Visit this link and complete the form. Don’t forget to select “Peak Performers” when selecting “Referred By.”
Note: if you’re outside of the Austin-area, you still may be eligible to enroll. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information.
What happens next?
After completing a form, you will be redirected to the home page to get started learning right away. Pick from 100s of different individual courses or choose a pathway with curated course recommendations.
Learning is all online and self-guided. You can use this as an opportunity to gain additional skills or explore whether a career focus might be right for you. Watch the video to learn more about how to navigate the platform and select pathways, courses, and certifications that are right for you.
Many people dread phone calls. They will do just about everything to avoid phone calls, even if they’re looking for a job. But in the business world, the phone is still the go-to communication tool. That means if you’re looking for work, answer the phone. You should answer your phone when job hunting because it might be a recruiter phone call.
Phone Etiquette for Recruiter Phone Calls and FAQs about Answering Recruiter Calls
Question: If job hunting, do I need to answer an unknown or out-of-area number? Answer: You should absolutely answer unknown numbers. You never know if it’s a recruiter phone call. Also, many recruiters may be using their personal cell phone to call you…and they might not even be in the same state they’re recruiting for–which means it’s likely to be out of area. Answer all calls when possible.
Question: Can’t I just call recruiters back? Answer: The recruiting world is fast-paced. We don’t know how long it will take someone to call us back (or even if they will) and so we may not wait. This means we might call down a list of people and hope someone picks up and forget about the rest of the people.
Question: What if I’m in a noisy place…or at my current job? How do I answer recruiter phone calls? Answer: That’s ok! Whether you’re in a noisy place or just don’t want to be interrupted, still take the call and politely schedule a time to call them back, preferably later that day during business hours. Most recruiters will be totally ok with this.
Question: Can I use Google voice to screen recruiter calls? Answer: Our experience with Google voice has been pretty spotty. Google voice calls are often garbled. Also, from our perspective it feels presumptuous to have a “personal assistant” asking for my name and why I’m calling. Many recruiters might just hang up as opposed to trying to talk to you.
Question: Can I text recruiters instead? Answer: You can try to text back recruiters–our systems support this! But phone lines (and especially land lines) shared by a group of people may or may not be able to deliver your messages. It’s safer to just answer the phone if possible.
Question: What if I really can’t answer? Answer: At the very least, make sure you have a professional sounding voicemail that’s set up and that your voicemail is not full. Seriously, check it right now and make sure!
The Bottom Line
Often, the difference between who got the interview and who didn’t was who answered their phone to recruiters. Do your job search a favor and answer the phone to a recruiter phone call.
The Crestview Neighborhood Association recently featured Peak Performers in their monthly newsletter. The text from the article can be found below.
Media contact: email@example.com – (512) 453-8833 X 116
People with Disabilities Face Hiring Challenges
People with disabilities face an unemployment rate that is double that of the national average. In times of high unemployment, they’re often the first to be let go and the last to be re-hired. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a quarter of all adults in the US have a disability. These might be observable and obvious–such as paraplegia or blindness–or they might have non-observable disabilities, such as ADHD, PTSD, diabetes, or epilepsy. Additionally, many conditions come as a result of age or injury. It’s likely that many people reading this article have a disability or will acquire one over the years. Helping advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities is paramount for creating a more inclusive society and helps protect all of our jobs.
Local Nonprofit with a Vision: Professional Opportunities for those with Disabilities
Peak Performers, an Austin based nonprofit, was founded in 1994, several years following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). At the time, the majority of jobs that were available for people with disabilities were sheltered workshop environments where those individuals would perform light industrial, janitorial, and assembly activities. These workers were often paid sub-minimum wages and might have required regular supervision from a job coach. Peak Performers wanted to offer something different: professional opportunities for skilled people with disabilities. “I was inspired by my foster brother. He was blind but went on to become a very successful accountant,” recalls Charlie Graham, founder and former CEO of Peak Performers. “Being blind did not stop him from becoming a Chief Financial Officer.” “Our vision is two-fold,” adds Bree Sarlati, current CEO. “To change what it means to be a job seeker with a disability, and to challenge the preconceptions that make employers reluctant to hire someone with a disability.”
Growth and Transformation
Unlike many other nonprofits, Peak is completely revenue-funded and does not apply for grants or solicit donations. Unlike other staffing firms, over 75% of their workforce has a qualifying disability. Peak started off like most staffing companies do: supplying low-wage mailroom and clerical roles. Over the years, their customers began trusting Peak and requesting increasingly hard-to-fill roles: auditors, contract professionals, program specialists, and purchasers. In 2014, Peak began filling information technology roles to fill the demand of existing customers. Then in 2020, while most recruiting agencies were shrinking, Peak saw it’s temporary headcount swell to nearly double as the Texas government turned to its now longtime staffing partner for one of its largest challenges yet: the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Peak has over 100 attorneys working for the Texas Workforce Commission.
Unique Business Sense
There are many advantages to hiring people with disabilities: reduced turnover, advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives, and the availability of an underutilized talent pool, especially during a time when employers need talent. People looking for jobs and employers with staffing needs can find out more at peakperformers.org.
This just in: Austin is growing really, really fast. In fact, according to the recent census data, we have seen 21.7% growth in the last decade. As a large MSA, Austin was second in Texas only to Fort Worth which grew 24%. Similarly, we saw surrounding bedroom communities such as Round Rock, Pflugerville, and Georgetown grow rapidly.
With this growth will come more people needing jobs. If you know someone who just moved here, be a friend and send them to Peak Performers. (Also, send them our guide to Austin Job Seeking Resources.) We’re happy to consider them for one of our many open jobs, and they’ll get a chance to expand their professional network in Austin. Right now we’re recruiting for everything from Auditors to Enterprise Data Architects.
Grant Accountant Job! Do you have experience with Texas Grants Management Standards and 3 years of experience working in accounting operations? If so, we’re looking for a Grant Accountant. Pay is $27 / hour.
Auditor Jobs! Are you an Auditor? Do you want to work in compliance, investigations, or records review? We are filling multiple positions with multiple agencies. Pay ranges from $20 – $28 DOE.
Grant Coordinator Job! Do you have experience working for a state agency? Do you want to help grant administration, monitoring, and preparing of education material? If so we’re looking for a Post Secondary Education Grant Coordinator. Pay is $29 / hour.
Enterprise Architect Job! Do you have experience working for state agencies and a passion for data modeling, collection, and storage. We’re now recruiting for an Enterprise Data Architect role. Pay is $69 / hour.
Purchaser Jobs! Are you a state certified Purchaser? Are you looking to work for the state of Texas? We now have multiple roles and levels open for experienced purchasers. Pay is $22 – $28 DOE.
The utility of the cover letter will vary between jobs and between job seekers in Austin. While somewhat old fashioned, cover letters are a nice way of introducing yourself and expressing your interest in the job.
We are often told that recruiters spend 6-10 seconds per resume in the initial evaluation. So then what’s the point of a cover letter and does it still get read?
For our part at Peak Performers Staffing Agency, cover letters are nice to have though are not a requirement for our process. Recruiters usually read cover letters if they’re included, though we look at a resume first. Also, on occasion we may advise you to compose a cover letter to our clients prior to a submission so we can help you better market your talent.
When to use a cover letter
Cover letters are ideal if you’re not the obvious choice candidate.
The first reason you might want to include a cover letter is if you’re not the first and most obvious choice for a candidate. If you’re doing a career shift or you’ve been out of work for a while, a cover letter gives you a chance to tell your story and showcase your unique value as well as overcome their concerns about hiring you.
Cover letters are ideal if you’re in network.
Similarly, a cover letter helps hiring managers connect the sheet of paper to the human. If you have the competitive advantage of network connection (which is a significant competitive advantage), a cover letter is a great way to highlight those connections to make sure you don’t lose that edge.
Cover letters help you expand on your resume.
If you’re really struggling to fit all your experience onto your resume or struggling to showcase your unique skills in the resume format, a cover letter lets you work outside this box.
Sometimes cover letters are expected.
I’ve known hiring managers who will not consider hire someone unless they send a thank you note after an interview. Similarly, some hiring managers and some industries expect you to spend time wooing them. Academia and positions where the candidate pool is smaller and more specialized often expect a cover letter to be considered.
Not many people do write cover letters…so you may want to.
You may want to do use a cover letter just because many people don’t. When you’re struggling to stand out from the crowd, these gestures can make you unique enough to get noticed.
Cover Letter Tips
Don’t rely on the cover letter to tell your story.
A cover letter may or may not get read. So make sure that it’s supplemental to your resume and a “nice, personalized touch” that will help you stand out between multiple qualified candidates. In addition to a cover letter, I recommend putting in a brief statement at the top of your resume about what kind of role you’re seeking and a summary of your qualifications.
Cover letters can be helpful if you’re not the obvious choice candidate.
If you are attempting to switch careers or get back into the job market after an employment gap, cover letters can help you overcome objections or add more context and explanation to your candidacy.
Make sure to customize your cover letter.
Too often, when I do see cover letters, they are very obviously copy-pasted from a template. Job seekers won’t bother to customize the thing that’s supposed to be a personal touch! If you’re using “Dear Sir or Madam,” you probably haven’t done enough networking and research into the organization for the cover letter to be truly impactful.
Emphasize your network connection/referral.
As a follow up to the previous point, if you have a personal connection into an organization, a cover letter is a great way take advantage of this network. You can name drop your connection, and it increases the odds that your application will get seen and will spark a conversation about you.
Watch for typos on your cover letter.
You want a cover letter to be the best representation of yourself. Since it’s a bit of a formal document anyway, if you can’t make it typo-free and grammatically sound, I’d skip it as it may jeopardize your candidacy. Attention to detail is important.
It’s still good to have a template even if you don’t think you’ll need to use a cover letter often. All job seekers should have a cover letter template they can customize and send at a moment’s notice. Some employers still require it as part of the application process. Indeed has an amazing library of sample cover letters. You can also check out this previous article on Peak’s site with tips for writing a good cover letter.
Austin has almost regained all jobs lost prior to the pandemic as our area continues to see rapid hiring. However, there are A LOT of people still out of work, including: people who took time off to care for dependents, retail and service workers who saw their jobs permanently disappear, and people with disabilities. People with disabilities are often the first to be let go and last to be re-hired in organizations
Many with disabilities were laid off or voluntarily dropped out due to health concerns, and they can use your help finding their next job!
So who do you know who’s looking for work? Who do you know who has been out of a job for a while and is tentative about getting back to work? Peak Performers can help these professionals find their next job—let’s put people to work!
NEW JOB! Do you have experience working for a state agency? Do you want to help grant administration, monitoring, and preparing of education material? If so we’re looking for a Grant Coordinator. Pay is $29 / hour.
REMOTE ROLE! Do you pride yourself in examining, investigating, and reviewing financial statements? Do you have a certification as an auditor (CGAP, CFE, CIA, or CPA)? If so, we are now hiring for a remote Auditor IV (Austin-based) pay is $28 / hour.
IT JOB! Do you have experience working for state agencies and a passion for data modeling, collection, and storage. We’re now recruiting for an Enterprise Data Architect role. Pay is $69 / hour.
MULTIPLE OPENINGS! Are you a state certified Purchaser? Are you looking to work for the state of Texas? We now have multiple roles and levels open for experienced purchasers. Pay is $22 – $28 DOE.
Virtual interviews have become increasingly common, including with state government agencies in Austin, TX. Before COVID-19, Peak Performers had been transitioning to conducting mostly virtual interviews because of their convenience for all parties. Now, living with the virus, you will find most employers, including Peak Performers, are conducting their interviews via phone or video chat or some combination of the two. Let’s look at some tips for both jobseekers and employers:
Treat it like a normal interview. It’s important to take all interviews, regardless of how they are conducted, with the same level of seriousness. Preparation includes: studying before you interview (jobseekers should research the organization, employers should re-read the candidate’s resume), getting plenty of rest the night before, being well fed before the interview, and cleaning/dressing yourself professionally
Mark your calendar. Prior to the event, make sure that you are prepared to do the interview. You should send out or respond to calendar invites to let the other party know it’s really happening. As an additional courtesy, you can send an email expressing your excitement and providing the other party with another means to contact you if there is connection trouble.
Check technology. Test out the technology to make sure you are set-up and ready to go. If possible, make a test call to a friend or family member. In particular, you should make sure that your webcam and microphone work.
Manage noise. Find yourself a quiet room in your home (not outside). Sounds like a dog barking, garbage disposal running, or someone playing music in the next room may not be something you notice but your interviewer probably will. If you’re concerned about background noise, wear a headset or earphones.
Manage lighting. Find a room with good natural light when possible. Avoid sitting with your back to a window as this tends to turn you into a silhouette. Use overhead lights when natural light is unavailable or insufficient.
Adjust your webcam. Adjust the angle of your webcam so that your head is centered in the frame and the camera clearly shows both your shoulders. Sit so you are directly facing the camera.
Manage interruptions. Don’t forget to silence your phone and computer so it doesn’t interrupt you. Additionally, put a sign on your door and let household members know that you will be interviewing. If interruptions do happen during the interview, such as a child coming in to interrupt you, mute your microphone, deal with the situation patiently, thank the other party for their patience, and return to the interview. We’re all human and working under unusual circumstances—do what you need to do and then get back to it.
Take notes. For employers this is really important, especially if you’re interviewing multiple candidates and need to recall who is who. Jobseekers should also have a pen and paper handy to take note of their interviewer’s name, email, and phone for follow up.
Speak clearly. Remember to talk slower than you might do in person, especially if you are conducting a phone interview. Pause before answering a question to think about it and avoid, when possible, excessive filler words. You want to sound thoughtful and communicate clearly.
Smile often. Remember to smile often, even if you are doing a phone interview. A smile brings a natural enthusiasm to your voice and is particularly important with a video interview.
Look at the camera, not the screen. Finally, when doing a virtual interview, look into the camera as much as possible when talking. This gives the perception of eye contact during the interview.
Modern-day recruiters are flooded with resumes from candidates applying for their jobs.Additionally, recruiters have access to countless resumes online through places like Monster and Indeed.For this reason, similar to how you use Google to find what you’re looking for online, HR departments are relying on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to find the candidates they are looking for (using keyword searches, mostly) and to “save” promising candidates for future opportunities.
In this article, let’s take a deeper dive into the world of recruiting and the tools that they use (Applicant Tracking Systems).
Why it Matters
Many larger organizations get an even higher volume of resumes and have fewer recruiters to sift through them.Additionally, large companies or public sector departments often have tight deadlines and must rely on their recruiters to find the best candidates very quickly.It is estimated that recruiters for larger organizations spend less than 6 seconds on each resume.
Imagine for a second that you are asked to find the best qualified candidate and you have a hundred resumes to review. How would you go about this task?
First, we start by using keywords from the job description and matching those to what’s found in the resume–very similar to how you might find something on Google.The results are returned to us as a “relevancy score.” Basically this means that the computer is trying to figure out how relevant a candidate is to the job we’re trying to fill.Many recruiters might only look at the first few results (the ones on the top of the page).
Ultimately, recruiters are there in order to go through the resumes and then recommend a few of the most promising candidates to their hiring managers. The recruiter may not make a hiring decision but is influential in choosing who gets invited to interview.
Resume Optimization in 5 Steps
Now that you know why it matters, I’m going to tell you how to prepare your resume in 5 steps to make you stand out.
1) Print the job description
What I recommend to job seekers is to print the job description and read it aloud. Next, ask yourself what the recruiter is looking for and how will they find it when they have a lot of resumes to go through. Now, take a highlighter and highlight those words and phrases.Recruiters are generally asked to find candidates based off of hard skills (tangible skills such as experience with a particular software or a unique named skill set, such as accounting) and soft skills (things like being team-oriented or being organized).
2) Insert keywords into your resume (multiple times)
Now take those keywords and put them in your resume if they are not there already.I recommend finding multiple places to insert them.Typically, I find it helpful to put them in a breakaway skills section under the objective summary and build them into each work experience where you used them. Including keywords multiple times will help increase your “relevancy score” according to the computer, and it is also what the recruiter will first scan for. But remember, your goal is to optimize and present your experience as favorably as possible–not to trick the recruiter by misrepresenting your experience or stuffing your resume with keywords.
3) Update your objective summary
Many recruiters skip right past this bit on the first read through.That’s because it often boils down to under-qualified job seekers trying to talk their way into a job or job seekers saying everything that they say in their resume again…except in paragraphs as opposed to bullets. Use the objective summary to specifically call out this job that you’re applying for and make it a true summary of why you are the best qualified candidate for this role.Additionally, use this section to address any concerns that a recruiter may have that might get you screened out without your providing further explanation: for example, returning to the workforce after a long work hiatus or applying for a job from a different state (here at Peak we work predominately with local candidates or those who have already moved to the area).
4) Move pieces of your resume around
In my jobs, our clients are typically more focused on direct experience as opposed to education.When a candidate sees that there is no education requirement and yet puts their education front and center, it simply slows down my eyeballs from getting to the part of their resume that’s relevant to the job.Again, put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter and think what is important and then figure out how to put it on the first page or as close to it as possible.Also, relevancy score is often affected by how close the desired keywords appear to the top of the page.
5) Remove/minimize extra content
Many, many job seekers have a notion that they have to have a resume that is one or two pages long.(I work primarily in within the public sector within Information Technology staffing and resumes for positions we fill tend to be much longer than this.)However, I think where this conventional wisdom comes from is recruiters who are used to sifting through hundreds or thousands of resumes for a particular job. This means (theoretically) that the recruiter has to read less content in order to get the gist of a candidate. Having a resume that’s short and sweet is great…if it gets to the recruiter at all. More important is making sure that the resume is specifically targeted to the job using keywords, includes an appropriate objective summary, and is arranged in an order that is relevant. Where you can cut or minimize content is by removing all that extra stuff the job doesn’t call for.Are you applying for a java developer role but you spent the last 6 months in retail while you went back to school? I don’t need to know about your time working retail except to know what you’ve been doing for the last six months and why you were doing it.
So you’ve graduated—now what? Maybe you’ve moved out on your own or maybe you’re looking to. Maybe you’ve already got your foot in the door with an organization, or maybe you’re bussing tables to make ends meet.
Fear not—employers are looking for energetic and enthusiastic young people like you who are ready to change the world! And there are tons or opportunities out there for the eager recent grad.
5 Tips to Get Started
1) Start somewhere:
It may not be your dream job right away, but it helps get you there. Every job you get from making hamburgers to answering phones teaches you something about yourself and about your talents. Don’t be afraid to try something new and make professional contacts along the way! (PS:Peak is a great place to start in entry-level professional positions.)
2) Be flexible:
Chances are you’re young and mobile. Take advantage of that. Your first or second job may be located on the other side of the country or maybe even in a different one—sounds like a fantastic adventure! Besides asking yourself when can you start…maybe ask yourself where you can start?
3) More jobs offline
You may spend most of your time online but your future employer may not. Have you thoroughly researched a company before applying there? Have you looked for personal referrals and people who might know people? Have you networked with anyone besides through Linkedin?
4) Always follow up
Even if you don’t end up taking a job after an interview, give the hiring manager the courtesy of a personal phone call or email to thank them following an interview or offer. Be grateful for every opportunity whether it lands a job or not. Always be positive, and leave the door open for future opportunities.
5) Avoid job hopping
Even if you don’t like your job, try to resist the urge to “job hop.” A prospective employer may be less likely to consider you for a new position if they perceive that you are less committed and dedicated for the long-term.
On Thursday May 17th, 2018, Peak Performers celebrated their employee appreciation event, PEAKnic. Aside from the wordplay—there was much horseplay and balloons and painted faces and sidewalk chalk and sandwiches. What a party!
It’s hard finding a new job or transitioning careers, especially when you might be thinking more about retirement. Things can be extra challenging these days competing with tech savvy millennials who will work for lower wages and can relocate easily—however your future is still bright!
Here are 5 tips to compete in the job market!
1) Stay positive, stay current
Employers can sense energy and enthusiasm—they appreciate perspective but don’t want someone stuck in the past. Make sure to stay positive and in the present both on paper and in person. Remember that you want to highlight your past and not live in it.
2) Get techie
Realistically, most of your work will be done on a computer from now on. Most likely you already use a computer on a daily basis but maybe it’s time to learn some new skills. It’s likely in your new job you will be using Google Docs, Quickbooks, Salesforce, or another cloud-based, collaborative application–so maybe it’s time to do some research and familiarize yourself with the software currently prevalent in your career field.
3) Update your resume
Have you been in one job for ten years? Twenty? Probably time to update your resume. Did you know that your local library may have resume writing classes? Have you looked at resume writing tips online? Also, don’t forget to tailor your resume towards each job you apply for.
4) Network and use Linkedin
Linkedin is not only a great way to look for jobs but also to reconnect with former colleagues and friends in the field. Many of your best job leads will come from personal referrals. So tighten up that resume and get online to connect.
5) Leverage your experience
You’ve been there and done that. Don’t forget to show it on your resume and talk about it in the interview. Most employers value experience, perspective, and a long list of things you’ve done. While ideal resumes should be tailored specifically to the job you’re looking to get, don’t be afraid to point out all the ways you’ve changed the world!
For many of us, growing up is a time of exploring ideas and our relationship to life – to others around us and the universe in which we live. It’s a big and complex universe with an enormous number of choices to be made. Many of us spend the first 25+ plus years of life just figuring out which choices will aid our survival the most (and which ones are most harmful).
Most schools emphasize getting to college as soon as High School is done and that often means entering the full time workforce at the age of 22, 23 or later. And it can be a big parental (and personal) disappointment when you discover that you actually dislike the kind of work for which you have been trained – at enormous cost. And if you graduate with debt the shock and disappointment can be personally devastating.
How can you know what you love to do, until you do it?
So finding the job, the work you love, is a bit tricky. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem. How can you know what you love to do, until you do it? You may find that even the greatest job at the best company in the world can send you into your pillow crying if your boss is mean. Or you may find the menial tasks of your chosen profession drive you to a boredom not experienced since Middle school.
The days of going to work for one employer in one city, in one trade or profession are gone. The odds are very good that you will not work any one place for 30 years.
Job sampling, and temporary work, in today’s “gig” economy is the most beneficial way for you to find out:
Where you want to work
What kind of work you really enjoy
How your skills can be best deployed to help an employer
How and where you get the most personal job satisfaction.
Work is no longer just about the paycheck
For the first decade of working, I had no idea what kinds of jobs I loved, so I sampled multiple jobs, employers, and job types. From highly technical and precise map making, to highly imprecise and social sales jobs.
Prior to creating Peak Performers, I had jobs in…
A car wash, making dirty cars clean (until the next time it rained)
Mapping possible hydroelectric dam locations
Selling Persian, Turkish and other exotic rugs and expensive carpets
Selling electronic stereo equipment and home electronics
Mapping the back side of the moon
Analyzing the right level of staffing for large plywood manufacturing plants
Grinding steel plates in a machine shop (that lasted one day)
Selling insurance and annuity products to elderly people
Helping people with disabilities develop work skills
Helping minority and women owned small businesses get government contracts
Helping low income and minority workers get re-trained and placed into new careers
Helping older workers get trained to change occupations and helping minority youth access the workforce
I finally settled on helping people with disabilities develop work skills as my ideal type of work. That was after having 15 jobs! Some lasting years and some only months.
To give another example: our family dentist began his post-university career as an electrical engineer. He is a highly social person who likes talking to patients. Electrical engineering was not a good fit, to say the least.
Finding What you Love
No one really knows what they LOVE to do until they have done some various things.
No one really knows what they LOVE to do until they have done some various things. Employers are no longer expecting you to give them your whole life and they are no longer guaranteeing you a lifetime job. That’s a good thing for people seeking a well-balanced, happy and prosperous life because you don’t want to commit for the next 30 years either.
So, looking at the reality of today’s job market, all jobs are, in effect, temporary. And you as a candidate can make the best of this opportunity to look around and sample different jobs, in different sectors for different employers until you find the job you LOVE.
The whole box of chocolates might look inviting, but there will be one in the box that’s better than all the others. It’s up to you to find it.
-Charlie Graham, founder and CEO of Peak Performers