2013 / 02

Prepare for a Changing Hiring Landscape

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 28, 2013

0 Hiring - Best Practices, Human Resources Staffing Adjust Your Hiring Strategy For 2013, Hiring Strategy Challenges For 2013, Prepare For A Changing Hiring Landscape, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing Agency, staffing agencies in seattle, staffing agenciesi in seattle wa, Staffing In Seattle, Staffing In Seattle WA, Temporary Staffing In Seattle

In the world of HR and business management, every era brings a new set of exciting opportunities, and along with those opportunities come challenges unique to the age. 2013 is no exception, and savvy hiring managers are already looking for ways to adjust and streamline their approaches to candidate sourcing, and screening in the year ahead. Here are a few of the most important ways in which recruiters, managers and HR pros will need to adapt.

Prepare for the 2013 Hiring Landscape

1. Optimize Mobile Utilities

A few years ago the world started to go digital, and companies that ignored or shrugged off the arrival of the Internet age did so at their peril. Those who weren’t ready to launch websites and start thinking about SEO were swept aside, and online selling and marketing are now commonplace for almost every business model, product, and service. Now it’s time for the next step: taking web utilities and making them accessible by mobile device. If talented job seekers can reach you online, that’s great. If they can reach you from a mobile device while on the go, that’s better.

2. Match Skills with Positions

Workforce shaping and in-house training are becoming watchwords for the next decade. It’s no longer enough to simply hire smart young candidates brimming with potential. In a world of increasingly focused and narrow skill sets, you don’t need ambitious go-getters; you need Level 2 CNC programmers, licensed and certified technicians, designers, engineers, and artists who specialize in your tiny corner of the marketplace.

3. Cultivate a Pipeline

How far into the future does your long-term staffing plan extend? If your answer is “three years or less,” that’s no good. Get the most out of your existing talent by making sure your best employees have a place to go when they’re ready to advance. And if you have a position that’s likely to open up during the next few years, groom and train someone in-house; you’ll mitigate risk and save countless resources when that day arrives.

4. Use Visual Media

Visuals are fast becoming the most effective message delivery system to your pool of talented potential employees. Find a way to incorporate graphs, illustrations, videos and multi-media into your job posts and other targeted information, like the “careers” tab on your webpage. Every open position in the company should have its own frequently updated blog, and that blog should be heavy with visual media and visual messages.

For more information on preparing your hiring strategy for the challenges ahead, reach out to the Seattle staffing and HR experts at Pace. Our years of experience allow us to look into the future and see what’s coming, and we can help you do the same.

Topics to Avoid in a CPA Interview

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 21, 2013

0 Finance/Accounting Staffing accountant jobs in seattle wa, accountant jobs seattle, accounting jobs in seattle, accounting jobs in seattle wa, accounting staffing agencies seattle, accounting staffing agencies seattle wa, accounting staffing seattle

You’re heading into your interview for an accounting position, and for the most part, you aren’t worried. You have confidence in your skills, you have enough experience to qualify for the position, and you’ve been practicing and polishing your generic interview skills. But before you step into the hiring manager’s office, make a note: There are a few topics that it’s best to avoid in a financial interview. Don’t bring these topics up voluntarily, and if they surface on their own, move past them gracefully and quickly. Don’t Dwell On These Interview Topics 1. Your most important mistakes Becoming great at anything means making a few mistakes along the way. Your mistakes provided the lessons that make you valuable as an employee. But ironically, employers don’t really want to hear about them, even if they ask. If you were fired from a previous position, laid off, or reprimanded as a result of an error, failure, or oversight, focus your explanation on the positive. Talk only about what you learned from the episode, not the details of what when wrong in the first place. 2. Salary, benefits, deal breakers and deal sweeteners Don’t attempt to alter the terms of the deal before a deal exists. For example, you may live five states away, and unless the company funds your relocation, you’re unlikely to accept the job. But even so, now isn’t the time to bring this up. If you have deal breakers, like a salary minimum, handicapped accommodation requirements, the need for comprehensive health insurance, or he need for onsite childcare, don’t talk about it now. Of course you’ll have to bring these things up before you sign any contracts or accept the job, but let the offer happen first. 3. Gossip and name dropping beyond the strictly professional If you need to bring up the name of a mutual contact or a client your interviewer may know, keep all discussions of this person positive and short. You aren’t aware of all the relationships and politics at work, so play it safe and you’ll be less likely to accidentally insult someone. This includes organizations as well as individual people. 4. The private affairs of previous clients Of course you would never disclose any privileged information about your current or former clients. But be clear about this with your word choices and your demeanor. Everything you do and everything you choose to say should inspire trust. For more information about what to bring up—and what to avoid—during your industry-specific interview, arrange a meeting with the Seattle job search experts at Pace. We can connect you with leads, help you polish your presentation, and give you the tips and tools you need to land the job you want.

IT Employment Grows Briskly in January

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 19, 2013

0 IT Staffing, Staffing News Information Technology, IT Employment, IT Employment Opportunities, IT Staffing Seattle, Seattle IT Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Temporary Staffing

According to a press release from TechServe Alliance, a collaboration of IT service firms, clients, consultants and suppliers, IT employment set another all-time high in January with an increase of 15,800 jobs. IT employment has grown by over 4% since January 2012. "Despite the lingering uncertainty with the U.S. and global economies, I anticipate demand for IT professionals will remain robust throughout 2013," said Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe.

Career Fields on the Rise: Healthcare Management

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 15, 2013

0 Healthcare Staffing healthcare careers in seattle, healthcare careers in seattle wa, healthcare careers seattle, healthcare careers seattle wa, healthcare staffing agencies seattle wa, healthcare staffing in seattle wa

If you’ve been thinking about a career in healthcare, but you’d rather focus on planning, organizing, budgeting and management than one-on-one patient care, maybe it’s time to look beyond nursing and medical school. Your ideal career my lie in the field of healthcare management. Not only is this a rewarding branch of the industry, it’s also a field undergoing a rapid expansion, and opportunities are on the rise in almost every geographic area of the country. What is Healthcare Management? Healthcare managers may not handle patients directly, but without them, treatments and clinical facilities go unmanaged and patient care is poorly controlled. These are the people who organize and run health and medical service facilities from the ground up. All operations that take place within these facilities are navigated, launched and controlled by healthcare managers. Their task is typically administrative rather than medical, but they’re the ones making the hiring and staffing decisions, maintaining the facility, handling business communications, negotiating vendor contracts, and dealing with every other aspect of clinical operations. Why is this Field Growing So Fast? Between 2010 and 2020, the available positions in this field are expected to increase by over 22 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This expansion will be a result of two primary changes about to take place in the industry. First, an aging population will be increasing the pressure on available healthcare services, and so will an expected increase in who those who will now have access to healthcare as a result of the newly passed Affordable Care Act. The second reason has to do with the proliferation and diversification of healthcare and treatment facilities. Instead of having access to only a doctor’s office or a hospital, patients are now receiving treatment at drug store clinics, urgent care centers, and a wide range of highly specialized facilities. These facilities will need managers, and these managers will be well compensated for their efforts; annual pay for hospital managers in 2010 averaged at approximately $84,000 , and this number is only expected to rise as demand increases. Should you Pursue a Career in healthcare management? You’re the only one who can determine if a healthcare management career is the right choice for your personality, your working style, and your long term goals. But if you need more information, reach out the Seattle staffing experts at Pace. We can answer your questions as you plan your career and make your next big move.

Top 10 Suggestions for Supervisors – 2013

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 14, 2013

0 Human Resources Staffing Employee Evaluations, HR tips, human resources, Job Performance, Job Performance Evaluations, Management Tips, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing Agency, Temporary Staffing In Seattle, Work Place Environment

The following article was published by the ASA, as written by A. Kevin Troutman of Fisher & Phillips Law Firm.  As the New Year unfolds, supervisors may have even less time to manage all the complexities that arise in the world of employment law. With goals and deadlines to meet, well-intentioned managers may be tempted to rely on experience and “common sense” to guide them. Unfortunately, this approach often creates headaches and even litigation, despite managers’ good intentions. Today’s alphabet soup of employment laws (ADA, ADEA, FMLA, OSHA, NLRB, etc.) are simply too vast and complicated for most supervisors to digest on their own. Other issues are so subtle or counterintuitive that even seasoned HR professionals can find it difficult to recognize and/or deal with them. There is a silver lining to this cloud. A few basic practices can help supervisors avoid many problems—or at least recognize when to turn to HR for guidance. 1. Always tell employees the truth This rule encompasses more than avoiding outright falsehoods. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of making sure that employees always know how you assess their job performance. Of course this includes telling employees what they are doing well—but perhaps even more important, it means telling them how and where they are not meeting expectations. While many supervisors may prefer to avoid delivering “bad news,” this rule is an increasingly critical aspect of their jobs. Performance evaluations illustrate this point.  Audits routinely show that well over half of all evaluations rate employee performance above average, a de facto impossibility. Unfortunately, evaluations that overrate employees’ job performance can be devastating during litigation. Judges and juries are generally unsympathetic toward supervisors who suggest that they did not really mean what they wrote on a performance evaluation. This simple rule is so important that companies should consider discontinuing annual performance evaluations unless they can be done accurately and honestly. 2. Communicate clearly and directly Going a step beyond Rule No. 1, supervisors should expect employees to do their jobs and cannot let “politically correct” language obscure their message. Specifically, they must communicate clearly without being insensitive or disrespectful. For example, instead of telling an employee that he or she has an “opportunity” to improve, identify what specific aspects of performance are below expectations and what must be done to improve. Offer to assist, but make it clear that you expect improvement. When documenting these communications, be succinct and explicit. Always try to address “who, what, when and why.”  (As simple as it seems, this includes ensuring that documentation is legible, dated and signed where appropriate.) This rule applies to policy violations, poor attendance and simple coaching or reminder sessions. 3. Avoid surprises Many lawsuits result from anger or hurt feelings, which may be the result of an employee being surprised by disciplinary action or a termination. Remember, a supervisor’s silence is typically interpreted as approval, but if communication is consistent, clear and direct, employees should never be surprised by disciplinary action. They may not agree with the supervisor’s decision, but they should never be able to say truthfully that they did not see it coming. 4. Always get both sides of the story It’s surprising how often supervisors violate this simple rule. As a practical matter, there should be no exceptions to it. No matter how egregious or clear-cut the facts appear to be, always give accused employees a chance to tell their side of the story. (The only possible exception might be when there is a legitimate objective or safety concern that would prevent this from occurring.)  Consistent with this rule, do not document conclusions or prepare termination paperwork until the investigation is finished. 5. Keep your promises Don’t make promises that you cannot keep. Supervisors who promise to meet periodically with employees or to provide periodic feedback must do so. Again, jurors are unlikely to forgive supervisors who criticize an employee’s job performance, but fail to abide by their own follow-up schedule. So do not set deadlines or timetables that you cannot meet—instead, maintain some flexibility. Don’t make oral promises such as, “as long as you do your job, you will always have a place here.” In some states, these promises can be legally enforceable. 6. Do not ignore protected status in making employment decisions At first blush this rule may seem illogical, but when considering disciplinary action it is always important to consider how you have handled similar situations in the past. If an employee in a protected classification (race, sex, religion, age, disability, etc.) is treated differently under the same circumstances from someone who is not in the protected class, supervisors and HR must be able to justify the reasons clearly. When considering which employees fall in a protected classification, don’t overlook employees who recently took FMLA leave, sought an accommodation under the ADA, or provided information in response to an investigation of alleged workplace discrimination. These activities protect employees from retaliation and likewise require consideration of comparable situations where no employee had engaged in protected activity. 7. Think before hitting “send” Email traffic provides increasingly fertile ground for both sides in employment cases. Supervisors must therefore recognize that their email messages are potential trial exhibits. A quick, off-hand message has the potential to be extremely embarrassing if presented out of context to a jury. Therefore, it is never a good idea to fire off quick responses, especially when emotions are running high. Wait a few moments before hitting “send” and be especially careful about using the “reply to all” button. 8. Document important facts when they’re still fresh Important details can easily get muddled in today’s fast-paced work environment, so make a habit of jotting down those key facts when they occur. When doing so, be sure the documentation is dated, legible and understandable (see Rule No. 2). Always include objective language describing “who, what, when, where, why” and identify any witnesses. Identify the author of the documentation—sometimes nothing can be more difficult than retrospectively trying to determine who prepared unsigned material. 9. Send it to HR When supervisors keep files containing notes or information that has not been forwarded to HR, it almost always creates problems when litigation ensues. This can force the employer to change a representation it has already made to the EEOC or plaintiff’s counsel. More importantly, it can support a plaintiff’s contention that the supervisor (who is usually the alleged wrong-doer) cannot be trusted or is hiding something. On a related note, always refer employment verification and reference inquiries to HR, who will ensure company-wide consistency in responding. 10. Never forget that you are the boss Even during meal breaks, after hours, on weekends, or away from the workplace, supervisors still carry the mantle of company authority. Unguarded, inappropriate or “joking” comments can and do come back to haunt supervisors who forget this. When an employment relationship goes bad, seemingly innocuous comments often emerge. Comments made in jest rarely look good in front of a jury.  This is a critical and sometimes painful lesson for supervisors to learn. Bonus Rule 11 Always strive to be fair, consider “how would this look to a skeptical third party (like the EEOC or a jury) who knows nothing about me or the employee?” The workplace is complex and demanding, especially for supervisors striving to meet deadlines, maintain positive employee relations and avoid legal pitfalls. While they are not a “cure all,” these suggestions can help supervisors manage more effectively.

Employee? Independent Contractor? Somewhere in between?

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 13, 2013

0 PACE News!, Staffing News 1099 Workers, Employer of Record, Employer of Record services, Independent Contractor, Seattle Sick and Safe, Seattle Temporary Staffing, staffing agencies seattle, staffing Seattle, W2 Employees

With healthcare costs rising and mandated benefit requirements either already in play (e.g. Seattle Sick and Safe) or just around the corner (e.g. ObamaCare), employers are contemplating their staffing decisions related to the use of Independent Contractors compared to W2 employees. While most independent contractors typically earn more per hour than do their W2 counterparts—and can for that reason seem more expensive at first glance—employers have historically operated on the belief that by the time all costs associated with W2 status are factored in, the independent contractor is frequently the best way to go. Our rule of thumb is that W2 employees cost somewhere between 20-35% more than their base pay.  In other words, an employee earning $30/hour actually costs the company anywhere from $38-$45/hour. The additional costs are made up by the employers requirement to match  the employees Social Security and Medicare tax, to pay state and federal unemployment tax, to provide workers comp insurance, liability insurance, and premium based benefit costs—plus to pay for PTO benefits; holidays, health and personal time off. Employers have long valued the fact that if you contract to have work performed by independent contractors, you automatically eliminate those expenses PLUS you only pay for time actually worked/billed—no PTO. The added value of “just in time” access to targeted “hard to find, harder to develop” skills and talent pools is a benefit that has driven considerable growth in the 1099 marketplace over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, risks are now beginning to surface around the independent contractor option that is changing the staffing landscape. The IRS has put the employer community on notice that “employee classification” will be a primary focus for the next few years and there are a growing number of cases where the independent worker category has been challenged and subsequently reversed to employee W2 status. If workers formerly categorized as independent, turn out to be employees, employers have been subject to back payroll taxes, penalties and fines—often with considerable financial impact. What employers are learning is that just because you and the worker agree to consider the working arrangement “independent,” that doesn’t make it so under the law. If an “independent contractor” gets injured on the job and applies for workers compensation, or the project ends and they file for unemployment benefits, employers run the risk that either the IRS or the impacted state agency will step in to award benefits to someone who they have reclassified as a W2 employee. It is estimated that 75% of all “audits” are triggered by independent contractors applying for certain mandated benefits and when an audit is triggered the unpaid payroll taxes, interest and penalties can actually put some companies out of business. As a tool for employers to do their own self audits, the IRS has developed a list of 20 factors it uses to determine whether a worker is an employee or a subcontractor. THE TWENTY POINT TEST 1. Does the business require the worker to follow their instructions on how work is to be performed? If yes, this indicates employee status.  An independent contractor will generally decide how the project should be completed and use his own methodology. 2. Does the business provide training to the worker? If you’re hiring a person for a job they are not trained for and providing them with the training to carry it out, that person is probably an employee. There can be exceptions based on the facts and circumstances, but if you fail this test you might lose no matter how many of the others you pass. 3. Are the worker’s services a substantial or integral part of the business? This indicates employee status because business maintains direction and control over the worker. 4. Does the business require the worker to perform all services personally? Independent contractors may have their own employees or at least should have the option of hiring other contractors to perform their work. Agreements for personal services indicate employee status. 5. Does the business hire, supervise and pay the worker’s assistants? If so, this is a strong indication of employee status—let the independent contractor pay his or her own assistants. 6. Does the business have an ongoing relationship with the worker? This one is a stretch since many businesses maintain lifelong relationships with contractors whose work they like. However, the IRS views this as an indication of employee status. 7. Does the business set the worker’s schedule and hours? Independent contractors generally set their own work schedules. If the contractor must work certain hours because of required interrelationships with your employees or to take advantage of down time for computer-related work, document these facts. 8. Does the business require the worker full-time? This is an indication of employee status because the business controls their availability and prevents them from working on other clients. 9. Does the business provide the workspace? Contractors who work off-site are more likely to be classified an independent contractors. 10. Does the business determine the order or sequence in which work is completed? If yes, this indicates employee status.  If specific schedules are required, document them in the contract with the reasoning for doing so. 11. Does the business require oral or written reports? The IRS believes regular written or oral reports detailing the work completed indicate employee status. In reality, this is and should be expected from independent contractors as well. 12. Does the business pay by the hour, week or month? This indicates employee status. See our comments at the end of this article on this issue. 13. Does the business pay expenses? This is an indication that the business is directing the independent contractor’s business activities. Make sure the independent contractor pays the expenses and bills you for reimbursement. 14. Does the business provide tools and equipment for the worker  Independent contractors would normally provide their own tools and equipment. 15. Does the worker have a significant investment in their own facilities? If the contractor maintains his own office space, computer equipment, tools, etc., this is a good indication that they are an independent contractor. 16. Does the worker have profits and losses independent of the business? This is an indication that the contractor is running his own bona fide business and is an independent contractor. 17. Does the worker have multiple clients? Working with multiple clients generally indicates independent contractor status. 18. Does the worker market their services to the general public?  Employees do not generally market their services to the general public. 19. Does the business have the right to discharge the worker at any time? This suggests employee status. An independent contractor would only be discharged for failure to meet contract specifications. 20. Does the worker have the right to quit at any time? An independent contractor is under contract and cannot quit until the project is completed. The IRS uses these questions to determine whether the employer has the right to control the worker (i.e. how, when and where the work is performed) and the amount of investment the worker has in his own business. The higher degree of control an employer has over the worker, the more likely the IRS will classify the worker as an employee.   A growing trend is for companies to reduce or discontinue the use of independent contractors either by policy or practice. The downside to these decisions is the company oftentimes loses access to that type of high level workforce talent who prefer to work “independently.” Additionally, if they choose to employ these workers directly, they obligate themselves to benefit packages and administrative requirements that completely change the competitive landscape. They simply cannot afford to provide full W2 benefit packages on top of independent contractor “bill rates.” Some of the solutions being tested involve employers relying more and more on third party staffing agencies to source, evaluate and dispatch contract employees. In those models the worker often gets paid less and the employer more, many believe nobody wins. A third solution that is becoming more and more popular in the marketplace is called “Employer of Record” services, which allows an employer to reconfigure their former 1099 workers into W2 workers, but instead of employing them directly, they use the pay and HR services of a third party “employer of record.” The Employer of Record service model allows the client to retain control of how work is performed (when and where), but involves an outsourcing of the “employer function” to an employer of record service provider. The fees for Employer of Record services are substantially lower than for traditional third party staffing services, eliminating that portion of the service fee normally attributed to the costs of sourcing, evaluating and dispatching workers. In the Employer of Record service arrangement, the client does all sourcing and candidate selection, while the services outsourced are reduced to a payroll agent package, plus a menu of HR support. For more information on the “Employer of Record” product line or a complimentary consultation on the many ways we have helped clients avoid the risks involved with Independent Contractors, contact our infodesk@pacestaffing.com and enter Employer of Record Services in the subject line.

Ask What You can Do for the Company

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 7, 2013

0 Info for Candidates employment in Seattle, employment in seattle wa, employment seattle wa, employment services seattle, employment services seattle wa, staffing services in seattle wa, staffing services seattle

Here at the Pace Staffing Network, we often hear the same lament from job seekers over and over again: “I was turned down for a position I really wanted…What did I do wrong?” Nine times out of ten, a closer look at the applicant’s resume and cover letter will reveal a similar problem, and that problem has to do with what the marketing world calls a “value proposition.” Your resume is a proposal of sorts, or a request, and all effective requests and proposals can be summarized in ten words or less. For example, a company selling a car will research its target audience and present a simple message that appeals to that specific audience, as in “This car will keep you safe”, or “This car will make you look cool in front of your friends.” Your resume needs a value proposition. And as you put your simple message together, you’ll need to focus on your target audience. Ask yourself what your customer wants, NOT what you want. Don’t think of this as a two-way dialogue, or a negotiation in which you both gain something you need (in reality, that’s what it is—after all, you’ll work hard in exchange for your pay, and you’re not asking for a favor. But before you negotiate the terms of this agreement, you’ll have to edge out twenty other candidates in order to receive an offer.) Instead, figure out exactly what your potential employer wants and make it clear that you can offer this specific service, skill, talent, or attitude. Focus on Your Value Proposition: What do you have to Offer? Before you sit down and start typing, think. Read the job posting very carefully, then read it again. Visit the company website and think like a detective. Use your instincts, study the way this company’s business model works, and put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager who will review your application. If you were in her position, what would you be looking for above all else? Remember these four truths that are very likely to apply to her situation: 1. She’s busy. She’s not going to spend an hour trying to figure out why you’ve suddenly decided to give up your retail career in order to pursue a job in IT. If you’re making this switch, clearly tell her why, and do so within the first three sentences of your cover letter and resume summary section. 2. She has a pile of resumes on her desk from candidates just as qualified as you are. 3. She needs something done that she can’t do herself. That’s why she’s in hiring mode. 4. Her reputation is on the line. If her chosen candidate does well, then she’s done well. Keep these things in mind as you formulate your value proposition. This simple, short, elegant statement should provide the central framework that supports your entire application. For more guidance on assembling and fleshing out this framework, turn to the Seattle job search experts at Pace.