Building a content copywriter portfolio employers can’t resist

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Building a content copywriter portfolio employers can’t resist

When a potential client requests your work samples, does it send you into cold sweats? Showcasing your work can be intimidating; as a content copywriter, your work is on display for all to see, but having a critical eye on it is nerve wracking. Truthfully though, the job can feel like your competition comes at a dime a dozen with the boom in digital nomading and work from home, but high quality is more important than ever as published content is increasing. Your only way to gain well-paying clients is to demonstrate your exceptional skill in a portfolio.

Gaining experience

The Catch-22 of any portfolio creation is that you're building it to gain experience, but you need experience to have the content for presentation. There are a couple of options here - create some samples that aren't from actual hired jobs and present these. You can also offer your services to contacts for low prices to help them while gaining content for your own purposes. Don't offer your services for free - ever - but bargains in a mutual back-scratching arrangement are fine within limits. You might also check out some online content copywriting courses, if you're lacking the inspiration for sample works. As you work through the class, you'll create content that will be portfolio-ready.

Style diversity

You won't work on the same content in every job. Every client will request different writing styles, knowledge base, and platforms. One client may request an ebook while another wants website sales copy. Choose a few designs on a variety of topics to showcase. You can include articles and blogs, brochures and newsletters, social media, and other formats. Essentially, divide your work into categories - consider a cross-reference system too. For example, you may divide the portfolio between articles, website copy, social media, and physical print - base the sections on the work you have available of course - but within each section consider a color system or some other differentiation. This might mean yellow highlighting for creative content, red for sales, blue for SEO.

However you decide to divvy this up will depend on your work and goals, but organization is key. You'll want potential clients to find easily their own style, or if you don't have that to showcase yet, the range of your abilities.

Choosing your best

When you’re interviewing, you present yourself as best as possible to make a good impression, right? Your portfolio needs the same approach, and you need to choose the best samples to represent your work. Employers can analyze any detail and you won't know exactly what impresses each ot sets off their red flags, so you'll want to choose your best. Don't go for quantity, choose quality. Keep a minimum of five diverse pieces that demonstrate your range, craftsmanship, and skill level.

In my own case, I keep featured pieces in my portfolio, but archive all past work in a link that's provided in the portfolio. They can go down the rabbit hole if they're particularly impressed by the featured pieces, but they don't have to, and usually don't - even those who most enthusiastically hire. The ones who do are typically people who connect with my writing style and like to read, or they may be hiring for bigger jobs than the portfolio demonstrates and need more evidence of my range. The benefit of keeping a complete history available is that if it's good, when you see potential employers in the file, you know you have them on the hook, almost always.

Updating your portfolio

You'll constantly gain experience and hone your skills. In five years the portfolio that you boast today may very well mortify you! That's a good thing; it means you're growing. But as you get better and time marches on, your work will become outdated. Every couple of months, re-evaluate the content you feature in your portfolio. Is there a piece you could replace with a better fit and quality? Jump in and redo it - don't forget to keep it interesting and diverse.

A great portfolio opens the door to great jobs - ideally progressively better and better as your career takes off. Clients will look for different details, and if they are already represented in one of your works you have a much higher chance of receiving the job. It benefits both you and the client - no more gathering disorganized samples at last minute, and you have feedback to know your portfolio is already impressive (and if not - change it!), so the job will be yours in much less time with little effort.

Now you know how to make the perfect portfolio - it's up to you to cultivate the content!

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How a team player helps foster their company's values

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How a team player helps foster their company's values

You know your values now and you've found an organization with the ideals to complement yours. How are you going to help your team foster them and create your own valuable space? First, consider the team’s values. Keep in mind that every workplace, while putting their own unique trademark on the concepts, is going to want to embody in some way the traits of integrity, accountability, diligence, perseverance, and discipline.

So let’s discuss how to embrace these qualities in employees as well as how to help foster them in coworkers - in three easy steps each!

Integrity -

  1. Be trustworthy - in your work and errors, and in your confidences among coworkers.
  2. Don’t be negative about colleagues or the workspace.
  3. Hold yourself to just as high - or even higher - a standard as you do everyone else.

Accountability -

  1. Be responsible for your relationships.
  2. Seek conflict solutions and understand the part you may play.
  3. Choose your behaviors so that they promote unity and not divisiveness.

Diligence -

  1. Ask questions when you need to.
  2. Embrace deadlines and work toward them at pace.
  3. Follow-up when your inquiries aren’t responded to in a timely fashion.

Perseverance -

  1. Find ways to solve the unsolvable - or at worst, come up with an alternative.
  2. Don’t put projects to the side. Always keep working on it even if priorities have to be shuffled.
  3. If the workload is too much, enlist help.

Discipline -

  1. At all times keep in mind your end goals - on your project, in your career.
  2. Step away if the stress becomes too much.
  3. Set a schedule and keep it.

Your values will guide your workplace performance. By embodying these traits, you’ll set an example for the rest of the team as well as stay on your own track for success. Remember that the workplace is diverse and multi-generational, so there are often disagreements and miscommunications, but focusing on these five traits and how to develop them within yourself will keep conflicts to a minimum and strengthen your team.

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Mapping the winding path to your personal success

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Mapping the winding path to your personal success

As talent recruiters, we talk a lot about goals. How do we set them and measure them? Are they right for us? Your goals are the little steps on your way to success; you’ll set them incrementally, getting you closer brick by brick to your final destination - which is, of course, success, what we’re here to talk about today.

First you need to define what success means to you. Why set a goal to do one thing when success is something else? Believe it or not, this happens all the time - because you’ve either allowed your goals or your definition of success to be determined by someone else. Is success retiring when you’re forty or waking up with a smile every day? Your goals on the way to that may look very, very different.

List what you want to achieve - and then list why. If you can’t define it well or can’t explain why you want it, congratulations, you have one nuisance to cross of the list. That isn’t your expectation, it’s one someone made for you that got into your subconscious. Another reason this helps on your path is the navigation of the actual route. There are a hundred ways to get to that year 40 retirement. Some of them will make you happy, some of them will make you miserable - and be careful what you wish for because some could land you in prison! If you know all the small things you want to accomplish on the way to retirement at age 40, you can put them in an order that will get you there. And cross off the felonies.

Life is hard - celebrate it. You’ll have failures and they’ll hurt. Some will be humiliating and some will be hard to forgive, but do your best to shake them off and learn. One of the best ways to rise above your failures is to talk about them. You learn more, you find out you aren’t alone in them, and you’ll create accountability so that they are less likely to happen again. Not to mention the help you will be to others, and that creates a level of trust in others that means they can rely on you and vice versa. Failure can actually expand your support network if you learn from it instead of hiding.

Don’t mind the detours. Take the scenic route, stop for photos and a hearty meal! Get lost but ask for directions. You’ll find your way out eventually and get back to where you’re going - or let’s be honest, sometimes your destination changes. But change it for the right reasons. Don’t question what you’re doing unless you know it no longer feels right to you. The path to success is winding and it has mountains and valleys; it’s sunny but it floods. Sometimes there’s construction; sometimes you’re out of gas or need maintenance. You’ll get where you’re going one way or the other!

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A Selection of Some of My Favorite Company Values

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A Selection of Some of My Favorite Company Values

There are Five Key Values any strong organization demonstrates in one way or another and will want to see in its candidates:

Integrity. From white lies to great risks, it’s better to be honest from the start. Don’t pad the resume and be forthcoming about your needs and skills. Your record will demonstrate your honesty and your employers will appreciate it.

Accountability. It runs parallel to integrity - do you take responsibility for your actions no matter the consequence? The answer should be yes - someone who is willing to be responsible for potential errors will make fewer in the first place.

Diligence. This is all about accuracy and paper trails and it can be boring and stressful - if you’re doing it completely wrong. We don’t need more forms, we need more practice to create strong, reliable products and concepts. It’s quality improvement, not mindless boredom and labor.

Perseverance. Now this is an easy one in a business, but it’s a hard one to practice in personal life - tired of repeating the same mistakes? Toss it and forget it! That’s how we handle at-home projects, but we can’t do that in business. We tinker until it’s ready for market. Show potential employers that you can stick out a difficult situation.

Discipline. This doesn’t look the same everywhere. A reporter’s discipline will be an ability to adapt, multitask, and think on their feet. An office administrator’s discipline will be skill in establishing and maintaining routines. Are you disciplined? Does your discipline match the organization’s?

Once you’ve identified your own values, you’ll be able to find the right organizations to help you flourish as a professional. The company’s values will match or at least coincide with your own. In order to make yourself attractive to the best companies who align with your core beliefs, establish yourself as someone who carries themselves with the Five Key Values. You’ll be a stand-out candidate and a stronger professional for it.

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Sticky products, the "hook", and a TR book review

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Sticky products, the "hook", and a TR book review

At Talented Recruiting, we look for product designers. We care about products and we recruit the designers and product managers who care about sticky products. So Hooked is a book about a subject that probably won’t surprise you - getting hooked on products. Author Nir Eyal is the author of the blog Nir And Far, and an educator and entrepreneur who writes on the intersections of psychology and technology with business.

While of course we suggest you read the book, here is the quickly digestible version:

Nir creates a Hook Model, four steps that companies use to encourage customer dependence and use of a product. Through consecutive cycles, the products bring users back multiple times without aggressive advertising and messaging. In the book, he tells readers how to create habits we’ll stick with - helping us personally and professionally, even if we don’t have a concept for a genius business idea in the back of our brains.

Essentially, to engage and keep a user of your product, you have to understand their motivators - is it pleasure or pain, safety or fear, acceptability or loneliness, or something else? Identify that and you can understand their triggers, replicating them in the product. The motivator is an internal trigger, replicated as an external trigger. Then what is the simplest behavior one can do to anticipate a reward, and does it fulfill them just enough but leave them wanting more? Then comes the investment - the work they put in for the reward to continue.

The best understanding of this concept will come from your own experience - watching yourself and your companions, how they interact with their environments and how they form or replace their habits. The best example for me personally is the fidget cube. The bane of existence for many teachers, I’ve had to ban them from everywhere but my children’s bedrooms, but in my situation, they save my day. I have ADHD and when I’m stressed, I have to have something in my hands. A fidget cube keeps me from reaching for something unhealthy like snacks or cigarettes, or something annoying to my officemates, like a noisy pen to click or drumming my fingers on the desk. My motivator is the stress, the external trigger is whatever the stressor is for the moment, while the behavior is playing with something in my hands. My reward is the satisfaction of the clicks and other repetitive sensations that lower my stress and keep me focused - which is where the investment comes in. I will continue clicking and rolling and flicking if it means my stress level stays low. I stay at my desk and get my work done, and I stay calm and focused.

This is an extremely useful concept for product managers who want to develop the sticky products that people keep coming back for, but it’s useful in life too. How do we replace bad habits and how do we develop good ones? While the book benefits designers, consider it self-help too!

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Failed Goals? Switch to the “IAA Method”

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Failed Goals? Switch to the “IAA Method”

With the holidays and 2018 looming on the horizon, we are already turning inward and thinking through the year we had, the goals we set forth, and how we measured up.

I believe a good goal needs three things -  a perfect mixture of IAA - Inspiration, Accountability and Accessibility.

Early in my career I used a different acronym for judging my goals. You probably have heard the “SMART” formula: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The idea is, if any of these attributes are missing from a goal you are less likely to achieve it. SMART is a solid formula - I like it, it has served me well. I admit to getting lost in the actual planning. When using the SMART system I found that I got distracted by not having the perfect answer for one of the SMART letters. This can lead to planning so much that you never get around to executing.

Sometime in the last couple years I found a better way to think about goals. This completely changed my personal ‘goal protocol’. Instead of laboriously going through (or half making it through) the whole SMART thing, I stopped to think about what really mattered to me in a goal. Why do we have them, and why are they the key to success? Now before any personal goal ratification I simply ask myself these three questions.

  • Inspiration: Does the goal inspire me to create a better version of myself or my business?
  • Accountability: Does the goal put something at stake to keep me accountable?
  • Accessibility: Do I have the resources (time, ability, etc.) in place to execute?

Once I get the go ahead to check those boxes, I use them to help me put together a “Goal Statement”. I shall share a personal example. :)

“Start my own executive search firm in the next five years”.

(Yup, that was my first serious IAA goal!)

Did it inspire me? Heck yeah it did. I was so excited about being able to figure out how to set up an actual business. I come from a family of small business owners and I was super-excited to personally develop as a business owner.

Think about a goal you have, or one that you have been toying with committing to. Are you inspired to be a better person? Will you be volunteering and helping others? Perhaps reading a book on a subject you love but have fallen out of touch with. If it is inspirational to your person, your business or your craft, you can check this box.

What was at stake? At the time I moved on to start my own business I was working at a super-exciting startup. I loved all of the startups I have worked at - truly. I just want to do it my way! Doesn’t that sound kind of terrible? I wouldn’t dare say that out loud in a team of 25; it sounds egotistical, aggressive, know it all-y. Change the scene to being in charge of  your own company, no matter the size or scope, the good or the bad, it is completely allowed! Not being able to have this creative freedom at work was demotivating me. I want to live a life I design and I love, and so being able to recruit with my style, and my approach was at stake.

If your goal is to take your parents to Italy for their anniversary and you don’t hit your goal, how will that make you feel? If your goal is to write a book and five years later you realize you haven’t even written a blog post are you ashamed, embarrassed, determined? (Or is it time to switch goals? Just saying…)

Can I do it? This one took some time. Bob, the CEO of my first startup, Quid, early on suggested, or never let me forget, the idea of starting my own recruitment firm. I had other backers and supporters as well. In any case, I ran the numbers, and decided I would give it a try. That past two years have been awesome. I love bending and flexing my network and creating meaningful connections.

Do you have enough savings to take away from your current job? Do you have enough time to volunteer in the cancer ward? How is your family workload at the moment?

Once I have put my goal through my Inspiration, Accountability, and Accessibility lens, I like to write it out and post it on the corkboard above my desk for double the inspiration.

The best time to start setting goals is today. Don’t wait until the New Year when you can go into it clean, prepped, planned and ready to execute!

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TR Weekly Roundtable

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TR Weekly Roundtable

Happy Friday, Talented family! This week we presented recruiters with 3 daily practices to elevate internal recruiting practices. How do our own recruiters incorporate the daily practices? Check out what our CEO Danielle van Asch-Prevot had to say:

"I love making sure I stay in touch with my network. One of my 2017/18 initiatives is to keep my network alive and breathing. I take about 4 calls a day that are purely catching up. It is fun to connect with people I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with before, and I love keeping track of recent successes, marriages, and other life milestones."

Thanks, Danielle! Do you have any daily practices you can't miss? Tell us in the comments! 

Have a great weekend, friends! Be sure to check us out next week - on Tuesday we'll be talking about the three mistakes people make when goal setting, and on Friday we'll be right back here with the weekly roundtable talking about our own goal setting methods and errors!

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 3 Daily Practices to Elevate Your Internal Recruiting Practices

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3 Daily Practices to Elevate Your Internal Recruiting Practices

At the very basic level, a successful recruiter creates the opportunity for talent to connect with their clients. So how does a recruiter make sure they’re doing everything they can to accomplish their job? If you are an internal recruiter or a hiring manager looking to add pipeline to a critical role, here are three things we do every day, without exception!

  1. It’s all about your people. Phone calls and networking are essential! Set a goal to speak personally with at least 30 people every day. These can include prescreens, first interviews and touching base with your network. Make these conversations often and personal - how are their kids, their pets, and - of course - their jobs? Quick touches make the deeper conversations much less forced, more sincere, and FUN! Who wants to talk to someone boring about another boring job!?! At Talented Recruiting we love sending personalized notes when we can! Do some networking every day, and follow up when someone reaches out to you - this can be hard when you’re already so busy! Set time aside every day, even if it’s 30 minutes. You might miss a day here and there - you know if you miss one day, you need 45 minutes for the next two. If you are having a great call, don’t forget to ask for referrals!

  2. Track your success. Know who you’re matching, how long it takes, and where the matches are coming from. Watch how long you spend on the phone and emails and social media. Track it all and find the patterns. Don’t abandon one form because others are better - contact is essential and it’s what this work comes down to. But focus your time on the most productive areas, and for those areas that aren’t as successful, hone your time and get the message to an art form! It will increase the success while minimizing the time you put into it.

  3. Always improve yourself. There’s so much to learn - read the latest books, keep up with the latest technologies, and listen to the great business minds. You’ll never know everything and you shouldn’t let all you do know keep you from learning more. And this advice isn’t just about work! If you’re all work and no play, you won’t be at your best while working. Nurture your personal goals, get all the vacation time you can, enjoy your friends and family, and step outside of the office! Even when you have to work a little too much, find ways to make it fun. Love the theater and scored tickets to Hamilton? Invite a client. (We did, check out photos here!) Got the big table reserved at a hot new restaurant? Invite clients. There will be periods when you feel like you don’t have much work-life balance, and as long as it’s brief, that’s okay. Make the work fun!

So what are some methods and practices you use as a recruiter to meet your own definitions of success? What works and what has failed? Let us know in the comments; we’d love to hear what works and doesn’t for others!

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TR Weekly Roundtable

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TR Weekly Roundtable

This week we talked about how to identify our core values and find the right organizational fit for our values. Christine had this to say about it:

The blog post mentions grabbing a piece of paper and spending 10 minutes identifying your values. It’s a small doing, but I think there’s a lot to be said. For me, a few of my own values consist of giving my 110% every single day at work, clocking in on time, and owning up to my mistakes. I know this is what drives me, and makes me feel good as a person. When I write it down, it helps me focus on what’s important and helps re-affirm what matters to me. I don’t always give it my 110% at work, nor do I find it easy to admit to my boss when I’ve made a mistake. However, because I know these are my core values, I work that much harder to make sure I hit those core values the next time around.

As recruiters we have to practice what we preach, and we work hard to stay true to our own values so we can help our candidates find the right fit for theirs, and our clients define their values and bring in matching applicants. 

Thanks for checking in with us! Next week we'll discuss three daily practices to elevate internal recruiting practices - recruiters won't want to miss that!

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Define your values and find your purpose

Define your values and find your purpose

You can tell a lot about an organization by their values. The best matches are made when values align. If you are career searching, and are looking for meaningful work, there is no better place to start than by identifying your core values. Would you rather deliver exceptional work or is it more important to reach the project deadline? While a simple statement, it can radically change your employment experience from one that feels good to an everyday battle. Life is better when your personal values mesh with your company’s. If you value self-actualization, you might not fit into a traditionalist company. If you value fun, a team who focuses on rigor and long hours won’t be your dream position. Fear not if you don’t find a 100% match but rather a fierce complement; the strongest teams are built on diversity. Each unique mindset brings different experience. Abl Schools intentionally seeks a wide range of diverse backgrounds to make sure multiple viewpoints are represented in the product.  

To identify your values, grab a piece of paper and 10 minutes of time. What makes you happiest? What “drives” your work? How do you hit your “flow”? What work and personal accomplishments are you the most proud of? How are you most satisfied? For each of these questions, identify in both your career and personal life what you are doing and who you are with when you experience them. What other factors are present? If your proudest moment wasn’t the time you received some amazing award for a project you poured sweat equity into, and instead it was the recognition your team received for a small project everyone worked together on, guess what - you’ve just identified a key value. Perhaps teamwork matters to you over competitiveness or being the best.

Try to identify 5-10 core values in no particular order, combining any that go together easily (independence and fun could be adventurousness!). Now prioritize them. Focus on your first two. In choosing between challenge and support for example, would you go your own to do something no one else has ever accomplished, or would you seek stability in smaller challenges that keep you close to your network? Compare each one until you have them in a priority order.Do the highest values make you proud? Would you stand by them even if you were in the minority? You’ve found them if the answers to both questions are “yes.” Adjust as necessary.

Your first four or five values are the ones you’re going to want to prioritize in looking for a good organizational fit. Different companies will look slightly different with the same values, and similar companies may choose different values. You can also read a lot into a company based on how they present their values. Dropbox has five values, mostly centered on teamwork and work quality, but the fifth is a picture of a cupcake. Everyone loves cupcakes - but what does it mean? It represents a fun office. This is so unique - we all love cupcakes and who doesn’t want fun - but just the graphic instead of words is indicate of how outside the box Dropbox thinks. That’s a very informal and super-creative atmosphere. You should know immediately from the way they speak whether you’d fit in there or not. At Thumbtack, a platform that builds local economies by connecting locals with tasks to complete with professionals seeking clients, one value is “Go!” and two others are “[k]now our customer” “[m]ake each other better.”

Now that you’ve identified your core values, you’ll have a clearer sense of your direction and at which companies you truly belong and can provide value to - and don’t forget, you want a good match because the right company builds you as much as you build their product.

Is Your Hiring Bias Cutting Out the Best Candidate?

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Is Your Hiring Bias Cutting Out the Best Candidate?

Have you ever come across ideas that radically change all the things you’ve thought you were doing right? Lou Adler’s Hire With Your Head did that for me early in my career. A long-time recruiter with two bestselling hiring guides under his belt - one for the hirers and one for the hirees - Adler has been teaching workshops on his hiring methods for more than two decades, improving the processes of more than 40,000 recruiters. He is most famously known for his way of rewriting Job Descriptions in the form of Performance Profiles.

In Hire With Your Head, Adler describes a repeatable scenario in which the most suitable person for a position is beaten out by the candidate with the best presentation and interview skills. This makes us wonder. Is your best candidate the HBS grad looking to upgrade after an unsuccessful run at a hot new upstart?  Or could it be a college dropout with the most amazing portfolio you’ve ever seen. (Fun fact, Zuckerberg, Gates, and Jobs all were college dropouts!)  Indicators for success aren’t the candidate who carries themselves the same as you, wears a power color, or speaks on your level - those are social distractions that distract from solid substance. At Talented Recruiting, of course  we fully learn your culture and aim to present candidates who match up. We also measure drive and tenacity and uncover experiences and skills that make even tighter fits under the surface. Where did the candidate start versus where they are now, and was that by being handed every tool possible or was it through their own self-motivation, hard work and determination? What is their vision and how do they demonstrate leadership?

Adler describes snap judgements hiring managers make and warns against them. Some interviewers appreciate an affable chatty candidate who easily asks questions. They ignore negatives and overestimate strengths, making a sales pitch instead of evaluating competency - all because they “clicked” with someone.

Funny enough, research shows there isn’t a correlation between interview skills and on-the-job performance. A candidate’s nervousness, which may lead to poor eye contact, lack of composure, and rather unimpressive answers, affects first impression. Unfortunately this performance anxiety might just be the deal breaker in terms of landing a dream job! You want to see confidence in your candidates but the truth is that confidence isn’t always the right indicator. The interview is to collect more information. Adler says the biggest secret to success in hiring is to avoid our natural judgment tendencies and refuse to make a hiring decision within the first thirty minutes of an interview.

To get started on hiring with YOUR head, the first step is to rewrite the job description so that it describes the projects and work that needs to be done, instead of a laundry list of skills gathered from multiple job postings on the internet. (I see you out there!) The interview should be designed to map the candidate’s experiences and to show challenges and successes. Adler admonishes hiring partners to put personal feelings aside when analyzing, and RESIST MAKING A JUDGEMENT FOR 30 MINUTES. I have tried this method out myself -  it works!

If you like what Adler has to say in Hire With Your Head, follow him on LinkedIn, where he posts a few times a month with articles for job seekers and hiring managers alike. He’s one of our favorite resources!

 

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TR Weekly Roundtable

TR Weekly Roundtable

This week I sat down with TR’s recruiters and asked them their own thoughts on how they create a culture of urgency within our organization. Here's what they had to say!

Christine: The first is keeping each other accountable. Sometimes before I can execute on a task, I will need something from Danielle or vice versa. We utilize resources such as Asana to assign tasks to each other, and check-in calls to debrief on action items we need to complete. We’re a small team, so the things we do individually will 100% affect the other person, and it’s important we constantly check-in to make sure each person is carrying their weight and delivering results. Secondly, as a remote company, consistent motivation can be hard to come by. Sometimes, we will put off action items we know we need to complete. During these moments, Danielle & I will often call each other to verbalize what we need to do, and then do it together. Even if it’s miniscule, like staying on the phone with one another, that itself creates a culture of urgency in the workplace because you have someone keeping you accountable in real-time. It works surprisingly well :)

Danielle: Sitting on my desk is a mug that reads “Everyday I’m hustling”, and it pretty much describes my day. From the moment I wake up my schedule is packed. I tell my team that our job is like the game Whack a Mole. When we get a new client or opportunity to work on, the clock starts ticking to find our dream candidate. We know by the time we are on the search, our client’s product growth is stymied and their time is being wasted in the wrong areas. They need qualified, available and interested candidates ASAP.

Straight from our recruiters - our culture of urgency is fostered with constant communication. We know our clients need us now so we make every effort to deliver immediately. 

Have a great weekend, everyone! We’ll see you again on Monday, and you can check us out again on Tuesday, when we discuss how Lou Adler and his book Hire With His Head have shaped us as a recruiting agency!

Creating a Culture of Urgency Now

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Creating a Culture of Urgency Now

Movers and shakers in the world are a diverse bunch but they have one thing in common: a sense of urgency. We all have the same 24 hours in a day; the difference is what we choose to do with it. Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Beyonce, and your most hated and beloved politicians probably don’t seem like peers, but there’s one thing they’d agree on - time is valuable and it can be incredibly fruitful. So in a world of distractions, complacency, and epic naps, how do we overcome the malaise and noise so that we can be successful?

Leadership and Change expert John P. Kotter knows something about success - when he’s not teaching at the Harvard Business School, he’s founding management consulting firms, conducting speaking engagements, or writing a bestselling business treatise (he’s up to twenty works so far). He defines urgency as “a combination of thoughts, feelings, and actual behavior. The thoughts are [great opportunities and great hazards]. The feelings are a gut-level determination that we’re going to do something now...And the behavior is this hyper-alertness to what’s going on. It’s a sense of coming to work each and every day with a commitment to making something happen that’s on the important issues. It’s a sense you give off to other people that, we’ve got to get going on this because it’s so important.”

In his 2008 book “A Sense of Urgency”, Kotter identifies four tactics to establish urgency:

  1. Show the outside world - Hiding away the external opportunities erodes motivation and exhibits fear of competition. If your workplace culture says “we know best”, the feeling of superiority and expertise creates a false sense of security that slows work product. This is why competition is healthy.

  2. Move with urgency yourself - A manager who doesn’t display urgency won’t see fast results. You need it done, let’s go! Walk the walk without being overbearing. You’re efficient and confident and you believe your coworkers and staff to be of equal ability.

  3. Find the opportunity in crisis - Every cloud has a silver lining, and in a culture of urgency, you’ll find it. Bad news is just a learning experience, and making that failure visible means you can solve the problem. Leverage it to break through complacency in the workplace. A setback is upsetting but they occur - so learn from it and make it a success. Frequently miss deadlines in the office? Cause a scene and fix it. Create a timeline for working toward deadline that identifies the breakdowns early and gets things out on time - even early!

  4. Put the change-resistant folks in their place - Hopefully you inspire them and their “place” isn’t outside of your company. But there is always someone who doesn’t handle change well, and change is necessary for growth. Get them excited for all the new things coming too - you might have to let them hang on to a few familiar things, but you probably have a few momentos on your desk too. Look at their resistance as needing a feeling of security, provide it for them, and shake their comfort zones just enough to get everyone in the right direction.

Okay, but what are some concrete actions to create this culture of urgency using these broad tactics? In simpler terms, they really come down to just a few principles - don’t procrastinate, solve problems quickly, and focus on goals. Every action in your workplace should center around these ideas. When the problem, task, or goal is on the radar, create a plan and make actionable tasks to work toward the resolution.

Kotter says a true culture of urgency is rare - “[i]t has to created and recreated”. It’s simply not the natural order of things because it requires too much energy to sustain when not motivated by ambition. But the alternative is mediocrity. Transformation and growth therefore require a cultivated sense of urgency and leaders must plant the seed organically. He argues that it’s more necessary now than ever before because change is happening faster than it ever has - to keep up with the world, we have to move faster.

So in a world that revolves around change and transition, the days of corporate complacency and caution are over. There is no more status quo - unless that status quo is some  level of comfort existing in uncertainty, with the opportunities and wisdom that come from it. Procrastination breeds failure while urgency creates success, but it isn’t necessarily that simple - there’s something to be said for planning, but then there are over-planners who it turns out are just afraid of failure and so never get started. Some simply need support or guidance to catch that contagious sense of urgency, and that’s where leaders’ attitudes are fundamental. Not only are you a mover and a shaker in this new world of constant, rapid change, but you don’t leave your team behind either.

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TR Weekly Roundtable!

TR Weekly Roundtable!

This week I sat down with TR’s recruiters and asked them their own thoughts on the topic -

How do you ensure that you’re finding the candidates your clients are looking for?

Here’s what they had to say!

Christine: Patience and vetting! When I LinkedIn source for candidates, I sometimes have to sift through 20-25 pages until I find those 10 A+ candidates. Even then, they still might not be the perfect fit. No one is going to nail a search on the first try, or even on the 4th or 5th try. Be patient, listen to what clients are looking for and adjust your search accordingly. Feedback and criticism can be hard to take, but they are key you are trying to find the candidates our clients want.

Danielle: I agree; another thing we do is look at our clients’ negative reviews too. All of our clients are great, don't get me wrong, but not everyone is a good fit and there are going to be people who don't work out and have criticism, constructive or otherwise. If I have a great candidate who fits exactly what my client is looking for but I get the vibe he's super-introverted - just as an example - then I see three negative reviews for my client from people who wanted to go their own and didn't function well with a lot of collaboration, the candidate I found won't be the right fit. I keep searching.

And there you have it - we match to what the client wants but we find just the right candidates by considering their personality fit too. There's a place for everyone and a fit for every opening, and we’re the ones to put them together!

Have a great weekend, everyone! We’ll see you again on Monday, and you can check us out again on Tuesday, when we talk about creating a culture of urgency in your organization!

We find the candidates our clients actually want

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We find the candidates our clients actually want

One way we keep our company living and breathing is fostering a talent community. Through our social media campaigns, digital marketing networking, and one-to-one coffee connections, we are constantly engaging with our network and working to establish ourselves as the best agency for Product & Design matchmaking.

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Three Reasons Your Meeting Mindset is Hurting Your Productivity

Three Reasons Your Meeting Mindset is Hurting Your Productivity

Team meetings are an essential core to every workplace. It’s more than just a talk-shop; they are a vital organizational function. Meetings are  meant to provide a safe space for you to learn and improve together as a collective business unit, provide & receive real-time feedback, and build a strong support system. The minute your business signs with Talented Recruiting, we are now one team.

Why Building a Diverse Team Should Be a Priority

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Why Building a Diverse Team Should Be a Priority

"Diversity is a hot-button topic in the tech world right now. There's a huge push, both in the Valley and beyond, to bring a wide range of genders, ethnicities, educational backgrounds and overall experiences into the workplace. The more variety you have in your team members, the greater variety of perspectives you'll have, and these differing perspectives are what ultimately lead to new ideas..."

 

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10 Quick and Easy Ways to Build Your Employer Brand

10 Quick and Easy Ways to Build Your Employer Brand

 

What's the secret to recruiting great employees in a job seeker's market? One of the best things you can do is master your employer brand.

Like consumers, job candidates are shopping around for the best offers. They want jobs that fit their goals, desires and lifestyles, at a company they know and trust. Whether you're actively hiring or not, you should always take advantage of opportunities to "sell" your company to potential employees, and make the idea of working for you irresistible.

Here are 10 simple ways to boost your employer brand and get your name out to the industry's top talent.

1. Update your careers page. An up-to-date careers section on your website, complete with job descriptions, benefits overviews and a glimpse at company culture, is the first step to making a good impression with job candidates who look you up.

2. Encourage employees to post about and tag your company on social media. Your current employees have the potential to be your greatest ambassadors. When there's a fun company-sponsored event happening, or something exciting is going on in the office, (gently) remind employees that they are welcome to share the news with their social networks.

3. Implement an employee referral program. Employees who really love working for you will want to tell their job-seeking friends about your company. Make it worth their while with an incentive, such as a small bonus or gift following a successful referral hire.

4. Identify and engage with passive talent. Passive candidates are much more likely to take your call if they know who you are. Follow and establish relationships with your industry's top talents so they know you're paying attention to their work.

5. Participate in industry Twitter chats. Twitter chats and other social media forums can expose your company to a much wider audience of industry professionals while simultaneously establishing you as a field expert.

6. Share relevant news on social media. Show that you know what's going on in your industry by sharing and commenting on the latest happenings.

7. Launch (and publicize) a charity initiative. Corporate social responsibility is a hot topic in the business world. Consumers and candidates alike want to see your company doing some real good in the world, so partnering with a charity organization or doing volunteer work can only bolster your image as an employer.

8. Make your mission crystal clear. Today's professionals want to know that their personal values align with those of their employer. Proudly share your company's mission to attract like-minded employees who will support and believe in it.

9. Share "behind-the-scenes" photos. A picture is worth a thousand words, so give potential candidates an inside look by posting photos from the company social accounts of your headquarters, social events and cool projects you're involved with.

10. Hire a great recruiter. Between our industry experience and far-reaching professional networks, recruiters can help publicize and evangelize your company to the candidates you most want to reach. We'll do the heavy lifting; you just focus on building a company people want to work for.

 

Moving Up: What Employers Want In a Senior-Level Candidate

Moving Up: What Employers Want In a Senior-Level Candidate

by Danielle van Asch Prevot

At Talented Recruiting, my clients ask me to find candidates for a wide range of senior roles, from product managers to directors of design. Companies tend to need more help filling these types of jobs, and it's not hard to figure out why: The higher up you go, the more specialized your skills and abilities need to be. Employers expect a learning curve at entry level, but by the time you move up to management, you need to prove that you already have what it takes to lead a team.

If you're ready to move up the ladder and take the next step in your career, here's what employers and recruiters are looking for in high-level candidates.

Management experience. It goes without saying that if you're applying for a director or executive position, your resume should include a decent amount of prior management experience. Even if you didn't have "manager" in your previous title, be ready to discuss any leadership roles you were given and what kinds of responsibilities came with it.

Strong communication skills. It may sound cliche, but the ability to communicate really is a universal job requirement. In just about every position I fill, my clients specifically request candidates with good communication skills, and it's especially critical at the senior level. Leading a team requires you to clearly articulate not only what tasks have to be done, but the overall company goals and mission that will motivate employees to do their best work.

Up-to-date industry knowledge. Companies expect a lot from their senior-level employees, and if they're going to hire you, they want to know that you take the initiative to expand your skill set. Stay up to date on your industry's latest software developments and tech trends so you can confidently discuss these with a recruiter or hiring manager. Bonus points if you can provide work samples on your portfolio demonstrating your use of current programs and apps.

Concrete accomplishments. When it comes down to it, businesses want results above all else. What have you done in your current or past jobs that had a measurable impact on the company? Share specific data points to really illustrate your accomplishments. Words are nice, but numbers paint a much clearer picture of what you can do.

Cultural fit. Today's employers place a high premium on how well a job candidate will integrate with the existing company culture. Entrepreneur reported that employees who fit the culture tend to stick around longer, which can save companies tens of thousands of dollars in turnover costs, so hiring managers really want to make sure they get it right. It's true that you can't fake a cultural fit, but you can do some research on prospective employers and try to understand what their company culture is all about. If you feel you embody what they're looking for, be prepared to talk about your shared values during the initial phone screening and in-person interview.

Great references. A hiring manager may think you look good on paper, but they're going to want validation from someone who knows what you're like as an employee. Once you've gotten permission to share their contact information, include at least two or three individuals who ranked above or at your level who can back up any claims you've made on your resume. And choose your references wisely: An impressive reference list isn't the most important factor in the hiring process, but having somebody in the C-suite at a well-known company vouch for you can make a big difference. Remember, your resume, portfolio and professional network are powerful tools that can help get your foot in the door at the company of your dreams. No matter what kind of job you're searching for, use these tools to your advantage to sell your best qualities.