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^^

A Tale of Two Buildings

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” or so it goes. Conexess Group has been located on the 30th floor (Penthouse Suite, as some like to call it) of the L&C building for the past three years. During that time, the company has grown – employees and clients have been gained and lost, new offices opened, and the Penthouse Suite has been replaced with a modern space in 100 Oaks. Needless to say, there are a mixture of emotions about the move. Our time in the L&C building has been great for the company, but there comes a time when moving on is the natural next step. We have reached that point, and while there are feelings of excitement about the next chapter, there are also twinges of sadness and nostalgia that will always be connected to the fond memories that were created on the 30th floor.

The office in 100 Oaks will truly be ours, and we will have new freedoms and be able to take liberties that we previously could not have taken. There is a beautiful space behind the building that will be picture perfect for hosting events, and a lofted area for us to use as a relaxed space (mini-bar included). Making this new space feel “warm,” and “lived-in” is a challenge that we welcome, and at the same time, realize that it will take some time before we are truly at home in 100 Oaks.

Because we were in the L&C building for 3 years, it became familiar to us, comfortable. The security guard, mailman, FedEx & UPS delivery men, and janitorial staff all greeted me by name. I heard about their grandkids, PhD pursuits, vacations, and job laments; they know where I’m from, that my space heater is perpetually on, and that my love of Starbucks puts a dent in my bank account each month. Although I will miss each of my L&C pals, there is something beautiful in the idea of starting over, completely from scratch. Certainly there are unappealing parts of the “begin again” process – new names, new location, new barista (but I LOVED my old barista!!); however, the pieces of Conexess that are dearest to me will not change. The people (my people), the values, the work ethic, the FUN that we have together, those things will remain constant. So, although I may need to start from scratch with the new mailman, I am hopeful that it will be the beginning of a new friendship. I hope that the intangible assets of Conexess continue to be apparent to those looking in, and that we would be able to use our collective efforts to make our new office a “home.”

Conexess Campfire

Celebratory move-in campfire in our new backyard

Spotlight: Carly Ball

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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.

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.

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Summer Retreat 2014

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National Milk Chocolate Day ~ (Hershey) Kisses from Conexess


Q3 Kickoff – all aboard the Redneck Bus Tour!


Sponsoring the Drive Against Cancer Golf Tournament

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Our Michigan office goofing around….imagine that 🙂


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