How to have a successful trade finance career

The world economy is changing rapidly with the advancement of globalization, which causes easier and faster connections to international clients, as well as usage of advanced technologies in business. With it, the needs of participants and how certain professions work have also changed. Ten years ago, many economists deemed trade finance a dull profession that required tedious amounts of paperwork. However, trade finance has now been affected by the digitalization of trade which has reduced the piles of paperwork and made trading easier, more dynamic, and attractive. Whether you are a fresh graduate or an economist thinking of heading your business career in this direction, you will benefit from tips on how to use your potential in finance trading and be as competitive as possible in the labor market or more successful in doing your job.

What is Trade Finance?

Trade finance is a set of products and services that enable business deals of corporations engaged in international trade. Trade finance is usually provided by banks that act as intermediaries between two companies and guarantee the collection of trade receivables. During this process, banks provide their clients with access to financial resources and the stipulation of cash flow. The key task is reducing the risk of potential losses. In order to achieve this, banks have a number of financial instruments and products at their disposal. In addition, banks confer with clients to draft contracts that must comply with all national and international rules.

Keep Your Clients Happy 

The focus of a finance trader is clients and their expectations. To meet the client’s requirements, you’ll need to be familiar with operating challenges, as well as the tools you’ll need to solve them. The job of a finance trader also carries pressure. It’s a very responsible and dynamic job that often requires teamwork. That is why cooperation between your team members, between your team members, and the client, but also cooperation with the team of the other contracting party are highly important. This implies a high level of communication skills and developed networking. Banks perform hundreds of transactions every day and clients often insist on their affairs being completed within short deadlines. You will need to find the balance and set priorities. The goal is to satisfy your client and gain his trust while complying with the standards and controls of economic transactions.  This will require a lot of effort, hard work, and innovative thinking from you and your team. 

It’s a long road

It is not easy being visible in the labor market of trade finance. In a global industry such as trade finance, competition among employees is high. If a financial trader is your career goal, you’ll need high education, which means a master’s degree in economics. Finance traders often specialize in international trade and finance. To successfully perform this job, you will also need certain certificates. If you’re at the beginning of your studies, don’t be discouraged by the long journey to the trade finance profession. It usually takes two to three years of active work to become an associate. If you continue to develop your knowledge and show good results in an average of five years, you will be able to manage a smaller team.

The more languages you know, the more you’re worth

Trade finance is an international industry that requires daily communication with people around the globe. Knowing the language of the country which the client you’re doing business with is in contributes to better understanding and more prosperous trade. Being fluent in the business language is also highly recommended. It is useful to know several other languages. Sometimes knowing a certain language is crucial when choosing a job candidate.

Study the laws

Transactions with different countries require compliance with both national and international regulations. Violation of foreign trade laws can bring huge losses to your company in the form of millions of dollars. Therefore, the trade finance team works closely with the legal team in order to provide the most rational solutions and harmonize their tasks and goals. Although you’ll not be a lawyer, you will need to study regulations regarding your client’s deal.

Become a finance trader and discover the world

The nature of a financial trader involves frequent traveling. This will give you the opportunity to visit many countries. Traveling is a good way to meet new people and spread your professional network. Sharing experiences, business customs, and ideas with colleagues from other countries may help you in your future business. Salaries in the trade finance sector can be very high, especially for experts in this field. These factors, as well as the dynamic work environment, make trade finance tempting to many.

Working in trade finance provides many benefits, but it’s also a highly responsible and complex job. Before you start your career as a financial trader, you must acquire knowledge in the field of finance, develop your social skills and try to strengthen your networking. Show initiative in finding solutions to problems that you will encounter during business and your hard work and effort will result in career advancement.

What Professional Attire Entails in the Post-Pandemic World

Dressing like Harvey Specter or Jessica Pearson when you’re greeting clients on Zoom sitting in your own kitchen doesn’t feel as powerful as it should, does it? The Zoom shirt trend, on the other hand, has made employees feel less obligated to focus on freshly pressed fancy items and more on appearing professional while feeling comfortable at home.

Remote work has its charms and perks. It lets your employees unwind, take breaks, spend more time with their families. It also eliminates the need for business attire in its traditional sense, even though many youthful companies have abandoned the shirt-and-tie policy a long time ago.

Today, businesses allow their teams to define the dress code of the office for a number of reasons. Now that some offices are reopening and others are sticking to the hybrid or remote model, the question of dress code is on the table once more. Here’s what we can expect the new normal to bring.

Yes, there are boundaries to remember

Before we delve into the changes expected to emerge in the post-pandemic world of professional attire, let’s get one main thing straight: some limits will remain, no matter if you’re going back to the office or developing a hybrid business model.

Employees are still expected to follow certain fundamental rules. The “no flip-flops” rule isn’t there just out of whimsy. It’s there to ensure certain levels of safety. The same applies to other dress code rules that every business will stay true to no matter the pandemic.

Functional minimalism on the rise

Over the course of these two years, people have redefined their priorities and investments. Instead of expanding their wardrobe with suits and ties, workers are investing in functional items that help them do their jobs with ease. Even more so, many are building what is known as a “capsule” wardrobe with multifunctional clothes and accessories that they can wear for almost any occasion.

Employees are refining their collections of workplace wearables with essentials such as minimalist wallets that they’ll use for office work as well as events, once they are possible once more. It’s more relevant to have a place for business cards than to have ten different, uncomfortable ties you never wear. This mindset among workers is helping businesses focus on what truly matters in their industry.

The combination of comfort and purpose

Workwear has a unique place in dress code policies, especially if some of your employees perform duties that require protection and performance-focused wearables. Add to that the pandemic, and you also need to think about prevention and wearable accessories such as masks and shields. 

Working with your teams and keeping in mind the necessary precautions prescribed by your government, start planning a fresh policy with purpose in mind. Your employees should be able to wear the clothing that lets them focus on work, and not on the discomfort caused by their high heels or tight-fitting shirts. 

At the same time, make sure that you’re investing in attire that is designed for your particular industry. Protective, durable, and visible clothing can mean the difference between safety and increased risk of injury. It’s obvious that one size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to performance.

Letting the employees determine the policy

As time goes by, employees have more of a say in what happens in the workplace. Since they are the ones shaping the success of the business in question, it’s only natural to see their interest rise over such a matter as their own attire choices. 

Giving your employees options is a great start. If someone wants to wear a turtleneck, then so be it, but if another employee feels better in a hoodie, that shouldn’t pose a problem if their job doesn’t require a uniform. 

To recognize employee voices, brands and HR teams are now collaborating with employees on crafting dress code policies that reflect these recent changes. Over the course of several meetings, your teams can share their needs and views, while you determine the best way to move forward – nothing has to be set in stone. 

Focusing on engagement over formality

Some companies place great stock in traditional dress codes that are associated with professionalism, a sense of decorum, as well as leadership. A person in an important meeting or a networking event representing your company ought to look presentable, so it’s natural that brands worry about appearances and impressions. 

Today, however, a high level of formality is unnecessary, as the culture of professional exchanges has changed to be less stringent. In response, employers are also more inclined to ensure employee engagement by enabling them to express their own preferences over following strict, unnecessary protocols. Although flip-flops are a no-no, you can still do a good job wearing jeans and a clean shirt in a professional setting, and brands are happy to accommodate their teams. 

Strictly speaking, the old dress code is most certainly out the window. Workers have shown a clear preference for a more relaxed, performance-driven approach over pure aesthetics. Arbitrary rules can no longer apply, especially if one cannot justify them with optimal productivity. 

Businesses are now facing a unique transition to more casual, comfortable, yet pleasant attire and accessories that enable employees to feel good while working. Trends are quickly changing, but how companies keep up and which ones they implement will depend solely on your own readiness to make your teams happy and to let them voice their views. 

career

5 Benefits of Technology for Lifelong Learners and Career Advancement

Lifelong learning is one of the healthiest habits any self-loving and goal-oriented woman can embrace. As if learning in itself isn’t a treat, a way to become a more fulfilled human being, and a way to expand your horizons, it serves a very concrete purpose for those among you who have high goals for career development, and want to acquire the skills necessary to become a leader, an inspirational figure, a specialist in a certain field, and more. That said, let’s not kid ourselves, learning takes time, consistency, effort, and usually money, none of which you might not be able or willing to give.

That’s okay, as always, technology is here to lend a helping hand. From those nifty laptops and tablets that make mobile learning a breeze, all the way to amazing new learning platforms that give you access to the world’s knowledge base, technology can help you achieve your goals, become a founder, or get a job at a reputable and responsive company – you name it, learning through tech can help you achieve it. Here are the five benefits of technology for lifelong learners and those seeking to advance their careers. 

Learn on the go

One of the first and most obvious benefits of modern technology is that you can put all of your learning material on your smartphone, Kindle, tablet, or laptop, and take it with you! It’s a mobile world we live in nowadays, and there is no denying that many women are balancing numerous daily tasks and overcoming numerous challenges every single day – so nobody would blame you if you simply haven’t the time to stop, pull out a book, and read for an hour or two.

Instead of missing out on the opportunity to expand your knowledge base, why not use the tech you always have on you to take knowledge with you on your commute to the office, or anywhere else? This type of mobile learning is best reserved for subject matters you can memorize quickly, ones you don’t have to practice on a piece of paper, like math. 

Fit education into your busy schedule

Speaking of the hectic modern lifestyle, learning through smart technology allows you to manage your time more efficiently, consume the material in bite-size pieces for better long-term retention, and most importantly, pick up where you left off easily. This type of learning flexibility is one of the primary benefits of learning apps and innovative platforms, as it doesn’t really matter if you’re working from home or if you’re at work all day long. 

Modern applications and platforms specialize in condensing the material so that you can learn it easily, while giving you the opportunity to delve deeper into the subject matter if you so wish. By creating a profile on the platform, you can track your progress, save data, and receive professional guidance and support. In turn, all of this will allow you to fit education into your busy schedule.

Learn nuanced skills to propel your career

Another powerful advantage of modern learning platforms, one that many people fail to recognize at first, is that they allow you to learn very specific and nuanced things. Sure, general subject matters the likes of developing leadership skills, basic math, or music theory are still there, but what happens when you want to learn about molecular biology, astrophysics, or geodetic engineering? Or what if you want to contribute in the fight against the pandemic? Should you apply for college all over again?

No, you should search for those courses online and delve right in on your own free time. This is one of the best ways to upskill and even develop a new career path. If you’re looking to join the healthcare industry, for example, then getting PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) certified and learning about PALS drugs and pharmacology can be your entryway into pediatrics and a way to join the battle against COVID-19. This is the type of freedom and flexibility that only technology can provide – the type of learning opportunity that can help you take your career in a completely new direction.

Diversify your learning material

Students, established business leaders, stay-at home moms who want to kick-start their own career, it doesn’t matter which group you’re a part of, what matters is that you should always strive to diversify your learning material in order to acquire knowledge from various reputable sources. This will allow you to a) compare and contrast, b) learn more efficiently, and c) retain information easily.

However, you also need to equip yourself with the right tech to make the learning process more efficient and effective. Some of the leading learning platforms will use a dedicated VoIP communication system that facilitates synchronous and asynchronous learning and allows you to communicate more efficiently with educators and other students in a virtual meeting room.

It is especially important to have such systems in place when you’re going over exceptionally difficult subject matter. In such situations, it’s also good to use various review materials, anything from videos, guided tutorials, hands-on projects, open-ended questionnaires, all of which can expand your knowledge and help you retain information faster. And all of that with a push of a digital button.

Access to renowned colleges and teachers

And finally, you’ve probably noticed that e-learning platforms and popular apps are now offering unprecedented access to world-renowned colleges, institutions and businesses, and that they are even partnering up with prominent figures from various industries in order to spread their knowledge across the world. This is your golden opportunity to learn from the best of the best, to consume knowledge that has been cultivated at top universities, and tap into the genius minds of your idols – so don’t waste it by sticking to the outdated learning methods.

Wrapping up

Technology has changed every aspect of our lives, so why shouldn’t it change the way we acquire knowledge as well? With these five tips in mind, go ahead and use technology to take your personal and professional life forward, and make lifelong learning a passion.

2020 The Year of Remote Work

It is only June, and thanks to COVID-19, people have declared 2020 as the year of remote work. While telecommuting seemed beyond reach in most industries only a few months ago, this year it has become a necessity. The pandemic has forced employers to come up with novel and successful ways to keep their businesses afloat. For this reason, many companies have asked their employees to work from home. Google has taken the whole matter a step further and advised remote work to its workforce for the rest of the year. Even though some might struggle with this work mode, it is actually quite beneficial for both employers and employees.

Most employees are used to going to work and spending eight or more hours in the office. At first, the sudden change of routine may be strange for them. However, once they recover from the initial shock, they stand to gain quite a lot.  Working from the comfort of their home can considerably boost their productivity and performance. Also, it can have a huge impact on their mental and physical health as well.

The employees no longer have to waste their time commuting. They will be more punctual because traffic jams and parking spaces don’t pose an issue for them in the morning. Once they log on to the selected platform, they are in the workplace ready to reach their daily goals. As a result, travel and accommodation expenses are significantly reduced. If the companies ultimately switch to this work mode, it will bring substantial benefits to the environment too. The reduction of toxic emissions and pollution raises awareness on environmental protection.

What worries employers the most in this situation is employee productivity and performance. There are many distractions at home and most employees are forced to turn their space for relaxation into an office. However, with the right internal communication app, the employers have nothing to worry about. Effective communication is one of the pillars of a successful business. These collaborative business solutions keep everyone well informed and on the same page. Dropbox, Google Hangouts, or Google Drive allows employees to communicate and cooperate on different projects and documents simultaneously. The social aspect of the workplace isn’t neglected as coworkers now use online group chats instead of the good old chatting by the water cooler. Still, for boosting employee performance, everyone has to agree on the preferred communication tool. Forcing tools and channels might cause the opposite effect.

While it seems the pandemic is coming to an end, its consequences are yet to be felt in the months to come. Among good things to come out of this mess is definitely a stronger bond between colleagues. When employees have good work relationships with their coworkers and managers, it positively reflects on the business. Friendship and team spirit largely contribute to creating a healthy work environment. Working under such optimum conditions improves employee productivity and spurs their collaboration. Managers now than ever have to invest time and effort in team building activities and a pleasant work atmosphere. As a result, the employees will maintain their sense of belonging and actively contribute to reaching the corporate aims.

In the long term, remote work may change the whole attitude about work and provide some new perspectives. Millennials are swooping in and along with talent, come with certain expectations about the workplace and work process itself. One of their priorities is having a healthy work-life balance. For this reason, the younger workforce is largely attracted by flexible schedules and working hours. This would enable them to provide for themselves and their families while also pursuing other activities. If the companies want to keep and compete for top talent in the future, they have to make fundamental changes in their management. Allowing the employees to plan their own schedule might prove to be crucial when offering jobs to potential associates. Similarly, instead of being compensated for the hours they spent working, they would like to be rewarded for their accomplishments.

To conclude, due to the unprecedented situation, most companies have started working remotely. Although it seemed quite a challenge, employers have discovered numerous perks of this work mode. Employees are right on time for work and the commuting expenses are significantly reduced. On the other hand, what is boosted are productivity, communication, and collaboration. Through proper communication channels, everyone gets timely updates. As a result, they complete work tasks promptly and without any delays. Besides, remote work enhances work-life balance which is one of the top priorities of the millennials. Their work-related expectations will without a doubt, shape the workplace and the whole work culture in the years to come.

New Recruitment & Training Techniques for HR Management

Staffing is one of the biggest employer challenges, especially in the growing healthcare industry, for example. The unemployment rate in the field has dropped to a mere 2.0%, making employee recruitment and retention critical to your organization’s success. Technology can aid your HR department in the process.

Recruitment

It’s important to understand who best fits your company’s culture (and what they’re looking for in return) to recruit the top talent in a competitive market. Ensure your efforts to attract and hire new personnel is well focused and that your organization understands a prospect’s needs.

Consider streamlining the hiring process by requiring prospects to test for the position. Doing so will save you time on meetings and interviews with individuals who may look good on paper but may not be a match. Culture indexing uses technology to assess and qualify top talent for better hiring. These short online tests determine whether or not an organization is the right fit for you and the recruit.

It’s also important to collaborate with other HR staff to understand what ideal hires look for in a new employer. To know what your target talent wants, it’s sometimes best to know what they don’t want. A report by the Work Institute listed the top reasons employees quit their jobs. Retirement and the work environment were among the top 10. While the former is unpreventable, the latter can be altered; use the information provided to find solutions to the main employee complaints and position your organization as one of the top companies in the field.

Career Development

The report found that the No. 1 reason workers leave is to further advance their careers (22%). Does your company offer benefits that allow for staff to train and move up in the organization? If not, start developing a system now. Otherwise, when recruiting, emphasize your company’s commitment to employee advancement and training programs.

Consider including the discussion of career goals as part of the regularly-scheduled employee performance review. Find ways to implement an online training program or on-the-job learning where staff can expand their current skills. The medical field is a busy and fast-paced industry. Asynchronous learning may be the best solution for employees interested in ongoing education because they can study around their busy schedules.

Help employees meet their career goals by assigning a manager or lead who can guide them and document the staff member’s career goals. Your organization may already have a system for HR files. Include a career goal profile in the employee’s personnel file so that HR and other support personnel can stay updated and track their progress. 

Work-Life Balance

Even the best personnel can experience burnout. The Work Institute’s report found that 12 out of 100 people left their job to attain a better work-life balance. Offering staff more flexible work hours using flextime, job sharing, or telecommuting where staff work from home (when possible) are some solutions to address the work-life balance challenge.

Telecommuting or remote work may be the best solution for personnel who may be in danger of burnout. Can your company implement processes and technology so that employees may work remotely from home? Airtasker.com surveyed 1,000 full-time employees and found that remote work made employees more productive and allowed them to have more time for their personal lives. 

Working from home saved employees an average of 8.5 hours per week previously wasted on commuting. And most importantly, remote workers were more focused and productive, with an average non-productive time of 37 minutes while at the office and 27 minutes while at home.

Work Environment

Several of the reasons employees quit their job have to do with the work environment itself. The reasons employees left included:

  • Manager behavior: 11 out of 100
  • Well-being: 8 out of 100
  • Job characteristics: 8 out of 100
  • Literal work environment: 5 out of 100

Reducing conflict and high-pressure in the work environment may be difficult in certain healthcare facilities like an urgent care facility or an ambulatory surgical center. Still, it’s worth the effort if your organization wants to attract and retain employees. The benefits go well beyond team morale — improving the work environment can enhance the quality of care and reduce costly errors. Consider how the following improvements can benefit your company:

Redesign the Office Layout

Improve flow by separating patient traffic from areas where medical staff frequently access. Separate entrances make it easier for staff to enter and exit patient rooms and work with less interruption. Besides separating patients from staff, give management their own area away from staff, so that team members can work freely without feeling overly observed.

Create an Environment With Well-Being in Mind

A calm and inviting environment is ideal for patients, but consider your staff’s needs as well. Repaint walls in a soothing neutral color; there are many options, from soft whites to bolder grays. Simple improvements like natural or improved lighting, live plants, and ergonomic office furniture add comfort and function in the workspace.

Improvements Start at the HR Level

Attracting new hires and retaining existing personnel is essential to your company’s growth. It’s one of the most important tasks of the HR department. Implementing new ideas and technology to create an ideal work environment can better position your company as one of the most sought-after in the job market. 

The Future of Work: What Will Jobs Look Like in the Coming Decade?

Once upon a time a farmer grew up in the fields, owned a family farm, and bequeathed it to his offspring upon his death — offspring that were raised with the singular purpose to carry on the family tradition of farming.

While being “born into an occupation” is a concept as old as time itself, though, it has never been more outdated than the present. The modern work world is awash with change. Everything from workspaces and tools to employers and the employed themselves are all in a state of flux. The 21st-century has already witnessed shocking developments that have rewritten the employment script, and the situation only looks primed to heat up heading into the 2020s.

A Look at the 2010s

While it’s interesting to consider where the future of work will take us at this point, the speculation is made especially poignant when it is juxtaposed against the backdrop of the previous decade or two.

There’s no doubt that the 2010s (and to some degree the decade that preceded it) were times of incredible change for the average business. The steady creation and proliferation of new technological marvels — things like social media, smartphones, and cloud computing — served up a steady hum of digital disruption that turned the average workplace on its head.

Many of these shifts focused heavily on communication. Video and text-based electronic communications, the internet, and the instant transmission of news around the world forced companies to adapt to a more global business mindset. Even the marketplace as a whole shifted as consumers began to rely heavily on mobile phone usage. They shopped online and adjusted to free two-day shipping expectations. By the end of the decade, even traditional, non-digital advertising spending had been surpassed by its online counterpart.

To further complicate matters, the incoming millennial generation prompted a dramatic shift in workplace culture and expectations. Topics like work-life balance and addressing a toxic workplace environment began to take the front seat.

Corporate social responsibility percolated up the ranks to upper management, and businesses began looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint through things like eliminating waste or shifting to solar power. Even small items addressing work-life balance that had previously been brushed under the rug, such as bringing your dog to work, were brought up and addressed.

From one end to the other, the first decade or two of the 21st-century was riddled with transformation, experimentation, and in many ways, a complete overhaul of the traditional workplace.

A Look at the 2020s

With so much change in the rearview mirror, a question that must be asked is if the trend shows signs of slowing in the future — and the short answer is: not likely. The 2020s promise to be at least as transitional if not more than the previous two decades combined.

For instance, the millennial generation served, in many ways, as the guinea pigs of a technological world. They were born into a world with corded phones and boomboxes, only to have things like social media, self-driving cars, big data, and widespread internet use thrown in their face.

In contrast, the 2020s will be Generation Z’s chance to shine. As the first generation to completely grow up in a technologically steeped world, Gen Zers won’t have to face the need to learn to adapt. They’re already used to it.

Rather than shift the job landscape out of a necessity to adapt to change, Generation Zers are likely to take the workplace by the bit and bridle and turn it to their own will. They expect job stability, diversity, social responsibility, and flexible schedules, and they’re not afraid to question the benefits of technology.

Many Gen Zers have also eschewed a traditional degree, focusing, instead, on more entrepreneurial opportunities. When commenting on the termination of Doritos’ popular “Crash the Super Bowl” crowdsourced commercial contest, chief marketing officer Ram Krishnan pointed out that, “If you look at when we started the program, millennial consumers were the target…[Now] Our Doritos target is Gen Z consumers and they’re already content creators.” This recognition of their creative abilities speaks volumes to their potential as entrepreneurs in the 2020s job market.

Apart from the generation change, there are several other major factors that will likely shape the next decade of jobs, starting with the gig economy. In the waning years of the 2010s, the gig economy exploded. Remote work had become both easy and expected — by 2018 70% of the global workforce worked remotely at least once a week — and the rise of the freelancer began to erode the remnant of the traditional work office environment at an accelerated pace.

While controversial laws have recently been enacted looking to bring gig economy workers under the umbrella of common workers’ rights, it’s unlikely that they’ll fully bring a stop to the freelance movement.

How will this movement look over the next decade? While only time will tell, there are several likely adjustments coming down the pike including a proliferation of entirely remote offices and a further elimination of the need to commute to work. And then there’s the topic of automation. While automation already wrested numerous low-skilled jobs from workers throughout the early 21st-century, the trend only looks likely to accelerate going forward.

Balancing out the effects of automation and the gig economy is a natural rise in the demand for more skilled professionals. As employees prioritize work-life balance and flexibility, more skilled professional positions are becoming available in fields like technology, data science, and skilled trades.

Also adding fuel to the first is an increased pressure for businesses to shift their operations to more sustainable methods. Solar power and other alternative forms of energy are being pursued more aggressively than ever as part of larger business objectives. Waste is also being systematically eliminated, as has been clearly demonstrated by the coffee chain Starbuck’s continual efforts to increase the sustainability of its operations.

All Hail the Ever-Changing Changing Business Landscape?

With so much change continually swirling, a natural question that arises is whether or not things will ever slow down again. The 2020 election is already setting the tone for the future, with employment remaining a hot topic and some candidates pushing fairly radical agendas, such as Andrew Yang’s plan for universal basic income.

While many of these changes are easy to predict in general, though, time will only tell how the specific changes in the workplaces will play out as the 2020s unfold.

Image Source: Pexels

STEAM Vs STEM: Adding Tech Skills to Your Resume

STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math —  is becoming a popular topic of discussion in educational institutions, but there is somewhat of a disconnect between education and the workplace. STEM careers prioritize technical skills, especially in the hiring process, which can make students rightly wonder what the point of additional arts and humanities training is.

In an educational environment, adding the “A” to STEM means students gain vital critical thinking, discourse, writing, and leadership skills, as well as greater understanding of arts and culture. This makes them excellent candidates for leadership and mentorship positions, and key allies in reducing employee churn. But when it comes to job applications, they know that recruiters and algorithms are both looking for mainly technical skills-related keywords.

The value of STEAM educated employees

Employees with a background in the humanities have a ton to offer, even (and especially) in technical roles. STEAM is about much more than learning art; the arts, humanities, and languages teach students about thought, logic, argument, ethics, and many other aspects of humanity. According to Concordia University the STEAM job market in the United States will grow by 14% by 2020, and even employers in highly technical fields are beginning to see its value. The arts give students a grounding set of both soft- and social skills, and arms them with different modes of thinking about the world. However, not everyone is convinced yet, and graduates entering the job market can be hesitant to express these skills in a job search.

If you’re into recruiting leaders, and people who improve the work environment around them, STEAM candidates are highly prized — or should be.

People don’t need to be in leadership roles for their leadership skills to be valuable. There are many different styles of leadership, and some of them don’t require a position of authority to be effective. Transformational leadership, one of the most effective styles, involves lifting up other group members and transforming the work environment to better achieve organizational goals and uplift other employees. Some of the most important characteristics of these types of leaders are emotional intelligence, mediation, and the ability to think in new and transformative ways. These are all skills honed in the study of the arts and humanities.

Another key trait possessed by people who have training in the arts is increased exposure to new and foreign ideas. These are people who have been taught how to learn, and learning is a skill in and of itself. So if you’re looking to hire people who will make learning new things a priority, who seek experiences outside of their comfort zone, and who will respond well to internal uptraining, the answer is STEAM.

If you’re looking for employees that will stick with you, and improve the performance of everyone around them, hire people with additional background in the arts and treat them right.

Attracting STEAM candidates

The trick is convincing students and job seekers that employers see those additional skills as valuable. It’s not enough simply to start looking for those skills. There are new generations of tech workers going through their training that need to be convinced to invest time and energy into the arts, or simply told that those interests are valid to pursue.

This means outreach during college career fairs, on websites, and on job descriptions. Start actively supporting and looking for the “A” skills in candidates by putting them into job posting descriptions. Start highlighting the value of these employees internally and externally, at company events and conferences, and build a culture of support and confidence.

As you build out culture and PR that values soft skills as well as technical skills, it may be necessary to retrain recruiters, interviewers, and adjust any keyword scraping algorithms. Many people groom their resumes specifically for certain keywords they believe companies want to see. A common strategy is to pick out keywords from the job posting into their applications. So changing those keywords is a great start.

In the end, the people you hire create your company culture. A culture infused with not only the skills that come from the arts, but the beauty and soul that comes from communities who are passionate about arts and humanities — that kind of culture sets employees and companies up for long-term success.

How to Write a Thank You Letter After a Job Interview

If you’ve never been in an interview before, the idea of a thank you note might seem a bit silly.

After all, once the face to face interview is complete, it’s customary for both parties to thank each other for their time on the spot—so what purpose does a follow-up email serve?

Sending a follow up thank you letter will reinforce and reiterate your enthusiasm for the open position. Additionally, a thank you letter is a great way for you to remind your interviewer of your talents as well as demonstrate that you’re a professional who is willing to go the extra mile.

However, there is a right and a wrong way to write a thank you letter. In the below article, we provide best practices for writing an effective thank you letter following an interview.

How to Write a Thank You Follow Up Interview Letter

The great thing about thank you emails is that they aren’t too complicated. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t intimidating. Below is a simple outline to help you get started with writing your post job interview thank you note.

  1. Pay Attention to the Subject Line

When creating the subject line, remember to include your name, the position you’re interviewing for, and the phrase “thank you”, as this will help the interviewer remember who you are and what you’re applying for.

  1. Include the Name of the Interviewer in the Opening Line

Since this is a professional email, make sure to include a courtesy title (e.g., Mr., Ms., etc.,) and the last name of the interviewer.

  1. Thank the Interviewer

Your opening paragraph should consist of a couple sentences that express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time during the interview and your interest in the position/company.

  1. Reiterate Your Strengths in the Body

The body of your thank you note is where you will express why you feel that your unique skills and talents would be a great fit for the company and for the open position.

  1. Thank the Interviewer Once More

Finally, end the thank you note by once again thanking the interviewer for their time and by briefly reiterating your excitement to work for the company.

Should You Write a Thank You Note?

Unless your interviewer specifically requests that you do not follow up with a thank you note (highly unlikely), it is always a good idea to send a short thank you email after the interview.

Thank You Follow Up Interview Tips

To help you perfect your thank you email, below are some Do’s and Don’ts for writing a thank you email:

Do:

Send your email within 24 hours

Sending your thank you email within 24 hours is important for two reasons: first, the company was willing to give you a shot at the open position, so showing your appreciation is a courtesy that must be extended in a timely fashion.

Second, interviewing candidates is a time-consuming process, and the hiring manager conducting the interview has tasks of their own to complete; therefore, by showing your genuine appreciation, they will be more likely to remember both you and your talents.

Remember to include all interviewers in your email

Many companies use multiple interviewers to evaluate the true fit of a candidate, so sending a thank you note to all interviewers is a good idea.

Restate why you believe you’re an excellent candidate for the position

As mentioned above, it’s critically important that you reiterate as concisely as possibly why you believe your skills and talents are a perfect match for the open position.

Remember, the interviewer reading your email should be able to quickly recognize who you are (by name) and scan your thank you note to see what specific talents you possess.

Make it easy for your hiring manager to find your work

After reiterating your qualifications, provide the hiring manager with links to your portfolio, social media accounts, or personal blog so that they can quickly find your work.

Following this information, remember to include a reliable phone number so the interviewer can reach you if they have any additional questions.

Keep it brief

Interviewers don’t have time to read a short autobiography about your life and work experience, so your thank you note should be no longer than 3-5 short paragraphs.

Don’t:

Harass Your Interviewers

Once your follow up email has been sent, there is no need to send a second thank you note or make a follow up phone call (at least not right away).

The interviewers will likely be busy with their day-to-day tasks and interviewing other candidates. They need time to sort through all the new information being thrown their way, so once your thank you note has been sent, it’s time to preoccupy yourself with other tasks.

After a week or so has passed, you can then consider sending another email or following up with a phone call.

Include typos and grammatical mistakes in your email

Nothing stands out more to an interviewer than a thank you note littered with typos and grammatical errors.

While no human on Earth is perfect, your thank you note absolutely needs to be perfect, so even if it takes reading it over five times before you hit send, it’s still better than sending the interviewer a note filled with glaring grammatical and spelling errors.

Be too casual

No matter how casual your interview might be, your thank you note still needs to be professional and well-thought-out.

Interviewers want candidates who are serious about landing the job, so being informal in any sense of the word is a risk not worth taking.

Come across as desperate

Finally, interviewers are quite aware of the difference between candidates who are motivated and candidates who are desperate.

Don’t be the desperate candidate.

Being desperate makes you look both unprofessional and unqualified. Instead, be cool and confident in the fact that your interview provided a good representation of you as a candidate.

Looking to Streamline Your Recruitment Process?

Are you a hiring manager or recruiter looking to streamline your hiring process? Having an applicant tracking system in place will ensure you never let another follow up email go unanswered or miss an interview due to lack of communication. Candidates are trying to make the best impression on your business, so make sure your business makes the best impression on them.

Is Video Screening the Next Big Thing in HR Tech?

Is Video Screening the Next Big Thing in HR Tech?

The guest blog post by Optimize.

Video Screening
An image from Dean Drobot’s portfolio on Shutterstock

As many companies know, it’s costly to bring candidates to interview, costly in time, and for the candidates themselves to travel to your location; as a result, all efforts should be made to reduce those costs for all involved. If your recruiters or HR managers have to spend hours on the phone conducting phone screening interviews, or worse, have to chase phone calls and emails, that costs money too. There has to be a better way right?

Video Screening is a relatively new process and has been used to successful effect by several companies. 50% of companies who have implemented it have said it has improved their cost to hire significantly.

Screening process through the ages

Gone are the days of walking in an office door, chatting with the manager, and landing the job. In the past, there wasn’t a great deal of need to “screen” candidates as there weren’t such a high volume of applicants per role. There wasn’t as much social mobility so jobs were much more predetermined, and competitiveness – to a small degree – was decreased. Besides, roles themselves were different, so if someone had an accounting degree and you were hiring an accountant, and their references checked out, you were good to go. It was very likely if you had a degree in a certain subject you’d get a job in that area. Now it’s not so simple.

Presently, the job market is much more open and changes of career are commonplace. With a higher volume of (on paper) qualified applicants with secondary and tertiary skills, it means most graduates can quickly train in a wide range of surface level roles rather than an immediate specialism – and their initial skills are less important than how they can learn, think, and grow with a company.

This now dynamic workforce has increased applications to city centre roles and larger corporations. The modern candidate has a wider range of skills on offer and the ability to apply online at many different companies with ease. To deal with higher volumes, and simply to narrow down the candidate pool, an effective screening process becomes necessary. Companies may have dozens, even hundreds of qualified applicants to a role, so how does each candidate distinguish him- or herself from another?

To keep up with demand, companies implemented processes such as phone screening interviews, email exchanges, and informal face to face chats. But these techniques are limited in their effectiveness to see the ‘real’ person – and they are very time consuming. These past processes – chats, phone calls, and so forth – certainly have the benefit of being personable, but when your company hires in large volumes, it no longer has the time. It’s also impossible for larger businesses (high street retailers, for example) or someone like the Post Office to hire for busy, seasonal work – like at Christmas – where they can typically expect to receive thousands of applications, and need to turn the process around in weeks (if they even have that long). Centralisation of the recruitment process – having a set process, quality control, and set standards predetermined for each role – allows a head office to have visibility in the managing of high-volume applications.

In the past, a warehouse manager might have been the one to hire with vastly differing results, which can cause efficiency and staff turnover problems down the line, whilst also limiting head office’s ability to control the quality of their workforce.

The growing need to screen candidates

Hiring has changed drastically over the years because – in the past – people stayed put. It wasn’t uncommon for people to mark their 20th, 30th, or even 40th anniversary with a company, but as the job market has changed with the need for say more tech jobs than ever, hiring processes have needed to evolve to keep up with demand and time constraints. Today’s worker currently stays in a role for between one and two years. This shorter timeline means your company – through no fault of its own – will inevitably see staff turnover as a part of everyday life, and it will subsequently need to hire more people, more often. Processes, thus, need to keep up.

Video Interview
An image by Optimize

The current landscape of video screening

Video screening is still in its infancy – not in the sense that the technology is primitive, but in that it’s relatively new to the scene and many people might not know about it as an option. Many HR managers and recruitment companies do realise that the way they hire now isn’t efficient enough, but they may not know how to remedy that lack of efficiency.

A Monster study revealed that most recruiters spend over 70,000 minutes on the phone each year. With faster turnovers, does your company really have that time? Think of what you pay your HR manager or recruiter per hour and multiply that number by the number of candidates you usually have to screen for each position. That’s the figure it will cost you only to reach the interview stage, which costs more time and money.

Companies who implement video screening find that it reduces time to discover who they want to bring to interview. They can collaborate as a team on which candidates are most suitable to interview. Candidates are no longer simply reduced to the black and white of their CV paper; they can come alive on screen. Their personalities can shine through, and they can take the time to impress you and your hiring team. It’s like those old days of people walking in your offices for a job, but better – because you can decide in front of them without actually being in front of them (you know, because it’s a video)!

The advantages to screening

Once you’ve combed through CVs and shortlisted you candidates – or narrowed them down through them using software, whichever – then you’ll send them the pre-screening questions. You set the questions, set time limits for the answers, and set a deadline, and send them to your shortlist. Candidates will feel like they’re moving forward in the process from the moment they submit their application, but this step is virtually hands free for your company. Questions can be sent out immediately – or after you’ve verified their CV. Video screening is perfect for high volume, decentralised industries such as seasonal warehouse jobs – but also works especially well for customer facing roles as you’ll quickly determine how a candidate’s personality matches your company’s core values or personal preferences.

If hiring for customer service roles, you’ll want to see how well candidates can handle potentially tricky questions on the spot, and video screening is a perfect opportunity for candidates to showcase their ability to think on their feet. You can ask the applicant a troublesome question like how they’d deal with a customer that would like to return an item without a receipt or how they’d handle logging a complaint about a fellow colleague (who is currently off shift)? Keeping the problems agnostic of your company vertical will test the quick thinking and experience of the application. It’s often more about how the candidate delivers an answer than the answer itself.

The big sell with Video Screening is that you will see candidates before they come in – in animation – not in the social stalk kinda way where you have to check out their LinkedIn or Facebook profile pictures before you phone them! Seeing someone in person and viewing how they hold themselves and interact with the questions you set – even if it’s not physically – can help you gauge their suitability. Some could argue that human bias could sway results based on attractiveness alone, but, again, if you need a front-facing position, and you need someone confident and bubbly you can see that on a video interview, looks aside. Besides, companies will do themselves a disservice only hiring those deemed “attractive,” because – at the end of the day – you want people who are good at what they do and are the most qualified for the job outside of attractiveness level.

That sounds great – but is Video Screening really the future?

As mentioned before, processes are clearly not good enough. Just ask anyone who hires large volumes of staff – it’s tough. Many companies turn to some sort of tech whether it’s computer tests or computerised CV combing, but those processes are imperfect and still fail to show you the ‘real’ person behind the CV. You may have someone who can pass computer tests, or put in keywords in white font on their CV, but they aren’t very good in person; they don’t fit with your office culture, or they aren’t confident enough for a front-of-house role. That’s where video screening helps the process along in an innovative way. Sure, for some roles, you may just need that shy guy or girl who can code really well, and maybe for those applications video screening seems less appropriate, but, either way, if your candidate will be in the office, you need to make sure he or she fits in and works well with others (and has a modicum of confidence).

And, let’s face it, videos are everywhere these days! Video is the fastest way to get people’s attention – that’s why YouTube and those Facebook videos are so popular!

Okay, but what about those people who feel uncomfortable with video screening? Will it put applicants off? Is it too edgy and too new to try out? The truth is it may put some applicants off, sure. It may not appeal to older generations, but most candidates are willing to go through the hiring process no matter what it is. Most people have been to group interviews where you spend time building something out of paper with bits of blue tac and string (or some such exercise that is measuring a metric that has nothing to do with what you can build out of paper with ten strangers). Those people may not love that group activity, but if it’s part of your interview process – and they want the job with your company – they’ll endure the task – not that we’re trying to liken video screening to group interviews. Candidates who apply to large retailers often have to undergo computer testing, and they do that too. The point is that the most motivated candidates will be willing to go through the process of video screening even if it’s a little unusual or different for them. Therefore Video Screening works well as a deterrent to those not wholly invested in the role, again improving the efficiency of your process.

Furthermore, younger candidates will especially love this method because they are far more comfortable using a smartphone, taking a selfie, seeing themselves on screen. Enabling the next generation of skilled workers to apply in a way that suits them is going to put your company one step ahead of the competition in 2017 and beyond. Video screening is here to stay. It’s making processes better, faster, and cost-effective, so it’s best to jump on the video bandwagon before you get left behind.


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Future of Work Trends, Part 4: Future of Training in HR | Featured Image

Future of Work Trends, Part 4: Future of Training in HR

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With the introduction of video sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, etc. the employee training has transformed forever. Online video sites have enabled many companies to upload their training videos and making it available to their employees. Companies which previously have to schedule personal training sessions by matching a time as per the availability of trainer and employees which were a tedious task and even time-consuming at times are now switching to online training. Online training & career development facilitates employees to take up the training as per their schedules and from their comfort zones.

Recently many companies are re-configuring learning and development to become less campus-based classes and more of on-demand online training. This way it becomes easier for both the trainers and trainees. Trainers record their training videos once and do not have to take training sessions again and again. Trainees can choose a topic for training as per their requirement and interest, saving them both time and efforts. This makes employees more independent as they can choose a topic to develop a particular skill of their choice rather than what management thinks is best for them, although most time the curriculum is set and is also best especially for early stage careers.

Constant technological up-gradations have made the online video sites to become more user-friendly. These sites often remind users about an unfinished video so the person doesn’t miss out on something he left midway. They also suggest similar videos to enhance user’s skills and increase their understanding on the topic through different video perspectives. Online training videos are also setting up a benchmark in the employee assessment program. Nowadays many companies are evaluating employees by undergoing a specific training and assessment program. Employees are trained on a specific process by taking up online workshops and then are made to give tests based upon which they are promoted to specific positions.

Online Training

This way a fair evaluation procedure is followed giving only the deserving ones the much-needed promotion. Even employees find themselves in a win-win situation as they get to upgrade their skills. With tremendous growth in the online employee training and workshops which is slowly transforming how we learn & evaluate, it is not wrong to say that in a few year will see a more advanced and efficient ways into learning & assessments, and maybe this is a job within HR that can be taken away by machines that may be able to assess faster and smarter without the human error and provide more accurate assessments.

Just like online video sites are setting up a new trend in the workplace, similar growth can be seen in the online human resources functions in particular with training/learning and development. We shall continue with the next trend in the fifth and final part of the series where we will focus on how human resources functions are rapidly moving online, and that is a fascinating thought but also slightly scary as we ought to maintain the human and machine balance in what is needs to be a personnel function.

To read more on similar topics explore our blogs; to speak with us about employer’s hubs and how we can help transform your contractor talent management by bringing efficiencies through our simple cloud platform, get in touch.


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