Online Profiles: Are you Putting Your Professional Face Forward?

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Do you have an online professional profile? Did you spend hours crafting your bio, sharing exciting details of your job history, and highlighting all of your skills and accomplishments to showcase your unique and amazing career journey?

Of course you did. Because you want to do everything you can to impress and engage future employers and business prospects.

Including, selecting the PERFECT profile picture to match, right?

When you go on an interview or make a work presentation, don’t you put a little extra time into “looking the part?” Maybe it’s selecting the right “business-ware,” or making sure every hair is in place, or even having an extra flossing session to eliminate any remnants of lunch from your pearly whites.  Whatever it is – you go the extra mile to look your best professional self.

Shouldn’t the same rule apply to your professional profile picture – the face of your brand?

It should, but lately I’m seeing a lot of this, instead:

  • The photo of you and your significant other drinking alcoholic beverages in bathing suits, lounging on a tropical beach;
  • The awkward photo of you in your favorite holiday “ugly sweater” posing with your cat in front of the Christmas Tree;
  • The “head-shot,” with the angle focused mostly on your cleavage in your best plunging -V;
  • The shirtless, I work out, look at my abs photo;
  • A photo of your dog;
  • And, the up-close selfie photo (of only half your face) with uncombed hair, and a swamp on a dreary day, as your backdrop.

You laugh, but these are all real-life examples that I come across EVERY day. 

Maybe you think that a hiring manager or business connection will think that you are “cool,” or “real”, or have a really fun(ny), well-rounded personality. Or maybe you really, truly don’t have another photo.  Either way – it’s time to change it. ASAP. 

There are many other platforms where will get you a ton of “likes” on this stuff. Facebook, Instagram, Match.com….but, this is not the place.

Frankly Speaking: Profile pictures bring life to your online presence. They put a face with a name, and offer another window into who you are. They enhance your profile and complement all of your of your big successes and ambitions. Your professional profile picture doesn’t have to be a perfect headshot taken by an amazing photographer, but it should be a clean-cut, apropos, well-manicured, shot of you. You don’t have to be in your “Sunday Best,” but at least sport a nice-looking, well-put together outfit (that covers most of your body parts), with a pleasing backdrop, and a nice smile. So, when you show up for your interview or business meeting, the other person will be able to easily recognize you….and maybe feel like they already sort of “know” you- for the right reasons.

Remember, as Will Rogers (and many Head & Shoulders commercials) so wisely remind us, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

 

Slacking Already? 5 Ways to Stick To Your New Career Resolutions

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Just a few weeks ago, you took some quality quiet time for yourself to reflect – perhaps at your favorite coffee shop, or snuggled on the couch with your cat and some tea, or while laying out on the beach on your paradise vacation. As you thought about the year past, your excitement grew for all that the New Year would bring.

Finally, a blank slate. A new chapter. You’re ready and energized to take on the world! This was going to be YOUR year! 

 Yes! This is the year you promise to stick to your resolutions. You will exercise daily (maybe even twice a day!), call grandma every Sunday, save more money, and drink less alcohol. 

But, especially important to you this year is your career. You are well overdue for some real professional changes, and you know it. Whether it be a new job (or even a new career), getting that promotion, or maybe even making more money – these will be your top priority!

And then, with a blink of an eye, holiday vacations are behind you and the chaos of daily life is again in full swing. You are settling back into your routine filled with 10+ hour days at the office, meetings galore, and juggling to keep up with family and social calendars. Plus, it’s cold. It’s dark. And you just want to hibernate.

While you haven’t ditched out on your big goals (yet), the actual work needed to make them a reality feels more and more overwhelming as the days go by. 

But, don’t fall off the resolution wagon just yet! Before you get to the middle of the year with nothing to show for it, here are some easy (and manageable!) steps to keep your goals alive:

  1. Become One With Your Resolutions: Spend quality time with them. Make sure they are what you really want before you commit to them. Dissect them. Peel back the layers, uncover the smaller achievable mini-goals beneath them, and write them down.
  2. Post ‘Em: This is key in keeping you motivated. How many times have you written down your goals or resolutions, and then you stick them in a drawer – only to find them 12 months later? This year- POST THEM in a place where you can see them daily. The constant in-your-face reminder will keep you focused, energized and excited about your path to success.
  3. Make a Weekly Date: With yourself. And, no cancelling. If you don’t dedicate time to your career – nobody else will. Block a couple hours in your calendar (just as if you had a meeting with someone else) specifically to assess your goals, review your plans, do your research, send emails, apply for jobs, and reflect on your progress.
  4. Be an “In-Person” Person: I know you’re busy, but this is a must. Get out from behind the computer screen and go out and talk with other professionals. Attend conferences, go to your favorite charity events, have lunch with a mentor, or make a coffee date to reconnect with someone in your professional network. Commit to three or more of these meetings/events each month. Also – if your resume or online profiles need some love – now is the time to give it.  You always want to be up-to-date and ready when surprises come your way.
  5. Get Extra Accountable: Remember – you don’t have to go at it all alone. We all need a little extra push, support, or outside perspective every now and again. Engage a career coach or an accountability partner to keep you on your toes. Plus, it can never hurt to have another person in your corner to keep you positive, motivated, clear-headed and on the right track.

Frankly Speaking: Take a moment to reflect to that quiet day when you made your New Year’s career resolutions. Remember how you felt? Empowered. Strong. Capable. Impactful. Determined. Go back there. Dig up that energy and remind yourself of those feelings every time you feel like ditching out on a networking event, cancelling a coffee meeting with an old colleague or watching TV during your weekly scheduled check-in with yourself.  You’ll be glad you did. 

Disengaged Employees: Is It THEM or Is It YOU?

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“Employee Engagement” – the new buzz-term popping up in HR departments, business journals, and company meetings everywhere as companies are scrambling to retain their talent in this new candidate-driven market.

 According to a recent study by Saba and WorkplaceTrends.com, one-third of the US workforce will make a job change within the next six months. For the first time in years, employees are choosing to leave jobs for something “better.” And, in conference rooms from coast-to-coast, executives are scratching their heads to make sense of the attrition – often rationalizing it by pointing fingers at “entitled millennials,” employees who ask for “too much,” or those who “weren’t bringing that much value, anyway.”

But, are those really the reasons? Is it them or could it be you? Are you really giving your employees what they need to stay engaged?

As an executive recruitment partner and career coach, I hear from top talent every day. The people who deliver, produce and contribute to your bottom line. The people with great passion – who align with and exemplify the ideals, goals and enthusiasm that your company was built upon. The loyal, committed, driven, successful employees who don’t feel valued, fully utilized, noticed, or rewarded for their hard work. The people you will be sorry to lose.

Companies have put so much emphasis on “culture” as a way to attract and retain talent. But, are those free lunches, game rooms, beanbags, gym memberships and happy hours enough to keep employees engaged in your business in the long-term? Evidently, not. According to the same aforementioned study, “Forty-one percent of employees said they would leave their company for better career options – with a sizable amount of those polled (31%) stating that background, skills and talents were not being recognized.”

So, what can you do to reengage your employees before it’s too late? Put the fancy strategies and complex, never-been done before initiatives to the side for a minute and let’s get back to basics:

  • Mentor: Make real time for feedback, coaching and career-pathing
  • Listen: Your employees’ insights, thoughts, and opinions can be very valuable to the business. Create a platform for productive dialogue, and pay attention to what they have to say.
  • Inspire: A company is a community with core values and a mission that your employees signed up to be a part of. You are all in it together. Ensure that the heart of your business is reflected in and woven into the fabric of work you do and the culture you do it in – both inside and outside the office.
  • Invest: Encourage professional development initiatives, offer internal growth opportunities, and promote from within.
  • Reward: Give praises, raises, bonuses and other unique benefits/perks to those who earn them.

Frankly Speaking: Every job is re-fillable, but not every person is replaceable. Your talent is the lifeblood of your organization. You put so much time and effort into recruiting the crème de la crème, now it’s up to you to give them a reason to stay.  Be a leader. Take care of the people who believed enough in you to be part of your mission. Mentor, Listen, Inspire, Invest and Reward. Imagine the things that your business can achieve with an inspired, challenged, and engaged team of professionals working alongside you.  

Vacation Time – Today’s Guilty Pleasure?

Post By Connor Hanrahan: Summer Intern, LBF Recruitment Strategies

 

The International Labour Organization (ILO) found, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.” “The average paid vacation time in the United States is roughly 13 days per year, compared to a European country like France, that offers employees on average of 30 days of paid vacation per year.”

On average, American workers leave five paid vacation days unused each year. FIVE DAYS? That’s one full work-week of paid time off. Just left on the table. Every year.

But, why?

Employers and employees agree vacation time is crucial. That’s why PTO (paid time off) is a pretty standard benefit these days. But, time and time again studies show a direct correlation between refusing to take time away from work and a decline in both productivity and quality of work. So, why are employees shying away from taking advantage of what they’ve earned?

Are they afraid that supervisors or co-workers might label them as lazy, unmotivated or not career-focused if they request time off for a vacation? Would it be essentially impossible to exceed, or at the very least, meet yearly goals and objectives?  Or, do some companies just make it plain difficult for employees use PTO, or to even enjoy some very needed time away from the office?

Ironically, employees actually aren’t the only ones impacted by the untouched vacation days. Adam Sacks, President of Tourism Economics at Oxford Economics, found “on average, businesses owe each employee $1,898 in accrued paid time off, and carry 5.7 days of accrued vacation per employee. For firms with more than 500 workers, the cost per employee is higher, at $2,609 per worker.” U.S. firms are faced to deal with $224 billion owed for the costs of the liabilities [1] of accumulated unused roll-over employee vacation time.

So, with all of the talk about what companies are doing to establish progressive policies around work-life balance for their employees, is it all just a farce? A scheme to get people in the door? Is it the true, underlying feeling of employers that the fewer vacation days you use, the more you are actually rewarded?

Perhaps for some, but not for all.

A growing number of companies are shifting away from a formal PTO structure, to an unlimited time-off policy. Companies as large as Netflix to the smaller, Chicago-based multimedia production company, Jellyvision, both believe whole-heartedly in this new approach.  Daniel Jacobson, Netflix’s VP for Edge Engineering, and Mary Beth Wynn Vice President of People at Jellyvision, acknowledge the policy doesn’t literally allow employees to take all the time off they want. “It is a simple mantra that basically states that we are all adults, so let’s all behave and treat each other like adults. And if a person is not consistently behaving like an adult, they should not work at Netflix.” Wynn strongly vouches for unlimited vacation, “It’s a system that requires trust on both sides. We trust our employees not to abuse it, and employees have to trust us that the flexibility is really going to be there.”

Some others have instituted new methods specifically to incentivize employees to use their earned vacation days.

Bart Lorang a 35-year-old CEO of FullContact a 5-year old software startup with 57 employees in Denver Colorado, wanted to implement a culture that made it not only possible and also profitable for employees to use vacation days.  Through his innovative employee benefit, named “paid paid vacation,” employees of FullContact notify management of their preferred time to take vacation and receive (before even leaving) a $7,500 bonus. The bonus, meant to comfortably cover the cost of an actual trip, does however come with one guideline that must be followed: the employee must completely and entirely disconnect from the office, including disabling all work related communications (phone, email, etc). Lorang’s one rule for the “paid paid vacation” brings up a valuable point that not only is important for employees to take time away from the office, but to take a vacation from their smartphones, as well.

Frankly Speaking: our wise 16th President once said that “It’s not the years in the life, but the life in the years.” Basically meaning…when you’re sitting on your death bed one day, in the way too inconceivable future, you’re not going to be reflecting on your amazing wonderful life and wished you just worked that one Friday night until 11pm of postponed your trip to help a sales pitch go more smoothly. Nope, that’s not going to happen. No one ever wishes they spent more time working, or took one less vacation day.

We all know how quickly life flashes before our eyes, so don’t hesitate using your earned vacation days just because Dwight over there hasn’t taken a vacation day since Nam’. Work responsibilities and opportunities will come and go, I promise. However, the vivid memories from weekend getaways, special occasions, and tropical vacations that you relive in your mind during the ridiculously long and monotonous Monday morning meeting that could have easily been sent as a mass email… will last a lifetime.

Connor Hanrahan is a summer Recruitment Intern for LBF Recruitment Strategies. A rising Junior at Denison University, Connor is an Economics Major by day, and superstar college athlete by night. Connor will be taking advantage of some of his own “earned vacation time” during his upcoming study abroad program in New Zealand.

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1. “The liability doesn’t include sick or personal leave, but has been generated by years of workers’ rolling over unused paid time off, according to the researchers, who say the debt grew by $65.6 billion last year alone.” 

 

 

 

Pre-Counteroffers: Why All of Your Top Employees Should Be Getting Them

There is no doubt about it. The job is market healthier than it’s been in years and hiring is HOT!

According to MarketWatch’s Jeffry Bartash’s report last week, “The U.S. economy has slowed down by almost every measure except for perhaps the most crucial one: jobs.”

But while your company is out there, hyper-focused on scouting and recruiting fresh, new, top talent, are you overlooking the players you already have on the team?

Of course you are, until they come to you to give their two-weeks notice. Then you start scrambling to give them whatever they want…more money, title promotion, flex/work-from home days, more vacation, new boss.  Whatever it is, you need to give it to them because you can’t live without them – they’re loyal, key-players!

And then you realize, you are too little, too late.

Most savvy candidates are fully-aware of the no-no’s of accepting counteroffers. Just plug the term into any search engine and you’ll
find a plethora of articles, posts and resources advising against them.

Perhaps you should’ve given them a pre-counteroffer when you had the chance.  

Yep, that’s right.  An “I’m a step ahead of your future offer” move that’s so great, they wouldn’t need to entertain the idea of leaving in the first place.  For example…did you put them on a path to reach their career goals, address to their wants/needs during their last
review, or present creative ways to keep them challenged, interested and enthusiastic? Did you truly reward them for their excellent work and loyalty to the company? Did you invest in them, proactively?

If you have been resting on your laurels with your current fantastic team and assuming (maybe hoping) that they’ll just stay forever because they are loyal, appear happy, or seem to be making “enough” money, think again. It might be time to take a new tactic.

Don’t wait for them to come to you with a resignation letter.  Get out in front of it.

  • Listen: Talk with your employees.  No, not at them, with them. And not just during “review” time.  Check-in to see how
    things are going, or if there are things you can do to make their employee experience better. Are they getting what they need/want?  Do they have concerns or issues that you can work to alleviate? Do they need more/different mentorship or direction? Do they
    want to work on new projects? Do they just want to be heard? Their issues, requests or concerns might be small and easy to fix to you, but to them they might be the motivators for a new job. Even tiny tweaks go a long way!
  • Watch, Recognize, Reward: Notice the employees who are putting in the long hours. Acknowledge small success AND big wins. Say thank you. Order in lunch. Give spot bonuses. Offer a spontaneous day-off after a big project.  Give well-deserved promotions and healthy salary increases before they are requested. Keep investing in them, and they will invest in you.
  • Evolve: Money and title aren’t everything. Today, benefits and company culture weigh just as heavily when people decide where they want to spend their many working (and waking) hours. Do you offer flex schedules? Are you all work and no play? Do you respect boundaries during non-working hours? Do you encourage your employees to actually take their allotted vacation time?  Do you have open, collaborative, work environments? Stay on top of the ever-changing work culture trends, and implement a few when you can.  Your employees will appreciate your efforts in supporting their quest for work-life balance, and your best employees will be that much more productive.

Frankly Speaking: Don’t wait until it’s too late. Of course, we can’t always prevent our employees from moving on and taking new opportunities.  In fact, sometimes we aren’t equipped to offer what they need to excel, catapult forward, or feel fulfilled on their own paths. But, by staying ahead of the game and being more in-tune with their needs and interests, we can, at the very least, give it our best shot.