Interviews Are the First Date: How to Make the First Impression Count

First impressions matter, but they aren’t always the final ones. This goes for both first interviews and first dates. However different, they are oddly similar.  To excel at both, it is better to focus on the experience rather than the result. Coming off as desperate won’t impress anyone on either side of the table. Everyone is unique in different ways. If you are confident in your strengths and qualities then trust the process and let whatever will happen happen.  The Little Things The little things, if done well, don’t mean very much; however, if carried out poorly can be a major negative mark against you. You need to dress well to create the best first impression. The proper outfit should only keep your first impression score neutral or slightly enhance it. However, if you want your dress to make big marks on your score card, dress poorly because this will leave a huge negative impression before you ever open your mouth.  Another way to ensure you don’t ruin an interview before it starts is to simply be polite. The same principal that was discussed above can be applied here as well. While you may not walk away at the end of a first impression with your date or interviewer saying, “Wow he was polite”, it is easier for the interviewer to do their job if you allow them to say, “Goodness, he was rude”. Leave a strong impression that makes it impossible to come to any conclusion other than politeness. We have seen candidates who looked like a great fit lose out on an opportunity after being rude to the receptionist or someone else not directly involved in the hiring process. Show What Makes You Confident Oftentimes it may feel difficult to master the art of telling a potential employer how amazing you are without becoming cocky, so show it instead of telling it. When an interviewer asks if you are a problem solver, instead of saying,  “Yes I approach everything like a puzzle” say something that demonstrates a time when you solved a problem in a creative and innovative way. Maybe you saw an issue before anyone else and proactively acted, or maybe you came up with a creative solution to a problem that your coworkers had been dealing with for some time. Be specific.  Anything that provides examples of your skills will speak volume — more than anything else you could say to describe the qualities you possess. Plus, you avoid leaving a bad taste in your interviewer’s mouth when you sound too confident.  We all know that one guy who genuinely thinks he is amazing and isn’t ashamed of telling everyone. Most people run, hide, or act busy when his footsteps are heard coming down the hall. Don’t be that guy. Walk that fine line between confidence and cockiness. Confess Your Feeling You should let the other party know how you feel about him. Now, this isn’t some cheesy, rom com from the 80’s. But it’s important to let the other party know that you have taken an interest in what he does and who he is.  Knowing key factors about the company you are interviewing with can help establish the fact that you are genuinely interested in it and that you have taken time to learn about it. You are not simply stringing the company along. Great questions to ask are those regarding culture, experiences, and even future projections. Understanding the culture is the equivalent of asking about family and friends on a first date. It helps provide an idea of how you could possibly fit into the relationships that are already in place. If both parties feel like they are better together than apart then it is a good fit.  Experiences are also a great conversation topic. Past projects, duties and responsibilities, and how you can relate to those help increase your chances that the other party will find you to be a good asset to their company.  Talking about the future requires a very orchestrated dance on a first date inorder to keep the relationship from moving too fast. Talking about a company’s future though, and including yourself in the picture, builds a strong case for a mutually beneficial hire. So, do your homework! Know the key players and goals of the company. That way your questions can be truly inquisitive and from an educated place. There is nothing worse than asking questions that display how much you truly don’t know.  The Start of Something Great Whether its a first date or an interview, there will be nerves, the need to put your best foot forward, and questions and answers that feel rehearsed. But if you have found one, it will be easy for both parties to see how the other would be an asset to their life. 

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You Don’t Need a Recruiter

With today’s technology there are online job boards that allow you to search all day and night for a job that interests you. Many of them will even notify you when they think they have one you would be interested in. Sounds perfect, right? And in the technology world, no one needs to tell you how well a computer can think like a human. It’s okay to laugh at that last statement because you know better than anyone that even the smartest technology boils down to a series of numbers. While technology has taken over many aspects of our world, and continues to improve everyday, there are some things that just require human contact.  Computers need someone at the helm telling them what to do–it’s simply the way the world works. Relationships A recruiter will take time to understand what you want out of a career. Often recruiters know the right questions to ask to make you think through what you truly want.  You may think you want to shift gears completely and take on an entirely new occupation.  However, maybe your desire to change jobs has less to do with what you are doing and more to do with the company and culture you are doing it for.  The impact your work community has on your daily satisfaction can not be understated.  Disliking your boss or coworkers can easily translate into disliking everything about work, including your duties and responsibilities.  Consider finding a job at an organization that is more aligned with your values and character traits. This may be achievable by changing the size of the company you work for. While there is not a blanketing list of characteristics that every big company has, nor a list for smaller ones, there’s no doubt that the culture does change with size.  A recruiter, especially one who has been in the area and field for some time,  knows and understands the reputation of the companies around them.  Many companies do exit interviews. For many recruiters, the initial interview with you will cover a multitude of the same topics as the company exit interview.  For example, you may be asked why you left, what you liked about your position, compared to what you didn’t particularly enjoy. All of these, and many more, paint a picture of a company, providing the recruiter insider information on what working for that particular company looks like. What may not have worked out for one person, may be perfect for another. What a Recruiter Needs A great recruiter wants to understand what a candidate wants and needs for career satisfaction, compensation and what is needed to maintain balance within the candidate’s family. However, he can only understand what you allow him to. There is no possible way that being 100% transparent with your recruiter could hurt you. He wants both you and the client to be successful together, and the more he knows the better.  Even if you are just exploring your options and haven’t quite decided to jump ship yet tell him that. It may change the tone of the meeting to more of a pros and cons discussion. While if you are dead set on leaving, the recruiter won’t waste your time convincing you to stay or negotiate pay.  Recruiters are in the business of efficiency. The goal is to save you the time, energy, and hassle of the exhaustive process of job hunting as well as to have a sounding board for what your next career step could be. At the end of the day transparency helps them help you.  Reputation If you think of recruiting from a business perspective, a recruiter has done a job well done when they have a satisfied customer, the same as you.  The finished product is your satisfying career.  A word from our recruiters: “A great recruiter wants the candidate to achieve long-term success in the role he/she is placed, because that is how clients judge the recruiter. We want our clients to be happy. Happy employees do amazing work.” So you may think that you don’t need a recruiter or that you can explore your options all alone. And that may be true. But when something comes up at work that you don’t know how to handle, you go down the hall to the guy who is an expert because he knows how to handle it. When working on a project, everyone on the team has a task and a job. No one tries to handle the whole thing by themselves (or maybe they do and that’s why you want to leave).  Recruiters are in the business of you. They are on your team and they want to help you. So rely on your team. You could do it yourself, but you will likely have a better finished product, or in this case, career,  if you use your team.   

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Do I Stay or Do I Go?

Have you ever contemplated quitting your job for something better? Are you having those thoughts now?  If you’re wondering if the grass is greener in neighboring pastures, know that you are not alone. Nearly half of all employees have contemplated leaving their current place of work according to the Society of Human Resource Management.  Reasons for Leaving Wanting a change of scenery can be for any number of reasons.  A common reason employees leave a company is simply because “the company isn’t doing well.” Rumors such as these can swirl fast around the water cooler and our recruiters have often seen that they are simply not true. Try to find some real evidence of this before you jump ship solely for this reason. One reason that can be hard to argue with is compensation. If you feel your time with the company and your talent should be yielding a higher pay, finding a job where you feel more appreciated may be a good idea. There are still few things to consider before jumping ship though. Lastly, if you are contemplating leaving your job, and co-workers seem to be high on the list of reasons for doing so, know this: You are not tattle telling or bailing for petty reasons. Coworkers can be like annoying office siblings and your frustrations are valid.  Managers also play a big role in determining company culture and the daily work dynamics. 1 in 3 say their manager doesn’t know how to lead them and nearly the same amount of people say that “their manager doesn’t encourage a culture of open and transparent communication”.  Co-worker tension is a problem for many Americans, which becomes a drain on company culture. 3 out of 10 employees will even site poor workplace culture as a reason they are irritable at home.  Decisions, Decisions It’s a strategic decision to make yourself the most valuable team member as possible, making you an asset to your current company and a valuable hire elsewhere. This can be done in a number of ways, such as sharpening your technical skill set and being a productive team member throughout projects.  Many companies you interview with will take a careful look at your work history. You will want something to show for it. This means you should have both technical and soft skills that were gained at each place of work, proving that your time at your previous employer was well spent. Soft skills can be anything from honed leadership to astute problem solving skills. You should try to understand other programs, or use the program you are an expert in, to add different strategic advantages to your toolbelt of skills. These, as well as obtaining new certifications are highly valuable in the job market. It is also important that you have specific examples to back such claims up. It’s not bragging on yourself, especially if the interviewer asked!  You will want to give them a reason why you are worth more to their company than you were to your old company. If you are looking to move up the ladder, increase your pay, or work in a more competitive or desirable position, your tenure should prove that you have what it takes.   Show Me The Money The company that could make you feel more appreciated could be the one you currently work for. While negotiating your pay can be difficult, it may be well worth your time as well as your company’s. The cost of hiring and training a new employee is very high.  There are also monetary costs, like consulting with a hiring agency or paying to post a job to a job board. Additionally, the loss in production from losing you can put added pressure on other coworkers, leading to poor quality and, potentially, loss of customers.  In many cases increasing your pay to keep you on board may be more cost efficient than onboarding a new employee.  Especially in a highly technical field, the training and certifications necessary to be an expert in a specific position can be very costly and take time to obtain. Time and money are two resources companies don’t like to waste.  Don’t Let History Repeat Itself Too Often Before you move on to a new job make sure it is one that you are confident you will like. Even if you have savings it is wise to have a job before you leave your current one unless there is a serious issue for leaving. This will help you take the right job to enhance your career, not simply be pressured into finding a job. This is a crucial part of your career because if your job history reads like a who’s who of the industry, employers may be wary of hiring you. While moving on from one job to the next is simply the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, the chapters can accumulate into a novel, or even worse a series.  Your past tells a story and it is very possible that you will be asked why you left, so be thoughtful as to why you are leaving and how you have improved in your time at your last job.  Considering whether or not it’s time for you to move on from your current place of employment can be a big step, but carefully considering your options will allow you to feel like your decision is a sound one. Know that the answer is not always black and white, and you may have more options than you realize. So, be patient and look for something that will satisfy both you and your career long term.   

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Contract or Permanent Work? Here’s How to Decide.

  In recent years the growth of non-traditional modes of working has grown greatly, many of which are fueled by silicon valley industries. According to the New York Times the occupation of contract or temporary work has grown by 9.4 million from 2005-2015.   While some of those numbers are due to transportation networking companies like Lyft or Uber, the increase in this occupation style can not be ignored.   Have you been considering a job change?    Understanding the components of each type of work is important to understand what would suit you best. Both job types have unique advantages and disadvantages that when applied to your life could be ideal.    Below are some things to consider when debating what type of work you want to do.       Contract Work         Permanent Work Depending on your personality, your unique relationship with your coworkers in both modes of occupation can enhance your job experience.    If you are the type of person who hears your significant other tell you about a dinner with the new neighbors on Friday night and you mumble something under your breath before saying yes  – meeting new people may not be your thing. Being a contracted worker requires you to interact and meet new people – in fact, it’s a key component of your job.    On the other hand, with permanent work, you are able to be as ingrained (or unplugged) as you want to be with your coworkers and the company culture within the bounds of what your company requires of course. Some team building activities are unavoidable.    In both occupation types there is ample opportunity to become a problem solver for your company. Lets face it, most people don’t understand the technicalities of your job.  In fact, they don’t have a clue.    When you work for a company day in and day out you have the opportunity to be the go-to-guy for solving problems. When a coworker has a problem or a task, he knows what is within your realm of expertise and can come directly to you for your help. However that also opens up the opportunity to pigeonholed to a task or even simply keeping up with database or website maintenance. This varies drastically company to company, so this would be something to inquire about in a job interview.    As a contracted worker you are able to come in to a business and act as a change catalyst for solving problems. If a company is contracting out to you it is asking to do something that no one within the company can handle.    Many offices are subject to “normal thinking,” meaning that they tend to subconsciously handle situations the same way over and over again and fail to think outside of the box. They find a normal way of doing things and stick to it. As a contracted worker you have the ability to take the blinders off and a present new way to handle a variety of situations.    Now that we have established some of the working conditions of both jobs let’s take a look at some of the logistics.   If you have kids there are pros and cons to both forms of employment.    As a parent having flexibility in your schedule can be a huge factor in your job satisfaction. The ability to be there when your kids need to be picked up, dropped off, etc., is something that is hard to put a monetary value on. As a contracted worker, you often have more options in dictating your schedule than most permanent workers do. This factor makes contracted employment very conducive to a family lifestyle.   If you are the primary breadwinner, stashing away retirement, or supplying healthcare benefits for your household then you will need to do some more planning as a contractor. These are important perks for any job, but the level of necessity varies from household to household.  The type of work you do will most likely be better compensated with contract work, meaning you will get paid more for doing the same thing a permanent worker would do. It just does not provide the benefits that permanent work does, so you have to provide those on your own.   Your daily commute is something that you should consider. There is not a hard fast rule with either one of the options because each varies greatly on the job itself- it doesn’t matter if its contracted or permanent. While your commute may vary depending on the job you take, when you need to be in the office may be one of the things you can negotiate with your contract for both types of work. This is one way permanent work mirrors the tendencies of contracted work, it just depends on the job.     Really the only difference in commute is that with a contracted job, the commute will vary job to job and permanent will provide a consistent commute.  However as a contractor your are expected to have to make long commutes sometimes if that is what the available job requires.   All of these components are things that should be considered when contemplating what form of work is most conducive to the lifestyle you strive to live. Everyone’s situation is different and what they are comfortable with varies too.    No matter what, you should seek to find a job that is both functional and provides you with the job satisfaction you want. If you would like to explore your options, click here to see what opportunities GTN Technical Staffing can help you find.  New York Times Article Quoted

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Is Your Recruiter Any Good?

How to Prepare for a Technical IT Job Interview

The Importance of Recruiters When you are looking for a new launching point in your career, it is important to find a recruiter who understands your values and priorities. Whether you already have a job and are looking for a change or are actively seeking a new gig, you need to be on the same page. When you invest in a recruiter, you are making an investment not only in yourself but investing a trust that they will help you find that next big step in your career. That isn’t something that should be taken lightly so vetting your recruiter is an important step in the job-seeking process.    The Power of a Good Recruiter A good recruiter expands your horizons. You should be presented with opportunities that you didn’t know were even there, or ones that you didn’t think you were eligible for. It is important that you do sufficient research yourself so that you know what opportunities interest you most. But a recruiter who is well versed in the industry should be able to provide you with more personalized job opportunities, that your own searches haven’t produced.  The applications of your skills and strategy should be tailored to each unique job opportunity that you are qualified for within the industry    A key reason for using a recruiter is to find possibilities that you otherwise wouldn’t know about. There are a variety of reasons why this could be useful for you. If you are currently working, it can be difficult to juggle your job, a job search, and your everyday life. With all of this going on, there is no way you can scour every job opportunity to find the one that is best for you. Let a recruiter take one of those off your plate.    When employers need to fill a position, there is no rule book that discusses how they are to communicate that job opening to the world. Most of our recruiters have been in this industry for years. So we have developed relationships with a variety of different companies, which gives us the advantage of knowing of job opportunities before they are posted on a job board.    Characteristics of a Good Recruiters   Employment Status Before you commit to a recruiter, you should ask questions about his own experiences, much like an interview. Check to see how long he has been with the company and the industry. If there is little experience under either one of these categories, he probably isn’t the best choice as your recruiter.    For example, at GTN recruiters have a deep knowledge of the technology industry, therefore they understand how your strengths can play into making you the perfect candidate for a company. Also, it’s ideal to have at least 3 years of experience and upwards of 10 is excellent. This time in the industry means more contacts and more valuable expertise that can be applied to your job search. TIme with the company is important too. A high turnover rate within an organization may be a red flag of poor processes. 2. Numbers don’t lie If you work in technology, you understand the power and certainty that reports can supply. If you want to understand the efficiency of a process, you run the numbers to assess the production. Now, apply the same logic to assessing a prospective recruiter, by asking how many successful placements have been made in the last month and in the last year. A productive number would be 3 placements a month. This number allows for each recruiter to have a vested relationship with you, the client, while finding opportunities in a timely fashion.    3. Action items  When you leave your first meeting with your new recruiter you should have a clear understanding of what you should be expecting. Meaning,  you should have a timeline with detailed expectations of what will take place by that date. Action plans that are vague lead to unreliable recruiting efforts.  In this initial meeting, there should be an in-depth interview to understand your skill sets, aspirations, weaknesses and previous work experience so that your job opportunities can be successfully catered to you. This way, the recruiter can also make sure that the resume you are giving prospective employers is the best representation of you. You shouldn’t feel like you need to hide anything or over embellish to your recruiter, being completely honest is the best way to ensure that he or she fully comprehends your abilities.     Since this is your career we are talking about, you should feel as though there is a sense of urgency in your plan. If you feel as though you have a strictly 8-5 recruiter, you may have the wrong guy (or girl). A recruiter who is willing to work late nights, early mornings, or even on the weekends is one who is truly committed to you. You should be in constant communication about any possible leads, including incongruities an opportunity has with things that are important to you. For example, if a job is in a different location or has a different payment structure than what you were expecting, a good recruiter should bring these issues to light.     This point of communication does not end once you have been placed either. A good recruiter will stay in touch, even after finding you a job, to ensure you are still satisfied with it. This allows him to stay up to date with your experiences and even recommend new opportunities to you that he thinks you would enjoy. That way if you ever become dissatisfied with your employment again, you have a relationship with someone who fully understands your experiences and can find you the next great job opportunity.   It Matters Don’t ever feel like a burden for asking questions because if a recruiter is truly doing their job, they won’t mind answering them for you. If you don’t feel like your recruiter is producing sound leads or spending…

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The One Interview Question You MUST Have an Answer For

Everybody knows the basic interview questions, the ones that you can expect to always be asked. Strengths Weaknesses Challenges you’ve faced Top Skills Why you’re a good candidate for this job If you’re not straight out of school, you’ll likely hear “Why are you on the job market?” or “Why are you looking to change or switch jobs?”.  In the technology field, you’ll also be asked about your skills and experiences with various technology programs or tools. These are ALL good questions to be prepared for. You want to show that you have done the research on the position and the company, and you want this job offer. You also want to prove that you are a highly skilled in the technology field whether that be as a developer, programmer, engineer, etc. But none of those are the one interview question you must have an answer for.  This question could be the defining factor for whether or not you receive that second interview (or whatever point in the process you are at).  Yes, it’s THAT big of a question. So, what is it? What is the one interview question you must have an answer for? “Tell me about a tech project you’ve worked on in your spare time” You may be thinking, what, that’s it? But not having an answer to this can be a big turn-off for a company because it’s an important question. Why is this question so important to have an answer to? There are a few reasons. You Care About Your Profession Companies want to hire an IT or technology professional that not only works hard in the office, but outside of it as well. This isn’t to say that you should have zero free time because you’re so busy with projects in your spare time. But a tech professional who is passionate about what he/she does, is more likely going to show that through side projects—projects where they get to have fun and explore the open possibilities out there in the tech world. This innate characteristic of being curious and driven is a great combination for a technology professional to have. Fresh or Sharp Skills The world of technology is constantly changing. There are constantly new programs, systems, and software being brought to marketing. So, by showing that you work on projects on the side, you’re revealing that you are willing to freshen or sharpen your technology skills. It also shows that you are curious and keep up to date with current trends and technologies—a huge plus to companies hiring tech positions.  Showcase Knowledgeability  It’s one thing to talk the talk in your professional career, it’s another thing to walk the walk. Working on a tech project in your spare time allows you to showcase just how knowledgeable you really are. It’s likely that in your side projects you are also learning slightly new processes, methods, or skills which is also a plus!  If you can show that you are taking what you have learned through school and your years of experience and applying them to outside projects—especially if it is a niche or specific area of your skill or expertise—you are going to be much more attractive candidate to an interviewer.  On top of simply asking you about your side projects, they often will ask you how you stay motivated, what interests you about a project, and what your ultimate goal is. So, this is why if you don’t have any outside projects, don’t lie. Because you’re just going to get dragged deeper and deeper down. If you truly don’t have a side project, be thinking about one to start. Or in the interview, mention one that you are thinking about starting to show that it’s something that’s on your mind. But if you do, be proud to tell the interview about it and everything that you’ve done or are doing. Better yet, if you can show your interviewer a demo of the app or site you built or other project you’ve done, that’s like the cherry on top to this question. It’s always important to be prepared for your interviews and the questions they may ask you. Having outside projects that show how you apply your knowledge and skill to work that’s outside of your actual job’s work. If you have a perfect side project you’ve done, but are searching for a job to apply to, check out our job listings.  If you need help preparing for a job interview or understanding how to frame your side project in an interview, we’re here to help with that as well! And in the meantime, go start a side project that will wow your next interviewer. Remember, it could just be the difference between getting the job or getting rejected.  

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Benefits of a Self-Insured Insurance Plan

Insurance: A Love/Hate Relationship Insurance. We all love it and we all hate it. It’s a necessary evil that is a pain to deal with until it saves the day at the doctor’s offices. At times, it may feel like you have very few choices but GTN has found a unique way to expand its employees options. These days, the benefits a company offers could be a selling point to get the best people for your company.  Every family and household is unique so finding a plan that optimizes flexibility is the best way to make the benefits you offer a key part of your hiring operation.    What makes it different  At GTN, we offer our employees insurance through a Self-insured medical plan. You may be thinking that this is just a glorified way of saying we offer no insurance benefits, and our employees are on their own. Quite on the contrary, in fact, self-insured medical plans are a way for companies to provide flexible coverage to its employees. GTN utilizes the Cigna PPO, or Preferred Provider Organization and a third party administrator helps facilitate the insurance proceedings with Cigna.    We are part owner of a captive Insurance company, which allows us to help our employees find the best care for the most cost effective price, without all the red tape that traditional insurance companies put into place.    Why it works GTN was looking for ways to make insurance more flexible for each of our employees. We understood that each individual and family has unique needs and by including this in our incentive packages we are more competitive in hiring.     Benefits Something that is a hassle for everyone in insurance is communicating a common knowledge of which doctors are in network. While there is a group of in-network providers, our employees are allowed to see who ever they want. Providers not within the Cigna PPO network won’t be covered the same and may include additional costs to the patient.  But this flexibility is something that we as a company and as individuals value.   While it may take some time to get things sorted out with the office, Co-pays are often lower than most. In one example from one of our employees, an x-ray and doctors visit went from $284 to $58 dollars. That’s an impressive savings that proves how your own employees may benefit from this. Because this plan is not as conventional as other insurances, it may take a little more work on the patients end to ensure the coverage is used to its fullest potential. In the example used earlier, the doctor’s office had to call BPA in order to work out the Proper co-pay. If this little bit of extra work, doesn’t scare your employees or office administrator the savings and flexibility will be worth it.    Pros Cons Provides coverage flexibility Premiums/Coverage  Co-Pays are lower Some Doctors offices are confused by the third party administration No deductibles for specific services Not all services, such as acupuncture or weight loss programs, are covered Prescriptions are covered The patient is responsible for covering the difference if brand name prescriptions is prefered You don’t need a referral to see a specialist The service may not be covered   Your Options Above is a list of some things your office should consider before making a switch. Of course it’s not comprehensive, but if it seems intriguing, you should give self-insured plans a closer look. As part of the Cigna family, the items above are only examples of what your company could benefit from they are not universal offerings.    Why It Matters With all that being said, it is important to remember the benefits you offer can be an important component of attracting and retaining top talent. When your compensation packages make the employees feel truly valued, it is easier to keep them away from poaching competitors     

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