Five Ways Your Tech Company Can Get Better Talent

posted by NextGen'rs |

It’s getting harder to find good tech talent. There are simple things you can do to improve your chances of enlisting the next rockstar. Don’t miss out by overlooking the easy stuff. Here are five tactics to remember.

1. Test Applicants.

Maybe it’s written or oral, maybe it’s an aspect of a current project. Use the test to gauge how well the applicant is able to solve problems. Not only will this tell you if the person is right for the company, it will tell you where they best belong within the company.

2. Cultural Fit.

Does the person seem like he’ll be able to team up with the others? Will they be OK with the surroundings? Noise levels? Foosball table OK? Headphone-friendly? You probably have an idea around what personality types will flourish. Don’t forget to consider this when hiring. It’s important.

3. Group Interview.

The more people you make part of the decision, the more you can expect to get everyone’s help in onboarding the right person. Make it everyone’s job to hire great talent.

4. Think potential. Not Skills.

You’re hiring someone for future work not past performance. Do the best job you can at gauging how well you can mold the person into the demands your company will have. The things that make people succeed are passion and general competency. If you have those, there’s a lot you can do and it can be more meaningful than past performance.

5. Get Your Employees to Make Referrals.

It’s a great way to find talent. Think of how much it costs your business to hire and if an employee makes that easier, share some of that with them.

Consider employing these five tactics for evaluating prospective candidates and you’ll be much more likely to find a competent, enthusiastic employee that is a great fit for your company.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

So You Want to Hire a Millennial

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Much is being made about the fact that there are more millennials in the workforce than any other somewhat arbitrarily arranged group of people. That sounds pretty crazy until you look at who qualifies as a millennial (anyone born after 1980). That’s a pretty sizeable population. While it’s fun, lot’s of fun, to generalize about the habits of millennials, do these generalizations hold true? Well, polls continue to suggest they do. Keep these tips in mind for handling the millennial.

Think Beyond the Resume

Millennials are probably the most self-taught generation. They’ve taught themselves how to code, how to use different platforms and software, etc. So you might not see the certifications and degrees you want to see, but when it comes to skills it’s possible they have them.

Job Hopping

Millennials might not have a track record for long tenures, but consider the economic conditions that have created this. An enormous recession bookended by years of stagnant wages. This has forced millennials to tread through murky economic conditions and be more agile. The job hopping doesn’t necessarily mean lack of loyalty or attention span. It could simply mean they’re survivors, and they’ve had to forge their own path.

Work that Has Meaning

It’s not that a paycheck is unimportant; it’s that it’s not everything. Millennials understand the need to be part of the workforce but will work to carve out a meaningful place. This shouldn’t be mistaken for naivete. They want to be part of the system and they want the system to get better. When you want to incentivize millennials think about pointing out the meaningfulness of the work.

Advice for hiring millennials could be simply thought of as the evolving best practices of providing the right incentives to attract the new wave of talent. If you want your company to keep up with this (you should) then it’s OK to have a chuckle at the term millennial and the obsession our society seems to have with this group. Just don’t wave it off. Pay attention to the trends and be mindful of how your company is reacting to them.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

So You Tanked During the Interview — Or Did You?

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Maybe you walked out of the job interview feeling deflated. Well, that’s the way a lot of people who eventually get offers feel. Before you start thinking you’re out of the running, think about these things:

Did the Interview Go Long?

More than body language, think duration. You would have been thanked for your time and shown the door early in the interview if you weren’t in the running. Hiring managers often hold back enthusiasm and connection when they interview because they’re starting to think of your interaction as the beginning of a negotiation. And if they’re starting to think salary they may not want to exude an overeagerness for your skills because that could drive the price up. Imagine if someone was selling you something. Would you tell that person “I just have to have it!” Not a great bargaining strategy, right?

Tough Questions

You were getting grilled and thrown off your pace. Surely that means they hate you right? The exact opposite could be true. It’s OK if you got thrown off your pace and perhaps even seemed hesitant. It was the interviewer’s goal to create that moment and the fact that it happened is a good thing. It’s OK if it was a little awkward. You likely will have to be able to perform in awkward situations at times if given the job.

Odd Questions

They asked you why are manhole covers round and you laughed. You said you didn’t know why they were round. They said because it’s the only shape that won’t fall into itself. You chuckled again. “Huh!” you said. Does that mean you blew it? No, it doesn’t. That was a gotcha question and getting it right isn’t important. Admitting to not knowing something quickly and amicably is actually a really great skill, and you demonstrated it. Now you know why manhole covers are round too!

They Kept You Waiting

The longer you’re allowed to stick around the office the better. If they weren’t interested in you and scheduling was a problem, you would not have gotten interviewed. The fact that time was made for you is a great sign.

Sometimes you leave an interview feeling sky-high and never hear another word. Sometimes you leave an interview and feel as low as a grasshopper, then get a call the next week. It’s really hard to read hiring managers. Don’t give up hope, especially if any of the above happened.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

Top Six Retention Strategies

posted by NextGen'rs |

Attrition rates. If you have your finger on the pulse of your company, you’re paying close attention to attrition rates and taking action when you see a trend you don’t like. Attrition rates vary widely. Solutions to the problem, however, don’t vary all that much. Here are some ideas Forbes recently published. It’s their top six retention strategies.

1. Conduct Stay Interviews

Instead of waiting until the employee leaves the organization to find out what was going well, what could have been better, and what kind of relationship that person had with their manager, meet with team members annually to discuss these items. Ask for feedback on recent events, give a heads up on events to come, answer any questions, etc. – Catherine Decker, Outsell

2. Empower Your Team

At Opportunity Network, everyone takes full ownership of his or her own responsibilities. Managers are there to convey trust, facilitate and support. Since we hire experienced and talented people who know very well how to do their job, we aim at empowering them as much as possible and making everyone feel like an entrepreneur in their own area of competence (with the potential to grow outside of their original area of competence). – Enrica Sighinolfi, Opportunity Network

3. Allow Them To Communicate Anonymously

Giving and receiving feedback from your team members regularly is critical. Team members want to know how they are doing, how they can progress within the company, whether they’re valued and how they can add value. At my organization, we use a service called TinyPulse that allows team members to communicate anonymously to the entire company. – Kim Roneree, College Hunks Hauling Junk

4. Avoid Micromanaging

If you’re hiring talented individuals, there’s no need to micromanage. Allowing employees to take on projects they haven’t participated in before or have no experience in allows for growth and encourages them to take initiative. I want employees in my organizations to take risks and try new things. If they succeed, then they have experience to add to their resume. If they fail, then they learn. It’s a win-win either way! – Michele Gonzalez-Pitek, The Unity Council

5. Check In Regularly

In most cases, attrition can be greatly reduced through regular check-ins with your employees. Giving them the opportunity to discuss their strengths, career aspirations, and the items they struggle with will show your workforce that you’re dedicated to their professional growth and addressing their concerns. In most cases, these meetings take no longer than 5-10 minutes.
– Ryan Harris, Petplan

6. Be Transparent

A strategy that is often feared by leaders, but can drastically increase retention and employee loyalty when done correctly, is transparency. Be transparent about how your company is succeeding, provide clarity on what can be improved, recognize who had a direct impact and offer direct data to support the claims. Leaders who speak to employees on these topics can secure a tenured workforce. – Sarah O’Neill, Digital Trends
People are leaving jobs with greater frequency now. It’s an overall trend that’s likely affecting your company. The cost of brain drain can be significant and the culture of your office can suffer if you lose key players. As our economy grows more and more dynamic, the winning companies will have to find a way to address these trends.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

Hiring in a Competitive Labor Market

posted by NextGen'rs |

It’s getting harder to find talent, especially in tech. You shouldn’t lower your standards. You should think of new ways to win the war for great talent. That means it might be time to re-evaluate how you hire. The biggest mistake many companies make is choosing a candidate who hasn’t really been vetted for skills or experience but maybe shares the same alma mater as one of your hiring managers (this happens a lot, unfortunately). In this labor market you have to avoid these mistakes.

Blind Interviews are Visionary

Many tech companies are performing blind interviews to help avoid biases that inform hiring decisions and create workforces that lack diversity. This can also help keep you away from hiring someone based on things that have nothing to do with performance like where the person grew up or the person’s name or gender. The more you put the focus on talent and fit the better off you’ll be. One of the simpler shortcuts to winning the war for talent is upping your efforts to shed the hiring biases that we all have, even if we don’t want to admit we have them.

Know the Tasks and the Type Who Will Likely Succeed

A lot of people are good at giving interviews and writing resumes. Are they also going to be good at shuffling paper and respecting your chain of command? Sometimes the less flashy candidate is the better choice for certain positions. Avoid the popularity contest and focus on fit. The skills have to be there and that should all be established in early interviews. Next up get a sense of the person’s values and have a really accurate understanding of the daily tasks of the position and, if possible, what type of people really flourish in it.

Be Quick

The people you are interviewing are likely interviewing elsewhere. You can close the deal by making a smart offer. Most people don’t like the interview process and will stop once most of their needs are met. Be decisive in the process, which can be hard because you have to be collaborative. Make everyone aware of the need to push things through.

As the unemployment rate continues to dip you can feel good that the economy is heating up. It’s not a bad thing to have to work harder to hire the right talent. At least, not the worst thing. You can beat out the competition for great talent by losing biases, knowing the position in and out and being quick and decisive. Now go. There’s no time to waste.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

Avoid These Cover Letter Mistakes

posted by NextGen'rs |

You know those people who tend to think out loud and you don’t know if you should react or let them catch up with their thought before you react? Well you don’t want to come across as this person in your cover letters. Writing can be a contemplative act. That means you often discover things as you write. That’s great, but make sure that period of discovery doesn’t make it into the final draft. Here are the signs of sloppy thinking that will not get you the job.

Spelling and Grammar

You have to show thoughtfulness and care as well as the ability to express complete ideas. Autocorrect is your friend, until it becomes your enemy. If you’re using someone’s name, make sure autocorrect doesn’t change it.

The Cardboard Cutout

Personalize all of your cover letters. This is the most appropriate written place to tailor your skills and experience to the specific position you are looking to achieve. If it looks as if you’ve sent a form letter then you will be perceived as someone who’s just phoning it in.

The Russian Novel

We love Russian novels, but a cover letter needs to be more economical and mindful of your reader’s time. Your cover letter should be brief. It sets the human tone and demonstrates your interest and suggests why they should be interested. That’s it. Don’t talk about former bosses or the restaurant that you feel serves the best hamburger in a certain town. Short and sweet; show enthusiasm and make the connection.

Your cover letter is incredibly important. Think of your resume as your stats (well-chosen stats), and the cover letter as your connector to the prospective manager. Have someone proofread your work if possible. If not, then read and re-read it until you’re sure every word is doing what it should be doing.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

Getting Hired at a Company That’s “Not Currently Hiring”

posted by NextGen'rs |

It sounds impossible, but it’s not. It’s just not as easy. You really have to push your value and make it clear that the prospective company is going to get a great return on their investment (on you). There are three things you have to do really well to break through this barrier, and here they are:

1. Know the company inside and out.

You have to do your due diligence and know the company, its product, its competitors and the big challenges it faces. LinkedIn can help a lot, but you have to bone up on industry info as well. If you use Google News or Alerts, set those to content areas that would affect the prospective company.

2. You present a solution for them.

Having a company look at your resume and connect your experience to what they need is not something a company that isn’t hiring will be willing to do. You have to frame it differently. You have to present them with a solution to their problems. That means you have to know what sort of problems will trigger their curiosity.

3. Stay on their radar.

Here’s the fine line where you don’t want to pester, but you do want to seem like that eager kid who’s ready to pick up a broom and start working. After you’ve met with folks from the company, you could send them articles you find interesting about their industry. Try to find a way to continually check in and remind them about the wonderful you.

Some people really like a challenge and find it brings out their best. Well here’s a good one, and it’s worth a shot. We’ve seen people hired by companies that weren’t hiring. It’s not typical, but who wants to be typical. If you’re motivated you should go for it.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

Employee Retention Starts with These Four Things

posted by NextGen'rs |

Recently we’ve read a lot about how the future of employment could mean workers staying three years at a company then moving on. Unsurprisingly, employers are saying not so fast. But the reality is it’s now up to employers to create new ways to counteract this trend.

So why are people moving on? Usually it’s about salary and opportunity. Wages stagnated for many in the workforce over a long period of time. Many employees reasoned they would have to give themselves a raise and move on if they were ever going to get a raise. Ironically, wages are finally starting to move upward and not just for the upper echelons, but for all workers. This could be too little too late to avert the three and split trend we’re seeing. That’s not to say it can’t be done, and if you want to cut attrition, you should think hard about these four things:

Growth and opportunity:

If you’ve got ambitious employees then make a path for them to grow and succeed within the company.

Education/Mentoring:

Ongoing education and training on the latest and greatest trends, challenges, products, methodologies, and innovations is important. Encourage your employers to participate in different conferences and panels by picking up the tab. And pair your younger employees with a like-minded mentor.

Recognition:

Make sure employees know how their work contributes to the overall vision of the business, and that their contributions matter. Do this early and often.

Leadership:

Earn respect by being fair and honest. Clearly communicate goals and stay loyal. Employees who like their managers stay in their jobs.

As an employer you can buck this trend, but not by ignoring it. You don’t want to have to deal with the knowledge drain and lower morale. Like anything else, these are difficult to right once the momentum shifts in a certain direction. Assemble a team, maybe from HR or another department that can tackle these issues head on and come up with good ideas for keeping people in their chairs.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

How to Get to Your Dream Job

posted by NextGen'rs |

The truth is you don’t know what your dream job is until you’re there. There’s a good chance that the really amazing-sounding position at that really sexy company is actually completely awful… and now what? That’s not to say you shouldn’t have goals or aspirations, just that you need to pay close attention to what’s really making you happy, and to keep moving towards that.

Hoppin’ around isn’t all that bad… just know why you’re hopping

Things can get stale or maybe you just can’t break through at a company, and you’re not getting to the point where you’re doing the type of work you want to do. It’s okay to move on. Even if the job is at a company that seems very desirable. The important thing is to know why you are moving on so you can solve the problem of what’s not making you happy. If you don’t know what the problem is, you’re probably not going to solve it simply by moving on.

Luck plays a role but you still have to follow your passion

Jobs and happiness. It sounds like an Al Green song, and the nature of the two are so complicated and mysterious that maybe it should be an Al Green song. You need good luck and timing, but obviously you can’t have much control over that. So you have to focus on the one thing you can really know and that’s what you’re passionate about. Always, always let that be your beacon. Being good at something calls for hours and hours spent doing it, and being good at something is incredibly rewarding. So hope for some luck, but always follow your passion.

The worst thing you can do is deny yourself something that’s making you happy because it doesn’t seem to stack up on paper or seem as sexy as something else. But the second worst thing you can do is to stick around in a place that has grown stagnant and no longer inspires you to do your best work. There’s no math or formula that can be applied to diagnose either state, but you’ll know it when you’re there. Follow that instinct.

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.

Avoiding the Bad Hire

posted by NextGen'rs |

There are two types of bad hires. The easy one to avoid is the bad skills match. You can typically weed this out on paper. The other one is less tangible: the bad cultural fit. The business costs for a bad hire are high, but worse than that: it puts your work environment in danger of becoming toxic. Have you ever been forced to live with someone you couldn’t stand; someone who doesn’t value the same things you do? Think of what that does to productivity.

So how do you check cultural fit? The best thing to do is to ask a question in the interview that will take the candidate off their talking points and allow you to see beyond the veneer. It doesn’t have to be a “gotcha” question; It could be something as simple as, “What did you have for breakfast this morning?”

For some companies, cultural fit isn’t enough. They want to know how you’re going to advance their culture and make their organization better. For example, on the 10th interview during the hiring process, the cleaning company Method asks every candidate to present on the question: What can you do to keep Method weird? This is really important for a company like Method, which has to differentiate itself to remain viable in it’s very competitive market. They can’t phone it in, and they need their employees to keep pushing them to think differently. A candidate who can get past the awkwardness and fear of presenting something “weird” is ideal for them. It shows the candidate is ready to commit and won’t hold back on any of his or her talents. Method needs all of them.

TGIFridays puts a trampoline in the room where they interview to see how the candidate will react. Will they look askance and roll their eyes or will they go ahead and jump on it? You probably guessed it. They’re looking for someone who will go ahead and start hopping on it.

Maybe you don’t want to put a trampoline in one of your meeting rooms or schedule ten interviews for one hire. That’s fine. But it’s probably not fine to do nothing in an interview that checks for cultural fit. TGIFridays and Method are looking for specific personalities that will thrive in their culture as well as push it forward. Take some time to think about your company, its market position and its values and come up with a plan for how you can start inculcating an environment that delivers what you need to stay on top. It could start with the question, “What did you have for breakfast?”

About NextGen

NextGen is the brainchild of longtime telecom professionals with nearly 50 years of experience and millions of dollars in Telecom Recruiting Services. We focus on establishing long term relationships with our clients and candidates so we can recruit the best and the brightest in the telecom industry. This ‘quality over quantity’ approach is at the heart of everything we do and has resulted in successful job placements at Fortune 1000 firms worldwide.