15th-anniversary

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

 

 

road-to-success

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_grand-rapids blog

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

creative staffing vs experiential staffing

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!

 

Welcome to the 5-Year Club, Meghann

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

meghann_five year club

“Meghann Francis Kern” is what we affectionately call her (to her face). But you might know her as the Branch Manager of the smartdept. inc. Seattle office!

Now, we can include “5-Year Jersey Club member” in the list of ways you can search for her on LinkedIn. On June 22, 2015, Meghann Francis became the second smarty in two months to garner the coveted 5-year jersey. Although it doesn’t come with a jelly-of-the-month club membership, it’s still something to be proud of.

I knew almost immediately, during our very first conversation, that Meghann would be a great fit for our environment. She was hired without staffing experience to be the Creative Consultant for our Seattle office. Meghann is a fast learner, and a short time later was promoted to a senior position. Over the years, Meghann has continued to display not only good business sense, but also outstanding leadership ability. These qualities earned her the opportunity to manage the Seattle branch — and her willingness to take on new challenges opened up the opportunity to change her focus from recruiting to business development, where I’m certain she’ll once again succeed with great enthusiasm.

Meghann, congratulations on this great accomplishment, and thank you for everything you do for us here at smartdept. inc.!

 

7 Questions Great Candidates Ask

At the end of the interview when you, the interviewer, ask the candidate, “Do you have any questions for us?” it’s often hard to know what to expect. Will the candidate ask a couple of superficial questions just to be polite, or will he or she ask deep, probing questions?

If a candidate appears to be simply going through the motions at this point, this is often a sign of a candidate who is not fully engaged with your brand and the hiring process. On the other hand, a candidate who probes and asks questions of substance is a more engaged candidate. The person is trying to form a picture of your business to see if it is the right cultural fit, job fit, technical fit and career fit for him or her. This more discerning approach is likely to be taken by the best candidates. But, what questions are these more engaged candidates likely to ask and how should you respond?

Read the rest on recruiter.com!

Recruiters Won’t Kill Your Grandma

While perusing the interwebs this afternoon, I stumbled across a fantastic blog about recruiters. Myths about recruiters, in fact. Take a look-see and check the blog out here, and Mindy Slobodkin Fineout’s awesome writing below:

Recruiters Don’t Want to Kill Your Grandmother (and other recruiting myths debunked)

Commentaries, articles, posts and emails have been flying left and right in an attempt to clarify and disassemble the falsities being spread about Obama’s healthcare reform. Rumors of death panels, promoting euthanasia, cutting Medicaid and bringing about a complete government takeover of healthcare have been flooding the media channels. I’ve watched in wonderment as town hall meetings, editorials and letters escalated to the point of comparing President Obama to Hitler. I read the proposals, both attended and watched town hall meetings and tried to understand how these misconceptions originated. Whether or not you support Obama’s healthcare reform, the aforementioned rumors and accusations being concocted are simply untrue. And so it becomes incumbent on the Obama Administration to educate and inform the public of the facts, to quell the rumors and set the record straight.
Recently, in this job climate flooded by candidates, there have been an increasing number of rumors flying around about working with recruiters. It seems just about every candidate carries with them a story about a horrible experience they’ve had with a recruiter they have worked with. There is sometimes an undertone that recruiters provide little worth, do not value their candidates, and get in the way of candidates getting the jobs they want. I also would like to quell the rumors and set the record straight.

Myth #1- Recruiters are glorified coordinators

Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer for the New Yorker and author of several international best sellers, writes about what he refers to as the “Connectors,” in his book The Tipping Point. Connectors are people in the community who have large networks, know lots of people and are in the habit of making introductions. A connector is like a computer network hub and typically knows people across a variety of social, cultural, professional and economic circles. They make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles.

A good recruiter is a connector, not just a coordinator. Outside of hunting for candidates, studying companies, and being in the know about current business trends, recruiters make introductions that connect two points that wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise. We bring A, to Z, connecting all of the letters in between to make it possible. So while we are indeed just coordinating the interview and submittal process, to get to that point involves a behind-the-scenes connectability that only comes from being a true Connector. A good recruiter has a relationship with the hiring manager and can help to give an opportunity to a candidate who otherwise would be overlooked. She will leverage her relationship with that manager, and the trust she has built to get you a chance to interview if she believes you fit that position. She will help the manager see what isn’t on the resume that makes you a fit, and even put her reputation on the line if she believes you deserve the position. This brings me to my next myth..


Myth #2- Recruiters can’t help you break into a new industry

Okay, this may be true a lot of the time. However – as was mentioned above , a good recruiter sometimes has the power to make a hiring manager consider a candidate he normally would pass on. An even better recruiter can both understand, and convince the hiring manager of the portability of your skills, even when they don’t match up in an obvious way. I have helped Scientific candidates break into IT, Developers break into Project Management, and Administrative Assistants break into QA.

I’m not saying this works every time, but if you have a recruiter who can recognize portable skills and how they apply to a new industry, she will help to make a hiring manager see the match, with or without having all of the buzz words.

Myth #3- Recruiters get in the way of you getting the job you want

I recently cold called into a company seeking a candidate with a very unique skill set. Knowing the technologies I needed to identify, I did my research, found the company’s competitors, and narrowed in on my top 5 list. When I contacted one candidate in particular, his response was not favorable. “I don’t work with recruiters,” he said. “If I’m interested in a job, I’ll just apply to it.” I pushed him a bit and asked why he did not work with recruiters and his answer was surprising. “Because,” he said, ” Recruiters get in the way of the process. I can just find a job on my own if I’m looking.”

But what about when you’re not looking? A good recruiter will not only help you find the perfect job, but help the perfect job find you. It took some work to figure out which company’s employees would be a match for this particular role, learn about which candidates might be a fit, find them, and contact them. This is not a service that is provided through a job board. Aside from that, several A-list companies don’t even post all of their positions, which means sometimes a recruiter is your only way in. I thought about all of the times not only have I not hindered the process, but gone to bat for a candidate helping them to win the job on my recommendation, or pushing a hiring manager to meet with a candidate they originally passed on. There is always an exception to the rule, and there certainly, like any profession are bad recruiters out there. But if you are not getting the jobs you want, it is most likely not for lack of recruiting effort. A good recruiter is not only submitting your resume to a hiring manager, but is behind the scenes, pushing it along, being your advocate, trying to hurry the process and trying to deliver constructive feedback whenever possible. The rest of it unfortunately, is out of our control, and we are just as frustrated as you when we don’t get feedback. Also, we want to see you get your dream job- for most of us that is what we are most rewarded by – both monetarily and instrinsically.


Myth #4 – Recruiters have no pull or decision making authority

I cannot tell you how many times a hiring manager has asked for my input on who they should hire. Especially in this economy, when a hiring manager may have several technically identical candidates in front of them, it is not uncommon for them to turn to the recruiter for their input. If all hard skills are equal, it will come down to which candidate followed up, which has the better attitude, and even which was more receptive to the recruiting process. If you are friendly, respectful, responsive and appreciative, you are in good shape – the recruiter will almost always be in your corner. These may seem like small details, but doing things like following up with the recruiter after your interview, expressing your interest in the position, and making every conversation positive, will go a long way. If I have two technically equal candidates for the same position, and one out of the two has a positive attitude and always returns my calls quickly, I will assume that candidate is more interested in the role and a better overall fit, therefore will make that recommendation every time.


Myth #5- Recruiters sit on death panels

Though I have addressed the paragraphs above that recruiters can often influence a hiring decision, ultimately, it is not the recruiters fault, nor is it solely their decision when it comes to whether or not you are selected for a role after an interview with a hiring manager. Be careful how you handle the rejection, and understand at this point in the process, the recruiter is simply delivering the message. Once delivered, the results are final and binding, so don’t kill the messenger, and remember, handling feedback constructively may lead to other opportunities in the future **