Problem-Solving May Be the Most In-Demand Skill for 2020 — Do You Have It?

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According to the World Economic Forum, the No. 1 skill you’ll need to succeed in 2020 and beyond is complex problem-solving.

As the world goes increasingly digital and automation takes over more and more of our rote responsibilities, the average professional’s job will transform into something more focused on creativity, innovation, and the other sorts of big-picture skills the robots just can’t execute (yet).

But even if we set the influence of artificial intelligence aside, problem-solving is a highly valuable skill for any professional, regardless of field or specialty. Think about it: As an HR pro, you’ve probably had to negotiate complex compliance mandates or mediate a difficult conflict between coworkers — situations that both demand sophisticated problem-solving skills. Or, as a recruiter, you’ve likely been continuously refining and revising your recruitment strategies to account for the ever-changing realities of the market. Again, that’s the power of problem-solving.

With a new infographic, CashNetUSA aims to bring a little more clarity to your understanding of your own problem-solving skills. First, a flowchart helps you figure out what kind of problem-solver you are. Then, a list of tips helps you take your skills to the next level, no matter where you’re starting from. Check it out below:

How-good-are-your-problem-solving-skills

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The 3 Pillars of Corporate Social Responsibility: Clients, People, and Community

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Businesses of all sizes and across industries spend billions of dollars a year on corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. CSR varies widely from company to company and can be anything from eco-friendly office practices to charitable giving and volunteering, but regardless of the form it takes, it’s a critical part of succeeding in the current economy. In fact, reports show that as many as 90 percent of consumers would do business with a company because it supports an issue they care about, and 75 percent of consumers would refuse to do business with a company that supports a cause contrary to their own values. Furthermore, 81 percent of millennials want organizations to publicly commit to being good corporate citizens.

It’s clear that a strong CRS strategy is no longer a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have.

CSR means choosing to put people and the planet first by operating in a way that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable, and it represents a tremendous opportunity for businesses to build trust, bolster their reputations, and give back to the community. Companies creating or ramping up their CSR strategies should consider these three critical pillars to get it right:

Pillar 1: Clients

Clients and consumers (depending on the business model) want to be associated with businesses that are doing good and have good reputations.

CSR initiatives can give a competitive advantage to brands that are already highly competitive on price, quality, and convenience. Embracing socially responsible policies helps a company burnish its image and cultivate positive brand recognition by demonstrating that it is a compassionate and trustworthy organization. These values go a long way toward attracting and retaining clients. By building client loyalty, CSR helps companies achieve increased profitability and long-term financial success.

For example, a marketing and advertising agency can practice CSR by working with nonprofit clients as well as for-profit businesses. A compelling campaign for a children’s hospital or a conservation nonprofit telegraphs to other clients that the agency is committed to giving back, and clients will want to be associated with that goodwill. Charitable giving is another way businesses can use CSR to strengthen their client relationships. During the holiday season, businesses can donate to charitable organizations on behalf of their clients, which has the dual benefit of supporting meaningful causes and showing clients your business cares.

Pillar 2: People

Making CSR a priority creates a positive work environment that inspires and unites employees.

Just as CSR cultivates goodwill and loyalty from clients, it too can have the same effect internally. Good CSR tends to attract employees who are eager to make a difference in the world — and these people are often top-tier talent who want jobs that have meaning and impact, not just generous salaries.

Social responsibility empowers employees to leverage corporate resources to do good, and those collective employee efforts can achieve substantial results. This, in turn, increases workplace morale and boosts productivity. When workers have a sense of pride in the company, they are more engaged in their jobs and more committed to their employers. Put simply, they are more likely to stick around and do good work.

CSR has to start at home. A key but sometimes overlooked aspect of CSR is how a company treats and supports its own employees. A company that makes large donations to charitable organizations but doesn’t pay its own workers a fair wage or provide equal access to opportunity is not living up to its stated values. Diversity and inclusion are essential to CSR. When company leaders prioritize these issues, they create a culture of social responsibility that serves employees, clients, and customers well.

Consider policies around flexible work schedules and remote work options. Those might not seem directly related to CSR on the surface, but they are critical to making jobs more accessible to a wider swath of people. A company with rigid hours may have trouble attracting or retaining employees with young kids or elder parents to care for, which can result in a homogenous workforce. A corporate culture that promotes work/life balance and employee well-being is also part of CSR.

For more expert HR insights, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

Pillar 3: Community

Businesses have a role to play in making local communities and the planet cleaner places to live.

The Earth is the only life support system we have, and companies should be passionate about protecting it by applying green thinking to every decision. Every business, no matter the size, can have a positive impact on the environment by implementing environmentally conscious practices and procedures designed to address climate change.

The opportunities are endless: recycling programs, purchasing eco-friendly office products like paper towels and cleaners, installing a water filtration system to reduce plastic water bottles, technology that automatically goes into energy-saving mode, employee tree-planting days, bonuses for employees who use green methods of commuting like bicycling or public transportation — the list goes on, and no measure is too small.

Building a Strong CSR Strategy Based on the 3 Pillars

Identify Your Strengths

With these three pillars of CSR in mind, companies can embark on building effective CSR strategies by first identifying their strengths:

  1. What are you good at?
  2. What do clients, potential hires, and the broader business community look to your company for?
  3. What do you have that no other company has?
  4. What can you offer that is unique?

Understand Customer and Employee Values

Next, consider what your clients and customers value. Are there particular issues they care about? Once you’ve identified those issues, the next step is to determine how your company can support them. For example, if gender equality is a big area of interest, your company could donate to charitable organizations that support that goal, as well as ensure the gender balance of its own workplace is equitable.

Companies should also solicit input from their employees when crafting CSR strategies. One goal of CSR is to engage employees in collective action, so their opinions should influence how company time and resources are spent in service of social responsibility.

Evaluate the Data

The most effective CSR programs capture analytics and measurements to gauge how successful campaigns really are. You want to make sure you are designing programs to have an impact, not just for show. Employees and clients alike will appreciate knowing the concrete outcomes your CSR drives.

The most successful CSR strategies are not supplemental or peripheral, but baked into a company’s DNA. There are few aspects of a business that thoughtful CSR can’t improve. Incorporating CSR into your business strategy builds brand recognition and client/customer loyalty, achieves cost savings through reduced global footprint, attracts positive media attention, recruits and retains top talent, and improves employee satisfaction and morale. Most importantly, companies that practice CSR can make a real difference in the world.

Paige Peterson is director of HR at Hawthorne.

Master the art of closing deals and making placements. Take our Recruiter Certification Program today. We’re SHRM certified. Learn at your own pace during this 12-week program. Access over 20 courses. Great for those who want to break into recruiting, or recruiters who want to further their career.
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Making Great Hires When Talent Is Scarce: 6 Tips for Sourcing Candidates

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Candidate sourcing is hard. Just look at the stats: In 2018, employers had a record number of job openings to fill, but 45 percent of companies were struggling to find the skilled candidates they needed for those positions.

In this climate, companies need all the help they can get filling open roles, and many are turning to multiple sources — be it word of mouth, their own websites, or third-party sites — to locate candidates. The good news is employers are finding some success: According to research we conducted at Breezy HR, the No. 1 site for hires today is Indeed, accounting for 15 percent of new hires.

But while third-party job boards can help you fill your open roles, you need some careful planning and execution to really win in the current talent market.

How can you step your game up and actively source better talent? Here are six tips to help:

1. Connect Sourcers and Hiring Managers

The first thing you need to do is get sourcers and hiring managers on the same page when it comes to recruiting. This can really enhance your recruiting efforts, prevent confusion, and encourage communication in the long run.

Make sure both sides share a clear understanding of what a strong candidate looks like. Sourcers and hiring managers should kick off the process by discussing must-haves and nice-to-haves. Knowing this information can help sourcers prioritize the needs of the company when they get out into the market.

When the candidate applications start flowing in, sourcers and hiring managers should try to do a joint walkthrough of profiles to keep everyone in sync. Don’t be afraid to adjust job criteria as needed after evaluating your current talent pool.

2. Build a List of Possible Sourcing Channels

Work with your team to analyze and rank your online and offline channels. The goal here is to identify and define the best channels for your organization’s and role’s specific needs.

When building your list, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Standard sources like LinkedIn or Indeed are good, but less commonly used sites like Facebook and Stack Overflow can also be valuable sources of talent, depending on the kinds of candidates you’re looking for. You might be amazed at the people you can find when you take a different approach to recruiting.

3. Be Deliberate About Employee Referrals

Employee referrals are great sources of talent, but you need to be intentional and transparent about what your organization is looking for. Specify what you want and need in a new hire so your employees will have an easier time deciding which of their connections might be a fit.

In the interests of diversity and inclusion, it’s also important to ensure you are not consistently taking referrals from the same people. It is a good idea to prioritize referrals from employees in underrepresented departments to broaden your talent pool.

For more expert recruiting advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

4. Optimize Your Own Online Sources

According to our Breezy HR study, your company’s career site is one of the top three overall sources for new hires, ranking second only to Indeed. Put in the effort to make sure your career site is appealing and up to candidates’ standards.

Also be sure to take advantage of your company’s and employees’ social channels to push job posts. Word of mouth — or social media posts — can reach more people than you might expect. By some estimates, as many as 70 percent of professionals are “passive talent,” meaning they aren’t actively looking for jobs but might be open to the right role. In other words, the best candidate for your company might not be actively looking for a job, but seeing a post about your open role on Instagram might trigger their desire to learn more.

You can also improve the effectiveness of your sourcing — and diversify your reach — by carrying out targeted online marketing campaigns. Keep track of how these campaigns pan out to determine which channels give you the best leads. This information will help you optimize future sourcing efforts and even eliminate channels that aren’t worth the investment.

5. Follow Up — and Keep It Personal

Once you have sourced a selection of top candidates, what’s next? If you want to convert them into new hires, you need to maintain consistent outreach. Automated nurture campaigns to let the candidate know where they stand can be a stress-free way to keep people engaged throughout the entire hiring process.

For best results, be relaxed and friendly instead of coming across like a robot. If a candidate doesn’t accept your offer, wish them the best and congratulate them on their other job offers, if applicable. This kind of consistently genuine attentiveness can go a long way. When another role opens up at your company down the line, you’ll still have the relationships in place.

6. Survey Your Candidates

A great way to get feedback on your sourcing and hiring practices is to send every candidate an anonymous survey. The people going through your hiring process can offer firsthand feedback about what is working and what isn’t. Use the data you gather from these surveys to refine your efforts, map trends, and identify new opportunities. It can help to set data-driven recruitment goals for your organization based on these surveys, as this will give you concrete targets to strive for.

The talent market may be tough, but there are many options for sourcing great candidates. Try these tips to get ahead of your competitors and capture the attention of the best potential hires on the market.

Nina Cofer is product marketing manager at Breezy HR.

Master the art of closing deals and making placements. Take our Recruiter Certification Program today. We’re SHRM certified. Learn at your own pace during this 12-week program. Access over 20 courses. Great for those who want to break into recruiting, or recruiters who want to further their career.
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Mind Over Moment: 6 Tools to Build Resilience, Happiness, and Success

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Article by Anne Grady

Do you often feel like you have spent your whole day chipping away at your to-do list without accomplishing any of the things that are most important to you? You are not alone.

As a CEO, mom, wife, volunteer, friend, daughter, and overachiever, I know how that feels. It’s like you’re on a hamster wheel, never making any progress. You go through the week looking forward to Friday, and then you spend the weekend catching up on all the stuff you didn’t get done during the week. Monday comes, and the vicious cycle starts again.

While you can’t control the chaos, you can control how you respond to it. Although there is no simple solution to the frenetic pace of life today, there are things you can do to continually bring yourself back to what matters most in your life. I call these tools, collectively, “Mind Over Moment,” and they are all about making sure you are living life on purpose rather than slipping into autopilot.

Mind Over Moment means paying attention in each moment to decisions you would otherwise make unwittingly. It’s about stopping to ask, “Is the way I am thinking and behaving going to get me the result I want?”

How can you keep your grip, even when the demands of life feel like fast-rising floodwaters, trying to pull you off balance and sweep you downstream? There are some proven tools for building resilience, happiness, and success — but they work only when practiced. Let’s take a look at how:

1. Mindset

How are you interpreting the situations that happen to you? Our beliefs about ourselves, and the stories we tell ourselves as a result of those beliefs, have a profound effect on our happiness and relationships.

Many of us have what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset.” That is, we believe we are unable to grow or change, and we are endlessly trying to prove ourselves as a result. Dweck contrasts that with a “growth mindset,” the belief that we can change and grow to meet the challenges we face.

Cultivating a growth mindset frees you from believing that your happiness is based on your performance and allows you to measure your progress according to your ability to grow. When you adopt a growth mindset, you can understand failure as a sign that you need to get better at a particular task rather than a crushing defeat.

What stories have you been telling yourself about yourself? If they are not moving you toward your goals, it’s time to tell some new stories based on your ability to grow.

2. Optimism

Scientific research has verified that when we look at life through a lens of positivity, we are more likely to enjoy better mental and physical health. Optimism is also a key component of business success: Entrepreneurs who are able to maintain a positive outlook are better positioned to attain goals such as profitability, business growth, and innovation, according to an analysis of 17 studies.

Optimism isn’t about wearing rose-colored glasses. It’s about choosing how you interpret the events in your life. Crappy things happen to good people every day. How you choose to learn from those experiences is a large factor in determining your resilience.

3. Gratitude

Closely connected with optimism, gratitude for the good in our lives keeps us focused on the positive. The simple act of looking for things to be grateful for attunes our brains to the good. Gratitude is closely linked to our sense of well-being and makes us more resilient in the face of adversity. Expressing gratitude reduces toxic emotions, diminishes depression, increases happiness, and enriches relationships. We find what we look for, so make sure you are looking for the right things.

4. Connection

Like optimism and gratitude, the happiness boost you get from connection with others is crucial to your health and well-being and a key element in building resilience. Friendship and belonging are considered core psychological needs, and they have big impacts on our physical health.

One study found that loneliness can be more harmful to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. On the flip side, people who are more connected to friends and family are “happier, healthier, and live longer than people who are less well connected,” says Dr. Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. They also enjoy better brain health as they age.

5. Humor

Finding ways to laugh at challenges, stressful situations, and even personal tragedy is one way resilient people cope and grow through misfortune. Humor broadens our focus of attention and helps us face our fears while “foster[ing] exploration, creativity, and flexibility in thinking,” according to Steven Southwick and Dennis Charney, psychiatry professors and coauthors of Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges. Being able to laugh at challenges “provides distance and perspective, but does so without denying pain or fear,” they write. “It manages to present the positive and negative wrapped into one package.”

6. Acts of Service

Growing evidence suggests helping others benefits the giver as much as those on the receiving end. For example, a recent study looked at how New Zealanders helped survivors of the Christchurch terror attacks that killed 51 people. The researchers found actions like providing home-cooked meals, sending flowers, and other small acts of kindness actually strengthened the resilience of those who performed them. Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal calls this the “tend-and-befriend response”: “Caring for others triggers the biology of courage and creates hope.”

Most of us are a lot better at prioritizing our schedules than scheduling our priorities. If I tracked your time for a week, would it be representative of what you say is most important to you? Do your actions match your intentions?

Write down what is most important to you, then track how much of your time each day you are actually devoting to these priorities. If the answer is little or none, that’s a clear indication you need to make some changes.

The only way to get off the hamster wheel is to gain control of your life rather than having it control you. Mind Over Moment is about being deliberate about where we invest the limited time and energy we have so we can make the most of each day.

A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.

Anne Grady is an internationally recognized speaker and author. She shares humor, humility, refreshing honesty, and practical strategies anyone can use to triumph over adversity and master change. With a master’s degree in organizational communication, Anne started her own company as a speaker and consultant to top organizations despite challenges she outlines in her new TEDx talk. Her new book is Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience, and Triumph. She is also the author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love, and Work. For more information, visit GetStrongEnough.com.

Master the art of closing deals and making placements. Take our Recruiter Certification Program today. We’re SHRM certified. Learn at your own pace during this 12-week program. Access over 20 courses. Great for those who want to break into recruiting, or recruiters who want to further their career.
Like this article? We also offer tons of free eBooks on career and recruiting topics – check out Get a Better Job the Right Way and Why It Matters Who Does Your Recruiting.

Workers Want You to Care: How to Use a Culture of Wellness to Attract Top Talent

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A wonderful thing is happening across companies in all industries: The genuine health and happiness of employees is quickly becoming a top priority. From robust benefits packages that address the realities of frenzied 21st-century life to office designs that promote peaceful and productive vibes, employers are doing more than ever to support employee wellness.

In part, this development has been driven by a candidate-centric job market in which employees have the power. Today’s workers expect their employers to care about them as individuals. If their employers don’t, they’ll simply go work someplace that does. Companies are heeding this warning, taking more proactive approaches to supporting employee health. For example, Starbucks recently announced a huge investment in its employees’ mental health, a pretty strong indicator that companies are taking total well-being in the workplace far more seriously than they once did.

Initiatives like Starbucks’s should give the green light to businesses everywhere to elevate their people and bring out the best in them — mind, body, and spirit.

Promoting Wellness in New Ways

Earlier this year, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study linking physical activity to a reduced risk of depression. The implications reflect what companies like mine, VARIDESK, have been saying all along: Movement in your work environment can positively affect you on both personal and professional levels.

Working toward physical, mental, and emotional wellness can take many forms. At my company, we promote activity with standing desks for every employee, our on-site gym and fitness classes, and walking meetings. We also offer plenty of other time management-type perks like dry cleaning pick-up, parking lot fuel fill-ups, and free food delivery.

At face value, these perks score major convenience points. When you take a closer look, however, you’ll see they also offer a deeper sense of fulfillment for our employees by allowing them to optimize their valuable time outside the office. These and other, more purpose-driven perks like employee giving and volunteer time off often pique the interest of our job candidates. Our sincere investment in our people helps us stand apart from the crowd in a competitive talent market.

For more expert HR insights, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

Being empathetic and helping workers alleviate their stress have become major selling points to talent in recent years, and that trend is only gaining momentum. From a recruitment standpoint, the wheels of attraction start spinning as soon as someone walks in for an interview. If you’re ushering the candidate down a drab, drywalled hallway and everyone is hidden behind closed doors, you’re not showcasing a company that drives collaboration or promotes wellness. Today’s candidates will notice.

If, instead, candidates see a dynamic office space where team members are meeting, working, and even playing together, they’re more likely to be drawn to that environment. That’s one benefit of flexible floor plans in terms of employee transparency and teamwork: You have a clear view of the energy and collaboration that’s happening all around you.

Early Steps Toward Wholesale Wellness

At VARIDESK, we aspire to take a holistic approach that supports all aspects of employee well-being: financial, physical, emotional, and mental. Those values have helped us recruit and retain some top talent over the years. If your company wants to leverage its culture of wellness to attract top-notch candidates as well, here are some steps to consider:

1. Have Leaders Set the Tone

People imitate the behavior they see, especially when it’s the behavior of their leaders. If team members sees their leaders having daily standing meetings in an open conference area or at the centralized coffee bar, they’ll be inspired to think outside the box regarding their own movement and meetings. The same goes for building a culture that promotes mental health: Leaders must remove any stigma surrounding the topic and lead the way.

2. Take Your Time

Put the cultural transformation into motion gradually, perhaps by department. When leaders show that more movement and dynamic work are accepted and valued, employees will catch on and follow suit — but transformation requires acclimation. Let your people come to this new culture willingly and at a comfortable pace.

3. Incorporate Activity When Possible

If you can convert a traditional seated conference room to a stand-up variety and change your meeting structure, you’ll see a spike in interactive and collaborative energy. Walking meetings are great, too. Just remember that leadership needs to model these behavioral changes so they take root in the minds of all employees.

As if happier, more productive employees weren’t enough reason to make the switch to an active, wellness-based workplace, think about the resulting dynamic energy that can inspire bold collaborations and fearless innovations. Smart professionals want to work in environments that promote an effortless flow of their best work. A workplace that puts wellness first offers just such an environment.

Megan Detz is chief people officer at VARIDESK.

Master the art of closing deals and making placements. Take our Recruiter Certification Program today. We’re SHRM certified. Learn at your own pace during this 12-week program. Access over 20 courses. Great for those who want to break into recruiting, or recruiters who want to further their career.
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Have a Plan, But Keep It Flexible: Thriving Professionally After a Medical Diagnosis

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When someone is diagnosed with a serious health condition, it impacts several important areas of their life, including work. A person may start to wonder:

– How do I balance work and medical treatment?
– What can I expect from my employer?
– What are my legal rights?
– What do other people do in this situation?

One common misconception is that people who have serious illnesses do not want to work. The results of a 2018 survey of cancer patients and survivors commissioned by Cancer and Careers show otherwise. Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said working through treatment helps or had helped them cope. Each person’s reasons for wanting to work vary and are often multifaceted. For some, a steady income or access to benefits drove the decision to stay on the job, while others found in their work a sense of normalcy or purpose during prolonged or intensive medical treatment and recovery.

As you think about your own reasons for working following a diagnosis, here are some strategies to make it easier to thrive professionally while undergoing treatment and recovery:

Plan for Managing Side Effects at Work

Have a conversation with your healthcare team about the specific details of your treatment and how it might affect you at work. Be sure to share specifics about the mental and physical demands of your job.

Discussing common side effects of your treatment and how to manage them can help you make informed decisions about work accommodations you might need, such as modifying your schedule, making changes to your physical workspace, etc. Keeping a work diary to monitor how you feel throughout the day/week can also help you figure out how side effects might be impacting your work — and then find ways to address them.

Understand the Relevant Laws and Study Your Options

The law is one of the many tools you can use as you figure out how to navigate work after a serious medical diagnosis. Federal laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as certain state laws, may be applicable and can create a framework of support.

For example, under the ADA, your company might be required to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with serious health issues to help them continue to perform the essential functions of their jobs. Sometimes small adjustments can be all it takes to help you work while undergoing medical treatment.

Keep in mind that even if your employer isn’t required by law to provide you with an accommodation, that doesn’t mean it won’t. Typically, companies want to retain good employees, so it never hurts to ask for what you need to stay on the job. It’s also important to learn about your company’s policies on disabilities, flex time, telecommuting, and related matters before you disclose your diagnosis at work.

For more expert career advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

Sharing Your Diagnosis

Whether to tell your employer and/or coworkers is a very personal decision, and you should weigh several factors before you make a choice, including:

– What treatment side effects are you likely to experience?
– What does the law require and how might it work in your favor?
– What is your work environment like?

Answering these questions can help you figure out whether you want to disclose — and, if so, what and when. Generally, you are not obligated to share any information about your health (though there are some exceptions). If you do decide to share, start by talking to those with whom you’re most comfortable or those who will be most useful in creating a workable solution for you (possibly your supervisor and/or HR). If you think you may need to request a job modification, you might have to provide some information about your health issue, although not necessarily an exact diagnosis.

Create an Action Plan

Having a plan can help restore your sense of control, but keep it flexible because things may change over time. Start by making a list of everything you need to do; breaking each task up into small parts can make things less stressful. Next, prioritize the tasks on your list and accomplish them one by one. Try to avoid multitasking, and be sure to delegate tasks when possible.

Setting Professional Boundaries

Knowing your limitations is important as you balance your work and health needs; you don’t want to feel overwhelmed. Although it might feel difficult to decline certain requests, there are ways to say no in a professional and team-oriented way — e.g., “I appreciate that you thought of me for this project, but I’m a bit swamped this week and am concerned about my ability to get this back to you in a timely manner.”

A serious medical diagnosis can lead to a wide range of treatments, side effects, and recovery processes, so it’s important to weigh all those factors and make the right decisions for yourself. While it’s difficult to know all the variables that may come into play when you are facing health challenges at work, there are things you can think about, organize, and communicate to get the information, clarity, and assistance you need to thrive.

Rebecca V. Nellis is the executive director of Cancer and Careers.

Master the art of closing deals and making placements. Take our Recruiter Certification Program today. We’re SHRM certified. Learn at your own pace during this 12-week program. Access over 20 courses. Great for those who want to break into recruiting, or recruiters who want to further their career.
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Get to Know Alexa — Before She Takes Your Job

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Alexa sits on my counter. Officially, the product itself (a “smart speaker”) is known as Amazon Echo. Echo connects to Alexa, a “cloud-based voice service,” according to Amazon. Amazon named her “Alexa” after the Great Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, one of the most important libraries of the ancient world, a font of knowledge and information.

I originally bought Alexa as a toy, and to play music in my kitchen and living room. She connects with my Spotify and Apple Music accounts, has an excellent Bose speaker, and is fun to play with. I play Question of the Day and Jeopardy with her every day. We have her connected to our television so she can turn it on and off when we want and change the volume or the channels. We have her connected to our Nest thermostat so she can control the temperature of the house when we are not home (or even when we are home), and she can turn the lights on and off at our command.

As you can imagine, Alexa is far, far more than just a toy. In fact, she may one day steal your job.

Alexa is about to be a game changer. Amazon has sold more than 31 million of these cute little intelligent assistants. One in six Americans owns a smart speaker. With each day that passes, Alexa learns more and more skills. Her games are fun and entertaining, but they are not why Alexa is so popular. Alexa is popular because of her enormous potential — at home and in the office. She is going to make our lives easier by eliminating many of our time-consuming tasks.

Alexa Is Stealing Your JobAlexa is also an instance of artificial intelligence (AI), and many people are worried that AI will put them out of a job and render them unemployable sooner rather than later.

What Is AI?

AI is intelligence demonstrated by machines. Humans and animals have what is called “natural intelligence.” When a machine mimics natural cognitive functions such as thinking, problem-solving, learning, and understanding, it is considered to have “artificial intelligence” because it is the machine making the decisions and not a human behind the machine making the decisions.

For instance, my Alexa device can understand what I say to her. I don’t have to use a preset phrase to get her to respond. I can ask her, “What is the temperature outside?” and she will understand what that means. I can also use variations of that question, such as “Is it hot outside?” and she will understand them.

Prior to today’s AIs, we had to use very specific commands to get our computers to perform. The only way I could print a document was to use a preset command, Control + P. I couldn’t use any other sequence if I wanted the document to print. With my Alexa device, there are no set phrases I need to memorize to ensure her comprehension. She is able to interpret my words and questions.

AI can also think through complex situations, like how to play a game of chess — remember when Deep Blue became the first computer chess-playing system to beat reigning world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997? — driving a car, military simulations, and more.

There are many people who believe that AI is the doomsday we have been fearing for centuries. In 2013, researchers at Oxford University predicted that 47 percent of jobs could be automated by 2033. In 2016, a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that 9 percent of jobs in the 21 OECD countries evaluated were at high risk of being automated. In 2017, McKinsey & Company estimated 5 percent of jobs could be done entirely by computers.

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Naysayers claim that 800 million jobs will be eradicated by AI worldwide, thereby rendering much of the population unemployed and potentially unemployable. They claim our social systems will be exploited and AI will bankrupt our governments. Some go so far as to say that AI will eradicate humanity.

On the other hand, advocates of AI tell us we can look forward to lives of leisure while robots take care of the mundane and routine tasks that currently fill our days.

Those in the middle (myself included) recognize AI is just another step in our evolution. We have had two industrial revolutions already, as well as changes in transportation and the digital revolution (also considered the Third Industrial Revolution by some). Now, we may be facing the Fourth Industrial Revolution: AI.

Like the previous changes we’ve seen in history, AI may be disruptive in the short term, but if we are smart about what we do and how we do it, AI will not trigger humanity’s final countdown. We are evolving, just like we did 30 years ago with the digital revolution — but at a much faster pace.

Machine learning, robotics, 3D printing, and AI are having such a significant impact in what feels like a short period of time thanks to a combination of three powerful tech-driven events: the rapid digitization of the economy (we are creating trillions of gigabytes of data every year), the affordable cost of storing all that data, and an explosion in computing power. In simple terms, this all means we are creating an incredible amount of data daily, we can store it fairly cheaply, and computers have the ability to do things with that data much faster and more accurately than humans are capable of.

In light of all this, AI doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, I’m convinced it will be fantastic.

Excerpted with permission from the book Alexa is Stealing Your Job: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Your Future by Rhonda Scharf. Morgan James Publishing (August 6, 2019).

Rhonda Scharf is an award-winning speaker, consultant, and author specializing in tech-driven people power. Learn more at On-The-Right-Track.com.

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More Than Experience or Education, Employers Want Candidates With Potential

beyou

Recently, I interviewed a potential new hire for our tech department. This engineer wasn’t familiar with PHP, one of the primary languages used to build our company’s technology, but that wasn’t necessarily a concern.

Our chief technology officer, Michael Henderson, and I agree that the right candidate can always learn PHP on the job. There are more important things to consider: Is he a smart, curious developer hoping to grow his skills? Will he take a creative approach to solving problems? Will he fit in with our company culture?

When our team evaluates a candidate, we’re interested in their technical skills, but we’re also looking at the whole picture. If we only considered people who understood PHP, then we might not find the best person for the job.

As it turns out, we’re not alone. Based on a recent hiring survey conducted by TopResume, our resume-writing business, 45 percent of employers are placing their bets on a candidate’s potential, even ahead of their experience and education.

I wasn’t that surprised by these results. To a degree, it’s intuitive. For example, nearly every entry-level hire is based solely on a candidate’s potential. Even after an individual has gained relevant experience in a field, I’m interested in learning whether the person has taken steps to improve their skill set and, if so, how they’ve applied those skills to add value in their previous roles. In other words, I’m trying to gauge whether the candidate will be a high-potential employee at our company.

Why Potential Is Key

Potential, which is defined as demonstrating the capacity to become or develop into something in the future, is paramount. When a company is looking to hire someone, they want candidates who can apply what they’ve learned to help the company grow. Someone with high potential is a problem-solver who will bring value to the role.

Additionally, potential helps solve the war for talent and compensates for the lack of qualified candidates. Businesses may be located in areas where there aren’t many qualified individuals or, for certain jobs, hiring the most qualified candidates is too costly. Looking for candidates with high potential is a way to bridge that talent gap, allowing businesses to make hires when supply and demand are a bit out of sync.

How to Determine Potential

Through a candidate’s resume, interviews, and follow-ups, you can determine their potential. Whenever I interview someone, especially for a role they haven’t done before, I ask myself the following questions to determine their potential:

  1. Did they take the time to really research the position and our company?
  2. Do their questions reflect a genuine interest in the opportunity, and are they seeking clarity to determine if this is the right move for them?
  3. Can they draw a parallel between their previous experience and this job’s requirements?
  4. In previous jobs, did they take initiative to invest in their personal development, such as taking a course, because it opened up a new opportunity?
  5. Is this person a problem-solver?
  6. Will they fit in with the company culture?
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Experience and Personality Still Count

Our recent research confirms there’s still a lot of emphasis placed on a candidate’s experience and personality. Recruiters and hiring managers told us those two qualities rank just below potential when they assess a candidate.

Since the average corporate job listing receives about 250 applications, a person must demonstrate they have enough experience to do the job in order to stand out from the crowd. For most roles, it’s the experience demonstrated on a resume that opens up the first door, but it’s the potential revealed in the interview that lands the job. This is why it’s important to look at the candidate’s whole package before making a hiring decision.

I’ve always found personality to be another key ingredient in selecting the right candidate. You need to determine if the person is the right cultural fit for your business. Someone can have potential but not be the right match for your team. For example, a candidate may have tremendous potential, but their values might not line up with your company’s values. It’s important to consider how this person will impact the rest of your employees if hired.

Finding that Perfect Candidate

The first step to finding the right candidate is to review each resume and select those with relevant experience. During the interview process, consider the full scope of what makes a candidate a great hire, including the person’s desire and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances and challenges at work.

This willingness to learn is described as a candidate’s “learning quotient” or “learnability quotient” (LQ). While measuring a candidate’s LQ is still a relatively new concept, many believe this practice will eventually become a standard part of the hiring process. It’s such an important component in determining a person’s potential that I recommend employers get ahead of the trend and begin to familiarize themselves with LQ now. Although there are a few standard LQ tests available online, you can develop your own ways to gauge a candidate’s LQ during the in-person interview without resorting to new tech.

Once you’ve narrowed down the candidates to your top choices, the final step is to select the person best suited for the position. This can be a challenge because every job is different, and there’s no one definition of an “A player.” What’s important for that role will determine who’s an A player for that job. As with the engineering job our company is looking to fill, the right candidate for any role will strike that balance between potential and experience.

That said, whenever I’m down to two candidates and everything else is equal, the person who is genuinely interested and wants the job is the person who lands the job. They have the most potential.

Jeff Berger is CEO and founder of Talent Inc.

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Hook, Line, and Sign ’em: How to Appeal to the Modern Workforce

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The modern workforce is dominated by millennials and Generation Z. While these two generations do have their differences, together they make up one population that has changed the world of work — and especially how we attract and retain talent.

In light of today’s tight labor market, and at the dictate of this modern workforce, workplace culture is a top priority that can make or break both the quality and quantity of your staff.

But how can companies give millennials and Gen. Z the culture they crave? The first step is understanding exactly what these job seekers are searching for and what can stop them from accepting a job offer.

What Today’s Job Seekers Want From You

In a nutshell, it is about the emotional paycheck more than anything else for millennials and Gen. Z-ers. Sure, they need salaries and benefits that support their living arrangements and lifestyle choices, but the money means close to nothing if the work doesn’t afford a sense of purpose.

According our most recent study here at Hibob, culture is extremely important to the modern workforce. When vetting a potential job opportunity, these job seekers scrutinize social media pages and company websites to determine what your culture might be like. Different types of posts can impact a job seeker’s perception of your workplace, which is why it’s crucial to share a variety of content. Images of team-building events and off-site activities, as well as celebratory posts highlighting employee accomplishments inside and outside of the office, can be especially potent. When it comes to showing off your company culture, the key is to prove to candidates that your company can offer them the opportunity to become a happy, healthy, long-term team member.

Our study also showed that 56 percent of employees rank opportunities for growth as more important than salary. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make mentorship programs and other upskilling opportunities a centerpiece of your employer branding.

Today’s job seekers also prioritize work/life balance, and it shows in their preferences. Our survey found 45 percent of employees cite the amount of vacation time offered as a key factor in their employment decisions, and 35 percent consider commute distance before accepting a job offer. Furthermore, 77 percent of millennials surveyed by Bentley University say flexible work arrangements would make them more productive.

For millennials and Gen. Z-ers, this is all a matter of convenience and compassion: They want employers that support work/life balance and set them up for success. That’s why, at Hibob, we’ve adjusted our work-from-home policies to make the commute easier for workers who do not live close to the office, and we recommend other companies do the same.

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What Deters Candidates From Accepting Your Job Offer

According to our survey, 69 percent of candidates will be wary of accepting a job offer if your employees do not seem happy in their roles. In other words: Overworked employees and high turnover are not just bad for current team members, but they can also drive away future talent.

But your culture doesn’t have to be totally toxic to make candidates reconsider. Our survey also found that 30 percent of candidates would be hesitant about a job if the company culture was simply boring.

Think about it: If you were interviewing at a company and the office vibe was dull or negative, would you feel enticed to join that team? Probably not.

Unscrupulous organizations may try to hide problems with their workplace cultures, but today’s job seekers are savvy. These digital natives will look into your current team and dig up dirt about what’s going on behind the scenes. In fact, 29 percent of candidates will contact current employees to get their firsthand impressions of the office experience.

To appeal to today’s candidates, companies should be taking active steps to build and showcase positive, powerful cultures. If your culture needs a tune-up, start at the very beginning and revamp your onboarding process. According to previous research we’ve conducted at Hibob, 64 percent of new hires are less likely to stay at a job after a negative onboarding experience. If you welcome new hires in an exciting way, you’ll be taking a major first step in retaining them for the long haul.

You may even want to reach back before the onboarding process and start with preboarding, that period of time between the formal acceptance of a job offer and the new hire’s first day on the job. Grant your new hires access to internal social networks and encourage them to start interacting with their new coworkers. This speeds up integration, instills enthusiasm, and gives them a taste of your company’s inner workings.

Dana Matalon Goren is CCO at Hibob.

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5 Effective Ways to Keep Your Team Happy

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Work is a big part of our lives. In fact, many of us probably see our colleagues more than we see our own families over the course of an average week.

It makes sense, then, that employees want to feel respected in the workplace and to truly enjoy their jobs. If you’re going to spend so much time at the office, you might as well be happy while you’re at it.

But employee happiness isn’t just a matter of your workers’ personal attitudes — it’s also a boost to your business. Research shows that happy employees can be as much as 20 percent more productive than unhappy employees. After all, a happy team is a committed, engaged team.

From a recruiting perspective, employee retention is incredibly important, and retention rates often depend on employee happiness. Unhappiness is a major factor in early exits. Given that one study puts the cost of employee replacement at around £30,000 (or about $37,000) per head, cultivating employee happiness may be key to getting the highest ROI from your hires.

But how do you keep employees happy? Competitive pay and benefits are, of course, contributing factors, but they are not the whole story. Here are five other things you can do to keep your team happy — and reap the benefits of higher productivity, more loyalty, and lower recruitment costs:

1. Empower Employees

Great leaders empower their teams. When employees have the tools, resources, and support they need, they can get more done. Empowered employees are also happier employees. When workers feel that leaders trust them to carry out their responsibilities, they feel more competent and more motivated to complete their tasks.

You should also show your team members that you value their opinions by allowing them to speak up and make changes. Employees will feel more respected when they have the chance to offer feedback on important projects and company initiatives. When employees see that you appreciate their efforts and insights, they’ll be happier about coming to work every day.

2. Be Flexible

While many of us are accustomed to the traditional 9-5 workday, advances in technology have made forcing every single member of your staff to adhere to the same time frame obsolete.

That’s a good thing, especially from the perspective of employee happiness. When you offer employees more flexible work options — like telecommuting opportunities, compressed workweeks, and flexible scheduling — you allow them to attain a better work/life balance. Your staff members no longer need to give up so much time to long commutes, and their external commitments no longer have to compete with workplace responsibilities.

Furthermore, extending flexibility shows workers you trust them. Employees will be highly appreciative of this, and in return, they’ll give their maximum effort to meet your expectations.

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3. Provide Learning Opportunities

An important quote to keep in mind is Richard Branson’s: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Most of your employees want to improve their professional skills and progress in their careers. Instead of leaving your employees to seek growth opportunities with your competitors, offer them in-house training and education. Your employees will feel valued because you are investing in them, and your business will benefit from their new skills.

Your employees will likely have a variety of interests, so consider providing a range of training opportunities. For example, you could offer both courses on specific practical skills — such as how to use Adobe InDesign — and courses on bigger topics, such as mental health in the workplace.

4. Create Career Development Plans

Hand in hand with learning opportunities, your employees also want clear career prospects. Even if you invest in employee development, your staff members may leave if there is no room for them to climb the corporate ladder at your company.

To support your employees’ career journeys, work with them to create individual career development plans. In addition to identifying areas where employees can refine and expand their skill sets, these career development plans should clearly show employees what they can expect to achieve in the business if they are committed. When employees have transparency into how raises and promotions work, they’ll be more empowered to build the careers they want in your company. As a result, you can expect a happier and more productive work environment.

5. Praise Great Work

No matter how experienced your team members are or how long they’ve been at your company, recognition and reward can be powerful tools for keeping them happy.

Don’t be stingy about it. There’s no limit on how often you can recognize great work, so whenever you spot anything worth praising, say something! For best results, add some detail. For example, instead of “Great job!” you could say, “I’ve looked over that report you put together yesterday and it looks great. Thanks for your hard work.” When praise is tied to something specific, it makes the recipient feel even more appreciated.

Employee happiness is a major factor in company productivity and retention, and the good news is keeping your people happy doesn’t have to be hard. With open communication and a genuine desire to build up every member of the team, you can transform your office into a happy, inspiring place.

Rajesh Velayuthasamy is director of Mint Formations.

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