Help Older Workers Close the Technology Gap

June 15th, 2012

Employees don’t all master new technology at the same pace. In fact, managers may see a striking gap between the ability of younger, Millennial workers and their Baby Boomer counterparts when it comes to using ever-changing technology in the workplace.

Rather than let the gap widen – inadvertently frustrating younger workers and making them impatient with their co-workers – there are management techniques to overcome the gap and keep everyone on the same page.

It starts with respect

If you’re managing an older worker, don’t patronize or treat him differently from others. He deserves your respect just like anyone else. Most likely he comes to the job with a lot more work experience than you have and may have skills you’re still learning to acquire. He may know from experience about how to make tough decisions, stay focused on one issue at a time or work with a difficult client. Your team will take its cue from you and also seek to learn from those who have been around awhile.

Offer opportunities for instruction

All employees should have access to the same technology – a vital first step towards ensuring that everyone learns to master the latest new development. Then schedule a class or workshop that focuses strictly on the use of the technology. Consider offering the class during the work-day even if it cuts into productivity; this sends the message that attending the workshop is encouraged and that it’s important enough not to make staff work after-hours or on the weekend.

Make learning a team effort

Set aside time for the entire team to work with new technology and brainstorm solutions to current workplace issues. Nothing makes a deeper impression than learning while on the job.

Mentoring

Probably there are one or two employees (age doesn’t matter) who catch on to new technology faster than the others. This is a great opportunity for them to pro-actively guide other team members in a situation where the manager/employee equation is irrelevant. Let the tech-savvy employee acquire the new skills first. Then he can instruct a handful of team members, who will assist other team members, and so on. Not only does this spread valuable working knowledge, it’s a great team-building exercise.

Remember, for every older worker who needs a bit more time and guidance in new technology, there are younger workers who can benefit from the experience and wisdom of others on the team. When there’s an atmosphere of camaraderie and collaboration – especially in the use of new software or apps, etc. – everyone prospers.

Check out Meador’s Staffing Resource Center for more helpful information on building a winning team.

What To Do If You Don’t Have Job Experience

June 8th, 2012

Most, if not all job listings include among their requirements “must have experience in industry.” For recent college grads or others just dipping their toe in the job market, this one phrase seemingly knocks them out of the running before they even start. But not so fast – there are ways around this.

Look for volunteer opportunities

Volunteer work offers great opportunities to build up experience for your resume and broaden your range of skills. With some online research, you may find a start-up or fledgling business that can’t pay but would love your volunteer services. It’s a great opportunity grow in areas where you’d like to excel professionally. Focus on acquiring new skills to include in your resume or expand on the skills you already have.

If you land a volunteer position with a business, be sure to set some boundaries. It’s OK to give all you have during the prescribed timeframe, but since you’re not getting paid, you’re under no obligation to stay late or help out on weekends. (You can, but it’s up to you.) The important thing is that, while you’re gaining experience and skills, you may also be impressing a future employer with your dedication and willingness to help out.

Go back to school

Back in the day, returning to school for an advanced degree might have required significant expense and travel. Getting an online degree is a much more affordable and convenient option. You can easily make working towards an online degree part of your schedule – and you don’t have to leave the house to do it!

While advanced learning isn’t the same as work experience, there are employers out there who will consider this additional knowledge in lieu of experience, when circumstances permit. Plus, you’ll gain experience working on different projects as part of your grad school responsibilities.

Keep networking

Another way to enhance your knowledge of a particular field – while also letting more people know about your job hunt – is to network, network, network.

Are there professional organizations in your area you can join? What about trade shows and conventions? In these places you can meet people face-to-face and attend workshops and seminars to further expand your understanding of the field you’re aiming for.

Fine-tune your resume

If you’re unable to fill out the “work history” part of your resume to your satisfaction, consider focusing on your skills and acquired knowledge. This can be included in a “Professional and Academic Experience” section, where you can freely boast about your academic achievements and the skills you’ve acquired while studying and volunteering. Remember – this all counts as experience, too!

Meador Staffing Services always has exciting staffing and career positions to fill. Find out more today!

Never Let Your List of References Get Out-of-Date

June 1st, 2012

Does this scenario sound familiar? It’s been several months since you left your last position. You’ve been working hard to find the next great job opening and it’s starting to pay off. You apply for your dream position and get a call to meet the hiring manager. The interview goes smoothly, the potential employer expresses interest in you and now they’ve asked for a list of references.

Assuming you have one, do you know it’s not out of date?

In the business world, things change all the time. People retire, have their positions eliminated, move on to other things. Companies change ownership or close down. If any of these circumstances affect the people on your reference list – and you don’t know about it – you could be in trouble.

When considering new hires, HR managers put a lot of stock in professional references. They want to talk to people you’ve worked with or for in the past few years, to get a better sense of your work history and performance. You may look good on paper and present well in an interview, but a glowing reference could be the one factor that puts you over the top. For all these reasons, it’s imperative that you maintain an accurate, updated reference list. Here are some tips:

Stay in touch

It takes a little effort, but the pay-off is worth it. Every month or so, call or send an email to people on your list – just to say “Hi,” see how they’re doing and remind them you’re out looking for a job. This way, it’s much more likely you’ll know about any changes in their professional status sooner rather than later.

Contact reference before submitting list

Before giving your reference’s name and contact information out, let them know someone may be calling soon to ask about you. This is far preferable to your valued reference getting a call out of the blue and having some difficulty coming up with the right answer on the spot. Some advance notice enables them to look back on your work history and, more importantly, how to tailor their response to fit the specifics of your new potential job.

Feed and care for your professional network

Whether it’s through LinkedIn or another social media outlet, take care of your professional network. Let people know what you’re doing and express interest in their activities, too. It’s important to stay “top of mind” with the people you plan to use as references. No one wants to talk about you if they haven’t heard from you in months or years.

Learn more about career and employment opportunities offered by Meador Staffing Services in Houston, Austin and across Texas.