How to Onboard a New Hire

You have made your decision, you extended the offer and now the candidate has accepted.  Now you are faced with the onboarding process. While you obviously must follow state and federal guidelines when it comes to processing the paperwork, onboarding is so much more than just the legality of papers.  Onboarding is an ongoing part of the business. What you need to decide is how long the process will take, 30-60-90 days? One year? You also have to have the right people in your ship to follow the process and give it their full attention.

First thing’s first

The onboarding process should begin when you post the position itself. This is when you start thinking of your process, who will oversee it and what it looks like. Will you have employee orientation? Will the person in charge of the onboarding and training process be available to give this their full attention? What tools will the new employee need to do their job efficiently and correctly? Have everything ready for this person and be completely ready for their arrival.

Use the buddy system

Be sure that there is one specific person for the new start to latch on to. When this happens, there will be less direct questions to the manager which will allow them to focus on their own work. This also helps them feel immediately accepted and at ease in a new place.

Small Businesses

If you happen to be a small business, don’t overdo your onboarding process. You will actually see flaws and issues far more quickly than a large business which is why the large onboarding structures will simply be too much. Keep it simple.

Ask how you are doing

Ask your new employees what they like and don’t like about your process and take it to heart. See what can be changed, what issues there are, and fix them. Ask them what they would like to see changed, what they think should be added to your process, and ask what you can do to improve. There is no one size fits all when it comes to this and you may need to change things many times before you find what works.

All in all, keep evolving, keep up with the times and changes within your industry and your business. There is no right or wrong way here as long as you are willing to see and understand the need for change.

References 101 | Part 2

Now a days, most employers ask for you to provide them with at least three references. Most of us ask the same question, “Do they actually call and check those?” The answer is almost always YES, yes they do.  Picking the right references and asking those people to be a reference can be a task in and of itself.  On the employer side of things, checking those references can be daunting and time consuming, but as we lay out below, neither has to be true.

How to Check References

Ask for feedback

Touch base with everyone who has spoken to the candidate. Ask them what they think, what their concerns are, and what they would like you to follow up on. The goal here is to then mold your questions around what you are hearing and get more out of the third-party reference, than you could from the candidate.

Make sure you are clear with the candidate on what types of people you want to hear from. If you want to know more about their leadership skills, make sure to ask them to provide you with a supervisor or manager to better answer the questions you have revolving that skill.

Be prepared

Assume the call with take an hour. It won’t, but if you are better prepared to take that amount of time you won’t feel rushed and neither will the reference. The goal here is to take your time, dig in deep with their references, and ask any and all questions you have. It’s ok to stray from your pre-written questions and ask other follow ups as the call goes on so take your time.

Describe the job

Describe to the reference what you are looking for and ask if the candidate was under the same circumstances when they worked together. Example: “We are seriously considering Ellen for our Regional Sales Manager opportunity. In this role she will have to travel often and meet a goal of $3 million in sales. Is this similar to what she was doing when she worked with you? How did she handle it? Did she overcome obstacles? Did she hit her goal?

Open ended questions ONLY

Ask very specific open ended questions; instead of “What can you tell me about (the candidate)?” ask something more along the lines of “I understand that your company is goal oriented and competitive can you tell me how (the candidate) handled that environment on a daily basis?” Another way to ask is “I understand (the candidate) helped implement a new training process. Can you tell me what (his/her) role specifically was in that project?”

These questions leave it open for the reference to formulate a deep and detailed answer about what specifically the candidate did, what their skills and abilities are, and how he or she could be an asset to your company. This also opens it up for them to give any negative feedback they may have.

Soft skills

After you have the facts on the skills, abilities, and contributions of the employee, be sure to ask about their soft skills. Soft skills cover the candidate’s personality, how they handle the day to day stress, how they speak to vendors, clients and customers, as well as how easy they are to get along with within the office. These traits are just as important as the skills and abilities to get the job done correctly.

References are an essential and vital part of hiring the best employees for your business. Make sure you are taking your time with them and get all the information you can.

References 101 | Part 1

Now a days, most employers ask for you to provide them with at least three references. Most of us ask the same question, “Do they actually call and check those?” The answer is almost always YES, yes they do.  Picking the right references and asking those people to be a reference can be a task in and of itself.  On the employer side of things, checking those references can be daunting and time consuming, but as we lay out below, neither has to be true.

How to Ask Someone to be Your Reference

Choose wisely 

Choose people who will give you an exceptional reference, people you had positive experiences with. This does not mean they have to be former employers. It could be a client or vendor, a co-worker, or a professor. If you have limited business contacts, use a personal reference, someone who can speak strongly to your character, demeanor, and abilities.

Be careful how you ask

Don’t just ask “Will you be a reference for me?” Instead ask something along the lines of “Do you feel comfortable providing me with a reference?” This gives the person the opportunity to decline if they feel they would not be able to give you an outstanding reference.

Give them all pertinent information

Make sure they know what kind of jobs you are applying for and what companies could be calling them. This gives them the opportunity to prepare what they say and match what the company would be looking for.

Put your request in writing

Be sure to send an email with all of the information in it when you ask for them to be your reference. This gives them something in black and white to reference and allows them to answer truthfully. Be sure to include your name in the subject line so that the email gets opened and read.

Be Professional

When sending your email to ask for the request, be sure you sound professional.  Check the email for spelling and grammatical errors, and if need be ask someone to edit for you. Remember you are asking for a professional reference, you need to be professional in the request.

Say Thank You

Be sure you say thank you in your email as well. You are asking them to take time out of their busy schedule to do you a favor and help you get a job. Be sure to thank them for everything!


Dear Steve,

I hope everything is well on your end and that you’re enjoying a busy 3rd quarter.  I wanted to touch base with you to ask for help in my job search. I am in the process of looking for a new position as my current position is being eliminated.

I would like to ask your permission to use you as a reference who can speak to my skills, qualifications, and abilities. I would always advise you when your name and contact information is given out this way you know who to expect a phone call from. I would also include what type of position it is, and what they are looking for.

I really appreciate your time and efforts in this and look forward to hearing from you soon.  Also, if you know of any openings that I may be qualified for I would appreciate the help.

Thank you,



Top 10 Career Limiting Moves

#1 – Coming in late

Getting caught in traffic and making it into the office a few minutes late won’t doom your career. However, falling into the habit of showing up late will get noticed. This especially applies for meetings. Be on time and be prepared or you will stand out in a negative way.

#2 – Constant complaining

Business is all about overcoming challenges. You’re not the only person facing obstacles. Do you work to the best of your ability and keep any negativity out of the office.

#3 – Too many drinks at office social functions

This one seems obvious but is often overlooked. Whether it’s a company picnic or informal happy hour keep your behavior in check. Realize that you’re surrounded by co-workers and need to project professionalism.

#4 – Taking vacation to avoid work

Vacation days or PTO are part of your compensation and you’re entitled to them. You should use them as you see fit. All of that being said, taking your days or weeks off during the busy season is going to get you some negative attention. Be aware of the ebbs and flows going on in your office. Don’t take your vacation when things are hectic and leave your co-workers having to cover for you.

#5 – Never volunteering for extra work

Teamwork is the name of the game in most offices. Often times co-workers will need a hand or your team has a deadline to meet. These instances often require an extra investment of time and effort. Do you pitch in when your team needs you?

#6 – Ink

This one is likely to be controversial as tattoos are very popular within younger age groups. If you like tattoos feel free to get as many as you like. Just realize that your manager may not like them as much as you do.

#7 – Dressing like a slob

This one is common sense and quite easy to avoid. Follow the simple rule of dressing for the job you want, not the one you have. This extends into grooming habits as well. Keep your appearance sharp and neat and you’ll have no problems.

#8 – All talk, no results

Offices run on teamwork, accountability, and performance. There are few things more annoying than a co-worker who talks a big game, but can’t deliver. Focus on your performance and stay humble.

#9 – Interoffice romance

Office romances can be risky. When they work it’s great. However, they often don’t work out and can create significant office drama.

#10 – Bad mouthing others

Businesses run most efficiently when work places are places of harmony. Gossip, trash talk, and cliques can destroy work places. Keep your opinions about others to a minimum and be friendly to everyone.

How to Let an Employee Go

Letting an employee go is a very sensitive process. It needs to be done correctly to protect yourself and your business.  You want to make sure that you follow a detailed process, have HR involved, and stay consistent.  Below you will find several points that will help you to develop your own termination process and let an employee go the right way.

Give the employee time to improve

Make sure you have given the employee time to improve before you make the final decision. You never want an employee to feel blindsided by their termination. Give them a heads up on what they are doing and what they need to approve upon to keep their job.

Get everything in order

Have a list ready on what needs to be returned, how to leave the building, how long the employee will have benefits for, and have their last check ready if the law in your state requires you to have a paper check ready.

Choose the proper day, time, and place

Choose a day early in the week, NEVER let go of someone on a Friday, and choose a time where business is least impacted. A time when the office is less full like during lunch, early in the morning, or during a meeting could be best. Have the discussion in a private office not out in the open.

Facts not feelings

Stick to the facts. Your emotions toward the employee stick have nothing to do with the decision. Don’t attack them and be sure to follow the laws specific to your area as far as notice and severance pay goes.

Protect your business

DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! Be sure you were clear on company rules, expectations, and position requirements as well as their infractions and disciplinary policies. This will help protect you from a lawsuit and protect your company from negative feedback.

Don’t do it alone

Be sure you are not the only person in the room. An HR employee would be best for this. If you do not have a dedicated HR person, be sure to have other personnel in the room with you. This helps ease things and makes sure you are protected as well. Again, this is an emotional and sensitive process and you need to be sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself and your company.

This shouldn’t be a surprise

Termination should never be a surprise, they should see it coming and should have had constant and real time feedback from you every step of the way. They should understand what they have done wrong or what was not working. Lawsuits come when the employee is blindsided.

Be consistent

You want to be sure that you are consistent in your process, if you let go of someone for being late 3 days in 90 days, then you need to make sure you are holding all of your employees to the same standard. Don’t drag out the process, be clear and concise with your decision and end it quickly.

Be honest

It’s OK to fire an employee for not being the right fit, just make sure that when you do so you are honest about why you are letting them go. Don’t make up HR violations when there aren’t any. Just be honest that it’s not working out for either party involved and it’s best to end it sooner rather than later.

Do a self-assessment

Look at your hiring process, training and development as well as your support system you have in place for your new hires. Make sure there is not a pattern of negative behavior in the candidate you are hiring. Be sure you have the best possible process in place to hire and develop the best people.

Again, this is a sensitive process with a lot of emotion in play. It’s something that no one enjoys dealing with. Prepare yourself and stick to your company’s process. Protect yourself and your company in every step of this way. Follow the steps here and you will do just that.

How To Quit Without Burning Bridges

There are few things more exciting and gratifying than accepting a new job. Hopefully, it’s a move that will advance your career and increase your compensation. However, before getting settled into your new home you need to resign from your current position. Quitting a job can be a daunting task to undertake but it doesn’t have to be. Follow our tips below to ensure that you leave the right way.

Give Two Weeks Notice

Work with your manager to create a plan for transitioning out of your position. You may need to help with moving projects onto the respective plates of your co-workers. Some companies will want your assist training others to take on some of your responsibilities. Be flexible here and do everything you can to leave your boss and team in a manageable position.

Tell Your Boss In-Person

Offer your resignation directly to your manager. This needs to be done face-to-face. Let him or her know that you’re leaving. It’s up to you if you want to provide a reason for your decision or details about your new role. Be clear and direct during your conversation. Do everything you can to keep the discussion positive.

Express Gratitude

Make it clear your boss and co-workers how thankful you are to have been a part of the team. Focus on the positives. Be grateful for all the lessons you’ve learned and experience you’ve gained in your current role.

Don’t Gossip

Don’t give your manager one reason for leaving and tell your co-workers another reason. Stay consistent and positive. Stick to the truth and never bad mouth anyone on your way out the door.

Beware the Counteroffer

The majority of the time counteroffers are bad news. The reasons for the employee’s decision to leave aren’t likely to change quickly. The additional compensation you may be offered only serves as a band-aid for the real issues at play. Plus, employers always remember your initial reason for leaving and often grow to become resentful.

Exit Interview

Many companies will put you through an exit interview. This may seem like a confidential, HR-guided process where you can give honest feedback and critiques. It’s not that, so don’t be fooled. It’s highly likely that harsh words said during the exit interview will get back to people and be perceived as you bad mouthing people on your way out. Keep things light, positive, and vague during your exit interview.

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Most people dread the in-person job interview. Even the thought of an interview is enough to throw some into a tailspin of anxiety. What do you wear? What do you bring? How do you answer those tough questions? We at PromoPlacement completely understand and are here to help. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to prepare yourself for the interview.

Research The Organization

The very first thing you want to do in preparation is to research the company you will be interviewing with. Check out the company’s website. Read the “About Us” section and get a feel for who they are, what they are about, and when they were founded. Find something that speaks to you that you can slip into conversation.

Talk to someone who already works there or find someone on LinkedIn who is currently working in the position you will be interviewing for. See how they describe the position and find something you like about it. This will help you speak more to what the hiring manager may be looking for.

Package Your Positives

Go into the interview with a game plan. Select 2-4 key points about your experience and background that you want to make very clear to the interviewer. Reiterate these often. These points should tie into both the business goals of the company and the hiring goals of the hiring manager. They should be specific and spell out exactly why you are the right person for the job.

Package Your Negatives

Many candidates have some shortcoming or weakness within their career history. Maybe you have had a 3-month gap in employment or maybe your formal management experience is lacking. Whatever the issue is, be prepared to address it. Plan out in advance how you are going to explain it should it come up in the interview. It’s best to keep it brief. Explain it and move on to the next topic.

What To Wear

Keep it neutral and conservative. If you are wearing a dress, be conscience about the length, color, and cut. Be sure you stay professional top to bottom. If you are wearing a suit, be sure the jacket and pants match as well as the shoes. If you are instructed that the office is “business casual” be mindful. Still dress professionally, this may mean not wearing a full suit, but rather wearing a button down with dress pants. Remember you are trying to impress.

Remember to dress for the job you want not the job you have. Even if you are interviewing for a customer service job behind a desk and a phone, you still want upward mobility and the best way to ensure that is to show them right off the bat that you’re a professional.

What To Bring

Bring extra copies of your resume in some type of folder to keep them clean and neat. Bring a notepad or professional binder and a pen. Keep everything neat and professional. Read our “11 Essential Things to Take to Your Interview” blog post for more details.

First Impressions

Sit up straight. Manage how you react to the interviewer and do your best to keep positive facial expressions. Remember that your first impression starts when you walk through the door, so be friendly to everyone you see and meet. Make it clear that you’re actively listening to your interviewer by keeping good eye contact.

Keep Responses Simple

Be sure not to over share. No one needs to hear your life story in an interview and no one wants to hear you ramble on about the family dog. Keep your answers short and concise. Speak clearly and with meaning. You don’t need to use big words in your interview. Just speak to what you know and be yourself.

Always Ask Questions

Every interview ends with “Do you have any questions?” Always have questions. The number one question we recommend to our candidates is “Do you have any doubts about me taking this job?” This is where you can understand where they feel you may fall short and you get the chance to ease their doubts.  Other questions you can ask is “What do you expect of someone within the first 90 days of taking this position?” or “What are the next steps?”. Never ask about compensation, benefits, or PTO in the first interview. Those details will clarify themselves later in the process.

Send A “Thank You”

Send a “thank you” note or email to the person you interviewed with. Be sure to include why you want the position and why you feel you would be an asset to their company. This can make you stand out from all other candidates because this is the one step most people forget. I’ve seen it make the difference between getting the job or not.

The in-person job interview doesn’t have to be stressful or nerve wrecking.  Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Believe in yourself and prepare diligently and you’ll stand out from the pack.

10 Tips To Help You Win Every Negotiation

Possessing strong negotiating skills can make a big difference in your career. It can help you earn more money, achieve a higher status, and reach your business goals.

Despite the myriad of benefits, very few people are good negotiators. Why is this the case? Well, many people are too worried about being pushy to embrace a strong negotiating stance. However, negotiating is nothing to be afraid of; when it is done well, it doesn’t come off as pushy at all.

Although strong negotiating skills are not something that most people are born with, these skills can definitely be learned and developed over time. All that is required to improve your skills is an understanding of the basics and the courage to practice in real-life situations.

In a nutshell, negotiating is about protecting the value that you provide to others.  Think of negotiating as…

  1. a simple process to follow
  2. a thoughtful interaction with other people
  3. a way to determine even better solutions.

Follow the 10 tips below, and you will master the basics and be well on your way to becoming a negotiating powerhouse.

Do your homework.

  • Research the topic and think through your options before you initiate the discussion.

Clearly define your goals.

  • Prior to the discussion, make sure you are clear on what you want as well as your “walk-away” point (the minimum outcome you’re willing to accept).

Determine the best timing for the discussion.

  • You’ll want to plan enough time for the discussion and to hold it when all parties are relaxed and not emotional.

Ask for what you want.

  • Don’t be afraid to explain your needs and what you’d like the outcome to be. However, be sure to do so calmly and in a non-confrontational tone of voice.

See the situation from all angles. 

  • Try to understand where the other person is coming from; try asking them to tell you about their needs and key concerns.

Listen, listen, and listen some more.

  • Spend more time listening than talking during the discussion.

Find a creative solution.

  • Think win/win, not that someone must walk away a winner and the other a loser. There’s nothing wrong with working together to determine creative ways to meet the needs of both parties.

Remain calm and avoid getting emotional.

  • The more emotional you become, the more clouded your thinking will be.

Avoid finger-pointing.

  • Focus on the issues, not on personalities. Be pleasant and never make it personal.

Remember that there will always be a tomorrow.

  • If the discussion heads in a negative direction and tempers flare, it’s okay to recommend picking up the discussion on another day after everyone has an opportunity to take a step back, relax, and think.

Don’t be afraid, embrace the process, and start practicing your negotiating skills today!

The 7 Pillars of Job Satisfaction

Whether you absolutely love your current job or you are actively looking for a new one, you need to know how to evaluate it correctly. These seven factors determine how well your job fits your life plans and how much you enjoy your work.

Favorite skills

  • What activity, interest, or hobby do you love spending time doing? If money were no object, how would you choose to spend your time?

Most important values

  • What kind of work is the best fit with your character or your code of ethics? What is most important to you? Is there a particular cause or mission you’d like to work towards?

Areas of fascination

  • What fields have always interested you? Where is your passion? Follow that and success will most likely follow you.

Favorite people to work with

  • What kind of people do you like to work with or spend time with? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you prefer to be a part of a team or an independent contributor?

Preferred working conditions

  • What is your favorite work environment? Do you enjoy working with a strict deadline or a more laissez faire pace in the office?

Responsibility and compensation

  • How much responsibility and importance are you willing to accept? The idea that more responsibility leads to a higher compensation isn’t true in all cases. However, it’s a useful indicator of the salary range you can expect.

Ideal place to live and work

  • Where do you love to spend your life? Are you a city-dweller or do you prefer a mountain retreat?

Evaluating your current role using these seven factors will tell you a lot about where you are in your career. Wherever you find yourself, our team of career experts will always be here to coach, guide, and ensure that you’re getting the absolute best career opportunities available.


Credit: What Color Is Your Parachute? Job-Hunter’s Workbook

Promotional Product Job Interview Questions: Sales Representative Edition

Most job interviews are a challenging experience for everyone involved.

The candidate is nervous and on edge. Most candidate’s greatest fear about a job interview is that they’ll be open, honest, their best self will shine through, and they still won’t get the job. To hedge against this, most rehearse their answers to standard interview questions. At best, this process results in stiff, inauthentic answers, at worst, some answers are flat out lies.

The success or failure of most job interviews come down how much the interviewer prepared for the interview ahead of time. The biggest mistake a hiring manager can make is to come unprepared and simply take a candidate’s answer at face value. We all know that talk is cheap and it’s up to you, the interviewer, to get to the truth.

Canned Responses and A Wasted Hour

Here are 5 very common traditional interview questions that you’ve probably asked or been asked many times.

  • What are your greatest strengths or weaknesses?
  • What did you enjoy most/least about your last position?
  • Describe the best boss you’ve ever had.
  • Where do you want to be in 5 years?
  • How would your coworkers or supervisor describe you?

9 out of 10 times these questions get you absolutely nowhere. You’ll learn nothing new about your candidate and be no closer to discovering what they would be like as a co-worker. Candidates have prepared and rehearsed these answers to death. The canned answers are designed to make the candidate look great and tell the interviewer what they want to hear. As a result, the interviewer and the candidate part ways knowing very little new, honest information about each other.

How can you be expected to make the very expensive of decision of hiring a new employee with such murky information?

Behavior-Based Interviewing

The solution to this predicament is behavior-based questions. These questions are built on the philosophy that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Traditional interview question: “How do you handle stress?”

Behavior-based interviewing question: “Tell me about a time you had to perform a task or project under a lot of stress?”

20 Terrific Interview Questions for Sales Representatives

  1. “Tell me about a time when a client came to you with a problem. What did you do?”
  2. “Tell me about a presentation that you made to upper management. What was it about? How did it go?”
  3. “Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see/do things your way.”
  4. “Describe a situation where you had to collect information by asking many people a lot of questions.”
  5. “Describe a time when you facilitated a creative solution to a problem in the workplace.”
  6. “Describe a time when you took personal accountability for a conflict and initiated contact with a client/coworker to explain your actions.”
  7. “Tell me about a time you felt you needed to be assertive in order to get what you felt you or your team deserved or needed.”
  8. “Give me an example of a time you effectively used your people skills to solve a customer problem.”
  9. “Tell me about a major project you recently completed. How did you set project goals and monitor your progress?”
  10. “Tell me about a time when you used your interpersonal skills to build a network of contacts to reach goals.”
  11. “Describe a time where your patience in gathering information paid off.”
  12. “Describe a time where you took the initiative to act rather than waiting to be told what to do.”
  13. “Describe for me a situation when you had to build and maintain a new relationship in order to accomplish a business goal.”
  14. “Give me an example of a time when you were a good listener.”
  15. “Give me an example of a time when you had to juggle several important activities and projects in a limited amount of time. Did you stay on top of all of them? How?”
  16. “All jobs have unpleasant tasks. Tell me about the most unpleasant tasks you were required to do at work. Were you successful in getting it done? Why or why not?”
  17. ‘Tell me about a big project you had to plan for work.”
  18. “Describe the most significant presentation you have had to complete.”
  19. “Give me an example of an important goal you have had and how you went about achieving it.”
  20. “Tell me about the greatest business risk you have taken.”

The job interview process and the result gained from it are greatly improved when hiring firms move from the tired, old interview questions to behavior-based interview questions.  The answers that come from behavior-based questions give the candidate a chance to truly reveal who they are, what they’ve done in the past, and what they can contribute to the hiring firm.  With this knowledge, hiring firms can make quality decisions that reduce ramp up time, improve retention, and increase their chances of making a great hire!