LinkedIn: Putting Your Best Foot Forward

LinkedIn is one of the best networking tools available today and it’s to your advantage to utilize it. While it is an amazing tool, if you do not use it correctly you run the risk of damaging your personal brand. Lucky for you, we are here to help! Why take our word for it? As recruiters we practically network in our sleep so we know a thing or two about properly using a networking site like LinkedIn. So here are a few helpful hints for making the most out of your LinkedIn account.

  1. “Think of your profile as a professional brochure”

This is your chance to show off your accomplishments and brag on yourself a little. Tread lightly; you don’t want to appear overly confident in your abilities. Exaggerating the truth will not win over potential employers. Honesty is always the best policy here.

  1. “Use the Project Section”

The project section is a great way to keep track of and showcase your previous work. Where you may not have room on your resume to list all of the projects you have worked on, LinkedIn is limit free. You can list to your heart’s content! Be careful not to list every single project you have ever worked on. Choose only the projects that best showcase your skills.

  1. “Stay Relevant”

Make sure you are immersing yourself in the right groups on LinkedIn. Follow only those groups that are relevant to your interests and career. This is another great way to show others that you are a well-rounded and informed individual in the business community.

  1. “Connect with a Purpose”

While I can admit to being envious of those with “500+” connections, it’s important to remember that quantity does not always mean quantity. Connect with those who provide value instead of a number.

We hope these tips have been helpful. Feel free to connect with any of our recruiters via LinkedIn. If you’re currently job searching, we have a whole list of career opportunities on our website as well. Feel free to reach out, we’d love to chat.

Top 5 Recruiting Techniques: The Conexess Files

Here at Conexess some may see us as a little unconventional in the staffing world, but we like it that way. We like getting to know our clients and we hope they like getting to know us too.

Our belief system is pretty simple:

Trust, Humility, and Balance are three words that have built our core set of beliefs. We are not a typical churn-and-burn staffing company that fills positions as fast as we can. Instead, we are simply regular people helping other people connect their talent with opportunity. So how do we compete against the big-name staffing companies? It’s pretty simple actually.

  1. Sincerity

We get it, finding a job is tough, like really tough. At Conexess, we want to get you a job-we are recruiters after all. But more than that, we want to find you the right job.

That being said, we’re going to treat you like a real person. We understand what it’s like to be on the job hunt. It’s tough and it’s our job to make it easier for you.

  1. Building (Real) Relationships

Our sole purpose is to connect talent (that’s you) with opportunity. More than that, we want to find you a career opportunity that is a good fit. Remember when I said we aren’t like those big-name staffing firms who fill positions using the churn-and-burn method? I wasn’t kidding. Here’s our thinking: If we put a candidate in a position they will hate and ultimately resign from, they are highly unlikely to come back to us to find them another job. This is exactly why we take the time to build an actual relationship with our clients. The more we know about you, the better job fit we can find for you.

  1. Integrity 100% of the Time

This is a big one and it absolutely goes hand-in-hand with being genuine. The definition of Integrity: “the quality of being honest and fair” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). We want to be as transparent as possible with our clients. If we can have an open line of communication, we are going to have a better chance at finding our clients the right job.

  1. Happy Wife=Happy Life

Ok, this one might sound odd, but bear with me-I have a point. Think of the Conexess team as the “Wife” and our clients as the “Life”. When a company has happy employees who respect the company’s culture and beliefs, then your clients will benefit. We have fun doing our job and we hope you have a great time working with us too. Connecting talent with opportunity is meant to be fun!

  1. Walking a Mile in THEIR shoes

Contrary to popular belief, we are not mind readers. To combat this shortcoming, we try to immerse ourselves in our client’s world or rather “walk a mile in their shoes”. If we can align our thought processes and understand where the other is coming from, the job search process tends to go a whole lot smoother.

That’s it! We don’t have any gimmicks or tricks up our sleeves to lure you in. It all boils down to one main objective: Find the job, but first find the right fit.

Like what we do? Check us out on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram-we’re on them all! Interested in our services? Our website has current career opportunities.

Spotlight: Ryan Seelhoff

This month, we are putting the spotlight on Ryan Seelhoff.  Needless to say, he’ll have his hands full come July when he and his wife welcome baby #1.  When he’s not at work you’ll find him hunting, snowmobiling or hanging out with his family… oh yea, and trying to be the best uncle around!  Ryan is coming up on his 2 year Conexiversary, and has consistently met or exceeded expectations… everyone is happy to have him as part of the Conexess Family 🙂 Get to know him by reading his Q&A below, then send him a message here:

  • Best thing about living/working in Detroit – Best thing about living near Detroit is being so close to any sporting events. I’m a huge Michigan fan, so being able to be to Ann Arbor in 15 minutes is awesome for any football or basketball game. Plus, I came from the East Lansing area, so I am a little closer to my Maize n’ Blue country.
  • Favorite part of being a recruiter– The competitiveness of the industry. There are so many recruiters out there selling the same positions, but you’ve got to find a different twist. Also, being able to network with many different interesting professionals.
  • Nicknames – I have had a few nicknames in the past. Growing up everybody called me “Seel” and then in college I picked up “Seacrest” on the soccer team.
  • What is one of your resolutions for 2015? –  Biggest Resolution/Challenge for 2015 is buying a house before the baby arrives. My wife and I have a little one on the way in July, so the clock is ticking.
  • Little known fact about you – I used to compete in archery competitions when I was younger, but I have never actually bow hunted before.
  • Best place to eat in Detroit – I wouldn’t say I have a favorite place to eat in Detroit, but I’ve recently been to a place off the strip called Johnny Noodles – it’s a Ramen restaurant and it’s mysteriously delicious…
  • What do you listen to on your way to work in the morning? I am an avid listener of country music, so I always have XM radio tuned to the country stations. Favorite artist/go-to karaoke song is Garth Brooks-Friends in Low Places.

Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn and Facebook!

A Contractor’s Perspective…

The other day I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our longtime contractors, Keith Beckman. Keith has been working contract positions for the past few years, and when asked what incentives, if any, would cause him to revert to a permanent position, he said “none.” Pretty bold statement considering that he held a permanent role for several years prior to working contract. Initially, it was the fear of the unknown combined with a lack of the right opportunity that gave Keith pause before switching to a contract role. While he said that there is admittedly more paperwork that goes along with working contract (as a 1099 employee), he claims that the perks of “being your own boss” are most definitely worth it. Between the flexibility, and the immediate control that he has over his occupation, Keith wouldn’t change a thing.

I asked Keith the hot button question of what it’s like to work with a recruiter. He very eloquently gave a response, careful not to step on too many toes. Let’s get the negatives out of the way first, shall we? Turns out that Conexess aside, recruiters don’t have the most honest track record (resume tampering, lies about salary, etc.), and tend to cause a lot of “noise” in the lives of candidates. Keith said that he daily has LinkedIn messages, emails, and voicemails from recruiters he does not know. And while it is flattering to be so sought after, it is annoying/frustrating/exhausting to weed through the endless barrage of messages, especially because he is happily employed right now! That being said, he noted that when one is out of work, getting a cold call from a recruiter can be the best part of your day – it is all about the timing. If the call comes in:

  1. Not at dinner time, and
  2. When you need a job,

then it is fantastic! Wonderful, even. One of my favorite things that Keith said was:

“If you haven’t built a relationship with someone, you don’t know what you’re getting.”

At Conexess, we truly value the relationships that we form with candidates. Case in point – Keith is one of many who have been in our pipeline for multiple years, and the relationships that have been formed are genuinely enjoyed by recruiters and contractors alike.

When presented with the opportunity to work as a contract employee, many without experience doing so are hesitant, or flatout refuse to consider making the switch from a perm role. I asked Keith about this recurring phenomenon and he said that having a permanent role within a company is no more stable than having a contract position. Anyone could be fired at any time regardless of the supposed “security” of a permanent role. Keith did note that if you are not a skilled negotiator, and/or don’t have your finances in order, you may want to think twice before working as a contractor. And as far as health insurance is concerned – you are paying for it one way or another, whether it is included as a portion of your set salary, or a policy that you choose and pay for out-of-pocket.

An aspect of working as a contract employee that Keith has come to really enjoy is networking and going to conferences around the country to hone his craft. Attending various networking events and conferences not only widens your social network, but also expands your skill set. If you are a contract employee, going to a conference is a great way to meet someone who could give you your next job opportunity. Be warned that popular conferences sell out quickly! PyTennessee is coming up next month but has already sold out, however they do still have sponsorship slots available.

Ultimately, working contract versus working perm comes down to personal preference and lifestyle choice. If you want more freedom and flexibility, then 2015 might be a great time to take a contract position. If a more structured work environment works best for you, then a “perm” role might be a better option. Just remember, that there is no such thing as a permanent job! Although the verbiage makes it seem that way, an employee can be let go at any time, regardless of the position title. Have you worked both perm and contract roles? Which did you prefer and why? Let us know in the comment section below!

If you are looking to make a career move this year, check out our job postings here, or contact one of our rockstar recruiters.

**A great big thank you goes to Keith Beckman for contributing to this blog post!**

The Reason for the Season

Last week, our Nashville office had the opportunity to volunteer at the Salvation Army warehouse. We had no idea what we would be doing, and upon arrival learned that we would be “shopping” for the Forgotten Angels. Are you familiar with the Angel Tree program? Families that cannot afford to purchase gifts for their children can register their kids for the Angel Tree. A form that lists their clothing sizes, “want,” and “need” items is then placed on a tree in a mall for passerby to select, shop for, and then bring the gifts to the Salvation Army warehouse. Although it is a wonderful program that benefits numerous families around the country each year, there are holes in it. Unselected forms that are left on the trees signify the “Forgotten Angels” – kids that will not receive any Christmas gifts if left as is.

Our job at the warehouse was to take a Forgotten Angel form, and get the child his “needs,” and 2 medium sized toys or “wants” from a large selection of donated goodies in the middle of the warehouse. We put the gifts for each child into a large sack, reminiscent of Santa Claus (ho, ho, ho), and sorted them by family to be delivered.  I was not expecting to become so easily attached to these faceless forms, but seeing items like “coat, shoes, undergarments, baby wipes, and diapers” listed as “needs” was incredibly sobering. It was so special to see my coworkers working together to find the best possible gifts for their Angels. While we will never know for sure, I like to imagine that the faces of our Angels will light up on Christmas morning when they see presents waiting for them under the tree. The part that we played was so trivial in the grand scheme of things, but it feels great to know that we made a small difference for these kids. As heart-wrenching as it is to think that the biggest concern for some of these children is where their next meal will come from, the fact that they will get to escape from reality for even a moment to unwrap their gifts and feel the joy of Christmas is what our volunteer experience was all about. That thought brings a smile to my face and a tear to my eye each time I think about it – how lucky are we that we had the chance to help these nameless Angels?

While we were working to give to the Forgotten Angels, they inadvertently also gave to us. Volunteering with Salvation Army was a great reminder of the reason for the season – spending time with people you care about, and helping others. Collectively, we have been so very blessed this year at Conexess, and want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to those of you who been part of our journey throughout 2014. We wish you Happy Holidays, and all the best in the New Year. We also encourage you to consider volunteering this holiday season – here are a few links to get you started in the Nashville area:

http://www.hon.org/

http://www.paradisedivision.org/Nashville

http://secondharvestmidtn.org/

Holiday Gift Giving in the Office

A few suggestions for giving holiday gifts in the office…

If you collectively agree to do a gift exchange, organize a White Elephant swap or Secret Santa event because buying a gift for everyone in the office is unrealistic and expensive.

White Elephant swap – set a dollar amount (we did $10) and have everyone bring in a WRAPPED gift for that amount. Put all of the gifts in the center of the room, and have all participants draw a number 1 through how ever many people brought gifts. The person with number one goes first, and selects any gift that he wants from the pile. He then opens the gift, and sets it in front of him. Then the person with number two can either choose a gift from the center pile, or “steal” the gift from person #1. Gifts can only be stolen three times before they are “dead,” and stuck with whoever has them at that point. If the gift was stolen from person #1, he would choose a new gift from the center, unwrap it, and place it in front of him, just as before. Person #1 could not immediately steal his original gift back from person #2, but if a steal occurs later in the game, the person from whom the gift was stolen would have the option to select a new gift from the center or steal from another person (again, cannot steal his original gift back). The cycle continues until all presents have been unwrapped. White Elephant swaps are a fun, easy, and affordable way to get everyone involved. If you have questions about the rules, leave us a comment at the bottom 🙂

Secret Santa – Set a dollar and time limit (last year we did $5 per day for 4 days). Have all participants fill out a form that lists their general likes/dislikes, candy/food preferences, interests, favorite coffee places, and any other information you think would be beneficial. Then fold up the forms, put them in a bowl, and have each person draw one (make sure you don’t draw your own name!). Designate a spot in the office as a “gift drop-off” – can be cubbies, lockers, last year we set up stockings to really get in the holiday spirit J Then you read over the form of the person you selected, and buy them a little happy for each day of Secret Santa. Sometimes it helps to have themed days – spa day (loofa and fun-smelling soap), movie day (funny movie from the $5 bin & popcorn), candy day (all their favorite candies). Have fun with it, be creative and make your own rules/modifications! The goal is to not let anyone know who you have for Secret Santa, and to figure out who has you. On the last day, have everyone come together and reveal who they had.

The key to office gift giving is to not make anyone feel pressured to participate. If it is all in good fun, then there should not be any issues. At Conexess, we love getting into the holiday spirit and have done both Secret Santa and a White Elephant Exchange. For our office, it seems to be easier to do a White Elephant Exchange because it is not as big of a time commitment. Every office environment is different, so do whatever works best for you and enjoy the holiday season!

^^Our successful White Elephant gift exchange^^

Spotlight: Carly Ball

carly blog2

This month, we are putting the SPOTLIGHT on Carly Ball. A technical recruiter with Conexess in our Nashville office for over a year, this girl has got it going on. She is a ball of fun, and lights up any room she walks into. Read her Q&A below to get to know her better, and then connect with her on LinkedIn while you’re at it 🙂

Favorite childhood memory- Summer league softball games.  I played from the time I was five years old until I graduated high school.

Best place to eat in Nashville- There are so many to choose from!! I love Edley’s BBQ, Cajun Steamer, Burger Republic, and Puckett’s.

Best thing about being a recruiter- Meeting all of the awesome people and helping them find a new position that they love! I also love that no day is the same;  I can never predict what my day will be like.

What is the best day of the week and why- Saturday because it’s by far the most fun day of the entire week! I get to hang out with my friends and will most likely have a drink in my hand! 🙂

Nicknames- “Cballa,” “Carl,” “Syball,” “Carly Ball of fun,” “CB.”

Who do you most look up to- My granny; she is all around the best person I know! Love her!

Last selfie you took- Last week- I was dog sitting for my Mom.

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**

Interview Dos and Don’ts: the inside scoop

Working in the IT staffing industry means hard work, long hours, and GREAT stories. Here is a compilation of interview dos & don’ts, anecdotes, and downright ridiculous situations. We hope they tickle your funny bone, and cause you to think twice before your next interview.

  • DO show up for the interview. Common sense? Apparently not. If you have an interview scheduled, don’t bail without any notice, people. Rescheduling with a busy hiring manager is next to impossible, so if you get an interview, don’t blow it off.
  • DON’T threaten to “blacklist” your recruiter. If you have an issue, talk it out. They want to help you, but communication is key. Plus, it’s an empty threat – everyone knows that blacklisting hasn’t been effective since McCarthyism.

**If you walk into an interview and immediately announce that you refuse to work for the posted salary and need X amount more, it makes you look greedy, your recruiter look misinformed, and wastes the interviewer’s time. Refer to previous bullet point – communication with recruiters. It’s a beautiful thing.**

  • DO your homework! Don’t expect to be able to breeze through an interview without even knowing what the company does.
  • DON’T be typing on your computer during a phone interview. The interviewer will either think that you’re Googling answers to his questions, or that you’re a double agent trying to steal his hiring process.
  • DO always bring some form of identification, or else you’ll have to be interviewed in the lobby when you can’t get past security. And that’s just awkward.

**If you choose to get your resume done professionally, make sure that they don’t embellish to the point of lying. It will be extremely uncomfortable for you when the interviewer asks about your extensive knowledge of the Spanish language, and all you have to say is “yo quiero Taco Bell.”**

  • DON’T walk out in the middle of an interview. Even if you get stumped on a question. Stick it out, no need to be rude.
  • DO shower, brush your teeth, and dress appropriately for your interview. Some recruiters have been known to give away their own jackets, and rush candidates in for emergency haircuts before interviews….but it’s always best to be prepared.

The moral of this blog post is to please please please trust your recruiter (especially if he/she works at Conexess 😉 ). If you listen to what they have to say, and can effectively communicate your wants and needs to them, you will be in great shape for landing a rockstar* job!

 

*Disclaimer: not an actual rockstar, we don’t do that kind of staffing.