Conexessgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! It is safe to say that we have all been incredibly blessed at Conexess this year. With so much to be thankful for, we wanted to share a few of our thanksgivings with you 🙂

Wendy – I am thankful for my children.

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Kim – I am thankful for coffee!

Miles – I am thankful for my family.

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Ryan – As a participant in No Shave November, I shaved off my first beard attempt because it was too itchy….that being said, I’m thankful that my second beard attempt hasn’t been as itchy!

Kelsie – Thankful for my family.

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Matt – I’m thankful for friends and sweet tea.

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Carly – I’m thankful for my boyfriend.

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David – I’m thankful for my son, Grant Escue.

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Kayte – I’m thankful that I live in the South where it’s warm 🙂

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Michael – I am thankful for the opportunities that Conexess has provided me.

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Jenna Kay – I’m thankful for friends who feel like family.

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Meg – I am thankful for my friends and family.

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Peyton – I’m thankful for golf.

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Jerry – I am thankful for good health.

Dan- I am thankful for my baby girl, Olive, the new life in my life.

 

We are also thankful for all of YOU! What is something that you’re thankful for this year? Tell us in the comment section below!

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.”

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Celebratory move-in campfire in our new backyard

Team Building in the Office

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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**

Spotlight: Peyton Townley

Each month we will put a SPOTLIGHT on one of our employees, and Mr. Peyton Townley is the inaugural candidate. He has been a recruiter at Conexess for over a year, and when he isn’t busy lounging on couches (see picture above) or playing golf, you can contact him here.

Favorite TV show as a child:  Tom & Jerry

Best part of being a recruiter:  I thoroughly enjoy helping people in any capacity as well as “being in the weeds” of the market every day. Most days I feel like somewhat of a detective, in that every day provides something different, whether it be a challenge or a reward. The tangible/intangible aspect that I enjoy about my job is the team I work alongside at Conexess, and the approach that we take. Not only does it set us apart, countering the stigma around staffing professionals in general, but it also resonates in our own culture – both in-house and with the clients/candidates we work with every day.

If you were an animal, what would you be:  This is a tough choice but I would have to say any animal that can fly because I am always on the go and feel like I’m constantly in motion. I have always wanted to skydive in one of the “squirrel suits” to have that inflight experience….but then again, I’m cautious by nature and feel like participating in activities like that with the bad luck I have could ultimately turn me into that 1/million stat guy you hear about on the 5:00 news. So on second thought, I could also be comfortable as a sloth – eating 24/7 and not having a care in the world, besides deciding which tree I’m hanging out in for the day.

What is the most overused # on social media:  #’s on social media are overused in general and I feel at this point there is a # for everything. I get confused when there are more hashtags than an actual description/tweet/comment, but everyone has their own flavor.

Little known fact about you: When I’m not at the office, saving the world one placement at a time, you will most likely find me chasing birdies on the golf course.

Your very first email address/screen name:  P Town2223

Nicknames:  P, P Town which are both pretty bland but I’ve noticed that people will naturally start calling me by one of those after they’ve known me for awhile. I am sure I have some others that I can’t recall or are better kept for a campfire setting…

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

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Q3 Kickoff – all aboard the Redneck Bus Tour!

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Sponsoring the Drive Against Cancer Golf Tournament

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Our Michigan office goofing around….imagine that 🙂

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