Learn Six Sigma- Reasons Your Organization Needs It

May 12th, 2012

Management and executive staff need to consider the benefits of Six Sigma and how it can change the way any business operates. In considering ways to reduce costs, increase productivity or enhance employee and management success, it is necessary to consider the benefits of this methodology. Doing so could make a significant impact on your business as a whole.

What Is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a specific approach to managing a business. The approach is data driven and disciplined. The goal of it is to eliminate any defects. Ultimately, it is the process of driving your organization to perfection in its methods. In doing so, numerous benefits occur. That is why so many businesses have moved towards using this approach. It saves time and money and creates success.

Why Should You Learn It and Implement It?

With Six Sigma, the process will reduce waste and drive speed to the highest levels possible. The process works to reduce your costs of operation, but at the same time increases the overall quality. The process creates both short and long term benefits, and ultimately creates a highly sustainable corporation. It all sounds good so far.

But, why do it? What are the key advantages to using this method instead of what you are currently doing? There’s no doubt that the changes will take time and money to implement. Why bother with it?

  • The method is applicable to various sectors in any industry. Though it was once designed only for manufacturing companies, it is now easily adaptable to virtually any industry. This means it a feasible option for any business.
  • Once you begin to implement Six Sigma into the business, you will see immediate functional improvements. This includes a reduction in production times and reduction in costs. This is due to the implementation of a key factor that encourages analysis and improved processes to occur.
  • Customers benefit, too. Improving customer perception is important, but so is delivering high quality. Tangible value improvements are created that benefit the customer. Improved product quality is critical to improving your customer base.
  • Another key advantage to using this option is that it is easy to put into place. The execution of Six Sigma does not have to be complex or too time consuming. Keep in mind that the goal is to improve your business’s success and therefore, from the start, the process is simplified to ensure that benefits happen right away. With this method, you will be able to transform your business by creating effective links between your priorities and operational improvements.

In addition to this, management and executive ownership is not left out. Six Sigma allows for management to maintain control, and even have better control over the function of the business. This drives success and keeps the business moving forward. Without this type of mentality, what business could succeed?

To learn more tips for better managing your business and personnel, be sure to read our previous post: Increasing Productivity on the Manufacturing Floor

Time to Evaluate…You! When And How To Reexamine Your Management Process

May 7th, 2012

Yearly productivity meetings and performance appraisals aren’t fun for anyone. As a manager, it’s difficult to bring yourself to face the music when the time comes. No one wants to offer criticism of the work of others – especially when raises, bonuses, and even livelihoods are at stake. The worst part is that these appraisals are often quite subjective in nature, which means that employees may feel personally slighted. It drives yet another wedge between management and staff – one that may be unnecessary.

Most managers actually feel that constantly monitoring, measuring, and making note of employees’ progress throughout the year is not an effective use of their time. They’d much rather find a different way to measure and/or define the effectiveness of employees. Once you’ve reached this line of thought concerning the performance appraisal process, perhaps it’s time to make a change for the better in the way things are done.

Return to the True Purpose of Performance Evaluations

Back in the day, these evaluations were important tools to help employees determine how well they were doing in their roles and to touch base with management on opportunities for advancement. It was also an opportunity for management to point out areas where improvements were needed. Today it feels more like an inquisition than an effective measurement and evaluation tool.

That’s why it’s so important to implement a more productive evaluation system for the sake of your business – and the happiness of your employees. You see, employees appreciate an opportunity to determine their success, especially when they are given a clearly defined set of goals to accomplish in order to be successful within the company.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind for future employee evaluations.

1)   Plan ahead. Write out a clear definition for the job, the duties of the job, and the responsibilities of the employee in his role. Define performance goals with clearly listed measurements of the outcome. Give the employee a clear priority for job responsibilities and goals. Define performance standards for each component of the job. Provide feedback along the way so that the employee knows where improvements are needed or when praise is merited. Keep records of performance throughout the appraisal period.

2)   Assess employee’s performance. Schedule a time when you can sit down with the employee and have an in-depth discussion of his performance throughout the evaluation period. Praise strengths and point out weaknesses. The goal is to show the employee where improvements can be made without devaluing the contributions the employee has made throughout the period of appraisal. Ask for feedback from the employee about what goals he would like to set for himself and about his role within the company. Is he hoping to advance within the company? What aspects and skills does he feel will make him a better candidate for advancement?

3)   Listen to employee responses and when possible, incorporate them into the goals established for the next appraisal period. Offer your own advice and experience to help steer him in the right direction.

Employees are happiest when they have a clearly defined idea of what they should be doing in order to achieve their goals. They like to be recognized for their contributions and will generally accept criticism with grace when they feel their ideas are being heard and their work is valued. A performance development plan like this sets the stage for a much happier and more productive workforce.

For a support with your staffing management needs, be sure to contact Stark Talent today.

How Do I Develop a Successful Career in Supply Chain Management?

February 29th, 2012

To develop a successful career in supply chain management, individuals need to have the right combination of experience and training, not to mention the desire to do well in this field. Supply chain management is the process of moving products or goods from the manufacturer to the distributor on to the customer. Every aspect of the job requires a significant amount of attention paid to the task at hand. You can better your chances of entering and growing in this field, though.

Get Educated

Having a professional certification in supply chain management is an excellent advantage. There are various institutions offering this type of certification. Individuals can even use self paced training programs to help enhance skills that may be outdated.

Love Math

One of the biggest factors in whether an individual will be successful at this job is their ability to understand and use math in the proper manner. Having a mathematical aptitude is going to be one of the strongest attributes of a candidate for this career field.

Take on Projects

On a resume, having experience managing a new project can be an outstanding benefit. Having experience establishing and effectively running a new project can make a significant impact on your long-term career. This looks impressive on a resume, even if it is a smaller project or your first step into this direction.

Have Good Problem Solving Skills

Another important factor for individuals who wish to succeed will be problem-solving skills. Those who have the ability to manage conflicts in demands and scheduling and who have the ability to do it without becoming overwhelmed, will do well in supply chain management. It is necessary for these professionals to have outstanding time management and project management skills. Often it is the case where individuals will have several problems happening at one time and they will need to manage every moment.

Understand Key Systems

To do well in supply chain management, you will need to understand the systems used within this field. Enterprise Resource Planning Systems or ERPs are an important part of this job field. In global organizations, these systems are invaluable. Having experience or an understanding of how they work, can help. It may be possible to take courses to learn these skills long before applying for a position.

Gaining Experience

Perhaps the most important element to doing well in the supply chain management field is simply getting experience. Though most people will need to start with entry-level positions, working your way up the chain of command will help. Choose a company with a strong internal training program and make sure that those in charge know your interest in developing these skills. People will experience in processing and manufacturing can find these to be good skills. Consider the advantages of taking temporary assignments through Stark Talent to gain this experience as well.

Supply chain management is a strong and growing field. Having the skills to perform well in this position will put you in demand in this industry.


Internship Opportunities for Job Seekers of Any Age

February 22nd, 2012

The idea that most people picture in their minds when the topic of internships come up is a short term program geared towards high school or college students who’d like to “try on” a job. However, did you know that internships can be a powerful way for candidates of all ages to get more exposure to help land a great career? Most internships allow for on-the-job experience without the commitment, offering both employees and employers many advantages.

In today’s competitive job market, internships can provide valuable learning experience and networking opportunities that anyone can take advantage of at any stage in their career. These internships can be either paid or unpaid, but are based on the same principle of being able to get real-world experience in a new industry or profession, while under the guidance of others. In other words – this is a total win-win situation for both interns and the companies who offer this experience.

Here are some things to consider if you are exploring the world of internships.

  • Internships give you a chance to explore a new career in a safe environment. The main reason to consider an internship is to satisfy your quest for knowledge about a specific career field, before you invest too much into it. With so many adults heading back to scholl for more eduction and training, internships can provide an alternative means to learn the skills you need to succeed in a specific career. You may also find that you don’t want to pursue things further in a job type, or find other related jobs that you prefer instead of your original plan.
  • Many fields require internships before acceptance for regular employment. As a rule, there are some companies that actually require an internship before granting access to regular placement. These industries include entertainment and creative fields, the medical and social science industries, as well as some technical and engineering positions. While internships are mandatory for final year college students, they can also be required for adults who want to venture into a new career.
  • Internship benefits and payment can vary greatly from one company to the next. When evaluating any internship program, keep in mind that companies are not legally required to pay interns because there is an understanding that the exchange of information and college credit is compensation enough. Never go into an internship expecting to be paid, because your reward will be in the valuable experience and contacts you will take with you. In recent times, many companies have implemented special incentives for interns, including bonuses for completing an internship successfully.
  • Companies often recruit directly from intern pools every year. When it comes time to hire the best, most companies turn to their interns as a valuable source of manpower. If you work as an intern, you can indicate upfront you would like to be considered for regular employment at some point in the future. Chances are, you will increase your ability to get hired on, simply by being in the right place at the right time as an intern.

To learn more about opportunities to work as an intern, please visit Stark Talent today. You’ll be on your way to a brand new career and success at any age.

The Patriot Act: Its Effect on U.S. Tech Industry

February 15th, 2012

Could the Patriot Act slow down the tech industry in the United States? The Patriot Act provided a new opportunity for the military to protect the country after the September 11th attacks. However, now it has some foreign companies not willing to get into business with American companies. The problem is not the companies themselves but the technology they are using. That technology has an incredible impact on the way people do business in the US right now. Cloud computing is very useful but for foreign businesses, it seems like a risk.

What’s the Problem?

The problem with cloud computing is that it allows data to be stored in a “cloud” on the Internet. Anyone with the proper pass codes can access the information in the cloud and use it from virtually any location where there is an Internet connection. The problem is, though, foreign companies are leery about putting their private information on American company’s cloud systems. Could this provide an opportunity for the government to spy on their actions? Foreign competitors want companies to avoid working with American communities as a result.

Actions Under Way

The good news is that something is being done to minimize this worry and to encourage foreign companies that the government has no need or interest in tapping into private, foreign company’s information. The Obama Administration is taking steps to encourage a full understanding of the Patriot Act as well as what it means to business. The White House is working on solutions as this has a potentially big negative impact on many US businesses, especially since other companies are using and already benefiting from cloud systems overseas.

The Patriot Act has worried business owners in Europe, Asia and throughout the world. The worry is that, under this law, foreign companies may be required to provide information at any time upon request by the federal government in the US.

The threat is real. In the Netherlands, for example, authorities seemed to consider the idea of blocking any US based cloud firms from actually bidding on and receiving contract bids from government programs. It was never put into place, but the fear is that other countries will put this type of limitation in place.

The true benefit of cloud management is having free information travel between sources. With some countries now requesting businesses cut into this and to keep communications within the country’s borders there is a risk to American companies in this firm. In a report on cloud computing that came out in 2011, 71 experts from companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Salesforce have come forward to put pressure on Washington to take control over the situation. It could mean a large problem for companies who want and need to expand their services overseas.

Oil and Gas Industries: Consistently Contributing to Our Economy

February 7th, 2012

Job recruiters at oil and gas companies often get the cold shoulder from government agencies and politicians. Because they are not in the business of renewable energy really should not matter though. In fact, research indicates that these industries are actually not producing the jobs and careers that many people believed they would for so long. The fact is, there are some pretty good benefits to the oil and gas industry as we know it.

Oil and Gas Companies Create Jobs

One of the biggest benefits to the oil and gas industry is that this industry continues to create jobs. At a time when unemployment remains so high, there’s no doubt this is critically important. The oil and natural gas industry, for example, provides the country with more than nine million jobs. Moreover, there are major projects in the works to add even more jobs. That includes new natural gas production locations in areas like Pennsylvania and adding some 100,000 jobs in Northern Texas in the Barnett shale industry.  Add to this the number of supportive positions added in the manufacturing industry and others, and that job number continues to grow.

Bringing in Tax Revenue

The oil and natural gas industries are also big payers into the coffers of the US government’s tax system. In short, the taxes paid by some of the largest companies in these fields actually exceed the domestic earnings the companies have. In addition, state and local governments also get a chunk of change from these industries as well.

Energy Companies Invest in the Country

The next time you go to hire someone out of your oil company and hear that this business is running the country to the ground, think again. In fact, $266 billion in new capital spending as well as $176 billion in wages and another $35 billion in stock dividends is the big factor. The industry continues to contribute and to reinvest in the country in this way.

It’s an Industry We Need

Hands down, if the oil and natural gas industries were to close down their doors right now, millions of Americans would be without jobs. In fact, it is quite clear to see that jobs in this field continue to be viewed as some of the best to be had. People often understand the importance of the industry. On the flip side, though, solar and wind power jobs are not out there in as much force. More so, many people still wonder about the way those alternative forms of energy will fit into today’s world. Oil and natural gas are stable long term.

As a recruiter for an oil company or natural gas company, you may not feel the impact every day. It is there. Those in this industry contribute to a great deal of the function of everyday lives in the US.

Relocation Issues that IT Candidates Face

January 29th, 2012

IT professionals are often required to put in long hours and completely dedicate themselves to the jobs and or projects at hand. For this reason alone, many IT candidates face relocation issues that are somewhat unique to them. Here are a few things you should keep in mind before agreeing to relocate for any IT position.

Social Networks and Down Time

Some companies acknowledge the fact that they require their IT employees to put in long hours and go out of their way to create an environment that allows and even encourages socialization. More and more IT companies are beginning to provide recreational equipment for much needed recharge time as well. Find out what kind of environment you’re going to be working in and if it’s one that will be an effective and healthy environment for you. Also keep family in mind and how much time you’ll have to devote to them, if you have family, while also adjusting to a new work situation.

What Kind of Relocation Packages are Offered?

This is a market that is ripe with competition. In many instances good companies have people lining up to work for them. However, the cream of the crop, the jobs you should really consider relocating for, are going to go above and beyond what everyone else is doing by offering attractive relocation packages. They want to hire the most talented IT candidates and they are well aware that this is a great way to attract their target demographic.

Consider the Location

Different IT professionals at different stages of their careers will have a different idea of what the “perfect” location to start a new chapter in their lives will be. You know what your life is like now and you have an idea of how you’d like it to be. Does this relocation get you any closer to your goals? How about your family? Will there be educational and employment opportunities for family that you’re going to bring along? What about your lifestyle? Is the community where you’ll be moving attractive to you and the lifestyle you want to lead? These are all important questions that will matter to you.

Of course, as an IT professional there are additional considerations you’ll need to keep in mind. Is the infrastructure of the community at large fairly modern? It does no good to work in a high-tech IT environment if you live in an area that has aging lines and an infrastructure that should have been extinct a decade ago. Most people today bring their work home with them on occasion. Are you going to be able to find a home with the wiring to meet the demands of the work you’ll need to do at home?

More and more IT professionals are taking the plunge and relocating for work. It’s not nearly as uncommon as it has been in the past. People are leaving home and striking out on their own hoping to strike gold and find a new place to call home and work. For help with finding a new IT assignment, and handling the challenges of relocation, be sure to work with the career experts at Stark Talent!

Unemployment and Hiring Trends Going into 2012

January 14th, 2012

While the career market did experience some promising growth at the end of 2011, the New Year is looking to be promising for many companies in the administrative, technology, energy, health care and engineering industries. According to the US Department of Labor, the national average of unemployment at the end of December 2011 was at 8.5 percent, but there were several states that saw a nice decline in the number of claims filed. However, these industries are growing at a steady pace, which means plenty of career opportunities for job seekers.

Unemployment and hiring trends should change the way you hire people. Employers can learn a great deal from the trends occurring in today’s very challenging and every changing employment field. There are ideal candidates out there. There are also highly competitive employers looking to get the best they can.

What’s Going on Today?

According to the LinkedIn Recruiting Trends 2011 report, there are some interesting changes occurring in the employment field. For example, about 60 percent of companies in the United States say they plan to hire more professionals than they did the previous year. However, of those, 55 percent say they do not expect to increase their hiring budget to do it.

Social Media is the Route to Take

How do companies plan to hire more without paying more to find those employees? Many are turning to social media to do the work for them. The top recruiting trend in the country, in fact, is using social and professional networks to locate the ideal candidate for open positions. The same report indicates that about 35 percent of business worry that competitors will learn to use social media more effectively than they are using it and therefore land more of the best candidates in the field. Ninety-six percent of those who responded noted that LinkedIn was their choice for social networking for recruiting needs. Is your business using it?

Who Is Hiring?

Express Employment Professionals, one of the largest staffing companies in the country, released a report indicating where hiring trends are in North America at the end of 2011 and start of 2012. Here is a look at where jobs are.

  • The commercial and light industrial sector accounts for about 32 percent of all job openings.
  • About 28 percent of businesses plan to hire administrative or office staff.
  • About 32 percent are hiring for other positions such as customer service, food service, healthcare, sales or general labor.
  • 14 percent of those that responded to the company’s survey indicated they plan to hire for engineering positions.
  • 13 percent plan to hire marketing professionals.
  • Another 10 percent say they plan to hire into their finance and accounting sectors.
  • Information technology jobs account for about nine percent.

This should help businesses to gauge just how much competition there is in the market. The survey conducted by the company was given to more than 17,000 businesses that plan to hire.

There is more demand today for skilled workers than previously. Most employers are talking about hiring again. Some sectors will not likely begin hiring until the economy is performing far better, including those who are unskilled laborers or those who are highly skilled engineers or architects. The housing market is simply not growing. According some experts, salaries will increase but not by high levels and the money in salary increases is unlikely to be spread around evenly to all workers.

Keeping these factors in mind, where is your business headed? Are you conducting the same types of hiring or is your sector skill holding back to see if the economy improves? Employers must compete in a very different world today than they did pre-recession, but for many employees that is a good thing.

OPEC Boosts 2012 Demand Estimate – Good News for Job Seekers

December 21st, 2011

As the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ups its 2012 estimate for the demand for crude oil worldwide for a second month in a row, this is positive news for the thousands of energy and IT engineers seeking work in the coming year. Supply for crude oil and associated oil and petroleum based products is expected to supply both American and foreign need for more staff to handle the complex processes needed to produce consumer products. However, this may not be great news for some in the manufacturing and transportation sectors – two industries hit hard by the economic recession.

The OPEC forecast was recently the topic of a Bloomberg Report, that stated, “OPEC will need to produce 30.1 million barrels a day to balance global crude supply and demand”, according to the group’s secretariat. “That’s up 100,000 barrels a day from its forecast last month. OPEC cut its global demand forecast for 2012.” OPEC officials further went on to say, “Economic turbulence is shaking oil demand as the slowdown hits manufacturing activities worldwide.” We can only hope that the interest of developing less expensive, more plentiful energy sources leads to more jobs for millions of deserving workers around the globe.

For engineers and IT professionals, the career outlook is positive, in light of President Obama’s recent American Jobs Act speech  that put the focus on creating more jobs by making improvements to the educational system to produce more skilled engineers and IT workers over the coming decade. America has yet to catch up to other developed nations, like China and India, in terms of the number of engineers and IT professionals available, but this initiative will encourage those looking for new career opportunities to consider engineering as a viable option.

We need technology to continue growing if we are to stimulate the economy, so OPEC’s projections confirm that the demand for qualified workers is critical for long term growth and to keep up with industry demands. According to OPEC, “Oil demand will average 88.9 million barrels a day next year, about 100,000 barrels less than its previous forecast, as demand growth in China and India slows, it said. Consumption will average 87.8 million barrels in 2012.” While America struggles to find alternative forms of energy, it’s clear our love affair with gas-powered vehicles and equipment will continue to create jobs in the New Year.

Looking for an engineering, IT or other energy related job for 2012? Consider working with the career experts at Stark Talent for great opportunities!


Your Age Shouldn’t Matter. How to Make Your Career and Your Resume Age-proof

November 29th, 2011

Under current Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) guidelines, it is illegal to discriminate against job applicants based on age, along with other identifying factors. It’s also illegal to stop giving older employees less opportunities for career growth. However, there are some companies that continually focus on “youthful” employees, finding ways to get around these laws. Oftentimes too, older job seekers believe they cannot find good career opportunities and are not offered jobs based on their age or appearance.

Generally speaking, while you cannot do much about your age, you can do something about the way you present yourself to potential employers so that you do not “date” your skills and abilities. It’s not so much about age, as it is about how you present yourself as a job seeker. Here are some ways to “age proof” your career and your status as an applicant.

Keep Your Skills Up-to-date – The number one factor to maintaining your career for a lifetime, and for presenting yourself in a positive light to recruiters, is keeping your work related skills current. This mean being a lifelong learner, taking in as much information as you can about the work you do, and being able to present your credentials. You don’t have to be in college to get these credentials, but merely being in touch with your industry by participating in continual learning opportunities will keep you knowledgeable and fresh.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle – This goes for everyone, but it is especially true for those who are entering their mature years. Now is the time to start taking better care of your physical and mental well-being. Make friends with a fitness center. Learn to make healthier eating choices and drop the bad habits. Get involved in extra-curricular activities that provide encouragement to improve your mental state. By doing these things, you will not only improve your personal appearance, but you will have an energy that most recruiters will find irresistible and co-workers will marvel at.

Share Relevant Information – One of the biggest mistakes that many people make, when drafting a new resume or when filling out online applications, is sharing all of their career and educational history. Putting a graduation date that’s older than most people’s recollection is generally going to date you right off the bat. It is recommended that you leave off dates longer than 10-15 years, and only include work experiences that are relevant to the specific job. Include achievements and references to further bolster your strength as a candidate.

Get Representation. As a serious career-minded professional, your best ally can be the support of a progressive staffing agent or career coach. This person can look out for new opportunities for you, and advise you on the most favorable ways to present yourself from application to interviews. Ask for guidance with designing a brand new resume that will place you in the best possible light to companies you want to work for. After all, you have the skills they are looking for and there’s no reason to be shy about applying. You are smarter, wiser and a lot more capable of making a great first impression to secure a great career, with the support of a reputable staffing agent.

Find out how Stark Talent can help you get past the age-gap and into a great career today!