Location, Location, Location: Be Where Your Skillset Is

Location, Location, Location. You’ve heard the phrase time and again, but this key feature should remain at the forefront of your mind when looking to establish a business. There’s more to think about then the lowest rent and the nearest Starbucks. There’s even more to it than figuring out the habits of the customers you want to attract and the clients you want to work with. Entrepreneurs need to be aware that location has a significant effect on the talent pool and hiring process.

It is imperative for you to be where your skill set is. Without an ample pool of qualified potential employees in the area, you cannot build the team you need for a successful business. So, think about the team you want to build and the talent your company needs, and choose a spot accordingly.

Location matters when hiring for top talent.

Even in the best of locations, it is likely that some employees will spend significant travel time to get to the office. In fact, the average American is now spending over 100 hours a year commuting. It is likely that some of you are actually reading this on your commute right now! The odds are highest if you’re living in New York, the state with the longest average commute-to-work time at 30.4 minutes each way. Moreover, NYC has the highest percentage of “extreme” commuters with 5.6 percent spending over 90 minutes getting to work.

With rising gas prices and the ever-troubling economic climate, it is no surprise that more people are beginning to reconsider their willingness to travel long commutes to work. Employers need to find ways to compensate extreme commuters. Beyond monetary compensation, companies can offer flexible work schedules, telecommuting options, and increased benefits to keep their travelling employees happier, healthier, and more productive in the office.

However, if companies pick a location based on the skillsets their looking for, they reduce the need to make these accommodations for their commuters and have an overall happier employee network. Furthermore, a recent study found that entrepreneurs who locate their businesses where the local talent has strong ties to the communities are
more successful
.

So what’s the take away from all this? Location matters when hiring for talent. Keep the skillset you’re looking to hire in mind when establishing your business.

Post written by Donna Hanrahan, Social Media Coordinator at Whiting Consulting.

Guest Post: Multimedia – Breaking the Resume Mold in the 21st Century

Qualified candidates are regularly overlooked, and for the simplest of reasons: they didn’t plug the right combo of buzzwords into their resumes. Candidates are taking things into their own hands. In an attempt to circumvent the keyword-laden resume game, job seekers are adopting a more creative approach to captivating recruiters. Rather than dropping the resume altogether, the trend seems to be more focused on breaking away from over-automation and a return to the heart of what makes a good hire.

Laurie Barkman of The Resumator explains, “We’ve been told for a long time, ‘This is how you do recruiting, and here’s what matters,’ but organizations are now more interested in interactions that help to determine a good fit. And more nimble organizations are looking at people beyond the resume.”

All of that sounds nice, sure, but what’s working and what’s not? There are certain guidelines that you should always follow when submitting a resume regardless of mode of delivery, but are candidates simply covering up mistakes with aesthetics? If you ask me, resumes and the mulitmedia techniques being used are essentially marketing tools–and the function they serve isn’t changing. As Barkman states, “The question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Can multimedia enhance that message?’” If the answer is yes, there are four channels a candidate can tap into to accomplish this:

1.    Adding a Face and Voice with Video. By replacing a cover letter with a quick video pitch, job seekers can showcase skills and abilities lost in translation in a traditional resume. As Bruce Hurwitz of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing says, “Video can increase my confidence in a candidate’s ability to successfully interview–Is she professional? Is she articulate?–or eliminate a candidate from consideration.” Of course, time is money, and candidates need to give recruiters a reason to keep watching. My advice: personality is great, but don’t get too cute. Balance is key.

2.    Bringing Flat Resumes to Life with Infographics. Breaking out of the traditional resume template isn’t easy without a degree in design. But presenting a recruiter with a more visually stimulating overview of experience and qualifications can go a long way in setting a candidate apart. Thankfully, it doesn’t take an Adobe Illustrator savant to turn a boring old resume into an interesting infographic. Not only are these easy to create, but they’re easy to share across multiple channels.

3.    Showing Off on Personal Blogs. Blogs are an excellent platform for candidates to showcase their hobbies, writing and communication skills, and general interests. Think they’re just for marketing candidates? Think again. Even a meat cutter at Whole Foods can run a successful butcher blog to establish expertise and share experience with an avid audience. And candidates for and candidates for artistic positions can showcase their portfolio of work.

About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice, a resource for selecting a talent management or an applicant tracking system. Kyle reports on trends and best practices in HR and recruiting software—offering fresh insights into the ho-hum of people processes. For further reading, you can find this article in full on his HR blog.

Want to Keep Competitors from Taking Top Talent?

"employee benefits" "employee perks" "company benefits" "company perks" "retaining top talent"

Subsidized yoga classes, flexible hours, tuition reimbursement, oh my! How important perks are like these? In a word: very. It’s no secret that top talent is your company’s most valuable asset. The question is how do you retain it? Simply offering employer-paid health insurance and paid time off no longer does the trick when it comes to staying competitive and retaining high-quality workers. Benefits are not only valuable for companies to hire and retain top talent, but they also boost company morale and assure that employees to produce their highest-quality work.

A study by Canadian Life suggests that more than 50 percent of employees would take a job with a new employer, without a salary increase, if it offered better perks and benefits. So which perks hold the most sway with employees? Of course, it’s important not to ignore the basics. Competitive pay, generous medical benefits, paid vacation and holidays, pension plans, and sabbatical options are necessary but no longer sufficient to keep hire and retain top employees. Companies need to take it a step further.

People want to work for companies that offer a variety of benefits to keep employees motivated, healthy, and engaged. According to a survey from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., perks deemed highly-effective for retention include:

  • vacation/personal time (49%)
  • wellness-related benefits (43%)
  • flexible schedules (40%)
  • tuition reimbursement (27%)
  • telecommuting (25%)

Employees are becoming more and more interested in shaping their compensation packages to include a better work/life balance according to a survey conducted by WorldatWork, Loyola University Chicago, and the Hay Group. They are looking for companies that offer family-friendly policies, such as discounted childcare, generous maternity leave, and the option of a compressed workweek. Companies such as Dell are known to go so far as to provide college coaches for their employees’ kids!

While some perks, such as a comfortable and trendy work place, free language courses, company-sponsored community service activities, mentoring and coaching, or commuter benefits, may seem superfluous to some, they really do make a difference to employees. Happy and healthy employees are more engaged with their companies and produce higher-quality work. Furthermore, many potential employees are looking for extensive training and development programs that foster employee growth and mentoring and coaching systems.

While many companies had to cut perks during the recent recession, the situation is definitely looking up as more and more companies are recognizing the need to stay competitive to keep top talent. In fact, many companies are going beyond simply reinstating perks and are exceeding what was previously offered according to a study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The study shows that:

  • 83 percent of companies interviewed have reinstated at least some of their perks
  • 42 percent have at least returned to pre-recession levels
  • 24 percent are exceeding the perks that were previously offered

According to Gallup data, the companies excelling at these perk offerings will maintain their edge in the marketplace. Assuming perks equate to engagement, those companies can expect 49 percent higher employee-retention, 18 percent higher productivity, and 16 percent higher profits compared to the bottom 25 percent.

All too often, small businesses and startups with smaller benefit budgets struggle to attract employees with incentives. However, all is not for loss when it comes to company perks for small businesses without Google-size benefit budgets. You don’t need to have a rock-climbing wall or a movie theater in your office to keep employees satisfied. There are benefits small companies can provide that hold significant weight with potential employees. Across the board, there is one perk that is valuable to companies looking to hire top talent: flexibility. Adidas’ motto for its employees is “as few rules as necessary, as much flexibility as possible.”

While this seems to break the norm of the typical businesses structure, it is a great way to retain top talent, encourage innovation, and allow employees produce their highest quality work. Most importantly, being flexible is free. Trust your employees to know when they are most productive and allow them to work around this schedule.

What does your company do to stand out amongst its competitors when it comes to benefits and perks? This is an important question to keep in mind when it comes to building your company’s team. Be prepared to sell the position when the right candidates come along by having your benefits “bag of tricks” packed with variety and flexibility to meet your employees’ needs.

Post written by Donna Hanrahan, Marketing Intern at Whiting Consulting.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Holiday season!

Whiting Consulting, Chernee Vitello

Startup Q&A with Sonar Founder, Brett Martin

Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Brett Martin, CEO of the hot geo-based mobile application Sonar. Take a look at our conversation, as we dive into several topics including:  becoming an entrepreneur in the New York City startup scene, hiring for a startup, and experiences along the journey…

What has been your experience as a startup in New York City? What are some of the great things about it, and what are some of the challenges?

Every day is a new challenge. As a startup, you start from scratch where nothing exists, and everything needs to be looked after and fixed daily. New York is an amazing place with a small community where everyone is very supportive, and you can get advice from anyone. Sometimes the beginning of the startup process can feel isolating, but here in NY…there’s a whole community doing the same thing. Everyone is in it together.

What was the transition like coming out of the incubator?

Sonar was started out of the incubator, Appfund, which I helped set up. When we got off the ground and got funded by a west coast VC, that’s when Sonar became its own company. Today we are still tightly connected to the incubator, and share an office with another company that’s also part of Appfund. It’s a collaborative environment and Sonar is tuned in with “sharing the knowledge.” We occasionally pull people out from other teams to help get stuff done.

Mayor Bloomberg is proactively trying to make NYC the biggest tech hub. Have you seen any changes yet from your perspective?

The NY startup scene is not this “top-down” mandate from the government wanting a bigger startup scene. Quite the opposite – it emerged organically, because New York City is a perfect petri dish for mobile innovation. The high density of users–everyone’s on their cell phones, everyone’s trying to find stuff, and your friends are almost always nearby–that’s why Foursquare works, and Gilt Groupe works because all the fashion companies are here, and Etsy because there’s a cool DIY culture. So I wouldn’t say the startup scene is taking cues from the government, but the government is wisely looking and seeing what’s happening, then doing their best to accelerate and facilitate it.

It seems like you’ve had the entrepreneurial spirit for a long time. At what age did you start thinking about becoming an entrepreneur?

For me it was pretty early. Growing up in Ocean City Maryland off the beach, I would sell sea shells to my sister at a high cost to earn a few bucks. I always liked the idea of side hustles, and seeing the opportunity to make a quick buck and then capitalizing on it. Building companies has a much longer term view. Over the next few years, everyone is going to become increasingly networked with everyone else around them. We’re going to be socially networked just on the basis of proximity and location. That’s all Sonar is…this is how we’re going to position ourselves to take advantage of it.

I see that you were very active in sports in high school and led your teams as captain…would you say that being involved in sports was a major catalyst for your drive today?

Absolutely, but I think it’s the teamwork part of it that can’t be underestimated. Some people can come into the workforce without experience in a coordinated disciplined effort. Like we are all going to get to practice on time and run laps… because if you’re not there, the rest of the team can’t get started practicing. Similar to people who are only used to working individually–they don’t understand the need to follow a time table, because they have little experience with someone counting on it. But in a startup, everyone counts on everyone else, and if any one person stops, then everything falls apart. Understanding the need for and the power of teamwork is probably the biggest gift sports gave to me.

Who has been your role model to help guide you in the startup process?

I always wished I had a mentor or a role model, but my dad was an entrepreneur always building his own things. For me, it was more of solving my own problems…I just wanted to connect with people where ever I go, and Sonar is the tool that helps you do just that.

At the NYU Startup Week Panel, you mentioned that when you look at someone’s resume, you look to see if they’ve developed anything on their own. Aside from that, what is the biggest hiring attribute you look for: a hard skill or a soft skill, to hire in a startup?

Do they care about my startup? Are they interested in it? Have they downloaded and tried the app before walking into the door?  Are they self-starters? Have they already come up with ideas for what they’re going to do here?  I’m not in here in the business of telling people what to do….everyone I hire needs to be able to figure it out, what they need to do to make the product better. I am hiring them to figure out the problem, not just to do the work. Everyone is doing their best, so if I pull someone in, I expect them to make it better than what we’ve done by ourselves. The ability to come in with ideas and a plan for what you’re going to do the moment you walk through the door–that’s what you need to be successful at a startup. Big companies already have the processes in place and only need the human capital.  Startups don’t have any processes, so there’s nothing in place to ensure there’s a uniform output and no system to make sure they got it done. I look for people that will build their own processes to help themselves excel.

Your career page on your website is very unique and different from the standard job page, listing all its perks, focusing on company culture. Is the company culture something that evolved naturally?

We thought, “what would the person we would love to hire like?” Then we thought about some of the cool things we’d want to do and just threw them all up on the site. So it’s basically a reflection of what the team thought was cool and what we thought would interest people that we’d like to work with. It’s more like a wish list: if you come here, we’ll give you all of this.

The word “entrepreneur,” sounds like a very lonely word every time I hear it. After my talk with Brett, I realized just how much deeper it can be interpreted, based from his experiences. An entrepreneur intertwines their ideas within the startup community to help develop better processes…then hires the right people who can execute the idea beyond the entrepreneur’s wildest expectations. In the end, it all comes down to teamwork, dedication, and communication for a startup to persevere.

 

Brett Martin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Sonar. Prior to founding Sonar, Brett conceived of and built game-changing mobile technology companies as the Director of K2 Media in NYC. Prior to K2, he and a college friend moved to Austin, taught themselves how to code, and built the Data Owl, the world’s first automated social media monitoring service for small businesses. Before that, he researched start-ups as a Fulbright Fellow in Milano, Italia.

In his previous lives, Brett has worked at VBS.tv as an Internet marketing associate and on Wall Street as an equity research associate. Other things he is proud of include getting published by Harvard Business, founding a rock band, starting a non-profit, earning a B.A. in economics from Dartmouth College, and sailing thousands of miles from Maine to Dominica in a 30ft ketch.

Guest Post: Social Net Works!

I believe in social networking! As a career consultant I use social media tools to help job seekers by sharing blog posts and relevant news.  What I’ve found over the past several years is that I’ve built real friendships with interesting people all over the country and all over the world. This has enriched my life and grown my network. I have developed mutually beneficial relationships with connections, followers and friends.  I am never quite sure when, where or why we’ll need each other; however, I do value them all for different reasons: a future client referral, a potential guest blog post, a promising partnership, great thought-leadership and new ideas, or just for fun.  I am in this game of networking for the long haul and I hope you think of it that way too.  The follow story helps explain how social networks can help lead to a job.

The Social Exchange

I am fairly active on Twitter and I am dabbling with Google Plus. Though most of my exchanges are on Twitter, there is something really nice about being able to have a dialogue on Google Plus because you are not limited to 140 characters and you can see the string of exchanges, very much like you can on Facebook. This is exactly what happened when I shared a post on Google Plus and received the following response/comment:

Careersherpa, "hannah morgan"

I loved this description of what they were looking for and I immediately posted it on a LinkedIn group for job seekers in our city. There were several people in this network who responded and at least one of the inquiries turned out to be the Goddess!

This is why it worked:

1. The job description, though brief, served as an insightful teaser for further conversation. (for more on job descriptions you can read Employers: Your Job Posting Sucks, Part II from YouTern.)

2. Because many job seekers aren’t active yet on Google Plus, I knew I had to share the opportunity where it would be found- a LinkedIn group of high caliber job seekers.

3. Most importantly, I knew the company, not well, but had been following them on Twitter for at least a year and we had shared information with each other previously. There was an existing familiarity and I was happy to help. I was also familiar with the group of job seekers, many of whom I had met. It was easy for me to post this description on the group and serve as the intermediary because I personally believed in these job seekers.

Trust, familiarity, and willingness to help. This is why social networking works!

The Employer’s Story

Now, from the employers side of the desk.  I asked Kelly Cheatle to tell her version of the story and this is what she said:

My partner and I have a pretty unusual business, we create large-scale balloon installations and balloon-based illustrations (You really need to see for yourself: www.airigami.com) Business has been going very well- but as we’ve been growing- our need for someone else to help manage all of the details that come along with that growth was becoming more and more apparent. So we spent many an evening trying to craft the perfect description of our ideal candidate, what skills they might have, etc. And we could never seem to list them all- we jokingly said we needed to hire someone who’d know what they were supposed to be doing.

When I first posted to your google+ page, in response to a discussion about hiring/job openings in Rochester, I rather cheekily said we needed a Goddess and listed a few super-powers. It was enough to intrigue a candidate to apply for the position. We hired her. She seems, (and her references glowingly agree) to be the sort of person you could put into any situation, and she’d find not only the most important things that needed to be done- but facilitate getting them done. This is EXACTLY what we need, and I’m glad we snatched her up!

THANK YOU!!

I am fairly certain, many smaller employers are perplexed and a bit overwhelmed by how to hire the right person. It is a daunting task and one they do not enter into lightly nor want to repeat. Social networking tools allow small and even large employers to tap into their networks and source candidates (for free). JobVite’s 2011 eBook “33 Essential Recruiting Stats“ cites a Burson-Marsteller study which shows the social networks being used by Fortune 100 companies.

Jobvite ebook Job Seeker Survey

More Proof That Social Networks Work

Jobvite’s Social Job Seeker Survey 2011 finds:

Jobvite Social Job Seeker Survey 2011

I hope this has helped convince you that using social networks to stay in contact with past employees, family members and all sorts of friends is more important than ever before- and there are tools to make it easy.  There is so much more to be said about the benefits of social networks, but the point I am trying to make is “don’t miss out” by not participating!

Hannah Morgan, aka @careersherpa on Twitter, provides advice and insights for job search, personal reputation management, and social media strategies via her site Career Sherpa.net. As a Career Consultant, Hannah draws upon her experience in Human Resources, Outplacement Services and Workforce Development to guide those new to job search through the process and towards their goals. Feel free to follow if you like what you see here. You can also find her on Google +, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Guest Post: Women in Business

I have never once been impressed by the fact that I am a female entrepreneur. What I am proud of, is that I started my own business, grew it to $2.5 million and 17 employees, opened a second office in Boston and have never had a layoff in 10 years. None of those accomplishments has anything to do with being a woman.

I could be the world’s worst feminist.  I just think that we accomplish what we want to accomplish, regardless of the obstacles – real and self-imposed – we face.

There is no doubt that women and other minorities in today’s predominantly white male-dominated white-collar business world face discrimination. I just think too many of us use it as an excuse instead of finding our own, maybe new pathways.

For example, one of my clients is a venture-capital firm that was founded by three women. They were all incredibly successful in their previous jobs in investment banking because they are smart, worked extremely hard and knew how to stand up for themselves. Today, they’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars and invest in exciting technology companies – all on their own terms. And I’ve never heard one of them blame the male establishment for their having gone their own entrepreneurial route.

Whenever I encounter someone who I suspect has defined me by my gender vs. my professional skills and strengths, I view it as a personality clash.

Frankly, I probably wouldn’t want to do business with someone so close-minded and judgmental anyway, so I instead seek out clients and partners who have the personal attributes I respect.

 

Laura Grimmer, Articulate Communications

Laura Grimmer is a communications strategist with nearly 20 years’ experience, and  Founder of Articulate Communications. Laura’s clients have included industry-defining companies like USinternetworking; leading services firms such as Sapient (NASDAQ: SAPE) and Pricewaterhouse Coopers; and enterprise software solutions leaders like CDC Software (NASDAQ: CHINA), Manugistics (NASDAQ: MANU), MAPICS (NASDAQ: MAPE) and Microsoft Great Plains.

She works closely with every Articulate client to define corporate messages and ensure the programs clearly align with business objectives. She is an active resource for every team and client for ongoing or special projects.

In addition, Laura also taps her wide network of best-of-breed service providers to deliver various counsel as needed, from investor relations to crisis communications and presentation training.

Laura leverages her experience for clients as a journalist, including positions as a reporter and senior editor with The Associated Press, the world’s largest news organization. She honed her expertise in technology at a Boston-based mid-sized PR firm in the 1990s, opening and running its Washington, D.C., and New York offices before launching Articulate in 2001.

Laura earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina.

 

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