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smartdept. inc. gets smart(er)

We’ve made some changes at smartdept. inc., and we’re so happy about them, we want to shout from the rooftops. Or at least here in this blog post.

We’re so pleased with these tweaks, we’ve taken to calling ourselves the smart(er)dept. inc. And when we’re that proud of something, we figure it’s wise to let people know what we’re up to. So, after emailing our key contacts the following news, we lifted the juiciest bits and plunked them into this blog post. (Bonus: referring people to this post may help keep our smarties from getting hoarse when talking with candidates or clients.)

Here are a handful of changes we think you should know about!

Improved Candidate Benefits – We’ve changed our Blue Cross and Blue Shield healthcare enrollment waiting period to 90 days, down from 12 months. I think it goes without saying when it comes to healthcare, offering it sooner is smart(er). We also offer 401(k) through Merill Lynch, but we’ve been doing that for a while now.

Organizational Changes – We’ve added both speed and power to the lineup! April Levins has joined our team as Accounting and Operations Manager. She is diligently working to improve many of our internal processes. Mindy Marvin has also joined our team as National Director of Sales and Strategy. Mindy is working alongside us to help grow our national presence and create strategies to support our growth.

Electronic Timecard and Approval System – Okay, so it’s not that revolutionary. But, technically, it does make us smart(er).

Recruiting Philosophy – We’ve changed our recruiting philosophy, too. I KNOW! Under this updated model we offer the same boutique approach to service locally, while adding the ability to source and recruit nationwide. (Yup, we’re fancy.)

smartdept. inc. Strategy – If explained in detail, this would most likely draw a close comparison to the effects of tryptophan on Thanksgiving Day. Just trust me, it’s smart(er).

If you’d like to find out more about how we’ve gotten smart(er), feel free to drop us a line at getsmart@thesmartdept.com. I’m confident that the minutes we spend together will be a wise investment of your time (see how I didn’t use the term smart(er) there).

What are the best (and worst) questions to ask during an interview?

An important part of preparing for an interview is thinking through (and writing down) questions for your interviewers. While there is such a thing as asking too many questions, coming in with a short list of smart questions will go a long way to both understand the role and impress the hiring manager. It’s always best to focus on the role, the team and company – not the vacation package.

Great questions:

  • What are the biggest professional challenges that the person in this role is likely to encounter?
  • What are your long term goals for this role and department?
  • How is the team structured?
  • How closely will I work with a supervisor or mentor?
  • What types of employee tend to succeed here? OR – What qualities are most important for success in this role?
  • Are there opportunities to take on new projects and challenges that may fall out of the actual job responsibilities? 
  • Is there any experience you’re looking for that I haven’t yet spoken to?
  • What are the next steps/best way to follow up after our meeting?

Avoid asking:

  • How long will it take for a promotion? (You seem like you’re only interested in climbing the ladder, not focused on being successful in the current opportunity)
  • How long until I can take vacation? (Wait until offer stage or a conversation with HR to ask about benefits, PTO, etc.)
  • How soon can I apply for another job here? (Don’t jump ship so quickly! Stay focused on the one position.)
  • How much PTO do I get? (You shouldn’t be planning your vacation before you even get the job.)
  • Flexible Schedule or special privileges (Save these for when you actually have an offer.)
  • Anything generic – So…. What do you like about working in X industry? (Really, how is this helping you evaluate the job?) 

Start Off Your 2018 Job Search in Style With These Classic Blogs from smartdept. inc.

If your 2018 New Year’s Resolutions include a new job in the Creative and Digital world, the creative consultants at smartdept. inc. are here to help! We’ve ventured into the archives to pull some of our favorite tips to get your search started out right. As always, we’d love to be a part of your journey to a new career (and even included a blog for that too!), so get in touch with a real-life smartie today!

Give your resume an overhaul: Read more >

Spruce up your LinkedIn profile: Read more >

Upgrade your portfolio: Read more >

What NOT to do on an interview: Read more >

What to expect from working with smartie: Read more >

 

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

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

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

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

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.”

Help me help you (find a job)

I’m frequently asked by job seekers how to work with staffing resources and recruiters.  Below are the top four things that help me find you a job.

1 – Tell me about your irons
I want to know everything about your job search. Tell me how many irons you have in the fire. You won’t offend me if you tell me you’re working with another recruiter at a different staffing resource, but not telling me you’re interviewing with prospective employers puts me at a disadvantage. I want to be able to tell my clients that you’re actively interviewing and most likely won’t be on the job market long, thus expediting the interview/offer process. I also don’t want to blindside my clients. If I have you scheduled to interview for a contract or direct hire position – you seem interested in the role, and the client seems interested in you – but then you accept a different position the day after your interview. Transparency is key in helping me find you a job. If you receive an offer or know one is on its way, tell me so I can leverage that with the clients I’m trying to place you with.

2 – Polish your presence, check your settings
I need a clean resume and a LinkedIn profile that supports the content of your resume.  LinkedIn is a tool that isn’t going away. It’s only getting more popular, so make sure your profile is up to date and doesn’t read like your Facebook page. Your profile on LinkedIn is your own personal brand – handle it with care. If you have a Facebook page and don’t feel the content you post is appropriate for prospective employers to read, keep your Facebook settings private. This goes for any other online presence you have that is non-professional. Double check the content you post online and keep your settings private if you don’t want a potential employer to read it.

3 – Response time
I want to hear from you as quickly as possible. If you’re on the hunt for a job and I’m calling to talk with you or email you to tell you about a new opportunity, you may lose out if you don’t get back to me quickly. My goal when working with a client is to find the best fit for their current need as quickly as possible.  Sometimes I’m competing with another staffing resource that is also working on the same position, and sometimes I’m the only recruiter supporting the role. Either way, my response time to my client is key and I can’t present you to my client without talking through the role with you to determine the fit.

4 – Understand my role
I work for you (the candidate), and for my client (your prospective employer). I want to get to know you and I need to understand what’s important to you in your next professional endeavor. However, I might not always have the right role for you right away. Job searching is a process, and one that usually happens multiple times throughout your professional life. Don’t give up on me if I don’t find you a job right away. Stay in touch even after you find a job. I have candidates that have become my clients and then become my candidates again. They’re some of my favorite people to work with because we’ve developed a relationship over a number of years. I look forward to grabbing coffee and catching up with them. I try to meet with all my candidates in person, even if we’re unable to do a formal interview at my office I’ll meet you for coffee – just ask me! I not only want to find you a job, but I want to make a long-term hire for my client. My client pays the bills, but for the job seeker my services are free. I’m another set of eyes looking for roles on your behalf. Help me help you (Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jerry Maguire – yes, I made a Jerry Maguire reference).

From the desk of smartdept. inc. Seattle Branch Manager: Meghann Kern

The Zombie

1. The Zombie

Okay, it’s true, zombies are as popular as ever. Movies, shows, conventions about movies and shows — it goes on and on. Hey, for the purpose of entertainment, I love them too. But there’s one place that zombies are not welcome (anyone?). That’s right. In an interview. In this context, a “zombie” refers to a person who continually gives one-word answers and generally refuses to engage in a “conversation” during the interview.

There are many elements involved in successfully navigating the interview process. The most obvious is having the exact skill set the prospective employer is seeking. But perhaps the second most obvious is communication — being able to talk through a solution you’re offering in your portfolio, for example. Or, your approach to a difficult situation you encountered at another job and how you worked through it. Clear, concise communication can leave a prospective employer impressed and can sometimes be a difference maker if other elements of your interview come up short.

Besides, think of all the money you’ll save not having to buy zombie make-up! All by simply being conversational with your approach to an interview.

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

 

Introducing our new blog series – Interview Don’ts

I would like to formally (or informally) introduce smartdept’s new blog series — cleverly entitled, Interview Don’ts. This eight-part series was created to help give potential candidates an edge by making light of a few “don’ts” that we occasionally see while interviewing.

Accompanying these short bits of useful knowledge are video performances depicting, in a (not so) real way, how these scenarios might play out.

In addition, I am pleased to introduce, The Not Ready For Bedtime Players, a small, but mighty group of performers who took the stage in these budget-busting depictions.

Stay tuned for the first installment tomorrow, and enjoy!

 

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

 

 

Holiday Job Hunting

Our very own Senior Creative Consultant Meghann Kern was recently quoted in the Seattle Times! She lent her expertise to a fantastic article about looking for a job during the hectic holiday season.

“Timing is everything,” Kern says. “If you keep at it and are consistent with your search, there’s a good chance you could have your résumé reviewed by a hiring manager who’s sitting at her desk three days before Christmas and just got budget approval for a first-quarter hire.”

Read the full article on jobs.seattletimes.com!

New LinkedIn Job Search App

LinkedIn added another new app to its collection on Thursday.

The professional network unveiled the LinkedIn Job Search app, its sixth standalone app and the fourth unveiled in the last 18 months. The app is intended to do one thing very well: help users find and apply for new jobs.

The app includes job search filters like seniority level, industry and location, and both searches and individual jobs can be saved for a second look down the road. The Job Search app will also recommend positions to you based on openings you’ve viewed and saved job searches.

You can also set up notifications and alerts for jobs you’re keeping tabs on. LinkedIn says that applicants who reply to a posting on the day it goes up are 10% more likely to actually get the job.

Read the full article here | via Mashable

Job Search Traffic Surged in January, Putting Indeed.com on Top

What’s the most trafficked site by Americans searching for a job? Turns out it’s Indeed.

Last month, says comScore, the web traffic measurement company, 17.3 million different visitors from the U.S. clicked into Indeed to look for a job. That translates into a 29% increase over December’s job search count.

Overall, January saw a 24% increase in the job search category, ranking comScore’s broader Career Services category among the fastest growing of all website groupings.

Jeff Hackett, executive vice president of comScore, noted that in addition to big jumps in tax and travel sites, “We also saw a very seasonal spike in the Career Services category, including Job Search, Training and Education, and Career Resource sites, as Americans looked for ways to grow their careers and expand their skill sets in 2013.”

Read the rest here!

Job Tenure: A Millennial’s Perspective

To stay at my current job or not to stay, that is the question. Here are the facts:

-According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of January 2012, today’s average worker stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.6 years, a .2 increase from the median tenure two years earlier.

-According to the Future Workplace Multiple Generations @ Work survey, a whopping 91 percent of Millennials — those born between 1977 and 1997 — anticipate to stay at a job for less than three years. As Future Workplace Partner Jeanne Meister put it, “That means they (Millennials) would have 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their working lives!”

-According to the 2012 Candidate Behavior Study by CareerBuilder and Inavero, 81 percent of Millennials are either actively searching for new jobs or are open to new opportunities, regardless of their current employment status.

So, the notion out there is that Millennials are “job-hoppers.” I’ve heard it all: Millennials lack work ethic, we aren’t ready for “real” jobs, we’re spoiled, we don’t want to pay our dues… the list can go on and on.

Read the rest on recruiter.com!

Top 9 Job Sites to Bookmark for Your Career Search

(mashable.com) – Approximately 84% of employees in North America plan to look for new jobs in 2011, according to a recent survey by global talent management firm Right Management. Put them alongside those who are unemployed, and you have a whole lot of people searching for work.

If you happen to be in either of those positions, it’s essential to get organized about your job search by understanding what information and resources are available to you on the major job sites.

Over the years, job boards have become more than just job search sites — many now offer additional resources and functionalities to job seekers. Here are nine of the top job sites, including a few of the basics, that boast valuable services beyond job postings.

Read the full article here!

LinkedIn Reveals the 10 Most Overused Job-Hunter Buzzwords

(mashable.com) – LinkedIn has just posted the 10 most overused, tired and trite buzzwords that get slapped onto resumes and professional profiles around the U.S. and 11 other countries. According to our LinkedIn profiles, a great many of us tend to describe ourselves as motivated team players with extensive experience. Ironically, “innovative” is the second-most clichéd word found in LinkedIn profiles. You’d think we’d be able to be more innovative with our vocabularies, no?

Read full article here!