Competitive, Integrated Employment for People with Disabilities

Sheltered Workshops vs Competitive, Integrated Employment

When you hear hear “employment for people with disabilities,” what do visualize? The first picture that enters many people’s head is a sheltered workshop. In sheltered workshops, groups of individuals with disabilities work side-by-side. Often these people with disabilities have similar disabilities to each other. Sheltered workshops help many people but are not competitive, integrated employment situations.

Sheltered workshop image
Light assembly work being performed by people with disabilities in a sheltered workshop
  • Sheltered workshops are often run by nonprofits to employ people with disabilities.
  • Employment in sheltered workshops is often based on their disability.
  • Their work is often light assembly.
  • Pay to people with disabilities in sheltered workshops is usually very low, sometimes even below minimum wage.
  • People who participate in sheltered workshops can often only earn up to a certain amount before they become ineligible for state assistance.

My great aunt participated in a program like this. Due to the extent of her intellectual disability, this was a good environment for her to do something during the day. Also, it gave time back to my grandparents, who were her full time caregivers. For this reason, I would argue that these programs do have an inherent value in our society and are appropriate for some people with disabilities.

Competitive, Integrated Employment Matters

When sheltered workshops are the only thing society envisions when they picture “work for people with disabilities,” we are discounting the abilities of many people.

Every person with a disability also has a unique range of abilities. We cannot make assumptions about a person’s ability because many people with disabilities are capable of competitive and integrated employment in the regular workforce.

Competitive and integrated employment means:

Competitive: Their employment is primarily contingent on their ability to perform the work.
Integrated: They are working side-by-side with people who do not have disabilities.

Peak Performers Staffing Agency was established to help people with disabilities find competitive, integrated employment. This means:

  • The most qualified applicant who has a disability gets the job. (We cannot help every job seeker with a disability find work.)
  • Some if our employees we have to terminate for failure to meet expectations.
  • Our employees are paid competitive wages and offered competitive benefits.
  • Some of our employees will work for Peak for multiple assignments.
  • Many of our employees will go onto get hired by the client or find other competitive jobs.
  • Sometimes a client will know an employee of ours has a disability (since it is visible) and sometimes they won’t (if it’s an invisible disability).

People with disabilities are a large group of people with varying abilities and also varying limitations–just like people without disabilities! If you are ready to hire people with disabilities, first look at the person and then at the disability. If you utilize this mindset, you’ll be surprised by what they’re capable of.

If you’re not sure how start but are interested in employing people with disabilities, we can help!

Best Staffing Agency Pflugerville

Finding the Best Staffing Agency Pflugerville

Picking a top rated staffing agency in Pflugerville is important  for both job seekers and employers. Staffing agencies are important partners to finding talented personnel. Here are some of our tips for picking a top rated staffing agency in Pflugerville, Texas.

Staffing Agencies: What to Consider

Specialization of Staffing Agency

Industry specialization is important for picking the best staffing agency. Many staffing firms will specialize in particular kinds of recruitment. Staffing firms often have experience recruiting for that industry and many connections in the industry. Furthermore, the search process for an administrative assistant or enterprise architect may look very different than recruiting for a groundskeeper–the staffing firm will need to look different places to find those workers.

And if you’re looking for work, seeking out a staffing firm that specializes in your area of expertise means you’re more likely to find a job faster.

You may also want to pick a company that has the kinds of recruitment service offerings you’re seeking. Peak Performers, for example, offers temporary, temp-to-perm, and direct hire opportunities in Pflugerville.

Key Metrics: Retention and Re-deployment

Some staffing firms, even top-rated ones, have a “revolving door” reputation.

As a job seeker, you don’t want a company that doesn’t value your hard work and company loyalty. And as a business, having employees constantly turning over costs you time and money.

Ask the staffing agency about their retention and re-deployment rates. Both are key to Peak Performers success and our nonprofit mission. We have a turnover rate that is half that of the industry average!

What Benefits are Offered?

Benefits keep employees happy, retained, and happy. Many staffing agencies have little-to-no benefits that they offer, or their benefits are poor. Obviously, their employees will keep looking for other work and ultimately the staffing agency will struggle to hold onto talet.

We offer health, dental, and vision insurance after 60 days. We have an Employee Assistance Program. Finally, we recently rolled out a 403(b) retirement program to help employees save for retirement. This helps keep our workforce engaged and committed to their current assignment.

Ratings and Reviews of Staffing Agency

Every staffing business in Pflugerville is rated online (you can find our Google ratings and reviews here). If you are looking for work, this is important so you can hear honest feedback and gain insights into the company. It’s equally important for businesses to use in evaluating potential staffing agencies. Staffing agencies are acting as an extension of your brand and representing your open jobs–so their reputation rubs off on you.

It also might help to ask for referrals from your network.

Costs for Staffing Agency in Pflugerville

If you’re looking for work, a staffing agency should never, ever charge you to consider you for employment. This is probably a scam.

If you are an employer, consider staffing agency cost through multiple lenses: hourly bill rate, conversion cost, direct hire fees, and other add-on fees. Also ask about their “placement guarantee,” which is basically insurance on your direct hire employees. Keep in mind that you may not want to pick out the “cheapest” staffing agency–sometimes you get what you pay for if you pick out a cheap staffing provider!

 

Are you a job seeker? If so, browse our jobs or join our talent pool. We’re happy to consider you for one of our many open jobs.

Are you looking to hire a top rated staffing agency in Pflugerville? Peak Performers has temp, temp-to-hire, and direct hire staffing solutions. We service both government customers and private companies.

Best Employment Agencies in Austin

Picking the Best Employment Agency in Austin

If you’re looking to work with an employment agency in Austin, you have many to choose from. ResumeSpice lists at least 100 of them!

So if you’re looking to compare agencies, here’s our tips for doing so:

Tips for Comparing Employment Agencies

Look at their jobs

An employment agency isn’t going to do you much good if they don’t have a job that aligns with your skills and career goals. Also, many employment agencies will specialize. For example, we don’t often staff for warehouse or janitorial roles and many of our positions are office and professional jobs.

However, as opposed to taking one look at the company’s job board and moving on, it’s important to get an assessment of the kinds of jobs they have and check back in periodically if it looks like they may have jobs in the future.

Look at reviews online

Fortunately, many people are eager to tell you about their experience with an employment agency. Less fortunately, you have to take this feedback with a grain of salt–people will be inclined to leave bad reviews for many different reasons, especially with something as important as employment. Read the five-star reviews as well as the one-star reviews.

That said, these reviews can give you a good benchmark. I recommend looking on multiple platforms such as Google, Glassdoor, and even Facebook to assess how positive people are about working for an employment agency.

Look at the culture

Employment and staffing agencies can get a bad reputation. Sometimes, they fail in taking an interest in looking out for their employees’ well being and growth and are more interested in just making a profit from their human capital. You can often get a sense for the ethos and culture of a company by its mission statement and social media.

As a nonprofit employment agency, we help professionals with disabilities find careers. We encourage a transparent and agile culture and a commitment to treating all clients, employees, and future employees with respect. We encourage employees to keep in contact with our staff and also issue an employee of the year awards. Furthermore, we have a redeployment rate of about half of our personnel, about 5X the national average for employment agencies.

Look at their clients

While you are an employee of the employment agency, often it will feel more like you are an employee of the client. Therefore, it’s important to partner with an employment agency who has refutable clients for whom you would be happy to work.

This may not always be obvious since many job descriptions leave it off. But you can often get a general idea from reading the job description and reading online reviews.

For our part, most of our clients are government agencies, nonprofits, and corporations who are committed to disability hiring as part of their DE&I efforts.

Look at their benefits

Benefits are expensive. Sometimes, evaluating an employment agency is a simple as asking them to “put their money where their mouth is.” Some employment agencies skimp, offering little or no benefits. (Especially avoid companies where you are “independent contractors” and not actual employees.)

Peak Performers offers health, dental, and vision insurance covered at 80% by the employer. We also have an Employee Assistance program and just launched a 403(b) retirement program.

Are you looking for the best employment agency in Austin? We would be honored if you considered Peak Performers employment agency! You can find our open jobs here.

Peak Performers Announces New Leadership Team

Peak Performers Leaders Announced

Release Date: Monday, February 14, 2022

“We continue to expand our staffing and recruiting services into new industries and markets in an effort to position Peak for future growth,” said Bree Sarlati, CEO of Peak Performers. “Our new leadership team will enable us to grow our company and thereby expand our nonprofit mission to help people with disabilities get jobs.”

Peak Performers is a nonprofit staffing and recruiting agency that has served the state of Texas and other local governments for 27 years. As a nonprofit, they seek to recruit and hire professionals with disabilities. A list of all our personnel can be found on our company directory.

The new leaders for Peak Performers include:

Chief Growth Officer

Gunther Doran is  a senior business development leader with a track record in staffing operations, marketing and sales management, and operational process improvement. Gunther previously served as the Vice President of Peak Performers.

“Many people with disabilities struggle to find work and many employers struggle to hire and then retain employees with disabilities,” said Gunther. “At Peak Performers, I work to connect these two parties and thereby grow the company and mission.”

Chief Financial Officer

Michael Sergi is a senior financial professional with a knack for business planning, analytics, and continuous improvement. Michael previously served as the Vice President of Finance for Peak Performers.

“Self-sufficiency starts with a paycheck,” commented Michael. “In the role of Chief Financial Officer, I help to ensure our employees get paid and our organization stays solvent.”

Chief Operations Officer

Christi Seaback brings to the team over two decades of corporate recruiting and staffing. Christi previously served as a Staffing consultant and then Recruiting Operations Manager for Peak Performers.

“I seek to ensure operational excellence in serving both our customers and job seekers, as well as helping our organization be nimble to the ever-changing needs of our industry,” said Christi.

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

Peak Performers launches retirement program

New Benefit: 403(b) Retirement Program

Peak Performers is excited to announce that they are now offering a 403(b) retirement program for all employees!

  • This program is similar to 401(k) programs–employees may voluntarily contribute a percent of their paycheck; the annual maximum contribution limit is $20,500
  • All employees, no matter how long they’re employed with us, are eligible for the program
  • 403(b) programs are “pre-tax” programs
  • This program is administered through T. Rowe Price
  • Upon starting work with Peak Performers, employees will get a series of automatic emails giving them information about how to opt-in to the program

We are excited to offer this opportunity for our employees to save for their future!

Note: Peak Performers is unable to provide financial or investment advice. Current employees should defer questions to T. Rowe Price or their financial advisor.

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

Top Rated Staffing Agencies in Austin

Picking the Best Staffing Agency

Whether you’re a job seeker or an employer, picking a top rated staffing agency in Austin is key to your success. Staffing agencies are key partners. Here are some considerations to keep in mind to help you pick the top rated staffing agency.

Staffing Agency Considerations

Staffing Specialization

When considering the best staffing agency, consider first your industry specialization. Many staffing firms will specialize in particular kinds of staffing. The leaders of these staffing firms often have experience recruiting for that industry and plenty of connections. Furthermore, the search process for an accountant or information technology professional may look very different than recruiting for a warehouse worker–the staffing firm might have to go to different places to find those workers.

And if you’re a job seeker, seeking out a staffing firm that specializes in your field means you’re more likely to find a job faster.

Finally, you may want to pick a company that has the kinds of service offerings you’re looking for. Peak Performers, for example, offers temporary, temp-to-perm, and direct hire opportunities.

Retention and Re-deployment

Unfortunately, some staffing firms, even top-rated ones, have a “revolving door” reputation.

As a job seeker, you don’t want a company that doesn’t value your loyalty. And as a business, having employees constantly coming and going costs you time and money.

Ask about the company’s retention and re-deployment focus. For our part, both are key to our success and our nonprofit mission and we have a turnover rate that is half that of the industry average.

Benefits Offered

Key to keeping employees happy is offering them benefits. Many staffing agencies have little-to-no benefits that they offer, or their benefits are substandard. It’s no wonder then that their employees keep looking for other work and they struggle with retention.

For our part, we offer health, dental, and vision insurance after 60 days. Also, we have an Employee Assistance Program. Finally, we recently rolled out a 403(b) retirement program to help employees save. This helps keep our workforce engaged and committed to their current job.

Ratings and Referrals of Staffing Agency

These days, every staffing business in Austin is rated online (you can find our Google ratings and reviews here). As a job seeker, this is important so you can hear honest feedback and insights into the company. But it’s also equally important for businesses to use this evaluate staffing agencies. After all, staffing agencies are acting as an extension of your brand and representing your jobs.

What’s also valuable is asking for referrals from your network.

Recruitment Costs

If you’re a job seeker, a staffing agency should never charge you to consider you for employment. This is most likely a scam.

If you are a client, consider staffing agency cost from multiple perspectives: hourly bill rate, conversion cost, direct hire fees, and other add-on fees. Also ask about their “placement guarantee,” which is like insurance on your direct hire. Also, keep in mind that you may not want to pick out the “cheapest” staffing agency. (Sometimes, you get what you pay for.)

 

Are you looking for work? If so, browse our jobs or join our talent pool. We’re happy to consider you for employment.

Are you looking to hire a top rated staffing agency in Austin? Peak Performers has solutions temp, temp-to-hire, and direct hire staffing needs. Also, we service both government customers and private companies.

How do I seek out a job if I’m a veteran?

Celebrating Veterans’ Day with Jobs!

American Flag Veterans Picture - Peak Performers is committed to veteran hiring and helps vets get jobs
American Flag portraying Peak’s commitment to working with veterans who have served our country. 10% of Peak Performers workforce is veterans. We’re here to help veterans get jobs.

Last week was Veterans’ Day. Peak Performers, a nonprofit employment agency, appreciates the sacrifices veterans have made in service to our country. Thank you.

Tips for Veteran Job Seekers

If you are a veteran or know one looking for work, we can help. Feel free to reach out to Myles or to apply online.

1) Seek out support resources. Veterans (and often their spouses) have access to a wide range of resources. In Texas, the Texas Veterans Commission helps orient thousands of veterans every year to a variety of services available, including helping them find work.

2) Attend a hiring eventTexas Veterans Commission and Department of Veterans Affairs hosts several hiring events each year (in person and virtual.) This is a great way to meet local employers!

3) Look for jobs on WorkinTexas. If you are a veteran, jobs posted to WorkinTexas (a job search platform administered by Workforce Solutions) are made available first to veterans and then to the rest of the population. This gives you an opportunity to get your resume in first!

4) Seek out veteran-friendly employers. Peak Performers, for example, maintains a veteran hiring ratio of at least 10%. Peak and other employers like us have made a commitment to hiring veterans.

5) Look for veteran hiring preference. Some organizations (especially government agencies) take it one step further and give hiring and interview preference to veterans. This helps increase your chances of getting the interview.

6) Utilize online tools to translate your resume. Tools like the military crosswalk can help you convert your military experience to “civilian-speak.”

Peak Performers Staffing Featured in local Newsletter

Recognition from Local Newspaper

The Crestview Neighborhood Association recently featured Peak Performers in their monthly newsletter. The text from the article can be found below.

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Media contact: myles@peakperformers.org – (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.

Disability Impacts Chart from CDC
Disability Impacts All of Us

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.

Now Hiring in Austin – Hot Jobs August 16, 2021

Austin Growing Rapidly: More Jobs Heading to ATX!

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.
*A complete list of our open jobs found on our jobs site.

This is a chart showing Austin's growth according to the census
Austin grew 21.7% in the last decade. Chart showing Austin’s growth

Now Hiring in Austin: August 16, 2021

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.

Many more jobs can be found on our jobs page.

Bree Sarlati, Recognized Globally by Staffing Industry

National Recognition for Peak Performers’ Staffing CEO

Austin, TX – Bree Sarlati, Co-CEO of Peak Performers, was recognized by the Staffing Industry Analyst’s annual “40 under 40” list. Founded in 1989, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) is the leading global advisor on staffing.

These 40 professionals exemplify passion, integrity, creativity and the perseverance that is needed to connect people to new opportunities amid COVID-19 and beyond,” from SIA’s website.

Bree started with Peak in 2012 and has worked in every part of Peak’s business: payroll, marketing, recruiting, staffing, and office management. Bree joined the leadership team in 2017 and under her leadership, she has lead a series of organizational transformations and grown Peak’s book of business by 40%.

In spite of these troubled times, Peak Performers is a success story: we are a local, medium-sized business that continues to grow and offer much needed jobs to hundreds of people,” Bree commented after the award.

Peak Performers was started in 1994 by Bree’s father, Charlie Graham, who now shares her title as Co-CEO. Peak assists over 60 government agencies and last year employed over 770 people in temporary and temporary-to-permanent positions. Peak Performers employs people in administrative, professional, accounting, and information technology jobs.

Peak has been most recently assisting the Texas Workforce Commission in recruiting for dozens of roles to help with the processing of unemployment claims during the COVID-19 crisis.

Peak Performers is a rare nonprofit staffing firm: there are only a handful of similarly structured organizations in the country. As part of their nonprofit mission, Peak is setting a new standard of employment for people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions by helping them get professional roles. Skilled job seekers with ADA-qualifying conditions receive job priority for Peak’s positions and over 80% of their workforce have an ADA-qualifying condition. Peak’s vision is two-fold: 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.

Our mission now is especially important. In the best of times, people with disabilities experience an unemployment rate double that of the national average. That’s why we’re committed to helping people succeed through meaningful employment opportunities,” said Bree.

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

So…What Do You Do?

Focus Your Job Search

“So…what do you do?”

Don’t you hate that question? You get it at parties, you get it at job fairs, you even get it at the dentist! I don’t know about you, but I’m a lot more than just my work. If I’m a job seeker, though, my resume is not the place to tell you who I am.

Employers get hundreds (sometimes thousands) of applications for every position that they post. This creates a mountain of reading that recruiters just cannot do. Often, computers read your resume first and rate it based on how relevant it is to what the recruiter wants. Or, if you’re an overworked recruiter, you read really fast (i.e. 6-10 seconds per resume).

“Who” is a complicated question that gets to the core of our humanity. “What” is a lot easier to communicate. In recruiting, it’s how we evaluate a candidate for further consideration. In this article, I want to get your resume from “Who” to “What.”

Questions to Ask Yourself When Looking for a Job

One of the hardest parts of the job search is knowing where to start. Full time work provides a location to work, equipment to work on, a community to support and direct you, and, in most cases, clear instructions on what to do on a day-to-day basis.

When you are seeking work, that can all go out the window very quickly. Job searchers must now turn inwards and answer a couple of deep questions.

  • What do I want to do?
  • What can I do?
  • What place (where) do I want to do it?
  • What do I expect from my work?

I have found these questions to be the most basic as well as the most troubling. I ask you to ask yourself, because every day that I’m at a job fair I ask job seekers, “what do you do?”

We’ll take a deeper dive into each, but first you need to gather a few tools:

  • A copy of your resume you can write on
  • A pen
  • A highlighter

1) What do you want to do?

For just a minute, I want you to imagine a perfect world where you don’t need to work but instead just want to work. What would you do? I want you to ignore the lightness of your wallet and the anxiety you feel about being around the house all day.

But I’m going to make this harder. You now need to answer this question in three words or less. Write them at the top of your resume where it’s so big you can’t ignore or forget what you wrote. 

2) What can you do?

Now, write down a list that ignores your list of what you want to do. This list is for the things you can do whether you want to do them or not. Here’s where I want to you get really specific and list all of the things you can do.

This is the most important part to recruiters and companies. Many will train you, but they want you to come in being able to meet the minimum job expectations.

Now I want you to condense this list down to just three words. Maybe you can do a lot! That’s great, but what are your key skill sets? What would jump out to me as a recruiter? Write these skills down on your resume.

3) What place (where) do I want to do it?

The easy answer to this is “within a X distance drive.” Let’s include this and then go beyond the physical location. You should also consider things like a welcoming environment, a company with a social mission, a younger/older workplace, a progressive/conservative workplace, etc. These are going to be different for each individual.

4) What do you expect?

Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of the job details. Realize that expectations may have to be compromised, but it helps to write them down. Start with the most obvious expectation and the reason most of us go to work each day. Here are some things you might expect

  • I expect to make $XXXX
  • I expect XXXX kind of health insurance
  • I expect XXXX other benefits
  • I expect to have some level of autonomy in my day-to-day work
  • I expect to be valued for my creative contributions
  • I expect to work in a team-oriented environment
  • I expect to maintain a work-life balance

We expect a lot out of our work. As well we should. We spend a lot of time there! But get this down into three words.

Edit Your Resume

A common misconception is that resumes should be only one-two pages. A resume should be as long as it needs to be provided that:

  1. It accurately and concisely represents all of you
  2. Is long enough to thoroughly address everything that a job description asks for

We’re going to make a generic resume from which you can start. You will constantly be editing this resume for every single job for which you apply.

  • Highlight: I want you to highlight everything on your resume that points strongly to one of the words that is written above. It can (and usually should) be the word itself.
  • Circle: Anything that may be relevant for a job. Education is a good example; you may well need or should include it on your resume, but often the role you’re applying for does not explicitly require it. Often, these circled items will be listed on your resume but de-emphasized.
  • Cross Out: There’s probably a lot of stuff left on your resume. Cross it out. These are like hoarding shoe boxes or 1980s Christmas decorations or Beanie Babies. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and throw it out.

Want more resume tips? Be sure to check out this article.

Getting to “Who”

It’s not that recruiters and HR managers don’t care about who you are…it’s just that resumes are not the appropriate place for it. “What” is clear and objective. It’s also what catches our attention in a stack of resumes.

Once you get to the interview, show off “who” you are in order to stand out from the other applicants.

Are you looking for work? Check out our open jobs.

Applicant Tracking Systems

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

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.

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