Returning to Work? 7 Questions to Ask Regarding Covid-19

June 30, 2020

Returning to Work? 7 Questions to Ask Regarding Covid-19

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Returning to work while coronavirus is still a threat is understandably stressful. While some companies like Twitter have decided to make remote work permanent, plenty of companies are expecting everyone to return. Your office might be reopening or open already.

But is it safe to return to work? Ideally, your workplace will spell out in writing the plan that will address all the policies and procedures and let you know ahead of time.

While the CDC did layout some guidelines, the state and local rules are sometimes different and that’s what’s actually enforceable. If an employer doesn’t follow state guidelines, employees can report them for noncompliance. Companies can be fined or even shut down. Your local Department of Labor website should have the information, or links might be available on your governor’s homepage.

Experts recommend asking some specific questions to either your direct supervisor, human resources contact, or union representative.

Here are the questions you need definite answers to:

Are You Consulting With Local Health Authorities About The State of Coronavirus Transmission in Our Area?

Companies need to be aware of the global pandemic’s current impact and it’s path to help their decision making. Criteria must be based on: frequency of virus transmission, if transmissions and deaths are increasing or decreasing, and for how long. Your company needs to pay attention to the most accurate and updated information the local health department can provide. Decisions need to be based on that information.

Are Masks Required?

According to the CDC, wearing masks can greatly reduce transmission of the virus, particularly in areas where social distancing isn’t an option. So you will want to be aware ahead of time before returning.

How Are You Monitoring Everyone’s Health?

Returning to work doesn’t need to be more stressful. No one wants to work in a dangerous environment. Every company needs to have a clear set of steps that need to be taken in case someone gets infected. No one wants any confusion on what to do if your work gets an outbreak. Checking temperatures of everyone entering the building is a fast and efficient way to check everyone’s health. Some companies are doing multiple temperature checks. Ask your employer if they plan on taking similar steps. Of course this can’t be for specific employees, but will have to be done across the board.

What Sanitizing Procedures Will Be in Place for High-Touch Surfaces?

Remember that you’re not returning to work for one day; you’re returning to work every day. Be sure to ask about an ongoing cleaning and sanitizing plan for high touch areas. This includes restrooms, door handles, and all of the areas that people tend to touch should be cleaned regularly. CDC recommended guidelines have what to clean and with what chemicals. You can also check the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) for more information. Before returning to work, everyone should know where to find cleaning products for employees to clean their own work surfaces.

What Policies Are In Place for People Who May Have Been Exposed?

Studies have shown that before coronavirus, 9 out of 10 Americans didn’t stay home when sick. Main reasons were they were either worrying about too much work or they weren’t able to afford a day off.

With coworkers taking care of family that may have been sick or exposed, sick days are more important than ever. Now is the best time to check on vacation policies and sick days. Is there a plan in place for people who are at increased risk? Make sure the existing policies work for this new situation. Remember that it only takes one case of coronavirus to spread.

The ideal situation would be if anyone exposed was able to stay under mandatory 14 day quarantine. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employees of certain public agencies or private companies with less than 500 people have access to emergency paid leave. This is in place until the end of 2020. While not all employers fall under this law, there should be options.

Have There Been Any Physical Office Changes?

Moving desks further apart or installing barriers between seats can help install proper distancing between employees. Another thing to consider is air flow, so that air conditioners aren’t pushing respiratory droplets from one person to another. People may have to move away from sitting directly below air conditioning vents. Fresh air isn’t always possible, but would be preferred. That would reduce people coming into contact with each other at entryways.

How Do You Communicate Real Time Health Updates?

If there’s an important public announcement while you’re at work, how will you be informed? Some companies will use email while others might find a loudspeaker more beneficial. If there is an emergency at your workplace, you need to know how you will find out and what to do next.

Workplace safety has now taken on a whole new meaning. Be sure to check out our other links on working during this time:

6 Tips to Job Hunting During Coronavirus

12 Top Tips for Video Job Interview

12 Top Tips for Video Job Interview

June 11, 2020

12 Top Tips for Video Job Interview

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Before coronavirus, no one questioned whether they needed to wear pants for an interview. Now all of life has changed as we stay indoors, some with humiliating videos shown online afterwards (yes, you need to wear pants). So how do you look professional on a video job interview? What’s the best technique to convey eye contact? What lighting is best? We have the answers to all these questions. Here are the very best video interview tips that will make a world of difference and get you that job:

Keep the Light Behind the Computer

We cannot stress this enough: sit in front of a window. The light needs to be in front of you, and behind the computer or phone you’re using. If the light is behind you, then no one can see your face and it will look washed out. If you’re not able to use a window or the weather isn’t bright, a table lamp will be nearly as good. It won’t have the diffused light that a window gives, but it will do. Avoid any overhead light, as that is the least flattering light.

Check for Glare

See if anything in your shot might create a glare. The worst offenders are glasses, jewelry, and watches. The easiest way to check ahead of time is at around the same time that your interview will take place. Removing glasses isn’t always an option, so it may require playing with the angle of the light or angling the computer a different way.

Be Mindful Of Your Background

You’ve probably already suspected this, but having loads of laundry behind you isn’t the most professional background. If you don’t have room for an office in your household, try to make sure that you’re still presenting a business background. A blank wall is still better than a messy room.

Raise the Computer Up

While putting the computer or tablet on a table is high enough for you to type, it’s not anywhere near high enough for eye contact. No one wants to see up your nose, so be sure to grab some thick books or a box on top of a table and then add the laptop. Try to get the camera as close to eye level with you as possible.

Keep Any Notes Off Camera

One of the excellent perks about a video job interview is that you can keep notes behind your tablet or laptop that the interviewer can’t see. Hanging them up so you can read them while in the interview would be useful for referencing the questions you’re going to ask them. You absolutely should also ask questions, but some people seem to get tongue-tied or their minds “go blank” when in the actual interview, making notes an easy way to avoid that. One of the best questions we recommend asking is “What skills or experience do you think is most important for this position?” because then you can spend the rest of your time showing that you are that person.

Dress to Impress

When you get dressed for the interview, you want to be just as formal as though it was in-person. We also suggest seeing how your outfit looks on camera. If you wear all black and have a dark background, there’s a risk of looking like a floating head. Be sure to wear something that’s a different color than your background. Also be sure that enough of your shirt shows up in the frame, as anything that might have a lower collar or deep v cut can come across as inappropriate.

Minimize Interruptions

While telling anyone in your household that you’ll be in an interview sounds obvious, it’s still crucial. Don’t forget to turn off your phone! Mute any popups and email alerts. If you have something or someone that has a high possibility of interrupting you, mentioning it at the beginning can help steady your nerves and help the interviewer understand your situation. If anything does interrupt you, just get through it as best you can. This is about being as professional as possible under the circumstances.

Maintain Good Posture

Being at home makes being relaxed natural. Unfortunately, relaxed posture can come across as a lack of interest. To look engaged in the interview, be sure to sit up straight with your feet on the floor and try not to fidget. This will convey interest and enthusiasm without having to say a word.

Speak Clearly and Slowly

One of the problems with streaming video interviews is that occasionally it can skip, causing the image you’re seeing and the audio to fall out of sync. Be sure to speak clearly and slowly so that the other person hears everything you’re saying. Enthusiasm is always key in any interview, but talking too quickly may lead to miscommunication.

Video Job Interviews Require You to Look at the Camera

A key tactic to interviews is eye contact, but using video interviews throws that off. If you look at the person you’re talking to, the camera doesn’t catch your eye contact. If you look into the camera the whole time, you don’t get to read the body language when they’re talking. When you are talking, look at the camera. When they’re talking, watch them. Most recruiters find it’s easier to pretend that it’s a phone interview.

Explain Any Long Pauses

Since the interviewer won’t be able to see all of you all the time, you’ll need to explain any long pauses in your answers or responses. If you’re writing notes or just coming up with your answer, be sure to let them know. This will reassure them that no technical glitches have happened.

Practice Ahead of Time

One of the best things you can possibly do to prepare is to make sure you are comfortable using Zoom or Skype before the actual interview. Much like interview questions, it’s always best to practice ahead of time. Handle a video chat job interview like you would an in-person by making sure you can be there!

Keep in mind that the main goal is still the same: to show that you’re the right person for the job. Preparation is key for a video job interview just like an in-person interview. Make the connection and show you’re the one they need!

6 Tips For How to Job Search During The Coronavirus

May 14, 2020

6 Tips For How to Job Search During The Coronavirus

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Whether you’re just graduating or have years of experience in your industry, job hunting during coronavirus probably wasn’t in your plans. Everything has changed for everyone and that includes how we find work when everyone else is also looking. We have the 6 best job hunting tips during the coronavirus.

The pandemic forced local and federal officials to shut down the American economy, causing an shockwave through the labor market and causing over 20 million of Americans to go on unemployment in a matter of months. Experts say that getting the economy to the same level of unemployment before the virus hit may take several years. While some jobs may reopen once the state approves it, others may disappear due to bankruptcy. The facts are that if you want a job, you’ll need to beat out the competition.

Apply Strategically

Applying to everything isn’t helpful when everyone else is also applying. The key is to apply to openings strategically, in a way that makes sense with your background and skills. Focus on quality, not quantity, or you’re just spinning your wheels.

Craft Your Elevator Pitch

What you have to offer doesn’t change with the number of the job market. The reality is that you’re going to need to “sell” yourself as the best candidate and the majority of people are really terrible at talking about themselves. Figure out what you really bring to the table, and then decide on the best and clearest way you could tell someone that – and then practice. Practice in front of a mirror for a while, and get to know which phrases really seem to clearly convey who you are and why you’re the best candidate. The mirror is a crucial step, because you’ll then want to video yourself giving your pitch. The video step will show you where to make improvements. If you’re applying to a lot of different types of positions, you’ll need to create an elevator pitch that can be adapted to all of them.

Send a Thank You Video Instead of an Email

After an interview is a great chance stand out from other competitors. Don’t do the old standby of sending an email to say thank you . Everyone else is already doing that! Instead of either applying to everything, use your time to create several videos: an introductory one and a thank you. Sending a video instead of the usual phone call or email will help you stand out from the competition, so make sure to spend some time on it.

Master Video Conferencing

According to a March 2020 survey by Handshake, an online career community for college students, 89% of employers are now adopting virtual interviews given the COVID-19 situation and that will go up until there is a vaccine. Make sure that you are ready for when that important interview request comes. Much like showing up late or dressing inappropriately, your ability to adapt to video conferencing is one of the new markers of whether or not your interview will go well.

Boost Your Skills

It’s the perfect time to conquer the skills you need to stay ahead of the rest. Analyze the skill section of job descriptions and assess your own familiarity. Do you already have that skill, but could use a refresher? Do you lack it entirely? Now is the time!

Be Flexible

This is new to all of us, so there may be hiccups you didn’t expect or prepare for. Common ones are companies that may have had a round of layoffs or reduced staff may not be able to meet your pre-Covid pay, or may require a flexible start date, or won’t have a date when you’ll be allowed on-site. Due to many people’s increased urgency to get a new position, recruiters are now reporting that many candidates are coming across as pushy or desperate. Patience makes a great deal of difference in this situation. Above all, remember that this is new to everyone. To insist on the exact same situation as before the global pandemic comes across as not only tone-deaf, but also extremely insulting to anyone who may have gotten sick or lost a family member during this global pandemic. You can do this! Our tips for job hunting during the coronavirus will help you stand out from the crowd and get hired! Be sure to check out USPRO’s Job Board for openings!

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