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Office Support Staff In Demand Now More Than Ever

office support staff

The scars left from the financial crisis are still fresh so companies are cautious to offer up permanent roles and are therefore quite open to the option of using temporary office staff on an initial basis. Temporary work in the public sector has seen significant increases where many new roles are project related. As the market recovers employees will have more leverage which will see salaries, benefits and the demand for a more flexible work environment increase. Part-time and working from home options are hugely popular with companies tapping into the older workforce and stay-at-home parent markets, who have huge skills to offer once the companies have the technology to support this.

 

From Sigmar’s perspective, screening candidates for technical and cultural fit is key, before sending candidates to our clients. Testing of candidates at the very first stages of the process ensures that candidates are prepped and ready to move as quickly as employers are moving, to ensure employers obtain the top talent available to them. We may not have returned to the days of the Celtic Tiger just yet, when candidates could pick and choose their next job, but we are a million miles away from the dark days of 2010. Temporary candidates in particular are no longer on the market for weeks, it is now more so a case of days and even hours. Companies need to rethink their recruitment strategies if they wish to secure the best talent otherwise they will be swiftly taken from the market. This is shaping up to be a great year for both employers and employees alike with processes running smoother than ever and appointments being filled quickly and professionally.

 

With the market continuing to improve, we again saw a rise in salaries last year, particularly in the latter end. Competition for talent is continuing to increase which is reflected in salaries for skilled candidates. 2016 saw the return of benefit packages with companies pitching their benefits to prospective candidates, as a way of winning candidates who are in several processes at once.It is evident that salary is no longer the number one factor in candidates’ reasons for changing job positions. Companies are having to map out career plans for new employees at the interview stage making interviews very much a 50/50 process between the employer and the employee. We have also seen an increase in counter offers. Counter offers are something to be aware of when assessing a candidate’s motivations to move. Good news for employers is that at entry level salaries have remained constant. Candidates looking for their first step on the career ladder can be very flexible but will still have expectations of a great work environment and culture. Legislation for temporary workers is at the forefront so matching salaries to that of their permanent counterparts is essential.

 

For candidates when looking for an office role researching the company where you are trying to get a new job is key. While there is a huge pool for companies to hire great candidates from, there is still an expectation that all interviewees will have done significant research prior to their interview. Not knowing adequate information about your potential future employer, is a disappointing reason to not get a job role. Companies invest a lot of time and money on their websites, LinkedIn pages, PR etc. It is expected that you will have researched the company and be able to comprehensively answer the question “why do you want to work here?” with great examples from your research. This can be the decision maker when it comes down to two candidates and deciding which of the two deserve the job. A well prepared answer can demonstrate to your potential employer that you want the role more.

Posted by Recruitment Consultant, Sigmar on 4 January 2017

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How to Find the Career Path That’s Right for You

How to Find the Career Path That’s Right for You

In a workforce that, on average, changes jobs nearly every three years and career paths 5-7 times in a lifetime, less emphasis is being placed on choosing a job that you intend to stay in forever. Particularly at the beginning of their working lives, young people are moving from job to job on a regular basis, defying the age-old mantra that a career should be for life. In reality, a career is more like a long, winding river that will take you in directions you never thought you’d go, landing you at a destination that only becomes visible once you turn a corner and take a plunge. That is not to say, however, that you should not take those initial steps down your first career path lightly. The people you meet and skills you learn could end up significantly impacting your life in the long run, as well as your immediate feelings of happiness and fulfilment. To make this initial choice a little easier, here are seven steps you can take to help you find a career path that is right for you. Take a Career Test Career tests might seem a silly way to determine what job you should look for. After all, how could ticking a bunch of boxes on a computer program possibly demonstrate anything other than the most basic wants and needs? Who are they to say that you would make the perfect hairdresser or software engineer? If you’re completely stumped for inspiration about even what sector you would like to work in, however, online career tests can be a great way to get you thinking about the areas in which you could feasibly work while taking your personality, experience and values into account. The 123 Test has you make associations with various tasks and provides you with a list of suitable jobs at the end. The Redbull Wingfinder doesn’t give you specific career advice but breaks down core elements of your personality that could be invaluable when considering how suited you may be to certain careers. On the other hand, O*NET Interest Profiler provides a comprehensive overview of how your skills and interests can intersect with your aspirations. You can take or leave the results these quizzes give you, but sometimes having your strengths typed out in front of you can clarify your goals to yourself. Assess Your Options Whether you do this following a career test, or after a period of self-reflection, you need to take stock of your options. Write down every option available to you, and every path you would be interested in pursuing. Go through each of the options available to you, eliminating and highlighting those that you are instinctively averse to and are intrigued by respectively. By the end, you should have a manageable list of potential routes you could take, most of which should contain a combination of your interests, skills and values. It’s also important to research the jobs you put in your shortlist. The qualifications required by one may put you off, while the trajectory promised by another may inspire you. Read case studies pertaining to interesting fields to give you an idea as to where you could end up down the line. Having a long-term career goal may be more of a motivator for you than a short term one. Network You’ve researched careers that interest you, and now you have finally settled on one or two that excite you more than any others. Now, you need to look at this list and ask what connections you have to these different careers. Do you know someone who works in that sector? Someone who could perhaps make an introduction or give you further insight into a career that interests you? According to research compiled by Social Talent, although only 7% of applicants come via referrals, they account for over 40% of successful hires. Statistically speaking, you have a much greater chance of securing an entry level position in a field that interests you if you are introduced via someone with a connection to that employer. Networking isn’t only beneficial for getting your foot in the door, however. It’s important to speak to people currently working in, or with knowledge of, the field(s) you would like to enter. They may have insider information unavailable online, or give you guidance as to how you might approach getting a job. Whatever your goals, it’s worth going out and meeting people who can help you through this difficult decision with their own experiences, insight and network in that field. Get Experience One of the most useful outcomes from networking successfully would be the opportunity to gain practical experience in the area you want to work in. From the perspective of an employer, they would be more likely to hire someone with a proven interest and existing ability in their sector. From your side, you would be able to see first-hand what the day-to-day of such a job entails and decide whether or not it’s for you. Internships are a great way to gain experience in a hands-on working environment. Not only will you have the opportunity to complete tasks similar to those you might be set as an employee, but you will make some invaluable contacts who could potentially help you secure employment later down the line. There are lots of great internship opportunities out there, but make sure you are not being exploited. Some companies take advantage of the passion and inexperience of interns and have them work with little to no compensation, and no guarantee of a job at the end of the programme. Another way to gain experience would be to ask someone if you could shadow them at work for a couple of days, so you can see what they are tackling on a daily basis, as well as meet their co-workers and convey your enthusiasm and initiative to a potential employer. Find a Mentor Mentors are an invaluable way to gain insider knowledge of an industry, as well as a potential fountain of tailored advice to help you succeed in whichever career you end up choosing. For more information on how to find a mentor, you can have a look at this Forbes article that breaks down the steps of finding and securing the right mentor for you. Make a Career Path Plan You’ve identified an area that interests you, researched it thoroughly, spoken about it with contacts and perhaps even secured some practical experience in that field. The next step is to create an actionable plan that lays out all the steps you need to take to achieve your professional goals. Whether this involves changing careers later in life, taking risks or going back to education to secure further qualifications, create an actionable plan that will allow you to step from one to the other. Here’s a great guide on how to structure a solid career path plan. No one’s career path unfolds in an uncomplicated straight line. In fact, there will be jobs that exist in the future that we couldn’t even imagine in today’s society. The best approach is to have an open mind, strong initiative and the willingness to be flexible as you work towards your goals. Expect the unexpected, and never be afraid to deviate from your plan if it feels right. As they say, ‘find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’

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Guaranteed Interview Questions to Prepare and Ace

Guaranteed Interview Questions to Prepare and Ace

“What do you think of garden gnomes?” This was apparently asked of one Trader Joe’s candidate in an interview . A silly, irrelevant question for a job in grocery stores, you might say. However, questions like these that seem, on the surface, ridiculous, often provide more insight into a candidate’s aptitude for the role than you might initially think. No one ever knows exactly what questions are going to be asked in an interview. However, there are trends that show up in every list of most common interview questions, which we have divided into five categories. We’ll provide examples for each, as well as an overview of how you should consider approaching them to showcase yourself in the best possible light. Informational Questions “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” “Why are you leaving your current job?” “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” These tend to be the questions that open up an interview, giving you an opportunity to provide a brief bit of background information about yourself, as well as an overview of your aspirations, providing the interviewer context about you and where this role fits in with your career plans. This is not to say, however, that you should approach these questions with any less preparation or panache than others. You should phrase your answers as a pitch of your career; linear, like a story, and this job as the next step that slots perfectly between the past and the future. It wouldn’t hurt, of course, to slip in a few specific achievements that you want the employer to know about, opening up the floor for further questions on those later. While you should phrase your answers in a way that presents this job as an ideal opportunity, you should also be honest – you don’t want anything you said in a moment of panic to come back to haunt you if you are hired! Company-Specific Questions “How did you hear about the position?” “What do you know about the company?” “What do you think we could do better or differently?” To separate the wheat from the chaff, employers will frequently ask interviewees to demonstrate their knowledge about the company they are applying to. Stumbling at this hurdle will almost certainly mark the end of your candidacy for the position! If you don’t know much about the company you’re interviewing for, they will question your passion for what they do and your ability to do the most basic of research. Interviewers want to see that not only are you passionate about their company’s brand, but that you are able to assess their current infrastructure critically and constructively present feedback using your prior knowledge and experience. Small start-ups in particular look for creativity in their employees, and definitely would like to see how you could contribute to company development from the outset. Behavioural Questions “Tell me about a challenge or a conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it.” “Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation?” “Give me an example of a time you managed numerous responsibilities. How did you handle that?” To get an idea of how you handle conflict, your interviewer may ask a similar question to one of these. Often, they will start with ‘give me an example…’ or ‘describe…’. The idea is to get a sense of what your personal strengths are in pressurised situations, as well as how you structure your response to problems. There is a technique to handling such questions, named the STAR Method. As set out by Al Dea, the founder of CareSchooled and a learning and development coach, STAR is “helpful because it provides a simple framework for helping a candidate tell a meaningful story about a previous work experience,” i.e. giving your response a clear structure and minimising the opportunity to ramble. S – Set the scene. What details do you need to share to ensure your example is clear? T – Task. What was your responsibility and/or goal in this situation? A – Action. What did you do to resolve the issue and complete your aim? What steps did you take? R – Result. What was the direct result of your actions? What did you accomplish? You can read more about the STAR Method here. These questions could also expand to more personal ones, such as the personality types you tend to clash with, as well as your own strengths and weaknesses. Your answers to these questions can provide insight into how you might gel with the existing team, and whether the company culture is necessarily a suitable fit for you. Puzzle Questions “How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine?” “How many pennies could you fit in this room?” “Why are manholes round?” These are questions of the same breed as “what do you think of garden gnomes?”. Questions that appear completely unrelated to the job at hand, and that there could be a million ways to answer, none of which jump out as being the ‘correct’ one. That’s because the hiring manager is not looking for a correct answer, but one that is reached in a logical, methodical manner. If you articulate your thought process out loud, the interviewer can see how you are approaching the problem using existing mathematical abilities, as well as common sense and general knowledge. They also reveal a substantial amount about the personality of a candidate. Your approach to the questions and ability to think on your feet speaks volumes about your character and may be a crucial insight to the employer as to whether you’d be up for the day-to-day challenges that are part of the role. A calm-headed, logical candidate may handle the tennis ball question by demonstrating awareness of the measurements needed to perform the calculation, such as the volume of a tennis ball and the length, width and height of the limousine. An even more impressive candidate may turn questions back on the interviewer, asking as to whether there are any people inside the limousine at the time and how big the seats are. However you choose to approach the puzzle at hand, maintain a cool demeanour, showcase your understanding of maths and problem-solving and use rational logic to show you could come up with a rough methodology to reach a correct solution, even if you do not. Pressuring Questions “Are you under/overqualified for this job?” “Why should we hire you over someone else?” While these questions may appear a little forthright, and definitely intimidating, they actually present a brilliant opportunity to sell yourself to the employer in a brazen way that thus far you may have had to tiptoe around. Use questions such as these to summarise your core strengths and the value that you would bring to the company, emphasising that you truly are the perfect fit for this job. Be careful not to overly criticise your imaginary rivals, as that’ll present you as petty – rely on your own positives in your pitch to convince the interviewer that you should get the position. BONUS – Ask Questions Back! It’s no secret that the key to finishing an interview well is to walk in with a few pre-prepared questions to ask the hiring manager when prompted. These should demonstrate your curiosity, prior research and genuine desire to know more about the company and the role. Perhaps more importantly, this interview is an opportunity for you to gauge whether this position in this company would be the right fit for you. Therefore, be sure to maximise this opportunity to answer any questions you still have by the end of your time with the interviewer. Here are some examples of questions that could provoke interesting, informative answers from the employer: “What’s your favourite part about working here?” “What can you tell me about the company’s plans for growth in the future?” “How would you describe the company culture?” So, there you have it – an overview of the most common questions that could arise in an interview. If the specific question is not listed above, it is guaranteed to fit into one of those five categories. Prepare to handle questions from each of those angles, be aware of what exactly they want to see from each answer, and you’ll knock it out the park.

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How to Look After Your Mental Health in the Workplace

How to Look After Your Mental Health in the Workplace

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increase the burden: It is easier to say "My tooth is aching" than to say "My heart is broken".” – C.S. Lewis The month of May marks Mental Health Awareness Month around the world – a time for highlighting the key battles we have yet to fight in the war against the stigmatisation of mental health issues. A recent study by VHI revealed that almost 70% of Irish corporate employees admit to needing to look after their mental wellness more effectively, and 1 in 5 have missed work due to anxiety, depression or stress in the past year. It is always advisable to seek the advice of a professional if you have concerns about your mental health. However, there are small, yet effective, measures you can take to improve your wellbeing in the workplace that can spread into your personal life in a positive, affirming way. Work/Life Balance Sir Ken Robinson noted in his keynote speech at Sigmar’s Talent Summit 2018 that, although the invention of emails was promised to save us time, we have since found that, if anything, we are less and less able to leave work behind in the workplace. It is now part of most people’s routines to check their phones first thing in the morning and reply to work-related emails before leaving home, always thinking about what needs to be done that day. It’s important that you ‘work smart, not long.’ This means actively leaving work behind in the office, working efficiently during the day so you don’t feel compelled to continue with it after hours. If the quantity of work you are being expected to complete within working hours is too much to do so successfully, be sure to speak up and discuss the manageability of your workload with your supervisor. Communication is key – they’re going to keep piling on the work as long you stay quiet about how overwhelmed you are, so make sure you speak up and be heard before it becomes too much to handle. Employers won’t know where the pressure lies unless you tell them. If you’re unsure of how much your work life spills over into your personal life, why don’t you try keeping a log for a month? Jot down in a diary how many hours you work every day – not just when you’re sitting at your desk, but when you’re thinking about work at home, composing emails and returning calls out of hours. It may build a more objectively troubling picture than you can see currently from the inside. Make The Most Of Your Breaks Don’t be afraid to make the most of the breaks you are allotted at work. Once you’re on a roll, it’s tempting to power through lunchtime and eat at your desk, one eye always on your computer screen. Try and avoid doing this when you can. Take a walk, practise mindfulness or meditation, experience new places to eat, socialise with co-workers or friends who work nearby. “But I don’t have time to meditate!” I hear you exclaim. Yes, you do! ‘Meditation’ is not always synonymous with pulling on yoga pants, lighting up a stick of incense and adopting the lotus position. You can meditate absolutely anywhere – in a local park, at a café…even sitting at your desk! If you’re not confident leading your own meditation, you can find five-minute guided sessions free online, like this one here. There are also some great customisable apps you can get on your phone, such as Timer and Headspace. It is impossible to overvalue the importance of taking time to relax, clear your head and focus on your own wellbeing. You’ll find this re-energises you for the day ahead, as well as provide an invaluable opportunity to assess your current state of mind and mentally address any emotional concerns or anxieties. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how easily solutions pop into your head when you take just a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Communication This one works both ways for employers as well as employees. Communication is the key to destigmatising conversations about mental health. In his TEDx talk on workplace mental health, Tom Oxley says ‘you don’t make people unwell by talking about mental health – you give them the opportunity to speak out sooner’. There’s a flawed unspoken terror that speaking out about mental illness will somehow worsen the problem, as if it’s contagious or something you can conjure up into existence within your own mind. The reality is that many sufferers don’t feel able to speak up due to the prejudice surrounding their condition, and the fear that their workplace would not be supportive of them if they did so. The best way an employer can foster an atmosphere of positivity, health and wellbeing is to ensure that their workers know that they are free to talk openly about any feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and won’t face indirect penalisation for doing so. The first reaction of many employers is to offer a struggling staff member limited time off to recover, then expect them to return to work and continue as usual. While time off may be a solution for some employees, bosses should also consider the advantages of offering flexible working hours to affected workers. Tom Oxley strongly advocates for good communication practices between employers and employees to ensure that no one ever feels alienated from their place of work, and that anxieties don’t build up over time into uncontrollable crises. In turn, employees should communicate to their employers about their feelings on mental health in the workplace, as far as they feel comfortable to do so. Being transparent about how you’re feeling and what you need from your job to help you recover will give your boss the tools to help you in the way that’s most beneficial for you. If you are worried that taking time off would only serve to isolate you from the company, voice that concern. Your employer should want to get the very best out of you – they hired you for a reason. It’s in their interest to give you the support you need. Create a healthy routine Studies have consistently proven a strong link between mental health and physical health, and specialists are adamant that one of the best ways to maintain good mental wellbeing is to look after your physical welfare. Your job may be intellectually demanding, with long hours and difficult tasks you have to tackle each day, taking a toll on your mental health. This also likely means your job is sedentary. Indeed, scientists have connected the rise in global obesity to the increasing number of jobs that don’t require any form of physical activity. You may be hard pressed to find the time to exercise during a busy work week, but it’s important you look after your body – it will only beneficially impact your mental wellbeing. Take a stroll during your lunchbreak, do 30 mins of yoga before work, or even try training for a half marathon over the course of a few months. Be sure to stock up your desk drawer with nutritious snacks rather than sugary ones, such as nuts, fruit and protein bars. Snacknation has published an extensive list of delicious office snack ideas if you’re dry on inspiration. These are just a few ways you can work to ensure your mental wellbeing in the workplace, which will in turn hopefully boost your productivity, energy and, ultimately, happiness. While mental health is something we can’t always necessarily control, we can impact the way in which we talk about it, breaking down the harmful social barriers that currently thwart constructive discussions on preventative measures.

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Spice Up Your Life – Why Not Give Temping a Try?

Spice Up Your Life – Why Not Give Temping a Try?

There are advantages and disadvantages to any job, and temporary contract positions are no exception. Finding work as a temp can be the ideal solution to both career and/or personal requirements, or simply fill in the financial gaps while you search for permanent position. In honour of the Spice Girls’ tour Dublin leg this weekend, here are some of the reasons you should definitely consider temping…with a little help from our favourite 90s girl band! 1. ‘A Day in Your Life’ – Gain New Experiences You've gotta live beyond your limitations, yeah And keep your dreams alive Even though you're feeling this frustration, yeah You've gotta push it all aside You've got to look to the future, yeah Before the future is here Qualifications are all well and good, but proven experience is an invaluable card to play in any permanent job application. If you’re looking to move into a new career, or want to stand out from the crowd in the mind of a hiring manager, it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of practical experience on your CV. You could learn how to use a new technology or software, a different filing system or even how to adapt to diverse personality types. All new experiences are valid and could provide useful fodder for anecdotal answers in interviews and will put you in a great position when you next apply for a permanent role. 2. ‘If U Can’t Dance’ – All About That Flexibility Can't you just feel the groove? Why don't you move? It's easy, can't you see? One of the best advantages of temporary contract work is the flexibility a short term posting offers you. Not having a permanent job (and salary!) can be scary, but there is so much to gain from a shorter stint at a company. If you’re in the process of changing careers, undergoing shifts in your personal life or simply don’t know what to commit to, temping is a great way to earn money and continue building your resume until you find what you’re looking for. 3. ‘Move Ove’r – Speed Is Of The Essence Next phase, next stage, next craze, next wave Let me tell you 'bout a thing, gotta put it to the test It's a celebration, motivation generation next A lengthy recruitment process can be completely draining, as outlined in this Forbes article. The longer it takes for a candidate to progress from interview to offer (or rejection), the more demoralised and underappreciated they can feel. There are no such issues in the temp world. Often temporary positions need to be filled as a matter of urgency, so there’ll be no long, drawn out interview process or extensive waiting period. This works in your favour not only in terms of reducing the anxiety typically induced by the process, but also in that candidates who may not land a permanent position due to lack experience may be successful securing a comparable temporary position. 4. ‘Never Give Up on the Good Times’ – Temping As a Career Never give up on the good times, living it up is a state of mind (Never give it up, never give it up no oh oh) Never give up on the good times, gotta believe in the love you find (Never give it up) For some, temping is a wholly satisfying career choice. The flexibility of contracts and the wide variety of responsibilities, atmospheres and teams you can encounter as a temporary worker are perfect for some workers. Although this is more common in the tech sector, the consulting field offers some benefits that similarly fit well with certain personality types and lifestyle choices. 5. 'Viva Forever’ – Get Paid While You Job Search! Viva forever, I'll be waiting Everlasting, like the sun Live forever, for the moment Ever searching, for the one If you’re between jobs, changing career, or entering the workforce for the first time, temp work provides considerably more financial security than shift work or applying unsuccessfully to permanent positions while unemployed. Although you could be let go without much notice, you’re being paid a regular wage (sometimes more than permanent workers earn!), maintaining a good cash flow, and will only find it easier to land positions once you’ve got experience under your belt. So, if you’re looking for more experience, flexibility, speed or simply a placeholder while you search for a permanent position, temporary contract work could be perfect for you! At Sigmar Recruitment, we place both permanent and temporary workers with companies across Europe. If you are looking for temporary work, don’t hesitate to email your CV to info@sigmar.ie.