Nurture Your Business Through Virtual Marketing Support
Jennifer is the President/CEO of Secretary Central, a professional Virtual Marketing Support firm based in New Jersey. She provided excellent executive assistance and customer service relations for over 20 years by working with small businesses in the Ad Speciality and PEO (Professional Employer Org) industries.
The virtual world is a booming business. The industry has exploded in the past year and a half. Executive secretaries in the c-suite are scared to get downsized so they're taking control of their future and jumping into the gig economy which is being an executive virtual assistant.
Years ago, a typical virtual assistant is somebody working overseas but if you need specific talent you had to go to recruiters or talk to friends and locals with years of influence in the community to find talent.
As Jennifer shared, she sold her organic dog biscuit company, people are handing over their business cards to create databases. One thing turned into another and she started working with people doing websites and supporting website designers and developers. So when she’s looking to build her own team, it's a lot of referrals. She wants to connect with the people that her connections know. She also puts something out on social media and if she gets inundated with connections and people that can't really articulate what it is that they exactly do, she steps back and goes back to her network and asks local connections, “who do you know who can help me resize images?” She has to be very specific about it.
Jennifer on Real Estate Virtual Assistants
“Five years ago the real estate virtual assistants were a huge industry and then I've seen that drop dramatically especially in the past year and a half. It seemed like everybody I know went out and got a real estate license so they weren't really needing real estate virtual assistants because it seemed that business didn't need as much support as it needed sales. Now, I see the real estate virtual assistant industry gearing up again and across the board. With my local network, I'm going to say that almost everybody can benefit from having virtual support and whether it's US-based or internationally based”.
Working in a Gig Economy
Q: About the gig economy, do you think that there are some folks out there who are doing some things on the side during those business hours, is that something that they've heard of?
A: Yes and actually a request of mine has been if you're doing our client work and you have your personal computer, use your personal computer. Do not use your company computer for our work. There's no way that I can see it but they have to know that the company's gonna know logging in and logging off kind of stuff.
The morale of staying focused and staying connected with their company, while they're virtual, is what I see is one of the hardest things. On the other hand, corporations keeping in touch with their employees is one of the hardest things. For someone like me who has 1099's, having that same kind of brand identity and team feeling amongst everybody that's it's not easy to do virtually you have to be very very creative.
- Be crystal clear in what you can handle.
- Know what your workday looks like, what other obligations that you have.
- If working remotely, know what the expectations are at work.
- Have a conversation with the person that you're working with.
- Get to know modes of communication.
- Work on all your happy points.
- Take care of your physical and mental health.
What’s the best way people can reach you?
Linkedin: Jennifer Wilner
Useful Tips on Employee Retention to Ramp Up Your Success
Kim is the Managing Director of Cobalt Compass Solutions. Cobalt Compass provides consulting and training services for the Staffing and Professional Services Industry. Training programs encompass the full life cycle of sales in staffing and teach the skills and strategies to create lasting customer relationships. With over 27 years in the staffing industry, Kim Henderson MBA, PMP, Six Sigma Lean certified, operated as a member of executive leadership at a global staffing firm.
Kim Henderson talks about some insights on retention. Right now, there's quite a bit of focus on attracting candidates which is important, but now that we have them, how do we keep them?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced in August 4.3 million people left their jobs. That's about 2.9 percent of the entire workforce
Korn Ferry actually did a study of 1100 professionals and they figured out why people are leaving and here’s what they came back with:
- 30% Are re-evaluating their priorities and their lifestyle choices amid a pandemic
- 24% Left their job to a lack of a clear advancement pathway and
- 23 % Left for better pay and benefits
So how do we retain talent in this type of climate? Companies need to realize that what they were doing in the past doesn't necessarily apply today. They need to revisit all their assumptions and test each one of them one by one. Employers sometimes have this misguided sense that if someone leaves they can just easily replace them and that's a really expensive mentality to have. What are some of the things that we can do?
Here are some tips:
If a company doesn't have a defined roadmap for their employees to excel and receive promotions in the organization they should start to develop one. There are very few people that want to sit in the same job for 25 years doing the same thing over and over again. They want to structure in place to go ahead and get to the next level.
Create a Culture
Ambiguous as it may seem but we've all worked for people that impacted our career, built loyalty, and that we wanted to follow. Then there were others that we just simply punched the clock, we got our job done and we moved on. We just didn't necessarily want to follow them. So any company that's not listening and talking to and asking their employees questions, that's going to be a problem because they're going to leave. Employees want to know that they're cared about and listened to.
If you're not approaching employees with that spirit and intention, you’re going to lose them.
Ask these questions:
- What do they want?
- What's important to them?
- Do I generally care about their success?
- Am I willing to coach and mentor them?
- Am I vested in helping them achieve?
Upskilling, Re-skilling, and Education
People don't want to be stagnant with the same skill set they had 10 years ago. A good place to start with that is helping them with tuition or education assistance. These things cost money so corporations need to evaluate if it actually fits. But they could offer a stipend for tuition, not the whole thing. Offer a stipend for certifications and license renewals or enhanced degrees. Structure it where the risk is more minimized on the company. One condition is to give that money back if they were to go and leave in a certain amount of time.
Flexible Schedules and Hybrid Models
Long ago, the defense industry implemented a 980 workday. Companies like Grumman and General Dynamics and their employees have every other Friday off and this has been met with wild success. While most companies couldn't go that far, offering some type of flexibility to start at end hours is something that gets employees excited.
Benefits and Bonuses
While everyone wants a pay increase sometimes it's just not fiscally possible in an organization because that means they’re increasing their fixed cost. But bonuses are fluid, they're not a fixed cost. So offer it on a quarterly basis, an annual basis, or a spot basis.
If there's a mentor-mentee program, that can be incredibly helpful not only to the mentor making them feel part of the whole team but the mentee getting that care and feeding that they need especially if they're remote.
Q: Talking about the hybrid model and flex hours, do you think companies are going to offer employees to be in person and come on in and your desk space is still here? We see the real estate field portfolio shrinking because they don't need that space.
A: Kforce had a very large facility located off of downtown Tampa over 200,000 square feet and because they've gone to this permanent hybrid model, they downsized and sold that building and are going with 50,000 square feet. I know that Hays has actually done the same thing on minimizing their real estate footprint. Companies are making it more of a permanent type of thing where they're going and minimizing their real estate hangover, as I like to call it.
In terms of the candidates and the staffing companies that I work with, they all tell me the same thing. I was talking to a gentleman yesterday who does accounting and finance. He was saying “it's incredible every candidate I talk to is demanding a hybrid work model ” they don't want to have to go to the office five days a week and sit there for 50 hours. Every single candidate that's a professional and has a good background and is employable with talent and skills, they want that hybrid model”.
They're demanding it and won't actually take interviews with a company that won't offer the hybrid model. It will be sort of the new normal, the new future. It doesn't show signs of abating at all and companies are responding and reducing their real estate footprint.
- Adjust your mindset.
- Refine your practices for attraction and retention.
- See if what you're doing is working.
- Understand that people are not as replaceable as a lot of companies think
- Don’t let all that intellectual capital and subject matter expertise out the door.
- It can take months to years to find the right people to put in those roles to rebuild it.
- It takes too long to go and develop folks and get them ramped up into the organization
- If people are leaving, get down to the root cause of: why they're leaving?
- Get their feedback.
- Do surveys and talk to your employees.
- What do they like about the company?
- What's going well? What's not going well?
- What could be changed?
What’s the best way people can reach you?
Linkedin: Kim Henderson
Cobalt Compass Solutions
How To Find and Attract the Best Talent
Frankie is the Managing Partner of Fortis Consulting Group. Fortis was formed with the goal of providing their clients with the top talent in the industry while advancing the careers of the professionals they represent.
Frankie opens his talk with his observation that this economy is the craziest that it's ever been in the 25 years he’s been recruiting. They've had their booms in recruiting and thought it could never get better than this. But then sometimes it got so good so he ponders “this is not that great because the candidates have all the power and I’ve never seen so much power with the candidate right now because there are so many jobs and quite honestly in accounting and finance at least very few candidates out there or they're very hard to find”.
Which leads to the question: What do you do to find the talent?
Start With The End in Mind
Clearly define the responsibilities of a position and break them down. Ideally, break it down as a percentage of time that the candidate wants to know - what am I going to do? And even more specifically how much time am I going to spend in each area? Maybe there's something in that job description that they're really excited about and they want to know, is that going to be 25% of my time, or is that 3% of my time. It paints a good picture of what that position might look like and then be specific with the qualification of who you want to hire.
Pinpoint Who you're looking for
Determine what resources you are going to use for the recruiting process. Hiring managers need to understand that the best candidate is usually the person with their head down at their desk outperforming those around them. They're not responding to ads and they're not searching the internet for a new job. They're happy they're doing well and they're being rewarded and there's a retention plan in place.
Have Something Better To Offer
So how can you attract them? Frankie believes that the answer is: use a recruiting firm. Not because he is biased because he owns a recruiting firm (Fortis Consulting Group), but because every day, every week for 10 hours a day all they do is build their database and understand the talent that's in that marketplace. Compare that to companies who run an ad, get a snapshot at that very point in time of who's looking on the internet, who's doing something behind their employer's back versus Frankie’s 25 years of expertise and a database of 125,000 accounting professionals. Again the best way to find talent is using a recruiting firm.
Have an Employee Referral Program
Now that you basically recruit your own employees to become recruiters, get them to go out there and talk to people who might have their head down at their place of employment doing a great job.
Use Outreach through Social Media
People do go out to social media whether it be Linkedin or even Facebook, so take advantage of it.
If they accept the offer, be prepared for the new hire on their first day. First impressions have a major impact. Have their computer ready as well as their access cards. Have a welcome sign. People love to feel wanted. They want to feel part of the team and when you have that strong employee, create and maintain an environment that they do not want to leave. Finding top talent is super difficult so retaining those employees is critical to the success of an organization.
Q: When you’re going the extra mile and personalizing the interview with them, do you think that they're appreciating that extra step and realize that that's important?
A: I know that they realize it's important. Because you know when we take a job intake quality we won't just take the job description, we always want to talk to the hiring manager and say "let's break down this job as a percentage of time". It's better that way rather than saying you must have good interpersonal skills and you're dedicated and motivated and other stuff, it's not a job description. Instead, tell the candidate this is what you're going to do, this is what you absolutely must have and you've got to live with that because you might miss out on a candidate. Dig down and say “what this person is going to do? and what does it really take for them to do it?” and then you're going to find the right candidate. When hiring managers really know what they're talking about, and they can really explain this job in detail, it makes it more comfortable for both parties involved.
Every company is competing for a very scarce resource, top human capital and the best people available. So when you're out there and you identify that person, do everything you can to get them on board you have to move quickly.
- Extend your best and final offer
- Make them feel important
- Send that offer in a timely manner
- Strong follow-up communication
- Quick responses to questions that they have
What’s the best way people can reach you?
Linkedin: Frankie Francese
Fortis Consulting Group
Changing The Way We Think About Hiring and Retaining Talent
Dennis Harabin is CPA obsessed with helping people to retain more of what they earn so that they can pursue their passions. Relax Tax takes a holistic approach to tax planning that makes them more of a Financial Architect than just a Tax Preparer.
Right now, Dennis is helping his niche which is small business owners to retain more of what they earn. There's so much software that does so much nowadays that’s really helping them take the whole approach. So when Dennis looks holistically out of business, one thing he notices that people complain about is: they can't hire talent.
Sharing his thoughts about this, he continues: I like to wake them up to the fact that Frankie just said, there's Fortune 100 that can't hire talent. There are so many people that you're competing against. If you’re a small business owner, no one even knows you exist. You're just a micro, you're a smudge on the campus and there's no way that you're going to be found against all these big companies.
Also, one of the things that you really want to look at is do you really need one person to do everything? Because usually in a small business they want one person who's going to do everything rather than breaking it down into smaller pieces, smaller functionalities. And so you're not as dependent when that one person leaves.
Valuable Tips on Hiring
The thought of owning an employee is gone. We are getting to be where everyone's an expert at what they do. Break your tasks down to what's important. Do what you do best, work on your niche.
A lot of times people really have a nice lifestyle company business. They're looking to grow so focus on making each one of those customers more profitable, retain more of what you earn, become more profitable with the clients that you have, and enjoy what you do a little bit more. It all comes back to what Kim was saying: rethink what your thoughts were. You don't have one person that needs to do everything. You were blessed to have that years ago but you're probably not now so think outside the box, look at technology, look at different things.
You can break down a 40-hour week role or 40-hour job into smaller tasks. You can have someone who's really good at it versus someone who's trying multiple things. It may be five hours here, five hours there, seven hours there, and you actually save money in the long run.
If you have people respect them, keep them, give them a raise.
Yes, there was a pandemic. Yes, Covid hit, but frankly, we need to get over it. The world has changed, and we need to change the way we think about hiring and retaining talent. You need to get the work done. What worked before may not always work, especially this time. You've got to figure out what works for you. If you are small, be nimble. You have the advantage. It's going to take a long time for big companies to get it and to be able to make changes. Your only advantage is that you are nimble and you can make changes to make them.
What’s the best way people can reach you?
Linkedin: Dennis Harabin
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