4 Last Minute Nerdy Halloween Costumes

If you aren’t a Halloween fanatic who has had your costume planned for months, and you tend to land on the “nerdy” side of the spectrum, then you are in the right place! Here are a few last-minute ideas that don’t require too much effort:

  • Steve Jobs (& an iPod if it’s a couples party)
    • Black turtleneck
    • Jeans
    • Glasses
    • Make an iPod “wheel”

As you can see, we had a horrible time dressing up and taking these pictures 🙂 The great thing about all of these costumes is that you probably already have the necessary pieces lying around your house! The only “unusual” article of this costume combo is the iPod wheel that we easily created out of thick poster board.

  • A java developer
    • Cardboard cutout of a coffee cup (add straps so you don’t have to carry it)

Who doesn’t love a good play on words?? Dressing as a java developer is about as easy as it gets.

  • Facebook
    • Book
    • Phone to take selfies all night

For the “Facebook” costume, you could cut a hole in a real book, or make one out of construction paper like we did. The addition of the phone for the selfie effect really takes this costume to the next level.

  • Mac (& a <wireless> mouse)
    • Apple logo cutout
    • Mouse ears
    • Face paint for whiskers and nose

This costume combo is another great option for a couples Halloween party. Again, very easy to throw together – the mouse ears were made out of construction paper, and the apple was made out of thicker poster board for extra support. Whiskers and nose were applied using a face paint kit from Walgreens. No tail required since the mouse is “wireless!”

Cheers to a spooky and safe Halloween! Let us know in the comments section what your costume is for this year

Team Building in the Office

happy hour

Team building. Ice breakers. More than 40 hours a week spent with co-workers. To some, any of those three would bring on a reflexive headache worse than the most painful of migraines; and the thought of combining the three into a collaborative activity sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen. To the people who think that way, I say – you’re wrong! You’ve been misinformed, tricked, fooled into believing that team building is a hassle and a waste of your time, when in fact, it is a critical component when creating a cohesive office environment.

Here at Conexess, a significant amount of emphasis is placed on team building in order to achieve a more familial atmosphere. The crazy thing is that the more team building we do, the more everyone seems to enjoy it, and the closer we all become. Last week, there was a spontaneous gathering in our “pit” area with everyone swapping relationship stories, anecdotes, and advice. I overheard one of my coworkers comment “I love our family time discussions.” Even without years of experience in the workplace, I know that the bonds we have at Conexess are uncommon to say the least. The reasoning behind our closeness is simple:

  • Being a culture fit is a pre requisite to working at Conexess, which means that we all get along on a general level to begin with.
  • Team building activities are built into our annual calendar to ensure that our connections with one another go beyond the walls of the office.

WHY

Let’s go over a few of the basics: why team build? Because even in a sales-oriented workplace, you cannot rely on yourself alone to be successful – you need teammates. Team building exercises build trust, a crucial element of working cohesively with others. They also promote unity within a company, and can be FUN if you know what you’re doing.

WHEN

At Conexess, we plan quarterly bonding activities that correspond with the time of year and type of quarterly contest we have running in the office. Quarterly activities are fun to plan because there is always a holiday/event that can be tied in with the theme of the team bonding. For example: 1st quarter – Valentine’s Day, Super Bowl, March Madness; 2nd Quarter – Memorial Day, Summer kickoff; 3rd Quarter – 4th of July, Labor Day; 4th Quarter – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah. The 4th quarter is an all-star grouping of months, and we like to take advantage of that. Rather than have one big blowout activity, we’ll carve pumpkins for Halloween, have a potluck lunch for Thanksgiving, and a Christmas/holiday party in December.

christmas sillyUSA

In addition to having quarterly team building, we also have annual retreats that last 2-3 days. They focus on brainstorming ideas for the upcoming year, and bring all of our offices (Nashville, Detroit, and Orlando) together for some time of fun and relaxation. Our retreats typically happen in the summer months because we love to be outside. A quick tip is to have a retreat at the same time of year, every year. That way, employees can plan around the retreat, and look forward to it each year.

Birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones are also a great excuse for a small celebration with the team. At Conexess, we like to gather as a team and enjoy a sweet treat to celebrate those occasions.

barile bday

Another EASY way to bond your team is to go to happy hour together! Any day of the week will do, but Thursdays and Fridays tend to have the best response rate…especially if you get out of the office a little early :-). Here is a link to the best daily happy hours in Nashville: http://nashvilleguru.com/best-nashville-happy-hours-and-specials, and in the words of my dear friend, Jimmy Buffett, “it’s 5:00 somewhere.”

WHAT

Since repeating the same activities can be mundane, we try to shake things up when it comes to team building. For the first quarter of 2014 we had a “progressive lunch” where everyone was broken up into groups and assigned a meal course to contribute. After eating, we played board games and went to an early happy hour. The lunch/game combo was great because it got everybody involved, and it didn’t cost Conexess a dime! We went on our annual retreat during the second quarter, which involved a trip to a cabin in Kentucky and time in the sun on a boat…success. Sometimes all it takes to bond a group of people together is getting away from the office for a few days. In that regard, company retreats have been an excellent source of team building for us. Third quarter team building took place on The Redneck Bus Tour, a local attraction that allows guests to bring a cooler with “adult beverages” on board, and takes them on a driving tour of Nashville hot spots. Other team building activities that we have done and recommend are: attend a Nashville Sounds game, attend a Nashville Predators game, go to a pottery studio, have a pumpkin carving contest, take a ride on the Nashville Pedal Tavern, or throw a holiday party (4th of July, Halloween, Christmas). It is always a great idea to support local businesses while team building at the same time!

pedal tavernQ3 Kickoff 014ladies night18

WHO

Ideally, team building activities should include the entire office. However, in larger companies that may be unrealistic. We break up our office in several different ways to team-build throughout the year. The quarterly activities always include everyone at Conexess. Annual retreats are divided into two groupings – one for the operations staff, and one for the rest of the team. Within our sales team, there are smaller groups that work together on a daily basis, and they occasionally have team building exercises on their own. Make sure that everyone in your office is included in a team building exercise in some capacity, leaving someone out unintentionally is a careless mistake that can lead to needlessly burning bridges.

Team building encourages unity within an office, and builds trust through fun and oftentimes, low-cost, methods. When planning a team building activity, it is important to consider when you want to have it, what you want to do, and who you want to be involved. Any budget or timeline can be used, as long as the team is spending time together, getting to know one another on a deeper level outside of the office. Best of luck with your team building endeavors! If you have questions, please leave them in the comments section below.

group pic

Conexess for a Cause

Conexess for a Cause is a new undertaking that we are really excited about, here at Conexess. In an effort to be more focused on giving back to the local community, we started the Conexess for a Cause campaign several months ago, with the goal of raising $7,500 by December 31st. That money will go toward sponsoring the wish of a child with a life-threatening illness. The Middle Tennessee chapter of Make*A*Wish has partnered with us to help turn a child’s dream into reality with our $7,500 pledge. 

If you are unfamiliar with the Make*A*Wish foundation, here is a link to their website: http://middletennessee.wish.org/. The Middle Tennessee chapter of Make*A*Wish grants about 100 wishes each year, and has granted over 1150 wishes since the founding of the chapter in 2007. If you would like to be involved in our campaign, more information can be found here. Ever since expressing interest in granting a child’s wish, our experience with our Make*A*Wish representative, Lillian, has been incredibly positive. Below, she summarizes the impact that she sees Make*A*Wish have on kids and their families, and what that has meant to her:

“My work at Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee is one of the most fulfilling jobs I could have ever imagined, as I have the privilege of being the liaison between the sponsor that raises the money to grant a wish, and the wish child – and their family – who is blessed by it. I can’t count how many times a wish family has been overwhelmed with gratitude when they realize that the entire wish experience has been paid in full by the generosity of another, and I am so proud to partner with Conexess through their Conexess For A Cause campaign, to see that happen once more. It is truly the best part of my job, and something that is so powerful to witness in person.”

All of the wishes that Make*A*Wish grants are incredibly special to the child and his/her family, as well as being heartwarming and often tear-inducing to anyone involved. Recently, the Middle Tennessee Chapter of Make*A*Wish granted a wish for a little girl named Caroline. The wish was unique because a previous wish kid helped to grant Caroline’s wish by “wishing it forward.” Read more about the touching chain of events here.

(williamsonsource.com)

At Conexess, we are so excited to have the opportunity to impact a child’s life with the gift of granting his/her wish. The Conexess for a Cause campaign is the first experience that we have had with long-term fundraising, and as we are approaching our final months of the campaign, we need your help! Please follow this link for more information about giving to our cause, and helping a child’s wish come true.

A Day in the Life of a Recruiter

Ever wonder what recruiters do all day? Today on the blog, we want to give you a peek into everyday recruiter life. Jenna Kay has been a recruiter at Conexess for a year and a half, and is used to the in and out, always changing tempo of the staffing world. Here is a day-in-the-life for her, and her take on what being a recruiter is really like:

“Just like any job, there are definitely some highs and lows in recruiting. It is a bit of a roller coaster ride, but that’s part of the fun too. Getting out and about all day—meeting people who you can really help and that you genuinely enjoy getting to know, that’s the coolest part. There really never is a dull moment. And the high you feel when you help someone find a job they really want or need, that’s what makes recruiting so worthwhile.”

7:40 - arrive at Conexess....I mustache you a question - how do you take your coffee?

7:40 – arrive at Conexess….I mustache you a question – how do you take your coffee?

8:30 - time for morning huddle. What is on the schedule for today?

8:30 – time for morning huddle. What positions are hot today?

9:15 - Check email, find awesome(!) candidates

9:15 – check email, find awesome(!) candidates.

11:00 - off to lunch with a candidate. Driving and smiling - it's a thing :-)

11:00 – off to lunch with a candidate. Driving and smiling – it’s a thing 🙂

12:45 - leave Burger Up feeling 5 pounds heavier....that place does not disappoint

12:45 – leave Burger Up feeling 5 pounds heavier….that place does not disappoint.

1:00 - head to a local cupcake spot to grab a sweet dozen for one of our clients. YUM

1:00 – head to a local cupcake spot to grab a sweet dozen for one of our clients. YUM!

1:30 - every recruiter understands the importance of caffeine as part of the daily grind. Love being able to support local shops - check out Red Bicycle if you haven't already!

1:30 – every recruiter understands the importance of caffeine as part of the daily grind. Love being able to support local shops – check out Red Bicycle if you haven’t already!

2:15 - Walked in a candidate and handed off the cupcakes - they were a hit!

2:15 – walked in a candidate and handed off the cupcakes – they were a hit!

3:00 - back in the office. Time to make some calls and finish the day strong

3:00 – back in the office. Time to make some calls and finish the day strong.

**If you are interested in getting more information about recruiting, or working at/with the crazy fun team at Conexess, please check out our careers page for more info**

Welcome to our blog!

Hello, and welcome to the Conexess Group blog! We are so excited to be joining the blogging world, and want to start by telling you a little bit about Conexess. We are an IT staffing firm with locations in Nashville, Detroit, and Orlando. We are passionate about what we do here. We are also passionate about happy hour. And we keep our office stocked with fully loaded Nerf guns at all times. If you follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you know that we have a lot of fun together – we want you to get in on it too! So, check out our blog, follow us on social media, and come hang out at one of our awesome events 🙂 In return, you’ll get a peek behind the curtain of life at Conexess – buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy wild FUN ride.

To start off, here is an interview with one of our founders, Jerry Baker, that will give you the background of the humble beginnings of Conexess, and a few tips about the staffing world.

After spending many years working for large corporate structured IT Staffing organizations I had an itch to start my own company.  What held me back was FEAR – that four letter word.  Then I met my future business partner Austin Meibers.  After our first meeting I told my wife “Austin is the person I’ve been looking for to start something special”.  The rest is history…

  • What was your inspiration for the idea of the company?

Our inspiration came from what we didn’t like at our former employers.  We wanted to create a company that had a unique culture and that could be agile in growth. Too many of our competitors run their organizations based on ways of the past – one of the worst things anyone can say is “This is how we’ve always done it”. 

  • The economy was in a pretty tough spot when you launched Conexess, how did that factor into your plans?

2009 was a horrible time to start a company.  But Austin and I believed in our vision and, fortunately for us, had overwhelming support from our families.  We couldn’t get a loan so we borrowed money from Austin’s grandmother and she became our Angel Investor.  Of course we paid her back as soon as we could and bought her a nice antique table. 

  • How is Conexess different from any other staffing firm?

Two ways – our people and our culture. Our people are among the best – we have a great process for identifying team members that line up with our core values.  We make sure our team understands the importance of building relationships. Our culture is one of flexibility – we don’t have a vacation policy, we share the fruit of our labors with our team with an annual retreat trip, as well as company wide top producing sales trips.

  • “Trust, humility, and balance” are 3 words that Conexess emphasizes – how did you decide to focus on those words?

During one of our retreats we did an exercise with the team called The Metaplan.  Simply put, we asked our team members for words that captured how they felt best described Conexess Group – that gave us immediate feedback from the team and we narrowed the answers down to three core values.     

  • Number one tip for someone looking for a job

Be aggressive in your search – know your strengths and weaknesses and work your ass off to get the opportunity that lines up with your values. 

  • Why use a recruiter during a job search?

Working with a recruiter allows a candidate to expand their reach in the job market. As recruiters, we are talking to candidates and clients everyday which allows us to get a direct pulse of the market we serve.  We know where the opportunities lie and what companies line up best with the candidates goals.

group pic

Summer Retreat 2014

kisses from conexess

National Milk Chocolate Day ~ (Hershey) Kisses from Conexess

Capture

Q3 Kickoff – all aboard the Redneck Bus Tour!

ConexessAmericanCancerSociety

Sponsoring the Drive Against Cancer Golf Tournament

mi cropped

Our Michigan office goofing around….imagine that 🙂

pic17

The Conexess ladies in the photobooth at our annual 4th of July party