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Provisional Blog

5 Tips for Turning a Phone Screen into a Job Interview

April 3rd, 2018

As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that in today’s world phone screens are often the first step of the hiring process. If you successfully make your way through one, your chances of getting a call for an interview increase greatly. But how make the best impression possible, especially when you don’t like talking on the phone? Here are some tips to help you:

#1: Schedule it at a good time of day.

Do you perform better in the morning? Is afternoon the time that you’re on your “A” game? Do you feel like you get your second wind toward the end of the day? Whatever time is right for you, try to schedule your phone screen then. That way, you’ll have a better chance at answering questions articulately, coming across as more energetic, and impressing the hiring manager.

#2: Get dressed and stay focused.

You might think you’ll do fine during a phone screen in your pajamas or yoga pants. But you’ll actually feel more professional and focused if you’re dressed for the interview. The hiring manager might not be able to see you; however, you’ll be more confident, which will come through in your interview answers.

#3: Be prepared.

Make sure that wherever you sit for your phone screen, it’s an area that’s distraction-free. Ideally, you should be at a desk or table with the job posting in front of you, as well as your resume and a pen and notebook handy to jot down thoughts and questions. In addition, keep any important points about your background you want to bring up in a list beside you so you don’t forget them.

#4: Don’t ramble.

One of the hard parts of a phone screen is that you can’t see the interviewer and therefore can’t read their body language. Therefore, you’re not sure if a pause in the conversation is an invitation for you to continue talking, if they’re simply jotting down notes, or if they’re taking a moment to review their interview questions. As a result, candidates tend to talk too much to fill uncomfortable gaps. However, if you answer a question to the best of your ability and you don’t have much more to say, then stay quiet and wait until the interviewer asks their next question.

#5: Smile and watch your body language.

Even though the hiring manager can’t see your face, they can hear your tone. And your positive attitude and energy – or lack of – will come through loud and clear one way or the other. So make an effort to smile, sit up straight, and avoid fidgeting when you’re answering questions. It will make a difference in how you come across to the hiring manager over the phone.

Need more help landing interviews or preparing for them?

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, including the interview process. Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more about the difference we can make in your job search.

5 Signs Your Resume Needs Work

January 16th, 2018

Looking for a new job? As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows you need a resume that’s going to position your background in the best light possible. If yours doesn’t, then you’re not going to get called in for an interview. How can you tell? Look for these signs that your resume needs work:

#1: You’re applying for jobs you’re qualified for…but aren’t hearing back.

You have the skills and experience to do all the jobs you’re applying for. But your resume seems to have entered a resume black hole. Sound familiar? If it does, then the problem isn’t your background, but how you’re representing it on your resume. So, take another look at it before sending it out again and make sure you are highlighting your strengths, following directions and job postings, and formatting the document properly.

#2: It’s more than three pages.

When it comes to your resume, stick to two pages or less. If you’re a brand new graduate or have limited work experience, it should be a page. Anything more than that is overkill, especially when you consider the fact that hiring managers only spend a few minutes reviewing resumes. So if your resume goes beyond a page or two, it’s time to revisit it and pare it down.

#3: You’re sending the same resume to every employer.

At its core, the resume you send to each employer is likely the same or similar. However, you should still be customizing it for each unique position you’re applying to. That means reviewing the job posting ahead of time and making sure your approach and the language you use best aligns with the particular position you are applying to.

#4: You only spent a few minutes creating a resume.

Your resume is your ticket into the interview process. It needs to be well thought out, as well as polished and professional. If it’s not, then that’s going to come through loud and clear to a hiring manager. So before you start sending out more resumes, take a step back and evaluate yours. Then invest the time needed to make it as strong as possible.

#5: You don’t think your resume really represents you well.

Resumes are hard to write. However, it’s vitally important to ensure the document you send to potential employers highlights your skills and abilities, and persuades them to call you for an interview. So if you don’t think your resume does a good job of representing you and the results you’re able to deliver, then it’s time to rework it.

Do you need more help creating a resume that gets better results?

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, including crafting and polishing your resume for better results. Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

6 Must-Do Steps Before Every Job Interview

August 8th, 2017

As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that interviewing for a new job is a stressful experience. After all, you have a lot on the line. What steps can you take to make the most of the opportunity – and hopefully land the offer? Start with these 6 steps:

Step #1: Research the company.

Before you walk into an interview, you need to prep yourself by researching the company. Read through their website and blog posts. Look for news articles about them online. And check out their social media profiles and most recent updates. That way, you can better tie in your background and experience with their needs.

Step #2: Research the hiring manager.

If you know the name of the hiring manager, look for them on LinkedIn. Search out any background commonalities, whether it’s a former employer or where you went to high school. You can use this information to break the ice during the interview and also make a connection with the hiring manager.

Step #3: Make a list of questions.

Asking the right questions is a vital part of the job interview process. Not only will it help you gain the insight and information you need to make the right decision should you get an offer, but it also sends the message to the hiring manager that you’re well prepared. So create a list of questions to ask about the position, the company and the culture.

Step #4: Review your job description.

The day before the interview, take another look at the job posting so it’s fresh in your mind. Look for any qualities or requirements that didn’t stand out to you before that you need to address. Also, make sure you’re prepared to talk about why you’re a good fit for the position and the contributions you can make in it.

Step #5: Think through your answers.

While you don’t want to practice your answers so much that you sound rehearsed, you do want to make sure you think through how you would answer common interview questions. Look up some questions online and list out any important points about your background or experience you’d like to highlight for each one.

Step #6: Know where you’re going and what you’re wearing.

Before the day of the interview, do a dry run and drive to the location at a similar time as your interview, if you can. That way, you can get a sense of the level of traffic and any construction that might slow you down. In addition, make sure you select your interview attire well beforehand and ensure it’s dry cleaned and ready for your big day.

Need more professional help landing and preparing for interviews?

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, from resumes and interviews to connecting you with top opportunities. 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.

6 Cover Letter Secrets Every Candidate Needs to Know

April 18th, 2017

If you’re like most job candidates, you dread writing cover letters. What are you supposed to say that’s not already discussed in your resume?

While writing a cover letter can feel like a pointless exercise, it’s not. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that hiring managers do read them and they’re actually an opportunity to promote yourself – and why you should get the job. To help you put together one that gets results, consider these tips:

#1: Don’t rehash your resume.

The cover letter shouldn’t be a duplication of your resume. Instead, it should be used to explain something new about yourself that your resume doesn’t showcase. For instance, if you’ve used the company’s products and services – and are a fan – then you can explain why you’ve always wanted to work there. In fact, telling a story is a powerful approach for cover letter writing.

#2: Focus on facts, not fluff.

Don’t make statements, such as “I’m a top-notch candidate best suited for this position.” You don’t know that; other candidates could be stronger or better suited. Instead, stick to facts about your background and the value you can bring to the potential employer.

#3: Be real.

Don’t be overly formal or use corporate jargon in your cover letter. When you do, you wind up sounding more like a robot than a real person. Also, don’t copy and paste a boilerplate cover letter and simply swap out the company and hiring manager’s name. They’ll know in an instant. Instead be professional, but also warm and engaging with your tone and language.

#4: Talk about what you can do for the employer.

Your cover letter shouldn’t be all about you. It should be about how you can help the company succeed, whether it’s through increased sales, more efficient processes, or shaping better policies. You may need to re-read the job posting to get a better sense of how your background and skills can contribute to the company’s bottom line.

#5: Use numbers and statistics.

Hiring managers want to see real results – in the form of dollars, percentages and statistics. So brainstorm an accomplishment that you can quantify and talk about it in your cover letter, including how you approached the problem and the results you were able to achieve.

#6: Expect to re-write it a few times.

No one gets their cover letter right the first time. Expect to write a few drafts and then revise it many times before it hits the mark. Also, make sure to proofread it plenty of times before sending it out to potential employers. That way you can rest easy it’s well-written and error-free.

Need more help with your cover letter, resume or job search?

Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we’ve placed more than 8,000 professionals with leading local employers since 1994. From writing your resume to getting interviews and offers, we can help you with every aspect of your job search, start to finish. Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

Guidelines for Applying for a Job at a Past Employer

April 4th, 2017

You’re in the middle of a job search and just came across what sounds like an ideal opportunity – except it’s with past employer. Should you apply or simply cross it off your list? Here are some guidelines to follow:

Consider the terms you left on.

If you quit without two weeks notice, or were fired, then it’s not the best idea to apply for the position. You burned some bridges and people will remember. Even if you did get the job, it could be awkward and uncomfortable due to the terms you left on.

On the other hand, if you left on good terms and simply found a better opportunity, then it’s certainly a job worth considering. After all, you already know the company and its culture. And if it was a good fit in the past, it’s a probably still a good fit for your now.

Just a word of caution: If you left because there wasn’t opportunity for advancement, or you butted heads with company leadership, then carefully weigh the pros and cons of working there again. Chances are, the same issues are still happening and you might wind up having to deal with them again if you get hired.

Reconnect with old friends.

You’ve considered the past and decided you’d like to apply for the job. Then start reaching out to any connections you have at the company. Whether it’s an old boss or former co-workers, let them know you’re interested in the position and ask whether they could refer you to HR or to the hiring manager.

Don’t assume you’re a shoo-in.

One mistake candidates in this position can make is assuming they’re a shoo-in for the job. But that’s not the case. While you might be in the running, there could be several equally strong candidates you’re competing against.

That’s why, if you do get an interview, it’s important to prepare just as you would for any other company. Do you research, show up on time and be professional, ask meaningful questions, and know how to communicate why you’re the best fit.

Be prepared to talk about retention.

One issue hiring managers have with boomerang candidates involves retention. If you left once, what’s to say you won’t leave again? That’s why it’s important to explain the passion you have for the work and the company and how you’re ready to re-commit and make a valuable contribution.

If you left a former company with a good impression and without burned bridges, it’s certainly worth it to consider a future job there. Just follow the guidelines above to increase your odds of getting hired.

If you need additional help with your job search, call Provisional.

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.

Are You Hurting Your Reputation at Your New Job with These Mistakes?

March 21st, 2017

As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that starting a new job can be a nerve-wracking experience. But did you know that how you perform in those first few weeks can impact your reputation for years after? That’s why it’s so important to put your best foot forward and to avoid these 5 common mistakes:

1. Running late.

It’s your worst nightmare come true: you hit a traffic jam on the second day on the job. Not to worry. Things like this happen to the best of us. However, if running late is starting to become a habit, then it’s a problem. You’re basically showing a lack of concern for company rules when you’re late to work or meetings. It happens once in a while to everyone – and when it happens to you, apologize. However, never let it become a habit.

2. Being a know-it-all.

You have a lot of knowledge and experience – and you want to share it. That’s great. However, don’t go about it in a way that makes it seem like you’re a know-it-all. Sometimes, it’s best to sit back and listen, so you can understand an issue in depth more or a gain a better sense of the big picture – before offering your opinion. However, don’t ever hesitate to ask questions to learn more and get up to speed faster.

3. Sucking up to your boss.

You want to make the best impression on your boss. But don’t kiss up. Your boss will likely see through it and even if they don’t, your new co-workers will – and it can impact your relationship with them. So always be respectful, but avoid going overboard.

4. Getting involved in gossip.

It might seem like gossiping helps you get to know your new co-workers. But really, it’s setting a bad standard. Not only does it make you look immature, but it can also lead to a reputation as a gossip at work. Your boss and co-workers might therefore hesitate in sharing important company news with you in the future.

5. Disparaging your new employer on social media.

Nothing on the Internet is really private. And you’re taking a big risk by posting negative information about your new boss or co-workers. If you’re having an issue, talk privately about it with family or friends. If it’s serious, then bring it up with your manager. However, don’t go to social media to air your frustrations.

Making a great impression in your first days and weeks on the job requires a few key elements: hard work, drive, and not making the mistakes above. Good luck!

Do you need help finding a rewarding new job in Spokane?

Connect with Provisional. 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.

Secrets of a Great Interview Thank You Note

February 21st, 2017

You applied for a job you really want. You got an interview and all went well. At this point, do you send a thank you note? Does it really make a difference and influence the hiring manager’s position? Or should you just sit tight and wait?

The answer: It depends.

Many hiring managers report they don’t take into account whether or not a candidate sent a thank you note. However, you never know if the person who just interviewed you actually falls into that category…or not.

As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows another situation where a thank you note can make a difference involves when a hiring manager is considering two equally strong candidates. If you send a well-written, thoughtful thank you note – and the other candidate doesn’t – it could be what sets you apart and leads to a job offer. In addition, if a hiring manager is interviewing a sea of other candidates, a thank you note can be the one element that helps them remember you over other applicants.

That’s why it’s typically a good idea to send one. That said, there are some tips to keep in mind before you fire one out to your interviewer:

  • Be timely. Don’t wait a week to send out a thank note. You should mail or email yours within 24 hours of the interview.
  • Send a note to all who interviewed you. That means, before you leave an interview, you need to gather everyone’s names and contact information. Make sure you personally address the notes and write something unique in each one (such as a shared interest or mutual acquaintance).
  • Be authentic. Write something genuine and heartfelt, rather than from a boilerplate letter you find on the Internet. That said, don’t go overboard with praise and appreciation. Keep it simple.
  • Reinforce why you want the job. Talk again why you think you’d be a good fit for the position and your enthusiasm for it. Also, cover any key points you forgot to bring up during the interview.
  • Keep it short. Don’t write anything overly long or flowy. Your thank you note should be short and to the point – approximately three to four paragraphs.
  • Carefully proofread your notes. Before sending them, read through each note multiple times to check and ensure they make sense and don’t have any typos.

Need more help finding and landing your next great job?

Contact the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we’ve placed more than 8,000 direct hire employees with leading local employers since 1994. And we can help you find a new job too! Contact us today if you’re ready 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.

Writing a Great Cover Letter – Without Much Work Experience

September 13th, 2016

As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows writing a cover letter can be an overwhelming, frustrating experience…even for the most seasoned veteran. So how can you handle the process – and get your foot in the door with an employer when you have little or no work experience? Here are 4 tips to help you get started:

Tip #1: Include the basics.

Even the best written cover letter won’t get you far if you don’t have the basics covered. So make sure you:

  • Include your contact information.
  • Include the name of the contact person, their title, and company in the upper left.
  • Address the letter to an actual person (not “Dear Sir or Madam”) if possible.
  • If you’re sending your cover letter via email, be sure to include a subject line with the title of the position you’re applying for.

Tip #2: Introduce yourself in the opening paragraph.

In your opening statement, briefly state the position you’re interested in applying for and where you found the position advertised. Also, if you were referred to this position by a mutual contact, make sure to mention them by name. For instance:

“I’m a recent graduate of ABC College and I’m applying for the administrative assistant position. A mutual contact, Jack Smith, forwarded me your job posting on Monster.com, and as soon as I read it, I thought I could be a great fit for the position.”

Tip #3: Explain why they’d want to hire you.

So you don’t have any formal work experience to highlight. What about volunteer or internship experience? Did you take a college class relevant to the position you’re applying for? Or have you held a part-time job in the past where you gained skills (i.e. communication, problem solving, etc.) that are transferable – and could be put to use in a new job?

Once you start thinking about your background, you may come to realize that you actually have more skills and experience than you think. Highlight that information in the next two paragraphs. Also include any real-world stories or examples that could bring your background to life.

Tip #4: Close strong and confident.

In the final paragraph, express your interest in the job and the employer. Strive to leave a positive lasting impression by sounding confident and enthusiastic about the job. For instance:

“I’m excited to learn more about the opportunity at XYZ Company. With my combination of communication and organizational skills, I’m confident I’d be an asset to your team. Thank you for reviewing my application and considering me for the position. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

A final note: Make sure you proofread your cover letter – and better yet, have someone else read it through, as well – to ensure it’s error-free.

Need more help writing a great cover letter and resume? Call the employment 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.

7 Signs You Should Decline a Job Offer

May 10th, 2016

You’ve been searching for a new job for months. Finally, you receive an offer. The trouble is, you have some doubts. How can you tell whether you should accept the position or move on? Here are 7 signs to look out for that you should decline the offer:

Sign #1: The company has a poor employer reputation.

After your interview, you started to do some digging on the Internet about the company – and the results so far haven’t been good. There are endless negative reviews online about working for the company.

Sign #2: You’re not clear about certain aspects of the position.

You’ve asked the questions, but have only received vague answers about goals and expectations. As a result, you’re not totally clear about what you’d be doing on a daily basis – and how your performance would be measured.

Sign #3: There’s no work life balance.

The job sounds great – except you know it would take over your life. You’d be tied up at night and on weekends. You wouldn’t be able to maintain a healthy work life balance.

Sign #4: The position requires a skill you don’t have.

You have all the skills to do the job – except a critical one. It’s ok if you don’t meet every requirement for the job, as long as you’re interested in developing the necessary skills to eventually be successful in the position. If you’re not, though, then the role isn’t right for you.

Sign #5: The salary isn’t high enough.

The salary is the same as what you currently make, or a step below. Or perhaps it’s more than what you make, but not competitive in terms of what the market typically offers for candidates with your skill level and experience.

Sign #6: There’s a lot of turnover.

Some turnover is a good thing. But a lot of turnover signifies that the company isn’t investing in its people and working to keep them satisfied.

Sign #7: You have a gut feeling.

Sometimes you can’t articulate why a position isn’t right for you. You just have a feeling in your gut. If that’s the case, then you know it’s right to decline the job.

Do you need help finding out about terrific job opportunities that you’d actually like to accept? Call the experts at Provisional. 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.

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