Corporate Blog

Nothing Beats Meeting In Person

Jason Hatch, an Account Executive out of our Minneapolis office, shares his perspective on the lost art of face-to-face meetings and the advantage it can provide in sales.

Regardless of industry, Twitter DMs, text messaging, e-mail, Skype, Viber, and Facebook Messenger are great ways to connect in 2018. As a sales professional, these resources are particularly helpful. However, even in this age of technology, I believe the in-person approach still goes a long way toward leaving a lasting impact.

For one, in-person interactions are becoming less and less frequent. It can at first feel uncomfortable or fruitless, but if continued, you will stand out from the crowd in the minds of potential clients.

The best case result for e-mail outreach is a meeting scheduled for over the next few days or weeks. The best case for an in-person visit is an immediate conversation. I have had situations where these visits led to new business or orders that same day!

Initiative is a positive attribute for those in the sales field to possess. By traveling to a potential customer and leaving your comfort zone, you display serious intent toward earning their business.

The following tips will incorporate the in-person advantage into your sales toolbox.

  • Driving aimlessly wastes time and money. Consider a zone in which you know you can make stops, and always find four or five places to visit before or after a pre-set meeting. Do your best to learn the names of decision makers before arriving.
  • In-person interactions are fantastic opportunities but you need to be ready. Have collateral, market research, and product information on hand and ready to go in case you are given a few minutes with a decision maker.
  • Leave a handwritten note. Business cards and pamphlets are often discarded. A notecard with a handwritten message inside adds a personal touch, which encourages the gate keeper to pass it on to the decision maker.
  • FOLLOW UP. The most important step is to follow up with whomever you spoke or attempted to meet with. Now is the time to utilize technology. Let them know you appreciated their time and look forward to connecting again.

Technology plays an important role for sales professionals but people tend to buy from those they feel warmly toward. The best way to achieve a true connection is to meet them in person! Take the first step toward personal interactions and begin making your rounds!

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Retaining Talent in Today’s Market

Everyone remembers their first day of school and the stomach-fluttering uncertainty that comes with meeting new people in a new place. This uncertainty is also true for new hires, especially temporary employees who wish to acclimate to their new company culture. If employees do not feel they or their contributions are valued, they have less motivation to seek or accept a permanent position if one becomes available. With the current shortage of available talent, retaining quality employees has taken on a new level of importance.

A positive introduction encourages employees to feel valued and confident. Survey results from TinyPulse.com illustrate that companies who spend time onboarding new hires retain 91 percent of their 1st year workers. If an employer wishes to continue relationships with these workers, they must encourage them to feel part of the “team.” The following three methods will motivate new or contingent employees to wish to remain with your company.

Quality Onboarding

Onboarding should provide value to your employees. Invest time and resources in a new hire orientation tailored to fit the needs and unique feel of your company. Provide slides or a speaker from each department to explain his or her company role. If an employee feels they are worth time and effort, they often become more productive in their work and confident in their abilities.

Mentors

Schools often assign an upperclassman mentor to an incoming student. The same should go for the workforce. What makes an employee feel comfortable and valued? A handbook and empty desk/work space, or an engaging and helpful mentor familiar with the company culture? Cultivate a list of current employees whose personalities and work experience allow them to serve as strong potential mentors.

On-the job training

New hire training should be comprehensive and continuous. On-the-job training is proven to boast high effectivity, especially for those who learn well through “doing.” For example, if a new hire must utilize specific computer programs, offer training exercises they can practice independently to test skill and comfort levels. Include new hires in meetings and phone conferences, as well as staff social events. These invitations increase employee engagement and loyalty through perception and appreciation of their “psychological contract” with the company rather than a solely economic one.

A job description or company reputation may be an initial employee draw, but a culture that supplies mentors, quality onboarding, and proper training can increase retention and satisfaction. Try to remember your first day, week, and month as a new hire. What methods or training empowered you? What techniques could have been improved? Use this insight to bolster your approach to new hires and retain productive and satisfied employees.

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Manufacturing and Technology Conference & Expo: Key Takeaways

The 2018 Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo was held in Raleigh, NC, from May 8-10. The conference offered a breadth of content, presentations, and engaging booths filled with tech gadgets to both learn from and be entertained by.

Conference attendees could choose to take plant tours across the city or listen in to one of several workshops on topics ranging from how to improve factory operations, to the various ways cybersecurity relates to manufacturing.

A popular and relevant topic discussed amongst attendees was the industry-wide current skills gap. This gap has become frustrating for organizations left wondering how the drought can be overcome.

According to manufacturers, the top three negative impacts of the skills gap rank as follows:

1) Ability to meet customer demand

2) Ability to invest in new technologies and increase productivity

3) Ability to provide effective customer service

Superior Group understands the impact this skills gap has on business, and specifically, within the manufacturing and technology industry. Our success with contingent and direct hire sourcing models in this industry encouraged us to attend and offer suggestions to the 1,800-plus conference registrants.

These three suggestions rank as important methods with which an organization can begin to close the gap.

Education:

  • Scaling up training programs
  • Providing opportunities to expose the upcoming workforce to manufacturing careers

Automation:

  • The act of making tougher jobs simpler

Collaboration:

  • Promoting manufacturing as a career path

If you’re experiencing this skills gap, discuss with your Human Resources department or Career Development staff, the importance of advertising the benefits of working within the manufacturing and technology industry. Another smart move is for companies to simplify job descriptions to instill confidence within those eager to begin a career. Both of these small suggestions make the industry appear more attractive and attainable to today’s workforce.

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Looking to have a 5-Star Uber rating? Consider a career in sales.

Shannon Callahan, an Account Executive in our Buffalo office, correlates her Uber rating success with her career in sales.

Many of us compare our Uber ratings to those of friends. I’m always proud to announce that I’ve retained my 5-star rating even after significant Uber use. Inevitably, someone will sarcastically ask if I’ve even really used the app. I’m even prouder still to scroll through “Your Trips,” a section highlighting rides of different lengths and within various cities, to prove that I am a frequent rider.

Although not rocket science, retaining your 5-star rating does necessitate thought and specific behaviors. To retain mine, I implement the same procedures I utilize in sales meetings. These five examples can help you connect with others, both in business practice and social situations.

  1. Promptness. In sales, meeting times and locations are determined in advance. You know both when and where you need to be. Promptness is important. If it looks as if I will be late, I quickly send an email explaining my delay, how long I will need, and to inquire whether their schedule will allow for the delay. When using Uber, I can see when my driver is on the way, and when he or she will arrive. I am typically standing outside when the driver arrives at my pick-up zone. If, by chance, I am going to be late, I will send a message to my driver explaining that I will be out in X number of minutes, the same as I would for a sales meeting.
  1. Assessing your surrounding environment. When arriving for a meeting, I search for relatable items to use to inspire conversation. Jerseys, diplomas, or vacation photos can be used as conversation topics. The same works during an Uber ride. Before entering the car, I check for bumper stickers. Once inside, I glance around for other interesting themes. These could include their choice of music, various items lying throughout the car, or their cell phone. Finding common ground is the key to connecting with another person.
  1. Reading your audience. Work meetings have taught me to intuit when someone is looking for a quick catch-up or to connect with a longer conversation. This allows me to read my Uber driver’s mood and decide whether they are interested in conversation or looking for a silent ride. It’s a good idea to remain open to either.
  1. Creating a game plan. Before sales meetings with team members, we prepare and discuss who will speak about which topic and determine the meeting’s overall goal. During a group Uber ride, we should all be on the same page. If my team member isn’t prepared, they won’t join the meeting. If my friend isn’t in the correct state of mind on a Saturday night, they will not be joining me in the ride. We can use their Uber account, but I will not allow their poor behavior to affect my rating.
  1. Follow Up. After each meeting, I send handwritten thank you cards as an extra touch point between an email and a contract, keeping communication lines open. Similar to how I follow up with potential clients, I understand the appreciation for timely Uber feedback and remember to rate my Uber drivers immediately following my ride.

Courtesy, consideration, and personal interest go a long way towards connecting with business contacts. Whether you’re in sales, marketing, education, or any number of careers, Uber rides serve as terrific reminders of modern politesse and methods with which to spark a conversation.

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On The Green: Happy Earth Day!

The mission of Earth Day is to diversify, educate, and activate the environmental movement worldwide. More than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance on—well, on Earth!

In honor of April 22nd, Superior Group is pleased to share details of our continued commitment to the environment. We understand that our business operations directly impact the sustainability of our ecological resources and, ultimately, the world our children will inherit. Each day we strive to refine the way we reduce, reuse, and recycle. The demand for sustainability is now affecting even the smallest of businesses and, thankfully, technology allows us to reduce our carbon footprint, minimize waste, and increase our efficiency.

Below are few of the ways in which we support this immeasurably important cause:

Purchasing

  • Purchases from multiple divisions are consolidated, decreasing delivery trips and paper waste from boxes and other packaging materials.
  • All orders are completed online, eliminating the need for catalogs.
  • We are enrolled in an ink and toner recycling program.
  • Preferred products are of a recycled material, responsibly sourced.

Waste Reduction

We have made many improvements to our corporate headquarters—including extensive updates to our heating, electrical, and water systems—which help to lower utilities and previously unavoidable waste. As a company that was once a heavy paper user, we now utilize Iron Mountain for the shredding and recycling of paper waste. We also decided to revamp our recruiting process and partnered with eStaff365 to reduce paper waste and storage needs by conducting onboarding electronically.

All restrooms now utilize coreless toilet paper. Motion-sensing paper towel dispensers reduce waste and provide more hygienic facilities. Ultimately, our paper consumables are made from 100% recycled fibers and 100% recyclable, EPA-compliant, and usage reducing.

Within our company kitchen/breakroom, we have provided clear and distinct recycling bins that separate waste from ALL recyclables to ensure employees use the correct disposal bins.

Coffee machines have been replaced with more efficient single cup brewers, reducing coffee waste and using coffee warmers. All coffee and tea packs are fully recyclable. Our hope is that this not only better serves the environment, but also improves employee experience.

We hope that everyone had an amazing Earth Day, and we encourage a shared commitment to our environment, whether in business practices or our communities. The health of our planet depends on each of us!

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It’s All In The Words

A job description is not only about marketing an open job at your company—it’s your first point of contact with job seekers and the eventual perfect candidate. It’s a sales pitch to captivate the attention of professionals, and urge them to apply. You want to brand your organization as a lively, productive, and engaging one to work for, so be sure to provide the correct impression!

Writing a perfect job description can be tricky, but following these tips can help your description stand out from those of other companies and to market your job opening and organization in the most effective way.

Keep it cool with job titles: Using titles like Rockstar Biz Dev, Web Marketing Guru and Resident Hacker won’t generate more views or attract applicants. Not only will these confuse readers, they will most likely encourage applicants who are not the best fit. Instead, keep it succinct with titles like Business Development Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, and Network Security Engineer.

Simple job titles and search-friendly keywords will encourage more people to interact with your job openings and advertisements.

Define the career path: Make an impact! Highlight how a new hire will grow within this job. Market the position by illustrating how important this role is to the organization and how the position will grow over time. Describe and provide examples for what success will look and feel like in this role.

For example: Instead of writing, “The incumbent will provide leadership to the direct sales team,” try, “You’ll be responsible to lead and motivate a sales team to increase the revenue by 20% in your first year.”

Prioritize skillsets: Describing the main skills necessary to succeed is essential in attracting qualified applicants, but avoid a laundry list likely to confuse the applicant into not understanding which skills are a priority for the particular job.

Consider the industry background and duties. Note all skills, roles and responsibilities needed. Create two columns or sections for reference. Identify the mandatory requirements and nice-to-have skills, and decide which are important to include in the job description.

Share your company culture: Your job description should include a window into your organization’s culture and personality. Provide a snippet of your company’s vision and values so the applicant can envision themselves at your organization. Photographs and videos are often simple and effective means with which to illustrate company culture, if you have them to which to link.

Mobile first: Today, it’s all about small screens! More than 50% of jobs over LinkedIn are viewed through mobile phones, which means every word counts. Keep your description short, concise and bulleted for easy reading. Before posting, test the job description on your own mobile phone to ensure that it does not require more than three scrolls down screen.

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What Golf Tells Me About You

As the 2018 Masters come to a close, Jason Hatch, an Account Executive in our Minneapolis branch, reflects on what you can learn about a person from their golf game.

Having grown up on the golf course, the game has molded my personality in various ways. Golf is known as the “gentleman’s game,” and is quite different from other sports. In my career as a sales professional, I have taken clients, coworkers, managers, and prospects to the golf course. Through these experiences, I have realized that I can learn important facts about someone just by spending four hours with them on the course.

Golf has a way of exposing weaknesses. For example, I discover whether or not you have a temper. You are by yourself, with no teammates to back you up or pick up slack when a mistake is made.  This can lead to frustration, anger, cursing, and sometimes even club breaking. I have witnessed all of the above, and cannot stress enough how much respect I have for players who remain calm and collected when adversity arises.

A competitive nature is also easy to spot. When you engage in sport, you will discover quickly if your opponents enjoy competition or are simply there to have fun. I am the type who attempts to figure out the game and stakes before we arrive at the first tee. I both live for and feed off friendly competition. I don’t dislike those that feel differently, but it is a valuable point of reference when evaluating someone’s character.

When spending four hours with someone, you will also discover whether or not this person gravitates toward introversion or extroversion. It helps when getting to know a prospect or client to understand their level of personal preferred engagement. You can learn quite a bit about them and their personal life if you spend time together on the golf course.

There is something in golf referred to as the “gimme,” or an “agreement” between two players who cannot putt. Knowing the right circumstances in which to give an opponent a putt can create friction in a round of golf. I respect those who try their best and appreciate when given a freebee. I cannot stand, however, when someone expects a freebee and becomes upset when they don’t get it. I prefer my team members to want to earn it! I suppose that’s the competitor in me.

Finally, integrity is uncovered through a golf game. Cheating occurs, whether it’s small (propping up a ball in the rough) or large (writing down a 5 instead of a 6). Regardless, those who behave in this way are looked at differently both on and off the course. Someone willing to cheat when the stakes do not matter all that much is a person I’d keep a close eye on when stakes are high. Don’t develop a reputation for untrustworthiness either on the golf course or in your professional life.

The game of golf often reveals character. If you want to get to know a professional colleague, I encourage you to play a round of golf with them. Share a cart and observe them both as a player and as a person. You may be surprised at the friend connection, professional and personal, that may develop!

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How Recruiters Compare to Casting Directors

Recruiters are often compared to film and television casting directors.  These are experts who select actors not only as the right “fit” in terms of versatility, talent, and charisma, but who also possess a pleasant off-screen personality sure to cause minimal drama. Corporate recruiters are often presented with similar requests from their organizations. They are tasked with finding a person who not only fits the hard skills—such as talent, education, and abilities—but also soft skills preferred by a specific department.

Corporate recruiters help to create a company brand. Their focus is on building rapport with candidates to ensure that new hires fit both the corporate culture and a given department. Certain departments have a specific ambiance. Some are outgoing and collaborative. In others, employees work independently, but catch up through weekly meetings. A recruiter may be asked to find a new hire who can perform the necessary duties while also fitting the existing departmental vibe, ensuring a smooth transition and quick camaraderie. An example of soft skills may be a sense of humor, a self-starter mentality, or the ability to blend with strongly opinionated personalities.

How does a recruiter narrow down candidates for a given position? What qualities grab their attention? How do they become convinced of the right fit?  Aleron recruiter Robert Longley shares tips that shed light on the process.

Clarity and organization are your introduction. “An organized, clearly-formatted resume catches my eye,” Longley says. “Recruiters sometimes view one hundred or more resumes for each position, so easy-to-read resumes do stand out. A candidate’s work experience is the immediate draw.”

Re-familiarize with your own background. Many candidates do not take the time to brush up on their experiences and skills and, therefore, cannot explain them in an organized, linear fashion. Longley adds, “Interviews are opportunities for candidates to learn, and also sell themselves as a candidate. Those who exhibit enthusiasm and provide clear, interesting examples of skills and experiences have an advantage. Be confident of what you bring to the table and prepare to discuss it.”

Listen well. Soft skills can make a difference. “Hiring managers share the qualities they wish for in a candidate. Certain personalities are a better fit than others. A recruiter uses behavioral and situational questions to gain a better understanding of a candidate’s demeanor.” Pay attention to tone and wording; find and utilize examples that illustrate how your personality is a good match for a potential team.

Preparation = interest. Remember, your goal is to feel fulfilled and happy within an organization. Assess the personalities of your interviewers. Do they seem stressed? Happy? Eager to discuss your background? Do they smile easily? Do you feel at ease with them? Longley suggests researching the company and preparing questions about the department and people you would be working closely with so if the job is offered, you feel confident in your decision. This process is just as much for you as it is for the organization looking to fill the role.

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Fake It ’Til You Make It: 4 Transferable Skills That Help When Tackling a New Industry

Abby Sabol, a recruitment specialist at our New York City branch, reflects on how she navigated her career shift by focusing on her strengths.

At the age of eighteen, I was dead set on conquering the fashion industry.

While studying visual communications and marketing at the Los Angeles Fashion Institute, I attended a handful of impressive internships before securing a position managing a jewelry boutique and its respective online store in Philadelphia. Two years later, I celebrated my 24th birthday and realized something important about my adult self… I had no true interest in the fashion industry.

Where to now?

Four years, three part-time retail merchandising jobs and two bartending stints later, I discovered the staffing industry. I was excited to help people find jobs and assist clients in procuring top talent. However, I still faced one hurdle:  I had no experience with the industry itself. After interviewing at a few firms, I accepted a position as an entry-level Staffing Coordinator.  How could my past retail experience be utilized in the corporate world?  When I began in my recruiting role, I admittedly knew very little, but felt that success would follow if I learned as much as possible.

Four skills have never failed me, even when my confidence did:

Networking – Maria Rodale of the Huffington Post says that “networking isn’t always at the top of our priority list. It can be awkward, time-consuming, and after a long work week, much less appealing than the couch.” Try to meet new corporate friends in a social setting. This can help advance your career, build relationships, increase your knowledge base, and create new business opportunities.  Networking is a great way to feel at home in your new industry, and free appetizers are a bonus!

Flexibility/Adaptability – Adaptability is the nature of changing or creating modifications to suit a new environment, such as being open to new ideas while functioning and performing with a positive attitude and accepting unforeseen challenges. Flexible people are easily approached and often accept new challenges to expand their industry knowledge and learning.

Poise – “The customer is always right” is a mantra that echoes from every sales and operations teams’ walls, and it is a beneficial attitude for placating an unsatisfied corporate client. Maintaining poise in stressful situations earns trust and creates strong interpersonal and business relationships.  A smile and positive attitude can clear your mind in difficult situations, making it easier to communicate and reach a common goal.

Resilience – A new industry can be overwhelming. New work, a new environment, and new ideals—you’re bound to hit more than one road block.  Rich Fernandez of the Harvard Business Review says that he’s seen over and over again that the most resilient individuals and teams aren’t the ones that don’t fail, but rather the ones that fail, learn and thrive because of it.”  Bouncing back and encouraging others to do the same benefits any challenging business situation!

Always focus on your strengths, and work on your weaknesses.  If socializing and networking come naturally, stack your calendar with events.  If positivity is your strong suit, use it to your advantage!  For me, it was natural to utilize my retail and service experiences.  I prioritized flexibility, retained a positive attitude, and focused on the goals I wanted to achieve.  Fake it until you make it!

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Inside The Interview

Kelly Daniels, a Recruitment Specialist from our Chicago office, shares some of her own interesting interview tactics after watching an episode of “The Job Interview.”

While flipping through channels, I discovered a TV show called “The Job Interview.”  This show helps companies to identify qualified candidates and showcases the interview process for various positions. I was quite impressed that CNBC aired a program so real and related to what I do as a recruiter.

“The Job Interview” offers a great way to learn how organizations interact with job seekers and examines the process a company may use.  It also illustrates which industries are hiring talent, and provides insights into pay rates offered.

Some hiring managers’ ideas were very creative.  For instance, one had each candidate walk into a room in which no chair was provided for them. The idea was to observe how candidates responded to an uncomfortable situation.  Did they find a chair for themselves?  Stand?  Circle uncomfortably?  It provided insight into candidate reactions, problem solving, and the ways individual responses may influence an ability to succeed in specific positions.

This reminded me of interesting interview tactics my colleagues and I have adopted or witnessed on-the-job:

Honesty is the best policy. To get at just how genuine and self-reflective a candidate is, a simple question can help:  “Think back to a situation that, after reflection, you realize you could have handled things better.  What was that time, and how would you change things?”  Watch to see how much the candidate struggles with the response, and is the response heart-felt?  Does it feel like a real ‘lesson-learned’ moment from which the candidate learned?  Or does that candidate give a non-response, e.g., “I went through this project and realized that my perfectionism really cost me a lot of time in my personal life, but it helped get the job done.”  If you get one of these lazy non-responses, don’t be afraid to professionally call the candidate on it:  “I can see how that would have been a challenge, but could we dig a bit deeper and talk about a time that you now feel you made a genuine mistake in a decision you made or the way you addressed a team member?”  Hopefully you get a meaningful response, and it sheds light on personal values and character.

The barrage. Posing questions  in rapid succession helps you to observe how a candidate’s mind works under pressure.  For example, “out of your previous jobs, which was your favorite?  Do you like working in teams or individually?  If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?  If there was one thing you could change about your current job that would make you want to stay, what would it be?”  Moving quickly between questions helps to map a candidate’s comfort with change.

The secret interview. Who else interacts with a candidate during the interview process?  Perhaps the receptionist has some insight!  A receptionist’s observations of the candidate while he or she waited can be quite telling. How did the candidate treat the receptionist and those with whom they sat?  How did that behavior correlate to the experience you observed in the interview?

Discovering and finalizing the best candidate is a challenge.  A recruiter should always think outside of the box to discover new and interesting ways of discovering what each candidate brings to the table.

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