Recruiting Diverse Talent in the Food Industry: Strategies for Success

Just over 50 percent of food industry professionals are racially diverse, making the food industry the most diverse workforce in the nation. 

However, it has an unpleasant truth. 

That unpleasant truth is the massive representation gap in senior leadership positions. 

As a woman-owned executive search firm specializing in placing talent in the food and beverage industry, we pride ourselves on our track record of over half of Curtis Foods Recruiter’s placements are people of color and females.

This blog aims to share with you five strategies we have learned over 14 years in business to help food and consumer packaged goods leaders hire diverse talent. 

Remove Unconscious Bias 

Before actively recruiting for executive diverse talent, it’s extremely important to understand unconscious bias.  

What is Unconscious Bias?  

Research has uncovered that as humans, we use different sections of our brains to process interactions with people who are similar to us compared with people who are different. Upon first glance of someone different, we have an unconscious tendency to judge them based on stereotypes, appearance, skills and ultimately, whether they should be hired or interviewed.

It’s important to note that experiencing unconscious bias doesn’t make you a bad person. Even the best-intended individuals go through unconscious biases on a regular basis all without ever knowing it.  

How to Reduce it 

Tackling this invisible barrier is not something that occurs overnight, it takes time, practice, and the right tools. The first step to reducing unconscious bias is to recognize when it happens. We strongly recommend reading any or all of these 11 Must-Read Books on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to help. 

In addition, there are several strategies you can deploy now to limit unconscious bias in your recruiting efforts. 

Ensure Your Job Descriptions are not Deterring People from Different Groups from Applying

Determine what aspects of the role are required and what aspects others can bring to the role. Is a bachelor’s degree truly required to be successful in this role? Could prior experiences determine this person’s ability to be successful in the job? Be clear in the job posting which requirements are critical and which are a plus – women are often deterred from applying for a role if they don’t meet all requirements in the job posting.  

Be Strategic with Your Interviewing 

When interviewing, ensure that there are rubrics established for the interviewers to evaluate the candidates against the requirements of the role. Be able to quantify intangibles that come out of the meeting so they can be measured equitably. 

Cultural Competence  

Be aware that some traits may be valued more than others, and some may be misinterpreted (such as eye contact, expressiveness, and close communication for example). Be prepared to ask more questions if the hiring manager doesn’t want to move forward with a candidate to determine exactly what their hesitations may be.

Leverage Sourcing Tools  

Harness the power of an artificial intelligence sourcing tool to intelligently remove unconscious bias so your team can have a bias-free candidate pool. 

Aim for Half of Your Candidates to be Diverse  

The golden rule of recruiting is to simply hire the best possible candidate regardless of race, orientation, gender, and ethnicity.  

The biggest obstacle to achieving this is often when diversity is not represented in the candidate pool. To prevent this, we found that having a goal of at least 50 percent of candidates being from diverse backgrounds is critical to ensure you’re getting the best possible candidate. In our experience, more than half of the time the final candidate happens to be diverse and the best cultural contribution. 

Get Creative with Your Recruiting  

Searching for qualified, leadership-level diverse talent may seem extremely difficult at first, but in reality, it just takes a little creativity and strategy. Here are a few tips collected from our team to help you find your next qualified diverse candidate.  

Network with Diversity Groups 

Join diversity and inclusion LinkedIn groups, attend conferences that attract diverse crowds or cover diverse subjects, and start having meaningful conversations across various networking channels. Here are a few groups we recommend staying in contact with: 

If you’re not having any luck, explore unconventional routes like Reddit, volunteer work, and even community events. 

Ask 

Perhaps the best way to find, engage, and ultimately attract high-level diverse talent is to ask them first-hand where they spend their time. Interview diverse employees, families, and friends to see where they go online and how you could better reach them. Odds are good they would be more than happy to help you on your mission to hire more diverse people. In addition, referrals from diverse hires or employees tend to be more diverse.

Campus Recruiting / Career Fairs 

Attend career fairs in diverse neighborhoods to better connect with the community. Explore campus recruiting programs as a source of talent to build a leadership pipeline for the future.  Even better, offer scholarships and internships to diverse communities as a way to signal your commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Partner with a Search Firm 

Some of the industry’s largest and most qualified diverse talent pools are generally located within the database of recruiting agencies and search firms. Many businesses looking to build up their diverse workforce often partner with search firms to find, vet, and hire diverse talent.  

Consider Relocation 

Another obstacle that plagues most hiring managers looking to bring on diverse executives is recruiting in areas with homogeneous demographics.  

We totally get it, there are definitely many areas throughout the nation with a low percentage of diverse citizens. To help combat this, we often encourage candidates to look outside their comfort zone and consider a new adventure in a new city. Additionally, with COVID-19, many jobs are now able to be remote, which greatly widens the search.  

Champion a Culture of Inclusion 

Diversity and inclusion are one of the top three priorities for nearly every business in 2020 but it’s so much more than just hitting D&I numbers and goals, it’s about building a culture with a foundation of inclusion. When senior leadership is motivated by constructing a culture that is focused on diversity of thought, that is when the door can be open to a more inclusive culture. After all, only 55 percent of global employees feel that their employers were making efforts to build a more inclusive culture.  

Leaders need to be a part of the conversation and take active steps to help the entire organization understand and leverage everyone’s differences. Here’s a few examples of tangible ways your business can build a foundation of inclusion that will attract top-tier diverse talent.  

  • Design a mentorship program that encourages and helps grow women and diverse employees within the organization. 
  • Establish a diversity and inclusion committee that makes sure everyone feels included in the conversation.  
  • Survey employees and ask how your company can better build out a diversity and inclusion foundation. Be prepared to enact changes to meet the employee’s needs. 
  • Clearly define the values of your organization and ensure leaders are accountable to upholding those values.     
  • Ensure that you are developing and advancing the career of diverse employees already at your organization. 
  • Review your interview process over the last year or two and determine where candidates in underrepresented groups have fallen out of the process. Determine where improvements to the process could be made.

We genuinely hope you found this blog helpful on your quest to hire more diversity in executive positions. It’s our sincere goal to help employ more diverse and qualified talent in the food industry. If you have any questions or need any help around hiring diverse talent, we’d love to connect! 

About Curtis Food Recruiters 

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters is in a unique position that allows us to independently evaluate food manufacturing and grocery retail companies’ hiring processes, from the perspective of both the talent acquisition team and the candidate. Contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to ensure you not only attract—but keep—the best diverse talent on the market.

A Guide to In-Person Interviews During Covid-19

*This article is merely food for thought. Please follow your state and local guidelines.

We are all well aware of how greatly COVID-19 has impacted our day-to-day lives. While we strive for a return to normal, we know that our in-person interview process will require a “new normal.”

Companies are still hiring, and many roles cannot be filled without an on-site interview. Begin by determining the roles where an offer can be comfortably made through video interviews and which roles truly require an on-site interview.

The following are a few suggestions for employers on how to conduct those interviews as safely as possible and keep your candidate and staff feeling comfortable with the process.   

Gone are the interviews full of handshakes, office tours, lunches, and dinners.

Unfortunately, that also takes away the opportunity to get to know candidates on a more relaxed level and vice versa. Reaching out to your candidates ahead of time and letting them know that the interview process has changed due to the current conditions may help to set expectations and ensure that your candidate understands you’re operating out of the utmost concern for safety.

Even though the “warm fuzzy” will not be there, communicating expectations ahead of time will help prevent the candidate from feeling an emotional distance with you and your company.

Steps to take prior to travel and the day of the interview

Before your candidate travels, know that they may have a level of anxiety regarding the unknown situation they are walking into, especially if they’re traveling from out of state. Try to calm that feeling by letting them know specifically how your company will be handling safety while they are interviewing.

  1. Closely monitor for symptoms

Candidates should be asked to monitor their health and surroundings and self-assess prior to travel as well as the day of the interview for symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, etc.). If they are experiencing symptoms, have been directed to self-quarantine, or have been in close contact with anyone in the past 14 days that tested positive for COVID-19, they should notify the interview team and the interview should be rescheduled.

  1. Provide a detailed agenda

Let your candidate know ahead of time who they will be meeting with (include titles) and for how long. Give them details around how breaks will be taken and what facilities will be available to them. Also be sure to provide information on the interview space and your distancing protocols.

  1. Prepare resumes and other items

Make sure to email your interview team a copy of the candidates’ resume that they can print out on their own, in order to help avoid spreading germs. In addition, notify the candidate to bring their own resume, mask, water, and snack if appropriate.

Walk them through the process so they know what to expect

Here are some examples of how you can handle safety during the interview:

  • When your candidate arrives at the facility, let them know that you will greet them without using handshakes.
  • Ask the candidate to wash their hands prior to the meeting.
  • Ensure that everyone the candidate interacts with is wearing a mask and be ready to provide the candidate with a mask if they do not have one.
  • If you need to use an elevator or stairwell, let them know this ahead of time and instruct them that they will be using the elevator alone, or plan on single spacing when using the stairs.
  • For groups, try to meet in a larger or more open conference area.
  • Prior to the interviews, set up tables in a circle, horseshoe, or other format to ensure that people are spaced appropriately apart, yet are still able to see and hear each other clearly.
  • Try to limit the number of people in the group interview to only those that are essential. Consider breaking into two or more interview groups if needed.
  • Have doors propped open when possible.
  • Make disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer readily available to everyone before and after the interviews.
  • Ensure that surfaces throughout the facility are being cleaned and disinfected at regular intervals. Schedule breaks after each interview to sanitize all surfaces in the interview room, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, etc.
  • Ask everyone to wear masks until they are seated at a comfortable distance from others in the interview room.
  • During plant or retail store visits, keep all talking to a minimum and reserve questions until afterward.
  • Provide a virtual tour of the facility wherever possible. Include detailed photos and consider incorporating a virtual guide to give it more of a personal touch.

Don’t forget to follow up with the candidate

Request that the candidate keep you informed if anything changes in their health up to 14 days after your interview.

In addition, consider having each of the interview team members send a personal email to the candidate, especially if it’s someone you decide you want to hire. This will provide a more personal touch and an opportunity to build those individual relationships. If you really want to impress your candidate, consider sending a note or even some company gear to their home.

Final thoughts

We wish you much luck as you navigate these challenging times. Planning ahead and considering all the details of the interview day will provide a level of comfort for the candidate, help your interview team, and ensure a successful interview process while helping keep everyone safe.

Happy hiring!

For more ideas on hiring strategies during these uncertain times, be sure to read Adjusting Your Hiring Process Amidst COVID-19 and Improving Your Hiring Process: How to Keep Candidates from Walking Away.

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters is in a unique position that allows us to independently evaluate food manufacturing and grocery retail companies’ hiring processes, from the perspective of both the talent acquisition team and the candidate. Contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to ensure you not only attract—but keep—the best talent on the market.

Posted in Uncategorized

Gratitude, Giving & Growth

During these chaotic times, it is more important than ever to make sure we are walking through the world with a grateful heart. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t feel disappointed or grieve the loss of our old routines or cancelled events, quite the contrary is true. By developing an appreciation for even the most difficult days, we appreciate the joyous ones that much more.   

We have found great insight in Annie Meehan’s webinar “The Joy of Missing Out” which focuses on three core principles: Gratitude, Giving & Growth.   

  1. Gratitude – what are you grateful for today? Did you have the privilege of waking up to a loved one or job that you’re passionate about? Did you admire a beautiful sunset or enjoy dinner with your family? This helps you shift your mindset to notice even the little things that are worth celebrating every day.  
  1. Giving – what did you give away today? A compliment? Advice? A kind note? This takes gratitude a step further into true generosity – from self-focused to selfless. Make it a point to do even just small acts of kindness every day. This will not only deepen your relationships, but it will create a more meaningful life. 
  1. Growth – what did you learn or how did you grow today? Did you attend a seminar? Did you watch a TED talk? Did you invite a new neighbor for a virtual coffee date? This takes generosity to the next step – Having a full life is not just about who you are today, it’s also about developing who you want to become. Expanding your universe intellectually, socially, or professionally brings gratitude full circle, allowing you to recognize appreciation for your circumstances that you may not have otherwise.   

We hope you all are surviving this chaos with as much gratitude, generosity & growth as possible!  

If you want to learn more visit https://www.anniemeehan.com

Posted in Uncategorized

Improving Your Hiring Process: How to Keep Candidates From Walking Away

Every hiring manager has experienced challenges in keeping qualified candidates engaged. In the time it can take to consider all applicants, narrow the field, and prepare an offer, it’s not uncommon for the once-interested front-runner to have moved on to another opportunity. Here are some tips you can implement to keep your best candidates engaged throughout your hiring process.

Prepare for success

Always look for ways that you can take an active seat in the hiring process and drive it forward. From the start, make sure your interview team is on the same page regarding what a successful candidate looks like for the role in terms of skill set, personality, leadership style, past experience, etc. Ensure that the team will be asking the right questions, both culturally and technically. Setting a timeline with action items not only helps the team make a timely decision, but lets the candidate know where they are in the process and approximately when they can expect a decision. Putting these measures in place upfront will help set the stage to be able to move towards a decision quicker.

Find the obstacles in your process and address them

Does your talent acquisition process take four weeks or more? If it does, many of your applicants may grow frustrated and ultimately move on. The following are a few common obstacles to a smooth and timely process:

  • Are quality applications trickling in too slowly? Try increasing your visibility by getting your opportunity out through new channels, such as job boards, professional recruiters, LinkedIn connections, networking, etc.
  • Are you spending too much time on in-person interviews? Try narrowing down the field with less time-intensive methods such as phone or video conferencing interviews. In addition, keep in mind that you don’t need your entire department to interview each candidate. Determine who has the most valuable insight and trim out the rest.
  • Are there long delays in getting interview feedback? Scheduling a follow-up meeting or hard deadline for feedback will keep the timeline on track for all parties involved, including the candidate.

Consider what the candidates may want

Your interview process – for better or worse – defines how your company will be perceived as a whole. If you make the interview process all about your organization’s wants and needs, your candidates may think working for you will be very one-sided. Make sure you provide ample time to turn the tables and allow the candidates to ask questions.

It’s also important to give them real-life examples of your company culture and what they might expect. What are the best aspects of the role and the team? What aspects may cause frustration? Being honest will keep the candidates that are a good fit for your culture more engaged – and allow for the ones that aren’t to self-select out of the process.

Increase the frequency and transparency of your communication

Check in with your candidates weekly, and not just through email, regardless of whether you have an update for them. A simple, personal reminder that they’re still being considered is enough to keep most job seekers engaged. In fact, 81% of job seekers say employers continuously communicating status updates to them would greatly improve the overall experience.

Using automation tools to set reminders for following-up will ensure that you don’t have any long lapses in communication. Too much time between the interview and feedback on next steps can make candidates anxious, which may cause them to feel that the company is disinterested or raise concerns about the corporate culture of decision making.

In the event that you do not have a concrete update, you could share the following:

  • Update them on where you are in the interview process (conducting additional interviews, coordinating in-person interviews, etc.).
  • Explain extended gaps between interviews (be sure to admit if travel, a company transition, or any other unexpected event has temporarily put the process on hold).
  • Share any significant company news or information that gives them more insight into the company culture.
  • Inform candidates how they can prepare for the next steps.

Create continued interest in the role

Every interaction with the candidate is an opportunity to engage them with the company and get them excited about the role.

  • Include office and/or plant tours either in person or virtually to show off the best parts of working in your facility.
  • Ask the hiring manager to reach out to the candidate(s) directly to keep the level of engagement high, especially if the interview process is taking longer than expected.

Don’t be afraid to make an offer early on

A highly qualified candidate will look just as enticing to your competitors as they do to you. If that person checks off all your boxes, don’t hesitate to aggressively pursue them. Remember, if you don’t, someone else will.

Be willing to negotiate

Salary negotiations should almost never be the reason a top candidate walks away. You’ve put the time and energy into getting them this far along in the process, so don’t throw that all away with an unwillingness to negotiate. If you set expectations up front, you can transform this stage into more of a painless formality than a hostile contest.

Having an experienced recruiter on your side can make this process even easier. A recruiter can discuss salary details on your behalf, provide reference checks, and offer negotiation assistance in the event that any counter-offer situations arise.

Partner with a premier search firm

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters is in a unique position that allows us to independently evaluate food manufacturing and grocery retail companies’ hiring processes, from the perspective of both the talent acquisition team and the candidate. Contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to ensure you not only attract—but keep—the best talent on the market.

Adjusting Your Hiring Process Amidst COVID-19

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has brought business challenges unlike any we’ve ever seen. Many companies—and even entire industries—have been temporarily put on the back burner, while others have been asked to do everything they can to meet demand.

While there is much uncertainty in the world right now, one thing is certain: business must go on—and that includes the hiring process. In order to avoid losing your employment momentum, you need to make certain adjustments. Here are some tips for how to prepare your hiring process during a dramatic change in the business landscape.

Keep your candidates engaged

People are more unsure about the future now than ever before. Don’t give your candidates any reason to doubt the fate of your business or the position they’re applying for. Reassure them by remaining in frequent contact—even if you don’t have any significant updates to report.

Some topics to consider:

  • Hiring status and timelines to let the candidates know where you’re at in the process.
  • Company updates that showcase your current successes in difficult times.
  • COVID-19 precautions your company is taking.

In a time of limited social interaction, it’s far better to err on the side of over-communication and transparency than to allow your top prospects to lose interest and walk away.

Continue to move the pipeline forward

No doubt you have countless other pressing things to attend to, but you can’t let your hiring process become a casualty of this pandemic. Many companies—big and small—have already put their talent acquisition operations on hold. Don’t make this same mistake.

Keep your pipeline moving forward by continuing to look for qualified candidates, conducting video calls with various members of the interview team, and negotiating terms with frontrunners. By doing as much as you can at this stage, you will be in a better position to make an offer when the time is right.

Make sure your video conference technology is in order

With social distancing being strongly encouraged, you’re going to need to find a good alternative to your in-person meetings. Phone interviews might still be your first point of contact, but virtual face-to-face interviews are going to be the next best option. With a video call, you’ll be able to pick up on many of the same social skills, confidence levels, and overall chemistry that an in-person interview provides.

If you haven’t ventured into this realm before, here are some of the most popular video conferencing services:

Whatever service you end up using, make sure that you test it thoroughly before your first scheduled interview.

Be patient and flexible

As a large portion of the population adjusts to working remotely from home, there are naturally going to be some complications. You may not get responses as quickly as you’re used to, and that’s okay. It may also be more difficult to find a good time for a quiet, uninterrupted interview as families are forced to balance the demands of young kids, pets, and shared internet bandwidth.

The key takeaway here is that if you’re understanding of their situation, they are far more likely to be understanding of yours. This will reflect well on your company and make them more likely to want to continue with the hiring process.

Find a search partner you can trust

We are all under greater strain than ever before. Partnering with an executive search firm can ease your hiring burden. They can do the work that you are unable to, usually in a fraction of the time as they have a direct line to the top talent your organization needs. Recruiters are still working hard every day to guide their clients through this challenging situation.

Remember, even though the hiring process itself may feel different at this time, the outcome should still be the same: finding a highly skilled employee and a valuable addition to your team.

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we  partner with our clients to find top talent and fill critical roles. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.

How to Refresh and Reenergize Your Resume

As a full-service executive search firm, we’ve been helping food industry job seekers polish and perfect their resumes for over a decade, so we know what works and what definitely doesn’t. We’ve also pulled together some surprising statistics from a 2018 CareerBuilder survey of over 1,100 hiring managers.

With that said, here are eight areas we believe you should focus on when refreshing and reenergizing your resume.

Feature the right keywords

It should come as no surprise that most hiring managers don’t look at every single resume that comes their way. Depending on the demand for the company and position, they can be easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of applicants. This is where computer-assisted filtering comes into play.

A good hiring manager knows exactly what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate and will be narrowing down the field based on a set of specific keywords. When drafting your resume, be sure to prominently include these terms.

But how do you know what they’re looking for? That’s easy—the vast majority of the keywords are listed right there in the job description!

Don’t exaggerate

Speaking of keywords, don’t just copy and paste them right from the job description to your resume—especially if they’re not true of your personal experience. At its core, your resume is a marketing document. You want it to represent what you’ve done in the past, but also show future employers what you are capable of.

Instead of focusing on a job title or proficiency you are lacking, it’s important to highlight the areas you do excel at. Oftentimes employers are willing to hire someone who has a less impressive title or skillset but shows promise in other areas and is willing to train and learn on the job.

Tailor it to the position

At least 18% of hiring managers can tell a generic application when they see one. Fortunately, you don’t need to rewrite your resume from scratch for every new application. It could be as simple as bringing different skills to the top of the page for jobs that specifically mention them. Basically, if your resume checks off the majority of their requirement boxes, then you’re much more likely to be contacted.

Consider your audience

Another way to tailor your resume to a specific position is to take the actual recipient into consideration. An application for a grocery retail position and one in foodservice are going to read differently when it comes to tone and word choice. Do your research and try to get a feel for the environment of the organization. And when in doubt, err on the side of professional.

One area all employers agree on though—use a professional email address! Over 35% of hiring managers will pass you over if they have to reach out to an email address that you thought was funny in college.

Make sure their are no tpyos

If you didn’t catch the two errors in the subheading above (it should be “there” and “typos” for the record), then you need to pay special attention to this advice. Hiring managers are especially adept at catching even the smallest of errors that you overlooked when crafting your resume.

Before you send it out, proofread it several times. An estimated 77% of hiring managers toss out resumes at the first sight of a grammatical error or typo. If you’ve been working on it for hours, take a break and come back with a clear head. It also helps to read the whole thing out loud. Even if everything is spelled correctly, this will help highlight any awkward grammar and sentence structure.

Speaking of grammar, don’t rely on your computer’s spellchecker for that (they’re good, but nowhere near perfect). Even with the help of a computer, you’re always your own worst editor. Have a friend, family member, or trusted professional provide a second set of eyes for anything you may have missed.

Keep it clear and concise

Whether you’ve been in the work force for five weeks or fifty years, you need to keep your resume clear and concise. It’s perfectly acceptable to go over one page, but make sure you are only using the space you absolutely need.

While you’ll want to list every job you’ve held for at least the last ten years, you only need to elaborate on the ones that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you still have too much information, start removing skills and qualifications that aren’t as pertinent.

The opposite is true as well, unfortunately. Too much blank space on your resume will make you look woefully inexperienced. Even if your work history is sparse, this leaves you more room to elaborate on your specific accomplishments.

Be sure to include hard numbers and actionable results to showcase the organizational impact you made in your current and previous roles. Depending on your previous roles, this may include any of the following:

  • How many people did you lead?
  • What was the size of your business unit/company?
  • What metrics you improved?
  • What was your sales responsibility and what was the top line sales growth?
  • What was the gross margin improvement?
  • How did you reduce customer complaints?
  • What specific systems (FSMA, SQF/BRC, ERP, SAP, etc.) did you implement?

Make it visually appealing

In addition to keeping it brief, you want your resume to be as eye-catching and readable as possible. Studies show that nearly 40% of hiring managers spend less than a minute looking at each resume. This means that if they can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to the next one.

Unless you’re applying to be a graphic designer, you should avoid any groundbreaking layouts and stick to the tried and true templates. Make it easy to scan by avoiding large chunks of text and including plenty of bullet points and spacing between sections.

You should also avoid any fancy fonts and overusing italics and boldface. They’re still okay for the truly important stuff, but remember: if you highlight everything, you highlight nothing.

Consider hiring a resume writer or career coach

Arguably the best way to refresh and reenergize your non-performing resume is to hire a professional. Many resume writers have at least some experience on the hiring side, so they know what interviewers are looking for. They also have a trained eye to spot poor grammar and other inconsistencies that may have been affecting your resume for years.

You might be hesitant to spend the extra money (especially if you’re currently in between jobs), but they’re almost always worth the price. A few hours of their time can end up saving you weeks—if not months—of job searching. If you’re in the Twin Cities area, we highly recommend  Carol Pitz Consulting.

Now you’re ready to apply

If you’ve followed these tips, then your resume should be ready to impress. If you’re looking for a position in the food or beverage industries, then check out our job board for plenty of great opportunities in sales, marketing, operations, food safety, and product development.

And when your new and improved resume does open up a conversation with the hiring team, be sure to read these 5 recruiter-proven strategies to prepare you for a job interview.

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we are dedicated to helping job seekers find (and land) the perfect positions. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.

Thank you notes

Thank youWhen I receive a  thank you note, whether it is in the mail or electronic it truly one of my favorite things. Not so long ago almost anyone knew how to write a thank you note, so how did we lose this skill?  When I ask my kids about this they respond with ” well I said thank you, isn’t that enough?” Somewhere between rushing to sporting events, concerts and life in general,  I have failed them.  Admitting it is the first step right? My girls are applying for their first jobs this summer and I have created a guideline for them to follow for thank you notes after their interviews, it doesn’t matter if it is your first job at a fast food restaurant or if you are interviewing for a Vice President role the rules are the same.

Following an interview, promptly write the interviewer a letter expressing appreciation and thanks for the interview.  The purpose of this letter is to:

  1. Show appreciation for their interest in you and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
  2. Let them know that you are interested in the position.
  3. Remind the employer about your qualifications for the position. If you thought of something you forgot to mention in the interview, mention it in the thank-you note.
  4. Show that you have good manners and are thoughtful.
  5. Follow up with any information the employer may have asked you to provide after the interview.

Hand written or electronic?

  1. Thank-you letters can be typed, handwritten or e-mailed.
  2. A well crafted email is perfect for following up on a conversation. Be mindful to send different emails to anyone you send them to.
  3. Handwritten are more personal, and would be appropriate for a hiring manager after you have been offered a position.
  4. E-mail is appropriate, when that has been how you have had contact with the person you want to thank, or if you want to get it to them expeditiously.

You don’t have to write a novel, just three sentences,  a greeting, and a close, are all you need to get this job done. It will get you noticed and I’m sure they will appreciate you taking your time to thank them and if anything you have spread a little kindness into the world!

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Recruiter-Proven Strategies to Prepare You for a Job Interview

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve most likely secured an interview. First off, congratulations! Getting to this point in the application process is a huge step and deserves to be celebrated.

The big question now is: what next?

No doubt you’ve already looked up some commonly asked interview questions. While having a handful of good answers prepared ahead of time is helpful, what a lot of people forget is that there’s far more to an interview than a series of questions.

Here are five recruiter-approved tips to help prepare you for your upcoming interview.

1.  Reread the job description

Of course, you’ve probably already read through the job listing at least once. Though chances are this wasn’t the only one you were applying for at the time, so it’s a good idea to refresh yourself a bit. If something was important enough to include in the job description, it will be important enough to ask you about in person.

Try to narrow your focus to the top five bullet points, especially if it’s a particularly long and detailed description. For each one, come up with concrete examples of how you have demonstrated that qualification in the past.

Try to frame your answer into an SBO (Situation>Behavior>Outcome) or STAR (Situation>Task>Action>Result) format so that the hiring manager can easily follow along. Be as specific as you can and use actual numbers if possible.

2.  Do your research

You should never go into an interview without first learning everything you can about both the company and the individuals you’ll be meeting.

Know the company

  • When researching the company, make sure you have a firm grasp on the specifics of their services/products offered, their target audience(s), and a brief overview of their company history. Don’t limit yourself to what’s on their website either. Glassdoor, the Better Business Bureau, and a Google search or two are your friends here.
  • Be prepared to talk about what drew you to the company and why you’re excited to work there. Try to be as honest as possible here, unless the real reason was the perks, location, or pay. It’s also a big no-no to say it was because a recruiter called you. You may think this makes you seem noncommittal and therefore a catch, but trust us, it’s usually a major turnoff.

Know the interviewers

  • When researching your interviewer(s), make sure you’re aware of their place in the company and its relation to your position, as well as their more recent professional history.
  • In almost every single interview, there comes a time when you’re asked to turn the tables with some questions of your own. Don’t miss out on this opportunity! You can even take it a step further by writing specific questions for each person in the room. For instance, you should direct general questions to HR, company goals and outlook to senior executives, and day to day specifics and success metrics to the manager.

3.  Review your own history

Your past experience and education were obviously enough to get you this far, but don’t think they won’t want any further clarification. You may think you already know everything there is to know about yourself, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget certain details when you’re put on the spot.

Unless this is your first job out of school, you’re not likely to be asked about your education, so there’s no need to dig up those old GPAs and valedictorian certificates. You will, however, want to brush up on your job history a bit.

Make sure you have answers prepared for why you left each position, as well as explanations for gaps in employment, if any. For each job, go over a list of all your responsibilities, as well as any accomplishments and awards you received so you’re not struggling to remember them in the moment.

You should also be prepared to talk about how you made a difference at each organization. Did you make/save the company money? Did you change/improve a particular process? Again, know your numbers and have those concrete SBO or STAR examples ready to go if you want to really shine.

4.  Know your worth

In addition to knowing what you bring to the table, it’s important to have a good idea of what your market value is. While it’s easier for those who’ve held multiple jobs in a particular industry, even newer recruits should do a little research to see what the industry average is for their desired position.

Have a specific number in mind and don’t be afraid to ask for it. It’s also equally important to know the lowest offer you’d be willing to accept, should it come to that. While many hiring managers are reluctant to discuss specifics in the first interview, it pays to be prepared, just in case.

5.  Ready your outfit and belongings ahead of time

Everybody knows it’s bad to be late to an interview. So, why not give yourself every advantage possible to be on time (or a bit early) by preparing all your things ahead of time?

Pick out the clothes you’re going to wear the night before (and stick with them). You’d be surprised how many job seekers are late because they went through a last-minute wardrobe change.

Speaking of attire, we recommend dressing to impress, unless they specifically say otherwise. Even if it’s only a phone interview, you will feel more alert and confident in business casual than you will in pajamas.

You should never arrive at an interview empty handed either, so be sure to bring a professional binder/bag with a copy (or two) of your resume, references, and questions to ask. It’s also wise to have a pen and paper handy for taking notes.

You’ve prepared yourself well. Now it’s time to impress.

Get plenty of rest, eat a good meal, and try not to worry—you got this! If you’ve followed these five strategies, then you’ve done all you can, and you’re sure to do great.

If you haven’t taken advantage of a professional recruitment service yet, now is a great time to do so. Landing a good interview is difficult, and a recruiter can help ensure you don’t have to go back to square one.

Working with a recruiter

You probably don’t interview every day—but recruiters do! They can offer you specific advice on what to wear, what to bring, and what to do to make the best first impression. A good recruiter, especially one that knows your industry well, can give you a big leg up by providing you with specific advice about what your particular interviewer wants to hear, which can’t always be found on the internet.

While they can’t possibly know everything about you, they do know the right questions to ask and can help determine what’s worth highlighting and what’s not. You will also have an experienced partner to help you dial in the perfect examples that are sure to please even the shrewdest of interviewers.

A recruiter will also cover any salary discussions upfront and share that information with the employer, so everyone is on the same page. And unless you’re significantly over or underpaid, they can often secure you a 10-15% pay increase (assuming you’re currently employed).

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we are dedicated to helping job seekers find (and land) the perfect positions. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.

Phone Etiquette

PhoneImagine how nervous you are doing one phone interview, as Food Recruiters we can do as many as 5 to 10 phone interviews in one day. Phone interview etiquette is just as important as in-person job interview etiquette when it comes to getting hired. It tells the interviewer a lot if you take the time to give them your full attention and are engaged during the call.  If you’re selected for a phone interview, prepare just as carefully as you would for a  traditional interview.  Research, confirm the date and time, have questions ready for the interviewer and prepare to make a great impression.  Here are additional suggestions for preparation:

Prepare for your day – This might sound strange, but your appearance  matters on the phone almost as much as it does during a face-to-face interview. You will have more confidence dressed in business casual than you will in your pajamas.  A  memorable piece of advice I once received was that “people can hear a smile”. Focus on the interviewer, smile, and think positive. You’ll make a better impression.

Use a land line – Cell phones are wonderful, but not always reliable.   A  dropped call, cellular static  or getting disconnected can ruin an otherwise great interview.

Get rid of the distractions – Interview in a private, quiet space. That means having someone watch your children and kick the dog, the cat, and the rest of the household members out of your interview space. Please, no driving while interviewing. Pull over or schedule another time where you can give the interviewer your full attention.

Be aware of what you are doing Swinging in your chair, pacing the floor or fidgeting can all be heard over the telephone. Tapping on a pencil, clicking a pen and other nervous habits are distracting and come across as lacking self-confidence.  Practice good body language and it will positively affect the tone of your voice. When you feel good you look and sound good. Remember to smile!

Don’t interrupt – Listen carefully to the question and answer the question to the best of your ability. Be concise and to the point without rambling. Be careful not to interrupt the interviewer because you think you know what he or she is about to ask. It is alright to take a few seconds to think before responding, thoughtful answers are best.

Be prepared with questions for your interviewer – When the interviewer asks whether you have any questions for him or her, make sure that you do! Review your questions and have a few ready in advance.  It will show that you have done your research and are interested in the position.

Follow up – Ask for the interviewer’s email address, if you don’t already have it. Send out a thank you immediately, thanking the interviewer and showing your interest in the job. Let them know you are available to answer any other questions they may have.

It comes down to being your best self! Even if the job is not something you might be suited for keep in mind that you are always networking and making those connections so it is important to make a good impression!

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Creating a Safe Haven for Bees and Monarchs, Alexis Hoopman

bee on sunflowerAs I sit outside (on a gorgeous non-snowy day in MN) admiring my garden this summer I am reminded of all of the different articles I have read regarding  bee colony collapse disorder and the significantly dwindling numbers of monarch butterflies. Both play an important role in gardening and our agricultural system as a whole. Wondering what I could do to help with these situations, I did a little research and thought I would share some of the tips and simple steps that I discovered that we can all do to support these invaluable contributors to our gardens and farms.

Bees

Worker bees have been abandoning their queens, and their hives, in record numbers only to die and leave their hives empty. This is a big concern due to the fact that bee pollination adds $15 billion in increased crop value to our country’s agriculture each year. According to the USDA, “About one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination.” There are numerous theories that contribute this bee tragedy to everything from pesticides to global changes or even parasites, but an exact cause has yet to be determined. The good news is that we can help the bees.  Planting pollinator friendly plants is a great way to support the bee population. Marigolds, daisies and native plants will keep bees coming back to your yard and pollinating away. In addition, be very discriminating in the pesticides that you choose. The Honeybee Conservancy has a great step by step guide for creating a bee friendly habitat in your own yard. http://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/act-today-2/plant-a-bee-garden/.

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterfly populations have also been on the decline in recent years, most likely due to logging in Mexico (where Monarchs like to winter), climate changes and GMO corn which hosts a bacterium that is toxic to butterflies. In addition, many of the herbicides utilized in modern farming kills off the milkweed plants in the fields, which Monarchs prefer to all other plants

 

When you’re in the process of putting together your bee garden, add a bunch of native milkweed plants and you will have a very happy Monarch population to observe as well. Butterflies lay their eggs on milkweeds and their caterpillars utilize the pods as their sole form of nutrition during  this stage of development.  The food and shelter that milkweed plants provide are critical to sustaining the Monarch species. It also happens that honey bees enjoy milkweeds as well, so this is a win-win for both insects

I encourage you to do your own research as you begin to strategize your yard for the summer. There are countless resources available on line, and of course, your local greenhouse or nursery will be happy to help point you in the right direction. It always feels good to help, and this type of help can impact more than just the beauty of your garden, but also the food on your plate .

 

 

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