Top Three Things Employers Look For In Job Candidates

In a recent article, Forbes author Shelcy Joseph interviewed Michael Fraccaro, chief human resources officer at MasterCard. She asked him to share what he looks for in a potential hire. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we’ll share what he had to say.

Skills and culture fit. “We’re looking for people who can demonstrate the skills needed for the job they’re applying for—but, equally, if not more important, are people whose motivation and attitude fit with our culture. Candidates should definitely look into those aspects of the company beforehand. Just as you might check Yelp before trying a new restaurant, research the kind of work environment and culture you’re applying to. You can use resources like Glassdoor, Fishbowl, YouTube and other social sites to get an idea of what a company is like from the inside.”

Personality.“In the interview process, candidates who demonstrate grit, curiosity, optimism, a global mindset and a knack for problem-solving tend to make a positive impression. We also value people who are good at building relationships and have a healthy outlook about work-life balance. Being able to speak simply is also important. We deal in a very technical space, but we need to be able to translate what we do so people of all backgrounds can understand. Sharing stories and giving relatable examples are two good ways to make a complex subject simple and engaging. This shows not only that you know your content, but that you’re also able to help people connect with a topic they may not be familiar with. This is a kind of leadership that people at all levels of an organization can demonstrate.”

Agility. “Remember also that how you get things done is just as important as what you’ve done. Employers today take into account how you operate and make decisions in addition to what you’ve delivered. In this fast-paced, increasingly unpredictable world, we’re sometimes faced with new or never-before-seen circumstances. In those instances, it’s important for a company to be confident in the personal qualities such as integrity, fairness and decency that will guide an employee’s responses in situations that can’t be known in advance. They want to be confident that the choices you’ll make will be in line with the company’s values. Personal principles and intentions matter. Be prepared to reflect those in your responses during an interview.”

Fraccaro’s best advice to job candidates: “Be yourself and ask good, thoughtful questions. At Mastercard, as in probably most places, we want people who will bring their hearts and minds and authentic selves to work.”

Source: Shelcy V. Joseph is a contributor to Forbes. She is also the founder of millennial career website A Millennial’s Guide to Life and event series NYCxClothes & Friends. She loves telling stories that move and inspire people to explore their full potential and live their best life.

How To Stay Balanced And Be Heard

For many of us, a large portion of our time is spent at work; in fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. It’s safe to say a job can make a huge impact on your quality of life.

However, how would you rate the quality of your conversations at work? How well do you know the colleagues with whom you interact on a daily basis? With so much of our time spent at work, it is important to foster an engaged and supportive workplace, and bring meaningful conversations into the office.

In a 2017 study on Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte found that rather than focusing narrowly on employee engagement and culture, organizations need to develop an integrated focus on the entire employee experience, from the work environment to management practices to supporting functions.

Today, we share advice from business blogger Muir Keir to help businesses positively influence the entire employee experience.

Leaving “balance” undefined. The term ‘work-life balance’ is a regular topic of discussion in modern workplaces. Various strategies are put in place toencourage employees to achieve a work-life balance. However, the distinct line between work and home is no longer clear-cut, and our leisure time is regularly infiltrated by work, because of our own expectations or those of others. With today’s ability to access email and text messages 24/7, it’s easy for this spillover to take place.

The first step companies can take is to recognize that balance is unique to each individual. There is no “one-size-fits-all” concept. Perhaps we can help our teams achieve true balance in their lives by first accepting that the term is entirely subjective or even undefinable. Perhaps we can empower our employees by declaring that as managers we are comfortable that employees create this for themselves.

This means giving employees some autonomy in terms of hours they work and where they work to achieve their personally defined balance, which leads to flexibility.

Engaging through flexibility. Like balance, flexibility is innately personal and strongly valued. Flexibility in the workplace is key not only to increasing employee satisfaction, but also to fostering someone’s unique approach to completing a job to the best of their ability which, in return, results in increased productivity.

An example of flexibility is with the industry giant, Philips. This company developed and implemented employee leave policies that by default enable flexibility at work, including parental leave, grandparent leave, purchased leave and domestic violence leave available to all staff. Building on personalized support, the company also focus on employees transitioning through different stages of their career, including offering detailed career transition planning for those considering their path to retirement.

Creating a forum to be heard. Paramount to ensuring that employers stimulate meaningful conversation is to provide a forum where employees can be heard. Employees face unique personal challenges throughout their careers, and they should be supported to manage these in their own way. This is why many companies now have an employee assistance program (EAP), offering an extensive range of support services to all staff, as well as formal quarterly employee engagement surveys which allows everyone to have a say in how they feel about the organization.

That step of being heard simply starts with a personal question to an employee: How are you doing today and how can I make today a better day for you?

Source: Muir Keir is general manager of personal health at Philips Australia and New Zealand.

What Your Employees Really Want To Know About Change

Organizations are organic. They grow, shrink, shift and evolve to stay responsive to customers and the ever-changing business climate. Sometimes change is good and sometimes it’s not. Either way, change can affect people’s jobs and create a sense of uneasiness or fear.

Today, we’re sharing key tips for planning and implementing change from Liz Kislik, a contributor to HBR, who helps guide organizations through change.

Plan more time than you ever thought necessary to prepare the content, delivery and necessary follow-up. When communicating across your organization, you should expect to hold not just one initial “all hands” meeting or videoconference, but also a series of smaller team and individual conversations as follow-ups. Also, coordinate the timing of the announcements so that no one is caught flat-footed if the news is released at different intervals by individual managers and organization-wide outlets. Giving people multiple opportunities to take in and process the announcement is essential for thorough understanding; receiving the information from the right sources in the right sequence is crucial for credibility.

Equip all levels of management to explain the context. Provide training and rehearsal or role-play time to everyone who will need to communicate the message; don’t assume they’ll have the right instincts.

Describe the organizational pain, and how the new solution alleviates it. Instead of just announcing a disruptive change, give the background of what’s not working today and why the new plan is the best way to get to the desired outcome. Focus on how customers have been hurt, how the business is incurring extra expense, the negative brand impact—and how the change will help mitigate those problems.

Personalize both the impact and the resolution. If you don’t, employees may not understand which specifics apply to them, or even how the company is providing support or services to help them cope. For example, in the small group or individual meetings, be prepared with all the necessary details to answer personal questions immediately. Without this, you’ll create even more anxiety and aggravation as people wait for someone to work out the specifics you didn’t research in advance.

Give the affected people as many options and as much participation as you can. When they have choices—and the necessary information or support to make them—employees feel more respected and maintain more pride and autonomy. The closer people are to the work, the more likely it is that they’ll generate practical ideas. Kislik gives the example of one organization that was having financial difficulties and provided a series of meetings about cost-cutting measures that asked everyone to look for ways to help—even though they were adversely affected by some of the very measures they proposed.

Demonstrate humility and responsibility, not just authority. Many leaders mistakenly believe that they’ll be given a pass for shaking up people’s lives if they say they’re suffering over the decision or the disruption themselves. Even treating the problem as a shared responsibility can backfire and feel manipulative to employees. Instead, say, “I’m sorry I didn’t anticipate …” or, “I was too enthusiastic about x…” This shows that you take seriously the impact of the situation on others. You can’t prepare for every curveball, so if you don’t have the answer to a question, say something like, “Wow, that’s a question we didn’t think about, but it’s a good one. We’ll get back to everyone with an answer early next week.”

Whether announcing cost-saving measures, a company restructure or an acquisition, by carefully planning your communication and providing the right level of detail at the right time, you can support your employees through the process with transparency and authenticity.

Source: Liz Kislik helps organizations from the Fortune 500 to national nonprofits and family-run businesses solve their thorniest problems. She has taught at NYU and Hofstra University, and recently spoke at TEDxBaylorSchool. Request her free guide,

How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts in the Workplace, on her website.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

Trust Your Notes, Not Your Memory

When it comes time for your annual review or to ask for a raise or promotion, you’ll need to back up your request with examples of your good work. If you’re in sales, it’s comparatively easy to track how you are doing. But, if you are in customer service, for example, charting those accomplishments requires more attention. And, with the fast pace of daily work, it’s hard to find the time to stop and document achievements when you’re constantly in motion.

Today, we’re sharing these tips from blogger and personal finance writer Alicia Adamczyk on how to save and document great work throughout the year.

Take Contemporaneous Notes. Make notes in Google docs or the OneNote app, or write them in a journal book documenting each time you have a major “win” at work and when you routinely do tasks above your pay grade. You don’t need to make a record of every accolade but do catalog times when you’re singled out in a staff-wide email, for example, or you help a coworker with a big project.

Be certain your notes include dates, and if you are including an email or message from someone else, make sure the source is identifiable.

If you want to go further for your own reflection, use these steps from Idealist Careers to examine your accomplishments:

Think of a challenge that needed to be resolved.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to resolve it?

List the steps you took to resolve the challenge one by one.

What happened as a result of your actions?

You might also document additional wins such as:

Difficult situations with co-workers that you successfully worked through and how you did it.

Tasks and projects that were completed on time, and how you did it: Track all projects and tasks, even ones you think are small.

The times you overcame pressure and still succeeded in meeting your goals.

Track those situations when you know you exceeded expectations and explain why.

Take Screenshots of Everything. If your boss compliments you in an email or Slack conversation, take a screenshot and include a copy of it where you keep your notes.

Go Through Your Calendar. If you keep meetings and project due dates in a calendar, go back through it to jog your memory. You can also make note of accomplishments on your calendar, and be sure to set calendar reminders for occasional mini-reviews with yourself.

Make a Spreadsheet. If a journal app or accomplishments box aren’t your thing, try logging everything into a spreadsheet, which is easily sortable and can be customized however you like.

When it comes time to sit down with your boss for that review or raise, refresh yourself on what’s in your notes, and come with a page or two detailing your best metrics and biggest contributions. Then, write a follow-up email laying out your achievements (with dates and supporting evidence as needed). These extra steps will take you a long way to a top review and future promotion.

Source: Alicia Adamcyk is a personal finance writer and lifehacker.

Simple Ways To Recognize Greatness

How hard do your employees work for you? When your employees produce excellent work, do you take the time to thank and reward them? Not only does recognition make employees feel good, your praise incentivizes them to excel and helps retain them. Cultivating an atmosphere of continued achievement begins with giving credit where credit is due.

Research from Bersin & Associates reveals that 80 percent of surveyed employees feel more motivated to work when they believe they are appreciated. Another 71 percent say they’re motivated by the competition when peers are recognized for their work at least monthly. Proper recognition can do wonders for engaging your employees, even if they aren’t the ones being recognized.

Today, we share five simple and effective ways to recognize outstanding work from employees.

1. Buy a gift. The best employees give a lot of time and effort to their job, and you can return the favor with a gift. Put some thought into what you give. Generic gifts, such as gift cards, are appreciated, but they hardly show how much you truly value your employee. Instead, consider the needs and wants of your employees and don’t be afraid to spend a little cash to make them feel appreciated.

2. Create a personalized plaque. When an employee produces particularly good work, they deserve recognition beyond a simple gift. Give them something to forever commemorate the occasion, such as a glass plaque or award that can be displayed publicly on a shelf or mantel, and becomes a long-term keepsake for the recipient. Within the promotional products industry, the options are almost limitless. Opportunities to recognize good work can include special designations such as Employee of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, or other top-performer recognition awards. You might also reward employees for sales, leadership, milestones, customer service, safety, partnership or special categories.

3. Designate an Employee of the Month. If you’re in an informal setting and a banquet or award plaque seems too formal, consider developing an Employee of the Month program. It might seem like a simple way to recognize great employees, but it’s effective, and engenders productive competition and helps boost morale.

4. Invest in professional development. When you have high-performing employees who are eager to learn and advance their skills, reward them by providing professional development opportunities. You might pay for them to attend an industry conference (bonus points if it’s located somewhere tropical) or education program that provides training in their area of specialty, or pay the tuition for college classes related to their current work or career goals.

By investing in an employee’s education, you’re sending the message that they’re truly valuable. In addition, it motivates the employee to do a better job. It’s an investment in the employee and your company.

5. Donate to a nonprofit. Do some good while showing your top-performing employees you care. Allow your best employee to select a charity, and then donate a high-dollar amount to that organization. Studies show that when employees are enabled to provide service or donations to those in need, even vicariously, they tend to be happier and more motivated in their careers.

Source: Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer in Renton, Washington, who is interested in travel, nature and parenting.

Asking Questions Can Make You A Better Leader

The Greek philosopher, Socrates, once said the ability to be a great leader comes down to one very important skill: asking questions. The challenge is that too few leaders, managers and employees know how to do this well.

Here, we share these insights from business author Michael Lindenmayer on asking good questions and other key elements of Socratic leadership.

1. Quest For The Best Answers. The key to getting your team to embrace questioning is to help them see it as a tool to get the best answer versus an interrogation. In getting the best answer, everyone has a role to play and different insights to bring to the table. If it feels like an interrogation, morale will drop and defensive attitudes will stifle the ability to find the best answer. So, make the quest for the best answers a part of your corporate culture.

2. Be Humble: Admit You Don’t Know. Check your ego at the door when finding the best answers. If a team member is missing an answer, then the next question to put forth should help them find it. This eliminates any excuses and sets everyone right back on the path to finding the best possible answers.

3. Build Stamina: Get a Brain Work Out. Most people can handle only a few questions before they experience cognitive overload. Too many questions with too few answers kicks in the flight response. People can shut down. The good news is that people can build up their stamina so that they can handle more questions. The best way to do this is to work the brain out like a muscle. Engage. Rest. Recover. You will get stronger and better at asking questions and engaging in the quest for answers.

4. Empower Everyone. Want to unleash the potential of your team? Then ask questions and be up for digging for the best answers. Also encourage others across your team to ask questions. When asking questions becomes part of your company culture, you drive consistency across the organization.

5. Concentrate. If you want good answers, you need to concentrate on getting them. Our brains are splintered by multitasking. Stanford Professor Clifford Nass’s research showcases how multitasking both reduces the speed of decision-making as well as the quality of the decisions generated. Instead, engage in thinking that is deliberative and logical. It helps you clear through the rapid, automatic and subconscious default settings that often guide us and push us further to get at thoughtful decisions.

6. Questions For The Three P’s. The three P’s are: possibilities, probabilities and priorities. Certain questions generate possibilities. Other questions sharpen the team’s ability to assess the probable outcome of potential decisions. The third set of questions help empower team members to prioritize. Learn to apply different questions to the three P’s; it will help advance your endeavor.

Try this Socratic method with your team. Determine great questions you will ask your team that will advance your mission.

Source: Michael Lindenmayer, a Forbes contributor, is a purpose-driven entrepreneur, writer and systems designer. He is the co-founder and CEO of Toilet Hackers, a social enterprise focused on securing 100 percent sanitation for the 2.6 billion people living without a toilet. He is an advisor to Sesame Workshop’s Global Health Initiative. And he is on the advisory board of the Girl’s Fund at the World Wide Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. He also collaborates with the leading minds at the University of Chicago’s Booth Business, where he is an associate fellow at the New Paths to Purpose Project.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

Ask The Most Important Interview Question

Business blogger Brendan Reid says there is one specific question you can ask during an interview that will help you to clearly understand a job candidate. 

Ask this question: Walk me through how this role and company will be different from previous experiences you’ve had.

The Research Test: Reid says he likes this question because the answer always reveals how much the candidate has researched the company and the position. If they don’t refer to specifics or cite examples that indicate they’ve done their homework or if they don’t demonstrate a clear understanding of the role, then it will be apparent.

The Self-Awareness Test: Self-awareness is an attribute that Reid says should be highly valued in candidates. If you aren’t self-aware and you can’t evaluate yourself objectively, it’s very difficult to be successful on a team. This question is great at revealing self-awareness. The candidate is forced to think critically about their own experiences and compare them with this new one. In the process, they must point to gaps and deficiencies to provide a thoughtful answer. The best candidates will be able to thoughtfully analyze and identify areas of difference and speak to how they will manage through them.

The Depth of Competency Test: Many candidates can speak at a surface level about a topic or function. The Internet makes it easy to prep basic answers to most questions, so the goal here is to force candidates to demonstrate a depth of understanding. It allows them to show how they can apply concepts from one job to a different situation.

The Learning Test: Another important attribute to look for in candidates is dedication to learning. The best teams are the ones that learn and improve every day. By asking a question about differences and gaps, you provide the context for the best candidates to talk about learning. Some candidates will try to minimize the relevance of differences. The best candidates, on the other hand, will speak to specific steps they intend to take to close the gaps. They’ll talk about learning.

Try this question in your next interview as an efficient way to discover the capabilities of your job candidates.

Source: Brendan Reid is an executive at one of the largest software companies in the country and the author of Stealing the Corner Office. He also writes a business blog and provides one-on-one career coaching.

The Real Facts About the Coffee Shop Effect

Myfavorite invention of all time is the one I can’t live without—my laptop. It’s not because of its powerful software or its ability to create content, but because of its flexibility. My laptop gives me

freedom. I can work in the office, from home, by the pool or at my local Starbucks. Changing my work location helps me with productivity when I get brain fog or writer’s block. In fact, I can often get more done in one hour at Starbuck’s than in an entire morning at the office. The question is, why? Freelance writer Kat Boogaard asked this question, too, in her recent blog.

1. Your brain loves novelty. Boogaard says that the human brain has been proven to constantly seek novelty, rather than the repetitive and mundane. It’s a classic case of “shiny object syndrome.” Whether or not you’re aware of it, you’re always keeping your eyes peeled for what’s new and exciting.

When you’re presented with something different, your brain releases dopamine. Known to many people as the feel-good brain chemical, dopamine was previously thought to be a reward in itself. Recent studies, however, have shown it’s more closely tied to motivation—meaning dopamine inspires you to seek out a reward, rather than acting as a reward itself.

So, by creating a fresh, new work environment, a la Starbucks, you are providing a blank canvas for your brain to get stimulated. By focusing on your to-do list in your new environment, you are exercising your brain’s neuroplasticity. So, what you see as being more efficient in a different location is your brain thinking about the tasks in a different light. By doing this, you are climbing out of the stale rut you were in before, activating your brain’s ability to think about things in a new way.

2. You easily fall victim to unproductive routiness. We all have routines in our lives, and sometimes these routines, or rituals, are comforting. However, sometimes these routines can become—well, so routine—that they are unproductive. That’s why, when you need to put something together for work, it’s easy to get distracted by the blackhole known as Facebook or Twitter, or another social media channel. Sometimes a different work environment helps to counteract these bad habits and get productive again.
Boogaard shares this quote from Ralph Ryback, M.D., in an article in Psychology Today. He says, “Environmental cues are essential when it comes to habit formation, in part because the brain is excellent at connecting an environment with a specific situation.”

Pay attention to what productivity boosters you enjoy most and think about how to incorporate them back at your desk.

3. You set intentions to get more done. Is it the actual change of environment that makes you more productive, or is it your intention to work better or smarter in the new environment? Boogaard says that it’s both of those things. Changing your work environment does indeed have an impact on your brain and your level of motivation. But, there’s a lot to be said for good intentions as well. It’s as if you’ve snapped your brain into saying, “I’m going to get through my list.” Intention can be a powerful tool.

As reported by the Harvard Business Review, William A. Tiller, a professor emeritus at Stanford University, is quoted from the book, Intention Experiment, by Lynne McTaggart, as saying, “For the last 400 years, an unstated assumption of science is that human intention cannot affect what we call physical reality. Our experimental research of the past decade shows that, for today’s world and under the right conditions, this assumption is no longer correct.”

In other words, your intention makes a difference. The next time you feel like you’re just barely slogging through your workload, consider heading to a new environment with the intention of getting things done. You’ll likely be surprised by how much it helps your productivity.

Source: Kat Boogaard is a freelance writer and blogger who finally gathered her courage, sprinted away from her cubicle, and started her own business. Now, she lends her voice to various brands and publications to help them craft content that engages their audience. Beyond that, she helps other hopeful freelancers figure out how to jump ship from their jobs and create their own heart-centered and hustle-filled businesses.

Build Brand Value Through Events

To build a brand today, you need to be known for more than just your product. You need to be known for your knowledge, expertise and experience. Events can be a great way to engage others and immerse them in your brand.

Just look at Dreamforce, the annual event hosted by Salesforce that brings together more than 170,000 marketers and digital technology experts from 91 countries. It’s an experience that includes speakers, motivational keynotes, a top-of-the-line trade show, concerts, philanthropy and more that all contributes to the brand equity of Salesforce.

Here we’re sharing these tips from Tony Delmercado, COO of Hawk Media, to help you creating events that epitomize your brand.

1. Know the “why” behind your event. The first thing you need to do—before anyone will trust you or become a loyal fan—is consider what real, emotional connections you can build between your customers and your brand. Then you need to understand why you are hosting the event. Why do you incorporate your brand when you do? Any event you plan should embody your brand’s values and message, so try to infuse your company’s core values into the activities wherever possible to produce a unique and memorable experience.

2. Focus on the right things to develop your event. There are a many logistics involved in event planning. The key to developing the most engaging events lies in knowing who you are as a company and why you exist in the world. What are your core values that need to be represented? Your reason for existing, in other words, needs to spur everything you do, large or small.

3. Involve your most enthusiastic staff and customers. This isn’t just about the people working the event. Proactively seed the audience and the venue with people who are superfans of your brand, even if they’re not the most knowledgeable on how your company works. Enthusiasm spreads.

A great way to create a strong emotional connection to your brand is to hold an event packed with your most ardent supporters. These people can help shape a more personalized vibe at the event, so that the overall experience helps your guests see and understand how your company truly “gets” them.

Also, cherry-pick your own team members and put people either on the agenda or in the audience who you think will have a positive impact during smaller, one-on-one conversations. This is akin to getting your three best guests on your list because you know they’ll be the life of the party and set the tone for the room.

4. Align the event with your broader mission. Can you take your brand’s purpose in the world and grow an event around it? Dreamforce is a primary example of this. At this event, they had 20 monks leading daily mindful sessions and attendees help stuff 1,500 backpacks with school supplies for hurricane victims—both representative of the core values of Salesforce.

Hosting events is a fun and exciting way to grow your brand. If you focus on your why, you’ll get to connect with people in strategic positions, craft killer experiences that build affection and loyalty in your customer base, and grow your business by introducing it to new potential customers.

Source: Tony Delmercado is the COO at Hawke Media and the founder of 1099.me.

Are You Ditching Decision Making?

Have you ever made a bad decision, then looked back and wondered why? Of course, we’ve all done this. I look back and wonder: Why did I turn down that offer to work for an agency in New York? Why did I charge the customer so much? Why did I hire that friend of a friend who wasn’t really qualified?

We all make bad decisions, but as business blogger Darius Foroux points out, those bad decisions never seem like bad decisions in the moment.

In a recent post, Foroux shares some key points about the decision-making process from two of the most successful investors of all time, Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger, who were featured in Buffet’s biography by Alice Schroeder. 

Don’t Overthink. Smart people are way too preoccupied with doing the right things. They want to have the perfect life, career, house, business, car, holiday, etc. When you put too much pressure on yourself to make the right decisions, you get analysis paralysis with no good outcome. The only way you can stop overthinking is to make yourself aware of your thinking process.

Do This Instead: Make Small Decisions Early. Foroux referred to the way Charlie Munger thinks. One of his decision-making strategies is to avoid mistakes. But that can be interpreted in different ways. You can fear decisions altogether because you might make mistakes. What happens is that you don’t make decisions at all. As Munger says: “The difference between a good business and a bad business is that good businesses throw up one easy decision after another. The bad businesses throw up painful decisions time after time.

Foroux interprets this as follows: When you make small decisions early, before they become big—it’s easy. When you put off decisions, they become big—and painful.

For example, Foroux said he was not happy with the email provider used to send out his newsletter and for a long time put off moving to another vendor. The hassle of making that move got bigger every day. Had he moved it early, it would have been easy. By waiting, it became a more painful process.

Earlier Decisions Lead To Better Decisions. The earlier and more you decide, the more chance that you make better decisions. Not making a decision is also a decision. If that’s a conscious move, that’s okay. You think about something, and you decide that doing nothing is the best option.

However, if you are putting off a decision, then you need think why you are doing it. No matter what, you’re making decisions all the time. Instead of making fewer conscious decisions, we need to make them earlier.

Source: Darius Foroux is an entrepreneur, blogger and podcaster who focuses on productivity, habits, decision-making and personal finance.