What do you struggle with? What do you need to work on? This one is a little tougher. It can be difficult to admit there are things you can’t do, or problems in your job performance. It might help to talk to your coworkers and superiors about it. Once you’ve got your list, figure out how to improve your performance by fixing these issues. It might require coaching from a professional. Whatever it takes, do what you can to conquer your weaknesses and improve your work overall.

Identify Your Goals

What is it, exactly, that you’re trying to accomplish? Do you want a promotion? More money? A better job at another company? A position that offers better hours, or an opportunity to travel? Write down where you want to end up, and what you want to be doing. Include both long term and short term goals: what you want to be doing in five or ten years, but also next week and next month. Then break down exactly what it’s going to take to accomplish those goals, and turn those steps into new goals.

Create a Timeline

One of the biggest obstacles to reaching your potential is thinking in too broad of terms. You want to be Executive VP—great! But there’s a difference between having an idea of where you want to go and actually working towards getting there. Now that you’ve got your list of goals, motivate yourself by creating a timeline of how (and when) you’re going to achieve them. Then, once you have your basic timeline in place, of goals for the next five or ten years, get more specific. Create a timeline for the next month, and then one for the next week. Every day, at any given moment, you should be able to identify what it is that you’re doing right now to achieve your goals and reach your potential.

Get a Mentor

Nobody ever achieved anything all on their own. Talk to the people above you. Let them know what it is you want within your company and ask what you need to do for them to give it to you. In particular, find someone whom you respect and ask them to help you on a more personal and individual basis. Get them to mentor you and help you improve. Not only will this make you a better worker, but it will give you an ally in the company who will be more likely to consider and recommend you when it comes time to discuss promotions, raises, etc.

Reaching your full potential in the workplace is an ongoing process. Once you’ve achieved your goals, there will be new goals you can work towards, in terms of both achievements and performance. Never stop striving for excellence. That’s the best way to succeed.

New Year, New You!

Everywhere you look, you’ll see banners touting “New Year. New You!” And, if you are like me – you’ve already checked off several things you’d like to start or improve upon in 2015.

For me, it’s a series of blog posts that help kp candidates find positions that are not only in line with both their skill set and financial goals — but also fulfill them at a deeper level. So many of us are beginning to understand the importance of living more authentic lives. The discussions I’ve had with job-seekers, friends and family have inspired me to do a blog series about how to find your true fit in the workplace and in life.

Each Friday during January (and possibly longer based on demand), join us on IMPACT (http://www.kpcompanies.com/impact),the kpCompanies blog, to discuss steps to a more satisfying life and career in 2015 – whether that means making a change, or slightly reworking the career you have.

I look forward to growing with you!

How to stand out in the lineup for an internal promotion

Have you been passed over for one too many promotions at work? A lot of people assume that if they put in their time with a company, they’ll automatically be up for the next promotion. However, without demonstrating initiative and the proper characteristics, you’re unlikely to achieve the success that you desire. The following tips will get you on your way to nailing the next internal promotion at your company.

Dress for the job that you want

One of the oldest tips for landing a dream job is to dress for success. You should be dressing for the desired job position, not the current position. If you do good work, the work does speak for itself but making the right impression with co-workers and clients counts, too. Many modern companies have non-traditional dress codes, particularly in creative and non-corporate sectors, which can make dress a little difficult. Pay attention to how the higher-ups dress and follow their lead.1

Dressing for the job that you want can extend beyond clothing. For example, do you exhibit professionalism in your verbal and written communication? Composing thoughtful, error-free emails can make a big difference.2

Speak up

Look for natural openings to add insight or ask questions during meetings and conferences. If you’re an introvert, you may have to go outside of your comfort zone. Start slow, and build from there. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or more information as needed. These type of questions show bosses that you take your job seriously. When you offer new concepts and alternative solutions, higher-ups may appreciate your initiative and innovation.3

Don’t be afraid to take risks

Most people don’t achieve success by playing it safe all the time. Look at famous leaders throughout history. You see numerous examples of individuals who went ahead with a risky plan while other people sat back and waited for better timing or safer circumstances.4 Sometimes you have to trust your gut and take a leap. Taking a risk may be as small as meeting with a new client on your own for the first time to as big as having lunch with your boss to talk about your desired internal job position. Put your capability to the test and take advantage of the chances that you’re given in life.5

Seek out professional development opportunities

Most likely you have regular opportunities for professional development through your job. There is nothing wrong with these opportunities, but as they are required, they aren’t doing anything to help you stand apart from the crowd. Look for classes, training sessions, seminars, and conferences that fit your interests or that could help you further your career. Pursuing professional development outside of works demonstrates a strong capacity for growth. This capacity comes with a passion for knowledge and a drive to learn new things.6 Continuing to expand your skill sets may be just what you need to secure that promotion.

If you’re still not sure what you could be doing to get noticed at work, solicit constructive feedback from your co-workers or consult with a job coach. It may not be easy to hear the harsh truth, but you’ll be glad to have gotten the advice when you nail the next interview for an internal promotion.

1http://theseeker.seek.com.au/4-ways-to-stand-out-for-that-promotion

2http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/careers/sns-jobs-steps-promotion-story.html

3http://theseeker.seek.com.au/4-ways-to-stand-out-for-that-promotion

4http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbaldoni/2014/01/14/ford-motor-company-how-leadership-takes-risks/

5http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2012/11/19/5-ways-to-get-promoted-in-2013/

6http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2012/11/19/5-ways-to-get-promoted-in-2013/

Seeking Administrative, Clerical or Customer Service hires? Here are 6 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.