As the coronavirus health pandemic wages on, the outbreak is creating long-lasting changes to the way we live and work, both out of necessity and desire. As business leaders recognize that employees can work relatively easily from home and do so productively, we are seeing a shift as most executives are encouraging remote work. As the workplace is changing rapidly, so is the process of getting a job. The new norm is virtual interviewing, via video conference. For those of you unaccustomed to video interviews, here are 5 tips to consider as you prepare for your first one or your next one.
#1 Test your technology
Similar to an in-person interview, get as much information about the video interview ahead of time. Ask your hiring manager or recruiter how the interview will be conducted? In particular, find out if there is a specific conferencing tool that the firm uses. After you confirm the video platform they use (e.g. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or FaceTime), download the software and take it for a test run. Also, test your connection speed and ensure your video microphone is set to a reasonable volume.
Remember, however, if your technology glitches during the interview, take a deep breath and get back on-line. This is an opportunity to showcase a wonderful soft skill – calmness under pressure. Once you are back on-line, apologize for the delay and move on with the interview.
#2 Dress the Part
Since you are video interviewing from home, it might feel reasonable to wear whatever you want for the interview. You aren’t leaving the house, right? Even though you may be sitting near your bed for the interview, you definitely shouldn’t look like you just rolled out of it. You don’t need to wear a suit, but you should dress “business casual.” This may mean a button-up shirt, blazer, and chinos while women may consider a blouse and blazer. Dressing up highlights your interest in the job. Additionally, studies have shown that people feel more competent when wearing formal business attire.
#3 Choose your interview space wisely
The downside of the video interview is that it gives interviewers a sneak peek into your personal life. As a result, make sure your space is free of clutter and distraction. Ideally, you should select a well-lit space with a neutral background, preferably near a window or a lamp. Be sure to log-in for your interview five minutes early and make any last-minute adjustments based on what you see on the camera.
#4 Connections make long-lasting impressions
During any interview (whether it is in-person or virtual), you want to be yourself. Ultimately, this is best for both you and your future employer, because ideally, you both want a good cultural fit. However, with that being said, it is important to make a connection with the person interviewing you. Don’t be afraid to chit-chat about a common interest for a minute or two. The recruiter might enjoy this break from the routine questions they plan to ask. Don’t force it though; it’s not always easy to connect with everyone, but if you can, it will set you apart from a candidate that has equal skills as you.
#5 Follow-up Right Away
Just like an in-person interview, it is critical that you follow-up within 24 hours of your interview. Send a thank you email to everyone that interviewed you. Nothing has changed on the thank you email front. Remember to highlight something you discussed during your interview: maybe something you connected on or even a challenge you could help their firm overcome. Following up shows interest and keeps you top-of-mind.
Mastering the art of the virtual interview make take time, but give yourself some space as you adjust to this new way of acquiring a job. As a final take away, remember that communicating confidence is a key so sit up straight, smile and make eye contact with the camera.
Zoom has become the universal go-to when it comes to attending meetings while working from home, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few great features that you may not know about. Some are more useful than others, but then again, vanity could be important. I mean, who doesn’t want a beauty filter? Read on to learn more.
Features of Zoom
Record a meeting or create a video
Whether you have a free or paid Zoom account, you have the ability to record your meeting to a laptop or computer using the desktop app. Maybe you need to deliver a message to your staff via video. You can use Zoom to take a video of yourself, record it and post it on social platforms or email it. Video feature is not available with mobile currently (unless you have a paid account). Once you have recorded a meeting, the files can be uploaded to a file storage service like Dropbox or a streaming service such as YouTube. To utilize this feature, got o Settings > Recording, and click “on.” When you're the host of a Zoom meeting, click the Record icon on the bottom toolbar.
Emoji Reactions on Screen
Let’s say you are muted during a meeting, but you need to send something to the presenter or host. Emoji reactions allow you to send a thumbs up or down, a clapping emoji and so on to anyone without disrupting the meeting at hand. Please note, these reactions have a yellow skin tone by default, but you can customize them on your desktop app if necessary. Click on the reactions tab at the bottom of the meetings screen. Here you can choose the emoji you want to share. It will automatically disappear after five seconds.
Turn on the Beauty Filter
Yes, it’s true. Zoom has a beauty filter for all of us who aren’t wearing make-up or getting spiffy like we once did when we were going into the office. Zoom’s beauty filter smooths over one’s appearance, providing a look of dewiness. It is incredibly similar to the beauty mode on a phone’s selfie camera. How to use it? Click the up arrow next to Start Video. Click Video Settings, and under My Video, check the box for Touch Up My Appearance.
Bonus – One more feature worth sharing
The magic of the Spacebar in Zoom Meetings
Shortcuts are always nice, especially when you are using an app all the time. As we all know at this point, it is standard practice to mute yourself when you aren’t talking and just listening. If you are like me, you may forget that you are muted and start talking when a question is asked of you, only to realize you were muted for the first 10 words you uttered. You can mute and unmute yourself with just a click of the spacebar.
Coronavirus has sent many American workers into a tailspin. Whether you want to or not, many have been forced into remote working. How do you avoid distractions and remain productive? Those accustomed to remote work share some simple tips on how to stay on-task and make sure the hours don’t slip by. Here are some suggestions:
#1: Get Dressed When You Get Up
Working in your pajamas might sound glorious at first, but it can really hinder your work. Treat your day like you were going into the office. Get up, shower, and get dressed before you log-in. It signals your brain that this is time for work and not lounging around. Plus, it boosts your productivity and self-esteem.
#2: Set Up Your Workspace
It is really important to dedicate an area of your house that is used for working. It could be a true dedicated office, a dining room table, or maybe a make-shift table in a spare bedroom. Having a space solely dedicated to work helps people psychologically by triggering the brain to know it is time to work the moment you sit down.
#3: Set A Schedule
Depending on where you are working, you may need to adhere to their working hours (e.g. 8 am – 5 pm), but everyone is slightly different. You may be more productive in the morning. If this is the case, maybe start your day earlier and complete more difficult tasks before emails start rolling in. Then structure your day for meetings during working hours. Whatever you choose, make sure you adhere to your work’s guidelines, but be sure to take a few breaks here and there, as you would in an office setting.
#4: Communicate Frequently
Over-communication is key when working from home. Many companies have instant messenger systems like Slack or Microsoft Teams. You may need to email more or even spend more time on the phone. Over-communication with colleagues and managers is best to stay connected and on task. As a result, you may want to set up daily or weekly check-ins with colleagues. If you are feeling isolated, you could also conduct Skype or Zoom video meetings.
#5 Maintain Your Hours
One disadvantage to remote working is that everyone thinks you are on-call and available around the clock. Establish times that you are off-the-clock. At some point in the evening, you need to close your computer and stop taking phone calls and reading emails. It is important to have down time too and being home makes it harder to do. People often say that the lines get blurred, which actually hinders productivity in the long run.
These are just a few tips to get you started. Take each day one step at a time. We are living in an unprecedented time, and it is scary and uncertain. Try using these tips to guide you as you navigate remote working but overall stay well and healthy.
As International Women's Day approaches, we are reminded of how far women have come in forging gender parity, but we are also reminded, sadly, of how far we still need to go.
Despite our strides, less than five percent of CEOs at S&P 500 companies are women and less than a quarter of the members of Congress are women. Couple that with pay inequality and continued sexual harassment in the workplace, we must push harder and continue to speak-up and speak-out for a gender equal world.
OpTech is a women-owned business with more than 20 years under its belt, and it is our fearless leader and founder, Ronia Kruse, that has overcome insurmountable obstacles by creating a company from scratch that focuses on tech and IT solutions (overall a male dominated industry). We applaud her strength, grit and determination, and we admire her for standing up and making change. She encourages us every day, and leads by example, showing us that we, too, can break the glass ceiling, just as she did.
Today, we celebrate the strides and progress of women everywhere, but we also recognize the need for change. We take these pledges to heart now and into the future:
"I will forge positive visibility of women."
"I will call out gendered actions or assumptions."
"I will try to influence others' beliefs and actions."
"I will challenge gender stereotypes and bias."
and finally, "I will celebrate women's achievements."
Join us in forging the same path for yourself, for your daughters, your sisters, and your wives. We believe strongly in moving forward: Each for Equal!
For her commitment to building an inclusive Detroit and Southeast Michigan, Global Detroit is honoring OpTech's President and CEO, Ronia Kruse, with their Corporate Impact Award on October 3, 2019. Ronia was interviewed before the event by Global Detroit. The interview is provided below.
When was the last time you were hunting for a job? If it’s been awhile, you may be astounded the next time you fire off your resume, and receive a text message back from a recruiter or hiring manager. Yikes! New territory for many of us. So, how do you respond? Is it appropriate to use emojis even if the recruiter used them first? How quickly should you respond to the text?
The concept of text messaging during the interview process has been around for more than a few years, but this trend is becoming increasingly popular, and it is here to stay. Employers are looking for ways to grab the attention of candidates and provide frequent touch points with them, so they’ll remain engaged and don’t think their resumes have fallen into a resume abyss. It also speeds up the process from resume qualification to the time of hire, which is usually a win-win for everyone involved. In addition, not only is it fast, convenient and an easy way to communicate, it is the preferred form of communication for many millennials and most Gen Z’s.
Provided below are some tips on how to wow your potential employer when you receive a text message from them.
So, the next time you receive a text message from a recruiter, have no fear. Follow the five tips provided, and chances are, the recruiter will reply back with an interview request. Keep your head up and go get ‘em. It’s your year to shine.
OpTech, LLC was once again recognized as one of Metropolitan Detroit’s Best and Brightest Places to work for. OpTech takes pride in being one of the Best and Brightest in Metro Detroit, as this is the company’s 1Oth time receiving this award. Along with the other companies recognized, OpTech was chosen based on their innovation in human resource practices.
“It is truly an honor to have earned this prestigious award again this year, our 10th in a row,” said Ronia Kruse, OpTech President and CEO. “I attribute our continued success to our amazing staff and the culture of mutual respect, accountability and teamwork we've built, a true testament to our continued commitment to our clients. This recognition only validates the innovative ideas and creative HR practices that attract and retain talented, motivated employees.”
OpTech has won numerous awards over the years for being women-led, fast-growing, and for providing excellent staffing and solutions. As a whole, OpTech is dedicated to having a strong link between the company’s culture and quality of work it produces, while also recognizing that previous awards and achievements help to enhance their strong and energetic workplace.
OpTech will be honored on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at The Henry in Dearborn.
The job market is unlike anything our nation has seen in decades. In 2019, unemployment rates hit a 49-year low. To top it off, companies added 18 percent more jobs than in 2018 and the turnover rate is at the highest level since 2001 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
The reality of this new environment has left companies reeling for talent. Many firms have shifted quickly and changed their paradigms on how they recruit, but most are baffled and a bit dumbfounded – left scratching their heads on how to attract the best talent, let alone retain them once on board.
It doesn’t help that every day 11,000 “Baby Boomers” retire (4,000,000 per year) and the US birth rate continues to decline (3.78M born in 2018) – its lowest rate since 1986. Finally, to add to this perfect storm is the fact that entry into the US via work related visas have been limited in the past few years due to new legislation.
This job environment is ripe with frustration when it comes to the part of the employer. The very best candidates will likely receive multiple offers. These candidates demand higher salaries, outside existing ranges, and often far above industry averages. If firms aren’t willing to pay top-dollar, they will lose the best candidates to their competition or anyone willing to pay up.
As a result, decisiveness and fast acting strategies become a requirement in this environment. Acting slowly only becomes a barrier to hiring the best talent. However, recruiting faster doesn’t mean abandoning one’s hiring standards. It doesn’t mean hiring quickly and irrationally, but it may require speeding up the process in a strategic way.
Realistically, companies should take no more than a month or 5 weeks to identify and interview their prospective hires. By hiring faster, companies report high quality hires, a better candidate experience, better response rates and ultimately better acceptance rates.
How to Implement a Faster Recruiting Process
Here are some tips to consider when adopting a faster hiring process.
Write better job postings and descriptions
Write clear job descriptions using simple language. A well written job posting helps to eliminate the noise that my come from the wrong candidates applying. In addition, job descriptions should include the must-have skills only. When job descriptions are filled with never ending lists of must-haves, candidates are frequently turned off because they don’t think they’ll meet every single requirement. As a result, they may not apply at all. If you want to list skills that you’d like, but that are not entirely necessary to fulfill the job, you could provide a separate list called “nice to have” or “wish list.”
Send Timely Rejection Emails
If you know the candidate isn’t the right fit, send him/her a rejection email right away. Honesty is truly the best policy when it comes to this step, and the candidate will ultimately appreciate your correspondence, allowing them to move on in their process. It nicely closes the candidate experience and doesn’t leave a bad taste in their mouth.
Make the Application Process Simple and Easy
Keep the application process simple and easy. Long processes are a turn off and can make the candidate drop off during the process. Instead, provide the candidate with a brief synopsis of the process and what they’ll need to submit before they begin.
Despite best efforts, the recruiting process can be slow at times especially if a company is hiring a more senior position. If this is the case, it can become much more difficult to keep candidates engaged.
The most important thing to do, in this case, is keep communicating. It’s tempting to wait until a green light is received, but by then, the candidate may have moved on or is feeling deflated because they’ve not heard from your company. Keeping candidates informed on developments will keep them engaged and excited about the open position. At this juncture, it is critical that the company work with the recruiter to provide updated information on the status of the position. The recruiter will work to keep the candidate warm, but will need additional information to nurture them along.
As we inch closer to 2020, a statistic by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sits looming as a reminder of the massive gender gap in the technology industry. According to the BLS, there will be 1.4 million computer science jobs available in the US by 2020, but women will be on track to only fill 3% of these positions.
Additionally, the BLS states that 68% of women enroll in college (compared to 63% of men), and women increasingly outnumber men in college graduation rates. Yet women still make up only a quarter of the tech industry workforce.
Where is the disconnect?
According to Code.org, nine out of 10 high schools in the United States fail to offer computer science classes, and in 33 of 50 states, computer science classes do not count towards high school math or science graduation requirements.
In a recent Google study, the company surveyed approximately 1,600 men and women. Their findings indicated that girls aren't taught what computer science actually means, and are half as likely to be encouraged to study it. Females that had no association with computer science used words such as "boring" and "difficult" to describe the industry.
Companies are well aware of these shortages and the disconnect that exists among young women. Therefore, many are taking great strides to change the stereotypes; to engage girls at an early age; and to encourage young women to enter into fields that include technology; whether it is computer science, engineering or IT.
OpTech is one of these firms. We are partnering with several organizations to change the trend with the ultimate goal of hiring more women for IT roles, even if they haven’t been in the workforce for several years. According to NCWIT, 56% of women in technology leave their employers midcareer. Of the women who leave, 24% take a non-technical job in a different company; 22% become self-employed in a tech field, 20% take time out of the workforce, and 10% go to work with a startup company. This is double the turnover rate of men.
Although this seems like an unfortunate statistic, there is promise within it. There are several women that have taken time out of the workforce, but are looking for a way to get back into it. OpTech is partnering with several stakeholders on an initiative called “Silicon Lakes.” The program’s mission is intended to re-engage and bring tech professional women with a career gap back to work and help them reach their full potential.
Silicon Lakes’ objectives are the following:
What is the end goal?
Our goal is to create a large, rich pipeline of talented tech women in Michigan and bridge the gender gap while promoting creativity, diversity, and experience in the workplace. We want to bring tech women with career breaks together to reinforce their identity, and open up opportunities to re-engage in the Michigan economy.
It Makes Business Sense
Customer demographics are changing. In much of our research, woman are changing the way business is done and how it is done. Did you know that 90% of the financial decisions in a household are made by women, and guess what? Women have become significant household earners and the key decision makers. According to the Wall Street Journal, by 2022, women will control over 60% of the wealth in the United States. Companies with women in leadership roles crush the competition according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Over the course of the next six years, it is projected that there will be a gap of 811,000 career openings to fill in Michigan alone. We must act swiftly to change the current patterns and design sustainable pipeline approaches for highly-skilled talent to fill the anticipated open positions. The shortage of qualified talent is a major concern as it poses a real threat to the economic growth and prosperity of our state and our nation.
If you or someone you know, in the field of IT or engineering, is trying to get back into the workforce, contact our Director of Recruiting, Debbie Blair at email@example.com or call her directly at 313-879-6211. To learn more about Silicon Lakes, please contact Director of Marketing, Laura Ziegler directly at 313-879-6234 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As most of you are probably aware, OpTech believes strongly in charitable activities, especially those having a direct impact on children and STEM Education. Yesterday, OpTech team members participated in Boulan Park Middle School’s A.P.T. to Succeed program.
A.P.T. to Succeed is a project in which local 8th grade students experience a professional interview by members of the Troy business community. The A.P.T. interview focuses on the following:
A = Academic Achievement
P = Personal Time Management
T = Teamwork
For some of our staff, this is their sixth year volunteering for the program and interviewing students. When asked about the experience, one team member said “I am always impressed by the enthusiasm and talent of the young people I interview. I love evaluating their work and giving them pointers on building their resumes but also encouraging the effort they’ve put forth. It truly is a rewarding experience.”
Thanks OpTech team for representing our firm and giving back to our community.
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