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October 29, 2014 / Molly Moseley

Hiring overqualified candidates: Big win or big risk?

A Ph.D. vying for a job that only requires a B.A. A candidate with more than three times the years of working experience recommended in the job listing. An experienced executive applying for a middle-management position. Despite a recovering economy, recruiters and hiring managers still see many overqualified candidates applying for lower-level jobs, particularly in competitive markets where unemployment is higher and quality jobs are rarer.

The big question is: Should you consider hiring overqualified candidates?

A lot of hiring managers avoid overqualified candidates for numerous reasons. They fear the candidates are settling and will ultimately be unhappy or leave at their first opportunity. Some people feel threatened by the thought of working with someone who has extensive experience. Others worry about how established teams will get along with new, highly experienced coworkers, and – furthermore – whether the overqualified person will challenge authority.

These worries are all speculation and many issues can be managed by taking the correct approach during the hiring process to vet out a candidate’s true motives and ensure a successful partnership. Here are five important questions to consider when interviewing overqualified applicants:

1. How does the candidate address being overqualified?
Always conduct an honest interview. There’s no need to ignore the fact that the candidate is overqualified, and it’s best to address this matter head-on. Ask her why she wants the job considering her qualifications and gauge her interest based on the response. You want to learn if the person wants the position for the right reasons.

2. Without extra experience, is this person still a good hire?
Hiring someone just because he has an incredible amount of experience is a mistake if you overlook some of the most basic elements you seek in all employees. Ask yourself: Even without the qualifications, is this person still a smart hire? Does he have a personality and work ethic that aligns with the team and the company culture? If the answers are no, then the extra experience really has no value.

3. What are the candidate’s short and long-term goals?
Ask what the candidate’s goals are for today and the future. Do the answers match the company’s needs? In addition, it’s important to discuss what opportunities are available for this person down the road. Hiring for the position with a clear plan for future progress can ensure you use the employee’s skills to the fullest and keep them engaged. Provide realistic expectations so the employee knows what to expect.

4. How much salary can be offered?
With more experience often comes a higher salary. If a candidate held positions in the past that paid more than what you can offer, mention the pay scale in the interview to ensure it’s not an issue. When it comes time to negotiate, stick to the scale, but don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. A 10-percent wage increase might make a highly qualified candidate happier and more likely to stay long term; be wary if they want significantly more than what you can offer.

5. Would she be better as a temp employee or a consultant?
If someone is overqualified for a position, there’s a good chance she is unemployed. Bottom line: she wants to work. If you are leery of hiring a person full-time for fear she’ll leave or be a poor fit, consider alternatives like a temp-to-hire position. High-level candidates might also be open to being a consultant who gets paid hourly with a monthly contract. These can be good ways to try a candidate out to ensure a mutually beneficial partnership.

 

October 27, 2014 / Molly Moseley

Ninja, warrior, guru: Why job titles shouldn’t be cute or clever

LinkUpNinjaA job title is a few words that describes what you do for work. Most of the time, these words are pretty straight forward, however there is a fine line between being too generic to know what a job entails and too cute to be taken seriously.

Most recently we have seen an upswing in creative-sounding job titles. Listings for ninjasgurus and wizards have started to appear on job search sites like LinkUp. They may seem fun and lighthearted, but something too cute or too clever can backfire for numerous reasons.

From a business perspective, it’s going to be difficult for people to know who does what at the organization if titles are too creative to really make sense. Who wants to ask for the “operations ninja” on the phone or address an invoice to that person, when really they just want to speak with the director of operations? Even in creative industries like marketing and advertising, it’s best to stick to industry-standard job titles to prevent confusion and maintain business integrity.

Even more importantly from a recruiting perspective, it is highly unlikely that a job seeker looking for an accounting position is going to search for a job title like: “master of numbers.” Let’s be smart here, if job seekers can’t find your listings, you can’t hire them.

From the employee’s perspective, it might initially seem cool to be the “certified tech warrior” rather than boring old technical support. But what does that look like on your resume or LinkedIn? You’re building your professional reputation, and does that title really place you in the best light? Furthermore, you know at every future job interview you’re going to be asked about it; 10 years from now it might be frustrating to explain that you really aren’t a warrior.

At best meaningless and at worst downright laughable, these are some of the most awful words that can appear in job titles:

Guru
Example: executive accounting guru, administrative guru
Merriam-Webster defines guru as “a teacher or guide that you trust.” In the typical business environment, the word guru in a title is more likely to raise eyebrows than enhance levels of trust. Best to skip the enlightened jargon if you want to be taken seriously.

Ninja
Example: senior brand ninja, customer relations ninja
Yes, you kick ass at your job, but you’re not in a movie. Therefore, leave the ninja and warrior references to the stars on Hollywood Blvd. Instead, focus on your core responsibilities and how you can truly impress your boss so you can karate chop your way to your next real promotion.

Magician
Example: marketing magician, magician of sales analysis
Lesson: You might make magic happen for your clients, but with a funny title, you may not get the account in the first place. If you’re talented at your job, your work will speak for itself. (You’re not a wizard either, in case you were wondering.)

Master
Example: master of digital marketing, finance master
You are not a master, you are a manager. You are not a lord, you are a director. You are not a maven, you are researcher. Words like these are really only appropriate at a Renaissance festival. In thy professional realm – not so much. They are easily misunderstood and can actually be quite offensive. (Do you want to refer to your boss as master?)

Life is short and we know you can’t take everything seriously. When it comes to your career, though, it is serious. Skip the cutesy titles and clever verbiage in your job title, and leave the fun for your weekends away from the office.

October 22, 2014 / Stephanie Anderson

LinkedIn endorsements: worthwhile or worthless?

shutterstock_15211867LinkedIn endorsements have been around for about 2 years now, and in that time they have had extremely mixed reviews. Some people view endorsements as a key way to build your personal brand and improve professional networking. Others think of them as meaningless – a skills popularity contest with no real connection to actual experience.

What are LinkedIn endorsements? It’s when a first-degree connection rates you for having a particular skill. Those who dislike endorsements argue that virtually anyone can endorse a contact for a skill, not necessarily someone who has directly worked with the person and knows firsthand they do indeed have that particular skill. Plus, because people vouch for skills in hopes of getting reciprocal endorsements, it can quickly become a situation of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” People have become jaded and some ignore endorsements completely.

Even though endorsements can get out of hand, they shouldn’t be ignored. When actively managed, they can complement the rest of your LinkedIn profile and help give better insight into your professional skill set. Here are six tips for managing LinkedIn endorsements so they actually matter:

1. Add skills in order of importance
For newbies, to get endorsements you need to add skills to your profile. Do so in the order of importance to you because they will be one of the first things connections will see – and perhaps the things they are most likely to click on. Once you get a lot of endorsements, that skill will rise to the top of the list and skills will be sorted by the number of endorsements

2. Don’t use all 50 skills
You can select up to 50 skills on LinkedIn, but you should select far less. Even savvy LinkedIn users make this mistake. Try focusing on your 10 core skills. Your personal brand must be managed, and if you want to be known for certain qualifications, focus on those skills that really count. Remember, endorsements are factored into search to improve LinkedIn algorithms and SEO accuracy, so tailoring skills in this way can have big benefits.

3. Take the selection process seriously
You work in IT but want to show you have a sense of humor, so you select “fire eating” as a skill that connections can endorse. Your buds get a good laugh and endorse it right away. It skyrockets right to the top of your skills list on your profile and now it’s the first thing you get asked about at every interview. Whoops!

4. Be smart about who you endorse
When you endorse someone, make sure you can stand behind your selections. Every time you endorse a contact, that activity displays in your LinkedIn newsfeed, boosting your exposure. Furthermore, you are connecting yourself to this person directly, and if something negative happens to him professionally it could reflect poorly on you. Be careful.

5. Be selective
Your LinkedIn profile represents your career and personal brand. Just because a contact endorses you, you don’t have to accept it. Be selective and unapologetic. You can hide, delete or reject an endorsement if it doesn’t serve your best interests.

6. All components should be complementary
Endorsements are virtually meaningless unless they match what your LinkedIn profile states. Make sure your endorsed skills are backed by the information you provide about your professional experience. Otherwise they are just words that everyone will simply ignore.

October 15, 2014 / Molly Moseley

10 tips for keeping your office healthy this flu season

Cold and flu season is officially here, and as concerns rise about the potential spread of Ebola, Enterovirus 68 and other illnesses, keeping the workplace healthy is a top priority.

“According to the CDC, nearly 111 million workdays are lost because of seasonal influenza, costing employers approximately $7 billion annually in sick days and lost productivity,” says Alan Kohll, CEO of TotalWellness, a corporate health and wellness solutions provider.

It’s inevitable that employees will be impacted by cold, flu and other ailments, but there is a lot businesses can do to minimize the effects of sickness and keep employees healthy, happy and productive.

“The number one thing employers can do to keep their workplace influenza free is to encourage employees to get vaccinated against influenza,” says Dr. Amesh Adalja, a board-certified infectious disease physician. “This is the chief means of preventing influenza in any setting.”

Here are 10 steps for keeping employees healthy and minimizing the spread of illness during cold and flu season:

1. Educate employees
Many employees confuse the flu with other illnesses. Provide educational materials about symptoms and how viruses and germs are spread. Additionally, provide information about the safety, effectiveness and importance of getting the flu shot.

2. Host a clinic
Holding a vaccination clinic onsite during office hours is a great way to give employees access to the flu shot so they don’t have to get it on their own time.

3. Encourage frequent hand washing
Post proper hand-washing steps by all sinks, and make sure soap and towels are always readily available.

4. Provide hand sanitizer
Consider supplying bottles of hand sanitizer for each employee’s desk. This makes it easy for each person to sanitize their hands throughout the day.

5. Clean desks frequently
On average, desks have 21,000 germs per square inch – 400 times more than a toilet. Encourage employees to wipe down their desk each day with disposable disinfecting wipes.

6. Cough the right way
Most adults grew up thinking you should cough into your hands. Today, we know you should cough into your elbow to prevent the spread of germs. Make sure employees young and old understand this.

7. Revisit PTO and sick leave policies
Remind people the importance of staying home sick while ill, and put a contingency plan in place for covering while they are gone. Consider making telecommuting an option for sick employees so they can work from home.

8. Lead by example
Employees will follow management’s lead. If the boss comes in while ill, they will, too. Be sure to lead by example and stay home if you’re sick; employees will be more likely to do the same.

9. Disseminate health insurance information
Does the company health plan cover the flu shot? Is there a nurse hotline employees can call with questions when they feel ill? Make sure employees know this important information at the start of cold and flu season.

10. Sanitize common spaces
Common spaces like the office kitchen, break rooms and meeting areas are where people congregate and therefore spread germs. Sanitize common spaces frequently by having the cleaning crew take additional steps this time of year.

What steps are you taking to encourage healthy habits this flu season?

October 10, 2014 / Molly Moseley

HR Tech Conference 2014 Highlights

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… well most of the time. We had a fantastic time at HR Tech last week in Vegas.  We spoke with nearly 200 HR professionals, debuted our new nautical LinkUp sock design, and showed off our new and improved job search iPhone application. It was most certainly a success!

What were your top highlights from HR Tech? Here are ours:

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5. Delicious bites

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4. Taking in the sights

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3. Awesome Shows (O – Cirque de Solei)

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2. Wedding Crashing

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And the number one LinkUp highlight from HR Tech 2014 was…

1. Meeting all of you!

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We hope you had an equally awesome time, and that you picked up a pair of our stylish new nautical LinkUp socks. If not, be sure to request a one here.

sock anchor

October 4, 2014 / Toby Dayton

Strong Jobs Numbers For September Were Not A Surprise To LinkUp

In today’s Employment Situation Report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the U.S. economy added a very solid net gain of 248,000 jobs in September. The report also included upward revisions for both July and August, capping off a strong quarter and continuing the momentum we’ve seen in the labor market for most of the year. While the report was a surprise to the upside for many economists and pundits, coming in quite a bit ahead of the Bloomberg Consensus Estimate, the data was entirely consistent with what we expected at LinkUp based on our job openings data from the past few months. After the serious miss in our forecast in August, we were pleased to get the September call pretty much on the mark.

 

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Each month during our labor market update on the Wednesday before the BLS data is released, we grade our forecast from the prior month and provide a look back at how we’ve done in each period YTD. Following the release of September’s data, with the possibility that both August and September data could still be revised, we’d give ourselves the following grades for the year:

YTD grade thru September

It’s been a little bit of a rocky year but overall, I’d say our data and the forecasting model we’ve built around it have been nicely correlated to job gains in future months. On a year-to-date basis, our forecasting has tracked almost perfectly to the number of net jobs gained in the the U.S. so far this year.

YTD total jobs versus BLS and Bloomberg

The job gains in Q3, while not quite as high as Q2 of this year, rank the quarter as the 3rd best quarter since 2011 in terms of net jobs added to the economy.

Job gains by qtr

During our monthly labor market update this week, I also included a slide on retail job openings this year compared to the previous two years. In looking at our data to see if we could get a sense of what we might expect in Q4 in terms of the retail sector, holiday sales, and general consumer spending, we were able to identify two very positive trends.

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As the chart above shows, holiday hiring not only began earlier in 2014 than it has in prior years, but those elevated levels of increased labor demand have been sustained for a longer period of time than in both 2012 and 2013. (As a side note, the increase in the total number of jobs from year to year is largely explained by the addition of new companies into the LinkUp index rather than any net increase in the total number of retail jobs in the U.S.). So despite some trepidation going into Q4 as a result of the declining the rate of job opening growth in LinkUp’s job search engine over the past 4 months, we remain cautiously optimistic that the labor market will maintain its forward momentum and that monthly job growth will continue in Q4.

LinkUp’s monthly labor market update for October will be held at 4PM CST on Wednesday, November 5th. If you are interested in attending, please register here.

 

 

 

 

October 2, 2014 / Stephanie Anderson

F@#% It, and Other Terrible Ways to Quit Your Job

6 Terrible Ways to Quit Your Job Guaranteed to Haunt You Later

“(Expletive) it, I quit.”

While there may have been times in your career you’ve felt like saying this to your boss, you probably haven’t. The Alaskan reporter saying that exact phrase on live TV may have made for a great viral video, but her choice to quit in such a manner won’t likely help her career in the long run. Even if she has impressive skills and undying passion, she’ll probably always be known as the woman who cursed on live TV and probably got her employer in trouble with the FCC.

Whether you quit due to a new job opportunity or you simply can’t hack it anymore, it’s always best to not burn any bridges by telling your boss off. Your professional reputation is so crucial these days, and in the era of the Internet, you’d better believe if you quit in a dramatic manner, people will talk. It might not be documented for eternity in a viral video, but you’ll always be surprised who knows who and how even decades down the line your past actions can affect future opportunities.

Consider these six horrific ways to quit your job and avoid doing them at all costs:

1. Not show up
If not for your boss, for the sake of your coworkers, always have the respect to show up and quit. Deciding to simply not show up one day is a poor reflection on your character that will tick off your boss and your colleagues who now have to cover your workload.

2. Dramatic statement
This isn’t the movies, so if you quit in a sudden declaration to your employer, you won’t earn yourself high fives. Just like the poor anchor on the Alaskan news show that had to apologize to viewers after the reporter swore and quit, you’ll just shock everyone and make them feel uncomfortable.

3. Lack of proper notice
Sure, you show up, but giving a day’s notice is just slightly better than not showing up at all. Don’t leave your employer completely high and dry; always leave on good terms and set coworkers up for success after your departure.

4. Self sabotage
You hate your job but you’re too afraid to quit, so you start slacking and argue with everyone from the receptionist to your boss in hopes of getting fired. Not only is this completely aggravating for everyone who has to spend eight or more hours with you a day, it’s not what you want on your resume, either.

5. Stealing
You gave your two-week’s notice, trained your coworkers so they can cover your responsibilities and cleaned out your office. But in addition to packing up family photos, you also took your clientele list and some proprietary information. Now your former employer is suing you and your reputation is shot.

6. Without a plan
Having another job lined up prior to quitting your current position is ideal, but even if you don’t you must fully understand what you don’t like so you can seek a better fit in the future. Not knowing and quitting suddenly will just perpetuate the cycle, and you may have to take the first job available so you can continue to pay the bills.

 

October 1, 2014 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting Upward Revision Of August Numbers & Net Gain of 265,000 Jobs In September; Expect A Weak Q4 Unless We See AP (#28) and QE (#4)

As the leaves begin to turn up here in Minnesota and thoughts turn to once again to skating on frozen lakes and ponds, it also marks the time of year where one can hop on the roller coaster thrill-ride that is the Minnesota Vikings. With a seemingly endless supply of ups and downs and twists and turns, the Vikings never cease to turn stomachs, and this year is certainly no different. Just 4 games into the season, there have already been enough story lines with this year’s team to keep ESPN busy for weeks, from outdoor football in Minnesota to AP and Teddy to Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner. As has always been the case with the Vikings, there is just enough promise to remain hopeful, excited even, and yet there are also plenty of reasons to be very concerned and keep one’s emotions in check.

The exact same thing could be said about the U.S. labor market. While there are a number of very positive indicators that potentially point to continued job gains, an equal number of flashing yellow lights have appeared on the horizon, forcing one to acknowledge that the road ahead likely entails some unexpected nausea.

In September, new job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine (which only includes jobs found on corporate websites) remained flat from August. New job openings on corporate websites throughout the country rose by roughly 60,000 in September to 1.98 million, a gain of 3% from August.

Jobs by State September 2014

The data in terms of job openings by category presents the exact same picture, with new job openings remaining flat from August and total jobs climbing just 3% from the prior month.

Jobs by Category September 2014

Looking at the year in total, new and total job openings in our search engine, particularly new job openings, have been steadily declining since a pretty decent showing in the first half of the year. Although we had a nice string of positive months over the summer, the pace of job openings growth has steadily declined, and average new job openings turned negative in September for the first time since May.

Job Openings On LinkUp By Month 2014

As a result of the steady gains in job openings we saw between June and August, we forecasted a very strong jobs number last month. We also indicated at the time that job gains would remain solid through the fall and into Q4 based on the leading indicator for labor demand (in the form of 2.4 million job openings sourced from the 50,000 or so corporate employers in LinkUp’s job search engine). But alas, like the Vikings upset win over the Patriots a few weeks ago that was not meant to be, we were devastated by a dismal jobs report last month. And while there are plenty of reasons to expect a significant upward revision to August’s numbers on Friday and despite our forecast for a solid number for September, our rosy outlook for the U.S. labor market in Q4 is far more tempered than it was just 30 days ago.

LinkUp September 2014 Jobs Forecast

For Friday’s jobs report, we expect the BLS to report a net gain of 265,000 jobs in September, a very solid number to be sure. But unfortunately after that, the downward trend we’ve seen in LinkUp’s job openings over the past few months (and actually the entire year) will begin to weigh heavily on the labor market. As a result, we have some serious concerns about the kinds of jobs numbers we might see in Q4.

What we really could use at the moment is for the reappearance of AP (#28) and QE (#4).

September 30, 2014 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp’s Monthly Labor Market Update Webinar Is Scheduled For October 1st

Each month on the Wednesday before the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Employment Situation Report, we provide a comprehensive analysis of the current state of the U.S. labor market along with a forecast of the monthly jobs numbers. Our insights and forecasts are based on our highly unique job search engine that only indexes jobs from company websites. With a current index of 2.3 million job openings sourced directly from 50,000 companies throughout the U.S., LinkUp is able to deliver both a macro and a micro perspective on U.S. labor demand.

Our next webinar, which will cover our data for September as well as our forecast for this Friday’s BLS release, is scheduled for 4PM CST tomorrow. If you are interested in attending the webinar, please register here.

 

September 23, 2014 / Stephanie Anderson

5 red flags an employer has terrible work-life balance

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Employees today put a premium on good work-life balance, and as noted in our last blog, they rate it ahead of money, recognition and autonomy when defining career success. But many job-seekers avoid asking questions about work-life balance during the interview process for fear that they might seem lazy or selfish. As a job seeker, how can you learn which employers embrace a culture that balances work-life demands and which ones only claim to?

A little detective work and strategic research can go a long way in telling you which companies practice what they preach. Keep an eye out for these five red flags that indicate a company does not value work-life balance.

1. Bad reputation
The Internet is full of information and it’s not difficult to learn what current and past employees think of an employer. There are numerous sites that let employees rate their experiences at different companies, and it’s easy to research workplace conversations by searching hashtags on Twitter. Dig around and see what people are saying. Additionally, go through your network and see who has worked for or had experience with the company and give them a call or write an email; most people are happy to give their honest assessment.

2. No work-life info on the company website
Go through the company website and look at the hiring and career pages. You’ll want to find information on work-life balance policies. Companies that have this type of culture will typically share it in hopes of luring top talent. If there is no information about work-life benefits, it might be a red flag that few or none exist.

3. Unhappy atmosphere
When you communicate with the hiring managers, are they friendly and open or do they seem exhausted and unengaged? When you go in for an interview, do people seem to have a positive attitude, or are they just grumpy? How employees interact with you and one another may indicate whether they are happy or potentially overworked and unsatisfied.

4. Key cultural indicators
You must look at the big picture for clearer evidence of work-life balance. For example, does the company regularly have social events later in the evening? Happy hours at 9 p.m. are not compatible with the social lives of many people. Family picnics and bring-your-kid-to-work days are indicative of a culture that values life outside of work. Another hint: How many women are in leadership roles? The presence of female executives might indicate that a company values family and flexibility while promoting hard work.

5. Short answers to work-life balance questions
Of course you don’t want to lead by asking questions that only seem to benefit you, but there’s no reason you can’t ask some basic tactful questions about a company’s culture and work-life balance initiatives, especially on second and third interviews. If the interviewer provides only short answers or avoids these types of questions, it’s a big red flag that these policies don’t exist.

Not sure how to bring up work-life balance during an interview? Here are some tactful ways to ask and gain insight:

  • Can you describe a typical work week for this position?
  • What are the hours and can I expect to work on the weekends?
  • Will the people I work with have the same schedule, or do some have flexible work hours?
  • What is the corporate culture like?
  • What sort of social activities do employees participate in together?
  • Does anyone at the company telecommute?
  • (And, if you are so bold…) Does the company have any work-life balance policies or benefits?