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Provisional Blog

What to Ask When You’re Checking References

February 14th, 2017

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows one of the biggest missteps employers make when hiring is skipping the reference checking process. But considering just a few phone calls can verify – or refute – what a candidate told you, it’s well worth it. In fact, consider this statistic: According to Monster, almost 60% of employers claim that they have had to withdraw an offer of employment after receiving poor references about successful applicants.

Clearly, reference checks are a must. That said, what do you ask when you’re making those reference checking phone calls? Here are 7 questions to put on your list:

Can you confirm for me the candidate’s job title, employment dates, and responsibilities?

This question is a basic essential. It confirms that a candidate did, in fact, work at the company during a certain time period and the information they provided about their role was accurate.

What was the candidate’s performance like on the job?

A candidate may have told you they were a top performer. And that might be true. But you need to confirm these kinds of claims with the person who actually managed them. Not only that, asking this question gives you a sense of how they’ll perform in your job if hired.

Can you tell me about the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?

Asking this question will give you some insight as to what you can expect if you hire the person for the job. It will also provide you with an indication as to how forthright a candidate was during the interview process when they talked about their own strengths and weaknesses.

What was the candidate like to work with?

Once you’ve asked about responsibilities, as well as skills and weaknesses, it’s important to also get a sense of the candidate’s personality. Asking this question will help you do that. You want to make sure you’re hiring someone who will mesh well with your culture. So if you find out they weren’t a team player, didn’t take feedback well, and a had a hard time getting along with co-workers, it’s certainly a red flag to take into account.

Why did the candidate leave?

When asking this question, you want to ensure the information the candidate told you aligns with what the reference says. In addition, asking this question can give you some insight into how long they might stay at your company, if hired, and what issues could provoke them to leave.

Would you hire them back if you could?

If there’s only one question you ask, this is the one. And if there’s any kind of pause or hesitation here, it’s an indication that the reference has some reservations. It may simply be due to conflicting personalities. So don’t put all your stock into this answer. However, if the reference does hesitate, ask why.

Is there anything else I should know about this candidate?

This is a good last question to ask to ensure you’ve covered your bases. It gives the reference a chance to offer any final input or details about the candidate you’re considering hiring.

You need to hire, but don’t have time to source, screen, and reference check candidates. Provisional can help. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we provide customized staffing solutions to our clients all over the Northwest. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

5 Tips for Avoiding Burnout in 2017

February 7th, 2017

If you’re like most professionals, you invest a lot of time and energy in your work. But if you’re coming in early, staying late, and have an unreasonable workload – all with no end in sight – then it can lead to burnout. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows everyone experiences burnout from time to time. But if you want to make sure it doesn’t sabotage you and your career, follow these tips:

1. Take breaks during the day.

There are certainly busy times or seasons where you skip lunch or don’t take breaks so you can get all your work done. But this shouldn’t be a habit all year long. You need breaks in order to stay focused and energized. Plus, sitting for hours without getting up isn’t good for your physical health.

2. Take care of yourself.

Are you staying up late, only getting a few hours of sleep a night? Do you eat a lot of junk or processed foods? Do you drink coffee all day instead of water? All of these unhealthy habits could be contributing to your stress and ability to manage it. It’s important to take good care of yourself in order to prevent burnout. That means eating healthy foods, getting enough rest at night and drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

3, Take yourself offline after hours.

With today’s technology, it’s tempting to stay plugged in at all hours. But this too contributes to burnout. Instead, don’t check your email after a certain hour and turn your phone off. Constantly checking your phone and email will only contribute to your stress level. So unplug and relax at night. You’ll be better able to manage communications and activities during the day when you know you have down time at night.

4. Take a look at technology.

Are there certain kinds of technology – software or processes – that could make workflow more efficient for you and everyone on your team? If you’re noticing you’re spinning your wheels in areas that could be streamlined or easier through technology, then do your homework. Investigate possible solutions so you can present your ideas to your boss and the team.

5. Take time to talk with your boss.

Stress may simply be a part of the job. However, if it’s truly getting out of hand, then speak up and connect with your boss. Be ready with specific examples of challenges you’re facing and ideas for solutions. You don’t want to come off as a complainer, but as someone who is noticing a problem and is prepared to work toward a positive resolution.

Sometimes, especially if you’re being overworked and underpaid, a new job is the answer. If you need help in your search, contact Provisional. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can work directly with you to craft a great resume, prepare for interviews, and match you with Spokane jobs that are a fit for your background, skills, personality and career goals.

Contact us today if you’re ready to get started.

Don’t Let These Common Job Search Mistakes Cost You Your Dream Job

January 24th, 2017

As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that even the most experienced job candidate is bound to make a mistake or two during the job search process. Some mistakes aren’t a huge deal; while others can cost you big time – in the form of your dream job. What are they? Here’s a look at 5:

Mistake #1: Not Googling yourself.

Before you submit your resume for a job, Google yourself to check and see what comes up. You might be surprised at the results. If, for instance, there are negative remarks about a past employer, a hiring manager will wonder what you’re going to say about them should they hire you. And most hiring managers will Google you, so it’s important that all the results are professional and appropriate.

Mistake #2: Not researching the company ahead of time.

Whether in your resume, or during an interview, it’s important to showcase that you’ve done your homework. Before you submit your resume, or go in for an interview, research the company – who they are, what they do, and their customers. That way, you can share insights and talk intelligently about what you’ve learned, as well as connect your background and skill set to their unique needs.

Mistake #3: Being unprofessional.

Dressing inappropriately, or showing up late can seriously impact your chances of getting the job. Employers will think if you can’t get it right during the interview, then you’re certainly not going to once on the job.

Mistake #4: Talking poorly about a past boss or employer.

You may have had a bad experience at your last company. But don’t tell that to a hiring manager. They’re only hearing your side of the story and speaking negatively in this way will only make you seem unprofessional. Plus, you never know if the hiring manager interviewing you knows your past boss. So it’s best to always focus on the positive instead.

Mistake #5: Asking about vacation time and benefits during the interview.

Sure, you want to know what the job is offering in terms of benefits. But wait until the hiring manager brings it up. Asking about it during your first interview makes it seem like you’re more interested in paid time off than actually doing the job.

Need more help landing your dream job in Spokane? Call Provisional. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can work directly with you to craft a great resume, prepare for interviews, and match you with Spokane jobs that are a fit for your background, skills, personality and career goals.

Contact us today if you’re ready to get started.

Hiring? Look Out for These 5 Cover Letter Red Flags

January 17th, 2017

You often hear about resume red flags. But what about cover letter red flags? As the Northwest’s leader in specialized recruiting and staffing services, Provisional knows this document can play an important role in the hiring process – especially when you’re making decisions about whom to interview. To help you filter out weak candidates and focus on the best, here are 5 cover letter red flags to be aware of:

A boilerplate cover letter.

When candidate cover letters start to sound the same, it’s probably because they are. Many candidates will simply copy and paste a boilerplate cover letter from the Internet and simply replace the contact information and make a few tweaks. But if you want to hire the highest quality candidates, look for unique, well-written and professional cover letters.

Incorrect contact information.

When a candidate sends you a cover letter addressed to the wrong person – at the wrong company – it doesn’t speak well to their attention to detail. Clearly, they didn’t proofread or check it before sending it along to you. If they have an otherwise perfect resume that exactly fits your needs, it may be worth overlooking this mistake as a slip-up. If not, though, it’s could be a sign of the poor quality work to come if you hire this person.

No cover letter at all.

Some candidates don’t see the point in sending in a cover letter. But that’s simply an indication that they don’t understand simple job search etiquette. And if they’re not professional during the hiring process, what are they going to be like once on the job?

A cover letter that regurgitates the resume.

A smart candidate knows their cover letter is an opportunity to sell you as to why they’re a good fit for the position. That’s why they’ll use it to explain why they want to work at your company, or what unique value they can offer. What they won’t do is repeat the exact same information that’s already on their resume.

Poor grammar and spelling.

Don’t judge a candidate too harshly for one minor spelling mistake (unless you’re hiring a proofreader or editor). However, if a cover letter is full of incomplete sentences, poor grammar and misspelled words, then it demonstrates a candidate’s lack of professionalism and attention to detail.

Don’t have time to screen dozens of cover letters and resumes? Having a hard time finding high-quality candidates? Ready to outsource the hiring process? Provisional can help with all of these issues and more. Since 1994, we’ve been the Northwest’s leader in specialized recruiting and staffing services, placing over 6,000 direct-hire and temporary professionals with companies in Seattle, Spokane, and Coeur d’Alene. Contact us today. We’re ready to help you find the people you need, whether on a part-time, temporary or full-time basis.

3 FAQs About Phone Screen Interviews

January 10th, 2017

It used to be that if an employer was interested in you, they’d call you for an interview. Today, though, the norm is to conduct a phone screen first. As a result, you might have some questions about them – and how to best impress a hiring manager during one. To help you with the process, here are a few frequently asked questions and the answers:

Why do employers conduct phone screens?

As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows there are a variety of reasons that employers conduct phone screens:

  • It’s an efficient and effective way to filter our weaker candidates and focus on the best fit ones. Rather than inviting 20 candidates into their office for an hour-long interview, employers can spend 15 minutes on the phone with each one and then create a shorter list of candidates they want to bring in for an interview.
  • In addition, conducting phone screens helps them to gauge your interest in the position and also fill in any gaps on your resume.
  • Also, it’s hard to get a sense of a candidate’s personality with a resume. But a phone screen gives employers some insight into your soft skills – such as communication – and whether you’d fit with the company’s culture.

Can I take a call for a phone screen during the workday?

If possible, try to schedule a phone screen before or after hours. If that’s not possible, then consider your lunch break and taking the call from your car as a possibility. Or, you can tell your boss you’ll be coming in late one day or leaving early and schedule your phone screen during one of those times.

But do not schedule a phone screen while you’re on the clock with your current employer. Most reasonable employers will understand that you have a job and therefore are somewhat limited as to when you can take these calls.

How long should I wait if the hiring manager doesn’t call or pick up?

If you’re supposed to call the hiring manager – and they don’t answer, double check the number and make sure you have the right one. If you do, or if they’re supposed to call you at an appointed time and they don’t, wait five minutes. They could simply be running late from a meeting.

If, however, after a few minutes you don’t hear anything, then call and leave them a message. Leave your name, phone number, reason for the call, and also how much longer you will be available for. In any case, don’t stress about this too much. It’s very likely not a reflection of you as a candidate but probably due to a busy hiring manager’s schedule.

Have more questions about phone screens? Need expert help finding a new job? Let Provisional be your answer to all your job search needs. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we take your career success personally. Not only will we work one-on-one with you to learn about your background and personality, but we can also connect you with exciting and rewarding opportunities at some of the top employers in the area! Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

5 Ways to Improve Leadership Communication in the New Year

January 3rd, 2017

When you’re in charge, everything you do and say has the potential to impact your team. That’s why good communication is vital to business success. To help you communicate effectively with your employees in 2017 – and beyond, here are 5 tips to keep in mind:

#1: Ask good questions.

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that communicating isn’t all about talking. Asking your employees insightful questions  – and proactively exploring what they’re saying – will help you foster more meaningful communication between you and your staff.

Not only that, but it gives your employees the opportunity to raise issues and concerns they’re worried about, providing you with vital information you might not otherwise know about. It also helps to create a team built on trust. In short, asking questions is one of the most powerful – but underrated – leadership tools you can put to use.

#2: Listen with careful consideration.

When you’re communicating with employees, don’t just listen to their words; listen for their emotions and also be mindful of their body language. What are they really saying to you? Listening with careful consideration is more than just hearing what someone is saying so you can respond in an appropriate manner. It’s what allows you to understand what’s really going on in a conversation.

#3: Stay present with your people.

When you’re communicating with your staff members, make sure you stay engaged with them. Don’t keep checking your email or take a phone call during a sit down with a staff member. If you do, you’re sending the message that they’re not important to you. They’ll walk away feeling disengaged and ignored. Instead, aim to be present with your people – whether you’re leading a team meeting, or having a water cooler conversation with an employee.

#4: Show empathy.

In other words, put yourself in the shoes of your employees. When you do, you’ll better be able to communicate in a way that shows you care. And when your employees know you care about their concerns, they’ll want to work harder for you.

#5: Speak plainly.

Messages can get muddled with complex terminology, or worse – if you go off on a tangent – your employees can lose interest when you’re speaking. That’s why it’s important to keep your messages as simple as possible when communicating with your staff. If you’re delivering a presentation, identify the three or four main points you want your people to walk away knowing – so you can speak clearly and concisely, yet with impact.

Are you a leader who’s interested in expanding your team in 2017? Call the staffing experts at Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we know where to look to source the best candidates for a wide variety of positions and fields. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

4 Tips for Planning Out Your Career in 2017

December 27th, 2016

Whether you’re in the beginning stages of your career, an industry veteran, or you’re ready for a change, you need a plan – specifically, a career plan – if you want to get ahead. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows a career plan will help you carefully strategize your career, so you can achieve your goals. Not sure where to start? Follow these tips to begin the process:

#1: Determine your final destination.

What’s your dream job? Where do you ultimately want to end up? You have to be clear on where it is you want to go in order to develop a career plan. If you’re not sure, then ask yourself where you want to be in the next two years, five years and 10 years. Be completely honest with yourself in the process.

Beyond just thinking about the kind of work you want to do, also consider the type of company you want to work for. For instance, what type of culture do you prefer? How much travel do you want to do? What kind of schedule do you want to work? Knowing your ideal work environment will help you better evaluate and find opportunities that are right for you.

#2: Find out what it takes to get there.

In other words, what skills, knowledge and experience do you need to obtain to reach your ultimate career goal? Do you need an advanced college degree? Or simply a certification? Do you need more experience in what you’re already doing under your belt? Carefully think about and consider the investment of time and other resources it will take in order for you to reach your career goals.

#3: Write it out.

You know where you want to go – and what you have to do to get there. Now get all that information out of your head and onto a piece of paper. There’s power in writing out your career plan for several reasons.

  • First, it will help you really think through each step and every goal in the process.
  • Second, you can then modify and edit where needed. For instance, maybe you need to break one big goal into multiple smaller goals and steps to make it more realistic.
  • And third, seeing your plan in print will make it seem more tangible and easier to commit to.

#4: Put it into practice.

Now it’s time to step outside your comfort zone and just do it. The first step can be hard and you might feel uncertain. But you’ll never know what’s possible if you don’t step out. And once your successes start to add up, it will be easier to keep going.

Ready for a better career – and more success – in 2017? Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we can help you with every aspect of your search. In fact, we’ve placed more than 8,000 direct hire employees with leading local employers since 1994. Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

When an Employee Resigns…and You Didn’t See It Coming

December 20th, 2016

Even if you’re the best manager in the world, you’re going to have to deal with employee resignations. The situation can be especially hard when it’s a top employee, as well as someone you like and respect.

But fear not.

As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional knows there are steps you can take to handle the situation with care and even learn from it too. Here’s a look:

Don’t get upset with your employee.

When an employee quits, it’s typically after a lot of thoughtful consideration. They’re not making the decision out of the blue. And while you may feel shocked and blindsided by it, that doesn’t give you license to get angry or start interrogating your employee.

In fact, putting your employee on the defensive won’t help matters – and may even further confirm their decision to leave. Instead, stay calm and keep the situation in perspective. Also, be sure to ask them about when their last day will be so you can start planning ahead.

Set up an exit interview.

It’s important to find out why an employee is leaving so you can overcome issues with turnover in the future. Is it the compensation? Work duties? Schedule? Or culture?

Whatever the case, set up a time to interview your outgoing employee so you can ask what they liked while working for you, and areas that could use some improvement.

Make sure your legal bases are covered.

If your employee has a contract, or signed a non-disclosure agreement, the exit interview is a good time to bring this up and make sure they review it before leaving. Also ask about any company property to ensure it’s returned before their last day on the job. And finally, make sure your provide your employee with an relevant legal notices, such as information about accrued wages and COBRA benefits.

Plan ahead.

Before the employee leaves, it’s important to put a plan in place to fill the gap they’ll leave behind. Will they be able to stay and train a co-worker on their job duties? Are they available for phone calls and questions from a new hire? Another option is bringing in a temporary or contract worker to fill the gap until you hire someone full-time.

When an employee quits – and you don’t see it coming – it can be a challenging situation. But follow the steps above and you can handle it in the best way possible.

Need help filling an empty seat at work? Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we can help you through every step of hiring – from crafting effective job descriptions to sourcing, screening and recruiting top candidates for your company. Just give us a call today to learn more.

The Ins & Outs of Background Checks: What Employers Want to Know About You

December 13th, 2016

You’ve made it into the final round of the interview process. Congratulations! Now comes the time a prospective employer might do some digging into your past in the form of a background check. What can you expect from the process? And is there anything you can do to prepare?

First, as one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that background checks are performed for many different jobs these days. In fact, they’ve become a routine part of the hiring process. Some companies conduct basic ones, while others require more rigorous checks. This is often due to the nature of the work. For instance, more intense checks are usually performed if you’re going to be handling finances or sensitive company information, as well as working with children, the elderly, or those with special needs.

When you have to submit to a background check, it’s a good sign. Companies don’t perform them on every applicant that sends in their resume – or even every candidate that comes in for an interview. They only conduct background checks on those they’re seriously considering hiring. So that’s good news for you.

A few areas a background check will look into include:

  • Addresses, including current and former
  • Credit history (In the state of Washington, an employer is entitled to a credit report only if the report is substantially related to the job and the employer’s reasons for using it are disclosed in writing to the candidate; or it’s required by law.)
  • Past employment, including job titles and length of employment
  • Colleges and degrees earned, and when
  • Criminal history over the past 10 years

Though it can seem invasive, employers aren’t trying to pry with background checks. They’re trying to answer one simple question: Does a candidate’s facts match up? If you told a hiring manager you hold a certain degree, or position, and it comes to light that’s not true, it’s obviously going to impact their hiring decision. However, if you’ve been honest and open about your background to the hiring manager throughout the process, then you have nothing to worry about.

If a red flag does come up, most employers will offer you the benefit of the doubt and ask you for clarification. For instance, if your resume said you started your past position in March, and the correct month was April, it’s probably not a huge deal. But if there’s a glaring discrepancy in your past – one you can’t reasonably explain away – then it will likely hurt your chances of getting the offer. So remember, always be honest.

Need more help finding your next great job in Spokane, WA? Call Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we can help you with every aspect of your search. In fact, we’ve placed more than 8,000 direct hire employees with leading local employers since 1994. Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

4 Quick Tips for Handling Holiday Vacation Requests Fairly

December 6th, 2016

The holiday season is here – and you’re likely barraged with vacation requests from employees. Many want the same days off and it’s impossible to accommodate everyone. You want to keep employees happy, but at the same time, you need to ensure the business runs smoothly and customers are taken care of.

What can you do to successfully navigate these tricky waters? Here are some tips to keep in mind now and for the future.

Tip #1: Create a policy and stick to it.

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows the easiest way to avoid vacation request hassles is to have a clear policy in place and consistently enforce it. So let your employees know well in advance which days they can take off and which days the business will be closed for the holidays, if any. You should also outline who is eligible for vacation days, how many days, and whether days rollover to the next year.

Tip #2: Issue a strict deadline.

When you have a hard deadline in place, you avoid the risk of employees asking for last-minute days off. In addition, when you have ample time to create a holiday vacation schedule, everyone will know whether or not their time off is approved, so they can plan accordingly. So give a deadline and let employees know that any requests submitted afterwards may not be approved.

Tip #3: Encourage compromise.

So, you have multiple employees asking for the same days off – and you can’t make everyone happy. What can you do? Some companies use seniority to make these tough decisions. But with seniority, you risk the same people getting approved for time off year after year, while other newer employees get their requests denied. This can breed resentment.

Instead, consider using a rotational system. That way, everyone has the chance to get the time off they requested, though maybe not for this year. If you have too many requests for the same days, you can also get employees involved in the process and ask them to work together to collaborate and compromise with each other to create a schedule that’s fair for everyone.

Tip #4: Bring in temporary workers.

If you have employees on vacation during the holidays, consider hiring temporary workers to fill the gap. It’s a win-win. You get the people you need to perform tasks and complete projects, while your full-time staff gets the time off they want.

Interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of temporary staffing? Call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we can help you quickly source, screen, and hire temporary talent for a variety of positions. Just give us a call today to learn more.

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