Top 5 Ways to Stay Safe at the Office

At Career Contacts, we often write blogs based on the conversations we are having with hiring managers and candidates.

Top of mind for candidates going back into the office lately is around how to ensure they are keeping safe (and leadership is looking to ensure they are doing their part too).

This week, we wanted to share our top 5 most rewarding ways to stay safe in your office environment during the pandemic. Although they may seem like easy things to do, they hold a much deeper value than people may assume.

  1. Remember to PLEASE stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how small!

This is by far the most important step when practicing safe living during this time. This will effectively flatten the curve as well as not only protect you, your loved ones and your bubble, but it also protects all those you may encounter! Think of it as you actively protecting so many people by simply being cautious. No matter how small or insignificant your symptoms may be, it is safer for us all if you stay home. Be sure to express your concern to your employer and bubble, and proceed to dedicate a few days to your health! In BC, we are fortunate to have easy access to testing should your medical advisor suggest it, we recommend taking their recommendations seriously. Get your necessary essentials delivered or dropped off by a member of your bubble and take your few days of quarantine with a peace of mind. After the lockdown, most roles are finding ways to function from home. If this isn’t possible, this is what sick days are for.

  1. Splurge on a mask you  LOVE!

It’s true, masks really do prevent the spread of COVID-19! While masks may not have been a common essential in our past, they most certainly are now. They are now required in most, if not all stores and businesses, and without wearing one you are putting yourself and your bubble at risk of exposure. You are more likely to remember, use and enjoy your facemask if you dedicate 20 minutes to surfing the web to find a design, fabric, or function of mask that suits your personal needs. A handpicked mask is also a great opportunity to support brands you love and show a bit of personality in a way we haven’t utilized before. Kick the disposable masks to the curb and spend a little extra on one you are happy wearing regularly! Whether it be in the elevators, to the coffee shop, or even to a team meeting, be sure to bring your reusable mask to all personal and work efforts outside your home (this will also actively prevent more single use waste entering our oceans and landfills!).

PRO TIP: Don’t forget to handle your masks appropriately and wash them as needed.       

(spotted: A few of our HR Consultants, Pam and Reena, staying safe while on site)

  1. Remain tidy and distanced while in office

When entering your office environment, be sure to check for symptoms prior to arriving and don’t forget your mask! As COVID-19 protocols are in full swing, this is a time to develop new personal habits and reminders in efforts to reduce the spread. Once entering the office, you must remember to sanitize and be aware of your surroundings. For example, if a coworker is in the common spaces, you should not be. Be sure to communicate to your co-workers that the friendliest thing they can do when communicating with you is ensuring their distance and practicing safe living at (and outside of) work. When communicating, be sure to emphasize your gratitude and be kind – these are hard times for everyone. In regard to your workspace, have your belongings close to you and away from others to avoid cross contaminating as well as have disinfectant wipes available nearby for all your equipment and materials for end of day sanitization.

PRO TIP: Minimize the materials and things you have surrounding you is a great way to eliminate potential contamination; it can reduce clutter which fosters organization and ultimately leaves you with more space and less stress!
  1. Keep your bubble small and well connected

Your bubble; your people! These are your cheerleaders, loved ones and best friends. They are your chosen support system, and you are theirs. As this is an uncertain time for everyone in the world right now, it’s important that we each do our part to support one another the best way we can; through distancing. With fall, winter, and flu season in view, it is especially important to be practicing safe living. When organizing your bubble, it is important to remember that every individual, family, and household will be under different circumstances. For the people you live with such as immediate family, a partner or roommates, there is no need for any restrictions on physical contact.

When considering who you socialize with outside of your household, it is important to remember that the recommended size is six individuals per bubble. This is being called your “Safe Six” and means a group of six friends or extended family members that is consistently involved with one another. These individuals may breach the 2 meter physical distance however, no physical contact should be practiced to ensure safety to all parties. This is a great way to refocus on some people who hold a special place in your heart, or a guilt free excuse to minimize your surface level relationships and devote time to those you can count on for support throughout the pandemic.

  1. Monitor your mental health

Last but certainly not least, please do not forget to monitor your mental health and advocate for yourself. COVID-19 has had an incredible impact on people worldwide and it is important to know you are not alone and there is support available to you from both your peers and the government. Be sure to indulge in some self-care, physical activity or a virtual happy hour with friends to ensure you are heard and supported in whichever way you may need. A hot bath, long walk and phone calls with loved ones can work wonders on your mindset! When creating your bubble it’s important to compile those you feel comfortable confiding in, so you may support one another when need be. It is okay to feel overwhelmed or anxious by the uncertainty the COVID-19 outbreak has created. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and to take measures to support mental well-being.

Here are some resources that can assist with maintaining mental health in the workplace during this time.

If you are an employer interested in learning more about how to ensure your office is a safe space for employees, please reach out to us at hiring@careercontacts.ca.

6 Tips to Make a Great First Impression at Work or In a Job Interview

Making a great first impression can be deal maker, or a deal breaker.

First impressions are made in the first 6 seconds that you meet someone.

We want you to make a meaningful impact when you are meeting someone for the first time, whether it is at a job interview, networking or at a social event.  Meeting people for the first time is easy for some people and hard for others.  This has less to do with the battle of introverts versus extroverts, and more to do with feeling equipped to know what to do and say when you walk into a room (or log into a screen).

When I am interviewing and recruiting, I try to put people at ease. At Career Contacts, our entire HR and Recruitment team is trained to focus on people first. This means that we walk into every interaction with a hope that we will get to know who you are, and what you are passionate about doing in your professional lives.  Here are a few tips to make a great first impression (and a bonus top on making a lasting impression):

  1. A bright smile and a friendly “hello” is what’s needed to immediately break the ice. We are talking to a lot of candidates who are nervous about being able to connect with their interviewers and hiring managers now that we are requiring them to wear masks.  Even if you are wearing a face mask, you can still see a smile in someone’s eyes.  At Career Contacts, we tested this theory during a team walk and were happy to see that not only were others able to receive our smiles, that we also felt the warmth and gratitude in return. This will put you at ease, as well as the person you are meeting.
REMINDER: Did you know that we often hear from hiring managers that they are also nervous about interviewing a candidate. Be mindful of this when you walk into a room, and do not expect that they will have all the answers (it will help you walk in with confidence too)
  1. A strong handshake. This used to be a key one for us as it was an easy way to demonstrate confidence in a first meeting. Now that you are not touching your interviewer, hiring manager, or others in a networking event, be prepared for how you want your greeting. Our team all have our own ways that we prefer to great others. Some prefer the elbow “bump”, others prefer a quick wave, while others still prefer to simply state “I would normally shake your hand, but it’s great to see/meet you”.
TIP: If you are ready for a new greeting, you’ll reduce any feelings of unease.
  1. Be positive, polite, and friendly. People enjoy spending time with people who behave in a way that demonstrates that they genuinely want to be there. A positive attitude shows confidence and leadership qualities.  It also shows the person you are meeting with that you value the time they are taking to meet with you. If you are requesting someone’s time or you’ve applied for a job and are being invited in, it’s important for you to thank the person for the time they are giving you (appreciation and gratitude always go a long way).
  1. Arrive on time. If you are running late please send a text, an email or call to let this person know so that they are prepared and not thinking the worst. Just like above, respecting someone’s time is critical. Even over Zoom, it’s important to log in a few minutes early and be patient with technology.

    In person, especially right now with added safety protocols in place, arrive early enough to ensure you have time to put on any PPE (personal protective equipment), answer any questionnaires and set yourself up from a safe distance to start your meeting.

  1. Use eye contact. Rather than looking down, looking away or not meeting a person’s gaze look them in the eye.  This will show them that you are interested, aware and paying attention. Not sure how to do that on an online call? Here is a hint: your eyes meet when you look into the camera, not when you look at their faces on your screen. Look into the camera to increase your ability to connect.
TIP: ensure you can see the face of the person you are meeting with. It ensures that you stay connected and not slowly move over to a social site or emails while the conversation is happening. It also allows you to mirror them and increase your connection.
  1. Practice a few filler questions to avoid awkward silence. Read more at The Muse for ideas, or check out these ideas of starting a conversation that will flow:
  • Tell me about yourself, what is your story?
  • Can you recommend a great lunch spot around here?
  • What is the most fun project you have worked on lately?
  • Have you been to any cool conferences or webinars lately?

Although in interviews a candidate often feels like they cannot be in the driver’s seat, most good recruiters and hiring managers know that they candidate should be speaking 80% of the time. That means that you have an opportunity to guide the conversation in directions that are most meaningful for you.

Making a great first impression is done quickly and does not take a lot of effort.  Give your attention to the person you are meeting.  Turn your phone off, give 100% of your focus and you will be a winner!

For more support during your job search, feel free to reach out to us – we are ready for your first impression!

Checking in with your teams; a message on mental health in the workplace

Checking in with your teams is really about starting from a place of authenticity, genuine care and compassion.

As many companies feel the uncertainty of the world and how their teams are doing, it is so important to take the time to check in with your teams to determine how they are coping, what they need, and how you can support. The worst thing we can do as leadership is to make assumption.

One employees' paradise is another employees' battleground.

After months of supporting our clients and teams both onsite and remotely, we worked together to come up with 5 tips on how to effectively check in with your teams:

1. Be proactive

When approaching your employees, the number one thing we would tell you, is that employees feel most supported when they don’t need the help, but know it’s available if and when they do.

This means that you don't wait for the forest to burn down, you reach out before the kindle even begins.

This holds true for everyone on the team; from your internal and external teams, remote and onsite, and the most junior employees right through to c-suite. This is the time to make everyone feel cared for and supported; contractors and employees alike.

The more you bring people together, the stronger your team will be.

2. Go beyond health & safety

With COVID creating a new reality, we are often focused on the health and safety of the teams. Career Contacts has been supporting a number of clients with ensuring that they are keeping their teams safe. Working with WorkSafeBC guidelines, we are supporting training, policies and practices, and constantly performing audits and encouraging dialogue. We are putting up signs, barriers, sanitizer and creating space for employees to feel safe while at work.

We value the health and safety of all employees but know that this goes far beyond COVID.

Through COVID, we have had discussions around:

  • Mental Health
  • Child and other dependent support
  • Ability and access to working from home
  • Burnout
  • Commute
  • Socialization
  • Building community
  • and on and on

For example, at the beginning of COVID, construction companies continued to do the work; learning as they went with the new COVID safety guidelines.

Career Contacts has had the opportunity of supporting in a number of ways to ensure that our temporary staff were feeling safe. At the beginning of each assignment, a member of our team would go onsite to check in and make sure the teams felt comfortable to raise any concerns. We also provided them with our personal numbers so they could text us throughout the day if they need to. What it felt like we were doing was ensuring social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing. What we were really doing was making ourselves available; valuing their needs over our time and providing them with assurances that we cared (because we genuinely did, and do).

3. Flexibility

Did you know that when discussing the benefits and perks of joining organizations, even above the ability to work from home, salary, benefits and vacation, is flexibility?

What does that me to us?

That people want to be treated with respect, and trust. They are adults, who have been given a list of roles and responsibilities, and want to be able to have some flexibility on how they execute against instructions.

It’s not just about the flexibility of working hours, but also in how they structure the day, how they manage their calendars, what technology they can add to create value, what process they use to reach their goals and targets etc.

4. Get out of the office/zoom

Moving employees away from their regular “office” environment, allows them to shift out of work mode, and know that the conversation is about them as people first, employees second.
We often encourage conversations that are lighter, that may even just be an opportunity to make genuine connections and build meaningful relationships that do not place all the value on what they do within the organization. If you have an office space that can be used, that’s a great way to connect physically. If not, meeting outside for a distanced walk, or even hoping on a different social platform so there is a different feel.

5. Be open yourself

As part of the leadership team, I am comfortable talking about my struggles, my insecurities, as much as I am talking about my goals and dreams. Not everything has to be about what isn’t working; sometimes it’s just about sharing where you want to see things moving, and ensuring that you are supporting that journey the best way you can.

We recently had a senior level executive assistant that was working with a client of ours for 20+ years who was facing a career dilemma. During COVID, she had a realization that she had been able to spend more time with her hobbies and creative outlets; one of which was writing.

After some discussion, we were able to approach the marketing department where she now works, and create a hybrid opportunity for her to create some news letter content that allowed her to flex her creative muscles, while still being able to continue to stay gainfully employed with her existing team.

The moral of this blog? Treat your people are whole people. Learn about what makes them happy at work, what they need to feel fulfilled, how they like to be appreciated, communicated with etc. Then, take the time to make a meaningful change in the way you work together!

Looking for some support in building out your communication and employee relations plans? Reach out to us at Career Contacts and one of our HR Consultants would be happy to provide you with an overall audit and ideation session.

 

 

Top 5 reasons to use an employment agency

At Career Contacts, it is so important to us that our teams believe in the work we do, and how we do it. The best way to represent any brand is to truly believe you align with it, that you are doing meaningful work, and making a real difference!

We invited about newest (and most junior) recruiter to write about her thoughts on how we work here at Career Contacts and are excited to share her thoughts with you on the blog today!

Based on her research on what we do, and our industry as a whole, here are Rheannon’s top 5 reasons to use an employment agency:

  1. There is no charge to you as a candidate!

Many are misinformed when it comes to how we assist candidates find work in their ideal fields. We are working on behalf of our clients to find them the most qualified applicants, and all costs are the responsibility of that organization. As a candidate, our services to you are of no charge and you will not pay any fees at any time. Whether you have been successfully considered for a position, are new to our agency, or a returning candidate, we will be your free job search resource!

  1. Be the first to know!

Employment agencies have been fostering successful relationships with their clients since day one. In the case of Career Contacts, that is over 25 years! This not only means we are familiar with our clients company culture and what they are looking for, but we also get the exclusive opportunity to recruit for upcoming positions that they have no yet advertised. Those actively in our database will be those we contact as soon as possible in hopes of matching them with their ideal role.

  1. We do the work to save you time!

Many candidates are looking to make a change in their employment field, but rarely have the time to dedicate to successfully job hunt. As an employment agency, we save you the immense amount of time customizing your application and cover letter to suit one role after another, and let you focus on your more immediate responsibilities in life. Whatever you may be looking for, it’s our goal to get you there as soon as possible.

 

  1. As recruiters, we have a passion for placement!

As recruiters, we know that every individual is capable of doing great work and is deserving of a great workplace; nothing makes us happier than being able to assist in that process for not just one side of the equation, but both! When organizing a recruitment process, we dedicate ourselves to understanding the needs of both our clients and candidates to ensure that we best match those capable of forming a successful long-term relationship. It’s important to us to get to know each candidate in as much depth as possible so that the so we can promote not just your CV, but what makes you the unique individual that you are.

  1. We have industry expertise!

By using our services, you are putting yourself into a much larger network with various opportunities within several different roles! Career Contacts specifically is a generalist firm, so we work with many positions within many industries, which provides us with added reach, and you with added resources.

Did you know that if you combine all our HR Consultants and Recruiters, you’d hit over 100 years of recruitment and HR experience? 

You’re not being considered for just one position; you will be consulted on all positions matching your interests and qualifications that we have available (or know are becoming available). That being said, an employment opportunity is just the first step.

BONUS REASON

As your job search resource, the services we offer can include but are not limited to are:

  • Remaining updated and informed on the current job market

We will help you navigate the industry you are interested in and assist you in pursuing a career path that matches all your preferences and requirements. We are constantly updating our files, compiling information and working to find quality employment opportunities. Whatever questions you may have, we will find the answer for you.

  • Interview organization and preparation

We will organize the interview process and forward you all the details that you need to know about the interview including the job description, company background, dress code, contact name etc. First interviews are stressful, but we can alleviate most of that by fully preparing you!

  • Contract/salary negotiation

As your resource, we will hear your requests and negotiate on neutral terms with a potential employer when necessary. We understand each individual has specific requirements that make a big difference, and we want to advocate for our candidates as well as find a solution that is possible and within budget for our client.

Did you know one of our owners (Natasha) literally wrote the book on this? Check out The HR Insider, how to land your dream job and keep it (which hit #1 on Amazon a few years ago!). 

Here at Career Contacts we believe in open, honest and continuous communication. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Anywhere in BC at 604-606-1831, In Squamish 604-898-8236 or Whistler 604-905-7696. We would love to get to know you and assist you in any of your career needs.

You may also find all of our open positions we are currently recruiting for on our website posted to our job board, take a peek!

How to Transition to a New Role without Burning Bridges

At Career Contacts, we are constantly supporting candidates as they transition from one company to the next. It is so important to support them in landing their dream jobs, without leaving a storm behind. 

We believe strongly in the power of relationships and today, our newest team member, Reena, is going to share her experience transitioning from her previous company. 

I have been humbled by my transition into a new role, as it has been done by creating meaningful connections rather than burning bridges.  As I leave for a new role, my outgoing employer is happy for me and has also encouraged me to visit and stay in touch.

My last day was very bittersweet, as I had a lot of conversations with those who I brought onto the team thanking me for giving them a chance to join the team.  I took chances on people and looked for a true fit on both ends and sometimes that meant taking a chance on those who did not have as much experience as we were looking for.

This whole process has reminded me why I love doing what I do and has me excited for the next chapter.  When you are truly passionate about what you do and treat the place you work as your own, moving to a new role without burning bridges is very seamless.

Here are some tips on how to make that possible:

  • Before anything be positive and remember why you started with the company and reflect on your contributions and the support you have received
  • Once an offer for a new role becomes official, communicate with your manager or whomever is your direct report-to via email and set up a time to discuss the departure
  • Be honest to your manager, or whomever your direct report-to is on why you are leaving and be appreciative of the opportunity to have worked alongside them
  • Ensure you give 2 weeks’ notice, so you can effectively offboard your role and tie up any loose ends
  • Create a Functions document for your role with bullet points and links to any resources that will be helpful
  • Communicate personally with your team and those you work with directly, either in 
    person or through chat about your departure and encourage them to stay in touch by offering your contact information.
  • Be professional through your last day as you are still an ambassador of the company and its values

 

When you are transitioning to a new role, it is important to be positive about your outgoing employer as you transition out of your role.  If you do have any frustrations, try to communicate those to your manager or whomever is your direct report-to.  Discussing how much you enjoyed working there and some fond memories is a great way to ease any tensions of your departure.  Transitioning to a new role can be done with a positive attitude and will result in having stronger connections with those you worked with rather than burning bridges.

 

Looking for more support as you give your notice, negotiate that new offer, or start your new position? Pick up a copy of The HR Insider; how to land your dream job and keep it! Written by our Vice President, Natasha Jeshani. 

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