• Onboarding best practices: from pre-boarding to the bottom line

    May 24, 2017 by

    Without a strong onboarding program, retention and employee churn become significant, cost-averse problems at most companies. But research has shown only about 1 in 4 companies even have formal onboarding programs.

    So what exactly is onboarding, and what are some onboarding best practices?

    Onboarding Best Practices: The “pre-boarding” period

    This is the period between offer letter acceptance and official first day.

    From the time a new hire accepts a job, up until the first day on the job, top employers work diligently to make new hires feel wanted, welcome and part of the team. Onboarding doesn’t start the first day on the job; it starts as soon as the new hire accepts the job. That’s why these members of the team should be in touch with the new hire (assigning a point person is a best practice top employers follow). These are people within an organization who can assist with onboarding a new hire:

    • The hiring manager
    • Someone from human resources
    • A member of the team the employee is joining
    • A cultural ambassador from another department

    Ideally the pre-boarding period sees a mix of those communicating to the new hire. Imagine starting on day one without having heard from the company for a month. Now imagine starting on day one where you already know three-four people in addition to your boss. The latter is far less nerve-wracking.

    The other important aspect of the pre-boarding stage is technology. Most onboarding portals now have a pre-boarding tool, so new hires can access the portal even though they haven’t officially started. Many “first days” on a new job contain lots of paperwork, and if the paperwork can be slid to a pre-boarding portal, this allows the company to make the first day more special and less transactional. Forms such as tax information, NDAs, health care information, the code of conduct, and more can be put into the portal. They can still be discussed on day/week 1, of course, but it will still save time and reduce the crush of paperwork often associated with a new job.

    Ah, the first day

    There is a good deal to unpack about the onboarding best practices for the first day. Continue Reading

  • Ideas for designing a meaningful onboarding process

    May 08, 2017 by

     

    An onboarding process is a crucial element of any hiring strategy. Even though the actual hiring is now complete, the transition into the organization – both before the first day on the job, and within the first few weeks are crucial to ensure a new hire gets off to a good start. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, 33% of new hires look for a job within the first six months of starting.

    Now consider this, also from Harvard Business Review:

    Harvard Business Review explains onboarding

    The survey also pointed out that nearly 1 in 4 companies don’t even have a formal onboarding process, and half have one, but only view it as “somewhat successful.”

    There’s likely a very strong correlation between a lack of dedication to a company wide onboarding process and how quickly new hires may feel disengaged and already searching for a different opportunity.

    Studies show that a dedicated onboarding process is important for employee retention. So how can an employer improve their onboarding process? Start by following industry best practices.  

    The 35,000-Foot View: Change the question structure

    At Wipro, an IT Consulting firm, the Human Resources department made one small change to the onboarding process. In addition to the normal paperwork and introductions of Day/Week 1, both HR and the direct manager of a new hire asked them one simple question:

    “Who are you when you’re at your very best?”

    This allowed new hires to reflect on their strengths and uniqueness and how those characteristics could apply to this new role. As a result, rather than feeling alienated or anxious about this life change, employees felt more confident and empowered — which ultimately led to higher retention numbers (a metric Wipro tracks) and better performance as measured through customer satisfaction. This was literally a minor change to their overall onboarding process; they simply added one question to how Day 1-2 unfolds and saw a marked increase in performance (at least in part) as a result.

    Facebook shows how to make an onboarding process meaningful

    Antonio Garcia-Martinez was a startup founder and eventual Facebook product manager. He wrote a book called Chaos Monkeys about Silicon Valley culture, and conducted an interview with UPenn’s Wharton business school to promote it. He discussed Facebook’s onboarding process:

    Your first day at Facebook, you’ll have two emails in your inbox. One is a sort of generic, “Welcome to Facebook.” And the second one is, “Here’s a list of software bugs to fix.” On your first day, you’ll pull a version of Facebook’s code to your personal machine that’s your version of Facebook. You’re encouraged to go ahead and make changes, upgrades, improvements, whatever, from day one. You’re actually entrusted with that much authority. Facebook is literally a quarter of the internet everywhere in the world, except China. Here, some 22-year-old engineering graduate has a version of it on his machine and he’s going to push a change to it today.

    Think about that. Facebook is one of the biggest sites on the Internet — over 1 billion active users — and on Day One, a new hire can make changes and upgrades to the code. That’s markedly different from “fill out this paperwork, watch this HR video, and walk around saying hi to managers in the doorway of their office.” If you’re entrusted with real responsibility and meaning from day one, it would stand to reason that you’ll feel a long-term connection back to the organization.

    Buffer’s three-buddy system

    Buffer, a social automation platform with a large percentage of remote workers, uses a three buddy system in their onboarding process. The three buddies are:

    1. A “leader” buddy: This is an experienced member of the team the new hire will enter; this type of buddy is trained on having tough conversations around work elements and culture fit. It’s similar to a conventional mentor.
    2. A “role” buddy: This is someone who understands, or has previously held, the direct role that the new hire will play. They work with the new hire to understand the specific role and how to maximize performance in it within the first 45 days.
    3. A “culture” buddy: This buddy helps the new hire learn the unique aspects of Buffer’s internal culture, and helps them navigate to spots where they can fit in or even propose team events.

    A new hire is introduced to the buddies prior to official Day One, which speaks to an important element of any onboarding process: There needs to be activity between a signed offer letter and the first day on the job. That can be as simple as giving the hire access to a portal where they can complete forms, (lessening day one paperwork), or it can involve the introduction of work buddies or other team members.

    Realize employees have “fresh eyes” and an outside perspective

    Companies can get disrupted when leaders spendt so much time together that “groupthink,” or homophily, resultst. It makes it very hard for leaders to see new ideas if a “that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality begins to be normative.

    A new hire, by definition, is a fresh set of eyes. At Joie de Vivre Hotels, for example, they are encouraged to point out potential customer pain points and new approaches on day one. This again speaks to trust and responsibility. You just completed a hiring process with this person and decided they were the right candidate for your job opening. That implies you will trust them to do their job, so why not give them a voice from day one? We can all use the outside perspective.

    Make your onboarding process fun!

    Onboarding should be fun

    Photo credit to Bloomberg

    That’s the message from the onboarding process at Rackspace, which includes music, games, food, a limbo bar, and more. This might seem juvenile to some — aren’t workplaces supposed to be professional at all times? But as noted business consultant and thinker Robert Poynton (among others) have argued, letting adults embrace the idea of “play” (often left behind in your teens) is a great motivator and incentive to want to come to work and do your best there. Rackspace (and other companies) build these elements of fun right into the onboarding process. Imagine coming home to your significant other after a day like the above photo versus a day of filling out HR forms. Which job are you more excited about? Which one can you already see yourself still at in six to 12  months?

    Use your onboarding process to beat back silos

    Percolate, a marketing software company, has multiple departments present to a new hire between Monday and Friday of their first week (this happens for every new hire), including:

    • People Operations/HR
    • IT
    • Sales
    • Marketing
    • Design
    • Product Management

    Noah Brier, Percolate co-founder, discussed what happens in the product management session, stating:

    In this session, PMs explain the structure of the product team and Percolate’s approach to developing software. “Even if the new hire doesn’t need to know the technology stack that we use, we want all employees to be exposed to our technology,” says Brier. “In this meeting, we introduce the concept of the manager’s versus the maker’s schedule to educate every new hire on how to work with engineers. We get granular: don’t interrupt engineers, especially if they have headphones on.”

    Percolate doesn’t do these deep dives simply so that each new hire knows what all the teams do. Brier says it’s about “understanding the philosophy of each team” and how they all “fit into the broader mission.”

    One of the bigger complaints in most offices is silos, or poor communication between two departments. This aspect of an onboarding process certainly seems like a good way to address that problem from the very beginning of a hire’s tenure.

    Onboarding process: The bottom line

    Certainly, any effective onboarding process needs to begin with shared responsibility, caring about the program, and believing that an investment in people will pay off. Then, the processes themselves need to be formalized relative to your specific company culture. These examples could work for you. These examples can work for employers of all sizes, if implemented correctly. Even if they aren’t an exact fit, taking small steps, from successful onboarding processes from other employers can help make the onboarding process meaningful and engaging, as opposed to transactional and form-driven. That’s a win for the employer, and new hire. 

    Keep informed of recruiting best practices by staying connected with College Recruiter on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube. Hiring soon? Would it make sense to have a brief conversation about your hiring needs? Consider College Recruiter’s advertising solutions, or email [email protected]

  • Onboarding new employees starts before first day on job

    May 02, 2017 by

     

    A new employee who is not onboarded the right way is going to have difficulty finding a sense of belonging inside an organization, says Scott Redfearn, executive vice president of global HR at Protiviti, a global business consulting and internal audit firm.

    “Employees who don’t have a meaningful career experience aren’t going to last, and they will not perform to their full potential,” says Redfearn. Continue Reading

  • Spotlight on Success: Engaging entry-level hires at GSE [video]

    October 14, 2016 by

     

    No doubt you’re familiar with the job-hopping trend that millennials are known for. How do you increase your retention of entry-level hires? Wendy Stoner, Director for the Office of Emerging Talent Development at GSA, knows how. She leads a Leadership Development program to engage entry-level hires. She calls the two-week on-boarding Career 101. “millennials like to be part of a cohort,” she says. “They don’t like to be on their own,” so the new employees work together along two training tacks.

    They receive technical training to prepare them for the functions of their jobs. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, they learn soft skills like professional communication, presentation and negotiation skills, and how to have a critical conversation in the workplace. They watch videos and practice role play to prepare them for working with people whose backgrounds and working style differ from their own. Also, GSA delivers the Myers-Briggs personality indicator to explain why coworkers’ behaviors may differ, and how to work with them.

    Generational differences? You don’t say.

    The Careerstone Group designed GSA’s training in response to the inter-generational issues we all hear about. You know some of the complaints. Baby Boomers complain about millennials’ informal communication (they write emails like text messages, Boomers say). And millennials complain about Baby Boomers’ work ethic (keeping long hours doesn’t mean you’re more productive, millennials say). During their Career 101, new GSA employees learn to articulate what these generational differences are, and understand the different values that cause differences in behavior.

    Don’t stop at onboarding.

    Stoner says GSA invests in engagement beyond the first two weeks. They put their entry-level hires on a two-year rotational track that exposes them to different areas of their field. For example, a new hire in finance may rotate to learn about formulating budgets, executing them, strategic planning and more. Not only does this prepare them for a variety of possible jobs, but it clearly demonstrates that they care about employees’ development. GSA wants employees to discover what job appeals to them most. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was that age,” Stoner remarks, so it is only fair to facilitate employees’ learning for a couple years.

    Nothing counts without an open culture

    Formal training can transfer plenty of knowledge, but without an open company culture that embraces all employees, that training can fall flat. Stoner says, “Your culture needs to be open to listening to them and hearing their ideas.” She says GSA recognizes that good ideas can come from anyone, regardless of where they sit on the org chart. Their investment and openness pay off. GSA retains 93% of entry-level hires during their first two years–pretty impressive for the new job-hopping norm. Engaging millennials doesn’t have to be hard. Stoner says, “We want them know they are coming into a company that does value their development. millennials are eager, knowing that a company will make an investment in them.”

    wendy-stonerWendy Stoner will be a panelist at this December’s College Recruiting Bootcamp. She serves as GSA’s Director for the Office of Emerging Talent Development within the Office of Human Resources Management. She strives to create an environment of highly engaged employees dedicated to accomplishing GSA’s mission and has successfully recruited hundreds of highly talented recent graduates prepared to tackle GSA’s business challenges. Stoner’s work is helping GSA fuel the pipeline to meet the agency’s future leadership and succession planning needs. Connect with Wendy on LinkedIn.

  • Having lunch with new hires while onboarding

    July 01, 2016 by
    Businesswomen having conversation over lunch photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Making new hires feel comfortable is the responsibility of companies during the onboarding process. One way employers can do this is by reflecting their company values and/or culture to new employees. Companies can use the onboarding process to emphasize qualities they want all employees to represent. Armando Lopez, Executive Director of Human Resources at Ramsey Solutions, discusses why his company provides lunch on the first day to new hires.

    “We welcome new teammates in such a way that it communicates part of our culture is not only being prepared, but we’re welcoming because we really want them here.

    One thing we do is provide lunch on the first day. New hires may not be familiar with the area or your cafeteria if you have one. More importantly, it gives us a chance to relax, sit down together, and immerse new teammates into our company culture. At Ramsey Solutions, our Executive Director of Culture, Rick Perry,  joins us and tells stories about the company so new hires get a sense of who we are, what we are, and why we are.”

    Interested in welcoming new hires to your company? Visit College Recruiter and follow us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

     

     

    Armando Lopez, Executive Director of Human Resources at Ramsey Solutions

    Armando Lopez, Executive Director of Human Resources at Ramsey Solutions

     

    Armando Lopez has been an HR professional for 23 years working at Cracker Barrel, American Blue Ribbon Holdings, and now Ramsey Solutions.

  • 10 career mistakes to avoid

    June 26, 2016 by
    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    One of your top goals is to have a happy and successful life.

    Your career is the key to achieving this goal.

    You’ve got a nice degree, have a lovely smile and are ready to work, but there’s one more thing that could stop you from realizing your dreams:

    Mistakes.

    Some mistakes could harm or even end your career. You have to recognize and avoid them at all costs if you really want to have a successful life.

    There are 10 career defining mistakes.

    1. Dressing badly at work

    Research tells us that what we wear affects how we think. How we dress also affects how other people perceive us.

    Sure, you deserve to get the respect you think you deserve and get people to listen to you. People should respect you because you know what you’re talking about.

    So why should you wear expensive socks to get people to respect you?

    Let me tell you a story.

    One day I was on a bus headed to my friend’s house. It’s been a long time since I went to the neighborhood so I wasn’t so sure which stop to get off at. I was constantly looking out at the window, and the gentleman sitting beside me could not help but notice it.

    He nicely asked where I was going and if I needed help. I told him where I was going, and he said I should exit in two stops. I thanked him.

    A few minutes later, another man sitting behind me said “Actually, you should get off at the next stop.”

    I thanked him and exited where he told me, ignoring the advice of the first guy.

    Now, you may want to ask me why I chose the second guy’s advice.

    As I walk away from the bus stop, I realized I ignored my seatmate’s advice because he was wearing sweatpants, had a dark stain on his T-shirt, and looked like he skipped showering that day. I realized that I chose the second guy’s advice because he wore a collared jacket, well-polished shoes, and designer glasses.

    When you dress well at work, people will notice you. Your superiors will notice you, and they would admire you for that. That would open up more opportunities for you.

    2. Expressing a rude and negative attitude at work

    Even if you’re a highly-talented employee but always express a bad and negative attitude at work, you’ll have a high mountain to climb to advance your career. Many managers hate working with employees who have bad attitudes because they decrease the team morale.

    According to studies from Leadership IQ, 87% of employees say that working with somebody with a bad attitude has actually made them want to change jobs. And as much as 89% of new hires who fail within 18 months actually failed because of attitudinal issues, not skills. Bad attitudes also include laziness, tardiness, inappropriate jokes, unresponsive to emails, etc. List all the bad and negative attitudes you have and make a consistent effort to overcome them.

    3. Not building good relationships with your colleagues

    Bad relationships are bound to happen from time to time. How you deal with them is the most important thing.

    Your colleagues are the keys to your happiness at work. If you’re not happy with your coworkers, then you’ll certainly be looking for work soon. I’m a big believer of the phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you want your coworkers to be kind and respectful to you, then you have to be kind and respectful to them.

    Make sure you remember your coworkers’ names and address them by their names. It’s easy to say happy birthdays to your coworkers on Facebook when you rarely talk to them at work. Make sure you’re doing that important one-on-one conversation. Get on the phone and tell them “Happy Birthday.” Go an extra mile and surprise them with a gift. This little generosity will make you more likable at your workplace.

    4. Writing unprofessional emails to colleagues

    You know there are some unprofessional things you shouldn’t say to your colleagues in the workplace. The same is true for work emails.

    For example, it’s not appropriate to answer a colleague asking you how your job search is going inside your work email. Another example is when your colleague complains about other coworkers and says nasty things about them.

    These are discussions you shouldn’t allow inside your work email. I don’t think it’s good to allow it at all whether it’s your personal or work email. You should know that you don’t own your work email, your employer does. Your employer can monitor who you’re communicating with on your work email. You could be in trouble if you’re making inappropriate remarks about sensitive issues at your workplace.

    In addition to that, there are some email mistakes that can make you look really unprofessional.

    For example:

    • Using informal or curse words you’re not allowed to use at work
    • Rambling in your email instead of getting straight to the point
    • Forgetting to attach files when you say you’ve attached files
    • Spelling the person’s name wrong or using a different name to address the recipient

    These email mistakes may not look big to you, but they are serious mistakes that can prevent you from accelerating your career.

    5. Making career choices based on earnings

    The love of money could lead you down the wrong career path.

    I’m not saying “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

    You need money to do a lot of things. You probably need money to pay student loans, buy some nice outfits and keep the roof over your head. So you definitely need money. We all do.

    But when you choose a career or a job you don’t even enjoy based on your goal to make $90,000 per year, that’s when it becomes a problem. You need to ask yourself:

    Does your desire for money match your passion and skills? When you choose a job you’re less passionate about, you’ll be pushing yourself to get things done. And this would be visible in your performance. You should choose a job where you have the skills and abilities to get the job done.

    6. Not investing in yourself

    If you strip Larry Page of his assets and dump him on the street, I can assure you that he would be back living a comfortable life within a week.

    Larry Page has a ton of human capital.

    According to Wikipedia“Human capital is the stock of knowledge, habits, social and personality attributes, including creativity, embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value.” In other words, human capital is a collection of resources—all the knowledge, talents, skills, abilities, experience, intelligence, training, judgment, and wisdom that are possessed by an individual. If you want to achieve a lot of success in your career, you need a lot of human capital. Focusing on building your human capital is a lot more productive than worrying about “job security.

    So how do you build your human capital?

    You build up your human capital by investing in yourself through:

    • Improving your skills
    • Acquiring complementary skills
    • Reading educational books
    • Starting healthy habits
    • Building your personal brand
    • Getting a mentor

    As you do these things, you’ll become irreplaceable in your organization. You’ll become the go-to person within your company. Many more people will start looking up to you. All these help you accelerate your career.

    But when you stop investing in yourself, you become stagnant. Your skills become obsolete.

    7. Not maintaining a healthy work-life balance

    A poor work-life balance is bad for both the employee (you) and the employer.

    People who have a poor work-life balance are more stressed and experience more family conflicts. They also tend to have both mental and physical problems. If your private life is suffering, it will negatively impact your professional life. Your private life comes first. When you experience more problems in your private life, your creativity, engagement and productivity at work will suffer.

    The only way to prevent this is to keep a work-life balance.

    This may not look like a career mistake to you, but it’s a mistake that can have adverse effects on your career. You should set work hours and stick to them. Don’t work during times when you should be with your family or have set aside times for tending to personal matters which are a priority to you.

    8. Not improving your communication skills

    “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”—Theodore Roosevelt

    The consequences of poor communication are great.

    For example, if your communication skills are poor, your message would be hard to understand, and this can lead to serious confusion among your colleagues.

    Too much information when it is not needed can also affect the concentration of the listener.

    Poor communication becomes more serious when you communicate with customers. If customers are not serviced in the right manner, it would reduce sales, thereby affecting business goals.

    Great communication skills help you do well at your job because you’ll be using these skills when requesting information, discussing problems, giving out instructions, and interacting with your colleagues. As a result of demonstrating good communication skills, you’ll enhance your professional image, build sound business relationships, and get more successful responses.

    You have to continue sharpening your communication skills if you want to get and stay at the top.

    How do you do that?

    You sharpen your communication skills by:

    • Striking up conversations with strangers
    • Reading good books
    • Listening to others
    • And engaging in more one-on-one conversations

    9. Not networking outside your company

    Your network is your net worth.

    Your network is your source of job opportunities, potential business partnerships and much more. Your network won’t only find your next job, but it will help you improve your current position.

    NETWORKING is the single most powerful marketing tactic to accelerate and sustain success for any individual or organization!”—Adam Small

    One of the biggest mistakes many people make is to network when they are only looking for a job. You can’t only rely on people you already know within your current workplace to help you land your dream job. You must always be networking outside of your company, and even your industry.

    For example, let’s say you’re a website designer; networking with other website designers alone would limit your opportunities. You should network outside your industry like in the Healthcare, Manufacturing, Agriculture and Energy sectors. People in these sectors could be good references. They could become customers. They might know someone who needs your service.

    LinkedIn is a very good place to start networking with people outside your industries.

    But your conversation with those people shouldn’t be limited to the web. Take it offline. Do face-to-face meetings with them. That’s how you expand your network and increase your chance of career success.

    10. Not serving your network

    The truth is the people in your network needs you as much as you need them.

    You can’t just expect people in your network to connect you with other people they know. You can’t just expect them to link you up with job opportunities without you giving them some value. You’ll appear selfish if you always expect people to do things for you but offer nothing in return.

    The best way to keep people interested in you is to serve them. When you diligently do something good for people, they will want to return the favor, though, your major aim of helping people shouldn’t be to get something in return. The more people you serve, the more your network grows, and the more your network grows, the more opportunities will come your way.

    Michael Akinlaby, guest writer

    Michael Akinlaby, guest writer

    Need more tips for making the best career choices? Visit our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

    Michael Akinlaby is a freelance writer and SEO Consultant. He’s the founder of RankRain, an internet marketing agency that specializes in content marketing and Search Engine. 

  • Being honest and engaged during the onboarding process

    June 23, 2016 by
    Smiling graduate student with diploma photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    As recent college graduates and entry-level job candidates prepare to enter the workforce, they should prepare for the onboarding process. New hires should stay focused and take notes during the onboarding process to get the most out of it. Andre Lavoie, CEO and Co-Founder of ClearCompany, shares his best advice for recent grads and entry-level job candidates while onboarding.

    “The best advice I can give recent grads and entry-level candidates is to be honest and stay engaged. Onboarding requires plenty of attention, focus, and an ability to retain information in a short amount of time.

    Recent grads and candidates engage in this process to learn their expectations, gain a deeper understanding of their companies and their employers, meet their team, and see how they can succeed in their new roles. It’s exciting, not a chore, so direct energy in the best way by sitting up straight and staying interactive.

    Take your own notes and actively listen. Continue taking notes while performing tasks. These notes will be helpful because you can review them after training to increase your knowledge. They will also inform some well thought out questions and feedback.

    When trainers ask for feedback, share your thoughts. When you don’t understand something about a process or task, ask questions. Many new hires are nervous and don’t feel comfortable speaking up, but allowing fear to stand in the way is incredibly detrimental to your training and your relationship with your employer.

    The bottom line of onboarding is to set expectations, train employees on processes, and build a trusting relationship. Communication and engagement are crucial.”

    Want to help recent grads and entry-level job candidates in the onboarding process? Get some assistance and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Andre Lavoie, CEO and Co-Founder of ClearCompany

    Andre Lavoie, CEO and Co-Founder of ClearCompany

    Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the first talent alignment platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

  • Onboarding process can include background check

    June 10, 2016 by
    Recruitment photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Before bringing new hires into their companies, employers might want to give each one a background check. These days, recruiters and hiring managers use social media as a tool to learn more about candidates, so take advantage of it and other helpful resources. After all, companies shouldn’t just hire quality employees but quality people. John Cass, Director of Marketing at OnSource, explains including a background check as part of its onboarding process.

    “I work for OnSource, and we have a network of 15,000 people who conduct photo inspections for claims and underwriting purposes for insurance companies; the inspectors visit consumers and take photos of vehicles and property. The whole process for coming onboard as an inspector can take a few days. We require a background check, and if someone doesn’t have an existing background check, they will need to provide one to OnSource. We review the background check and then bring the applicants on board.”

    If you need help developing your onboarding program, College Recruiter can help. Follow us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

    John Cass, Director of Marketing at OnSource

    John Cass, Director of Marketing at OnSource

    John Cass manages OnSource’s marketing efforts for clients and OnSource’s network development.

    John has over 25 years of marketing and digital marketing experience. A pioneer in the content marketing industry, he has been responsible for directing and managing content marketing and social media campaigns. John is the author of Strategies and Tools for Corporate Blogging, published in 2007, and is a Founding Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research, Past President of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association, and is the Co-Founder of the Boston Agile Marketing Meetup. He has worked at a number of technology brands including SDL and 48hourprint.com, was the Online Community Manager at Forrester Research, and has worked at several interactive and content agencies, including Pace Communications and Portent Interactive.

  • Taking onboarding to the next level

    June 09, 2016 by
    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Congratulations! You’ve landed your dream job – or at least the job that now represents a stepping stone on the path to that dream job. Either way, a new experience is on the horizon.

    All companies, regardless of size, have an onboarding process. The onboarding process welcomes new employees to the organization. Some companies formalize the process and run it through a distinct human resources department. Others may have a more informal process that connects new employees with a more seasoned professional to help you learn the ropes.

    Regardless of which process you encounter, making the most of your onboarding experience is a great way to begin your new career.

    Since you never have a second chance to make the first impression, take the bull by the horn and rock your onboarding experience.

    Be Punctual

    This should go without saying, but show up on time – early even – when starting a new job. Showing up on time shows that you respect your colleagues’ time. They are busy professionals, and the onboarding process may be tightly scheduled in among a number of competing priorities.

    If you’re unfamiliar with the area, take a dry run at locating the office in normal traffic to ensure you know the route. Above all, leave extra time for unexpected events.

    Be Personable

    A smile goes a long way when meeting new people for the first time. Dust off your most social persona and make it available during the onboarding process. Find out what you can about the company culture, important dates to consider, and what it takes to be a successful employee with your new employer.

    Be Proactive

    Many companies will assign workplace mentors to new hires. Mentors generally serve as someone who can help you get established, answer routine questions as you get settled, or direct you to the appropriate resources to find the correct assistance. If the mentoring program is not defined, ask your contact if they can recommend a senior employee and make the connection. Mentors are likely extremely busy, so reach out to a workplace mentor and set up a lunch meeting. Use that downtime to establish a relationship, seek advice, or learn more about the company’s culture or advancement prospects.

    Be Pensive

    Ask questions. Use the onboarding process to find out as much as you can about the new company, your new positions, and your new coworkers. If applicable, find out as much as you can about expectations for someone in your position. Learn as much as you can about training options available. Connect with any social or philanthropic organizations sponsored by your new company to connect with other employees and begin building your network.

    Be Productive

    While you were hired for a specific position, the onboarding process may expose you to a wide range of functions and opportunities available in the company. Gather as much information as you can. Look for opportunities to make your mark – even on your first day. If there are processes that can be improved or angles which can be exploited for cost savings or revenue generation, find out who would be the best person to submit those suggestions moving forward. Innovative ideas and process improvement strategies are valuable skills to help you stand out.

    For more onboarding tips, check out our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

    Guest writer Vera Marie Reed is a freelance writer living in Glendale, California. This mother of two specializes in education and parenting content. When she’s not delivering expert advice, you can find her reading, writing, arts, going to museums and doing craft projects with her children.

  • 7 tips for networking in the workplace

    June 07, 2016 by

    Did you know that 80% of workplace conflicts and problems arise from communication glitches? It’s true. You can do your part to prevent workplace conflicts—originating from miscommunication—by developing your soft skills, namely communication skills and networking skills. If you improve your relationships with your colleagues, clients, and supervisors via networking in the workplace, you’ll be much less likely to face problems at work.

    As a new employee, particularly as a recent grad or intern, it’s also important to network with others at work in order to build rapport with the people you rely upon for help and information to perform your job duties well. If you want to succeed, you’ll quickly learn that it pays to maintain positive relationships with everyone around you.

    Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, offers seven tips for networking in the workplace in this short video.


    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    1. Know yourself well.

    If you can detect when you’re having an off day, take steps to prevent taking it out on everyone around you. Stay in your cubicle or office on those days if necessary or take more frequent breaks. Before you begin working, get an extra-large coffee and take some deep breaths or read some positive literature.  Look at some funny photos for five minutes. Find a solution that works for you. If you find yourself in a negative place due to personal circumstances, and you’re allowing your personal life to affect your work life, talk to your human resources officer confidentially to see if your company offers wellness benefits, including an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

    In addition, taking a DISC inventory or other personality inventory—ask your career services office about taking these inventories at no cost on your college campus—can help you to learn more about your work style. It might take one hour to take the inventory, but you’ll then be armed with information about how you work best, how you prefer to interact with others, and what to avoid when interacting with others. The sooner you learn this information about yourself, the better.

    2. Treat others well.

    Treat your colleagues and clients well regardless of their level of expertise, pay grade, or how much money they are spending with your company. When networking, your contacts will appreciate being treated with courtesy, kindness, respect, appreciation, and fairness. You’ll build a reputation of treating people well, and a great reputation goes a long way in the workplace. If you decide to stay with your present company, you may want to apply for an internal job promotion. If you’ve been networking with others at work and treating everyone well, your behavior will likely speak just as loudly as your resume, cover letter, and job application. If you decide to leave your company to pursue other job opportunities, you’ll be glad you treated others well when potential employers call to check your references and hear about how kind, thoughtful, and positive you were at work every day.

    3. Don’t be afraid to collaborate and share.

    Collaborating and sharing ideas and information in the workplace today is a great way to network with your colleagues and to show them that you want to help, not hinder the growth of the organization or team. Sharing your ideas with others also encourages others to share their ideas, and the workplace becomes a more creative place.

    4. Don’t do halfalogues.

    What’s a halfalogue? A halfalogue is when you only participate in half the conversation or dialogue because you’re holding your phone, scrolling through a text message or email, and aren’t able to fully participate and interact with your colleagues as a result. At work, you have to put down your phone if you want to make good impressions and build positive relationships with your supervisors, colleagues, and clients. It’s not just rude to play on your phone during meetings; it’s also important to pay attention when stopping by someone’s office casually to say hello.

    5. Address people by name.

    This is like networking 101. Referring to people by name during conversations or even in emails makes them feel more special, and that’s always a good thing. How long does it take to type out, “Bethany?” Maybe one or two seconds. It’s worth it to improve your communication skills and reduce the potential for future workplace conflicts.

    6. Focus on the solution, not the problem.

    Be a positive influence at work. When networking, whether at workplace events or during daily interactions in the workplace, keep conversations “light and polite” and focused on positive topics and on solutions, not problems. It’s inevitable at work that you’re going to be asked to discuss problems and conflicts during meetings. What’s important is that you find a way to discuss problems in a positive light and to focus on taking constructive action.

    For example, if you’re discussing a challenge you’re facing as a new employee tasked with visiting with patients at a clinic, and you have discovered you simply cannot keep up with the volume of paperwork and still provide quality service to the patients face-to-face, you can be honest about the problem yet discuss potential solutions.

    “I am really glad we have so many patients coming to the office. I like talking to them and helping them get set up to see the doctor. I’m just feeling overwhelmed by the documents to scan and know I’m getting behind. I think I need more time to scan documents, but I don’t want to offer patients a lower level of service either. Do you think I could work on documents for 30 minutes in the morning before I start seeing patients every day? Maybe this would help me to keep it managed.”

    Presenting a potential solution—even if it’s not the solution your employer prefers or selects to implement—suggests that you’re not just belly-aching about problems. It also showcases your soft skills, including your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These are not just great networking skills but are great workplace skills any employer values.

    7. Interact face-to-face whenever possible.

    It’s not always an option, but interact face-to-face if you can. Face-to-face communication helps you avoid most communication errors and opportunities for miscommunication because it is channel rich. When you’re speaking with someone face-to-face, you’re provided with multiple cues that help you interpret meaning: voice tone, spoken word, facial expression, hand gestures, and many more. When you communicate with someone via email or text message, communication is channel lean, meaning you’re relying on just one thing–words. Have you ever received a text message from a significant other, and the intended meaning is not the meaning you interpreted? This likely caused some hurt feelings or even a huge fight. The same thing happens in the workplace.

    For this reason, it’s best to hold meetings face-to-face. If you work remotely, consider hosting meetings virtually via Zoom or Skype. If that’s not an option, you can conference in by phone. At least you can hear voices rather than simply read words. Simply hammering out emails back and forth gives you the illusion that you’re saving time, when in fact, you often waste time because you create confusion which you have to clarify by writing three more emails. Save yourself the hassle—and build better relationships—by talking to people face-to-face when possible. You’ll probably find that your networking skills and communication skills will grow, and you’ll build great relationships, too.

    For more networking tips, visit our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.