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Salary negotiations! Did we scare you? We swear we saw a shiver run up your spine…
During your interview process there will come a point when you must have the salary talk. Only 11% of people are satisfied with their original salary offer (Houston Chronicle), but nearly half (49%) will accept the first offer given to them (CareerBuilder). Without negotiating, you risk getting less than you want, or worse, less than you deserve. Unless you ask, the answer will always be no.
As one of the nation’s leading staffing companies, we secure thousands of jobs for our Ambassadors every week – both permanent and temporary. That means we have thousands of salary negotiations a week!
We’ve compiled a guide to help you through this spine-tingling, life-changing conversation.
First things first…
It’s important to remember that this conversation is not personal, for you or the interviewer. It’s an objective discussion about the necessary exchange of currency for services, it’s just simple math. The organization has a finite salary budget. Even if the organization gives you an appallingly low offer, do not assume that it is malicious.
There will be offers and positions that you will have to walk away from. In other words, it’s just business.
Luck favors the prepared. Don’t let this conversation take you by surprise, walk in feeling prepared and confident.
It’s easy to feel like you have to go into these conversations rigid and aggressive. There’s nothing wrong with asking for what you want, but there’s a lot of things wrong with being a jerk – especially with people you don’t really know. In reality, it’s best to have a balance. Find the sweet spot: be firm, be likable.
Here are a few things to do to prepare for this conversation:
Know where you’re willing to compromise
- What do I value?
- What am I willing to compromise on?
- What am I not willing to compromise on?
A job offer doesn’t solely consist of salary. If an offer comes in too low, is there anything that can bridge the gap? How low is too low?
Consider factors like benefits and perks, company culture, flexibility options, and other salary benefits (stock options, bonuses, etc.).
Most importantly, don’t negotiate for the sake of negotiating. Fighting for just a little bit more can really rub some people the wrong way, especially if they’ve done a lot to accommodate you. Prioritize necessities and save your energy for what aspects truly matter to you.
Do your research
Once you have your very first interview on the books, do your research. You never know when they’re going to bring up salary, so you want to be prepared with a reasonable request.
It’s best not to base your new salary on your old salary, you could low ball yourself. However, on average, employees earn a 5.2% pay increase when changing jobs (Glassdoor). If your role and responsibilities are similar, then you can expect an approximate 5.2% increase. Combine this increase with a more objective view.
Pro-tip: While you can use your past salary as a reference point, it may be illegal for interviewers to ask about your salary history. We talk about this later in this guide.
Check out websites like LinkedIn Salary, Salary.com, and Glassdoor to get a feel for what you can expect. Websites like Payscale allow you to enter in various factors, like education and experience for a more specific number.
Note that these websites can often predict a little higher than is the industry average. However, this can be helpful as the interviewer will likely want to negotiate down. Also, note that most of these websites list only by the name of the position, and that other factors will influence the salaries you see, like management responsibilities, tenure, and more.
Do not mention ranges (at least not at this stage), they will likely immediately go to the low end. Be ready with a specific number, like $43,500 – it will make it sound like you’ve done more research (just don’t make it too crazy).
Be sure that you are basing your request on logic and facts, rather than what you feel you deserve. You want this to be a back and forth dialogue. A good question to ask is: “Should we get to an offer, what is the range you (the employer) are seeking to pay?”
Be prepared to defend your worth
If they start humming and hawing you must be ready to state why you are worth that much. The answer will not be, “Well, that’s what I saw online” – they will immediately roll their eyes. However, it is okay to mention industry trends. Have examples of past successes, particularly quantitative ones to justify your salary request.
Strike a Power Pose
Take a tip from psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy. In her TEDtalk (and subsequent book), through her research she found that posing like a powerful person before an interview led participants to feel less stressed, more powerful, more authentic, and more likely to land the job.
In the days leading up to your interview, practice power-posing in private. For two minutes at a time, pose like Wonder Woman, Superman, or make yourself as big as possible. Then, continue to practice good posture – general good posture will produce more of those good hormones that make you feel confident.
Practice, practice, practice
This is a tough conversation. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel. Be sure to anticipate their questions, and practice your responses.
Are we your top choice?
Don’t lie, it never ends well. Maintain the practice of being both firm and professional.
There are a few questions you should ask as well. Physically write these down, keep them in your notes, and bring them to all interviews.
Here are a few questions you should ask:
Can I get the salary offer in writing?
Pro-tip: It is imperative that you get an offer in writing, especially if you had to do some negotiating to get there. Again, don’t assume mal intent, but be prepared should anything go awry. Ask for offers in writing and keep a paper trail.
Now that you have all your tools ready, it’s time to get down to business.
There is no designated time to begin the conversation. Typically, the process will be ongoing, starting with them presenting a number in the beginning, and getting more defined as the process goes. But you never know, it’s best to be prepared to negotiate no matter when it comes up.
It is important to not wait until the end to bring up your number, especially if it’s radically different. Ideally, the timing will be late enough in the process to have demonstrated your value, but early enough to not totally waste time.
Here are a few ways to begin and conduct the conversation:
Stay friendly, yet unapologetic
As you enter the talk you can feel tempted to get aggressive or apologize for what you are asking for. Do neither. Remove “sorry” from the conversation and stand firm in what you are asking for. Just remember to stay pleasant.
Reiterate your interest
Throughout this process it is important that you demonstrate your investment in the organization. Do your research and flatter them. Being likable can get you far, and they will be more eager to meet your needs. Mention their programs, culture, and successes – and how you plan on contributing to them.
If they make an offer…
And it’s not what you want, it does not have to be their final offer. Here’s a way to begin the conversation.
“Although you mentioned $50,000, I would be more comfortable if we could settle on $57,500. I think that number reflects the role, region, and my qualifications, while meeting the demands and responsibilities of the position.”
But if they haven’t brought it up, don’t be afraid to take the lead…
If salary has not come up by the second interview, it’s up to you to start the conversation. There can be a lot of reasons why they may not bring up a number, but championing the conversation yourself can work in your favor. When you establish the anchor, you establish the expectations. It’s up to them to talk you down, rather than you talking them up.
Try a few of these conversation starters:
“Are you the right person to talk with about salary?”
“I want to bring this conversation around to salary.”
“In the interest of respecting both our time, I’d like to make sure we’re on the same page for salary.”
“In terms of salary, I was thinking _______ — but you have more insight on this particular role. What do you think?”
Or if you have a competing offer…
You’ll likely be interviewing for more than one position. While you don’t necessarily want to pin organizations against one another, you want to lead with transparency – especially if you’re really interested in the position.
“Thank you for the offer. As I mentioned during my interview process, I am interviewing with a couple of other organizations, who have made me an offer. I really like what I’ve seen of [the company] thus far, and I am excited to work with an organization that values giving back. If you can meet me at $47,900, I’d be eager to accept.”
Don’t forget about other benefits and perks
You’re not just negotiating a salary, you’re negotiating a full job offer. As you make your ask, don’t leave out any special perks. Open up the conversation for the standard on perks and benefits, and adjust your salary request accordingly.
“I want to make sure I have a full understanding of our potential offer. Can you tell me more about what kind of benefits you offer?”
Or you can use perks to bridge the gaps:
‘I understand the best you can do is $53,000 and you can’t come up to $56,500. If you can do $53,000 and offer one remote day a week, I’m willing to accept.’
But don’t make threats
Ultimatums will rarely work in your favor. And even if they do, they will likely be reluctantly given, and that can damage the rest of your relationship. However, you should feel prepared to walk away if an offer is truly not up to par. You can respectfully bow out of the conversation.
“Well, I really appreciate the offer and your willingness to discuss my salary. However, I don’t think we can arrive on an arrangement we can both agree on. If anything should change, I hope that you will consider me in future.”
Give them time
Often times, the person you are talking with may not have the authority to say yes or no. Give them the opportunity to check with respective parties.
Get it in writing
Like we said earlier, it’s imperative you get the offer in writing. If anything is “up in the air” or “to be determined later,” this position is not for you.
This conversation is never an easy one, but it’s a necessary one. Go in prepared and empowered and ask for what you want.
When you land an interview, you have one chance to make a good impression. It’s a requirement for any job and your opportunity to show them who you really are. No pressure, right?
When you land an interview, you have one chance to make a good impression. It’s a requirement for any job and your opportunity to show them who you really are. No pressure, right?
Nearly all of us (92%) fear something about job interviews (Harris Interactive and Everest College), this includes:
- General anxiety (17%)
- Being overqualified (15%)
- Not knowing the answer to the interviewer’s question (15%)
- Being late (14%)
And it makes sense, this is a high-risk, high-reward situation. The best thing you can do to combat nerves and increase your odds of landing the job is to prepare.
Nothing can beat stellar experience, passion, great interview skills, and a confident disposition. However, interviewers are more likely to reflect on the entirety of the experience, rather than just those elements. The little things can add up, and the little things can set you apart.
As one of the nation’s leading staffing companies, we conduct hundreds of thousands of interviews each week.
We’ve compiled a guide to help you nail your interview – showing off your authentic self and landing the job.
Here’s your ultimate guide to before, during, and after an interview.
The interview begins waaay before you ever sit in their chair. Take these steps to get prepared.
Clean up your social media
Hiring managers, more likely than not, will check any social media platform they can find. According to CareerBuilder,
- 60% of recruiters will use social networking sites to research candidates (CareerBuilder)
- 40% have reconsidered a candidate based on what they found
- 69% of recruiters say that they have rejected a candidate based on their findings.
What’s on your social media does not define you, but it can influence how hiring managers see you, making it imperative that you keep your social media accounts private or squeaky clean.
The time and day at which you schedule your interview may not be entirely within your control. But if you have the opportunity, when you schedule your interview can increase your chances of landing the gig.
According to Glassdoor, Tuesdays between 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM is your best chance. You’re not the first, not the last, but early enough to be favorably compared to others and have your interviewer’s full attention.
This does not dismiss your talents or interviewing skills, but this can give you an advantage.
What do I do if I am interviewing in secret?
You can schedule your interview before or after work. But to get that time advantage, you can simply tell your employer/manager that you have an appointment. Don’t call in sick at the last minute or blatantly lie, just in case you don’t get the job.
Do research until you feel dizzy. You can never know too much about the organization. The internet has changed everything and has allowed for unprecedented access to information. Take advantage of websites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, even the organization’s website will give you great insight.
Before your interview, research the:
Do some research on LinkedIn and check out who had this position before you. Notice their responsibilities and advancements.
What are the organization’s roots? Its latest happenings and successes? Its purpose? What do you find interesting about it?
Check out your interviewer’s LinkedIn page, read any articles they’ve written, and better understand their role within the organization. They will be flattered.
Go to the organization’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages to learn about the personality of the company.
The interviewer will be impressed with your industry predictions and insight into how it will affect your position currently and in the future.
- Dress code
Your interview outfit will be affected by the industry and organization. Check out their Facebook and LinkedIn pages to get a more candid look of how they dress. Always lean towards the more conservative/professional side – we will address this more later.
Interviewers want to gauge your investment in the position, and what to know that you are prepared for the reality of the industry and organization you are entering.
Print is not dead. You can’t assume your interviewer will have everything in front of them, and scrolling through your phone to demonstrate something is super unprofessional.
Be sure to bring in multiple copies of your resume – you never know who will show up. Five copies should be enough. Also bring any other relevant materials including, but not limited to writing samples, portfolio pieces, case studies, former projects, or anything else that applies to the position.
Always print on resume paper.
Pro-tip: From a psychological perspective, tactile experiences can alter perception. We perceive heavier items as literally more weighty (Psychology Today).
There will come a point in your interview where the interviewer will ask you, “Do you have any questions for me?” Your answer will always be “Yes.” We will discuss these questions more in-depth later in this guide, but it is imperative that you write them down, and have them prepared before your interview.
No matter your industry, professionalism extends to your appearance. According to the Undercover Recruiter, 65% of bosses indicate that clothes could be a deciding factor between two almost-identical candidates.
Interview wear will vary according to industry and individual organization, but it is always best to dress more conservatively and professional.
Check out their website and social media to see what your potential future coworkers wear on a daily basis. Then, dress one step above.
As you are planning your outfit, make sure it is clean, well-tailored, and free of any holes or loose seams. Choose neutral colors (black, white, gray, navy, beige, etc.), conservative dress, simple accessories, and a neat hairstyle.
If you choose to bring a purse or briefcase, make sure it is professional and tidy – inside and out.
Always try on your full outfit ahead of time and making sure it’s neat and ironed.
Map out the drive
Finding a brand new location can be difficult under stress, and you definitely do not want to be late. Map out your drive and practice it before your interview.
Take a tip from psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy. In her TEDtalk (and subsequent book), through her research she found that posing like a powerful person before an interview led participants to feel less stressed, more powerful, more authentic, and more likely to land the job.
In the days leading up to your interview, practice power-posing in private. For two minutes at a time, pose like Wonder Woman or make yourself as big as possible. Then, continue to practice good posture – general good posture will produce more of those good hormones that make you feel confident.
On the day of your interview, give yourself an extra boost as you go in. As you ride in the elevator or go to the bathroom quickly, whip out a power pose and stroll in feeling confident and authentic.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The most important thing you can do is practice. Practice everything: your answers, your drive, your elevator pitch, everything. Don’t necessarily memorize your answers, but practicing will help you feel confident and ready.
One-third of bosses know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone (UndercoverRecruiter), while half of hiring decision-makers say they can tell in the first five minutes of an interview whether the candidate is a good fit (CareerBuilder).
Here’s how to make the most of that first 90 seconds, and the rest of your interview.
Arrive early, but not too early
Punctuality is key, but showing up too early can make you seem too eager and your interviewer feel awkwardly rushed. Aim to arrive in the waiting area 5 minutes before your scheduled interview time. This shows appropriate timeliness, while allowing your interviewer to be ready for you.
Reception area etiquette
Your behavior is being observed and taken into consideration from the moment you step on the campus. That means you should conduct a professional demeanor from the moment you step out of your car to the moment you return to it. Practice courteous and polite small talk with all you encounter and treat everyone as if they are the CEO.
Cell phone etiquette
This should go without saying, but there is absolutely no reason your cell phone should be taken out – not to check the time, not to close out of your email, nothing. Not even in the waiting room. Regardless of industry or organization, checking your phone will never be acceptable behavior in the eyes of an interviewer.
Those pesky “silent” vibrations can also disturb your interview. Turn it off or switch it to airplane mode and keep it in your purse or briefcase.
It’s your simplest secret weapon. Humans are influenced by facial cues, and a smile indicates that you are friendly and approachable. People who smile appear to be more likable, courteous, and even competent (Penn State University). It also helps decrease the amount of stress-induced hormones circulating through your bloodstream, lowers your blood pressure, and makes you feel more relaxed and happy by stimulating the release of feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain (Fortune).
Plus, your interviewer is more likely to smile back, and that will make you feel good!
No limp noodles, no strength competitions, no half-grips – more than a quarter of hiring managers say they’ve ruled out potential hires whose grip was either too weak (21%) or too strong (7%) (Fortune).
Deliver a firm and sturdy handshake paired with eye contact and a smile.
Your composure can be your biggest weakness in a job interview. The most common reasons otherwise qualified candidates don’t get hired are:
- failure to make eye contact (67%)
- not smiling (39%)
- playing with something on the table (33%)
- not sitting up straight (30%)
- fidgeting too much (30%)
- crossing their arms over their chests (29%)
Don’t take a seat unless asked to, sit straight, and lean slightly forward to show you’re attentive. If you are a known fidgeter, or simply want to look invested, take notes during your interview. It can be an outlet for your nervous energy and you can reference your notes while making your decision!
It’s an infamous nervous habit. Try replacing your “ums” with pauses instead!
Your interview is likely to start off with a bit of small talk. Sure, you can talk about the weather, but why not start the conversation off with a bang? Take the lead and try a few of these conversation starters:
- “I see you recently won the X award. Your engagement programs are really leading in the industry.”
- “I saw in the local business journal that you were ranked as a top-grossing company in the region. What do you think has brought you to this level?”
- “I read your blog post on X. How do you see that affecting the industry?”
As the conversation continues, emphasize commonalities and shared experiences with your interviewer – we like people who are like us! Also, work their name into the conversation (without overdoing it). Hearing our own name elicits a unique effect in the brain, makes us feel good, and can help you make sure you never forget their name.
“So, tell me about yourself.”
You will hear this question. This may seem like standard small talk, but make no mistake: this is the time to sell yourself. This is your time to deliver your elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is a succinct and concise introduction, intended to capture your audience in the time it takes to ride in an elevator. You have less than 30 seconds to introduce yourself and establish your value, making your audience want to continue the conversation – or in this case, the interview.
Again, start your interview with a POW! For tips on how to formulate your elevator pitch, check out our infographic here.
Prepare for questions like these
Most of the time, your interviewer isn’t looking for a right or specific answer for their questions. They want to see your reasoning and values and if those match with the position and organization.
Practice your answers so you can avoid getting stumped and show off your true self.
Here are a few questions you should prepare for:
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
- Tell me more about your education.
- What kind of work environment do you like best?
- What motivates you?
- What do you consider to be your biggest professional achievement?
- Tell me about the last time a coworker or customer got angry with you. What happened?
- Out of all the other candidates, why should we hire you?
- Why do you want this job?
- What do you know about our organization/industry?
- What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
Avoid words like “team player,” “hard worker,” or any other zombie corporate babble – anything that’s not really quantifiable. The best thing you can do is provide examples or stories, providing evidence to who you are and how you work. And most importantly, DON’T LIE.
What is your biggest weakness?
Holy moly, DO NOT say you are a perfectionist. This answer is so common that it has become meaningless and lazy. Instead, try emphasizing on a problem you have fixed, focusing on your methods of fixing it.
This is also an opportunity to address things like a gap in your resume or lack of industry experience. A certain amount of self-awareness combined with how you plan to combat that can really put you in a good light.
The big question
“Do you have any questions for me?” your interviewer will ask. You must respond, “Yes.”
This is can be a make or break moment. They are gauging your investment and critical thinking skills. Here are a few questions you can ask:
- Is there anything about my application/resume that concerns you?
- Can you tell me about the best person you ever had in this position?
- If I do everything perfectly, what will you notice most?
- What drives you crazy about new hires?
- Can you tell me more about your journey within the organization?
- What do you think makes this company the best place to work?
- What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
- What do you expect the interview timeline to look like?
- Any other questions relevant to the organization, benefits, or industry
Anything that shows you’re invested and did your homework on the organization
The interview is not over yet. Nearly half (48%) of recruiters said they usually conduct three interviews per candidate (MRI Network). No matter what stage you are at, finish the game strong with these steps after each interview:
Thank you card
Always, every time, no matter what, send a thank you card. You want to show your graciousness and stay at the top of their minds. Opt for the personal touch of a physical letter or card over email.
Here’s a template you can work with:
I look forward to hearing from you about the next steps in the hiring process. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional information.
Send this as quickly as possible.
It takes on average three interviews and three to six weeks to get an offer( MRINetwork). Stay in front of your interviewer with regular phone calls and emails, without being overwhelming.
Most likely, your interviewer will give you a timeline. If you do not hear from by those mile markers. Call or email promptly.
Prepare for the next round
Remember, you can expect around 3 rounds of interviews. Prepare for your next round while you wait for a decision. That way, you’re ready no matter what.
Considering an offer
There are several factors to consider when you get a job offer. We will explore this in our next blog post!
You will have to interview for any job you want. It’s a shared reality for all jobseekers. Interviewing is nerve-wracking! View it as an opportunity to change your life, rather than an intimidating procedure. As you move forward, practice the mantra: “I’m not nervous – I’m excited.”
Quitting is part of life. Whether new opportunities come knocking or external forces pull you out, you will have to quit and end your time at an employer. However, quitting is not the end of your relationship. You will need their support in your future endeavors, and how you quit will affect your career.
There is a right way and lots of wrong ways. Here’s the right way:
Before you Quit…
1. Make sure you’re quitting for the right reasons.
You’re ready for a change, but quitting may not be the wisest decision. Proceed with quitting if:
- The pros outweigh the cons
- You have another job lined up
- The stress is affecting your health
- You are underpaid or the job is unstable
- Internal growth is unattainable or undesirable
- You are going through a major life change (moving, completing education, etc.)
- You have put in at least 2 years at the organization
- You are facing problems that cannot be solved
You should quit to advance your career and meet your needs, not out of malicious intent.
2. Line up employment
Before you even think about quitting, it is essential to have your next job ready to go. Not just for security, but to prevent gaps in your resume.
3. Double check your employment agreement
The employment agreement you signed when you got hired might have certain guidelines around quitting and the quitting process, be sure to adhere to it.
4. Consider your timing
You know your workplace and your work-life schedule. Try not to quit during the busy times or when your team needs you the most. Finish major projects and make sure you don’t leave any of your clients or contacts hanging.
When you Quit…
1. Write up your two weeks’ notice/Letter of resignation
A written letter of resignation is absolutely a requirement. Having written documentation can protect you should things go awry, and can help the organization better plan for your replacement.
You must type it, date it, sign it, and deliver a copy to your boss, your HR department, and anyone else who will need it.
Notify your employer a minimum of two weeks prior to your last day. This is both professional and a common courtesy.
Here is a template to help get you started:
As we approach my final weeks, I am dedicated to wrapping up my duties and training my replacement. Please let me know what I can do to aid the transition.
I am honored to have worked for this organization, and hope to stay in touch in the future.
Keep it short, sweet, and professional.
This is not your chance to tell off your boss, or point out flaws in the company. If your separation is not exactly amicable, you can reduce it into a single sentence:
2. Set up a meeting with your boss
This is where you will deliver your first letter of resignation. Your boss should be the very first person you notify, even before your work BFF.
Schedule a proper meeting, just the two of you. It’s up to you to take lead of the conversation. Notify your boss of your intent, without giving away too much information. Be prepared to answer these questions:
- Where are you going?
- Is there anything we can do to make you reconsider?
Keep your answers professional and avoid getting too sad or too angry. You can keep them as vague as you’d like.
This is also your chance to develop a transition plan and ask to use that person as a future reference.
3. Notify your team
Depending on your relationship, you can notify your team in an email. If you’re closer, you can coordinate a meeting. No matter how you do it, emphasize the positive aspects of your experience and express your gratitude to them – your exit will mean a little extra stress on them.
4. Finish strong
No slacking off. During your last two weeks, work as hard as you ever did. Notify any customers you may work with and finish up any major projects. Make it as simple as possible for someone to pick up where you left off.
5. Be gracious in your exit interview
An exit interview is your organization’s opportunity to find out what they can do better – but this still is not your opportunity to start listing off why you hated your job. Especially if you want to continue to use them as a reference, keep this interview professional. Here are a few questions you might be asked:
- Why are you leaving this position?
- What could we have done better?
- What did you like most about your job?
- How was your relationship with your boss?
- Did you have the right tools and resources to do your job well?
- Would you recommend working here to a friend?
It can feel tempting to air out all your grievances, but your reputation as an employee is more important. Offer patient and constructive criticism, and practice graciousness throughout.
After you Quit…
1. Prepare your replacement
If you and your replacement overlap, patiently train them on all of your job functions. Don’t be grumpy and don’t tell them what you hate about the company. Give them your full attention and energy as they take over your position.
2. Keep in touch
You will need previous workplace relationships to build your career. Keep in touch with your former boss and references, you never know if you will need their help in the future.
3. Update your LinkedIn and Resume
Once you leave one job and start another, make sure your LinkedIn and resume reflect that. If this new job doesn’t work out, you need to be ready.
4. Never speak negatively about your employer
This is never a good look. Don’t bash your employer on social media or bad-mouth them at industry events. Continue your gracious nature and you will build your reputation as a good employee to have around.
Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s just part of work-life. It is up to you to keep up professionalism and build your career properly and effectively.
As we approach the mid-year mark, we’re taking a look at our most popular white papers published this year so far.
We interview and hire candidates every single day so that we can help the businesses who partner with us. The one thing every candidate we work with wants is to work at a place where they feel important, successful, and cared for.
We’ve been on our own journey of creating a great workplace, in fact, Fortune ranked us #1 on the list of Best Workplaces for Professional Services.
The below white papers contain best practices we’ve implemented ourselves backed by industry-leading research to help our business customers champion a workplace that brings out the best in managers and employees.
From the top, let’s count down our best white papers of 2017:
Did you know?
Our white papers are written by our in-house organizational psychology specialist and designed by our award-winning design and communications team – ensuring the most accurate and engaging content.
Tips to get your resume and cover letter dream-job-ready.
You never get a second chance at a first impression. In the job seeking process, your first impression (usually) relies on your resume and cover letter. While you may think these are ready to go, your dream job chances can be dashed before you get the opportunity to show them who you truly are: 1 out of 5 recruiters will reject a candidate before reading to the end of their resume (New College of Humanities).
We’re one of the largest staffing companies in the nation, so we see thousands of resumes and cover letters every week. Here are our tips to create the most professional and effective resume and cover letter.
Your top employees are top targets. The candidate market is in a unique space: unemployment is low, turnover is at an all-time high, and loyalty isn’t necessarily a priority for all employees. As the demand for talent grows and the available candidate pool dwindles, recruiters have their eyes set on your best employees. And often, the temptation to take on a new adventure is too great.
While it’s easier to blame turnover on poachers, most employees quit because internal forces push them out, rather than external forces drawing them in. In so many words, it’s not them, it’s you.
Even your most loyal employees are open to new opportunities, and the slightest nudge can tip the scale. Only 15% of employees are truly satisfied in their jobs and aren’t looking for other opportunities (LinkedIn). That means 85% of your employees could be at risk of leaving your organization.
Mercer states 34% of employees say they plan to leave their current role in the next 12 months. Gallup states a much higher percentage: 51% of workers are looking to leave their current jobs. LinkedIn research shows that 25% of employees are actively looking for new work, with two-thirds of them currently employed. In fact, 3.22 million Americans (2.2% of the workforce) quit their jobs in January 2017, the highest quit rate since February 2001 (Department of Labor).
While statistics on tenure and turnover may vary, one truth remains constant: employees are looking.
Currently, 75% of jobseekers are employed but open to new opportunities— these are known as “passive candidates.” Almost 60% of workers look at other jobs at least monthly (Indeed). Platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor email new opportunities to passive candidates on a daily or weekly basis.
Just because they are open to new opportunities doesn’t mean they don’t like their current jobs: 80% of passive jobseekers are satisfied in their current job (LinkedIn). Among people who “love their jobs,” 50% would be willing to leave for a new opportunity (Adobe) and Glassdoor reports that 84% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job.
More than half of U.S. employers (57%) said hiring activity has increased over the past 12 months, while turnover has picked up by 37% in 2016 (Willis Towers Watson).
With demand high and available talent low, recruiters are becoming more aggressive. They aren’t shy about going for your top talent, and their tactics are effective. In 2015, 75% of workers with new jobs hadn’t actively applied for the position, they were referred or “poached” (FRBSF Economic Research).
The reasons they leave go beyond simple temptation. It’s not just a Millennial problem.
Millennials have developed a reputation as job hoppers. And it’s not an incorrect assessment; 44% of Millennials say, if given the choice, they expect to leave their current employers in the next two years (Deloitte). But it’s not just Millennials: 37% of Gen X and 25% of Boomers are planning to leave their company in the next two years (Lightspeed).
Cost & Effect
When turnover is high, talent becomes a primary concern. According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), the top three challenges faced by HR organizations today are turnover, employee engagement, and succession planning.
The impact of these challenges all come at a high cost to your budget, to your team, and to your morale. Finding a new employee slows processes, requires recruiting efforts, and impacts culture.
The cost of replacing an employee can range from 30%-400% of an employee’s salary (ERE Media).
When you lose an employee, their surrounding team feels the impact, too–not just in their productivity, but in their team dynamic as well. Friendships can be a powerful tool in engagement and retention. Employees with a best friend at work tend to be more focused, more passionate, more loyal to their organizations, and they change jobs less frequently (SHRM). Employees agree: 46% of professionals worldwide believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness (LinkedIn) and 50% of employees with a best friend at work report a strong connection with the company (Gallup).
Friendship does have an effect on tenure: 37% of employees say “working with a great team” is their primary reason for staying (Gusto), while 55% of employees have put off job hunting because they didn’t want to leave their coworkers (ICIMS).
A revolving door of teammates does not allow for this kind of synergy. Meanwhile, a solid tenured workforce can:
Help guide strategic planning Acquire cross-training Mentor and train others Nurture culture Tenure’s impact on culture will be your biggest asset, and turnover’s impact on culture will be your biggest detriment. Longevity helps solidify and support culture, setting and maintaining the standard. A consistent culture is effective in its practices and expectations.
Why They Go & Why They Stay
There is no one factor that influences employee tenure. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics currently defines the average employee tenure at 4.2 years. Typically, the top reasons job seekers will leave for another job are:
More compensation (61%) Location (42%) Better work-life balance (40%) Health benefits (36%) Growth opportunities (35%) Company culture (21%) Leadership (15%) (Jobvite)
All of these factors address employees’ human needs—the need to grow, the need to be valued, the need to live a full life.
Growth and opportunity are a particular driving force. Forty-one percent of employees said they would need to leave their current employer in order to advance their careers (Towers Watson). More than 60% don’t feel their career goals are aligned with the plans their employers have for them (Forbes), and another 47% of Americans would leave for their ideal job even if it meant less pay (Adobe).
Interaction between work and life can seriously influence tenure. Bamboo HR reports that 14% will leave if they don’t have a healthy work-life balance, while 46% of HR leaders say employee burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual workforce turnover (Kronos).
Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing. Job searching fluctuates in accordance with life events. Around birthdays, job searching increases by 12%, 16% around class reunions, and up to 9% around work anniversaries (HBR). Any life events that inspire reflection can lead your employees to wonder, “What’s next?”
There is an eternal human search for “something better.” The good news is, your organization can proactively address every single one of these factors.
Rob Beanett, author of Passion Saving: the Path to Plentiful Free-Time and Soul- Satisfying Work defines the Employee Life Cycle, defines the cycle at seven years and SHRM’s 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report defines average employee tenure at eight years, but it’s shortening. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics currently defines the average employee tenure at 4.2 years. The cycle includes:
Starting a new job or position initially begins as stressful, but the new challenge drives them forward. New hire initiatives are crucial in balancing stress and engagement.
Within six months, the employee is still being challenged but enjoys the experience.
After another 6-12 months, the employee is confident in his ability to handle the job. They still enjoy the work, but there is not as much of a challenge and they are not learning as much.
It can take 3-7 years before an employee can feel like they can do their job in their sleep. Now the employee must actively begin looking for a new challenge.
Left unchallenged, the employee becomes unhappy with the company. They won’t care enough about the work to do it well. But if they find a new challenge, the cycle can begin again.
In the life cycle of an employee, it’s up to you to intervene and empower.
Lead the Way
How you involve your company’s leadership will make all the difference. They will set the tone and build a tenured team. In fact, 51% of employees who don’t feel they have the support of leadership plan to leave their job in the next year, compared to 25% of those who do have leadership support (American Psychological Association). In addition, 14% of HR leaders say lack of executive support is an obstacle to improving retention in 2017 (Kronos).
Through dedicated practices and daily efforts, your company’s leadership creates the employee experience—and plays a huge role in engagement. According to employees, the most memorable recognition comes from their manager (28%), a high-level leader or CEO (24%), and their manager’s manager (12%), followed by customers and peers.
We know that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their boss. The main factor in workplace discontent is an employee’s manager—not wages, benefits, or hours (Gallup).
Half of U.S. adults have left their job to get away from their manager (Gallup), which is understandable considering the way the manager influences the factors mentioned earlier. Managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores (Gallup). But don’t be so quick to point the finger of blame. Your company’s leaders need great managers, too. Leaders need the same support from the individuals they report to. Just 35% of U.S. managers are engaged, while 51% are not engaged at all (Gallup). Meanwhile, 42% of managers are currently looking for jobs with other organizations (Modern Survey).
Managers actively influence nearly every factor of tenure and engagement. They require support, growth, and recognition to fill their own cup first—then they can nurture other employees.
Building Loyalty, Achieving Retention
If you want to retain your top employees, you must implement a dedicated, proactive strategy.
If your top employee won the lottery, who would do their job tomorrow? There should be no position on your team or in your organization that only one employee knows how to do. Cross-training employees can not only keep them challenged, it provides opportunities for growth and can come in handy when looking for a replacement.
Financial temptation can be your biggest enemy: 35% of employees will start looking for a job if they don’t receive a raise in the next 12 months (Glassdoor). Fix this by offering truly competitive pay. Give raises and adjustments proactively and always connect it with some other form of recognition. Never let a paycheck speak for itself. To ensure your pay is competitive, see our Salary Guide.
Don’t forget benefits. Your employees need them. It’s as simple as that.
Frequent Forbes contributor and seasoned Fortune 500 HR SVP Liz Ryan discusses a unique process at one of her former organizations. As her employees were receiving an avalanche of recruiter calls, turnover was becoming a top concern. Instead of punishing employees, the leadership team created a “poaching form.”
The form asked for the name of the recruiter, the hiring company, the name and description of the project or position, salary offered, and other details. Then, the company paid their employees $50 for each completed form. It worked like a charm. They were able to inspire an open dialogue about what employees were looking for and know what their competition was up to. Once recruiters figured out what was going on, the poaching slowed considerably.
A program like this can demonstrate trust, give you a chance to address concerns and efficiently enact retention strategies based directly on employee feedback.
Create Structured Career Paths
Everyone needs something to work towards. Work with employees on an individual basis to define a career path within your organization. Frequently check in on this path and adjust according to their needs and goals, ensuring they are challenged appropriately.
This is also how you will select your next group of leaders who will affect the tenure and performance of other employees. Promote according to performance and strengths, while rewarding tenure.
Surveillance falls under the transparency umbrella. And it can be a tricky game. If you are or want to monitor employee internet or phone use, only use it to help, not punish.
For instance, if you notice an employee is spending considerably more time on LinkedIn, use that information to have a discussion about what the organization can do in service to that employee, rather than telling the employee to stop doing that.
Do not try to limit their behavior. The harder you press down the lid, the harder it will pop up.
When 82% of employees don’t think they’re recognized for their work as often as they deserve (BambooHR), they will look for it elsewhere. Your top performers give you plenty to recognize. Create a structured program that allows for an abundance of both formal and informal recognition.
To address issues of location and work-life balance, allow for flexible work options. This is an effective demonstration of trust and appreciation while proactively meeting employee needs. Additionally, workers who were offered telecommuting options were more productive and had lower turnover (HBR). Make sure employees have the appropriate tools and training available to do their work well.
Surveying allows you to keep an eye on engagement and give employees a chance to speak candidly. Take results seriously and make adjustments accordingly.
Promote the right people into management roles, and make sure your leaders have the tools available to keep employees engaged.
Whether you recognize it or not, your organization has a culture. It’s simply the personality of your organization. You do not need ping pong tables to have an effective culture. You simply need to build your organization around your values, and in turn, implement programs that strengthen those values.
Keep a pulse on your culture and continuously nurture it. Every program, every technology, every process should somehow revert back to one of the values of the company. Always keep your culture at the forefront of every company communication.
No matter how great your organization is, some people will quit. It’s just part of life! Master the flow of talent and support your employees in their next step. Write recommendations and use your connections to help them build their careers. Soon, your organization will build a reputation as a launch pad, and you’ll get flooded with talent. Plus, you’d be surprised how many of those former employees will come back as boomerang employees—40% say they’d consider returning to their former company (Workplacetrends).
There’s nothing about the tenure crisis that you can’t manage. With dedicated programs, you can build effective longevity and reap all the benefits. The most important factor is to focus on helping your employees build their livelihood. When your employees are your main focus, they will find a career worth staying for within your organization.
Tips from Within
Creating Structured Career Paths
Jess Bushey serves as Market Vice President for Roth Staffing Companies, parent company of Ultimate Staffing. She oversees some of Roth’s most successful and tenured teams. Here’s what she has to say about creating structured career paths:
“I find that having a structured career path has empowered our coworkers, benefitting the overall organization. As a new employee is on-boarded, we lay an outline of several career opportunities relative to where they are starting, establishing what each stepping-stone requires. We then check in during quarterly performance reviews, outlining and benchmarking goals and outcomes that are needed to reach those next steps.
The key component to this is clear and consistent communication and allowing coworkers to explore different options than they originally thought they might aspire to.
Having a clear career path for promotion encourages coworkers to take ownership, keeping them engaged in their current role and within our organization. It has also allowed us to retain our top talent and have stronger succession planning for organic growth. It preserves and enlivens our company culture to have leaders who started in entry-level positions and grew into leadership positions, where they have authentic stories to tell our newest coworkers.”
On LinkedIn, social media meets professional networking. It’s like a giant networking event combined with a resume megaphone. If you’re a regular user of Facebook, we have lots of tips on how to use that platform for your job search, but LinkedIn is viewed by employers as the “go-to” destination for finding the most professional candidates. We recommend using a multi-channel approach to give you the most options in your job search. Currently, 93% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting (Jobcast) and amongst those who found their job through a social network, 40% cite assistance from LinkedIn.
If you use Facebook in your job search process, you must balance a pseudo-professional and a casual social presence. LinkedIn allows you to present yourself solely as a formal, professional entity. Everyone on the site has the same intentions: to present and build themselves professionally. That makes the rules much easier to follow, and much easier to be noticed by the right people.
Currently, LinkedIn has 128 million users in the United States alone (DMR), and recruiting, sourcing, and HR professionals account for 5% of all U.S. LinkedIn Profiles – that’s 1 in 20! With so many eyes on you, you must be prepared to wow them. Remember, this is a candidate’s market, the odds are in your favor as recruiters are on the hunt for the best talent. Even if you are a passive candidate (still working, but open to new job opportunities), your profile and activity should be ready to flaunt.
Not having a LinkedIn profile, not being active on the platform, or not using it properly can be equally detrimental. Employers now expect you to be tech savvy and connected to the online community.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, don’t let yours be unprofessional. Check out our tips to make the most out of LinkedIn.
Prepare: Are you ready?
LinkedIn serves as an internet-based version of your resume, with a little extra personality. You must prepare your profile to be eye-catching and effective. This may very well be your first impression on a recruiter or organization.
Disclaimer: These are only recommendations. There are no requirements on your social media behavior. The tips listed are only intended to be helpful, and we have a lot of inside information speaking from an organization comprised of hundreds of recruiters.
Privacy: Go Public
On LinkedIn, there is almost no reason to not make your whole profile completely public. On other sites like Facebook or Twitter, it makes sense to reserve most information for your friends. However, on LinkedIn, almost exclusively, strangers will be looking you up. Reserving information for an exclusive audience can lead them to move on to the next candidate.
(1) To change your privacy settings, log in and click on your profile.
(2) Then click on “Edit your public profile”
Here, you can select what you want to make public. It’s best to click every box, but if you had to choose only a few, we recommend at the very least including your:
- Current Positions
- Past Positions
(3) While you’re in this section, edit your public profile URL.
When you signed up, LinkedIn gave you a random URL to share. Edit this to something a little easier on the eyes, also known as a vanity URL. Just as you would with a professional email, make sure it is appropriate and reflects your name. For example, if your name is Bob Smith, try something like linkedin.com/BobSmith1234 or linkedin.com/BobSmithLosAngeles, not linkedin.com/badboy97 or linkedin.com/pro4ubsmith.
Once you have your vanity URL, you can include it on your paper resumes. Recruiters can check out your profile and have a more dimensional view or see features that wouldn’t fit on paper.
Your Intro is the section at the top of your profile. The information here is what others will see when you post or what recruiters will see when they search for candidates and land on a result page.
This section includes your photo, name, title, current position, and location. You can customize nearly every aspect of this – just click on the little pencil in the corner.
Make sure this is an accurate representation of you. Never make up a title or refer to yourself as a “Guru” or “Ninja.” These phrases don’t mean anything to recruiters, and sound like made-up positions. They aren’t searchable and don’t speak to what you have done.
Your picture can make all the difference. While it may feel superfluous to feature a picture on a professional site, a photo can be the difference between landing the job and not. LinkedIn profiles with photos get 21 times more profile views and 36 times more messages (DMR).
Embrace the human element of LinkedIn and use a professional photo. Don’t just copy and paste your current Facebook pic. Having the right picture is crucial.
A professionally taken photo will always be best. It’s a worthy investment, but if you need to get out there right now, here are a few tips to help you get the perfect, job-winning LinkedIn profile picture:
- ALWAYS wear professional clothes in your photo. The term “professional clothes” can vary from industry to industry, so pick what is appropriate.
- You can take a photo of yourself, but be wary of the angles you employ. For a selfie, take it straight on, preferably from the chest up. It’s usually best to grab a friend and have them take the picture, that way your arms aren’t awkwardly positioned in the frame. Additionally, a photo that is too close can make viewers uncomfortable.
Whatever you do… NO CAR SELFIES. NEVER. NO MATTER WHAT. ABSOLUTEY NOT. The lighting may be in your favor, but it’s so incredibly unprofessional, looks lazy, and can even suggest narcissism. Don’t do it, you’re worth so much more.
- Do NOT take a photo from a past event and crop other people out of the frame. This photo is part of your digital resume, and resumes are strictly solo. Employers can totally see your friend’s shoulder.
- Just because you did get professional photos taken, doesn’t always mean they are appropriate. Do NOT use photos from your wedding, graduation, or any other non-professional event. However, if you have a professional photo session coming up, bring a shirt and blazer with you and get a couple specialty business shots.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY… Say cheese!
- Your picture is supposed to look like you! What’s the first thing you do when you meet someone? You smile. It’s a natural human emotional cue to indicate that you are safe, nice, and welcoming. No matter how artsy you are, no staring pensively into the distance, no duck face, and no maniacal laughter either. Humans rely heavily on eye contact for social relationships, so look in to the camera and no sunglasses, ever. A nice warm, regular smile is all you need.
If you have a resume, you know how to do this section. Fill it out just as you would a resume. Make it easy to read, quick to reference, and accurately reflective of your past positions.
To add experience, click the little plus sign and add all relevant experience.
To optimize this section, consider these tips:
- Link each position to its respective company page
- Start descriptions with a brief and prompt overview of your position
- Utilize bullet points to further describe the position and achievements
- Employ action words (managed, created, grew, reduced, etc.)
- Include supporting documents and links to other media
- Use the appropriate tense (past-tense for past jobs, present-tense for current jobs)
- Always double, triple, and quadruple check spelling and grammar
The key here will be prompt, effective language that speaks to your skills, responsibilities, and accomplishments. If you need help with your resume, reach out to your [Ultimate] representative for general resume tips and apply them to your LinkedIn profile.
Your education section will be affected by how long you’ve been out of school.
To add to this section, click the plus sign. Include all levels of education. If you have a college degree, you do not have to include high school. Be sure to include activities, societies, and major projects (if they have a professional application). Include accomplishments like awards won, research conducted, or honors received – but unless you’re working in education, employers likely aren’t too invested in day-to-day activities from long ago.
You don’t have to go nearly as in depth as you do in your Experience section, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while. If you are a recent graduate with little experience, make sure to go more in depth.
This section can give your profile dimension and shine light on some of your passions. Include your past and present repeat volunteer experience. One Saturday serving at a soup kitchen is great, but it may come off as you trying to fill up space. However, if you coordinated a big event, like a charity walk, include that and the responsibilities and actions that were required.
Skills & Endorsements
Recruiters can search by skills, so make sure you flaunt yours! LinkedIn users with skills listed received 13 times more profile views than those who don’t. And those with at least five skills listed on their profile receive up to 17 times more profile views (DMR).
Only add current skills, don’t include ones that you “kinda know.” A good rule of thumb: If you were in an interview and the interviewer asked you to demonstrate a skill on the spot, you could perform it with flying colors.
Your connections can then endorse these skills. A good way to increase your endorsements is to endorse others.
Your connections can write recommendations for you that will show up on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations are extremely powerful when searching for a job.
You can ask the connections you’ve worked closely with to recommend you. Click on “Ask to be recommended” to reach out to your connections.
It’s best to reach out to your connections and ask prior to submitting this request.
Follow each step accordingly and customize your message at the bottom. Check out our tips here on asking for a reference.
LinkedIn is the place to brag about yourself. In your Accomplishments section, list relevant recognitions and associations. Don’t shy away from “softer” accomplishments that could highlight your cultural fit with an organization.
In this section, you can add:
- Honors & Awards
- Languages Spoken (only add a language if you are fluent)
- Test Scores
This section highlights the Influencers, companies, groups, and schools you follow. Definitely expand this area, but try to avoid potentially controversial figures or causes – anyone can see who you follow.
Join groups that pertain to your interests or experience and follow any and all organizations you may be interested in working for in the future. When their posts pop up in your feed, like and comment, making sure the organization sees you and you stay in front of them – follow the same rules for posting, sharing, and commenting below.
Be sure to add in plenty of publications so informative articles will show up on your feed – you never know what kind of information you’ll be able to exhibit in an interview! Employers want to make sure they hire those who have a pulse on the industry and the current work space.
Now that your profile is ready to mingle, your activity will continue to build your persona as a professional and an employee. It’s not enough just to have a profile. When they click on your profile, recruiters can see your recent activity. No recent activity, or the wrong type of activity, can leave the wrong impression.
When adding connections, begin with people you know. But don’t be afraid to branch out to others in the industry or even recruiters at organizations you’re interested in working with. When reaching out to somewhat random profiles for a connection, always go beyond the template and include a custom message.
Professionally and promptly, tell them why you are interested in connecting with them and include aspects of their profile that caught your eye. Quickly get to the point and don’t be afraid to compliment them. A good message can mean the difference between a connection and a bad first impression.
Here are a few examples of typical messages you might send:
A Casual Acquaintance
I’m glad we had the chance to meet through [connection]. I’d love to learn more about your work in [industry], particularly [topic]. Is LinkedIn your preferred method of contact?
Someone you met at a Networking Event
It was great speaking to you at the [event] last month. I enjoyed hearing your ideas about [topic/industry], and I am very intrigued to see what will happen next. I’d definitely like to stay in touch and keep up on the latest in your career.
I have been following [organization] and I came across your profile and couldn’t resist reaching out. I have been working in [industry] for ___ years, and currently seeking new opportunities. I’d love to talk about whether my background might be a fit for the organization – and also keep up on the latest within [organization] from your perspective.
Recruiters get a lot of messages, so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get a response. Once you’ve connected, comment and like their posts and continue to message without being overwhelming.
You can freely message anyone you’re connected to. However, if you want to message someone you’re not connected to, you will have to purchase InMail capabilities. If you are wary of dropping the cash, check out these tips from our Social Media Manager, Valerie Killeen.
Tips from Within: InMail
Valerie Killeen is our Social Media Manager. She oversees and sets the guidelines for all of our social media channels. Check out what she has to say about InMail:
“No InMail, no problem!
For professionals without a premium LinkedIn subscription, communicating on LinkedIn can be a bit frustrating. If you’d like to send a message to someone that you’re not connected to, you can join their LinkedIn group (members of a common group can send 15 free messages to fellow group members, per month).
- LinkedIn group memberships are identified at the footer of each profile.
- Once you’ve been approved to join the group you can search for their name within the group and select the envelope icon near their name to compose an InMail message.
- The best part? If your InMail receives a response, you can communicate back and forth as many times as you’d like without deducting from your 14 remaining InMail messages.
Posting & Sharing
Posting on LinkedIn increases your visibility and the reach of your profile, but only if you do it right.
Anything you ever like, comment, or post, can be seen by every single one of your connections. And if someone in your network likes or comments on that, then it is visible by every single person in their network. It does not take long for a single like to find its way around the world.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when posting on LinkedIn:
Generally speaking, these are the best reasons to post on LinkedIn:
- Professional accomplishments
- New ideas or inspiration that relate to work life
- New development in your career or in the market
- Industry announcements or trends
- Job postings
- Professional events that you are attending or promoting
Experts recommend posting a few times a week, but no more than once per day. If it doesn’t fall into any of these categories, it may be better suited on a different platform.
Post articles. It’s a quick and simple way to engage with your connections, as long as you remember your R’s: Recent, Relevant, and Reliable.
You can also create your own articles. Share your expertise with the world, just remember to keep it Recent, Relevant, and Reliable. Don’t underestimate the power of your perspective.
Make sure outside articles and sources you post are coming from a reputable, professional source. For maximum engagement, include a quick sentence on why you find the article interesting, or one of your personal insights.
Pro-tip: People love to interact and share ideas, so pose a question at the end of your post. Ask a question that can lead to more than a yes or no answer; it has to get the conversation going. For example, you can say, I find it interesting that this expert discusses x and y as the driving factors, what have you found in your experience? Now the conversation is flowing and you’re learning from your connections.
When posting, make sure you monitor your post appropriately. Don’t check it every 5 minutes, but be sure to correspond with those who comment in a timely manner. If someone is acknowledging your post, acknowledge them – engagement goes both ways.
A quick “Like,” a “Thank you,” or “Totally Agree” can go a long way. Reciprocity is key.
Beware the 7 B’s:
- Better Half: Unless you’re connecting your significant other with one of your online connections, or highlighting a professional accomplishment — there’s really no need to post about them or your relationship. No anniversaries, no wedding photos.
- Booze: it’s no secret that your crazy weekend stories have no place in the office, and there’s no place for them on LinkedIn.
- Barack: Politics are a sensitive subject for a lot of people, and can lead to heated arguments quickly. Quite simply, it’s just unprofessional to discuss in a professional space.
- Bucks: Discussing your salary publicly on LinkedIn is a big no-no. This may scare away potential employers.
- Beliefs: For many, religion, or lack thereof, is a very personal topic, and it should remain personal. Avoid religious posts, even if they are positive.
- Battleground: Do not start arguments on LinkedIn, as that would be incredibly unprofessional. Also, avoid complaining about any current or past jobs.
- Blades + Blasters: Weapons have no place in the workspace. Weapon-related posts can make people feel uncomfortable, so it’s best to avoid these.
The rule should be: if I wouldn’t share it in an interview, I probably shouldn’t post it publicly.
NO. SELFIES. EVER. NEVER EVER EVER – unless they depict something else business related going on in the background. Otherwise, you wouldn’t stop a coworker as they walk down the hall to show them a selfie you took in your car, so don’t post it on LinkedIn.
Posts that include a photo will get more attention, but the photo must be appropriate. If you won an award or attended an exciting professional event, by all means post. However, you must make sure you still uphold professionalism, outfits included. That means no photos of you in a bathing suit poolside at a conference, or in any other outfit you wouldn’t wear to the office.
You may be saying, “but the posts that violate all these rules are the ones who get the most Likes and Comments,” and that’s true. It’s not necessarily a good thing that the post received so much attention. Don’t try to go viral for the sake of going viral. You shouldn’t be posting for Likes, you should post to educate and share ideas with your connections. Meaningful connections will always beat Likes.
Liking & Commenting
A friendly reminder: all of your connections can see everything you like and comment on. We repeat this twice since some people don’t seem to realize that… Off-putting comments or liking inappropriate posts can ruin your professional image for a lot of connections and recruiters.
You have a lot of insight. Courteously share your ideas and learn from your connections.
Tips from Within: Don’t be that guy
Our social media specialist Victoria Hayes spends most of her day on LinkedIn. Check out her list of the 10 most annoying people on LinkedIn. Her advice? “Don’t be that guy.”
- The Facebook Police – These are the ones who berate others for inappropriate posts, or simply comment “Facebook” (insinuating the post should only be on Facebook and not LinkedIn). No one likes a party-pooper – if a post is truly inappropriate, report it.
- The Complete Stranger – These users try to add connections with absolutely no connection or introduction.
- The Selfie Queen – Let’s face it – you’re not fooling anyone by captioning your (usually somewhat provocative) selfie with an inspiring quote or recap of a recent career success. You wouldn’t pull that out in an interview!
- The Social Spammer – We don’t need to see your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts ALSO on Linkedin. Post appropriately on each channel
- The Creep – They comment inappropriately on selfies. Or, they post inappropriately on articles or accomplishments. Again, if you wouldn’t say it in the workplace, don’t say it on LinkedIn.
- The Narcissist – The person who likes their own posts. Of course you like it – you wrote it!
- The Troll – We’ve seen this guy on just about every social media platform. They disagree with every post and aren’t shy about saying so – and usually not in a respectful manner. It’s okay to introduce differing ideas, it’s not okay to start an argument. If an exchange of ideas gets heated, know when to tap out.
- The “Guru” – “HR guru” and “recruitment ninja” are not real job titles. Just be yourself!
- The Philosopher -These users are always liking/sharing quotes. There’s nothing wrong with a few every once in a while, but you should be focused on sharing your ideas.
- The Over-Sharer – They share their professional stories, but weave in way too many intimate details.
Once your profile has been established and your activity has built it up, you are ready to hunt for a job.
Head to the top menu bar and click Jobs.
Here, you can search for jobs of any kind, anywhere.
Every job posting will have its own requirements and its own process for application.
In the jobs section, you can also indicate to recruiters that you are open to new opportunities – without anyone at your organization seeing. LinkedIn’s new Open Candidates feature privately signals to other organizations what you have to offer and what you are interested in.
Go to the Jobs tab and click on Update Preferences.
Then you can fill out their guided form. Your “Note to recruiters” should read like a message/InMail meets Resume Summary, speaking to your skills and letting them know you are interested. Add any and all job titles you are interested in and qualified for. You can also include locations, including general, “Greater” areas, like the “Greater Los Angeles Area.” You can even specify the type of work you’re looking for, including Full-time, Part-time, Internship, Remote, Freelance, and Contract.
Then, recruiters will have the opportunity to reach out to you. However, this does not mean that you should sit back and relax. Continue to reach out and apply for jobs.
Should I go Premium?
Looking for work is an area where a Premium membership might be most beneficial. A premium membership allows you to:
- Reach out directly to any recruiter or job poster with 3 InMail credits
- See who’s viewed your profile in the last 90 days and how they found you
- Move to the top of recruiters’ applicant lists
- See how you compare to other candidates
- Gain access to online video courses
- See salary details when browsing jobs without sharing your personal data
The first month is free, but monthly payments range from $25+.
It will be most important that you continue to have an active involvement on LinkedIn, even when you are not looking for a job. While 70% of Facebook users engage daily, only 13% of LinkedIn users do the same (Pew Research). Make sure you’re not only active when you need something. Recommend others and endorse their skills, assure you have a symbiotic relationship with your connections.
Comment, like, and post even when you are happily employed. Engage with your employer and boast your current work and other workplace events. Share company content and don’t be shy about your accomplishments. LinkedIn is not just for job searching, it’s primarily an online network for professionals to share expertise, get inspired, and a place to build your professional credibility.
Roth is passionate about helping you in your job search. You have the smarts, experience, and the passion to catch the eye of top employers – use Roth Staffing and LinkedIn to make sure you get there.
Social Media for Employers
Welcome to the new frontier.
Social media is no longer viewed as a young person’s time-waster; instead, it has transformed into one of the most proliferate forms of communication today. While it’s true that more businesses embrace the use of social media, too many solely focus on speaking to their customers and ignore a vital audience: their current and future employees.
How you present yourself as an employer on social media not only affects the perception of your employees and potential candidates, but can impact the relationship you have with customers. In the new age of accountability and transparency, your audience is constantly looking for better ways to make informed decisions. What they find online creates a multidimensional profile of who you are as an organization.
The Current Social Media Climate
Social media usage is soaring. Currently, 83% of Americans have a social media account (Hootsuite) and social media comprises 30% of all time spent online (Global Wed Index). Due to widespread adoption, a once leisurely novelty now blurs the lines between social, professional, and consumer spaces.
Not only do people expect to find their friends online, but they expect to find the businesses they interact with on social media. Amongst Americans, 48% have interacted with companies or institutions on at least one social media network, and 28% would rather engage with a brand/ organization on social media than visit a physical location (Hootsuite).
At the bare minimum, an employer should maintain a presence on these channels:
More savvy organizations will also typically adopt Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+… the list goes on and on.
Social media has a very personal approach in a relatively public space, creating a unique vortex of expectation centered on transparency, authenticity, presence, and accountability. How you use these channels as an employer can boost employee engagement, recruiting efforts, retention, and your overall image as a brand, which can further boost your reach to customers.
Beyond advertising, employers should use social media to:
- Display your culture
- Praise employees
- Address complaints and negative feedback
- Celebrate organizational accomplishments and employee achievements
- Announce changes
- Promote your blog or other expertise
Job Ad ≠ Presence
When you think of the relationship between employers and social media, most minds immediately jump to LinkedIn and job postings. While LinkedIn is an important and vital tool, your reach should stretch beyond this professional networking site. Strictly from a recruiting perspective, 93% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, but only 36% of jobseekers are actually active on LinkedIn (Jobcast). And among people who found their current job through a social network, 78% attributed their job to Facebook, while only 40% cited assistance from LinkedIn (Jobvite). In general, Facebook has a higher engagement rate: 70% of Facebook users engage daily compared to only 13% of LinkedIn users (Pew Research), and 83% of jobseekers are active on Facebook (Jobcast). An in-depth, multi-channel approach creates the presence you need.
The time has come to present yourself as a multidimensional entity, beyond your product or service. The inner workings of your organization are not only intriguing, but they speak to your competence and trustworthiness.
Leading with Transparency
Yelp has demanded a new level of accountability and transparency from businesses. Glassdoor has done the same with internal organizational policies and conduct. While this can feel detrimental to business, this actually strengthens it. Privacy is no longer a virtue, it is a caution sign to customers.
In this new era of vulnerability, a lack of online presence suggests you have something to hide. Your clients and customers want candid information on your services and your internal operations—even the nonfavorable reviews. (Too perfect of a reputation can imply bribery or tampering.) Referrals are consistently the best way to gain new business. Let the internet be your referral service. Perfect your service and address issues or complaints brought up online. This will give your clients and potential candidates a taste of the service they can expect.
For Your Employees…
Your social media movement should begin with your employees. They will be your first followers/friends, give your first shares and likes, and leave your best comments. Your employees will be your strongest testament for your employer brand and their presence will have the greatest influence on your potential candidates and client base.
According to Forbes, when employers encourage their employees to be active on social platforms, those employees are more likely to help increase sales. However, nearly 3 in 4 employees say their employer does not (or does not know how to) promote their employment brand on social media (Glassdoor). Meanwhile, 69% of jobseekers are more likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the culture and work environment, etc.).
How you engage your employees and how they engage with you will contribute to and strengthen your employer brand and overall reputation on social media. Glassdoor recommends utilizing social media as a tool for employee engagement through:
- Collaboration and visibility
- Employee feedback
- Motivational work environment
Alongside your advertisements, news updates, and other content, celebrate your employees (with their permission of course): tenure, accomplishments, who they are, the work that they do, and especially their contributions to your culture—individually and as a whole. Nearly one-third of employees would rather be recognized in a company-wide email from an executive than receive a bonus of $500 (BambooHR). Acknowledging your employees publicly can give them the recognition they crave.
Recognition often becomes a two-way street – when employees part of the company’s story, they actively participate in telling that story to others. Employees who feel connected will be eager to share your content online. This is key because employee involvement is crucial for an organization’s social media strategy to be effective.
Only 26% of Baby Boomers, 40% of Gen Xers, and 49% of Millennials follow their organization on social media (Modern Survey), and only 33% of employees post messages, pictures, or videos about their employer on social media without any encouragement from their employer (Weber Shandwick/KRC Research). Meanwhile, only 33% of employers encourage employees to use social media to share news and information about their work or employer (Glassdoor).
You must demonstrate that social media participation is a valuable behavior. Involve leadership and, without bribing, reward employees’ social media activity.
Demonstrating that your organization is successful (in a business and cultural sense), combined with the widespread influence of your employees and their pride, is attractive to your clients and future candidates. Your reputation will spread, and your customers and future candidates will get to know who they will be working with.
Culture Check, Purpose Reigns
Across your social media channels, culture and purpose should be your building blocks and your guidelines. All of your communication should express both.
Begin by defining your culture and your purpose. Culture is the personality of your organization based on a shared set of values and beliefs, while purpose is why your organization exists at all, distinguishing your business in a sea of corporate-ness. All of your communication should align with these two narratives.
If your culture is not brag-worthy yet, build and nurture it. If you share anything that is untrue or uncharacteristic, you risk backlash from your employees.
When employees share information about their employer on social media, it influences a concept known as BIRGing – or Basking In the Reflected Glory. People like to associate themselves with successful entities. It’s one of the reasons we wear hats with our favorite sports teams or shirts with our favorite bands. Employees reflect in the glory of their organization’s triumph and are eager to advertise shared success.
Social media also influences the brain’s reward system, inducing feelgood chemicals with every “like.” When value is defined by both sides – employer and friends – it boosts the ego and creates feelings of pride. Your employees will be eager to share and maintain their participation, but only if your organization defines social media activity as important first.
For Your Jobseekers…
What your employees say about your organization will have an effect on job candidates. Remember, this is a candidate’s market. Jobseekers have more options than you do. How your organization is perceived has more impact than what your recruiters boast.
Even if you don’t maintain a strong presence, jobseekers are still looking to your social media platforms for information. In the US alone, 14.4 million have used social media to search for a job, while 48% used social media to find their current job (Jobvite).
When jobseekers are on the prowl, 76% want details on what makes a company an attractive place to work, 59% use social media to research the company culture of organizations they are interested in (Jobvite), and 54% read company reviews from employees (Glassdoor). The information that they find – more so than what you present on company-sponsored pages – can be extraordinarily beneficial or drastically detrimental.
Glassdoor reports 84% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job, while 70% would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed (Corporate Responsibility Magazine).
Social media can even increase the number of high quality candidates you attract. Of companies that have implemented social recruiting, 42% say that their candidate quality has improved and 20% say it takes less time to hire (Jobvite). When they get a clear and candid picture of your workplace, candidates almost screen themselves.
However, nearly two in three say their current employer does not (or does not know how to) use social media to promote job openings (Glassdoor).
For Your Customers…
A third of Millennials say social media is one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses, while 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions (B2C).
How you treat your employees, and how you communicate that, matters to your customers. As potential customers Google your organization, they will come across employee feedback – both positive and negative.
Mistreatment of employees can be the ultimate PR blow, while support for employees can be the ultimate boost. When your employees are unsatisfied and unengaged, they won’t deliver the best service to your customers. Companies that excel in customer experience have 1.5 times as many engaged employees (Temkin Group).
Your customers want to hear what your employees have to say. Customers are also more likely to trust in-house technical experts than CEOs, reinforcing the overall credibility of a company’s strategy (Edelman). When they share your organization’s content or praise the organization, your customers trust them. Your employer brand complements your consumer brand, and how you advertise it on social media shapes both.
8 Socially Conscious Steps
Your social media strategy should be deliberate, not an afterthought.
1. Build a strategy
Eighty-four percent of companies believe a clearly defined strategy is key to achieving employer branding objectives (Employer Brand International Global Research Study). Before you post anything, define your culture, your purpose, your employer brand, how you can best express it, and who is going to oversee the process.
2. Prepare your website to greet them
All of your social media will lead back to your website, so make sure your site is consistent with your social media channels in regard to branding, message, and content.
3. Involve leadership
Your senior leaders should be your most prominent social media advocates. If you want your employees to be involved, your leaders will set the tone. They should actively post and share content – both business and culture-based.
4. Provide guidelines for employees
Many of your employees may not even know where to begin when supporting their organization online: 14% have posted something about their employer on social media that they wish they hadn’t (Weber Shandwick/KRC Research). While you cannot force your employees to praise your organization, or keep them from speaking their minds, you can provide general guidelines about what can be helpful to share regarding the organization and what information should not be shared. On more professional platforms like LinkedIn, create stricter guidelines and boilerplates to maintain a consistent message. For example, no one in your organization should create their own job titles such as labeling themselves as a “guru” or “ninja” if, in fact, that is not their professional job title. Be sure to also create post templates to easily share things like job postings or events.
5. Share your expertise
The world wants to know what you know. Don’t just share your business expertise – share your expertise on corporate culture. Sharing tips will not make you weaker, but will position you as an industry leader and your employees as experts.
6. Incentivize employee social media involvement
There is a 50% increase in employees recommending company’s products or services when their employer encourages social sharing (Weber Shandwick, Employees Rising, 2014). Reward social media activity and recognize your social media super stars.
7. Designated personnel
Having too many cooks in the kitchen can muddle your message. Have designated team members focus on responding to both customer and jobseeker inquiries, complaints, and praise in a timely fashion.
8. Expand your presence to multiple channels
Utilizing more casual tools like Facebook and Instagram can have a more widespread influence. All 100 of the top global brands maintain at least one company YouTube channel, and more than half (27 of 50) of CEOs in top global companies have appeared in a company video (B2C). While it seems most logical to predominantly maintain a presence on LinkedIn, a multichannel approach is important.
Although we just emphasized a multichannel approach, your LinkedIn should still be strong. Valerie Killeen is the Social Media Manager for Roth Staffing Companies (parent company of Ultimate Staffing). She manages more than 100+ social media pages and educates the entire organization on best practices.
Check out her tips on getting the most out of LinkedIn as an employer:
Link In with LinkedIn Company Pages
Claim and develop your (free) LinkedIn company page. Company pages are an excellent platform to share news, press releases, key hires and special events. Additionally, it allows your employees to formally connect their profile to your company, and further your employer branding efforts by sharing updates exponentially, with their respective networks.
Use Social Media to celebrate your employer brand and what makes your company unique.
Do you wear Hawaiian shirts on Fridays? Do you decorate desks for Birthdays? Do you have an Ugly Sweater Party for the Holidays?
If so, take a fun team photo and share it on your Company’s social platforms. People love looking at photos of other people, so don’t be afraid to post away!
In the simplest sense, let the company be its authentic “self.” Your social media presence does not have to be packaged and commercialized, it just has to be real. As an organization, you might already be extraordinary – and social media can help make sure the world knows it.
Part pariah, part godsend, Millennials occupy a unique space in the social and working world. Raised on a diet of technology and participation trophies, Millennials are challenging the corporate world to find ways to balance their unique skills and quirks, and engage them. In reality, however, Millennials are nothing new, and what engages them may surprise you.
The Millennial Revolution
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are defined as being born between 1980 and 2000, but perhaps you know them more for their stereotypes: narcissists, the selfie generation, social media addicts, overly sensitive. Supposedly, they’re unorthodox, they want special treatment, and they have no work ethic.
But they’re here—and their numbers in the workplace are growing. Millennials are currently the largest generation, and by 2030 they’ll make up 75% of the workforce (Bureau of Labor Statistics). They are flooding into the workplace in record numbers, and their less-than-desirable characteristics and general approach to life are puzzling their Gen X and boomer counterparts.
While Millennial stereotypes make for tantalizing click-bait, they’re far too generalizing and not new. You’ve lived all of this before.
The 25-Year-Olds of Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow
Millennials were raised under unique circumstances, but they aren’t that different from their predecessors.
Typically, the human brain does not reach full maturity until a person reaches their mid-20s. During this time, the prefrontal cortex, the area associated with higher critical thinking, reaches maturity. The MIT Young Adult Development Project cites the Car Rental Rule: “The brain isn’t fully mature at 16, when we are allowed to drive, or at 18, when we are allowed to vote, or at 21, when we are allowed to drink, but closer to 25, when we are allowed to rent a car.”
It’s not until the brain reaches 25 that it reaches its full calibration of risk and reward, problem-solving, prioritizing, thinking ahead, self-evaluation, long-term planning, and regulation of emotion.
This has remained an objective truth for 25-year-olds throughout history. The Yuppies, the DINKs, the Dot Com Entrepreneurs, and Millennials are all the same person existing at a different point in time. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) quoted Elspeth Reeve, “It’s not that people born after 1980 are narcissists, it’s that young people are narcissists, and they get over themselves as they get older.” This does not make 20-somethings unemployable, it is simply a matter of understanding the growth process that everyone must go through.
This is a good thing. It means that the needs of each generation match, and you can meet the needs of today’s, yesterday’s and tomorrow’s Millennials with relative ease. The needs of young people have not necessarily changed, but instead we have learned more about employees in general, their engagement, and the programs that best suit them at any age.
Just listen to The Who’s “My Generation” or The Beastie Boys’ “Fight for your Right (to Party)”—the tune of the young, confident hopefuls feeling misunderstood by their jaded elders is a consistent theme throughout time. The laziness, the need for participation trophies, and the requirement of special treatment are all less prominent than you think.
At this point, the term “Millennial” is used more as an insult than generational descriptor, and relying too heavily on these stereotypes can be harmful to your employees, candidates, and business.
A shared purpose is defined as “the why”: why an organization exists at all and what distinguishes it in a sea of corporate-ness. The purpose drives all organizational activities, serving as a compass. There is an overwhelming sense that only Millennials need a defined greater purpose in their work, but it’s not just a “Millennial thing.”
Six in ten Millennials cite a “sense of purpose” as part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers, and 40% of Millennials who plan to remain in their jobs beyond 2020 say their employers have a strong sense of purpose beyond financial success (Deloitte).
While shared purpose does bring out the best in Millennials, it also brings out the best in all employees. A shared purpose gives value to every member of an organization, defining why they come to work every day. In organizations with a strong sense of purpose, 73% of employees were engaged, compared to only 24% of employees in organizations without it (Deloitte). And 89% of executives stated that a strong sense of collective purpose drives employee satisfaction for everyone (HBR).
Nearly two-thirds, (65%) of people surveyed, say the term “entitled” describes Millennials very or somewhat well, and 58% of Millennials agree (Reason- Rupe).
POPSUGAR, a Millennial publication, offers unique insight on the matter. They believe that Millennials and their elders view entitlement differently. Instead of viewing entitlement as a sense that the universe owes them something they haven’t earned, many Millennials view entitlement as the right to go after big goals without asking for permission from gatekeepers and authority figures. Additionally, Millennials were raised under different technological circumstances, receiving results almost instantly for most of their lives. Their expectation for fast results and rewards might explain why they are labeled as “entitled,” especially if their expectations don’t match the reality of the situation—something they may not have learned yet.
These factors, combined with a newly 25-year-old brain, can create a perfect storm of narcissism.
However, Millennials may be humbler than expected. Sixty-four percent of Millennials consider themselves lucky to even have a job (CBRE). Additionally, in the workplace, Millennials feel more accountable than they do influential, indicating that they do feel a sense of responsibility over simply expecting change (Deloitte). They feel the most accountable and influential in regards to client/customer satisfaction and work culture/atmosphere. These findings suggest they believe their efforts and actions have a direct effect and will benefit their greater organization or workplace.
Career tenure is decreasing for all age brackets. The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently defines the average employee tenure at 4.2 years, and most are not shy about pointing the finger at Millennials for the decreasing number. Currently, 43% of Millennials are open to new job offers, while 38% are actively looking for a new role (PwC). But don’t let those numbers scare you: 71% of all workers admit to active job searching or at least being open to a new opportunity (Indeed).
More than 60% of Millennials said that they plan to stay in their jobs for “some time.” Yet, over 25% admitted that they often thought about quitting their jobs (Boston College).
However, Millennial loyalty is growing. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey, in 2016, 44% of Millennials planned to leave their organization within the next two years. In 2017, that number dropped to 38%. Similarly, those who planned to stay beyond five years increased from 27% to 31%.
You can increase Millennial tenure with internal programs. Growth opportunities seem to further increase loyalty: 44% of Millennial leaders say they intend to stay at their same company for more than 15 years; while 29% of non-Millennial leaders said the same thing (The Conference Board).
Millennials who feel they’re at a great workplace are 25 times more likely to plan a long-term future at that workplace (Great Place to Work). When Millennials receive 12.5% more job offers than older candidates (CEB Advisory Firm), a career change can be tantalizing. Make sure it’s hard for them to leave.
The participation trophy has become a powerful symbol in the argument against Millennials, exemplifying their complacency and demand for attention for every small accomplishment. In reality, they don’t really need more recognition than their older counterparts. According to IBM’s Millennial Myths study, Millennials want a manager who’s ethical and fair and also values transparency and dependability, over a boss who recognizes their accomplishments and asks for their input. According to the study, it’s largely Gen X employees, not Millennials, who think everyone on a successful team should be rewarded.
Our own internal research reveals a constant truth: recognition has a direct correlation with engagement. All employees hunger for recognition: 40% of employed Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often, while 50% of employees who don’t feel valued plan to look for another job within the next year.
More than 50% of HR Managers say showing appreciation cuts turnover, and 49% believe it increases profit. Dedicated recognition can benefit all employees.
Laziness is hard to quantify. While it’s one of Millennials’ biggest negative descriptors, there isn’t much research on it. However, we do know that one quarter of young Millennials between the ages of 18 and 25 say they’re not using any of their vacation time this year, versus fewer than 1 in 10 Americans overall (Project: Time Off). Are they refraining from taking time off for fear of being seen as lazy?
We also know that Millennials grew up amidst massive technological innovation including the internet and the smart phone, and they’re used to finding what they perceive as the fastest route or best shortcut. They are multitaskers and great at finding diverse ways of approaching a subject, and often those ways can conflict with what their coworkers believe is the “right way.”
All of these stereotypes (needing a greater purpose, entitlement, job-hopping, recognition, laziness) are not nearly as prevalent as blog posts would lead you to believe. However, engagement–for anyone—is not a passive experience. As an organization, your leadership must initiate active efforts and dedicated programs that will give employees the opportunity to engage themselves in their work and workplace. Earnestly facilitating employee engagement programs will produce results.
The Same and Different, All At Once
While Millennials’ needs may not be too different from their predecessors, your organization still may not be prepared for engagement.
Amongst Millennials, these factors most influenced their decision to accept their current job:
The opportunity for personal development (65%) The reputation of the organization (36%) The role itself (24%) The starting salary/rate of pay (21%) The working location(s) (20%) (PwC)
Meanwhile, the top reasons Millennials considered leaving their jobs were to:
Make more money Move forward in their careers Pursue work that is more aligned with their passions Have more flexibility/better work-life balance Be in a more desirable location (Boston College)
Once again, these are not radically different from what older employees want, but addressing these issues can increase engagement for all of your employees, Millennials included. Implementing programs like the ones below can increase engagement and lower the turnover that Millennials are so famous for.
Always begin with fair pay and benefits. Further engagement simply isn’t possible without it. Remember that Millennials have more student debt than their predecessors. In fact, the class of 2015 averaged about $35,000 of debt (Wall Street Journal). Additionally, many of them spent time working for free—in 2012, 1.5 million internships were filled in the United States, and it’s estimated that roughly half of those were unpaid (Forbes). These factors make fair pay imperative.
Staples reports that 29% of Millennials state that higher salary is the biggest contributor to their loyalty, compared to 20% of the broader workforce, while Gallup reports that 50% of Millennials say they would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20% or less.
See our Salary Guide to ensure that your pay is not only fair but competitive.
A shared purpose is arguably the most important tool for the entirety of your organization. Harvard Business Review reports that only 46% workers say that their organization has a strong shared sense of purpose, while only 38% report that their staff has a clear understanding of organizational purpose and commitment to core values and beliefs.
Work together with your leadership to define and implement your company’s shared purpose. Read our White Paper for more information on how to do this effectively.
Flexible Work Options
Flexible work is all the rage—and for good reason. Workers who were offered telecommuting options were more productive and had lower turnover (Harvard Business Review), and 64% of Millennials want to occasionally work from home.
While this can increase engagement, make sure that your Millennials (and all other employees) receive the right tools and preparation to work efficiently.
As we mentioned before, recognition is both powerful and underutilized: 75% of employees receiving at least monthly recognition (even if informal) are satisfied with their job, but 82% of employees don’t think they’re recognized for their work as often as they deserve (BambooHR). Meanwhile, 38% of Millennials would like to see the recognition program at their current employer improved (Aon Hewitt).
Create a structured program that allows for both formal and informal recognition. Nearly one-third of employees would rather be recognized in a company-wide email from an executive than receive a bonus of $500 (BambooHR). Read our White Paper for more advice on creating an effective program.
Many believe Millennials feel too entitled to information across an organization. In reality, 54% of Millennials don’t fully understand their organization’s business strategy (IBM). Leading with transparency can not only keep them informed but make the whole work process easier for everyone involved. When describing their perfect boss, all three generations agreed that “transparent and readily shares information” is one of the top three most important traits (IBM).
Open communication regarding organizational workings can keep employees informed and empowered.
Mentor programs can help decrease misunderstandings across generations, and can even squash some of those undesirable Millennial habits. Create mentor and reverse mentor programs to increase exposure and teamwork. Not only do 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring to their employees (Cronus Corporation), but retention is 25% higher for employees who have engaged in companysponsored mentoring (Deloitte). The best way to decrease stigma is to increase exposure.
Structured Career Paths
Structured career paths increase transparency and fairness. When your employees know what it takes to succeed, they feel empowered and valued, and therefore stay longer. Amongst Millennials, 45% would quit a job if they didn’t see a career path they wanted at the company (Ultimate Software), and 78% of employees said they would remain longer with their employer if they saw a career path with the current organization (Mercer).
However, while 60% of HR leaders believe that their companies provide employees with a clear career path, just 36% of employees agree (Saba Software). Make sure career paths are precise and made available for all employees.
Invest in Your Reputation
Humans of all ages have the tendency to associate themselves with successful entities, a phenomenon known as Basking in the Reflected Glory or “BIRGing.” That’s why we wear hats with our favorite sports teams, wear t-shirts with our favorite bands, etc. Your business is not excluded from this concept. Your reputation will affect who you attract and the pride they feel will affect how long they stay.
Glassdoor reports 84% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job, while 70% would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed (Corporate Responsibility Magazine).
Millennials are the social media generation, so give them something to brag about. Build your online presence and proudly share your accomplishments.
A robust reputation can create an influential cycle. Your employees have a direct impact on the organization’s success and they will be eager to maintain that reputation. As your reputation grows, you will attract more spectacular talent from across all generations.
As you prepare your workplace for the Millennial revolution, don’t just focus on current Millennial needs. Emphasize growing them into your organization’s next leaders. When the boomers are gone and the Xers retire, Millennials will be left in charge. Your organization falling apart will not be a testament to how great Gen X and boomers were, it will be evidence that they failed to create sustainable success.
Millennials are here, and they are both familiar and foreign all at once. Open communication and collaboration will be your greatest asset. Companies have welcomed new generations before, and they will do it again. Remember, Gen Z is already on Millennials’ heels.