4 ways to win in today’s competitive recruitment market

The following is the latest guest blog entry from Greater Boston Chamber members detailing valuable strategies and insight for the Greater Boston business community.

If you’re in charge of recruiting and hiring, you already know what I’m about to tell you: the 2015 job market has shifted significantly and employers are finding that recruiting has become a considerable challenge.

Jeanine Hamilton photo web sizeThe most recent numbers from the State’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development show that the Massachusetts unemployment rate is the lowest since 2007– dipping below 5 percent (the national average is 5.5 percent). However, if you look at the reports by education level, as the Wall Street Journal did, you can see that the unemployment rate for workers with a college degree is 2.7 percent.

What can employers do to keep their recruiting and hiring momentum going in such a competitive market?  Here are a few tips:

1). Make sourcing and recruiting an ongoing effort – Don’t just flip on recruiting mode only when you have an opening.  In today’s market it’s important to keep a consistent presence. If you frequently need to fill positions with very specific or hard-to-find skill sets, you want to keep in touch with all of your candidates – past and present – to continually build your network. Cultivate your most qualified contacts on LinkedIn; for example, once you’re connected, stay in touch with them, comment on their posts, and include them in your updates. Invite them to meet with you for a discussion of future roles that may come up with your organization.

2). Be open-minded – Try to evaluate your needs and your open requisites regularly. If you’re having a difficult time filling certain positions, consider whether there is anything you can change to make them more appealing or easier to fill. If the right candidate comes along, can you bring them on board and tailor your job requirements to their abilities? Consider which requirements are truly ‘must-have’ and which ones you could give up if a ‘good enough’ candidate came along.

3). Be nimble – In the current market candidates are receiving multiple job offers with very competitive benefits. If your interview process is one that drags on and involves multiple office visits, you risk losing a candidate’s interest. Can you use technology to speed your process up, e.g. Skype vs in-person interviews? Is there a way to share information more expediently to eliminate redundant interivews?

4). Hire experts – Consider supplementing your in-house staff with outside experts who specialize in recruiting and staffing. Staffing firms offer a wide range of services, and many have expertise in specific industries or job functions. After all, they do this every day.

Jeanine Hamilton is president of Hire Partnership, a minority- and woman-owned SDO-certified, full-service staffing and workforce solutions firm serving Boston-area businesses. She can be reached at jhamilton@hirepartnership.com.


Listen to Senate President Rosenberg’s address to the Chamber

Rosenberg_ProgramsEmailEarlier this month, Senate President Stan Rosenberg addressed Chamber members for the first time at a Government Affairs Forum. He outlined his priorities and discussed a wide range of issues, including transportation, criminal justice reform, education, and income inequality. Listen below to hear his entire speech, courtesy of our media partner WBUR 90.9FM.

Words of Wisdom Guiding Boston’s Small Business Leaders

Written by Jeff Freedman, CEO of Small Army

Freedman_ProgramsEmailLast week, I had the pleasure of getting together for dinner with some of the 2014 Small Business of the Year Award (SBOY) honorees at Row 34 (sister restaurant of 2014 honoree, Island Creek Oyster Bar) in Boston. During the meal – and after several oysters and drinks – I asked everyone at the table to share some of the best advice they’ve gotten from other people.  Fortunately, I grabbed my iPhone and wrote most of them down – so now, I can share these nuggets with you.  Enjoy (and take note)!

1). Lead with optimism and enthusiasm, and others will follow 
Jon Olinto – 2014 Award Winner and co-Founder, b.good
Credited to: Jim Valvano, College basketball player, coach and broadcaster
-   Optimism and enthusiasm are contagious.  When people feel this way, they are happier, perform better, and stay with you longer.  Along similar lines, Jon also advised on the importance of being generous (crediting author, Seth Godin), as that is ultimately what will cause you to forever be remembered and missed.  (Writer’s note: with all the great work Jon and b.good do with their Foundation, he has clearly taken this advice to heart.)

2). Know when to say no.
Beth Monaghan – 2014 Honoree and Founder, InkHouse
Credited to: Maia Heymann, managing partner at CommonAngels
-   Saying no can be very difficult. So, to help you with that, create a list of items you want to accomplish and keep it with you. If a request doesn’t help you accomplish your goals, then considering saying no.

3). If you haven’t made any enemies, you haven’t accomplished anything.
Dan Hermann – 2014 Honoree and Founder, Paint Nite
Credited to:  Dan’s dad, the late great Akiba Hermann
-   We all try and make people happy. But you probably wont accomplish your vision if you try to please everyone along the way.

4). Don’t forget to breathe.
Jeff Barry – 2014 Honoree and Founder, Boston Organics
Credited to:  Personal coach
-  Our world can get a bit crazy. Sometimes, you need to just take a step back and breathe before reacting. (Side note:  Beth recommended the meditation app, Headspace, as a potential assistant with this one)

5). More often than not, the more difficult choice to make is the correct one.
Jason Kissell – SBOY committee member and VP Advertising at Boston Globe Media
Credited to:  Jason’s dad
-   Don’t rush to make the easiest decision as that is not always the best solution. The harder decision may be more difficult to make (see Dan’s advice above), but it may be the right decision to accomplish your goals.

6). More than almost anything, people just want to be heard
Jeff Freedman (me)
Credited to: Joan Bragar (a leadership coach we work with at Small Army)
-    When people are upset about something, the thing they often crave most is someone to listen to them.  Ask them what’s wrong, be sure they get it all out (keep asking “what else?”), make sure they know you heard them (repeat it back), and thank them for sharing.  You’ll be amazed at how powerful it can be – not just in professional life, but in personal life as well.

I look forward to the next get-together with this great group of honorees, as I’m sure they will once again inspire me and open my eyes to new ideas and ways of thinking.  And, I’ll be sure to once again share it with you.

ISBOY logoof your business or a business you know is growing, innovating and giving back to the community like these honorees, be sure to nominate them for the 2015 award today.  (Deadline for nominations is April 28)

Jeff Freedman is the CEO of Small Army, a Boston-based advertising firm and 2013 Small Business of the Year Honoree. Jeff also serves as the SBOY Committee Chair.


4 ways Boston young professionals should be networking

You’ve already heard (ad nauseam) the merits of ‘starting early.’ Professors, parents, neighbors, and bosses all consistently beat the same drum of anti-procrastination. Your friends in finance stress the importance of contributing to your 401(k) – the younger you start the better, they say. When you’re looking for a new job, associates will tell you that to be placed in six months; you need to start looking now. Today, it seems, is always better than tomorrow.

But why is the same principle not universally applied to your own personal network growth?  Amassing a strong and powerful list of connections is as important a skill as any in developing your personal brand in a competitive marketplace, and can be much like the exponential growth realized in your retirement fund. A professional with an extensive list of personal contacts has access to new perspectives and ideas, new markets, new opportunities, and – of course – more contacts. In this sense, your network is your own professional currency.

YPN networking 6The challenge – of course – is that networking is a learned skill; it doesn’t come naturally to most of us. Building a portfolio of personal connections is far easier said than done, requiring time and dedicated focus. There’s simply no silver bullet, but here are some tricks to better leverage the opportunities around you:

Be Active – but not over-reliant – on social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the like are continually expanding – but are still very much generational. As of 2014, 89% of adults 18-29 used social media, while usage of adults over the age of 50 drops to about 65%. These sites are terrific at supplementing a relationship, but are never a substitute. How can you make sure you aren’t overly dependent on social media? Once a month, go through all of your contacts on LinkedIn and choose ten to inquire on an informal coffee or lunch together. And don’t be afraid to reach out to people who shun the sites altogether.

Get out of your comfort zone – and the office: Countless organizations offer networking events with the specific objective of connecting you with others in the community. Do some research on organizations that attract the audience you seek, and sign up for an event. Networking programs can be a bit daunting for first timers, but the fun outweighs the nerves in the end. If you’re shy, it’s okay: bring along a colleague or friend to alleviate some of the pressure – but don’t spend the entire time chatting with them. Luckily there are many of networking events in Boston for young professionals.

YPN networking 3Find new people in old places: Of course, networking doesn’t only happen at an event. The best networkers find opportunities to meet people in all venues. Professionals that might be a terrific asset for you personally might be working out at your gym, sitting next to you at a wedding, or guarding you in your basketball league. Point is, growing your professional network is not a 9-5 job – be creative in identifying new connections in unconventional environments. These surprise connections are often the most impactful.

…which means, act professionally! It’s impossible to tell when or how you will come across someone who will end up being a terrific professional connection – so it’s best to put your best foot forward at all times. Try to be aware of your language when you are in a public place. Consider limiting that Hanson t-shirt to home-wear. Think about the first impression you leave on people.

Most of all, dedicate yourself to cultivating your network. Growing a list of professional connections is easily lost in the midst of alternative priorities, but taking a little time each month to focus on meeting a new and diverse collection of people will pay extraordinary dividends at a later point in your developing career.

graham-chapmanGraham Chapman is the director of business development at the Greater Boston Chamber. He helps hundreds of Boston-area business professionals achieve growth through strategic networking. Feel free to drop him a line at gchapman@bostonchamber.com.

Chamber calls for MBTA panel recommendations to be implemented immediately

Over the past few months, the Chamber has worked with key legislators and members of the Baker Administration with the goal of meaningful transportation reforms.  The disruptions in transportation services this winter were unprecedented and shed light on some of the longstanding problems at the MBTA.  The Chamber commends Governor Baker and his Special Panel on performing an in-depth diagnostic review of the MBTA’s core functions and supports the Panel’s recommendations to put the system back on track.

Reforms recommended by the Panel will change the culture of the organization and will result in significant savings that can be reallocated to clearing up the state of good repair (SGR) backlog and used to make much needed investments in transportation infrastructure.  Additionally, the recommendations and cost saving measures outlined by the Panel set the stage for future conversations on long term finance options for the MBTA.

For these reasons, the Chamber released a statement of support for the Panel’s recommendations.  Please click here to view the statement.

The Chamber has been and will remain committed to working with key decision makers to implement the innovative solutions presented by the Panel that will enhance public transportation throughout the state.