2017: A New Year – Same old problems or not?

I work for a staffing service so I tend to think in terms of candidates, clients, and of course staffing services. What are the continuing issues?

Staffing services. Naturally, Merit never does anything wrong, ever, but as for the others? Oh dearie me… in 2017, it’s going to be a) Return candidates’ phone calls promptly. b) Remember to give candidates some feedback. I’m thinking specifically when clients don’t return OUR calls; we have to remember to let the candidates know. “No message to relate” often becomes “forget to tell the world it’s no message”. c) Give good advice about resume writing and thank you letters. As a quick rule of thumb, if an agency tells you something I disagree with, I’m always right, and don’t listen to anyone else who tells you otherwise (er, cough, cough). e.g. Who are these recruiters out there who still say resumes can only be one page? Puh-leeze.

Candidates. a) You don’t always follow up often or quickly enough with the agency. We CARE how the interview went. b)You have to proof your resumes and thank you letters really carefully. You’re not always going to get anal Margaret to do it for you, so please quadruple-check everything. c) Take it all very seriously if you really want a job. Return phone calls as quickly as possible, be on time for interviews (you’d think that would be a DUH one), look and act the part, do your homework, keep the agency in the loop.

Clients. At the risk of annoying any of my clients who are all FABULOUS, btw, other agencies’ clients sometimes take f-a-r- too long to get back about resumes, interview times, interview feedback, and final decisions, especially when, alas, it’s a no. We know they have all sorts of other priorities but still…

Finally..2017. What are the new-ish issues? a) NYC doesn’t allow credit checking anymore. Woo hoo. b) Companies more and more these days are expecting a four-year degree for accounting, administrative, reception, sales and customer service jobs. Previously it was advantageous, not essential. What to do if you don’t have a four-year degree? Find a staffing service that can persuade the client that they’re being silly. c) We’re seeing more jobs at last becoming available than we did in 2015 and 2016, especially in the administrative and accounting fields. Long may this trend continue.

Sigh….Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read this blog

If I see that phrase “time out of your busy schedule” one more time in a thank you letter to potential employers, I shall SPIT. It is such a cliché, there is no excuse for using it ever under any circumstances. Whatsoever. Remember, this blog on the Merit website is called “Margaret says” and this is one of those times when Margaret says and isn’t going to listen to any “Yes, but what if”s”…Please don’t ever use it. Actually, if I had ten dollars for every time I’ve read it in a thank you letter/email, I’d be sunning myself on a beach, not listening, for example, to the sounds of the OWS, Occupy Wall Street, protesters who were noisily marching past the building as I first wrote this blog a couple of years ago.

Ok, that’s my harrumph grumble harrumph over. What do you say instead? There are different ways to say the same thing…I mean, it WAS good of the interviewer, who will indeed probably be very busy, to give you some time to explain the job and listen to you. So… just phrase it differently. “Thank you so much for meeting me; I really appreciate it”, “Thank you for your time”, “Thank you for being so generous with your time”, “Thank you for the time you to took to explain to me…”.

As for the rest of the letter – and these days, that usually means an email. With luck you’ll be back for second interview before the snail mail letter would have arrived – Less Is More. Write about what you learned in the interview. “I was pleased to hear that your department has a system of tracking…”, “that you’re going to expand”, “that you interface with…” . and then of course relate that information to your own skills and experience. Explain what you can do for the company – you have a chance to help the department be successful by bringing your skills, experience and personality to the job. That’s going to resonate with them more than the fact that you want a challenge. It also proves, incidentally, that you didn’t just copy and paste a template thank you letter from the Internet.

Sometimes one paragraph is enough, sometimes two. There are exceptions to this but, if you’re using a staffing service, a good counselor will talk you through it all.

By the way, address the person as Mr, Ms, Dr in a thank you. Not first names. Even if they’ve been very friendly, it’s still better to be more formal in written correspondence. And for heavens’ sakes, proof your thank you letter. More than once. A company doesn’t know and love you yet; all they have to go on is your resume, how you performed at interview and your thank you note. Mistake-ridden isn’t going to help your chances.

That’s it, class! If you do have any questions, “But what about when….” then please let me know.