Staffing 360: Exploring the World of Staffing From All Angles

Cyber Security A Must For MBEs

Posted by Angelique Solorio on Wed, Apr 01, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

I was recently invited by a leader in Supplier Diversity, Richard Chacon – Director of Supplier Diversity and Development for Union Bank, to attend a Business Matchmaking (BMM) event held in San Jose. Union Bank is very active in the MBE community (I know Richard through the NMSDC) and they support a variety of organizations, including being a sponsor of BMM. If you’re not familiar with them, BMM supports procurement opportunities for small businesses in every industry, producing regional face-to-face selling events, plenary seminars and workshops, online training and collateral material for MBEs. This was my first time attending one of their events and I must say I was very impressed by the efforts of the many corporate sponsors and participants that made this event so informational and thus successful.

In addition to Richard and his colleagues from Union Bank, there were many professionals from leading corporations such as Norton, HP, Lockheed Martin, PAR, PG&E, SoCal Edison, Nova Group, and other resource partners. They participated in a morning panel session that educated entrepreneurs and businesses about the importance of protecting your business from cyber threats and provided tips and best practices for doing so. The panel discussion was followed by scheduled matchmaking sessions

The panel focused on cyber threats and the related crime that affects businesses every day. Now for some of you, this may not seem like it would apply to your business; you might not think you have data that criminals want. The truth though, is that you most likely do and there are people out there waiting to hold your data hostage. It was great to hear from experts, right here in the technology capital, and get some practical advice on an issue that we should all be concerned about.

If you are an MBE looking to do business with a corporation, or really any business, you need to be aware of the issue and protect your data, not only for your own good, but so that the companies you do business with know they are protected as well. Many of the recent data breaches have occurred because of a weakness in a partner or third party supplier’s security. Companies need to know that you are not a threat to their business because of lax protocols; it is your job to prove that you have done all that is needed to protect yourself, your customers, and your business partners from cybercrime. 

The discussion and advice given during the session covered a variety of topics such as:

  • Fishing and Hacking – How cyber criminals get you on the hook to spend money with tax related calls, emails asking for personal info verification, etc.
  • Wiring money – Do you do business overseas? There are people monitoring emails that can see who you do business with and will pretend to be your legitimate business partner and try to get you to wire them money, and once you do, it is gone.
  • Countering the threats – How having a pre-arranged fax number for payments can be helpful, as well as a dedicated computer and email that is used solely for business banking. This will help prevent you from getting hacked into easily.
  • Education – How educating your employees about threats, how to recognize and prevent them by following the right protocols and processes, will help you avoid problems.

This is just a small sampling of the information shared but I think it shows how helpful the session was and could be for you. They are taking this cyber threat topic on the road and holding similar events in cities across the U.S. If you are interested, consider attending one in your area. They also have information available about cyber insurance for small businesses. Finally, they cover many other interesting topics, so if this one doesn’t appeal to you or doesn’t come to your neck of the woods, check out their other offerings. I’m sure something will appeal to you and the matchmaking opportunities are very worthwhile.

I believe the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” also applies in the business world. It takes companies like Union Bank who are willing to genuinely educate and empower businesses by actively helping them to grow by supporting events such as this. It is invaluable to have businesses that are willing to share their knowledge and experience, in this case on the topic of cyber threats. MBE participants can improve and grow stronger and more ready to do business with large corporations as a result. It’s good for everyone: MBEs become better companies and corporations get better suppliers and business partners

I want to thank Business Matchmaking for hosting this great event, Richard Chacon for inviting me and introducing me to this organization, and Union Bank, and the other corporations, for giving their time and support to helping minority businesses learn, improve, and grow our businesses. Thanks again!

Angelique Solorio
Corporate Outreach Manager, Supplier Diversity 


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3 Things Job Seekers Can Learn From Leonardo Da Vinci's Resume

Posted by ATR International on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

DaVinciResumeIf you’ve had a job, chances are good that you’ve written a resume. They are pretty much mandatory these days, and have been since about the 1940’s, when they often included information that is now taboo such as marital status, religion and weight. The first resume? Leonardo Da Vinci is usually credited as having created it in 1482. Surprised? He invented just about everything else so why not the resume!

Clearly over the past 500 or so years resumes have evolved and improved, moving with the times from quill and ink, to the typewriter, the computer, and Microsoft Word. The job search itself has changed since DaVinci too, dramatically with the advent of the Internet, job boards, social media, and LinkedIn. You might think that there’s nothing to learn from Da Vinci’s resume, that the world has changed too much, but you would be wrong.

Da Vinci’s resume is surprisingly modern in many ways and there are lessons that job seekers and other professionals can learn from it. (view the full english translation)

1.  He is focused on the needs of his prospective employer
The Duke of Milan is interested in warfare, of necessity and by design, given the warring nature of the Italian city states in general as well as his own political aspirations. He is thus looking for any advantage he can gain in this arena. Leonardo appeals directly to this desire, this need when he writes things like

“I have also types of cannon, most convenient and easily portable, with which to hurl small stones almost like a hail-storm; and the smoke from the cannon will instil a great fear in the enemy on account of the grave damage and confusion.”


“I have plans for very light, strong and easily portable bridges with which to pursue and, on some occasions, flee the enemy.”

Or this one

“Should a sea battle be occasioned, I have examples of many instruments which are highly suitable either in attack or defence, and craft which will resist the fire of all the heaviest cannon and powder and smoke.”

Note how he is focused on what the Duke of Milan needs, how he can meet those requirements, and the results the Duke can expect. He doesn’t just list his past jobs and accomplishments. He points out how he can solve the Duke’s problems, whether on the offensive, or in retreat. He shows The Duke how his specific talents can be used to accomplish his goals.

Employers today are no different – they want to know what you can do for them. They need to feel confident that you will produce what they need.

2.  He tailors his resume to the job that he is applying for
Notice how he modifies his resume to the position, barely mentioning his painting and sculpting talents since the Duke isn’t looking for those skills. Da Vinci was a wildly accomplished man, a genius, who excelled at numerous intellectual, mechanical, and artistic pursuits but he checks his ego and largely leaves them off. When he does mention a skill, it is always in service of the issue important to the Duke.

“Should the need arise, I will make cannon, mortar and light ordnance of very beautiful and functional design that are quite out of the ordinary.”

“In time of peace I believe I can give as complete satisfaction as any other in the field of architecture, and the construction of both public and private buildings, and in conducting water from one place to another.”

“Also I can execute sculpture in marble, bronze and clay. Likewise in painting, I can do everything possible as well as any other.”

He pitches a peacetime role for his inventive skill sets but it is still focused on mechanical and engineering ideas and only at the very end does he quietly mention his artistic abilities. The man who would go on to paint the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, under the Duke’s patronage, doesn’t focus on those skills in this resume. He is focused on getting the job at hand, the one the Duke needs someone to do now.

Today’s job seeker MUST tailor their resume each time they apply. It is simply not enough to just list your skills or talk about past glory. You need to connect the dots for them. Explain how what you know how to do is relevant to their business problem and how you will use your skills and experience to solve it. Use the appropriate key words, phrases and technical terminology; even the exact same ones as in the job description when it makes sense to do so.

3.  He includes his technical skills and experience prominently
Look at how he specifically mentions the technology that he is familiar with

“I know how, in the course of the siege of a terrain, to remove water from the moats and how to make an infinite number of bridges, mantlets and scaling ladders and other instruments necessary to such an enterprise.”

“Where the use of cannon is impracticable, I will assemble catapults, mangonels, trebuckets and other instruments of wonderful efficiency not in general use. In short, as the variety of circumstances dictate, I will make an infinite number of items for attack and defence.”

He makes sure his prospective employer knows that he is familiar with these instruments and techniques and how he will use those to achieve certain goals, goals the Duke cares about. He ties his technical knowledge to the practical nature of getting the job done. He uses phrases that are specific to warfare and weaponry; he speaks the right industry language.

Modern resume writers need to do the same. Managers want to see people who have similar experience in similar situations as the job they are being hired for. Underscore how your experience fits the bill by using terms they will be familiar with and that will instantly demonstrate your ability to fit in quickly and hit the ground running.

That’s three lessons that the modern resume writer can learn from Da Vinci’s resume.  The man truly was a genius and though we needed no additional proof, this review of his resume shows that he was forward thinking in more things than just the plans for a helicopter or armored vehicle. Emulate the master from 1492 to write a truly great modern resume!


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Tags: job search, resume

VTO Spotlight - Carolyn Bramley

Posted by ATR International on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 @ 08:30 AM

ATR's VTO, or Voluntary Time Off, program gives each internal ATR employee 5 paid days each year that they can use to work at a charitable organization(s) of their choosing. This week we are focusing on Carolyn Bramley and her work with Sacred Heart Community Service.

VTO Spotlight
There’s an old saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” These are powerful words for ATR employee Carolyn Bramley who makes an effort every year to spend her Volunteer Time Off helping out at Sacred Heart Community Service.  

“I just love what they stand for,” said Carolyn. “There are so many nonprofits that hand out food or clothing, which is great. But Sacred Heart not only provides those services, they take that extra step to teach people how to be self-reliant.”

Carolyn likes to help out each year during the holidays when the demand for Sacred Heart’s resources is at its peak. She has done everything from helping to feed people during Thanksgiving to assisting with their annual toy drive for Christmas. “There are so many families that need help and this is just my way of giving back,” said Carolyn.

Sacred Heart was founded in 1964 in an effort to feed hungry families. Today, they have expanded to providing essential services to individuals and families in need. The organization has also evolved into a respected and innovative provider of programs that assist families in achieving lifelong economic self-sufficiency. From help with employment and housing, to courses in financial management and understanding taxes, to preschool and homework help for kids, they provide a wide array of services that put families on the right path. In other words, they teach people how to fish.

Tags: ATR International, VTO

The All-in-One, Comprehensive Guide to Finding Your Next Job

Posted by Jeff Monaghan on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

job_seeker_coverFinding a new job can be overwhelming. There are so many things to consider. What should my resume look like? What content should be in my resume? Where should I look for a new job? And what about my LinkedIn profile? These, and many other questions, all need to be answered if you want to have a successful job search. Where do you find answers?

If you are like most job seekers, you spend a significant amount of time on Google searching, reading, and searching some more. All of the information you need is out there, on the Internet, somewhere. Usually in more than one place which means you need to find it and then sort through it all. It’s a time consuming task that we felt we could fix.

At ATR, our recruiters have been placing talent at leading companies for many years. They know what makes the perfect candidate. They know what makes the perfect resume. And they know what makes the perfect LinkedIn profile. It’s what they look for and coach job seekers on every day. That’s why we sat some of them down and asked them to share their best advice for job seekers. The result is The All-in-One, Comprehensive Guide to Finding Your Next Job.

This free eBook puts it all in one place. It saves you the wasted time and effort of having to search for answers and allows you to get right to your job search. You will find vital information on questions about:

  • the must know tips for interviewing
  • how to make social media part of your job search
  • optimizing your resume
  • how and when to follow-up
  • our favorite resume template
  • and much more

To find the best job, you need to have the best information. The All-in-One, Comprehensive Guide to Finding Your Next Job provides you with just that. Download it today and save yourself the time of looking for job search information and start looking for a job instead.

  The All-In-One, Comprehensive Guide to Finding Your Next Job

Tags: job search, find a job, JeffMonaghan

Applying For The NMSDC's Supplier Of The Year Is A Must For MBE's.

Posted by Angelique Solorio on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

nmsdc_awardI recently co-presented a workshop sponsored by the Western Region Minority Supplier Development Council and wanted to share a little about it since I think there were some great takeaways from this exclusive session that provides a good example of how certifications with councils can be very helpful for your business.

It is the time of year for the Supplier of the Year (SOTY) Awards process. This is where MBE’s are nominated by corporate members for awards in four revenue categories; the local winners of each council will then compete for the regional award and regional winners compete for the national awards in the fall.

Our home council offers an annual workshop that highlights the benefits of participating and has previous winners provide tips on the process. As the Class 4 Regional SOTY winner for 2014 we at ATR International, along with the Class 1 National SOTY MBE Magazine, were featured guest presenters and shared our experience.

The webinar provided:

  1. An overview of the application template and checklist and advice on how to present your story and statistics in a compelling fashion that keeps the reader interested.

  2. How to get good letters of recommendation from your clients, an important section in the application.

  3. What should be done throughout the year to ensure you have a strong package?

  4. Guidance on presenting your information in the most visually exciting manner.

This was the third time attending this annual workshop, and obviously the first as a presenter! It’s amazing to look back to three years ago when I could hardly have imagined that I would be representing my company such a short time later. And I can attest that one of the reasons this happened is because I attended the workshop. It was incredibly helpful to learn about the process, understand the effort that went into preparing a submission package, and hear from past winners. I was so happy to be able to share our perspective and tips with this year’s attendees.

My advice to any MBE with any NMSDC affiliate council is that simply participating in the process, whether you win or not, is a great opportunity to get your company in front of many local and national corporate members and showcase your success! Having more people recognize your name and know what your company does is a benefit and will help you to develop relationships that lead to more business.

It’s also a great exercise to take stock of where you are as a company and completing the application requires you to compile information about your company’s beginning, growth, community participation and MBE spend, among other things. It was fun and nostalgic to revisit the story of our founding, and a real learning experience for an employee like me who wasn’t around then! Seeing the statistics and information that we assembled also underscored the hard work and efforts of so many that brought ATR to this point in our history. I think you’ll find it a similarly good experience

If your local council doesn’t offer this remember the benefits of the Subscription Service; this is a perfect example of a situation where an MBE would take advantage of it. Each council is in tune with the distinctions that different regions have when it comes to business climate, industry focus, and other local nuances. Not every council offers the same thing which means you can expand your potential knowledge base if you consider what other councils are offering.

If you are participating in the process this year, or plan to at some time in the future, and have any questions, please contact me with your information and we can connect and I’ll share the details of ATR’s experience.

Angelique Solorio
Corporate Outreach Manager

Tags: AngeliqueSolorio, SupplierDiversity, supplier of the year, nmsdc

Employees Are Back In Control. 4 Tips On How Companies Can Adapt.

Posted by Jerry Brenholz on Tue, Mar 03, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

The most important trend in workforce management right now is that the balance of power between employer and employee has shifted and the employee is back in the driver’s seat. Articles about this are everywhere. It’s a change that has been developing for a while, accelerating over the last six months or so, and is now acknowledged in multiple business and industry publications as officially the current state of things. Across many, if not most, industries and job categories demand is going up for workers, and the supply of those with the experience and skills employers want isn’t growing at the same pace. This puts workers in a better position to be deliberate and selective. 

This means that you have to rethink your strategy across the board in terms of workforce management, recruiting and hiring, and this includes any contract positions that you expect to staff. Your ability to attract and hire new talent, whether on a contingent or permanent basis, will absolutely be affected. Particularly in IT, those looking for a job have more choice than they have in years. We’ve seen higher rates and multiple offers being made more quickly than ever become the norm rather than the exception. Gone are the days when there was a plethora of good candidates to choose from and you could take all the time you wanted to make decisions.The recession and subsequent stagnant to slow economic growth of the past few years has made some employers complacent and overconfident. Don’t make this mistake. It’s critical to recognize that things have changed and react. The following are three things that you should consider if you want to succeed in this competitive, candidate-driven hiring market:

  1. You will need to sell the contractor on the job and your firm.From your job descriptions to the interview process you’ll attract the best people by making them feel excited to be a part of your company, your team. Help your staffing firm and recruiters sell the best parts of the job – the important work that you are doing, the new technology and systems they will be working with or developing, etc. Make sure that your hiring managers and anyone else involved in the interview process are friendly, knowledgeable, and understand how to sell your company. Arrogance and apathy must be banished and in their stead you need people who can excite top candidates and convince them to accept the position.

  2. Your rates must be competitive. In a candidate driven market salaries go up. The top performers and those with the hardest to find, most in demand skills are going to cost more. It is as simple as that. Tapping into the passive candidate pool, those employed but not looking, is also a great way to find the skills and experience that you need, and recent surveys show that many IT workers are ready to leave for contract positions, but the pay must be right. Recognizing where you can’t afford to go without and making competitive offers to fill those positions will be necessary. No one likes to pay more for things but keep in mind the true costs of an open position or settling for a less experienced contractor just to save money.

  3. Your process must be streamlined to be faster. In a highly competitive market, the best candidates won’t last long. Multiple interviews over days or weeks and delays in making a decision will no longer work. For the most sought after candidates you need to get back to the recruiter the same day if possible. Eliminate bottlenecks or red tape wherever possible; if the process becomes cumbersome or stalls at any point you risk.

  4. Your onboarding must be faster. Candidates understand that a certain amount of paperwork is inevitable before they can start but when they are in this nebulous in-between period they are at risk of being courted away. Onboarding that takes too long, 2 weeks or more, should be examined for opportunities to simplify and speed it up. Background checks and document preparation need to be done but are they being done as efficiently as possible? Can you reduce a layer of review or hire with contingency if they don't pass something? Where there isn’t room for compromise are you ensuring that approvals are gathered as efficiently as possible? Can some steps be handled simultaneously to save time? Look for small administrative changes that could cut out a day or two in the onboarding process. It might make a big difference.

The sooner you recognize that things have changed and change your approach and recruiting behavior, the better off you will be. Don’t waste time thinking or wishing that it isn’t true. While you waste time you may continue to lose out on great candidates.

Jerry Brenholz
CEO and President
ATR International, Inc.

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Tags: JerryBrenholz, staffing, trends

ATR Employee Necia Chase Demonstrates the Importance of Certifications

Posted by Jerry Brenholz on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

Michael ToothmanLate last year we published Do Certifications Really Help Job Seekers which looked at some of the current hot skills to have and whether or not certifications and other continuing education helps your career. Today, we want to share the story of Necia Davis-Chase, who works for ATR at Kaiser Permanente as an HR Staffing Coordinator responsible for working with employees on workplace issues ranging from unions and workers comp to benefits and family and medical leave.

Necia attended UC Riverside and was recently profiled on their website. As the article points out, Necia came to the HR field after stepping into an HR void at the aviation company she worked at. Wanting to be better prepared for the work she was doing she enrolled in a Labor and Employee Relations course and then joined the program to earn her certification in Human Resources. This in turn led to an opportunity to consult at a nonprofit organization, and then to working with ATR at Kaiser. 

As Wendy Sun, our VP of Recruiting, pointed out in the article, certifications help. They’re not the only thing but they help. First, they help you get noticed and stand out from other candidates. It’s also lets employers know that you have a solid foundation on top of which you’ve added real world experience. Finally, it’s a powerful signal that you are committed to your career and to doing the job well, and willing to invest your time to stay current in terms of skills and knowledge. 

Necia’s story shows how an educational investment can pay off. When changes were made at the aviation firm that resulted in a layoff, she had a combination of on the job experience and formal training that helped her land a consulting position at a non-profit organization and then to be prepared for the position at Kaiser. Necia also demonstrates another thing that we tell hiring managers and candidates all the time – attitude and personality matter too. Necia showed her dedicated nature the moment she took on responsibility for the things that needed to be done at her first company, and then further solidified it by enrolling in school to be better at the job. We immediately recognized the powerful combination of experience and knowledge that she possessed when our recruiter saw her resume, and our client was obviously impressed too, they interviewed and then hired her for the position.

We think Necia would be a great permanent employee for any organization and support her goals, although we don’t want to lose her either! What we are sure of is that no matter what, she’ll be in demand as an HR professional and we expect her career to continue on a successful path. She’s a wonderful example of what happens when you combine so many good things – education, experience, a strong worth ethic and great attitude. The lesson is that no one thing is going to be all you need, or all that employers are looking for. It’s better to have the full spectrum and educational credentials are one important part of that.

Jerry Brenholz
CEO and President
ATR International, Inc.

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Tags: temporary employees, career advice, opportunity

Are Your IT Contractor Pay Rates Competitive? They Need To Be.

Posted by Jerry Brenholz on Tue, Feb 03, 2015 @ 08:30 AM

“They were the perfect candidate…had the exact skills…the hiring manager loved them…the compensation offered just wasn’t enough…they accepted a better offer.”

We hear this conversation daily inside our office, sometimes it seems like hourly, and it’s becoming more frequent. Of course we could shut the door, but it’s better to listen and learn. These conversations are a sure sign that the talent wars are heating up. People actively looking are able to be more selective and demand higher pay, and the passive candidates are even harder to connect with and harder to lure away.

What this means for those who hire IT contractors is that it might be time to review your rates. Many companies negotiate pay rates and long term contracts with their suppliers. This can help streamline the purchasing process as well as help keep costs down, especially on items with stable market costs and where buying in bulk achieves savings for the client while allowing the supplier to be successful too.

When it comes to employees though, the market can move quickly, especially in the technology industry. Rates that were negotiated 2 or more years ago may be quite out of date. In some IT job categories this is even more pronounced. If you aren’t offering competitive compensation you are likely losing talent to others, period.

You don’t have to be Google or Microsoft to need good IT personnel; technology is mission critical to almost every business these days from Amazon to UPS to General Motors. You are competing with not just technology firms but leading companies in other industries for the top IT talent. The tide is turning and the worker is back in the more powerful position and no one is immune. At one point in their history, Google gave a 10% across the board salary increase to stop the exodus of employees that were being lured away by higher compensation at Facebook, Apple, and others.

How do you know if your rates are competitive or are holding you back?

  1. If you see IT positions remaining open longer than normal, even when you source from multiple firms, that’s a sign. 

  2. If your hiring managers are complaining about the quality of the candidates they are seeing, that’s another sign that your current rates may not be attracting the level of skill and experience that your IT department really needs. 

  3. If you are losing candidates at the offer stage to other firms, the rates you’re paying may be an issue. 

Your first thought may be, why should I pay more? I can’t fully answer that because each individual business is going to make its own decisions on where to spend or save, what they are willing to, or must pay a premium for. Only you know how badly you need a particular person with certain skills or experience. Depending on your need, you may be willing to pay quite a bit, or quite a bit more than the other guy. There are always tensions between saving money and getting what you want but keep in mind that there can be hidden costs to simply saving money by offering lower compensation.

  1. How much is it costing your company to have that position open?  What work is not being done?  On a multimillion dollar project saving $25,000 dollars (roughly an additional $10 per hour) on a contractor could be very shortsighted. 

  2. The work is getting done? How?  If other department members are covering you are jeopardizing burning them out and losing them. 

  3. Filling your positions with candidates who accept your rates?  Beware of people who will take anything until something better comes along.  Those contractors may be more susceptible to a better paying offer.  It can be smarter in the long run to secure a great IT professional at a rate they like so they stay through to the end. 

We start by asking our candidates what they want to be paid and make every effort to meet that if they are qualified. My feeling is that if someone is happy with what they are making it pays off in many other ways; they arrive on the first day of work happy, motivated, and feeling respected.  As noted above, they are also less likely to leave for another offer. I’m not suggesting indiscriminately paying people whatever, but very often what people ask for is reasonable. When you don’t have to convince someone to take $45 an hour instead of the $55 or $60 they deserve you start off in a better position overall.

We’re here to help our clients. We want to be able to do the best job possible for our clients and find the talented IT professionals they need but it is much harder to do that if we can’t offer competitive compensation. In 1914 Henry Ford revolutionized the way workers were paid by introducing the then unheard of wage of $5 a day and a profit sharing plan. Workers lined up to take on work that had previously been considered repetitive and mind numbing. Attracting, hiring and retaining workers was as much a concern for Ford as it is for 21st century managers. He understood that it took good pay to get and retain the best workers.

Spending wisely is always the goal and if you want to land the top performers, spending wisely cannot just mean saving money and paying the lowest rate possible. It has to also mean paying what you need to get the type of person you need to do the job. Ensuring that your workforce compensation strategy is helping you attract the right talent is a huge competitive advantage for your company overall. Make sure yours is helping not hurting.  

Sticking to the status quo might be costing you much more than you save!

Jerry Brenholz
CEO and President
ATR International, Inc.

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Tags: JerryBrenholz, IT staffing and recruiting, IT contractor retention, Pay Rates

Supplier Diversity And Getting My Morning Coffee

Posted by Angelique Solorio on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 @ 08:22 AM

For years, I have been getting coffee each morning at Starbuck’s before work. Along with many of you reading this, I had contributed to making them the successful giant in the industry that they are. A few months ago while on lunch, I tried The Coffee Bean with someone because it happened to be her favorite.  I can’t tell you enough how much it changed my coffee world! From the sweet aroma when walking in the door, to the service and method they use, I instantly loved their coffee! Now it’s not exactly on my way to work, and certainly much farther than Starbuck’s, but I don’t hesitate to make the extra time and effort to drive the distance.

Thinking about it, I realized that Starbuck’s was never my favorite coffee or my favorite coffee house experience but I kept going (the coffee was not bad but it wasn’t really worth the price to me either). Why?  At first it was for the experience but then I went out of convenience more than anything else. Most people won’t go that far out of their way to buy coffee, you get into a routine and get used to the comfort of the familiar and the trend. If you’re a huge fan of Starbuck’s that’s not a problem. Or maybe it is. How do we know when something better is out there? If we always stick with our current coffee, how will we find the other, maybe smaller, place with better coffee at a better price? Sometimes we stay with something we’re not even totally happy with just out of convenience or habit. Obviously it’s even harder to consider alternatives when you’re satisfied.

Now you are probably thinking what is the point to this story about her changing where she buys her coffee? Well since I generally buy my coffee on the way to work, it wasn’t that hard to make the leap from my own experience to the workplace. How does any business decide who their suppliers should be? How do they know when to stick with their current suppliers and when to try out someone new? It seems to me there is a fine line between the security and continuity of the current and the possibility of the innovation and new ideas that other companies could provide. And not just other industry giants, like choosing between McDonald’s coffee or Starbuck’s but the smaller companies that aren’t giants. 

I went to The Coffee Bean for the first time because someone else was going there – no coupon or advertising brought me in, which is often what happens in our business. A referral from another client or just a casual conversation can be the start of something. It’s easy to do when someone is going for coffee but maybe not as much when it means considering a new supplier. Change is hard, on many levels. 

But my coffee experience showed me how important it is to try new things and to fight against this bias or reluctance to change (it also feels nice to help another business grow as well, one that certainly deserves the support). It can’t be constant but some amount of new needs to be part of a company’s supplier strategy. A blend of trusted, familiar suppliers and new, qualified firms can help ensure that you get the best of everything. 

Keep your eyes open to possible "Coffee Bean" opportunities in your world; the chance to try something new or work with a new company. It may confirm that your current choice is the best one for you or you may find yourself with a new business partner providing a great product, a great price, or maybe both. 

Angelique Solorio
Corporate Outreach Manager
ATR International

Reasons, Supplier Diversity, Business Strategy

Tags: AngeliqueSolorio, SupplierDiversity

One Simple Trick Will Improve Response Rates To Your Job Postings

Posted by Wendy Sun on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 @ 08:30 AM

Finding the right person for the job is a challenge. You only need to try and fill one open position to find that out! It’s a process that is a both a bit of an art and a science. It’s hard to attract people with the skills you really need, interview effectively, impress the best candidates appropriately, make a competitive offer, etc. – and things can get bogged down or go awry at any stage. You want to do everything you can to ensure you get it all right so you can maximize your odds of hiring a really great employee.

Start with the job description. It’s one of the first things that will impact a potential candidate. It’s how you get them in and it’s the first way they begin to learn about your firm. There’s an art to writing a good one but following a few basic best practices in this area can really help, including:

  • Be clear, clean and concise in your writing, and try to avoid too much jargon and boilerplate language. The job description is one way that a candidate begins to experience the culture and personality of your company, so don’t turn people off with stilted writing. 
  • Be reasonable in listing minimum or “must have” skills so that you don’t needlessly weed out talented individuals with the capacity to learn.
  • Convey excitement. Give the person a chance to see how their work would make a difference, be interesting, and rewarding for them in ways beyond salary and benefits. These are important to people, especially top performers who have their choice of offers.

There’s also a bit of science involved. One interesting new finding comes courtesy of Software Advice, a site that researches applicant tracking systems, who wondered whether something as simple as the design of an online job posting could make a difference in how many people applied (read the full article).  Online job seekers have millions of postings to look through; would the addition of visual content provide an advantage?

They surveyed potential job applicants to see if images or videos in an online job posting made the company that posted it more attractive. The results:

  • 51% of respondents would be more attracted to a company that had job postings with visual elements (images or videos) than to a company that didn’t.
  • Respondents were more attracted to companies that have images in their job postings than to those that have videos (45% versus 31%).
  • The company’s products or services would be the most attractive subject matter to applicants for both images (30%) and videos (28%).

What does this mean?  Well first, as far as I’m concerned, any advantage in attracting good candidates is a good thing. Despite the persistent buzz about slow economic growth and resilient unemployment, it’s still tough to find the right people, and in our business, IT staffing, it’s incredibly competitive.

Second, it’s a relatively easy thing to accomplish, especially when you consider result #2, that images performed better than video. Video is much more time consuming and costly to produce. A simple image will get the job done.

Third, an image that highlights your products or services is likely to be something that you have on hand.  Not that it might not be a good idea to develop some specific images such as the examples given in the study results but until then, you could potentially achieve better results by adding a photo that you already have. Done and done.

As I said before, there are many steps in the hiring process and this is a small addition to one part, albeit a very important part of the process. But if a simple design element can give you an edge, take it!

Wendy Sun
VP of Recruiting
ATR International, Inc.


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