WE’RE A CREATIVE, INTERACTIVE & MARKETING TALENT RESOURCE

smartie spotlight: Colleen in Seattle

Colleen Walton is smartdept’s resident expert in all things glitter, and she works in our Seattle office. She has a sunny disposition and an unyielding passion for Disneyland, Harry Potter and Starbucks. 

What got you into staffing?
I basically fell into staffing. I knew that I wanted to be a recruiter, and I interviewed for a position through an agency. Even though I didn’t get that job, the agency hired me for an internal position. So it worked out. 

Do you have any pets?
No, but whenever I see a dog tied up outside I come up with a strategy for taking it home with me.

If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 things would you take with you?
I was going to be smart and say a boat… But I could be happy anywhere with a lifetime supply of Diet Coke, McDonald’s chicken nuggets, and my Nintendo Switch.

What is the best thing about being a smartie?
The people! (I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true.) Even though I’m halfway across the country from the Chicago and Grand Rapids offices, I still feel like I’m part of the team. 

What is your favorite band?
Does Britney Spears count as a band? If not, then I’d have to go with ABBA. 

What is your favorite staffing story?
I got to interview my hero – a UX Designer who worked on the Starbucks mobile app. 

The call was going well until I admitted that I’m a huge fan of his work. I LOVE the Starbucks app, especially mobile orders (which he designed). This caught him a little bit off-guard. And then I causally mentioned that I tell every person I meet about the app and encourage him or her to use it. I really thought I had found someone as passionate about the app as I am… but I think I ended up scaring him a little bit because of how excited I was. 

I still hope that if he ever feels a little down, he remembers that one recruiter who totally fan-girled over his Starbucks work, and it makes him feel better.

What is your favorite type of pizza?
I’m sure everyone in Chicago is absolutely horrified, but nothing beats Domino’s pepperoni. #SorryNotSorry

What is your favorite movie?
It’s a tie between Legally Blonde and Clueless. 

What is your dream job (not in staffing)?
A back up dancer for Britney Spears. 

Top tip for any job seeker:
When you’re talking about your experience, highlight the things you’d like to do more of. If you have a portfolio, your favorite types of projects should be the first thing people see. 

Reach out to Colleen at colleen@thesmartdept.com.

So you want a fresh resume…. where to start?

In the 10 years I’ve been in staffing, I’ve looked at 3 million resumes (give or take a few 100,000). I’m excited to share some expert advice on making your resume excellent.

First at foremost, tailor your resume to align with the job you want, while keeping in mind that formatting, organization, and readability are important as well. Take a long look at the job description for the role you have in mind. What key words and ideas jump out at you? What have you accomplished in your career that makes you an awesome fit for the position? Do you have the software/technical skills reflected in your resume that are required? Your resume should reflect all of these things.

The closer your resume matches up with the job description, the more compelling it will be for a Recruiter or Hiring Manager to follow up with you. It may be easy to assume that having a certain job title means you have a specific kind of experience, but you need to spell things out for someone like a recruiter who might have many candidates in front of them with the same job title. If you are applying for a role that requires certain experiences, and you have that experience – add a specific section with examples of those.

LENGTH: Stick to a one-page resume if you have less than five years of experience, and expand into two pages if you’re more seasoned.

FORMATTING:

  • Stick with standard fonts like Arial, Garamond, Times New Roman or Calibri. They’re easy on the eyes
  • Choose size 11 or 12 font – making the font smaller to fit everything on one page is not ideal – it needs to be legible
  • Avoid script fonts. Use italics, bolding and caps sparingly
  • “Creative” formatting like using heavy graphics or running text diagonally across the page is never a good idea – sometimes your resume only gets a quick glance, make it count!

STRUCTURE:

  • Header: Your name, email address, phone number, city, state and zip code should be clearly listed at the top of the page. No need to share your street address.
  • Summary: A well-written Summary sets the stage for the rest of your resume. Five to seven sentences are ideal. Speak to your years of experience, area of specialization, and industries in which you’ve worked.  Do you have an advanced degree? Do you have staff management experience? Are you a strong project manager? Have you worked for a big name company or client? What are your technical or software skills?  Look at that job description again – and format each summary to each specific role you are applying for. What can you call attention to on a high-level to matches the things that the description calls for?
  • Tools/Skills: After your summary, make a quick list of the programs and skills in your toolkit – leading with those called for in the job description. Whether you’re a marketing analyst well-versed in Adobe Analytics and SQL or a designer skilled at using Adobe Creative Cloud, call attention to your familiarity with the required and nice-to-have tools.
  • Professional Experience:
    – List your experience chronologically, with your most recent job listed first.
    – If you have been working for an agency or freelancing, include the names/industries of your top clients. Unless your company is a house-hold name, include a one line description about your company. Are they national or global? This helps put your experience into context.
    – Lead with your company, title, start and end dates including months, not just the year.
    – When describing your role, think about the job description again. Lead with information that ties back to the job you’re applying to. More than just a list of tasks, speak to your measurable accomplishments. How have you impacted the bottom line?
    – Format these points in a bulleted list, rather than a big block of text.

EDUCATION: If you are early in your career (less than three years out of school), consider floating your Education as the first item on your resume. If not, the Education section should be toward the end. Include the name of your school, the degree earned, and your graduation date.

THINGS TO LEAVE OFF:

  • “References available upon request.” This is assumed.
  • Personal interests can be appealing to potential hiring managers, but avoid anything that is polarizing such as religious affiliations.

For feedback on your resume and a hand with your job search, get in touch with a real-life smartie today!

Find a job in Chicago >
Find a job in Grand Rapids >
Find a job in Seattle >

 

from the desk of Amy Porter, Sr. Creative Consultant in Chicago

Are you making the most of LinkedIn?

Whether you’re actively looking for the next step in your career or just open to hearing about new opportunities, LinkedIn is an excellent resource. But how do you make the most of it?

  • Check your status: The Privacy Settings in your profile includes a button labeled “Let recruiters know that you’re open to new opportunities.” Checking “Yes” helps you show up in recruiter searches matching your career interests.
  • Check your mail: Push InMails to your email. Under the Communications tab, set “Messages from Members” to “Yes” so you always know when a recruiter or hiring manager is reaching out.
  • Check your facts: Do the start and dates on your resume match up with your profile? Big discrepancies in dates and titles will be a red flag to recruiters and hiring managers.
  • Include an updated resume, your email address, and a current portfolio link (if applicable) on your profile.
  • Describe your current and past experience. Prioritize details that are relevant to the job you seek.
  • Expand your network in a thoughtful way. Send a short intro with your invite and respond with a purpose when your new connecting accepts.
  • Your Summary/Bio is the best place for your “elevator pitch.” This quick intro should leave a positive impression about who you are, what you do, and why you are doing it. Let people get to know you without having to read a novel.
  • Keywords: Fill your skills section with relevant technology, programming languages, activities, and certifications.
  • A clean headshot is all you need. Avoid unprofessional options like a car selfie (complete with SnapChat filter), a poorly edited group shot (whose arm is that?), or your cat.
  • Feel free to include a little bit about your hobbies, passion projects, and volunteer work.
  • Remove irrelevant jobs from your bio (food service, child care, etc), but do include volunteer work.
  • When a recruiter reaches out, take a moment to engage with them. Even if the job isn’t a great match, or if you’re genuinely not looking right now – things can change on a dime. You can always reach back out to them 6-months or a year from now if your situation changes.

If you’d like to get a jump-start on your search – get in touch with a real-life smartie today!

Find a job in Chicago >
Find a job in Grand Rapids >
Find a job in Seattle >

from the desk of Amy Porter, Sr. Creative Consultant in Chicago

Pumpkin Paint Night

One exciting thing about being a smartie is spending time with talented creatives. The Chicago team got to show of their creative skills during pumpkin paint night.

Harry Potter – by Sana  //  Owl scene – by Jaime  //  Cartman – by Nina  // Abstract – by Amy  //  Googly Eyes – by Matt

 

What recruiters want you to know

Do you ever feel like applying for full-time jobs is a full-time job in itself? You know the drill – shotgun your resume out to 50-100 online postings. Maybe you even read some of the descriptions. If lightning strikes, you’ll snag 2-3 HR phone interviews. With any luck, you may even hear back from one of them within a month, but maybe not, and that’s what you’re used to.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you had someone in your corner who really took the time to get to know you? Who brought relevant jobs to your attention and made sure that your resume was on the right hiring manager’s desk at the right time?

That’s where we come in!

The creative consultants at smartdept recruit exclusively on creative roles in Chicago, Seattle and Grand Rapids. Meeting with the right recruiter can be one of the most rewarding and beneficial relationships you make in your career.

How can you make the most of the relationship?

  • Come prepared with your resume and portfolio, and be open to suggestions. Our recruiters have seen it all. They are experts in the creative space – and they know what their clients are looking for. If they have a suggestion on how to better your digital portfolio or resume, take it! If the smartie you meet with, doesn’t have much feedback on your resume, ask for it!
  • Be transparent and honest, always. We promise to be sincere and match you with not just any role, but the right role. In return, if you have other irons in the fire, if contracts aren’t what you’re comfortable with, we need to know! We build relationships with people and it’s our expertise. It is vital that we keep both our clients and our candidates on the same page.
  • Explain when you’re feeling unsure. There are a lot of murky waters to navigate here, and we’re here to help. Are you looking at multiple offers? Great! Talking out all of the options with your recruiters is the best way to weigh the pros and cons of each opportunity.

What can you expect when you meet with a smartie?

  • We will never force a job onto a candidate.
  • Honest and valuable insight into job opportunities – if we have something that sounds great to you, but we know from our relationship that it isn’t the best fit whether that means the culture, growth trajectory, or work style isn’t aligning – we are going to be honest with you.
  • Consistent communication and a smooth timeline (most of the time) – unlike those online applications you’re applying to day after day, we are going to keep you up to speed. If you’ve been disqualified from the role, we don’t leave you hanging. And if we are waiting on our client to review your application, you will know. We do our best to keep the process as seamless and hassle-free as possible.

So what do our services cost you, the job seeker? Nothing.

It will require your time, your engagement and a little bit of trust. smartdept. inc. is a free resource to our job seeking candidates. Now what are you waiting for – get in touch with a real-life smartie today!

Find a job in Chicago >
Find a job in Grand Rapids >
Find a job in Seattle >

 

from the desk of Hannah Staal, Creative Consultant in Grand Rapids

Portfolio Review: Expert Tips

When applying to a design role, one of the first things a hiring manager will look at is your portfolio. The creative consultants at smartdept. inc. review 100’s of portfolios each month and want to share their top tips on how to make sure yours stands out from the crowd.

Unsurprisingly, the one thing that everyone on staff wanted to talk about was organization. Whether you’re organizing by campaign, client, or type of medium, it should be very easy to navigate through and get to the right place.

See the rest of our expert tips below:

Hannah Staal, Creative Consultant in Grand Rapids

  • The most effective portfolio will tell your story, celebrate your brand. It will showcase your growth and development.
  • Flushed out campaigns: Does your messaging hold true for several different pieces? i.e. signage, logo, branding, sales sheets
  • Are you specialized? i.e. packaging, agency driven…or more generalized? Embrace it!
  • Concept to Execution: did you show process? That’s always a cool perk.

Jaime Sklar, Creative Consultant in Chicago

  • Functionality: Content and samples should flow naturally and easily. User experience is huge when looking at design portfolios especially. Nobody likes to waste time trying to click through different samples and images that are choppy and inconsistent
  • Layout and Design Aesthetic: If the color and design aesthetic is too bulky, showy, or flashy, it takes away from the work. Black backgrounds look outdated. The text should be easy to read on each page/sample.
  • Portfolio Site Used: Use a modern portfolio site and check it regularly. Coding changes and updates can pop up without warning.
  • Variety: I prefer portfolios that include several samples from each project, along with descriptions of that project and the work you contributed.

Colleen Walton, Creative Consultant in Seattle

  • Keep it simple! The background should be neutral and the navigation should be intuitive. Your site shouldn’t distract from your work.
  • Descriptions are key. They don’t have to be long, but one or two sentences about what the project is and how you were involved is very helpful.
  • Make it easy for people to contact you. Include your email or add a contact page. People can’t hire you if they don’t know how to reach you.

Nina Strolia, Creative Consultant in Chicago

  • Share some information about each sample to give the viewer context. What did you contribute to this piece? Was this an existing file that you updated or did you concept it?
  • Delete that distracting background. The highlight of the site is your work, not some crazy animated background. A simple, white background is always a winner.

Colin Wodarski, Business Development Manager

  • You should express your personality without it distracting from the main focus – your work!
  • Samples should include a pertinent description in an easy to find, quick, digestible format: where did you do the project; who was the client; if it was done as a team, what was your role; tools/software used; challenge & outcome (i.e. these direct mailers helped increase web traffic by 50%)

Amy Porter, Sr. Creative Consultant in Chicago

  • Hiring managers like to see a copy of or link to your resume on your portfolio. Put everything in one place. That goes a lot farther than the cutesy “about me” page.
  • Tread carefully with sensitive materials. Did you sign an NDA when you designed that nifty piece of internal software? Even if your portfolio is behind a password wall, your future employer may worry if you’re showing samples from legally protected work. Be sure you have permission before putting your work out there.
  • Building a responsive site portfolio site Square Space, Wix or WordPress using snappy template. Or if you’re targeting Web Design and UX roles, build the site yourself to push it the extra mile. Be sure to test it on multiple browsers, your tablet and mobile phone.

Eric Pairitz, smartdept. inc. Principal

  • When I am reviewing a portfolio I look for a clean and organized presentation.
  • Often the way a candidate presents their work in an interview setting can be a hint as to how they organize their work day.
  • Show up to an in person interview at the scheduled time. Late is never good, but too early can also be a deterrent for many hiring managers.

Michelle Pairitz, smartdept. inc. Principal

  • Present your work in chronological order. Most recent work should be first and student work you are proud of should be last.
  • If your portfolio lacks depth, it is perfectly acceptable to include well-executed spec work.
  • Be honest with yourself and your recruiter about what your role was on each portfolio piece. Elaborate on working with a team, the software used, and if any special circumstances were involved.

 

Grand Rapids celebrates first anniversary!

I’m very happy to announce the one year anniversary of our Grand Rapids office. We opened up on April 11th of 2016 to better support a large client in the area. Over the past 12 months we’ve had the pleasure of developing so many new relationships with clients, talent and various organizations. Hannah Staal, who is also celebrating her first anniversary with smartdept. inc., has done a tremendous job building our talent pool at the local level and building our brand in the Grand Rapids community. We are very proud to be the only niche creative, interactive and marketing staffing company in Grand Rapids and look forward to continued growth and success in the years ahead. If you work for a company that hires talent in Michigan or are seeking new opportunities, then please don’t hesitate to reach out! 

From the desk of Matt Crook, smartdept. inc. President

Advice for Companies Looking to Attract Top Talent

The beginning of a new fiscal year always brings new project budgets, additions to headcount and unexpected turnover — all resulting in the need to identify good full-time and temporary talent. As a 20-year veteran of the staffing industry, I’ve been approached many times by companies to discuss what attracts good candidates. There are many factors that can influence a prospective candidate’s decision, including salary, benefits, location of company/potential commute, off-site work options, and work-life balance. Companies have gone to great lengths to put together great packages and attract good talent, only to lose them due to a very simple reason — the hiring process takes too long.

There’s an old expression in business: “Time kills all deals.” And this holds very true for hiring top candidates. Think about it — top candidates are consistently being recruited (even when they may not be exploring a new job). Often they are juggling opportunities with multiple companies. A lengthy interview process and the inability to make quick hiring decisions can impact the odds of landing a top candidate.

It seems the hiring process has become more drawn out since the Recession of 2008. For several years afterward, companies redefined roles to keep headcount down, and many employees took on additional responsibilities. Employers wanted candidates who fit every criterion of a job description — from industry experience to very specific software skills — and, of course, they also had to be a cultural fit with the organization. This added steps to the interviewing process, from executives scheduling interviews with non-direct reports to panel interviews with various team members. Today it’s not uncommon for the average role to take three or four steps between phone screens, in-person interviews and skill assessments. The average life cycle of an open position is now typically about three months or longer.

And it’s not just full-time roles that have developed a long hiring cycle — it takes much more time to on-board temporary help than it did five years ago. Many assignments of three months or longer in duration require an interview process very similar to that of a direct placement. At the very least, there are two interviews: a phone screen and an in-person. Add on skill assessments, waiting for hiring managers’ feedback and pre-employment screenings, and it can easily take up to four weeks just to start a temporary employee. Working in the creative, interactive and marketing niches, we staff a variety of roles in which talent is in great demand — especially anyone with digital experience. Often these candidates are sought out weeks before finishing a contract and have little or no downtime before starting somewhere new. They won’t be available long enough to endure a month-long interview cycle.

My advice for companies that are looking to obtain top talent more consistently is pretty simple: Go back to the basics and examine your hiring process. How long does it take you to vet resumes? How many people need to be involved in a new hire? How efficient is your company at getting quick feedback after interviews? How quickly can you make a hiring decision?  

While taking time to appropriately vet potential hires is very important, be aware of the parts of the interview process that stall. Try to structure interviews so candidates don’t need to come on-site more than twice during the hiring process. Block interview days and times so multiple candidates can go through the process at the same time and comparisons/feedback can be drawn more quickly.

And if you identify the perfect candidate early in the hiring process, don’t stall things by comparing that person to others who are not as far along in the process. Candidates are very aware of companies that move too slowly. Good talent tends to have strong networks, so word gets around. And good candidates appreciate companies that move the process along quickly and show consistent interest in them. Again, “time kills all deals” — so once you identify a good candidate, don’t let them get away!

From the desk of Matt Crook, smartdept. inc. President

Happy Anniversary to…Us!

This month, smartdept. inc. is celebrating our 15th anniversary! It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since we began our lives as smarties back in Seattle, with just me and Michelle. Boy, have we have come a long way! We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and in between we’ve managed to accomplish a number of positive things that relate to staffing – like matching more than 3000 creative professionals with more than 500 of our clients! And, while not quite related to staffing, we witnessed the Cubs win a World Series.

We would not be here today (still going) without YOU, our amazing clients and creatives. You are (all) the reason we keep those creative wheels turning. So, as I wipe a tear from my eye, thank you for the past 15 years and cheers to 15 more! High fives all around (or a fist bump if you prefer)!

For fun, we decided to look back and pick our top 15 highlights from the past 15 years. And yes, there will absolutely be a Cubs World Series win in there! Enjoy!

from the desk of Eric Pairitz, smartdept. inc. Principal

Advice for Companies Looking to Attract Top Talent

 

The beginning of a new fiscal year always brings new project budgets, additions to headcount and unexpected turnover — all resulting in the need to identify good full-time and temporary talent. As a 20-year veteran of the staffing industry, I’ve been approached many times by companies to discuss what attracts good candidates. There are many factors that can influence a prospective candidate’s decision, including salary, benefits, location of company/potential commute, off-site work options, and work-life balance. Companies have gone to great lengths to put together great packages and attract good talent, only to lose them due to a very simple reason — the hiring process takes too long.

There’s an old expression in business: “Time kills all deals.” And this holds very true for hiring top candidates. Think about it — top candidates are consistently being recruited (even when they may not be exploring a new job). Often they are juggling opportunities with multiple companies. A lengthy interview process and the inability to make quick hiring decisions can impact the odds of landing a top candidate.

It seems the hiring process has become more drawn out since the Recession of 2008. For several years afterward, companies redefined roles to keep headcount down, and many employees took on additional responsibilities. Employers wanted candidates who fit every criterion of a job description — from industry experience to very specific software skills — and, of course, they also had to be a cultural fit with the organization. This added steps to the interviewing process, from executives scheduling interviews with non-direct reports to panel interviews with various team members. Today it’s not uncommon for the average role to take three or four steps between phone screens, in-person interviews and skill assessments. The average life cycle of an open position is now typically about three months or longer.

And it’s not just full-time roles that have developed a long hiring cycle — it takes much more time to on-board temporary help than it did five years ago. Many assignments of three months or longer in duration require an interview process very similar to that of a direct placement. At the very least, there are two interviews: a phone screen and an in-person. Add on skill assessments, waiting for hiring managers’ feedback and pre-employment screenings, and it can easily take up to four weeks just to start a temporary employee. Working in the creative, interactive and marketing niches, we staff a variety of roles in which talent is in great demand — especially anyone with digital experience. Often these candidates are sought out weeks before finishing a contract and have little or no downtime before starting somewhere new. They won’t be available long enough to endure a month-long interview cycle.

My advice for companies that are looking to obtain top talent more consistently is pretty simple: Go back to the basics and examine your hiring process. How long does it take you to vet resumes? How many people need to be involved in a new hire? How efficient is your company at getting quick feedback after interviews? How quickly can you make a hiring decision?  

While taking time to appropriately vet potential hires is very important, be aware of the parts of the interview process that stall. Try to structure interviews so candidates don’t need to come on-site more than twice during the hiring process. Block interview days and times so multiple candidates can go through the process at the same time and comparisons/feedback can be drawn more quickly.

And if you identify the perfect candidate early in the hiring process, don’t stall things by comparing that person to others who are not as far along in the process. Candidates are very aware of companies that move too slowly. Good talent tends to have strong networks, so word gets around. And good candidates appreciate companies that move the process along quickly and show consistent interest in them. Again, “time kills all deals” — so once you identify a good candidate, don’t let them get away!

From the desk of Matt Crook, smartdept. inc. President

Happy Anniversary to…Us!

 

This month, smartdept. inc. is celebrating our 15th anniversary! It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since we began our lives as smarties back in Seattle, with just me and Michelle. Boy, have we have come a long way! We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and in between we’ve managed to accomplish a number of positive things that relate to staffing – like matching more than 3000 creative professionals with more than 500 of our clients! And, while not quite related to staffing, we witnessed the Cubs win a World Series.

We would not be here today (still going) without YOU, our amazing clients and creatives. You are (all) the reason we keep those creative wheels turning. So, as I wipe a tear from my eye, thank you for the past 15 years and cheers to 15 more! High fives all around (or a fist bump if you prefer)!

For fun, we decided to look back and pick our top 15 highlights from the past 15 years. And yes, there will absolutely be a Cubs World Series win in there! Enjoy!

15th-anniversary

 

 

from the desk of Eric Pairitz, smartdept. inc. Principal

 

 

Matt joins the 10-year club

This past week our very own Matt Crook celebrated 10 years at smartdept. inc. Congratulations, Matt on this incredible achievement.

 

 

 

smartdept. Chicago and smartdept. Grand Rapids Team Up for a Volunteer Opportunity

Back in September, Leah Bye, a Chicago smartie, and Hannah Morgan, a Grand Rapids smartie, teamed up and utilized their talents to help out the Grand Rapids community during Weekend Blitz.

Weekend Blitz, an event that unites local professionals and organizations with big hearts and a fierce need to collaborate for the good of the GR community! This is a weekend long design challenge, conceived and coordinated by AIGA and Design for Good Western Michigan*. Teams of 8-10 professionals volunteer from a wide variety of industries (design, tech, marketing, etc) are paired with ten local organizations in need of their skills and talents. A team lead works with a mentor to define the organization’s greatest need and then strategically assigns tasks to teammates. From there, the teams closely collaborate with each other and a representative from their organization throughout the weekend. Weekend Blitz reimagines the essence of design and playful thinking through the lens of an accelerated timeframe.

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* “Design for Good is a platform to build and sustain the implementation of design thinking for social change. This platform creates opportunities for designers to build their practice, their network, and their visibility. Design for Good recognizes the wide range of designers’ work and leadership in social change which benefits the world, our country and our communities.” Learn more >

 

Grand Rapids – On the Road to Success

Opening an office in a new market has been adventure. Now five months into the process with a few freelance roles under my belt and a couple direct hires – I would love to share the methods I have been utilizing to become a successful recruiter, and grow our brand in this new market!

1. Networking – it is all about networking, people! Grand Rapids is very unique in the way that it is all about “who you know”, well I want to know EVERYONE!

  • Meet EVERYONE – It is crucial to build relationships and truly put yourself out there. Networking has been a huge chunk of how I have met clients and candidates alike. There are tons of different ways to network – virtually on social media, monthly or weekly meet-up groups, formal and more casual happy-hour events, alumni events, and events created specifically for creatives. I have attended them all – even a web development group where I felt completely foreign when they were talking “shop”, but found some awesome talent that has spread the word about us!

2. Utilize ALL relationships for growth – it doesn’t matter if I knew this person five years ago from college or met them six weeks ago in the coffee shop, I have noticed that it is an absolute must to connect with everyone I can (and I’m not shy about it either)! This community is so eager to help others. They love spreading the word about openings to their friends, colleagues, and students! I have had a blast meeting new people and appreciate all their support as we continue to grow.

3. Consistent Customer Service

  • Quick response time – One of the most successful practices I utilize is quick and consistent response times to both clients and candidates. The appreciative feedback I receive from them reminds me how important it is each time. Even if I respond letting them know I will reply later, they feel much more comfortable.
  • Willingness to go above and beyond – With the partnerships I have made so far – no questions asked, I go above and beyond to make any connection, answer any question, and support them through the interview or hiring process. With the candidates, I do my best to support them by assisting with resume edits or supplying them with ways they could build upon a certain skillset. I also invite my candidates to attend networking events with me, and they love it!
  • Strong and friendly communication – Communication is key in this market! Our clients like to move at their own pace; some really fast and others like turtles. I connect with the candidates often to keep them engaged and their spirits up reassuring them that the position is still moving forward or has taken a pause. Throughout the process, I found that most of my candidates are AWESOME! So, I prefer to check in with them to see how they are doing, or if they have done anything exciting lately, too! Consistent client check-ins have proven to be successful as I have snagged a few recent freelance roles from simply saying ‘hi there! Hope you’re doing well…’.  KEEP EVERYONE ON THE SAME PAGE.

4. Source, Interview, Source, Source, Interview! This day to day here for a consultant may look a bit different because I spend A LOT of time sourcing, and A LOT of time interviewing.

  • My goal has been to interview 10 or more candidates a week. I enjoy meeting the candidates in person because they are able to put a face to a name, feel us out, and I instantly have an idea of where I could see them being placed in the future.
  • I really enjoy sourcing, and playing with the multiple ways you can find talent! Of course LinkedIn Recruiter is my best friend, but I find a lot of great talent through my networking group websites! Grand Rapids can feel quite small at times, and it can be a challenge to find multiple candidates for a specific niche, so I pull from other markets like Kalamazoo or Detroit. Adding those areas into my search and sourcing process actually landed me an amazing candidate that made the physical move for a full-time position in Grand Rapids!!

Overall, these past five months have been fantastic! Things are really starting to get moving on the client front with the help of our new business development consultant, Colin. If we continue to provide top of the line customer service and present top talent, we will definitely reach our goals, and perhaps surpass them!

– from the desk of smartdept. inc. Creative Consultant, Hannah Morgan

 

 

Hannah Morgan – Getting around in Grand Rapids

from the desk of smartdept. inc. Principal, Eric Pairitz

Hannah Morgan, our newest creative consultant in our Grand Rapids office, is a Grand Rapids, MI native and a proud Grand Valley State alumna. She is excited to be connecting her creative community with top clients in the area. 

Hannah familiarized herself with AMA (American Marketing Association of West Michigan) through one of her creative candidates. Most recently, she was given the opportunity to create the AMA blog post highlighting  the last meeting of the year. The topic covered this time around was “How the Digital Age has Changed the Marketing and PR Game”.

We are thrilled to share this with creatives alike! 

How the Digital Age has Changed the HR Marketing & PR Game

Interview Don’ts – Stre-e-e-e-tch!

from the desk of smartdept. inc. Principal, Eric Pairitz

3. Stre-e-e-e-tch!

Yup! We’ve all done it. And, most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. For instance, during a traffic stop, when a police officer asks, “How fast you were going?” Or when the nurse’s assistant at your regularly scheduled check-up asks, “What’s your height and weight?” (I always say 6′ with shoes on.) Oh, and my favorite, “How many baseball cards do you have?” Okay, that one is more specific to me. But you get my point. Every single day, we’re asked a dozen questions that allow us the opportunity to “STRETCH” the truth.

But what about during an interview? Can we “STRETCH” a tiny bit there? You know — make four-and-a-half years of experience into five? Maybe bump that previous salary up a bit? Stre-e-e-e-tch!? Just a little? Well, I’m not your mother, so do what you think? However, creatives, beware! There’s one place for certain that you should never make a “STRETCH.” And that place is during a portfolio review.

That’s right! You should be up front in every case about your level of participation on a particular piece in your portfolio. If your contribution to a piece was more production and less conceptual, let your prospective employer know. Maybe it was a collaborative effort? If so, give credit to your partner (they’d like that). Lastly (and this seems obvious), never represent someone else’s work as your own. If you convey to a prospective employer that you possess a particular skill set, you can expect to be put in a position to use that skill set if you’re hired. Stretching the truth may set you up to fail in your new environment. Worse yet, it could cost your employer time and maybe even money.

So remember, if you’re a creative with an opportunity to show off your work, it’s best not to “STRETCH” the truth. Oh, and how many baseball cards do I have? I’d say, “About a million.”

Grand Rapids, Michigan is about to…

GET SMART!

You can call it River City, Furniture City or Beer City (because it’s known by all three). And now, you can call it the newest home of smartdept. inc. That’s right! Just like LeBron took his talents to Miami (and then back to Cleveland), we are taking our creative, interactive and marketing recruiting talents to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Effective April 15, 2016 the second largest city in the great state of Michigan, located 30 miles away from a lil’ lake with the same name (that’s Lake Michigan), will be the next location of smartdept. inc. Grand Rapids is a diverse city known for healthcare, consumer goods and the arts. It’s growing and people dig it (we have this in common).

If you know anyone in Grand Rapids who would find our service useful, tell them we just arrived and we need some help unpacking.

 

 

I Wanted to Be an Archaeologist—and Now I’m a Recruiter!

from the desk of smartdept. inc. Creative Coordinator, Hannah Stover

Did you know what you wanted to be when you were little? When I was a young lass, I dreamed of becoming an archaeologist. Harrison Ford wasn’t my only motivation, though. Getting to the core of a problem, digging until the treasure was found… it gave me a thrill.

As I got older, my dreams turned into more realistic goals such as becoming a private investigator, a published author, or a master of espionage. I began working in customer service when I was 14 years old, and since then I’ve worn many hats: restaurant manager, dance instructor, pre-school teacher—I even spent one summer doing an archaeological dig on Palomar Mountain, near San Diego.

I was introduced to Meghann, the Seattle smartdept. inc. branch manager, in February 2015. Recruiting was always in the back of my mind, but after our meeting it was all I could think about. I knew this was it. From February to November, I dug up everything I could find on recruiting. This cemented what I already felt in my gut: Recruiting is my jam. My first day at smartdept. was on November 30, 2015.

So how do you know when you find the one? The job that makes your brain buzz with possibilities, the career that fits you like a glove? Ask yourself three questions—questions that might illuminate things you haven’t thought about for years:

  1. What games were you drawn to as a child? Crafting? Rolling around in the mud? Both? I never minded getting dirty, but I wasn’t interested in dealing with activities that felt “messy” to me.
  2. Who did you idolize when you were young? Any strong, successful woman caught my eye as a youth, but I always liked the stylish edge that’s possible with office jobs.
  3. Where do you live? Seattle? Chicago? LA? No matter what city I’ve lived in, I’ve discovered there will always be needs that align with whatever skills people have acquired or desire to acquire.

Finding the perfect job is translating your dream into reality. It’s possible! For example, if you know you’d be the perfect graphic designer but you dream about being inside the Matrix, designing systems, perhaps you should become a developer!

Regardless of the field you choose for your career trajectory, we live in a tech world that’s changing every day—almost too fast for us keep up with. Tell me about your dream job—I have ideas! The world is your oyster, my friend. You got this. We can help!

Interview Don’ts – The Cozy Monster

from the desk of smartdept. inc. Principal, Eric Pairitz

2. The Cozy Monster

A prospective employer always has a checklist of things they’d like to see in a future employee. You’ll almost always find “confidence” included on that list. No, I don’t mean the “look at my hair” or “check out my abs” type of confidence — more along the lines of a “sit up straight, look me in the eyes, talk confidently about your work” sort of thing. Yup, confidence is a great thing! It can leave the person on the other side of that conference table thinking, “Wow, this person knows what they’re doing.”

However, be aware of… the Cozy Monster! That’s right, you’re most susceptible to being attacked by this subtle beast when your confidence is at its peak.

Imagine that you just finished guiding a prospective employer through the final pages of your portfolio. You can sense he or she is impressed. You know things are looking good. Really good! All of a sudden, you feel yourself lean back in your chair and fold your hands behind your proud little head. Uh-oh! Now the Cozy Monster has got you, and there’s nothing you can do. The next thing you know, your shoes are off your feet, your feet are on the desk and this interview is in the toilet! You’ve become another victim of the Cozy Monster!

So remember, when you’re in an interview setting (use your favorite monster voice now) — “Confidence GOOD, feet on desk BAD. Grrrrr!”

The differences between creative staffing and experiential staffing

from the desk of smartdept. inc. Creative Consultant: Jaime Sklar

Having come from recruiting for an experiential marketing agency and then switching to recruiting for a creative staffing agency, I had no clue that there would be so many differences—or so many similarities! But there definitely are.

At the experiential agency, I was mainly staffing brand ambassadors, or “field/temp” staff, who worked with our brand-specific touring teams at nationwide events. All roles were remote, and typically I was staffing for anywhere from one to three markets across the country during a single weekend.

At the smartdept., we staff within the Chicagoland area. Our clients reach out with open positions so we can assist them in finding a match for their needs—someone who can complete their team, enhance their vision, or even build their brand/company.

So, is all staffing the same? Is staffing just “staffing”? That’s an interesting question, given the number of factors and players at work. And if it’s not, what are the differences?

Location

It seems pretty obvious that location would affect sourcing and staffing, but this is definitely one of the biggest and most surprising similarities I’ve found between creative and experiential recruiting.

  • For the experiential agency, location was huge. I typically worked in several markets at the same time, but often in obscure locations and literally across the country from one another other. Staffing locations that are far from a major city was definitely a huge challenge.
  • For the smartdept., location has also proved to be a challenge. It’s often hard to find suburban candidates who are able to travel to the city, and vice versa. It’s especially challenging for recruiters sourcing in cities that rely so heavily on public transportation. Many candidates don’t own a car and therefore can’t make it to certain client locations.

Client vs. Account Team

One difference I’ve found is who your contact is and getting information from them regarding the roles or staff needed.

  • At the experiential agency, you’re most often in contact with the account team, who relays what staff the program needs for certain events. Although you don’t interact with the client directly, you learn which types of staff work well with the touring field/staff, what the program or brand needs, etc.
  • At a creative staffing agency, you have direct access to and conversations with your client. You can get to know them personally—what types of personalities might fit their company, the typical types of backgrounds they look for, and what types of needs they most often have.

Turnaround and Scheduling

In terms of differences and similarities, this is a biggie. Both styles of staffing require you to be on your feet at all times, constantly sourcing for viable candidates, and filling roles as needed.

  • At the experiential agency, we typically had schedules for event dates up to a month in advance, so we were able to source and staff events ahead of time. In retrospect, we often dealt with event cancellations, location changes, rescheduling events to different weekends, or even events that were booked the night before they started—meaning we were forced to find staff on the fly.
  • At the smartdept., we usually don’t know in advance what requests are going to come and when the staff will be needed. Of course, we can anticipate that certain clients will have needs at specific times of the year, but there’s no guarantee. This is why proactive sourcing is huge for a staffing agency—you must always have a solid pool of candidates who are capable of meeting your clients’ needs.

Remote vs. Local

This is another significant difference I’ve found between the two.

  • A phone call is always different from meeting in person. Experiential hiring for temp staff or event staff doesn’t allow you to interact with your candidates directly; you’re usually doing interviews on the phone or communicating via email.
  • Recruiting for local candidates means you can meet your candidates in person, read their mannerisms and body language, and even look at their work with them. I think this is especially important for the “creative” roles that the smartdept. recruits for—watching someone explain their work allows you to see how passionate they are about it.

Don’t get me wrong—staffing remotely is great—but there’s something really awesome about being able to meet your candidates in person, getting to know them firsthand, and continuing to work with them for several years to come.

So, the answer to the question, “Is all staffing just ‘staffing’?” is … yes and no. They each have their place in our business, and they each have their own challenges and rewards. There’s something for everyone in this fast-paced, fascinating industry!

 

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