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Does age matter? Research may surprise you

October 1st, 2013

Sometimes our youth can come back to bite us.  Baby boomers invented the catchphrase,  “Never trust anyone over 30” when they were young. Today, older job-hunters say they feel the sting of those words.

Age discrimination is against the law.  Still, surveys show 50% of older job-seekers feel hiring managers are significantly biased in favour of younger candidates.

Given the country’s demographics, if age is the elephant in the room, we have herds of elephants over-running interview rooms.  Canada now has a record high number of mature people.  More than 42% of people who are of working age are between of 45- and 65-years-old, according to Stats Canada.

We’re not ageing alone. By 2030, in the US, the average age will rise to 39, in the European Union it will be 45, and in Japan it will be 49. So it’s time to look at whether older employees are a concern or a competitive advantage.

The good news is that contrary to what some may believe, grey power is a valuable source of energy for employers.  For one thing, studies show the over-40 crowd is less geared to looking out for number one – and more motivated to generate value for others.  People between the ages of 40 and 64 lead the way in productivity, creativity and mentoring.

It’s just part of the nature of maturing, say psychologists such as Erik Erikson whose theories have been globally tried, tested and confirmed to be true.

Erikson’s research finds people 40-64 are driven by the question,  “What can I do to make my life really count?”  This demographic is exceptionally eager to come up with new ideas and make a positive impact in the workplace, wherever they land.  To feel fulfilled, they want to feel they have made the most of their day.

Still, in an age of Mark Zuckerberg (who was 19 when he founded Facebook) and Larry Page and Sergey Brin (both 23 when they developed Google), we could easily believe that brilliance belongs to the young.  The 30-something hiring managers who face candidates one or two decades older than themselves may worry that middle age can’t compete –and comes with outdated skills, and an aversion to risk and change.

But those stereotypes are simply dead wrong.  And reams of research prove the point.  For example, a recent study out of Duke University shows the average successful innovator isn’t a whiz kid at all, but instead a seasoned 40-something.

That study shows twice as many entrepreneurs who start successful companies in high growth industries — such as computers, health care, and aerospace — are over 50 as under 25.  And twice as many are over 60 as under 20.

The Kauffman Foundation also recently weighed in with data that shows the age at which people are innovative and more willing to take risks is higher than expected.

Using entrepreneurship as a barometer, the data finds the highest rate of entrepreneurship has shifted to the 55-64 age group. It is down among those under 35.

At The Bagg Group, we’ve placed almost 60,000 people of all ages successfully in full-time, contract and temporary positions over our 40-plus years.  When you come face-to-face with as many high-achievers as we do, you don’t even see crow’s feet –instead you see only their skills, experience and attitude.

It goes without saying that older candidates have to stay if not forever young, certainly forever up-to-date when it comes to their skills –just as their younger counterparts must.

But wise hiring managers know that that the urge to create, learn, contribute and innovate doesn’t wane with a birthday.  In fact, it usually just gets stronger with age.

As Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts, so famously quipped when asked about working older, “Just remember when you’re ‘over the hill’, you begin to pick up speed.”

Top 2 tips for active listening from Bagg Group experts

May 30th, 2013

When hiring, it’s great if you’re able to clear a block of time for interviewing candidates.  However, as we noted in a previous blog, it can be a challenge to actively listen for an extended period of time.

At The Bagg Group, listening attentively to our clients and candidates is our trademark.

We’ve won multiple industry awards largely because of our focus on paying close attention when clients and candidates talk of their needs, interests, and expectations.   It’s how we’ve been able to place almost 60,000 people successfully in full-time, contract, and temporary placements over our 40-year history.

So given our experience, we can vouch for these two powerful tried-and-true techniques for staying engaged when interviewing candidates, one after the other:

Repeat back:

We coach our candidates to stay on point since we know it’s not uncommon to ramble during an interview.   We understand why people can get off-topic. In the pressure cooker of an interview room, many feel compelled to share as much info as they can.

The problem is that the impulse backfires.  When someone talks too much and digresses a lot, the listener’s attention easily starts to wander.

An effective way to help you, and the candidate, regain focus is to repeat back a key point the candidate made — in your own words.

  • For example you might say: “So from what I hear, you (recap the point)” or “From what I understand, what you most like to do is … .”  Or, “It sounds like what’s most important to you is …” or “I’m hearing that in a conflict situation, you … .”

This technique also ensures clarity as the candidate will either agree or correct your interpretation.

Switch over from info gathering to curiosity:

Asking questions to collect data can get tedious after a while.  To stay engaged, ask questions from a place of curiosity.  Such questions provoke interesting, insightful conversation.

The great thing about asking questions that arise out of curiosity is that they don’t come with a standard response.   You simply can’t predict what the candidate might answer and that fact alone prompts you into listen.

For example, a data-gathering question is:  “Why did you move from Vancouver to here?” Anyone might predict that a candidate would answer either (a) for family, (b) for more opportunity, (c) for studies.

You can turn that into a more compelling curiosity-based question by asking,What did you hope for when you moved here?

Other examples of curiosity-based questions are:  “What risks are you willing to take?” “What would you change?”  “If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?”

We know by experience that when you’re curious about the person, not just their resume, you discover a lot about them – and importantly, whether they’d be a good match for your team.

And here’s another best practice for active listening:  Take a break

Make sure to schedule time in between interviews so you can check your messages.  It’s in everyone’s interest to ask your next interview to wait a few minutes so you can clear your head and review your messages rather than going straight into your next meeting and spending the time thinking about your inbox.

8 Things You Should Know When Hiring Temps

April 24th, 2013

Nowadays, the number of companies hiring contract workers and temporary employees is skyrocketing.

Geoff is featured once again on Biz TV’s Guru Gab segment this week unraveling misconceptions and providing helpful pointers for hiring temporary staff.

Please take a moment to watch the segment right here and keep these tips in mind when hiring your next temporary worker.

Got a job to fill? Don’t oversell it, warns The Bagg Group

April 17th, 2013

We live in a world where expert marketers can convince us of just about anything.  Whether it’s a new phone, a new toothpaste, or a new job – using just the right words can make us believe it’s a must-have we don’t want to live without.

Getting people enthused about any proposition is part art, and part science.  Earlier this year, Yale University psychology researchers released the top ten most powerful words that marketers use to influence people.

The most powerful one of all is, not surprisingly, “You”.

The next most powerful word:  Results.  The study found people like reason to believe.

“Love” makes the list, as does “discover” and “new” since people crave a sense of excitement and adventure.  Yet the study shows we also need reassurance which explains why “proven”, “guarantee” and “safety” are included in the top ten.   Finally, “save” and “health” appeal as these words connect with our desire to have money and be healthy.

Still, even though we know how to talk a good story, the recruitment experts at The Bagg Group urge their clients to never  “sell” a candidate on a job.  Instead, simply keep to the facts, and tell it like it is.

We have both the  “results” and “proof” that this works.  And that’s not marketing gab.  At The Bagg Group, we’re renowned for our 98% stick rate  for candidates.  A big reason for this is because we never spin anything.  We ensure our candidates and our client make informed decisions based on facts – not fantasy.

Now, a new study confirms candidates who don’t get a true depiction of a job feel misled and resentful almost as soon as they start work.

A recent survey of 2,300 workers and 250 staffing directors in 28 countries who were hired in 2012 found the majority were disillusioned.

Their number one complaint:   “The hiring process failed to paint a realistic or accurate picture of this job.” It just wasn’t what they thought they’d signed up for.

Here are two key findings of the study by US HR consulting firm, Development Dimensions International that quantify how it backfires to embellish a posting:

  • 51% of respondents had “buyer’s remorse” after accepting a position.
  • 88% of the recent hires said they are already looking to make a change.

But there is good news.  The study confirms what our follow-up with candidates and clients shows:  People who accept jobs based on an accurate picture of it are more confident in their decision, more highly engaged, and more committed to staying long term.

We passionately advocate for straightforward no-fluff honesty in the interview room.  At The Bagg Group we make a point of discussing with our clients the challenges, as well as the advantages, of a position and the company culture.  That’s how we can source the right fit. It’s how we’ve managed to place almost 60,000 happy people in full-time, contract and temporary positions over 40 years.

When push comes to shove, hype can get us only so far – it may get us into the office, but only the truth will keep us there.

Introducing Bagg Professional: The New Standard in Recruitment for a New Era

April 16th, 2013

With workforces facing tighter staffing budgets, resulting in a skyrocketing demand for contract and temporary workers, recruitment companies have to re-think the scope of their services. Enter Bagg Professional, the first in a new era in recruitment with a service specifically designed to meet these changing trends in hiring.

Launched today, Bagg Professional offers an innovative, holistic, approach to recruiting by providing temporary specialists-on-demand and hard-to-find high-achievers to maximize every staffing dollar.

“There’s no turning back time to pre-2008,” says Jackie Chua, head of Bagg Professional.  “The new business reality is lean and focused.  Canadian companies today are looking for experienced, hit-the-ground running professionals who can jump in and fill multiple short-term roles as needed to suit limited staffing budgets.  Similarly, full-time candidates need to show more flexibility and initiative than ever before.”

Bagg Professional answers today’s realities with an exacting recruitment process that matches candidates with the company’s overarching needs and culture.

“We don’t just think about how to fill an empty chair, we think about how that particular chair fits into the bigger picture.  That’s the starting point for our match-making, whether it’s for a full-time, contract or temporary placement,” explains Ms. Chua.

Bagg Professional takes the unprecedented step of quarterbacking all full-time, contract and temporary placements within a company for across-the-board consistency.  For this new approach, which requires close relationships with both clients and candidates, Bagg Professional has implemented a low client to recruiter ratio.

“We’re all about quality over quantity,” says Ms. Chua. “It’s not about numbers at Bagg Professional.  We’re operating in a new era where the emphasis must be on maximizing the impact one person can make on a company—and that applies to us as recruiters, as well as to our candidates.”

Bagg Professional falls under the auspices of multiple-award winning The Bagg Group, a recognized leader in recruitment for 40+plus years, having placed almost 60,000 people in  full-time, contract and temporary positions over its history.

Bagg Group CEO, Geoff Bagg, notes, “We’ve maintained our leadership position by continually evolving to stay in sync with trends fuelled by changes in the economy.  Bagg Professional is one more example of how success doesn’t happen by looking at what was, but by looking differently at what is.”

Jackie Chua has been General Manager of The Bagg Group since 2000.  Currently The Bagg Group operates Bagg Professional, Bagg Technology Resources, Turn Key Staffing and Bagg Managed Resources.

Bagg Professional

Superior Matches, Superior Problem-Solving, Superior Reliability

The Bagg Group shares 2 great questions from Harvard

March 11th, 2013

Pity the Harvard Business School managing director of admissions for the MBA program.  Dee Leopold has the overwhelming task of sorting through a mountain of fantastic applications to identify the stellar among the great.

If that sounds like a problem you’d love to have, consider that  Ms. Leopold is in the unenviable position of second-guessing herself at times.  After all, it’s easier to separate the wheat from the chaff than to separate wheat from … more wheat.

Harvard Business School gets about 9,000 applications yearly.  The toughest challenge for the admissions committee is tackling a shortlist of about 1,800 to accept around 900.

“This process isn’t perfect,” Ms. Leopold says in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.  But this being Harvard, the push never stops to improve it.

The admissions committee does this in part by rethinking, and finessing, its questions.

Here are two of their newest questions  — one for applicants and one for references — that staffing experts at The Bagg Group recommend when interviewing candidates for jobs.

          1.  What have you done well? What do you wish you’d done better?

This is an essay question for Harvard MBA candidates. At The Bagg Group, where we interview hundreds and hundreds every year to identify the very best applicants for full-time positions, contract work, and part-time placement, we believe this question also works well in a face-to-face.

All of us have things we could have done better.  This question reveals whether the candidate is able to admit room for improvement — and learn from experience.

The Harvard admissions committee uses this question to help screen out arrogance, among other things.  “We’re looking for confidence, with humility,” says Ms. Leopold.  So are we all.

          2. Harvard asks references, “Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant.”

At The Bagg Group, we like how this question prompts the reference to provide a well-rounded perspective of the candidate.

It also reveals how well the reference actually knows the candidate.  As Ms. Leopold puts it, “We don’t run around giving constructive criticism to virtual strangers.”

Staffing experts at The Bagg Group also concur with Ms. Leopold that the best recommendations use lots of verbs.  You get a more in-depth picture of a person when you hear that “she/he did this…and did… ”  instead of just being given a list of adjectives that describes them.

Ms. Leopold estimates she spends at least 30 minutes on every one of the 1,800-plus applications that make the shortlist. That adds up to more than 75 days, working 12 hours non-stop, just reading applications.

It’s not surprising to us. Sourcing great talent takes an enormous amount of time. That’s why HR departments rely on dedicated teams of staffing experts like us to help – if they didn’t, they would hardly have time to breathe, let alone get through the myriad of other activities they need to do.

As for Ms. Leopold, she adds, “I kind of go into hibernation after interviews. By the end of that period, I need a chiropractor.”  That too is a good strategy.

Bagg Group tips on how to turn around negative impressions

January 16th, 2013

Every now and then it can happen that you speak to someone about a particular job, and instead of sensing their excitement, you sense their reservations — and it has nothing to do with the position.

When that happens, it may be because there’s misinformation being spread that is prompting negative impressions about a person, a team, or even an entire organization.

In the age of social media, it’s easy for rumours and gripes to catch on fast. An employee or client with a grudge can quickly Twitter and Facebook their discontent.  And sadly, mud can stick.

The result may be that good talent can be scared off a possibly terrific opportunity because they got the wrong end of the stick.

At The Bagg Group, we make a point of urging our candidates to be wary of those who don’t have one good thing to say about a person or place. As the saying goes, there are always two sides to every story, or three, “yours, mine and the truth.”

Still, it can take some work to change people’s thinking when it’s been infected with negativity.  But there’s a great deal of research on how do this.  One of the leaders in this area is Professor Stephan Lewandowsky from the University of Western Australia.

The experts at The Bagg Group particularly recommend his four key findings.

Having interviewed over 100,000 people over 40 years to place more than 58,000 successfully in permanent, part-time and contract positions, we can confirm that his tips are tried-and-true.

Don’t just deny, explain:  If someone tells you of misinformation, it’s tempting to just shrug it off.  But dismissing it doesn’t necessarily convince the person that it’s not true. It’s best to try and explain reasons for why that negative view may be in circulation.

Keep your explanation brief:  A few fast facts is all people need, or want, to understand. If your explanation is complicated, or lengthy, people will turn off.  Besides, you don’t want to come off as defensive, simply factual.

People remember negatives easily.  Try not to repeat the offensive misinformation more than once.   According to research, people’s belief in ideas strengthen after they’ve heard the idea three to five times.  So reiterate the positives a few times, not the negatives.

Ask people to consider the source of the negative info before making up their minds:  You wouldn’t want to come off as attacking the source because you don’t want to deal with the personal, just the factual. Still, it can be helpful to ask someone to recognize the possibility that the source of the information may be misinformed or simply biased for reasons of their own.

At The Bagg Group, we have found that enthusiastic high-achievers, who are the kind of people you want to employ, are more than willing to give up negative impressions if you give them good reason to see the positive.

Will the cloud be the end of the IT department?

October 24th, 2012

Several of the assumptions people make about cloud servers are simply not true, and some are actually being actively denied by cloud vendors.

Find out if your assumptions about the cloud are true in TechRepublic‘s recent article: Will the cloud be the end of the IT department?

The Bagg Group on what to do when faced with an unlikeable candidate

September 25th, 2012

The L-factor –it may be the key to who will run the biggest economy in the world, or who you will choose to join your organization.

In the US election campaign, likeability has become a buzz word. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll captured headlines across the States with its announcement that “Obama gets high marks on likeability.”  

In voting booths, people typically choose likeability over other criteria, according to the experts. Kathleen Parker, a syndicated newspaper columnist, defines likeability as finding someone to be “like me.” She writes, “But being ‘like me’ or ‘like you’ qualifies us only as good dinner partners.”  

When you are face-to-face with a candidate with great qualifications who, for whatever reason, you don’t particularly like, is likeability something worth considering or not?  

After all, it was largely suspected that in the 1980s, the board of Apple fired Steve Jobs mainly because they didn’t like him — and that didn’t go well.  It’s gone down in history as one of the dumbest firings ever.  And when you think of it, you don’t have to go dinner with every person you hire.

Still, we’re social animals and there’s no doubt that people who are likeable are, in a word, preferred.  That’s because they have all important social skills. 

Interestingly, the New York Times reported on a study that links earnings to likeability.  According to University of Chicago research, if five people listed you as one of their closest pals when you were in school, you can expect to make 10% more than others who were not as popular. 

In other words, if you could get people to like you as a kid, you’re likely to get people to like you, and reward you, in the workplace. 

At The Bagg Group, we put “fit” high on our list of must-haves when we consider a candidate for a full-time position, contract work, or temporary placement on behalf of our clients. We have developed an uncanny sense for making good matches over our more than 40+ years of experience. And certainly, personality is a factor.

Yet, we have found that sometimes first impressions just aren’t fair.  Excellent candidates can come off as aloof but they’re re simply nervous or shy.  As soon as they feel more confident, they often become more personable.

The hardest sell is to sell yourself.  We’ve seen people do powerful, persuasive pitches for just about anything on behalf of their organization, but become tongue-tied when it comes to pitching themselves to a hiring manager. 

The experts at The Bagg Group suggest asking yourself a few key questions when interviewing a less affable candidate to determine whether a person’s likeability factor is simply hiding behind a bad case of the nerves.

  • Does the candidate have a positive attitude?  Do they speak of challenges with understanding or with bitterness?
  • Are they non-judgmental?  Do they criticize or blame, or do they simply tell the facts as they are.
  • When they talk about their achievements, do they speak with contempt of others as they detail their own accomplishments?
  • Do they acknowledge you?  Do they listen and show curiosity? 
  • Do you sense what they are saying is honest and trustworthy?

When you interview a candidate with these questions in mind — depending on your answers — you may be surprised to find that the person you didn’t take to might not be so bad after all. You may even find them … likeable. 

The Bagg Group revisits a standard interview question

September 11th, 2012

When Bono of U2 was asked if he would ever run for president, he replied, “ No, I wouldn’t want to move to a smaller house.”

We‘ve all, on occasion, made a glib remark in answer to a question which we consider somewhat silly.  When candidates do that during job interviews, they later worry if being flippant could have cost them. 

We tell them to give hiring managers more credit.

At The Bagg Group, we’re experts in the art and science of asking questions.  We interview dozens of candidates for every one we refer to our clients for a full-time position, contract work, or a temp placement.

Since we’re in the business of asking and listening to ensure a great match between a candidate and a position, we can confirm that while some questions may seem odd, there’s no such thing as a stupid one. 

Whatever the query, the answer can shed some light. Even Bono’s glib retort in the example above reveals a quick wit.

Still, while every question has value, not all interview questions are created equal. Some questions typically will net you polite, appropriate responses.  Others give you a better understanding of a candidate’s interests and aspirations.

Take the case of the standard question, “Why do you want to work here?” 

It’s a fair query, but it may be that the candidate will simply try to answer what they think you want to hear.  Plus, it’s safe to assume they believe it’s an interesting opportunity, or they wouldn’t be interviewing for it.  

In any event, if you meet someone who wants the job only for the money, or because your workplace is five minutes from their home, they probably would know better than to admit that.  

A different question to give you a greater sense of what motivates the candidate could be:

  •    What do you think you will like most about this job? or
  •    What do you think you will learn working here that interests you?

Both these question force some personal reflection.  They allow you insight to see if your objectives, and the candidate’s interests, are aligned.

If the candidate answers they believe they will especially enjoy an activity which, in fact, they won’t be doing much of, it’s good for you to know.  This way, you can clarify the job description a bit more so you can both make an informed choice.

A good way to know if you’re asking an insightful question is to ask it of yourself first. If you were being interviewed, what would you answer.  The questions that make you stop and think are the ones that will give you the most bang for your query. 

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