Welcome to Jacobson Staffing's blog. This blog is a place for you to gain career advice, engage with our firm and stay updated on everything from events we are participating in and industry news.

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Making the Most of Multitasking with Technology

The rapid advancement of technology throughout the last few decades has led to huge leaps forward in our ability to collaborate, produce, and multitask in the workplace.  There is always something vying for your attention, and what begins as an easy way to streamline work and get more done at once can quickly become a confusing mess of tasks and programs to keep track of. By optimizing your technology and making the most of your multitasking capabilities, you can maximize the upside while minimizing the downside of the never-ending workflow.

  1. Consolidate

Most people are guilty of it: you have multiple programs that all essentially do the same thing. Did you share those notes on Slack or Evernote? Did you send that message from your personal or your work email?  It’s easy to see how the relative convenience of these applications can become horribly complex.

To eliminate this problem, you need to consolidate as much as possible. Pick the platform that best fits your needs and stick to it. At most, you should only have separate calendars for work and personal events, but the easiest will be to have everything consolidated into one. This enables you to see your day at a glance, rather than having to check multiple calendars against one another before confirming a meeting. This principle can be applied across all your technologies. Wherever possible, consolidate down to just one email, client, collaboration platform, and storage service.

  1. Integrate

The ability to integrate services, devices, and platforms into one another is incredibly helpful when it comes to getting more done at once, and you should take full advantage of this to optimize your multitasking. Now that you’ve pared down to just one calendar, set it up on both your work computer and mobile devices then integrate it into as many of the services you use as possible, so that you can multitask seamlessly between whatever device or program you happen to be using at the time.  This way, the next time you need to send an email confirming a meeting on your calendar while on a conference call, you can do it all from a single device.

  1. Automate

Automation is where multitasking starts to get really cool.  Services like If This, Then That (IFTTT.com) allow you to consolidate, integrate, and automate the various technologies in your life in a big way. From your car to your weather app, these user-friendly “applettes” allow you to automate your multitasking completely. You can mute your phone upon entering the office, send a text to your spouse when you leave, and have your garage door open when your car is in the driveway without even lifting a finger. Whether you use IFTTT or find other ways to automate your tech to best fit your individual needs, being able to automate your tasks will be the way that you turn the tables from having to multitask yourself to having multiple tasks complete themselves while you focus your attention on the areas that need it the most.

Finally, stop spending mental energy trying to multitask and automate these optimized technologies to do the legwork for you. Multitasking doesn’t have to be a trial-by-fire splitting of your attention. With the capabilities we have today, it can instead mean getting to focus on just one thing at a time, while you’re still simultaneously “doing it all.”

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3 Tips to Boost your Credibility at the Office

Success in your career is contingent on one important thing: getting people to take you seriously. If you want to move forward in your career, then you need to make sure that you’re building credibility with the people that you’re working with. Here are a few things that you can do to build more credibility with coworkers, your boss, and hiring managers:

  1. Be a Good Listener
    People love to talk about themselves, and they want to be heard. When people are talking about themselves, it actually stimulates a portion of the brain to trigger pleasurable emotions.  If you want to make a good impression with someone, then you should ask questions and let them talk. This process will form social bonds and increase the likelihood that they will have a favorable memory of the interaction.
  2. Do Your Homework and Take Action
    It’s important to know what you’re talking about to add valuable insights and information to the project. The best way to provide value to the project is by researching the topic and preparing in advance so that you show up to the meeting with good insights to share with the group. Make sure to follow through with the things that you’re suggesting. You don’t want to be the person who is all talk and no action. The follow-up is even more important than the presentation of the idea.
  1. Master the Art of Public Speaking
    Whether you’re sitting in an interview or presenting an idea in a board meeting, you need to have the skills to clearly and succinctly share your message with the group. Pay attention to small details, such as the intonation of your voice, how many times you use filler words like “um”, and the clarity and emotion of your words as you speak. Try to incorporate stories into your presentations, stories capture the attention of everyone in the room and they leave a stronger impression than boring facts and statistics.

By implementing these tips, you can improve your confidence in the workplace, and that confidence will naturally encourage people to take you seriously. Make sure to maintain this confidence and stay humble at the same time, because finding the right balance will help you achieve higher levels of success in your career.

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Enhance your career through employer paid training and development

On average over $1,200 is spent per employee every year on direct learning expenditures (Fortune.com). According to a report cited by Monster, employee training and development is a $4.5 billion industry and an important part of an employee compensation package.

Depending on your goals, you may be eligible to utilize the learning and development benefit for tuition reimbursement, technical skill enhancement and certification, leadership seminars or management effectiveness training.

Why does your company pay for learning and development?  Most employers find that offering this benefit results in a more engaged employee and results in higher retention.  44% of employees surveyed (HBR.org) consider employer paid training to be more important than a salary increase.

If you are not taking advantage of the opportunity for paid skill and learning enhancement, you should!

A few tips: Make sure to research the opportunity that interests you and know why.  Speak to your supervisor and make sure your interest in additional education or training is known. Find out about the approval process. In addition to your own training plan, take advantage of companywide seminars and training opportunities.

If your company does not currently offer the option, below are a few ways to make it happen: 

Build a business case:

Create a mini cost-benefit analysis. Show why an investment in you is a win for your employer. Research the skills-training programs your competitors and industry leaders employ, come prepared with some quantitative information on why it pays to invest in your training, and try to find current or recent projects and skills gaps in which additional training could be helpful. All of this information will help your boss make a case for the development investment.

Tailor your request:

In a perfect world, the training and development budget would be unlimited. You need to set your expectations appropriately and make sure that what you’re asking to be funded is within reason and relevant to the business. Get specific when you ask about developmental opportunities – find new technologies or skills that can add immediate value. Be reasonable in your requests for a learning budget and be specific about what you want to accomplish and how it can help the organization.

Prepare for the meeting:

Armed with your cost benefit analysis, and the information about why the training will be a win-win, making a learning budget request should be easy. It’s probably not every day that you have cause to build a business case and petition leadership for a budget. For that reason, even the process of asking for employer-paid training is a great developmental opportunity.

Don’t be discouraged your request isn’t approved right away. Continue to look for development opportunities to help the organization. Your ambition and acumen won’t go unnoticed, and you may find yourself getting some once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities out of the deal.

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5 Prep tips for a Video Interview!

5 Prep Tips for a Video Interview

Video interviews can be a great way to connect, but can also be full of potential pitfalls. These five steps can help you to prepare for a video interview and increase your chances of making a positive impression.

Test Your Equipment

Test your computer and your webcam that you will use for the interview. Make sure that your internet is fast enough to video chat in real time, and familiarize yourself with how your webcam works and where the volume and screen brightness controls are. Check your volume and see if your microphone picks up your speech well. Test your equipment in advance of your interview so that if you encounter problems you will have some time to fix them.

Practice

Ask a friend or family member to help you prepare by conducting video chats. Talking through video can be a little unsettling, and the fact that you can see yourself during the chat can distract many people. Practice looking straight at the camera, rather than the screen, and ask your friend or family member for feedback. This is also a great time to determine what computer heights and angles are most flattering for you.

Prepare an Appropriate Location

If you have reliable internet and a home office, then conducting the video interview at home may be a suitable option. Be sure that you schedule the interview for a time when you will have some privacy, and when any children or animals are out of the house or are being supervised in a non-adjacent room.

Carefully assess the background that will appear in the interview. You should try to find a background which is fairly plain and isn’t distracting. Arrange some lights so that your face is lit and there are no major shadows, but avoid placing lights directly behind you, since they can interfere with the camera’s ability to focus. Stack some books under your laptop if you are using a built-in camera so that you are eye level with the camera.

Research and Prepare

A video interview is quite similar to an in-person interview. Research and prepare for the interview much as you would for an in-person interview. Spend some time researching the employer and the position. Make a list of any questions that you have so that you can refer to it during the interview. Give some thought to how you will respond to any standard interview questions that you may be asked.

Sit down in front of your camera and practice responding to interview questions. Watch your posture and body language – do you appear confident, or are you fussing with your hands or hunching forward? Practice speaking clearly and calmly, and rehearse a bit in the interview clothing that you intend to wear so that you can spot any potential wardrobe issues ahead of time.

Be Prepared for Technical Issues

Anytime you work with technology there is the potential for something to go wrong. Testing your equipment should eliminate many potential issues, but you may still run into problems on the day of your interview. Internet downtime, power outages, and even webcam issues may throw a kink into your video interview.

It is best to have some backup plans in case these issues occur. If possible, have another computer on standby. Plan a backup location where you can conduct the interview if your internet or power goes out. Make sure that you’re prepared with a phone number so that you can reach the employer in case something does happen.

Can a Career Agent benefit you?

Do actors wait until they want a new role before they work with an Agent?  Never! Does a baseball player wait until he is headed to free agency to connect with an Agent?  No!  Actors and professional athletes always have someone watching out for their best interests.  A good Agent is always working for them – looking for new opportunities, understanding the individual’s goals, and seeking to find the best fit professionally, personally and financially.

A good Career Agent will do the same for you!  Candidates are frustrated by a job market they see as dominated by online portals, anonymous job postings and no responses from companies after their friend gave their boss their resume for a position on their team where they are a perfect fit.  A resume can easily be submitted and lost. Career Agents interview you, understand your career goals, timing, salary requirements, career history and culture you desire.  They work in parallel with clients seeking talent across a wide range of functions within technology. When agents submit you for a position, they stay in touch and active throughout the process.  Your resume is not lost in the application process; instead, they demonstrate why you will be a good fit for the company’s position/organization and follow up for feedback, interviews and next steps.  Your Career Agent will work with you to represent your best interests in terms of salary, benefits and start date and communicate what you need to accept a company’s offer.

Career Agents help you navigate the complexities of a job change and help you position yourself to achieve your career goals and help you through the resignation and transition process. Bottom line, Career Agents help you reach your professional goals better and faster than you could do with just a regular recruiter, or a friend who hands a hiring manager your resume, or applying through a web portal on your own. Your Agents’ goal is to be your life long career advisor and to create a win-win for you and your new employer.

3.5 Reasons why attending an IT Conference every single year can help your career!

Conference Attendees1. Network with your peers. This is an opportunity to meet new people from other companies. It is also important to visit with prior and current co-workers or classmates and get to know them on a more personal level. These are great people to build relationships with for multiple reasons:

a. You may reach out to these people to see how their company is using a new technology or transforming into an agile environment

b. Get non-biased references or opinions about a new technology you are evaluating and thinking about implementing

c. Learn how other companies operate and what makes their cultures great

2. Invest in Yourself! You will be seen by your boss, peers and others that you network with at the conference as a person who wants to keep current with your industry and who cares about keeping up to date with technology and best practices. The educational component of a conference can expose you to new ways to be more productive. Many people who attend conferences return back to work revitalized and more passionate about their work.

3. Hot new technologies.  Take time to meet with vendors. This is a great way to gain insight on what new technologies are available. You also have an opportunity to build relationships with vendors. Those vendors may be the person you need to reach in the middle of a critical project and if you know someone at that company they may be able to help get you connected to the right person to solve your problem. You can also pick up free giveaways or participate in raffles from vendors at many Exhibit Halls.

3.5 Have fun! Attending a conference should be work mixed with fun! Many conferences have activities such as happy hours, late night parties, and golf tournaments. Treat yourself to    an extra day in the city you are visiting. Plan to come in town early or stay an extra day at the at the end of the trip. Mix business with pleasure and keep your career trajectory on track all at the same time.

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Keep your Career Moving Forward with these Tips

Everyone wants to move forward in their career, but some people don’t realize that they’re making critical mistakes and sabotaging their own progress. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • Micromanaging is Required on Every Project
    Take initiative with your projects and don’t be afraid to ask questions as they arise, but don’t rely on other people to tell you how to handle every detail of the project. Your boss probably won’t promote you if they feel like you have to be micromanaged every step of the way.
  • Your Ego is More Important Than the Team
    If you want the team to use your idea or you are squashing other teammate’s ideas because you want to do it your way, then you could be sabotaging career advancement. Don’t let your ego get in the way of developing stronger work relationships and building an effective team.
  • Being a Complainer
    Occasionally, complaints can be beneficial if they offer solutions and improvements to the company. When a teammate is always complaining, they can sap the morale of the whole team, which can cause undue stress for everyone involved.
  • Bad Communication With Employees and Customers
    Communication is key to maintaining good relationships, and the quality of your communication will get you noticed. If your communication is non-existent or confusing, then it can have a negative impact on the impression that other people have of you. On the other hand, clear and positive communication can show that you are confident, comfortable and a good team player.
  • You Are the “Brownnoser” in the Office
    Trying to impress people too much with flattery often has a negative impact, and your efforts will likely backfire on you. If someone offers too many compliments or are too clingy to the boss, then it will likely come across as disingenuous. It is okay to offer a genuine compliment every now and then, but you need to avoid crossing the line and becoming a brownnoser.

 

Avoid these self-sabotaging habits that often prevent people from getting the promotion or pay increase that they desire. Be aware of your habits and actions throughout the day, and make sure that you aren’t self-sabotaging your career.

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Your Resume has these 4 Must-Haves, Right?

Important Elements That Must Be Included On Your Resume

Whether you’re putting together a resume for your first or last job, there are several core elements that need to be considered when you are writing your resume. Modern technology has made it easier to apply to many jobs without much effort, which means that employers and recruiters are inundated with resumes when a job opening is posted. If you want the job, then you need to make sure that your resume outshines the rest.

  1. An Attractive Summary
    You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of the hiring manager, so it is important to include a summary that entices them to continue reading your resume. The first section should quickly summarize your qualifications and is essentially an “elevator speech” on paper.
  2. Contact Information, And…
    Your name, address, phone number, and a professional sounding email address (not lovetoparty@gmail.com) should be clearly listed at the top of the resume. Don’t forget, you don’t want to include personal information such as your social security number, race, marital status, health status, or birth date. This information is not relevant during the application process, and there is no reason for you to add the information on your resume.
  3. Remember the “3 E’s”
    There are three main points that most hiring managers are looking for: expertise, experience and education. It is a good idea to dedicate a section of the resume to each of these topics:
    Expertise shows the unique skill set that you can bring to the company to show that you are the right candidate for the job. Make sure to adjust each resume to align with the job description, because you can re-phrase your core competencies in a manner that speaks to the language used by the hiring manager.Experience should be focused around the accomplishments that you have achieved in your career. Many people mistakenly list their technologies without explaining what they do/did with their skill set. If you have improved processes or saved the company money, include this information.Education provides the proof that you are qualified for the job based on the education requirements that were listed in the job description. The education section is also the perfect opportunity to share information about certifications or continuing education that you received.
  4. Clean Formatting
    Do not send resumes with hard coding. Companies use automated portals and your information can import incorrectly. Most hiring managers are quickly skimming through a stack of resumes and they won’t have the patience or desire to read resumes that are cluttered or confusing. Structure your resume in a way that makes it easy to read and understand, so that the important information pops out if someone is skimming the page. Since the hiring manager will be sorting through a large stack of resumes, it is important to keep your resume succinct. Limit the length to 1 – 3 pages and only share the relevant information. By limiting the length of your resume, it forces you to cut out the “fluff” to avoid over-sharing details that are not applicable to the job.

 

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The Four Essential Types of Modern Employee

            The modern workplace is made up of diverse groups of people from a variety of backgrounds who possess an eclectic mix of skills and interests. Gone are the days when everyone in an office tended to look and sound the same. Today, you will find a variety of people sharing a workspace, each with their own unique blend of experiences and beliefs. In response to this new landscape, the archetype of the “modern employee” has evolved significantly. There are four types of employees who have found strong footholds in today’s workplace:

  1.       The Collaborator

The Collaborator is essential in a workplace teaming with such diverse people. They can be identified by their ability to work effortlessly with their coworkers, no matter what individual work styles might be. If you put a Collaborator on a cross-functional group project, they will have the different groups of employees working together harmoniously in no time. Collaborators do well in groups, where they can take inspiration from their teammates. They are energized by others and enjoy helping their groups achieve goals by bringing everyone together to understand the bigger picture.  However, they may not be the best at working on solo projects. When left to their own devices, they may not be as satisfied or make as much progress as they would with others.

  1.       The Teacher

The Teacher is the employee who might be found helping their coworkers learn a new system, even though it’s not their department. They tend to learn new information quickly and take pride in helping others do the same. These employees make patient, thoughtful leaders who naturally build very well-trained teams. However, they may execute a bit more slowly than others, being that their focus is so often on absorbing and disseminating new information. As a coworker, they are always ready to lend a hand to a peer who’s having trouble understanding. This may even be done to their own detriment though, and The Teacher should be careful not to get so caught up helping others that their own work slips.

  1.       The Technophile

Technology has been advancing at a staggering rate over the last couple of decades, much to the enjoyment of The Technophile. These are the employees who seem to be able to use any new tech presented to them deftly. They may be drawn to analytical fields which give them a lot of exposure to the tech they so love, but they can also do equally well in any role which allows them to make good use of their process-oriented minds.  While The Technophile might readily understand the new system IT rolls out, they may be lacking in the soft skills of The Teacher that would be required to help others do the same. Likewise, they may require coaching to lead or collaborate with others. Though technology may be easy for them to understand, people can be far less obvious.

  1.       The Communicator

The Communicator is probably the one you want to double-check your writing before you send out an important email. They are gifted at articulating ideas and tend to be great presenters, even at the highest levels. Like The Collaborator, they generally do well interfacing with a wide variety of people, given their natural ability to understand and communicate with others. If you need someone to pitch an idea, speak directly with customers, or write up a press release, The Communicator will be happy to volunteer. However, when it comes to the more tedious minutiae of work, it can be tough to hold their attention. Communicators are in their element when they are describing or explaining, but may grow weary if they are bogged down with technicalities or are too isolated in their roles.

            You may recognize yourself in one of the groups above – perhaps even in more than one! Each of these four types plays an integral part in a workplace that runs well. More than ever, employees must be adaptable and possess broad skillsets. However, even the most dynamic employees have strengths and weaknesses to think about. The next time you’re working with a team of dissimilar employees or trying to peg down what makes an ambiguous manager tick, try thinking about where they fall as individuals within these categories. Understanding the pros and cons of the four types of the modern employee will help you play to their strengths and offset their weaknesses in any environment.

 

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3 Ways Multitasking is Killing Your Productivity

On the surface, multitasking seems like a good idea. Why not do two, or even three things at the same time, instead of one? It may sound like a good idea in theory, but when it comes to real life, multitasking isn’t effective. In fact, it’s probably killing your productivity without you knowing it.

Here are a few reasons why you should not try to multitask.

  1. Our brains are not wired to multitask
    You might think you’re a great multitasker. You probably even put it on your resume. But science says otherwise. It’s a fact – our brains are not wired to multitask. We fool ourselves into thinking we’re a multitasking extraordinaire because we can text a friend and watch football at the same time. In the world of work, you’re probably engaged in higher-level tasks than watching the big game while texting. In other words, your multitasking technique won’t translate into increased productivity on the job. Studies show that multitasking is ineffective because the brain is designed to focus on one thing at a time. Switching back and forth between tasks causes you to miss important details and never allows you to concentrate on a single task. Studies show it can take as long as 20 minutes to get your mind fully re-engaged to a task after being interrupted.
  2. You’re not really multitasking
    We may be able to multitask physically (chew gum and fold laundry), but there’s really no such thing as multitasking when it comes to cognitive tasks. What you’re doing is known as task-switching. Back and forth. Back and forth. Task-switching depletes your mental energy at a quicker rate and never allows you to “get in the zone.” The bottom line, it’s draining and inefficient. Experts say it’s best to do things in batches. Give all your attention and focus to that report, then check email.
  3. You’re prone to mistakes and stressed out
    Switching back and forth between tasks at a rapid rate while trying to focus on more than one thing at a time is a recipe for disaster. Your brain and body are in a state of chaos, which leads to errors and stress. Those are two things that certainly won’t earn you that big promotion you’re working towards, right? Researchers at the University of California Irvine showed that chronic multitaskers had elevated heartbeats compared to their more calm, singularly focused co-workers. The multitaskers were in a constant state of high alert. This state wears on your physical and mental health.

 The lesson is simple – multitasking is overrated. Stop doing it. You’ll be happier and more productive.