Monthly Archives: March 2013

How to Fire an Employee with Less Stress

Having to fire an employee can be an extremely stressful and daunting task for even the seasoned manager.  Even if an employee has been warned about behavior, no one thinks they’ll actually get fired.  In reality, you’d like to drop-kick that employee out of your business, but to keep things fair and legal, may we offer some tips?
Here are a few tips to help a firing situation be fair and less stress to both parties:
1.  ALWAYS Fire an Employee Face to Face. 
Although firing is awkward and uncomfortable, resist the urge to fire someone using a letter, voicemail, email, text or any other kind of method.

When you fire an employee give them the courtesy you would extend to any human being. They deserve a face-to-face meeting.  Nothing else works. The fired employee will remember. and your other employees have even longer memories.

 

2.  Give the Employee a Warning and DOCUMENT Everything! 

Nothing makes an employee more angry than feeling blind sided when fired. Unless an immediate, egregious act occurs, the employee should experience coaching and performance feedback over time. If you decide the employee is able to improve her performance, provide whatever assistance is needed to encourage and support the employee.

Document each step, especially to protect yourself and your business from possible legal actions. If you are confident the employee can improve, and the employee’s role allows, a performance improvement plan (PIP) may show the employee specific, measurable improvement requirements.

3.  Don’t Fire an Employee Without a Witness

In today’s society, especially in the U.S., anyone can sue anyone for anything (and they do)!  In addition to documentation about the employee’s behavior and work performance, make sure that if you have to fire someone that you have someone else there to witness it.

Take notes of the firing, have a witness sign the termination letter.  A witness will provide needed legal protection, as well as moral support in the event you have to “can” someone.

4.  Make it Short and Sweet

If you have coached and documented an employee’s performance over time and provided frequent feedback, there is no point in rehashing your dissatisfaction when you fire the employee. It accomplishes nothing and is cruel. Yet, every employee will ask you why. So, have an answer prepared that is honest and correctly summarizes the situation without detail or placing blame.

You want the employee to maintain her dignity during an employment termination. So, resist the urge to tell them what a loser they are.  Something tactful you might say is, “We’ve already discussed your performance issues. We are terminating your employment because your performance does not meet the standards we expect from this position. We wish you well in your future endeavors and trust you will locate a position that is a better fit for you.”

5.  Don’t Let them Make off with the Goods (or the Last Word)

When you fire an employee, check and double check that they don’t have any company belongings in their possession.  Make sure company issued cell phones, computers and even vehicles are recovered that day.  Another important consideration is to work with company IT people to make sure the former employee is restricted from having access to the network.  The last thing you need is for a former employee to download and print off sensitive material, lists of clients or other information that you don’t want out in the open.

One final suggestion is to not let the former employee have access to current employees.  Once fired, they need to vacate the premises immediately (or as soon as they can clean out their desk). If the employee wants to send a good-bye note, post her appropriate note for her to all staff.

Terminating employees can be very awkward, but if you take a professional approach, it removes a lot of the awkwardness and doesn’t leave a lot of room for lawsuits.

For more information, visit:  http://humanresources.about.com/od/howtofireanemployee/tp/top_ten_donts.htm

 

 

Saving Time in Interviews

When hiring, you want someone fast.  You need someone fast!  Here are a few tips to save time during interviews.  You’re not cutting corners, just weeding out the less qualified even quicker!

Within a week of posting a job opening, you could have dozens of applications sitting on your desks – maybe even hundreds. How do you find viable candidates without wasting too many hours and resources? Here are some things you can try:

1. Have a concrete list of ranked requirements.

First, you need to have a specific list of requirements. What job experiences do they need to be good at the role you’re hiring them for? How many years of experience are needed? What educational background are you looking for? Also, apart from listing these requirements, arrange them according to priority. This makes it easy for you to decide on the current applications on hand.

2. Conduct an online test for both aptitude and soft skills.

Once you have a list of applicants that meet your requirements, send them to an online test. This could be an aptitude test, or a soft skills test. By seeing who has the scores you need, you can know which applicants would be worth interviewing and which ones to put in your waiting list.

3. Interview applicants with a panel.

When you’re ready to hold interviews, make sure that more than one key person from your organization is present. Include the applicant’s intended supervisor or colleague, so that they can ask specific questions based on their own requirements.

4. Use remote video interviewing.

Rather than wasting hours on inefficient scheduling and walk-in applications, schedule video interviews. This can be more efficient, since you can schedule several interviews in a row without making applicants wait for hours in your lobby. For a preliminary interview, this is more resource-efficient than in-person and even phone interviews.

5. Make sure you have a specific purpose for each interview question.

Don’t just ask random questions – make sure that you also have a list of answers you would like to hear. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting time asking questions that don’t really add to your knowledge of the applicants skills and capabilities.

By following these 5 steps, your company can have a more efficient application process that’s less time consuming and more cost effective for all parties involved.

References:

  • http://www.adlerconcepts.com/resources/column/newsletter/using_the_panel_interview_to_s.php
  • http://biznik.com/articles/how-to-save-time-and-money-in-your-hiring-process
  • http://www.comparebusinessproducts.com/briefs/how-save-time-and-money-your-hiring-process
  • http://www.entrepreneurship.org/en/resource-center/saving-time-by-outsourcing-the-interview-process.aspx

The Top Ten Toughest, Classic Job Interview Questions

When going to a job interview, you know you’ll probably get some tough, crazy and even some off-the-wall questions.  In order not to totally bomb the interview, you need to prepare!  Here are ten, tough questions that you may want to ask (or prepare for) in a job interview:

1.  Could you tell me a little about yourself?

Most interviewers use this question not only to gather information, but also to assess your poise, style of delivery and communication ability. Don’t launch into a mini-speech about your childhood, schooling, hobbies, early career and personal likes and dislikes. Instead, briefly cite recent personal and professional work experiences that relate to the position you’re seeking and that support your credentials. Better yet, prepare a personal branding statement that quickly describes who you are and what you can bring to the company.

2.  Why did you leave your previous employer, or why are you leaving your present job?

The economy has pushed many talented professionals into the workforce, so don’t be ashamed to simply explain that you were a part of a downsizing. If you were fired for performance issues, it’s best to merely say you “parted ways” and refocus the discussion on how your skill set matches the current position. If you currently have a job, focus on why you’re seeking greater opportunity, challenges or responsibility. If you’re transitioning to a new industry, discuss why you’re making the transition and tie it into the new job responsibilities (make sure that you have very strong references regardless of why you left, or are leaving, a position).

3.  What are your greatest strengths?

Briefly summarize your work experience and your strongest qualities and achievements that are directly related to the responsibilities of the job you are applying for. One proven approach is to include four specific skills that employers value highly: self-motivation, initiative, the ability to work in a team and a willingness to work long hours.

4.  What are your weaknesses?

Realize that most interviewers don’t expect you to be perfect or reveal your true weaknesses. Turn this question around and present a personal weakness as a professional strength. Let’s assume that you’re detail-oriented, a workaholic and that you neglect friends and family when working on important projects. You can turn these weaknesses around by saying that you’re very meticulous and remain involved in projects until you’ve ironed out all the problems, even if it means working after hours or on the weekend.

Another tactic is to discuss an area where you’re seeking improvement, and then highlight the steps you’re taking to meet that goal. Perhaps you’re an accountant, and are working to improve your knowledge of payroll procedures by taking courses at a local college, or maybe you’re an IT professional earning additional certifications.

5.  What can you tell me about our company and/or industry?

Do your homework. Check out the company website and their “About Us” section. Most public companies post Investor Information which typically lists their Management Team, Board of Directors and past financial performance. Write down a few key points that you can cite when asked. Interviewers want to know that you’re interested in more than just a job.

6.  What do/did you like most and least about your present/most recent job?

Concentrate your answer on areas that are relevant to the position and be specific. Don’t say, “I liked the atmosphere.” Instead, try saying “I enjoyed the camaraderie of being part of a team.” When discussing least-liked aspects of your present or previous job, try to mention an area of responsibility that’s far removed from the functions of the job you’re seeking. But be sure your answer indicates that you either performed the assignment well or that you learned something useful. This shows that you stick with tasks, even ones that don’t particularly interest you.

7.  Aren’t you overqualified for this position?

Hardly anyone expects you to say “yes” to this question in today’s job market. If you do, the interviewer may think you’ll grow dissatisfied and leave the company quickly. Instead focus on the experience and skill set you’ll bring to the position and the value they’ll receive by hiring you.

8.  What sets you apart from other applicants?

The interviewer who asks you this is really probing your readiness for the job, your ability to handle it, your willingness to work hard and your fitness for the job. Show your readiness by describing how your experience, career progression, qualities and achievements make you an asset. Keep it professional, and focus on the value you’ll bring to the position. Highlight your ability by discussing your specific skills and accomplishments, but don’t forget to show your interest in the job itself.

9.  Where do you hope to be in three years?

This question is often asked of recent college graduates, and the worst answer is to say that you want to be president of the company or have the interviewer’s position. Instead, talk about what motivates you especially what will motivate you on this job and what you hope to have accomplished.

10.  Do you have any questions? Can you think of anything else you’d like to add?

Don’t say “no,” or that everything has been thoroughly discussed. If you think the interviewer has any doubts, now’s the time to restate why you’re the most logical candidate for the opening. Show your interest in the company by preparing some key questions in advance. Asking about corporate culture or what the interviewer likes the best about the company will give you insight and let the interviewers know that you’re interviewing them as well.

For more information on these, visit:  http://www.careercast.com/career-news/10-toughest-interview-questions-%E2%80%93-and-how-answer-them.

Avoiding Fraud in your Business

In addition to thoroughly vetting online job applicants and current employees, we are now in the day and age where we have to almost conduct background checks on our customers.

Recently, a small businessman received a phone call from a potential customer who asked about his inventory of a specialty product and wanted to know how quickly she could have 50 of them delivered to an address in Miami. Satisfied that he had them in stock and that they could be shipped right away, she placed the order. Her phone number included a Miami area code. However, the billing address for the credit card she used was in Maryland. This scenario wasn’t completely unusual, but worth a deeper look.

A bit suspicious of the details of this order, the company did a little investigating to find out more about the company name she provided along with her order. They couldn’t find anything. They did a reverse phone number search. Nothing turned up.

Still, they authorized this person’s credit card in preparation for fulfilling her order. The next day a phone call was received from someone with, not so ironically, the exact same name. She asked why there was a credit card authorization on her card. Bingo! His hunch was right.

The small businessman explained to this person that someone had placed an order the previous day using her credit card, and that the impersonator had asked the company to ship more than $1,000 worth of products to an address in Miami, which turned out to be a UPS Store location.

The combination of today’s methods for storing data and the prevalence of ethically-challenged people eager to find credit card information to use or re-sell has made this a real issue for owners of online businesses.

In one year alone, a small online sporting goods company lost close to $10,000 to fake customers. In the particular situation just described with the fraudster in Miami, this business stood to lose more than $800 had we not been notified by the actual cardholder that we were being taken.

The combination of today’s methods for storing data and the prevalence of ethically-challenged people eager to find credit card information to use or re-sell has made this a real issue for owners of online businesses. The anonymity that exists in cyberspace adds to the problem.

For online business owners, here are some things you need to know to protect your business. Merchants who send products to people who are not who they purport to be are certain to incur a loss as soon as the real cardholder notices that a fraudulent charge has been placed on his card and notifies the card issuer. The online store owner is always completely exposed to the risk when this kind of online fraud is committed. Credit card processing accounts typically show no mercy to online store owners who, in good faith, sell items to thieves who appear to be legitimate buyers.

Signs of online fraud

Sadly enough, online businesses have been victimized by credit card thieves enough times that some trends are easily spotted. Here are the most common signs that a customer is shopping your store using someone else’s credit card.

  • Multiple quantities of the same item.Most of the fraudulent orders include large quantities of the same item. These people know that they only have a few chances to make good on a stolen credit card, so they try to make it pay off as much as possible on any one transaction. They tend to order multiples of products that don’t seem natural. For instance, someone ordered 20 football jerseys in the same size and color from a sporting goods store.
  • Expedited shipping.Someone purchasing with a stolen credit card is likely to use expedited shipping without any apparent regard for the exhorbitant shipping cost. Most fraudulent orders are placed using overnight or 2nd-Day Air shipping. People who are committing fraud typically understand that they need to hurry so as to not be detected before they’ve gotten what they want.
  • Billing address and shipping address geographically far removed.Although there are often customers who need to have something shipped to a sister office in their company or who have some other legitimate reason to request an order be shipped to an address that is hundreds or thousands of miles away from their billing address, using geographically disparate billing and shipping addresses is typical of those who are committing fraud.
  • Using a Hotmail, Gmail or other non-professional address.This rule applies mostly to customers who claim to be ordering for companies. If the stuff on the right side of their email address (e.g. johndoe@somecompany.com) doesn’t match up with the organization they claim to represent, and instead they use a free email service, there is more likelihood that the person really isn’t associated with the company.

There are several other smaller signals that, when considered together, can help a store owner recognize when someone is trying to commit credit card fraud. For business owners who want to be extra careful, more advanced fraud prevention tactics can be put into place. Usually a business owner is faced with balancing the ability to conveniently sell products to customers with the possibility of being exposed to fraud because of a security policy that is too lax.

Vetting the customer

With the available access to information about people, companies and all sorts of other data, suspicious customers can often be detected through social media or by doing a few Google searches. This kind of research typically increases suspicion about a potentially fraudulent order when there don’t seem to be any online traces of the person placing the order.

Businesses who typically sell products directly to consumers, rather than to other businesses, might have to dig a little more to find out whether their customer seems legitimate. Use Google Maps to look up the address, and in many cases you may discover ship-to addresses that look like they are abandoned houses or that otherwise don’t match up with the rest of the information provided on the order.

Merchant security measures

Merchant providers and online gateways (which allow online store owners to process credit cards) typically have at least some rudimentary protections to keep online store owners safe. One of these protections is the address verification system resource, which allows store owners to match the billing address (typically the street number and/or the ZIP code) provided by a customer to the address on file with the credit card issuer. The security code on the credit card can also be entered by the store owner through a credit card gateway (like authorize.net), which reports whether the security code matches what the credit card issuer has on file for any particular card.

Both of these protections can be circumvented by credit card fraudsters, however, simply by obtaining all of that information along with the credit card number and expiration date for the card they have stolen.

The only true way to make sure that your business is protected when shipping to a credit card owner is to insist that the ship-to address they provide is attached to their credit card account. Credit card companies normally allow cardholders to add shipping addresses to their accounts. A store owner can verify with the credit card company that the address where the goods are going is recognized by them.

Reporting the crime

This part of the process — having lost some amount of money to a credit card thief — can feel like eating crow for a business owner. Those who are willing to spend a few hours filling out a police report (which might as well read “How I allowed my business to get conned”) can report having goods stolen from them through their local police department.

Investigators apparently have more pressing issues to deal with than worrying about online fraud. The best practice is to try to keep this kind of thing from happening in the first place.

This article was summarized from: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=24278768&nid=1014&title=protecting-your-online-business-from-credit-card-fraud&fm=home_page&s_cid=queue-16

Why Hiring is Like Buying Eggs

When you’re faced with having to hire employees, it’s a lot like buying eggs.

First, you have to decide what kind of eggs you want to buy.  Are you going to go with high quality, organic brown eggs?  Or, are you on a tight budget and going to go with the regular white eggs that are on sale?  The organic might cost more, but you’re going to have the good feeling inside that you bought the very best.

Second, you need to open up the carton to see if there are any damaged eggs inside.  You check for cracks, breaks and other imperfections that would ruin your purchase.

Third, you carefully take your eggs home and soon enough, crack them open and throw them into the frying pan.

When hiring, you need to take a similar approach.

Is your budget cushy enough to afford the more quality job applicants that will cost you more?  Or, will you go with the kid right out of college that is a bargain, but may not have as much experience?

You need to open the carton on each applicant and check for cracks.  Check their online social media sites, do a background check, maybe even a drug test to ensure you getting a quality “product.” This is important, especially is you offer online job applications.

Third, once you’ve done all that checking and selecting, you are ready to throw them into your virtual frying pan, and hopefully they’ll fry up just right.

The Top 10 Website for Your Career

When looking for a job, time is often of the essence. You don’t want to waste precious job search time dealing with online job boards that don’t offer you a wide variety of companies and positions to browse through.

You also want job and networking information that will have up to date information…not jobs that have been closed for months.

Here is a list of some job boards and websites that are good for networking, job searches and pertinent information related to employment.

1.  LinkedIn.com – The largest professional social networking site, LinkedIn has more than 175 million members in 200-some countries worldwide. People are signing up at approximately two new members a second. It is free to become a member and post a summary of your career and work history. Recruiters and hiring managers use nine-year-old LinkedIn more than any other website to connect with job candidates,

2.  Indeed.com is a Google-like search engine for jobs and one of the most efficient sites for surveying job listings, since it aggregates information from job boards, news sites and company listings. An advanced search function enables users to drill down on a location, keywords and salary range. Indeed says it has 70 million unique visitors and 1.5 billion job searches a month. It’s available in 50 countries and 26 languages.

3.  SimplyHired.com – Like Indeed.com, SimplyHired is a Google-like search engine for jobs and a quick way to survey a massive number of job listings. The site, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., aggregates information from job boards, news sites and company listings. At last count, it had 30 million unique visitors a month. One advantage of SimplyHired over Indeed: Job listings display a user’s LinkedIn connections to each job.

4.  Monster.com – One of the oldest online job boards, Monster.com created in 1996, includes listings in 50 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia and sells services to recruiters and companies looking to hire. Job seekers can post their résumés and comb listings for free. The site includes loads of free content on everything from résumé and cover letter writing to interviewing tips to sample resignation letters.

5.  Glassdoor.com – This four-year-old site, based in Sausalito, Calif., bills itself as the Trip Advisor of career sources. Glassdoor does no independent checking of the data its users provide. The site says it has salary information for 160,000 companies based on 2.5 million user reports. It also offers user-written reviews of what it’s like to work at companies and information about what to expect at a job interview. A new feature allows users to see if they have connections to specific employers through friends or friends of friends on Facebook.

6.  Idealist.com –  The nation’s largest employment board for nonprofit jobs, idealist.org has more than 1 million registered users. The site launched in 1996. It also includes volunteer opportunities, a blog with stories like tips on managing student loans and a listing of events related to the non-profit world. Funding for Idealist comes from foundation support, donations and from fees it charges U.S.-based organizations to list on the site. It also collects fees from graduate degree programs that exhibit at its career fairs.

7.  USAJobs.com – The government’s official site for federal jobs and employment information, USAJobs lists thousands of jobs, from the Defense Department to the Department of Transportation. It’s possible to apply for jobs directly through the site. It also has information about eligibility, compensation and benefits for federal workers, including vacation time, commuter subsidies, insurance, and child care.

8.  The Wall Street Journal Careers site – This site is packed with free content aimed at job seekers and those looking to advance their careers. It also includes a link to the Wall Street Journal’s financial jobs website, FINS, and a link to the “At Work” blog that includes yet more careers content including articles on subjects like job security and college co-op work programs, and links to articles in other publications about work and careers.

9.  Specialty Job Site in your Area of Expertise – For technology and engineering jobs, Dice.com, founded 21 years ago, is a comprehensive site with a database of 86,000 jobs and free career advice and news. For financial careers, try eFinancialCareers.com, a network of financial career sites. For media jobs, mediabistro.com has a job board, industry news and paid course offerings. There are other job specific sites that are easily found with a search engine.

10.  NinjaGig.com – Ninja Gig offers themselves as every business’ solution to on-line recruiting. Realizing that the application and recruiting process can be a big pain. NinjaGig.com focuses on building the software tools to help make your life a little easier.

NinjaGig.com’s software allows you to accept online job applications and post employment openings. Setting up your Ninja Gig portal is a snap, and then you can direct applicants to your portal where they can review job openings and fill out a digital employment application, including the ability to attach their resume and cover letter. The sign-up process is easy; you can literally start accepting employment applications within minutes using our application form on your own Ninja Gig portal.

A Weighty Topic

When hit film director Kevin Smith was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight in 2010 after the carrier declared him too fat to fly, it dramatically illustrated the routine humiliations overweight Americans face.
Research from Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity reported that weight discrimination increased 66 percent from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. What’s more, at a time when more than two-thirds of Americans are now overweight or obese, the Rudd Center says obesity discrimination is now more prevalent than bias based on ethnicity, sexual orientation and physical disability.
No federal law protects workers from obesity-related workplace discrimination. Courts have ruled in favor of individuals who have successfully proved that their weight directly affected their job performance, but such instances are rare. At the state level, Michigan is the only state whose workplace anti-discrimination laws include body size bias — leaving most overweight workers with little recourse when it comes to protecting their rights.
With workplace protections still far from guaranteed — how can the overweight maximize their career potential while minimizing the possibility of discrimination? Overweight people, at the time of applying for a job, should take a hard look at any potential employment situation for clear signs of size diversity. Are there overweight people in senior-level positions? Does the workplace feel like a safe environment where such issues might be discussed?

Although Kevin Smith ultimately caught a later Southwest flight, his very public poor treatment by the airline is emblematic of the daily battles facing the overweight.

Members of the Utah Legislature last month discussed House Bill 132, which would prevent employers from discriminating based on height and weight, if signed into law.

The bill sparked a lot of discussion, and some laughs, in a committee meeting. The bill’s sponsor, Larry B. Wiley, (D-West Valley City), said employers sometimes judge people by their height and weight when making decisions about employment and pay scale.

Current Utah law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age and disability. Utah law also prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or pregnancy-related conditions.

Committee members raised doubts about how height and weight discrimination could be defined and proven, calling the proposed legislation “poor public policy” and unfair to employers.

The bill failed in a 10-4 vote, but Rep. Wiley said he is not giving up.

“We start it with race, color, religion, age discrimination, those types of things. It’s a starting point. Weight and height is just a starting point that, eventually, we’ll get to that point when we have legislation that’ll address those issues,” Wiley said.

Wiley plans to continue to research the issue of height and weight discrimination. He said he’ll propose another version of the bill next year.

Overweight or not, when applying for a job, whether in an online job application or through email, put your best foot forward by having a clean design, no punctuation errors and lots of white space.

Once you land an interview, always look polished and well dressed no matter what your size.  If you look the part, you will have more of a chance of landing that next big gig, even if you have a few pounds to lose.

Top Job Interview and Resume Tips

If you search websites about applying for jobs, applying for jobs online, or resume tips, things start to look the same.

There are many tips out there about performing well in job interviews and having the best resume, but sometimes you can get information overload and do too much.

Here are two basic lists that will cover your bases, but not have you do too much when going to a job interview or creating a resume:

Job Interview Tips

Dress Conservatively.  Wear nice dress pants, dressier shirt, no big jewelry or accessories.

Be Prepared.  Find out about the company beforehand.  Do some background research so you can make conversation.

Be Polite.  Shake the interviewer’s hand.  Don’t sit until you are invited to.  Don’t slouch in your chair.  Don’t use slang words.  Be polite, positive and professional throughout the interview.

Know Your Schedule.  Know what days and times you are available to work.  The employer will ask.  Flexibility is an asset, because the more you are available, the easier it is for them to set a work schedule.  Also, have a plan of how you are going to get to and from work, if you don’t have your own car.

Be on Time.  Arrive at the interview site a few minutes early.  If you’re not sure where to go, get directions ahead of time.

Send a Thank You Note.  Take a few minutes to thank the person who interviewed you. Sending a paper note is always best – tell them thank you for their time and for meeting with you.

Resume Tips

  1.  Make sure you have a lot of                            “white space”                            on your resume.  You don’t want it to be too crowded.
  2. Use bullet points over paragraph-style descriptions.
  3. Never use personal pronouns on a resume (I, me, my).
  4. Use action verbs to describe your duties at past jobs.
  5. Use specific examples of accomplishments and job duties.
  6. Never include personal information such as age and race.
  7. Never list your references on a resume – if people want them, they will ask for them.
  8. Spell chck, spll check, spell check!
  9. A clean design with ONE or TWO fonts is always best.

10. Make sure your social networking doesn’t include anything you don’t want a future boss to see – especially pictures, swearing, and even some of your friends – people do judge you by the company you keep so you may want to “hide” some of your friends on Facebook.

11. Last, but not least, unless you’re a model, never include your picture on, or with your resume.