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“Try Before You Buy” for Employers and Employees

May 16th, 2014

Contract positions are becoming more and more commonplace in the employment world. In fact, many industry experts believe that 50% of the workforce will be contract workers within the next 20 years.  See J.T. O’Donnell’s Linkedinarticle “Underemployment is the ‘New Normal’ – Here’s how to Beat it”.  The reasoning is quite sound for both employer and employee alike.

The IDC reports businesses spend $85B+/year to make the hiring process more efficient and effective with investments in comparative profiling, psychometric testing, research, and training. And, “in a recent Career Builder Survey of over 6,000 hiring managers from the world’s ten largest economies, more than half report making a bad hire that caused significant harm to revenues, productivity, client relations, or morale costing more than $50,000 per bad hire”.See LexSisney’sLinkedin article “How to Hire Like the NFL’s Best Teams”.

It stands to reason then, that efforts to cut the costs of making bad hires can yield significant cost savings.  Enter contract to hire.  Contract positions are used by professional sports teams, businesses contracting projects to other businesses, actors and actresses with production studios, etc., etc.  It protects both parties from being stuck in a position that one or both of the parties is unhappy with by designating a specific time frame or other set of criteria by which the relationship can be dissolved and each party can move on.  Or, at this pre-determined point both parties can agree that the relationship is a win-win and either a new contract over a specified time frame or a permanent arrangement can be negotiated.  It’s effectively a “try before you buy” arrangement for both parties.

When was the last time you bought a new car without going for a test drive first?  Perhaps if you are in the market for a rare exotic you might make the purchase without a test drive, but you certainly have done your homework on such a rare find.  This would be similar to the hiring of a top notch C-level executive within an organization.  Have you purchased a home without first at least stepping inside and learning about the neighborhood?

The point is, a contract to hire arrangement offers a business a chance protect itself from making a bad investment in it’s people. It also offers employees the opportunity to prove themselves as well as get a feel for how they fit with the company culture before creating a more permanent bond.  There are additional benefits as well:

Benefits for employers:

  • The ability to fill short term staff needs due to maternity leave or work related injuries
  • Easy employment and administration of seasonal help
  • No hassle HR and benefits administration because the staffing firm who handles the heavy lifting typically supplies the contractors
  • Protection from significant costs of overtime by using additional contract employees to step in when overtime hours are approaching
  • Contractor employees are a great source of expertise for limited time project work and implementations
  • A solid time frame within which a full evaluation of  potential full time employees can be made.  The application of skillset to the work environment, work ethic, and the match with company culture are areas that are difficult to gauge within the short and confined restraints of the average hiring process

Benefits for employees:

  • The ability to gauge the fit with the company culture, the superiors whom one will report to, and the fit for the work and work environment prior to making a long term commitment
  • In some cases a position is not deemed a good fit by either the employer or contract employee and the arrangement ends at completion of the contract.  The benefit to the employee is that “contract position” can be used on the employee resume as opposed to “fired” or “wasn’t a good fit so I left” to explain a short term run with an employer
  • In a situation where an employee made a significant contribution to the company within the contract period the employee has extra bargaining power to negotiate the terms of a permanent position
  • In certain circumstances the employee has the ability to work more than one contract simultaneously.  And the employee has the ability to work on arranging another employment arrangement as he/she reaches the end of the current contract as opposed to being let go or terminated out of the blue.

Eric Snethkamp

Business Development Manager

ESnethkamp@StarkTalent.com

Demand Response Will Lower your Facility Costs

May 30th, 2013

If you’re struggling with high facility costs for your business, it might be time to think outside of the box. One way to do this is by starting a demand response program. Demand response gives important incentives for lowering the amount of power and electricity your company uses, which in turn is successful at lowering your facility costs. Here are some different ways you save on costs by implementing a demand response program.

Lower Utility Bills

The first and primary benefit of demand response programs is that it will lower your monthly utility bills, including gas and electricity. Demand response means you’re using power and electricity less often, especially during peak times, so your bill is going to be lowered. With the fall in utility bills, your facility costs are also going to be lowered. The workload is going to be adjusted during your non-peak hours, which works even harder to lower your bills.

Earning Higher Income

Over time, the result of lower facility and utility costs, is higher income. This benefits you on many different levels. When the lower costs results in higher income, you are offering your business more opportunities for growth and advancement. There are minimal requirements to become involved in demand response, but the advantages are endless. There is also no penalties if some months you aren’t able to reduce the facility costs as much as you like. However on the months when it is a successful program, your costs are lower, and your income is higher.

Less Repairs and Replacements of Equipment

If you take part in a demand response program, you are notified right away if you have fluctuations in voltage. This means your equipment gets repaired much less often, because with the instant notification, you can shut down the equipment in order to prevent a brownout or blackout. Over time, you are not only saving money on your monthly bills, but the cost of repairing or replacing equipment is significantly reduced as well. If your facility faces multiple voltage fluctuations, it will benefit you to a higher degree than others where this is a rarity.

More Incentive for Consumers

One thing companies considering demand response don’t take into consideration, is the incentive to get new customers. By using a demand response system, you’re reducing the amount of electricity and energy used overall. This can actually be an incentive to consumers who care about the amount of energy companies used, because of them being more environmentally-conscious. You can use this to your advantage and further expand your business.

As you can see, there are many benefits to starting a demand response program at your facility. The basic facility and utility costs are decreased significantly, while you benefit from higher income and additional incentives for consumers who care about a company’s impact on the environment.

If you are looking to improve your staff with talent manufacturing employees, contact the staffing experts at Stark Talent today.

The Traits Employers are Looking for in IT Product Managers

May 24th, 2013

In today’s rapidly changing information technology world, being able to manage all areas of product development, training, and integration has become the job of skilled product managers. Product managers are essentially the subject matter experts for the application they work on, acting as a consultant and leader for multiple projects that are connected to this product.

While technical knowledge and experience are certainly important traits for product managers to have, there are a wide range of other skills that are needed to be successful. These are the highly sought after characteristics that the best product managers have.

Strong leadership ability

In order to be a successful product manager, you can position yourself well once you have harnessed your leadership ability. Product owners are leaders of ideas, concepts, and the products they represent.

Above average communication skills

Being able to communicate well with a diverse number of professionals and customers is key to success as a product manager. You may be working across multiple cultures and communication styles in your daily work, so often creative thinking is needed.

Effective writing and research ability

As a product owner, you will be responsible for compiling product guidelines, reports, manuals and presentations. Be ready to face the challenges of writing and researching on a continual basis.

Product knowledge and trend foresight

The product owner must be able to stay ahead of trends relating to the product, keep learning, and be able to share knowledge from an industry standpoint to the leadership team at a moment’s notice.

Highly organized time manager

Staying on top of all tasks and deadlines is critical to success as a product owner. Therefore, you should be able to be very organized and an effective manager of your time.

Corporate aligned and strategic thinker

Product ownership often means negotiating and getting support for critical product updates and expenditures. This means you need to be mindful of corporate goals and a strategy for helping the business experience the biggest ROI.

Exploring a career as a product manager in the information technology market can be an exciting prospect for any job seeker. By developing the above talents and traits, you can launch yourself as a SME in your chosen product line and get to the top of the hiring pile.

A Look at American Manufacturing Pay Today

May 16th, 2013

Manufacturing jobs are slowly making a comeback and this is giving the American commercial recession a much needed boost. As evidence, it has been reported that about 500,000 manufacturing workers have gone back to work since 2010. However, statements are coming into the awareness that the jobs referred to in the reports have gone through modifications and are not the same as they were before in terms of compensation.

What are the distinctions, then?

A few may come into a question as to how these jobs may be. Evident in several years that have gone by is the fact that millions of profits have gone to employers in the manufacturing business. Employees generally belong to the middle class. One can easily finish secondary basic education, be hired for a manufacturing work position, and acquire competence along the way.

Due to particular decrees passed on by the Congress and supported by many authorizing bodies, a significant number on manufacturing labor force went down at an increasingly rate. This has caused a major loss for many companies. Several economy specialists have claimed that those who chose to reenter the business world will compensate their workers less.

The truth behind claims on manufacturing compensation

Nevertheless, the stated assertions can be slightly true or based on fact. It has been the economy specialist of the Commerce Department who has articulated that work opportunities are still well paid. This is apparent in the health and retirement advantages of employers in the form of benefits. Once these are put into collaboration, there arises a greater advantage for manufacturing workforce as compared to the common ones.

Moreover, what is accurate is that despite the unstable and varying circumstances present in the business and finance environment, labor in manufacturing sectors are invariably in prime conditions. This is the reason behind its ability to thrive as a much talked about issue and a subject for arguments or debates for campaigns for presidential candidates. It is also one of the accounts that US President Obama tends to domineer the business sectors since there in an aim to flourish the manufacturing fields.

Moving towards a positive light

Claims have been further made that there will be an addition of 14,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector and this might transpire this month or sooner. Considering the objective of the government goals of providing millions in support to the manufacturing sector, this number could happen soon. However, to fret or even be disappointed is not even an option. The economy is walking towards a path of brighter and bigger possibilities and this is a good thing to watch out for.

Stark Talent has multiple contract assignments available in the manufacturing sector. Stop by our career center to learn more and get a great new job.

IT Networking – What You Need to Know as a Job Seeker

May 9th, 2013

Did you know that one of the most effective ways to be in the right place at the right time to get a job in information technology is by networking with your peers? The use of networking during a professional career search is not new. Industry groups and communities have been around in IT for a long time. However, since the explosion of the use of social networks in the last few years, networking in IT has taken on larger than life proportions.

To get the most out of IT networking as a job seeker, it’s important to understand that this is a unique community with many great opportunities to connect with the right people. Here are some things you need to know as you venture out into networking activities.

Focus on industry specific meet ups.

To make the most of your networking activities, take the time to go to live events that enable you to meet a wide variety of people in the IT industry. Join a few online IT communities and participate in discussions. By being in the presence of peers, you will be empowered and learn where the best jobs are.

Go to networking groups with an open mind.

Just like every other interaction you may have, keep an open mind when becoming part of networking group. While you may think you are only good at certain aspects of IT, you will likely find new ideas that can help you gain an edge in the job market.

Be prepared with business cards.

For a naturally introverted IT professional, that first greeting can be nerve wracking. Yet, you can make this more pleasant and sand out as a polished pro by presenting a nicely designed business card to everyone you meet. Take the time to include your name, your areas of specialty, and your contact info to make it easier for recruiters to get in touch with you.

Learn to make small talk more productive.

Instead of just talking about yourself at IT networking events, learn to be a reflective listener to make small talk more productive. While you are trying to impress others in the hopes of getting a job referral, showing personal interest in what others are doing can be a good way to win friends who may be future co-workers.

Use networking to build relationships, not just job leads.

IT networking is a fun and productive way to get out there and look for job opportunities, but this activity is more about building key relationships with your peers. When an IT firm starts a massive recruitment campaign, these relationships count. Learn to tactfully follow people you connect with using social networks and use networking consistently to foster these relationships.

 Learn more from Stark Talent 

Writing a Great IT Cover Letter that Seals the Deal 

The Changing Manufacturing Workforce – Industrial Staffing Trends to Watch

April 26th, 2013

Today’s workforce of manufacturers are far different than the workforce that operated the machines and belts 20 years ago. Technology, innovation, human resources, and other factors have all contributed to the environment in the manufacturing plant that is ever changing. There are hiring challenges in the manufacturing industry.

The United States is the biggest manufacturing economy in the world, employing 1/6 of the private sector jobs, around 17 million people. (Source: NAM.org)

However, when trying to attract employees to the workforce of manufacturers, there seems to be a large number of qualified candidates not applying because of their ‘idea’ of what the environment and atmosphere will be. It is these beliefs and myths about the manufacturing work that is putting up ‘barriers.’

So, what can the manufacturing industry do to break through these barriers to attract highly skilled workers?

  • Consolidate all the worker’s intellectual capital and give all employees login access.
  • Encourage shared insight from all employees about their jobs, including their suggestions on how to do things in a more streamlined manner.
  • The younger workforce expect to be able to use communication, open door methods, and idea sharing to excel in their careers, so having this in place is a great enticement to the qualified candidates in the younger generation.
  • BYOD, also known as Bring your own Device is a program that lets employees work from anywhere they want on their own equipment, while being connected to a secure network.
  • The BYOD program is very successful in increased employee productivity, while enhancing employee collaboration and plants. The BYOD program is a great incentive that can be used to attract and retain qualified, new employees.

Cisco published a report last year showing that 40% of survey respondents said they would take a job that paid less money, but offered more in their choice of device, mobility, and social media access than a job that paid more money with less flexibility. This is a huge piece of information that companies need to know in order to get the next generation employees on board. The innovative technology in the evolving manufacturer’s workforce in combination with the collaborative mindset is what the younger generation is looking for when they envision the future of the manufacturing plant.

How do we do this?

In order to give employees the ability to be mobile and work with devices, you need to implement technology and resources on the plant floor.

  • Tablets
  • Phones
  • Netbooks
  • Social Media
  • Instant access to non-networked employees (site managers, plant floor workers, project managers)

It is important that the front line workers in R&D, maintenance teams, sales, and all other teams are able to connect in a moment to get answers and resolve situations that can come up. Having access to all of these people and intertwining the way they can communicate will immediately elevate the production level of the manufacturing workforce, while inviting in a brand new generation of workers that are already tech savvy, and part of the newest technological trends.

Product development, sales, service, manufacturing, and even human resources should all be connected in order to extend knowledge where it needs to go, encourage collaboration globally in your plant, and deepen business ties and relationships within your own workforce. Stark Talent can help you to reach these goals, with on demand staffing support.

Challenges for Identity and Access Management in IT

April 19th, 2013

With the wave of new information technology crashing over the IT market on an almost daily basis, there is an ever growing concern over corporate identity and access management. Most companies either have internal data management systems or they’ve switched all or a portion of their information management over to cloud based servers and devices. Yet, almost weekly, there are reports of computer hackers gaining access to corporate data and in some cases, taking entire networks down in seconds. When this happens, it costs companies thousands in lost productivity and revenues.

Identity and Access Management for Businesses

There are several challenges for identity and access management that a business will want to consider, as we move into an ever increasing web-based world. One is giving the key administrators access to large databases of information without losing integrity of data. Second is protecting the sheer volume of information created on not only internal business systems, but also by the growing number of employees who access work via mobile devices, social networks and portable platforms.

Methods to Protect Corporate Data

Fortunately, there are some ways that an IT department can use to protect corporate information and identity management.

  • Privileged Account Management – Throughout the course of employment, the IT department can control the actual access rights and activity of users on an individual basis. This helps to lock away certain information that some users are not privileged to see. By using this method, security and compliance is enhanced through access control.
  • User Identity Administration – Automating IT administration and understanding who is using corporate information systems can support a securely managed lifecycle. By identifying individual access and usage data, information is managed in real time and can be archived for future investigations or breeches. UIA can also provide reports of events to aid in prosecution of offenders.
  • Access and Activity Governance – If the corporate IT department needs to, it can limit access by one, some, or all users to stop the spread of computer viruses and retain secure access to protect information from outside sources. Additionally, this governance can be controlled internally by upper management to authorize employee’s use of business-critical files when needed.

While there will never be an end to information theft, companies can take an active approach to prevent and stop the access and destruction of corporate data by using one or all of the above methods. Hiring quality IT staff is also a good approach to maintaining the integrity and safety of your data.

If you are looking for manufacturing and IT industry news, visit the Stark Talent blog each week for more resources. Contact Stark Talent today to land your next top candidate!

Is Your Manufacturing Company Ready for a Mobile World?

April 11th, 2013

In a global business climate, even manufacturing businesses need to make the move to the realm of the mobile web. Many business owners have missed the boat, to some degree when it comes to creating mobile websites or at least making their own business websites “mobile friendly.” You really can’t afford to do that with your business. It’s time to get on board with mobile manufacturing technology and the benefits it provides.

Why You Must Go Mobile

Business today is moving to the smaller screens of mobile devices and tablet PCs. People are taking their business on the road. They’re doing research at kid’s little league games and waiting in the various lines they’re all called upon to wait in from time to time. If your website isn’t ready for them when and how they want to access it, then you’re missing out on business most manufacturing companies can’t afford to lose. These are just a few things you can do to make your business a little friendlier to various mobile devices.

Optimize Critical Website Pages for Mobile Devices

There are a few steps that go into this particular process. However, making the time now to create a site where all the vital pages with information about your business and how to contact you, will get you business your competitors are missing out on if they haven’t taken this necessary step quite yet. More importantly, the sooner you get the job done, the faster your site will begin to trend in mobile circles.

How do you go about optimizing your site (or at least a few pages on your site) for mobile devices? Follow these quick steps for starters.

1)   Eliminate unnecessary text. It’s difficult to read large chunks of content on mobile devices. Keep the information relevant, necessary, and brief on pages you optimize for mobile devices.

2)   Lower load times. There are plenty of people who use mobile devices that are still operating from 3G networks. They don’t all move at the speed of lightning. If your site takes too long to load, people will move on. Eliminate pictures, music, and other items that add to longer load times when optimizing for mobile devices.

3)   Keep it simple. A complex design will make it difficult for people to navigate from one page of your site to others. Make your mobile pages as user friendly as possible—bearing in mind that tiny boxes and closely spaced links will prove tricky to navigate on mobile devices.

Create Mobile-Ready Email Marketing Messages

One of the most common things for people to do is check emails on their mobile devices. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial for you to make changes to your email marketing messages that are mobile-friendly. If people can’t easily navigate from email to offer, email to phone call, or both, then you run the risk of missing out on the big sale you’re hoping to land from your email marketing efforts.

You’ve made it to the manufacturing mobile age, whether you’re ready for it or not. However, if you embrace the future of marketing online ahead of your manufacturing competitors, you’ll have a serious advantage (of time and experience in the field of email marketing) over them when they finally take the plunge. Remember to also hire manufacturing employees who are familiar with mobile manufacturing technology, from Stark Talent.

Writing a Great IT Cover Letter that Seals the Deal

April 5th, 2013

Drafting a resume for an information technology job can be one thing, however without a great IT cover letter your resume may not even get considered. To write a cover letter for an IT assignment, there are some basic principles that can help you stand out as a top candidate. Remember that the average recruiter will spend approximately 20 seconds looking at your cover letter; after that it’s over. Make your cover letter count with these tips.

Start with a friendly, yet professional greeting

Give the recruiter something positive to read right off the bat with a warm and respectful greeting. If at all possible include the person’s first name (call ahead of time to ask who this is). Thank this person for his or her time and consideration.

Indicate what position you are interested in

As soon as your greeting is created, immediately indicate what assignment you are submitting your resume for. Recruiters are often responsible for placing multiple candidates into a variety of IT assignments, so you can ensure getting into to “maybe” pile simply by adding this one little detail.

Highlight your strengths as they relate to the assignment

Now this is where your cover letter really counts. Write a sentence that indicates your excitement about the possibility of working with the company, followed by a bulleted list of at least 3 reasons why you have the right skills and experience to do the job. Keep this concise and avoid sounding overly boastful. Focus on the keywords used in the actual job description advertisement.

Give a reason for the recruiter to call you

Now, you must end your IT cover letter with a call to action statement. Instead of just saying “looking forward to hearing from you” try something like “I am available on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9am to 4 pm EST to discuss the needs of your business. Please give me a call at your convenience.” This gives the recruiter an actionable item to follow up with you right away.

Try not to sound desperate in your closing

Some job seekers make the mistake of ending their cover letter with something like “Gratefully Yours” or “Respectfully”; however these can sound too much like you are trying to appeal to the recruiter in a desperate act. Instead, stick with a professional closing such as “Sincerely” or “Best Regards” for a more positive ending to your cover letter.

Include your contact information

The most important aspect of a great IT cover letter is including your contact information. Do not assume that the recruiter will have your cover letter and resume together. Files can often get displaced or corrupted by an email. Include your full name, a good phone number and email address at the bottom of your cover letter.

Remember, your IT cover letter is your very first impression you will make to a recruiter. Keep it short, to the point, and professional. Write an original one for every job you apply for. You’ll soon be on the way to a great new career in IT at Stark Talent.

Retaining IT Talent in 2013 – Tips for HR Managers

March 27th, 2013

Hanging on to top talent in the field of IT seems more difficult than in other fields, due to the demand for skilled information technology professionals. However, adopting a few specific tactics can help you to retain the talented members of your IT staff that seem to do all the heavy lifting for your business.

Give them Room to Grow

Not only do the people who work for you need to grow in order to reach their potential as IT professionals, but they also need to know you’re giving them room to grow. Your employees need to understand that you’re as invested in them as they are in the work they do for you.

There are a few ways to do this effectively. Offer classes to help them improve their skills. Give them side projects and opportunities to put new skills into action. Reimburse them for college courses they take that furthers skills they can use on the job. All of these things make them feel as though they’re important to your company today and in the future. That feeling of importance fosters loyalty among employees.

Turn to Employees for Input

More importantly, really consider the input they provide. Most employees aren’t going to volunteer their best ideas until they believe they’re being heard. Lend weight to what they have to say and build a relationship of trust and mutual respect in your workplace.

People who feel as though they have a voice in the way things are run are much more likely to stick with your company in good times and bad than those who feel like you aren’t really hearing their voices at all anyway.

Offer them the Opportunity to Prove their Worth

Contests and competitions that offer prizes for performance are excellent tactics to allow employees to really shine in areas where they excel without forcing them to pat themselves on the back. You’ll be really surprised by the number of employees who feel undervalued and under-recognized for their contributions simply because they aren’t willing to or interested in pointing fingers at themselves.

Friendly competitions give them a chance to earn prizes for doing what they do best and also keeps them on your radar so that you know who the real producers in your company happen to be.

Promote Employees for Jobs Well Done

One of the main reasons employees leave is that they believe they have no room for growth. This is especially a problem for IT employees who do a lot of work behind the scenes and feel as though they’re constantly being overlooked for promotions in favor of flashier employees who have less substance, but more charisma.

It’s best to create clear and fair standards for promotion and consistently promote employees who earn their promotions based on the standards alone. Don’t require them to ask for advancements they feel they have earned. Plan for promotions by recruiting from IT staffing agencies, like Stark Talent, for entry level assignments.

These are small things businesses can do that will make a huge difference when it comes to retaining talented IT staff members who may consider greener pastures otherwise.