Monday, November 29, 2010

The Importance of References

At DISCOVER STAFFING, we require two references on every applicant who comes into our office. This is a guarantee we give our clients. Often, people lose touch with former employers or coworkers. It is very important that you have the right references available for your job search. Here is an article from Quintessential Careers with a lot of great advice.

References: The Keys to Choosing and Using the Best Job References in Your Job Search
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

If you're like most job-seekers, you may not have put much thought into whom you'll want to use as references when potential employers request them. We're often so busy polishing our resumes and cover letters, researching the companies, and preparing for interviews, that we neglect a very important part of the job search process -- requesting people to be references.

How can this article assist you? By helping you see the importance and value of choosing the "right" people to be references, by providing examples of how to develop a references page, and by offering you other keys to using references strategically in your job search.

Perhaps you're saying to yourself, "references don't really matter." And while it's true that most employers will not conduct a detailed background search on you, many employers will at least contact at least one or two of your references. Do not underestimate the power of your references. Remember, the employer is preparing to make a big investment in hiring you, and wants to be sure you are who you say you are. Having a few good references can be the deciding factor in your getting the job offer. Similarly, having one bad -- or lukewarm -- reference could cost you the job.

So what are the keys to using job references? Here's one list of the eight keys to choosing and using the best job references in your job search.

1. Don't even bother with those generic "letters of recommendations."
Employers don't want to read letters written in the past to “whom it may concern.” Employers want to be able to contact and communicate (via phone or email) with a select group of people who can speak about your strengths and weakness and fit for the job you are seeking. (See sidebar.) Plus, these letters don't have much credibility because anyone who would write a letter for you would likely say only good things about you.

2. Never, ever list names of references on your resume.
References belong on a separate sheet of paper that matches the look and feel of your resume, but is simply titled "References" or "Reference List." And never give references to employers until they request them, but do be sure and keep a list of references with you when interviewing so that you can be prepared to present them when the employer asks. If you have a job-search portfolio, keep the list in your portfolio. See these two sample reference lists.

3. Think strategically about reference choices.
What kind of reference do you want? You want the people who will make the strongest recommendations for you. Former supervisors do not have to be references, especially if they did not know all your accomplishments or you fear they will not have glowing things to say about you. Sometimes former co-workers, or supervisors in other departments who know your work, make the best choices. Again, the key is people who know your strengths and abilities -- and who will say positive things about you.

4. Consider different categories of references.
Overall, you ideally want about three to five references - people who can speak highly of your accomplishments, work ethic, skills, education, performance, etc. For experienced job-seekers, most references should come from previous supervisors and co-workers whom you worked closely with in the past, though you may also choose to list an educational (mentor) or personal (character) reference. College students and recent grads have a little more flexibility, but ideally you should have several references from internships or volunteer work in addition to professors and personal references. Avoid listing family members; clergy or friends are okay for personal references. Former coaches, vendors, customers, and business acquaintances are also acceptable.

5. Get permission to use someone as a reference.
Before you even think of listing someone as a reference, be sure and ask whether the person would be comfortable serving as a reference for you. Most people will be flattered -- or at least willing to serve as a reference -- but you still need to ask to be sure. Be prepared for a few people to decline your request -- for whatever reason.

6. Collect all the details for each reference.
Make sure to get complete information from each reference: full name, current title, company name, business address, and contact information (daytime phone, email, cell phone, etc.).

7. Keep your references informed (and perhaps coached).
Make sure each reference always has a copy of your most current resume, knows your key accomplishments and skills, and is aware of the jobs/positions you are seeking. Again, the best references are the ones who know who you are, what you can accomplish, and what you want to do.

8. Be sure to thank your references for their help.
Don't forget to thank your references once your current job search is complete. Some companies never contact any references, some only check the first one or two, and some check all. Regardless, these people were willing to help you, and thanking them is simply a common courtesy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Holiday Job Search

I found this post on the Careerbuilder blog The Work Buzz.

Get hired during the holidays
Anthony Balderrama

Senioritis is the classic mental vacation many high schoolers take as graduation nears. Can you blame them? In the spring semester – and sometimes even in the fall semester – students are exhausted. They’ve been in school for 13 years. They’ve taken standardized tests. They’ve studied for exams. Freedom is weeks away. Soon they won’t have to sit in a classroom for eight hours a day. In their minds, school is already out.

For job seekers, something similar often happens as the year ends. Let’s call it holiday burnout. After months searching for a job, you get tired of the process. Browsing job postings, networking, drafting cover letters, customizing your résumé, interviewing – over and over and over again. You get burned out, and before Thanksgiving arrives you just want to stop and rest. Wisdom says that no one’s hiring in the last month or two of the year anyway and that you should start applying again after the new year, when everyone’s back from vacation and ready to hire again.

Let’s not forget that the holidays themselves can be a pain: visiting family, preparing large meals, parties, shopping. Your calendar can get too full to search.

Don’t get caught in this trap, says career consultant and author Jean Baur. Holiday burnout might have you frustrated with the process, but it’s also the perfect time to stand out from other job seekers. You’re not the only person who wants to take a rest from the grind of looking for a job.

"If you’re out there working the job market when others aren’t, you’ve got an advantage. You have less competition. You’ll stand out,” Baur says. “[It’s] the people who are using winter holiday parties to network who will be working sooner than those who give up and stay home to bake cookies. Even if the job itself doesn’t start until after the holidays, those who have given up will most likely not be the ones working when the season passes."

Holiday burnout can take its toll on you. But remember that employers often begin new budgets after the first of the year. They’re ready to start spending, and that means they’re getting the footwork out of the way now. So you could interview and even receive an offer now. Even if you don’t, your name might be at the top of the pile of résumés when recruiters start making calls on January 2.

Baur’s book "Eliminated! Now What?: Finding Your Way from Job-Loss Crisis to Career Resilience" has some recommendations for what you should and shouldn’t do during the holiday season.

Baur says you should:

Let the holidays help you network
From holiday cards to play dates to cocktail parties, the season is full of opportunities to interact with friends and family. Each conversation is a networking opportunity and a chance to let others know you’re still looking for a job.

Evaluate your job search tactics
Look at what you’ve done and decide what is and isn’t working for you. Don’t assume anything, or as Baur says, don’t let hearsay determine your path. What have you done that shows you results? Do you know for a fact a certain company isn’t hiring right now? Do your own homework.

Keep an open mind
"Tell yourself that you’ll keep an open mind about when jobs are found and will, at the very least, experiment during your job search so that you can discover what works and what doesn’t," Baur says.

And Baur says you shouldn’t:

Shut down during the holidays
Just because the common wisdom says no one’s hiring for the holidays, don’t believe it and check out of your job hunt. You’re wasting valuable time.

Give up
Don’t ever think, "It’s never going to happen for me" and give up. Looking for a job is difficult, time consuming, stressful and unpredictable. The only way to be certain you’re not going to ever land a job is if you just give up.

Burnout is real and you don’t want to push yourself so hard that you’re miserable. Always take time to relax and stay calm during your job hunt. But don’t go on a complete hiatus during the last two months of the year. Between preparing a turkey and wrapping gifts, remember that your job search is an ongoing process and to look for any opportunity you have to promote your hunt.

As Baur says in her book, the holidays distract many job seekers from their searches, and that leaves many opportunities open for you to step in and get noticed.

Do you plan on searching for a job during the holidays? How will you balance your job search with the hectic schedule of the season?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Available Jobs in Gwinnett, North Fulton and Cobb County

DISCOVER STAFFING specializes in general office support and light industrial positions in the North Fulton, Cobb and Gwinnett County areas.

Available Positions Include:

  • Administrative Assistants - All Levels
  • Receptionists
  • Customer Service
  • Accounting including AP/AR and Bookkeeping
  • Warehouse

    Temporary positions available throughout the Holiday Season.

    Candidates must be local to the North Atlanta area. Please send your resume to for consideration.

    Check back to our Career Resource Center often to see our most up to date listings.
  • Friday, November 12, 2010

    Recruiter in Duluth, GA

    DISCOVER STAFFING is currently working with a client in Duluth seeking a Recruiter for a 3-5 Month assignment. The recruiter would be responsible for posting new positions, sourcing candidates, screening resumes, initial interviews and scheduling additional interviews, working with managers to understand their hiring needs and all follow up. Minimum compensation $18 per hour.

    Please send resumes to for consideration.