Layoff FAQs and Planning

Planning for layoffs and frequently asked questions

Are layoffs coming in 2023?

Right now, the long-forecasted recession seems to be more imminent than ever. Some economists are predicting more layoffs in the near future.

Why are layoffs happening?

High tech companies sometimes act as the canary in the economic coal mine. High tech companies currently are struggling with access to cheap borrowing and venture capital. Furthermore, consumer spending has backed off. Other high tech companies are cutting back their workforce in anticipation of a coming recession.

Layoffs happen when companies need to cut down expenses. Often, employees are the most expensive part of most businesses and so they’re often the first element to be impacted when recessions happen or business slows down.

What should I do if I’m at risk of getting laid off?

  1. Work on your resume now. It can be hard to re-construct your work experience after you’re no longer with a company. When exactly did you do that project and what percentage impact did it have on the bottom line? Take the time while you’re still employed to get all the information about your current job that you may need to market yourself for your next job.
  2. Build your network. 75% of all jobs are found via referral. It’s all about who you know! Layoffs are a universally traumatic time period, for the people that leave and those who stay. If you are axed, know who you can reach out to for help finding another job and who will be your reference. Also keep in mind that often you can go to work for your competitors (provided there’s not a non-compete in place) or even your customers. Make sure to get personal contact information for people who will be allies in your upcoming job search.
  3. Get on LinkedIn. I often joke that only three kinds of people active on LinkedIn: recruiters, sales people, and job seekers. If you get on LinkedIn and start interacting with people and building your personal brand with insightful posts, you send a strong signal that you are available to work.
  4. Start applying. While you’re updating your resume and solidifying your network, you might as well apply for a couple jobs. You can take a couple of interviews and who knows…maybe you’ll find a great company to work for? Even if you don’t find a job right now, this will help you exercise these skills and get a feel for what the job market is like right now.
  5. Save some money for a rainy day. I’m not a financial counselor, but I will point out that many job seekers feel like they have to say “yes” to the first thing that comes along because they need a paycheck ASAP. If possible, try to save some money to ride out a period of job loss so that you can find the right opportunity and not just an opportunity. Similarly, you can start researching COBRA health insurance options (or other marketplace options) so you’re not left without insurance.
  6. Imagine the worst, hope for the best. While it’s not fun to imagine getting laid off, doing so can help emotionally prepare you for the worst case scenario. Doing this emotional preparation allows you to respond better in the moment and to hit the ground running if it does happen. Job loss often comes with grief and this can help you process your grief faster so it doesn’t get in the way of your new job search.

Who gets laid off first?

Layoffs often affect many people and companies all do it a little differently. Here’s some of the most frequently targeted groups of people:

  • Mid-level managers. Often, companies will seek to downsize by cutting out management. If you are a mid-level manager overseeing a small team, you may be at higher risk if your company were to merge these smaller teams.
  • Less tenured employees. Sometimes there will be a feeling of “last in, first out.” If you were recently hired you may be at higher risk.
  • Higher paid employees. Employees who have been around longer and are paid relatively higher than their peers doing similar work might also be at higher risk of lay-offs.
  • Lower performing employees. Sometimes companies will target specific employees based on performance reviews.

Who can help if I get laid off?

Peak Performers is happy to! Please browse our jobs here! Also be sure to reach out to your local workforce development center and your personal network.

Additionally, make sure to check out our local resources list. Remember, you’re not in this alone.

Careers are not always linear

Hiring for humans, not machines

Disability hiring starts with considering all applicants

There are certain patterns you can see in a resume that signal someone is dealing with a disability. Each resume leaves us hints about life events and perhaps what someone is currently going through.

Each resume tells a story both in what is included as well as what is omitted. To be more inclusive in hiring people with disabilities, pause to dig into these resumes further.

Cartoon depicting progress
Career progress is not always linear. People with disabilities will often experience disruptions to their career.

Resumes we see on a regular basis:

  1. A person is seeking employment after a 5 year employment gap. Perhaps they are recovering after an injury or illness?
  2. A person has a series of very short duration jobs that all seem to end abruptly. Are they struggling with their mental health or finding accommodation difficult in their workplace?
  3. A person takes a step backwards in their career into a less prestigious role or perhaps even a part time role. Are they currently dealing with a newly emerged disability? Are they trying to find something that’s less pressure so they can focus on their health?

Any one of these resumes would raise an eyebrow of a recruiter and these people are the first ones to put on the “no” pile. If you want to make your organization more inclusive towards hiring people with disabilities, the first thing you can do is re-consider these applicants.

Take a chance and give them a phone call. Look at their resume a second time. Finally, don’t rush to make any conclusions about their work ethic or “culture fit” based solely on a sheet of paper.

Disability hiring is human hiring. You are not recruiting for a machine–you are recruiting for humans. And sometimes humans (and life) takes a non-linear path.

What’s in it for my business?

Multiple studies have shown that your workforce with a disability is 48% less likely to turn over. Companies that recruit people with disabilities experience a positive brand boost. Also, companies that hire people with disabilities tend to be more profitable due to the diversity and innovation that they attract.

You can read more about this in our whitepaper, the business use case for hiring people with disabilities.

Largest staffing agency in Austin award 2022

Peak Performers recognized in Austin

2nd largest staffing agency by hours billed

Peak Performers Staffing Agency is pleased to announce that in Austin Business Journal’s recent survey of staffing agencies, we are the second largest staffing agency in Austin with 863,696 local hours billed by temporary personnel in 2021.

Comments from Bree Sarlati, CEO:

Peak Performers is honored to accept this recognition as the second largest staffing agency in Austin. We are changing the world one job at a time by hiring professionals with disabilities. A big thanks to all of our customers who are helping us hire–we could not do this without you. Also, thanks to all of the talented, professional job seekers who seek us out looking for their next opportunity. We appreciate your trusting us to help you with your career transition.

If you’re hiring in Austin, we can help. Find out why we’re an award winning staffing agency who can help you find great talent and advance your DE&I goals through diverse hiring.

And if you’re looking for work, we can help you find Austin jobs.

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Media contact: myles@peakperformers.org – (512) 453-8833 X 116

Asking questions in an interview

Get your interviewer talking!

Advice for creating interview dialogue

An interview is all about you, right? Well, not really. 

An interview is about your potential future employer’s needs and how your skills and experience align with their needs. Also, it’s about how much they like you and see you as a “culture fit” for their team. 

A successful interview is a dialogue, not a presentation (nor an interrogation).

If you’re doing 95% of the talking, you’re doing it wrong. Here are a couple tips:

1) Flip the script

One of my favorite techniques to use in an interview is to start with flipping the script on the interviewer after introductions. Here’s how it might go:

“Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me today. I really admire your company and am honored to be considered for this role. If you don’t mind me asking, could you please tell me more about the role and what kind of candidate you’re seeking?”

Basically, this is asking them for the answers to the test before you take it. Most of the time, they will tell you what they’re looking for. You can then use all of this information to confirm that you’re the ideal candidate while you answer their questions about your skills and experience.

2) Connect personally

I recommend you find some small way to connect to your interviewer personally. Create small talk, listen for their response, and search for personal commonalities, such as a favorite pet, sports team, or even movie you’ve seen. You will have tons of things in common with anyone you meet!

Once you’ve found that commonality, get them talking about it.

“That’s really cool to hear you’re a dog lover too. Can I show you a picture of my dog? I’d love to see one of yours too.”

Reinforce what you have in common in order to make them like you personally and make them evaluate you as a better “culture fit.”

3) Ending Well

Finally, at the end of the interview they’ll often ask “what questions do you have for me?” This gives you an opening to ask questions. 

Focus on open-ended, feel-good questions, such as “why do you love working here?” and “what makes your team great?” and “what attracted you to this company?”

Then, always ask:

“Do you have any reservations about hiring me?”

This gives you one last chance to address any concerns they have and also gives you valuable intel about how you come across in the interview. Also, it will give you insight into whether or not you’re likely to even get the job.

Also, check out our jobs!

If you’re in the labor market, our team of recruiters and hiring managers don’t bite! They’re here to engage you in a conversation, understand your skills, and consider you for our open jobs. Check out our jobs here!

Changing your resume

Advice for how and when to change your resume

Your resume is not a tattoo. Be ready to change it.

A lot of job seekers I work with have played the job search before. This is not their first job…it might even be their tenth. And while this experience can be valuable, sometimes we need to recognize that what worked for us before might not work again. You will need to change your resume

Resumes are marketing pieces that will change based on the current needs.

Tips for changing your resume

Exercise creative writing.

Many of us will be pulled into tasks and projects that go beyond our job description. After a couple years, you have your core job as well as many other miscellaneous experiences. Pay attention to these experiences and be prepared to present them on your resume in order to “check all the boxes” on this new job you’re applying for.

Job titles are more flexible than you realize.

With many organizations, you’ll be issued a cool sounding title, such as “Customer Success Manager.” Or, you might be given a generic title that doesn’t tell an outsider anything about what you do, such as “Program Specialist.” Be prepared to change your job title after the fact to better market yourself. If you want to be completely transparent about it, you can put your functional job title in parentheses.

Curate your content.

A lot of us could write a short book about our work experiences. The problem is employers want to skim your resume, not read it. While reading, our goal is to do a quick evaluation, see if you are in the right ball park of what we’re looking for, and then get you to an interview. This means you will need to leave a good deal of your experience that’s not directly relevant to this job on the sidelines.

Take notes after an interview.

Each time you interview with a recruiter, take a note of 1) what they ask you and 2) why they were interested in interviewing you. If they’re asking you for clarification, it might be worth clarifying something on your resume, and if they are really interested in you because of a certain skill/experience, highlight this in future versions of your resume so that other employers will notice it.

Change your resume regularly.

As you take interviews and apply for jobs and have others give you feedback on your resume, it will change. In order to be as agile as possible, make a habit of changing your resume regularly. So make it routine in order to keep yourself agile. Just remember to save all those earlier versions too!

You should have multiple versions of your resume.

My own position is a mixture of community relations, marketing, business development, and recruiting. If I were to look for a new job, I would create four different resumes focused around each of these core duties. Be prepared to have multiple resumes in order to give yourself flexibility in what jobs you can apply for.

Want more resume tips?

Check out our Youtube Channel!

Also make sure to apply for one of our open jobs!

Career coaches

All about career coaches

What does a career coach do?

A career coach will often help you with several key activities:

  • Editing your resume, LinkedIn, and cover letters
  • Helping you expand your network
  • Advising you on making a career shift or overcoming employment barriers
  • Evaluating job prospects
  • Preparing for interviews

How do I find a career coach?

You can find potential career coaches by simply going to LinkedIn and searching for “career coach.” However, if possible you should find a career coach that has worked with someone you know or is in your target industry. Ask friends, family members, and network connections for people who might be able to help you in your career search.

When should you hire a career coach?

1) If you can’t do it yourself. Some people struggle with composing a resume or need significant help with being able to overcome an employment gap or switching careers. If the difference between you getting a job and not getting a job, it may be worthwhile to hire a job coach. However, realize that they can’t do it for you—they can give you advice and help you craft a well-written resume, but it is ultimately your job search activities that will lead to a job.

2) If you’ve exhausted all your resources. A little while back I wrote “a guide to Austin job seeking resources.” Utilize services such as Workforce Solutions, job clubs, and online resources first before you seek out a coach. Attend networking events and send messages to people you know on LinkedIn. There is a wealth of information out there and available to you as a job seeker. Paying for assistance can expedite the process but make sure you’re not overlooking free resources.

3) It’s risky for you to look for work. If you’re already currently fully employed and planning to make a big career shift, it might be worthwhile to hire a career coach to help advise you. Making a career shift can be really hard, and they may be able help you strategically prepare for this all while minimizing the risk of losing your current job. After all, sometimes the best path is to seek a new role or alternate job duties in your current company instead of quitting it outright.

What should you consider when hiring a career coach?

  • It’s a fuzzy science. Many successful job coaches gain their experience from working in HR or recruiting, or even going through the job search process successfully themselves. Some will go on to gain credentials such as Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC). Instead of looking for fancy credentials, look for local career coaches who have helped other people you know or who come from industries you want to focus on. Hire career coaches for their skills and their network.
  • Most will do an initial conversation for free. It never hurts to take a free consultation. At the very least, they may offer some free DIY advice or general guidance to help steer your search, even if you don’t hire them. Just be wary of a hard sell or over-inflated promises. 
  • Most do it to help people. Most people who get into career coaching do it because they want to help people. Many come from HR roles and want to take a more direct role in helping the job seekers they encounter. Yes, they want to charge money for their services but many also have an altruistic motives.
  • You’re still going to do this yourself. No matter how good the coach, they should not write your resume and cover letters for you. They should not apply for jobs for you. And they should not attend networking events for you. At the end of the day, you’re the one that an employer is hiring. 

How much does it cost to hire a career coach?

Business news daily estimates it to be $75-150 per hour with rates going higher depending on the industry and demand.

If this makes you wince, remember that most job seekers go without a career coach. However, recognize that we are each our own small business and sometimes paying for the expertise of a consultant can be valuable.

If you’re looking for a job, we’re hiring.

We’re hiring and would be happy to look at your resume.

Here at Peak Performers, we don’t charge candidates to help them with their job search. We make our revenue from having employees work for the customer and typically will spend some time with a job seeker for free to provide feedback and guidance so they can better market themselves. Our services offer a bit of coaching, but not at the level that everyone needs.

Disability Inclusion Starts With You

You Must be Part of the Change

Making Meaningful Change to Disability Inclusion and Hiring

After explaining Peak Performers Staffing Agency mission of hiring people with disabilities to a new person, I experience a range of emotional reactions ranging from enthusiasm to curiosity to indifference.

But my least favorite reaction is…

“Well, good for you. I’m glad someone is helping those people.”

While this seems like a benign statement, what is often implied here is “someone else is helping people with disabilities so I don’t have to.” Furthermore, the speaker usually makes it pretty clear in the statement that they are not part of this “other” group of people.

Not my Problem?

It’s estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that disability affects 26% of the population. This is not a mysterious group of “other” people. These are your friends and family, your bosses and coworkers, maybe even you.

Furthermore, the longer that you live, the more likely it is that you will acquire a disability through accident or aging. Looking out for disability inclusion is not only looking out for other’s well-being but also your own future well-being.

Access to accommodations, embracing an inclusive environment, and hiring diverse people with disabilities directly makes your workplace better and helps ensure you will have a future there.

We’re All in this Together

Disability inclusion is a direction, not a destination. This direction is the result of effective leadership, policy changes, and hiring goals. But meaningful change really happens through one hiring decision at a time, one job accommodation at a time, one work conversation at a time. Change happens through small incremental steps you have the power to impact.

Maybe you have the power to hire someone with a disability. Maybe you have the power to grant an accommodation. Or maybe you have the power to disclose your own disability and empower others to speak out about theirs.

You have the power to join us in changing the world, one job at a time.

 

Tips for phone interviews

How to interview on the phone

Advice and tips for having a great phone interview

Following the pandemic, many initial interviews have switched to over the phone. Sometimes this will be followed up with an in-person interview, and sometimes the phone interview is your only chance to land the job. Here is our advice for having a great phone interview to get the job.

6 tips for improving your next phone interview

  1. Dress up (or at least be presentable). There is an unconscious effect that happens when you dress professionally–you generally feel more professional. This small psychological trick can help you perform better. Also, sometimes interviews will be changed to video interviews at the last minute and you don’t want to be left scrambling.
  2. Plan for a spot with good reception. Unfortunately, it’s all too common that a candidate sounds garbled on the phone due to a bad connection or we get disconnected and the interview just ends prematurely. Seek out a place where you can ensure a good connection and if you think there’s any risk of dropping a call, ask your interviewer for a call back number in case you get disconnected.
  3. Minimize distractions. It can be tempting to take these interviews “on the go” like at the grocery store or at a restaurant. Similarly, it might be easy to forget about your barking dog at home because you’re so used to it. Remember that we can hear everything going on the background and might be easily distracted by these small things. Focus solely on the interview and minimize auditory distractions.
  4. Speak up. Most people sound softer on the phone than they are in-person. Also, bluetooth headsets sometimes don’t pick up your voice as well as you think they do. Speak up and focus on annunciating during your interview. It’s also important to start the interview by asking if they can hear you clearly.
  5. Sit up and smile. When you sit up, you naturally project your voice better. Similarly, when you smile, as you would in an in-person conversation, your voice sounds more up-beat and dynamic. These small adjustments can help you sound more charismatic and confident when taking the interview.
  6. Get “in front” of them. If you’re having an interview at 9:00 a.m., email them a copy of your resume and a link to your LinkedIn profile at 8:30. Then send a thank you email right after you’re done! If a recruiter is doing multiple phone interviews in a day, it can be hard to keep them all straight. This helps us differentiate you as a candidate.
  7. Treat it like an in-person interview. It can be easy to treat phone interviews casually. Don’t! Take the time to research the company, connect with the people talking to you, and otherwise make a great impression.

Professional Employment References: A Job Seeking Guide

Professional Employment References

What are professional references?

Professional references are your way of providing proof that you can do a job and that people like and respect you. A potential future employer may ask for these references as part of your application.

You will be asked to include contact information: phone, email, job title, and maybe even a work address.

Do people still check references?

Not all employers will check employment references (even if they ask for them) but you should assume they will. Make sure to include accurate contact information.

Depending on the employer, if they are not able to get ahold of your reference, they may or may not try them multiple times.

Education organizations and competitive, specialized professional fields are more likely to rely on references. Also, if you are struggling to get a job, perhaps due to seeking your first job or after after experiencing a period of unemployment, what your reference says about you can often help overcome these objections an employer has and help you land a job.

Personal vs professional references?

While some applications may call for “personal references,” usually what’s expected are references from people at work.

If you don’t have any work experience yet and an application calls for professional references, you can use places where you’ve volunteered, teacher/professor references, or other respected people in your community. (Just try to avoid sending references from your direct family members; these are not likely to be taken seriously.)

Who can give professional references?

You have a lot of flexibility on who can give you professional references. You can usually include references from:

  • Bosses
  • Co-workers
  • Clients
  • Industry peers

Usually, employment references from bosses will carry the most weight.

When asking people to be references, make sure that you have a solid professional rapport with them so they will say good things about you. Also make sure to get their permission to include them as a reference.

When do I include references?

Include references only when asked to do so.

The mistake I see a lot of job seekers make is listing their references on the bottom of every resume they blast out. You don’t want to over-share their contact information.

Also, you don’t need to put “references available upon request” at the bottom of your resume. This is generally assumed by the employer.

What about reference letters?

Some applications will go a step further and ask for “letters of reference.” This is where a potential future employer is asking you to provide a letter that a previous employer has written in order to recommend you.

This is a bigger ask of someone, so make sure that you save a copy for your records.

Don’t forget to ask for referrals.

Did you know that 75% of jobs are filled by referrals?

If you’re asking people to be your references, don’t forget to ask them for referrals to people and companies they know who are hiring. A personal reference is way more valuable if the person/company knows the other person.

2022 Peak Performers Employee of the Year

Employee of the Year

Peak Performers is proud to announce our employee of the year award. This year we’re recognizing Vincent H.

Vincent has been a dedicated Peak Performers associate for three years. He has been recognized by multiple clients for his personal initiative and can-do attitude.

Feedback from the clients:

“Vincent is an exemplary associate…a top performer doing great!”

We’d like to say a very special thanks to Vincent and recognize the hard work he does every day.

Did you know:

Peak Performers has an employee of the month program as well? We are looking forward to re-starting this program to recognize the hard work all our associates do each day.

People with invisible disabilities are everywhere

Empathy for invisible disabilities

Not all disabilities are visible

The other day, I was having a conversation and a person. The conversation turned to our mission and they said “I don’t see your disability–it can’t be that bad.” To which, I wanted to reply “Well, that’s great but I have to live with it.”

Some people without disabilities struggle to recognize the significance and impact of invisible and hidden disabilities. After all, if we can’t see it, can it really be all that bad?

Invisible disabilities are very real

The first thing to realize is that invisible disabilities are very, very real and they do impact people’s lives. Furthermore, each person will be impacted differently. To further complicate things: each individual person will be affected differently at different times!

Sometimes the impact of invisible disabilities will be tangible. For my own part, I cannot hear you in a crowded restaurant without assistance. Also, I can show you my audiogram that looks like a downward ski slope.

However, if you were, for example, autoimmune compromised the impact might be less tangible. Perhaps you are sick more often than most people and your illnesses lasts longer. Perhaps the indirect impact of this disability leads you to be less likely to go out in public and constantly anxious about your health.

Or if you had ADHD, the impact might affect how you are able to work and communicate with other people. It might affect your attention span. People with ADHD sometimes struggle in school or work environments due to their shifting attention or hyper fixation.

Or if you have PTSD, the impact might be fear, sense of dread, or generalized anxiety. It might affect your sleep and how comfortable you feel in social situations or in public.

Each of these conditions is complicated and diverse, as are the people who carry them. For your part, listen to people’s experiences and feelings. Don’t rush to judgements and acknowledge their feelings and condition as real and impactful.

For more examples of visible and invisible disabilities, make sure to check out our disability re-defined page.

Be kind and watch what you say

The second thing that you can do is change the way that you talk about other people. Don’t make assumptions, don’t make fun of people, and don’t make little of any other person’s experience. (Especially don’t engage in any of these activities around other people.)

You never know who around you has an invisible disability so don’t diminish any person or any condition. You may be speaking to someone who has that condition or one similar to it! Like chameleons, people with invisible disabilities are often camouflaged and hiding around you.

Furthermore, having an invisible disability is often a minimizing and socially isolating experience. Many are afraid to talk about it, even to their close friends and family members.

Don’t make their life any harder. Remember to be nice 🙂

Asking People About their Disability

Curiosity is Not the Problem

Asking People About Their Disabilities

Have you ever wondered:

How a wheelchair user drives a car?
– What it’s like to experience a panic attack?
– How a diabetic knows how to regulate their blood sugar?

It’s natural to have questions. Having a disability means that you adapt to the world and this makes your experiences different and interesting! Any one of these questions are not inherently problematic, and many people with disabilities will gladly tell you about their lived experience. However, what can be problematic is the WAY we ask these questions.

Advice for Asking Better Questions

1 – Consider the Intention of your Questions

If you’re asking a question with the intention of confirming your biases or to validate your judgement of a person, your question is not going to be received well. On the other side of the coin, while we may want to help, they might not need your help–don’t ask questions with the intention of “rescuing” them.

2 – Set Your Tone Carefully

Asking someone “what’s wrong with you?” is not a great tone to set. Be polite.

3 – Consider Your Timing

Would you walk up to a stranger and immediately ask them personal questions? Or would you ask a co-worker personal questions in a public space or in front of others? Carefully consider when you ask someone these kinds of questions and in what environment.

4 – Ask Permission

Disability can be a guarded topic that we may not want to talk about, or a person with a disability may get asked about their condition so often they’re sick of talking about it! It’s important to realize that someone may not want to talk about their disability with you–so give them space to opt out. To start a conversation, I recommend starting with “Do you mind if I ask you about XXXX?”

Let’s Talk About It

If you have questions, we’re happy to talk about it! Also, did you know we recruit people with disabilities?