Sometimes a job search can feel isolating. You're spending hours upon hours searching for opportunities, working on your resume and applying to job openings, often without having any outside feedback about what you're doing right or wrong. That isolation can add a lot of emotional stress to an already nerve-wracking experience.
What you may not realize is that you don't have to go it alone. "Psychologists tell us that next to death of a spouse, death of a child and death of a parent, the fourth most emotional experience we have, coupled with divorce, is searching for a job. It is emotionally stressful," says Tony Beshara, owner and president of Babich & Associates, the oldest placement and recruitment service in Texas. "A professional staffing firm can help eliminate that emotional stress. Staffing firms are in the trenches on a daily basis with candidates and employers."
Beshara says the three key advantages of using a staffing firm are experience, insights and confidential opportunities. Read on to learn more about these benefits and how staffing firms can play a crucial role in helping you find your next career:
According to Beshara, the average U.S. professional changes jobs every two and a half to three years. So that means a worker may go a long stretch of time before needing to engage in a job search. Staffing firm recruiters, on the other hand, live and breathe the job-search process daily.
Beshara points out that within the period of time between job searches, the job market can change – sometimes drastically. "The staffing professional is current on exactly what is going on in the immediate market. They have a unique perspective that the job seeker will not have. The market for a particular skill or experience is never the same as it was three years ago. It isn't likely any job candidate is going to be aware of that change. So, the 'new' candidate may think that finding a job is going to be like 'last time,' but it's not."
A knowledgeable staffing professional can help navigate a job seeker through the market changes, so the job seeker is less likely to encounter any surprises or challenges along the way. "The experienced staffing pro doesn't give theoretical or abstract advice, but practical 'this is the way it is ... this is what you should expect ... this is what we should do' advice," Beshara says.
One of the often frustrating parts about job searching is not getting any feedback from employers as to why you aren't the right fit for a role. When working with a staffing firm, you get access to that kind of information, which can help improve your search now and down the line.
"Staffing professionals have insights that candidates can't get anywhere else," Beshara says. "Since the majority of us work the same clients and the same hiring mangers over many years, we know what they like and how they like it, what they will hire and what they won't. Since we get to know them personally, we not only understand the job they are trying to fill but we know their personalities and personal likes and dislikes. We give those insights to our candidates to be sure both parties have the best chance of success not in just getting a job, but [in having] a long, solid employment relationship."
3. Confidential opportunities
According to a 2014 study conducted by CareerBuilder and Inavero, the attribute job seekers value the most in staffing sales representatives or recruiters is that they can find opportunities job seekers wouldn't be able to find themselves. Not only is that because staffing professionals are skilled at knowing which jobs might be the right fit, but it's also because they are privy to opportunities that job seekers wouldn't normally have access to.
"Because our clients trust us, they come to us with confidential job opportunities before they go to the general market," Beshara says. "We have access to the 'hidden' job market. Hiring authorities will often ask us to fill positions that even people in their own organization don't know about."
Sometimes, there doesn't even need to be a job opening for a staffing firm to get you a job. "Again, because of trust and insight, we know the kinds of employers that are interested in certain types of experience, whether or not they are 'actively looking' for a candidate," Beshara notes. "One-third of the positions we fill don't exist before we call a hiring authority representing a candidate we know they would be interested in speaking with. Employers will hire exceptional candidates when they come along even if they don't have a formal opening. A good staffing professional knows his or her hiring authorities well enough to know the kind of candidate they'd be interested in even if they aren't formally 'looking.'"
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Landing a job doesn't mean your days of navigating difficult questions are over. You should be prepared to handle sticky queries if and when your boss lobs them your way.
You may face one or more of these awkward questions at some point in your career. Here are ways you can respond to them professionally so you don't damage the relationship with your boss.
1. "Are you looking for a new job?"
If you're putting yourself back on the job market, tell the truth. Chances are that your boss has a good reason for asking, so a denial will only make you look bad. But don't overshare. This question isn't an invitation to air all your complaints about the position or the company. When responding, keep the focus on you and your career. And keep the answer short and to the point:
If your boss presses for details, be polite and reiterate the reason you just gave. Then, emphasize that you're committed to doing your job to the best of your ability.
2. "Have you heard the latest about Jamie?"
Co-workers who spread rumors are difficult enough to deal with, but having a boss who engages in office gossip is a potential nightmare. The trick is declining to participate without sounding like a scold or Goody Two-shoes. Your best option is to give a noncommittal response such as, "I really haven't heard," and then either change the topic or leave the conversation. Maintain an attitude of polite disinterest. Once your boss realizes you're not a gossiper, he will drop the subject.
3. "How would you rate my performance as a manager?"
This question is particularly tricky because you might not know your boss's motivation. Has upper management requested that she seek feedback from employees, or is she genuinely interested in constructive criticism? Maybe she's just fishing for compliments. If the latter, an honest critique could hurt the relationship with your boss.
To stay on safe ground, lead with positive feedback. If she presses for ways on how she could improve, there's no need to make a laundry list. Choose one aspect of her managerial style that could use some work, and make it actionable. For example, you could tell her, "The next time there's a new project, I'd like a little more guidance so I don't go in the wrong direction."
4. "How would you rate your performance during Q3?"
Balance is the key when it comes to this sticky question. Start by outlining what you did well, and reference tangible results such as exceeding goals or meeting tight deadlines. Then discuss a few ways you might do better next time. To show you're serious about self-improvement, ask your boss for his assessment — and any tips for Q4.
5. "Can you take on this project (that no one else will do)?"
You may feel that you have to say yes to every request in order to maintain a good relationship with your boss. While it's occasionally necessary to "take one for the team," you need to be honest about how Project X will affect your present workload and whether it's within the scope of your job description.
If you're genuinely reluctant to lead this project, tell your manager that you simply don't have the bandwidth to do it justice and get all of your regular assignments done on time. But also think about what may happen if you agree: If leading Project X will win you points with the boss and prove your leadership skills, it might be worth the extra work to say yes — this time.
Sticky questions can catch you off guard. And depending on how you answer them, you could risk jeopardizing an otherwise healthy relationship with your boss. Tact, honesty and careful wording are strategies that will serve you well in smoothing over potentially awkward situations.
Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, read our blog at blog.roberthalf.com or follow us on social media at roberthalf.com/follow-us....