Janice Bryant Howroyd, ACT•1 Group Founder and CEO, Receives Key Appointment to White House from President Obama

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Congratulations to our Founder and CEO, Janice Bryant Howroyd! Janice’s key appointment by President Obama to serve on the Board of Advisors for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities is a huge honor and pathway to directly advise the President and the Secretary of Education on methods, programs and strategies to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Read more about this key appointment here: http://bit.ly/1T7IGay.

 

So You Want to Hire an Intern? Strategies for a Successful Internship Program

 

Hiring Interns

Smart companies know that the benefits of hiring an intern go far beyond having someone to do coffee runs for the department. Interns can be field-tested potential hires who already know your culture, and will require minimal on-boarding and training. If well-chosen and mentored, they can be excellent investments towards your company’s growth and succession planning. In addition, happy interns are great ambassadors. They can help you attract and build a robust candidate pool – a great benefit particularly when the talent market is tight. Here are several best practices to successfully attract, nurture and manage interns so everyone gets the best out of the internship:

 

  1. Be Where They Are. The quickest and most efficient way to scout for potential interns is to go online and reach out to your network. If your company has a social media presence, it could be as easy as posting internship positions on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. You can also let local high schools, trade schools, colleges and universities know you have internship positions open. Working with schools with internship programs can be a big help in simplifying and streamlining your search for the right fits, since they have career counselors who can match students’ strengths, abilities and majors with your company needs. Internship sites such as college.monster.com, YouTern, InternMatch.com, internships.com and Internjobs are also good resources, with many allowing companies to post on college job boards at no cost.

 

  1. Appeal to Their ‘WIFM’. As with most decisions, people are bound to go with whichever they get more out of – “What’s In It For Me?” (WIFM). While not all companies can offer the prestige of an internship at a Fortune 1000 firm, you can still have much to offer. Use your job description to highlight the awesome, important and even cool stuff the intern will be working on, in addition to typical internship tasks. Talk about key transferable and marketable skills they can pick up working for you, or mentorship opportunities that give them hands-on experience while being a valued part of a professional team.

 

  1. Narrow Down Your Choices. It’s very likely that you will have several candidates vying for internship with your company. While it is important to take the time to interview them in-depth to be in the position to decide who would be the best fit, it can be time-consuming. To get a head start, prepare pre-interview information and post-interview ‘homework’ that you can provide to all candidate interns. For the pre-interview, provide them with your web and social media pages, or send them information about your company to save time from repeating the entire ‘company story’ for each interviewee. After the interview you can give the ‘finalists’ follow-up work. It might be doing some research, creating a PowerPoint presentation, or any assignment similar to actual intern task. Candidates who are not that interested or driven will likely not respond, and you will have a uniform basis for comparing which candidates excel in completing the task.

 

  1. Set One Major, Long-Term Goal. In addition to all the smaller day-to-day tasks that you plan to assign to your intern, give them a project that they can truly sink their teeth into during their internship. It doesn’t have to be a critical project, but it should ideally be something they can own and even include on their resume. It can be an internal marketing campaign or contest, a social media project, or setting up a process that enhances efficiency, morale or streamlines cost. Giving an intern a significant project means they won’t be idling during downtimes when you might be too busy to assign them tasks. It also gives them an opportunity to feel motivated by a mission where they are leading the charge.

 

  1. Assign an Intern Performance Manager. To ensure that both the intern and the company gets the most out of the internship, assign an employee to mentor and manage the intern. The mentor will work with the intern so that performance and goals are clearly set and met, possibly with the help of a performance management checklist that is reviewed periodically. The mentor will also serve as the gatekeeper manages the intern’s time, making sure he or she is working on things he or she will learn from (where possible), and ensuring that he or she is not overloaded with too many assignments or other ‘little’ tasks from other employees.

 

The key thing to remember is that the better the experience you provide to your interns, the more value you will obtain from them in return.

6 Quick Questions that Determine Cultural Fit

Cultural Fit

 

Smart employers recognize the importance of culture and complementary work styles on employee engagement, retention, and team effectiveness. Increasingly, prospective employees are also prioritizing fit and appreciate employers who demonstrate they take question of fit seriously. So, with everything else you need to accomplish in an interview from selling the opportunity to evaluating the candidate’s skills and experience, how can you best determine fit? Here are some sample questions that can help you.

  • Can you describe the work environment in which you were most productive and happy?
  • Do you prefer to work on individual projects or as part of the team?
  • Do you like to socialize with your coworkers after work, or do you generally prefer to keep your work colleagues and your friends separate?
  • What qualities do you look for in an ideal boss?
  • What factors do you feel are the most important in a healthy, functional workplace?
  • Walk me through your perfect work day.

Don’t Get Fooled by Resume White Lies

Resume Fraud

April Fool’s Day can be fun, thanks to harmless office pranks and the like. What isn’t fun is when employers get fooled into hiring less-than-qualified people, thanks to resume fraud. With more candidates jockeying for interview time, you are likely to come across resumes containing white lies – or even downright fraudulent information. Undetected resume fraud can cost you, your team and even your company down the road. Here are warning signs to watch for so it doesn’t happen on your watch. While many of a candidate’s claims can be verified with background checks, these checks aren’t usually conducted until late in the hiring process, after you have invested time and energy in interviewing the candidate – and your team is most likely invested in their future colleague. Here’s what to look out for so that the joke’s not on you:

Stretching Degree of Education – Getting into a university and graduating from said university with a degree are two very different things. Some candidates may try to blur the line by stating the years they attended school, with the hope that you assume they completed their degree. When you come across this kind of academic vagueness, make a note to ask the candidate for more details during your initial phone conversation. While not a deal breaker, a college degree is required in some positions, so verify before you go farther in to the hiring process.

Embellishing Job Titles – When reviewing resumes, check if the career progression makes sense. Sudden jumps in job titles (Front Desk Associate to Director of Marketing, for instance), or odd skips into different industries (Warehouse Clerk to Project Manager) aren’t impossible, but should still be looked into. Contacting previous employers is one way you can check for veracity.

Exaggerated Accomplishments – When it comes to hiring, who would not want to hire a winner who has received many accolades and awards? While awards may be a good way to measure performance, not all awards and recognitions are valid. In fact, there is a growing number of companies offering plaques of recognition, snazzy trophies and other tokens of excellence. Depending on what’s relevant to you or the position, look for awards from recognizable or at least verifiable organizations.

 

Tiebreaker: How to Decide When You Have Selected Your Top Potential Hires

Tiebreaker

You’ve done all the right things: wrote a comprehensive job description, reviewed countless resumes, met and interviewed several hopefuls. Now your hard work has paid off and you are down to two (or three) top candidate picks. When faced with several viable candidates, how do you decide? Here are some desirable employee traits you can use to determine who would not just be a good hire, but a great addition to your team:

 

  • Who is the best cultural fit? Every organization has its own personality and some people will fit into your culture better than others. If your team tends to be quiet and focused, the soft-spoken person may fit in better than the chatterbox. However, if you have a loud and rocking team you may want to go with the gregarious person over the wallflower. Think about who you and your team would most like to work with day after day and who would most like to work with your team.

 

  • Who is more adaptable? As much as we try, work can be unpredictable. From backing up a coworker who is suddenly unavailable, to company changes that require learning new methods and tools – changes can cause stress. Some employees deal with it better than others. It’s important to determine if your potential new hire can roll with the punches, and remain positive and productive in the face of change. To test for adaptability, ask for examples of when they had to adjust on the fly.

 

  • Who is a natural fit for the job? Most people want to do their best, but there are some gems who will succeed because they truly care about the work they do – simply because it fits so well with their personalities. If you are looking for a Project Manager, who is more detail-oriented and proud of their previous projects? Which Customer Service Representative is more of a people person? Which Front Desk Admin is naturally cheerful and organized?

 

 

3 Ways To Keep Pace With Top Talent Using Mobile Recruiting

Mobile Recruiting

Job seekers are increasingly using their mobile devices such smartphones and tablets to look for opportunities. From browsing for job openings to filling out applications to researching potential employers, mobile devices have become the job search tool of choice for more and more Americans. Today’s job seekers no longer view recruitment videos, job notifications, and recruiter feedback as novelties – they expect them, right away and right at their fingertips. Here are three ways you can make your recruitment efforts go the extra mile with mobile recruiting and attract top talent:

  1. Mobile-ize Your Recruiting Resources. Even if you think your company’s careers page is already mobile, check it now to ensure the information, images and videos load quickly and in a visually appealing way. If your site is still not optimized to accommodate mobile browsing, consider investing in a site upgrade or work with an employment services partner to ensure you aren’t missing the growing number of people who search exclusively via mobile devices.
  2. Offer Relevant, Mobile-Ready Content. If they’re smart, candidates will look into your company before or soon after they send in their application. This means you need to be able to tell your company’s story, share your culture and provide other useful information that can be consumed by mobile users. Yes, be active on social media, but don’t overlook the benefit of having updates that demonstrate your innovation, thought leadership and community involvement right on your own pages. In addition to setting those that do make the extra effort for success, having a mobile, optimized and relevant presence can go a long way to engaging top tier talent and can give you a competitive advantage against other employers.
  3. Think Like a Millennial. While mobile devices aren’t exclusively used by the millennial generation, this demographic is blazing a new path in how we connect, both personally and professionally. In addition to setting the pace, millennials are also projected to make up more than 70% of the workforce in 10 years. This generation expects processes to be quick and intuitive. Mobile is how millennials will find you, learn more about you, and interact with you. Optimize your mobile recruiting, and you will be ready to engage the most advanced generation we have seen– and the biggest demographic in next decade’s workplace.

Interview Yourself First to Interview – and Hire – Better

Interview yourself

When we open our doors to potential hires, part of the process is to create a list of interview questions that will hopefully make the best candidates stand out. While this is simply common sense, experts now recommend that employers first interview themselves before meeting applicants for three reasons:

 

  • It lets you see what you are looking for in a candidate more clearly
  • It helps you formulate better, more targeted interview questions
  • It gives you a reality check on what you want (preference) versus what you need (requirement)

 

Having better-defined goals, expectations and even checklists can make a difference in the time and effort it takes to select the best person for the job. Ready to fine-tune your hiring? Here are the interview questions you can ask yourself:

 

  1. In recalling employees who previously held this job, which traits of theirs helped them excel, and which qualities held them back? It might be that the person who was the best at the position you are hoping to fill had Customer Service experience, even if the actual position is for a Marketing Coordinator. Or maybe a Project Manager was a better fit because of organizational skills. In the same vein, you might remember that someone who is inflexible about working late or on weekends did not work out, so you can make sure to ask, “What is your background?”, and “How do you feel about working on weekends?”

 

 

  1. Are you looking for someone who can grow with your company, take it to the next level, or freshen it up? While this varies depending on the seniority of the position you are trying to fill, this is your opportunity to add a new hire that both adds to your productivity goals as well as infuses your culture by strengthening it, or even with something fresh. A new perspective can sometimes be a positive jolt that could reignite creativity or help everyone see goals and how to attain them in a new light. On the flipside, if you are a new company or in a new market trying to establish credibility or can learn from an industry/business community veteran, what do you look for in a seasoned pro?

 

  1. What does the productivity gap that the employee needs to fill actually look like? You may be trying to replace a Front Desk Coordinator who was with the company for years, but what did this person do on a day-to-day basis? Maybe your company has grown enough that you are looking for someone who can do basic payrolling, or someone with Executive Assistant experience. On the other hand, you might be looking for someone to manage a team, but upon consideration, realize there is someone in that team who can take the rein – and what you need is another future leader who can be at the entry point of their career right now.