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 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).

smartdept. inc. is indeed Good for Grand Rapids, Business as a Force for Good

What does it feel like to be deemed “Good for Grand Rapids” you ask? It’s that moment when Grandma walks in the door with her famous blueberry pie, and she baked it just for you (it feels awesome)! When we got involved with Local First and Good for Grand Rapids, we had no idea the knowledge that the organization would be able to share with us, and the impact it would have.

The process of being recognized as a Good for Grand Rapids business was completed in two steps. We first met with Dana of Local First to learn more about the initiatives the team was working on, and how we could get involved. The second step was a bit more intricate. We completed a thorough assessment that asked for our deepest and darkest secrets i.e. environmental impact, employee satisfaction numbers, community involvement, and most importantly our dedication to our local community.

The Good for Grand Rapids initiative celebrates companies using business as a force for good. These companies have a demonstrated commitment to positive environmental and social change. They create high-quality jobs, stronger communities and a healthier Great Lakes region. To be accepted into this group of celebrated businesses after taking the assessment was certainly an honor.

Once accepted, Local First supplies you with an incredible visual tool to show you where you’re located on the scale of environmental impact, social impact, employee satisfaction, and more. The team offers multiple networking and workshop opportunities to learn and improve. Because it’s never good to stay stagnant, even when you’re GOOD – you should be working to be GREAT, right!?

On February 8th, we attended the Lakeshore Annual Meeting and Local Motion Awards, where we were recognized as one of the Top 8 Finalists in the running for the Good for Grand Rapids Awards.

We are honored to be involved with Local First and Good for Grand Rapids, and look forward to continuing our efforts of positively impacting our GR community! Good for Grand Rapids is open to all Grand Rapids local businesses and we definitely recommend getting involved, and hey, maybe we will see you at the next workshop! Information on Local First can be found at

From the desk of Hannah Staal, smartdept. inc. Grand Rapids Branch Manager

Hannah Morgan – Getting around in Grand Rapids

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!

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

How Brands Can Make the Most of Facebook’s New Pages

The new Facebook Pages are finally here, but what does it mean for brands that have struggled to make Pages a business tool on a personal network?

The first thing you’ll notice is that Facebook Pages are once again made to look like Facebook Profiles. You have little differentiation anymore between the publicly viewable, often more commercial page, and an individual’s private profile. This lack of distinction from an interface standpoint can be confusing to consumers.

Below is a breakdown of the changes in the order that Facebook presents them in their new Page tour.

Check out the full article here! (via

Why Designers Should Learn How to Code

There’s a never-ending debate about whether web designers should be able to code. Web designers who can’t code their own designs still exist. When the web first took off, the designation “web designer” was limited in scope. Technological developments led to an ever-growing demand for web designers, and now the field is open to unlimited possibilities for specialization.

If you are talented with graphics yet clueless when it comes to coding and the back end, then you will most likely be the first who a firm that is tight on budget lets go. Does splitting your share with another coder make sense as a freelancer? It’s simple: the more skilled you are, the more valuable you will be.

Read the full article here! (via

How to Decide on Resume Length

“How long should my resume be?” is one of the most commonly asked questions about resumes. Not too long ago, job seekers were told that a resume should never exceed one page. Those who broke this golden rule were destined for the circular file.

Times have changed, and so has the criteria for resume length. The new guideline is: A resume should be long enough to entice hiring managers to call you for job interviews. That may sound vague, but there is no hard-and-fast length rule that works for everyone. Factors to consider include career objective, occupation, industry, years of experience, number of employers, scope of accomplishments and education/training.

Read the full article here! (

7 Tips for Starting a Coworking Space

Jeff Park started out looking for space his company could share with a handful of other independent workers in order to reduce rent. Bill Jacobson and Dave Ulrich ended up with a lot of extra space after the main tenant that shared their sublease decided to move out. And Tony Bacigalupo decided to try working with a group of people that called their rotating work event a Jelly. All of them ended up founding coworking spaces — Ravenswood Coworking in Chicago, WorkBar in Boston, and New Work City in Manhattan, respectively.

No matter what brought you to the conclusion that you’d like to start a coworking space, a good place to start is asking veterans for their advice. We’ve taken the liberty of starting this process for you. Here are seven pointers founders gave us for how to get a coworking space started. (via

100 Best Companies to Work For

Fortune’s annual list of the 100 best companies to work for has been released, it’s a must read!

See if your company made the list here!

Current web design trends – an overview

Web design trends keep on changing with every passing year or within a period of few months. There had been significant changes last year whose impact can be seen more clearly in this year.

Popularity in the mobile device space has immensely increased in the sense that Smartphones and tablets like the iPad have made the interaction between users better and have facilitated easier accessibility to contents. Moreover, now people can take more and more advantage of the latest and the optimized features.

And this is possible because of web standards like HTML5, web fonts and CSS3, but What about the small businesses? It actually becomes difficult for them to stick to the latest designing trends because of factors like cost of the redesigns and the need for reaching a wide range of users.

Read the rest on

Why and How I Switched to a Standing Desk

I spend about 45 to 50 hours a week working on my computer. Up until a week ago, I did that work sitting on my ever-expanding behind.

Last Monday I adjusted my desk to standing height (pictured right). I spent the week working on my feet, and I’m never going back to a sitdown desk again. Here are some questions and answers about the change.

Read the full article on

5 New Paradigms for a Socially Engaged Company

The age of social media is not just changing our personal lives, but is increasingly affecting how business is conducted. No longer satisfied with strictly top-down models that view employees as cogs in a system, businesses are quickly adapting to a new paradigm that emphasizes connection, collaboration and innovation.

When people in companies and teams feel engaged, the benefits are significant. Towers Watson (formerly Towers Perrin), the global professional services firm, interviewed 90,000 employees in 18 countries, and found “companies with high employee engagement had a 19% increase in operating income and almost a 28% growth in earnings per share. Conversely, companies with low levels of engagement saw operating income drop more than 32% and earnings per share decline over 11%.”

Companies are realizing that it is not enough to get people to show up to work; the real challenge is creating cultures that enhance creativity and innovation. Below you’ll find what leaders in the field had to say about this new age of innovation and engagement.

Read the full article on!

Jobless claims drop below 400,000 mark

( — For the first time in more than two years, the number of Americans filing for their first week of unemployment benefits fell below 400,000 last week — a ray of hope in the one of the longest job droughts in U.S. history.

The number of initial claims fell to 388,000 in the week ended Dec. 25, down 34,000 from the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Read the full article here!

10 Predictions for the News Media in 2011

( – In many ways, 2010 was finally the year of mobile for news media, and especially so if you consider the iPad a mobile device. Many news organizations like The Washington Post and CNN included heavy social media integrations into their apps, opening the devices beyond news consumption. In 2011, the focus on mobile will continue to grow with the launch of mobile- and iPad-only news products, but the greater focus for news media in 2011 will be on re-imagining its approach to the open social web. The focus will shift from searchable news to social and share-able news, as social media referrals close the gap on search traffic for more news organizations. In the coming year, news media’s focus will be affected by the personalization of news consumption and social media’s influence on journalism.

Read full article here!

Glassdoor’s List of 50 Best Places to Work

( – Engineers aren’t just flocking to Facebook for a potential blockbuster IPO payout — apparently the social network is also a great place to work. announced that Facebook is debuting at the top of its third-annual list of 50 best places to work, beating out last year’s No. 1, Southwest Airlines. Technology rivals Apple (#20) and Google (#30) are further back in the pack along with Adobe (#39), (#41) and Intel s (#45.)

Read the full article here!

30 Great Holiday Gifts for The Designer and Developer In Your Lives

Its that time of year again. Time to buy those important holiday gifts for your loved ones or coworkers. As we all know, it is never easy to find the right gift for the designer or developer in your life. They are generally very hard to shop for since they speak a different language and sometimes live in a different world, but now you have more unique, fun and useful gifts than ever. Today lets take a look at 30 Great Holiday Gifts for The Designer and Developer In Your Lives:

Read full article here!

Start Now to Reduce Holiday Stress

(Dawn Foster on ) – We’re right in the middle of the holiday season, when the stress starts to accumulate until it reaches a breaking point. Start taking steps today to make some positive changes that will help you manage our stress over the next two or three weeks.

Read full article here!

After School Special

Check out this very insightful article we found, packed with usable advice!

(Lynda Decker on Building a career is not something that happens overnight. It requires patience and tenacity, and it involves more than raw talent. A career demands an overarching curiosity about the world and how things work, topped off with well-honed people skills. To rise to the top in your profession, you have to have the guts to be self-aware, to know your own strengths while trying to improve upon your weaknesses. And, come to think of it, raw talent doesn’t hurt.

The great thing about a career in design is that you can define success in a number of ways. You can strive to be a renowned creative director at a big firm, to create a small boutique studio, or to savor both your profession and parenthood by working out of your home while raising children. This industry isn’t just about savvy insight and fresh aesthetic perspectives; it’s also largely built from flexibility and potential.

In the beginning of a career, the transition from school to work is difficult, to put it mildly. The first thing you learn is that there is more to learn. A lot more.

-Read the rest here, well worth your time!

Much Ado About Nothing (Or: Contemplating GapGate)

(Eric Karjaluoto on – I’ll start by getting it out of the way immediately: I’m not a fan of what was the redesigned Gap logo. There, I said it… alongside about a gazillion others.

We’re all very upset

Fact is, I wasn’t a fan of their new approach to three letters and a square. Nope—just not feeling it. I do want to stress the critical importance of this whole thing, though. You see, we’re serious people, and we take serious things like this seriously. (Seriously.) Google “Gap logo” and you’ll find many, many other serious people with serious opinions on this newsworthy, and serious, issue.

Upon being asked for his opinion on this grave incident, Armin Vit (of Brand New) exclaimed, “Choosing Helvetica in 2010 is inexcusable.” And right he is! Helvetica has become so terribly gauche it’s hard to not feel pummeled, assaulted, and even outright violated in its presence. He continues, explaining that the typeface is “as bland as grilled chicken without salt and pepper.” True dat… true dat… I gotta say, though, those are fighting words,’vetica. You really going to take that?

Read the full article here!

Freelance workers reshape companies and jobs

 Check out this very relevant article we found on about the evolving job market. Apparently, freelancing is becoming mainstream, which is no surprise to us! Is the increased flexibility and freedom worth the security that a full time position would offer? Decide for yourself here!

(Full article by Paul Davidson posted on

Top 10 Resume Blunders

Resume. That one word causes a lot of different emotions in different people. Fear, loathing, despair…love?

Yeah, that’s right. Love. I love reading and writing resumes. Formatting, editing, tweaking, creating, I love it all.

However, I’ve come to realize that I’m an anomaly, and most people really despise putting this stuff together. I was perusing the interwebs the other day while trying to help a friend put a resume together, and came across a fantastic article, Avoid These 10 Resume Mistakes, written by professional resume-writer, Dr. Katharine Hansen.

I strongly encourage anyone who’s updating their resume to take a peek, consider the list, and revisit their work. Happy writing!