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Impressing Picky Employers
What does that mean for you? Either start your own small business or quickly learn the "must-do" ways to succeed with pickier employers.
"Hiring has improved this year over 2010, with 54 percent of employers in the survey indicating they have added workers. However, companies have become much pickier in the types of employees they want, and job candidates need to adapt to these changes," says Steve Ford, managing partner of OI Partners/FS&F.
These are the top "must-do" ways that applicants can succeed with more demanding employers:
1. Be ready to undergo more interviews and a longer search process. 32% of surveyed employers said it is taking longer this year than last year to bring people on board as companies conduct more interviews to confirm they are selecting the best candidates.
"There is a greater supply of qualified candidates than there was last year as more people are looking for opportunities in an improved job market," Ford says. "That means employers can afford to be extremely choosy about whom they decide to hire. Do not become discouraged by the number of times you may have to interview for a job, and bring a high level of enthusiasm to each one.
2. Be prepared to be interviewed by multiple people at the same time. Forty-one percent of employers are more often interviewing candidates in teams or using panels of their employees.
"Conduct mock interviews and practice connecting with several people at the same time instead of just one interviewer," Ford says. "This is a chance to demonstrate how well you work in teams and seek input from others by including everyone in your responses. Adopt a conversational tone, remain relaxed, and smile throughout."
3. Convey your suitability to work well in teams and with customers. Seventy-one percent of employers in the survey want employees who are team-oriented, and 63 percent are seeking candidates who are customer-focused.
"Companies are looking for people who work well together and realize how important customers are in this challenging economy," Ford says.
4. Rehearse being interviewed by telephone. Fifty-four percent of employers in the survey are more frequently screening employees by phone than last year.
"Be prepared to make the most of the limited time you will have, and don't repeat what is on your resume," Ford says. "Highlight your achievements and results related to the position and the skills that set you apart from others. Stand up while talking and have a list of bullet points prepared. Close by inquiring what the next steps will be and ask to meet in person."
5. Round out your social media presence. Forty-four percent of surveyed employers are more often recruiting candidates via LinkedIn and 19 percent are more frequently using Facebook.
"Make sure your online profile is essentially your resume and is continually updated. Showcase yourself as an expert in your field with an impactful headline and description and searchable key words that reveal the breadth and depth of your experience and skills," Ford says.
6. Persuasively communicate your related experience and the results you have achieved for similar types of employers. Seventy-seven percent of employers said they are looking for people who have experience in their industries--the No. 1 quality survey respondents are seeking--and 62 percent want candidates who have a track record for achieving similar types of goals as those related to the open position.
7. Seek out opportunities on the websites of prospective employers and obtain referrals from the employer's workers. Thirty-six percent of organizations are using their own Web sites more often to recruit candidates, and 32 percent are more frequently relying on their employees' recommendations when hiring.
Check out this video for another take on interviewing:
Small Businesses Turn to Contest Sites for Affordable Designs
I’ve been blessed with several good friends who are designers, so I get a steal on services. Sometimes I even trade writing services for design services with them. Most people aren’t so lucky, but you can get lucky by tapping into design contest sites where designers compete to offer up the best logo, brochure, or whatever else you need designed.
One of those sites is DesignContest.com. The site just added some functions and features to meet the demand of small businesses that need high quality design at a price they can afford.
Here’s how it works: DesignContest pre-screens designers for an understanding of design basics—including file types, copyright laws, and design ethics—before they are allowed to compete for your project. When you go to the site, you start a contest with your parameters. Designers will enter to win your business by posting design concepts. Once you find one you like, you choose the winner and have the job completed.
Another popular site in this category is 99designs.com. Much the same as DesignContest, you create a design brief with a clear outline of what you need designed and choose a design package. Designers then submit concepts to compete for your financial prize. You can collaborate with designers by providing feedback along the way. Finally, you choose your favorite design and pay out what you agreed.
I prefer and have worked with 99designs.com. So this is a safe bet, but there are many different design contest sites out there you could work with. Although there are some projects that merit the old fashioned expensive designer route, some simple projects, especially for ideas you are experimenting with, are prime for this model.
How Your Small Business Can Build Customer Trust, Loyalty
"Trust is not a soft skill. Trust really affects the bottom line. Look at Tiger Woods who lost millions of dollars in endorsements when he lost public confidence. Trust is the competitive advantage you gain when others believe in you,” says David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge.
"People pay more for a trusted brand. They come back and tell others. People follow the trusted leader and buy from the trusted salesperson. Trust affects the bottom line more than anything. In fact, a lack of trust is your biggest expense—and you don't even know it.”
With this in mind, Horsager has developed an "8 Pillars Plan" that small businesses can follow to build trust in the workplace. The goal is to improve customer satisfaction improves, stimulate employee motivation, and energize the sales force. Here are the eight pillars:
- Clarity: People trust the clear and they mistrust the ambiguous.
- Compassion: People put faith in those who care beyond themselves.
- Character: People notice those who do what is right instead of those who do what is easy.
- Competency: People have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant and capable.
- Commitment: People believe in those who stand through adversity.
- Connection: People want to follow, buy from and be around friends.
- Contribution: People immediately respond to results.
- Consistency: People have to see the little things done consistently.
"We found that the greatest leaders of all time—from business to military to sports—used all Eight Pillars. Trust was the singular uniqueness,” Horsager says. "But you don't trust someone who says, 'Trust me.' Trust has to be earned. Trust is like a forest. It takes a long time to grow but can be easily burned down with a touch of carelessness."
Check out this video for more practical customer relationship-building tips:
Protect Yourself Against Gmail Phishing Attacks
Google announced earlier this week that cybercriminals from China were using what seemed to be phishing attacks to hack Gmail accounts, including government authorities. With this news comes the revelation that Hotmail and Yahoo! e-mail accounts have also been the target of spear phishing attacks.
What can you do to protect your small business?
First understand what a phishing attack is. According to Wikipedia, phishing is a way of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake Web site whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one.
“Phishing attacks range from the incredibly obvious to the believable and well crafted. There will always be those that cause a person to second guess themselves, which is exactly what they need to do,” says Fred Touchette, a senior security analyst at AppRiver. “We have seen more and more directed spear phishing attacks against individuals and/or specific companies over the past few years. This is troubling news because they are usually harder to notice due to their customization, but in no way will this affect the cast net style approach of phishing.”
When it comes to Internet security, a little common sense can go a long way. Here are Touchette’s top four tips for protecting your small business from a phishing attack.
Avoid opening e-mails or attachments from unsolicited sources.
When clicking on links, pay attention to where they’re actually taking you. In this recent attack the emails appeared to come from sources known to the victims which can certainly add to the obfuscation. The telltale sign to note here was the fact that it took them back to a Gmail login screen after they were already in their account, that’s never a good sign.
If there’s ever any question, close the browser, open a new one and go directly to the site. The fake log-in screen in these attacks also had multiple flaws that should have clued the victims to the fact that something was amiss as well. Oftentimes I see the attackers using outdated Web pages in these situations.
Overall, remain cautious and use safe email and browsing habits consistently to avoid becoming aloof.
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