Agency Spotlight: Mahler Private Staffing

Mahler Private Staffing logo

In the private service industry, one of the more prestigious agencies is Mahler Private Staffing.  With 25 years of experience, this national agency is known for working with some of the most elite families and candidates in the US and abroad.  Their positions vary greatly – from the family office to ranch management and everything in between.  With offices in Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Palm Springs, they are conveniently situated to evaluate candidates across the country.

For this Agency Spotlight, Vice President Judith Redd gives us some more insight into the long-standing recruitment firm…

 1. How long have you been in business?

25 years.

 2. What makes your agency unique? 

For twenty five years, Mahler Private Staffing has refined our placement process to meet a single objective – match each client’s unique needs with the right staff.  Widely recognized for our meticulous standards, broad service offerings, personalized approach, and exclusive network of top household, childcare, and office professionals, we are proud to have grown entirely through repeat business and referrals from satisfied clients.

 3. What types of positions do you place? 

All Domestic staff, including Director of Residences, Chief of Staff, Estate Manager, House Manager, Housekeeping staff, Executive Protection, Security/Drivers, Chefs, Nannies, Ranch and  Property Management, Family office and Corporate personnel.

 4. What is your ideal candidate?

We pride ourselves on connecting with remarkable talent and maintaining relationships with our candidates through their placement and beyond.  Our ideal candidates are experienced, skilled, engaged, and professional.  We also require verifiable references from previous employers and conduct thorough background checks

 5. Do you place across the country or locally?  

Nationwide.

 6. Do you look for any special training or certifications, such as college degrees, private service schools, etc.

A college education is always preferred  and we appreciate candidates with specialized training in their particular field as it shows commitment and professionalism, however, it is not essential for every position.

7. Where do you announce your open jobs?

Our website: MahlerPrivateStaffing.com, Estate Jobs, LinkedIn, Domestic Herald, specialty sites (ENanny Source, Sitter City, Efinancial careers, etc.)

 8. How should a candidate apply for a job?  Do you want an online application, resume or both?

We  urge all prospective candidate to complete the online application and upload their resume and letters of  reference.

9. Do you belong to any professional associations?

DEMA (Domestic Estate Management Association) and INA (International Nanny Association)

 10. How can people contact you?

Corporate office  : 414-347-1350

West Coast office: 760-537-7690

Email: mahlerprivatestaffing@mahlerent.com

Are you an agency owner? Would you like your agency featured in our Agency Spotlight?  There is no fee!  Contact Donna Shannon at 720-452-3400 to find out how you can be included.  Our Agency Spotlight is provided as a service to job seekers, and is not a statement of endorsement.  All information is  provided by the participating agency.

How to prepare for a job interview

how to prepare for a job interviewCongratulations! You made it through the stacks of resume in the HR department and landed an interview at your dream company.  Now for the next hurdle: how do you make sure that you can turn that interview into a job offer?  Here are some tips to help you prepare…

Research interview questions

Don’t just focus on the most common interview questions, such as “what is your greatest weakness?” Instead, search for questions that are specific to your target employer.  Thanks to free websites like www.Glassdoor.com, many people are creating reviews of the employers’ hiring process, including the actual questions they faced in the interview.

In addition to Glassdoor.com, other sites such as Indeed.com and http://top-interview-questions.com/ list insight into previously-asked questions.  A simple Google search of “interview questions” plus the company name will show you a plethora of resources.

Practice answering questions – especially behavioral questions

Before you sit down with a buddy and lob questions at each other, pull out your pen and paper.  From your list of questions, identify which ones would be hardest for you to answer.  Then write down one or two possible answers.  Don’t shirk on this task.  The more questions you answer, the more prepared you will be.

What you are doing is training your brain in how to answer questions.  One big mistake that candidates make is trying to memorize answers.  If those particular questions aren’t asked, they can be easily thrown off.  Instead, learn how to be flexible by facing a number of questions, from the complex to the simple.

Be sure to do a hefty number of possible questions.  If you sit down and truly write out answers to over 50 questions, you will be amazed at how prepared you will be.

Prepare for common questions

Some employers still rely on the old standard questions, such as “where do you see yourself in 5 years” or “what is your greatest strength.”  Not having an answer for these pat questions definitely will brand a job seeker as unprepared.

In most cases, I favor honest answers to these questions – honest, but not fatal.  For example, a weakness for a salesperson may be completing paperwork.  This is fairly common, and therefore acceptable to some degree.  However, it needs to be backed up with how the candidate handles that weakness.  On the other hand, if a salesperson states that his weakness is not following up with clients in a timely manner, no one would hire him.  That’s a fatal weakness for any sales professional.

Don’t forget the most common question

How about that first question: “tell me about yourself?”  If you have a planned and prepared introduction, it can actually help you calm down for the rest of the interview.  When your very first answer is delivered with confidence, you gain peace of mind for yourself.

Tip: don’t just repeat your resume.  This is very boring for the interviewer, especially since the rest of the interview is discussing your work history.  Instead, consider a variation of your elevator speech, tailored to hit one key point that relates to the job.  And please, keep it to 30 seconds or less.  The whole point is to establish some rapport, not give your life story.

Practice with a human being

Find yourself a job search buddy.  Take turns running mock interviews on each other.  This is not the same as just saying questions back and forth.  Try to make it as real as possible.  Consider even trying different hiring manager personalities, just to stay on your toes.  Remember, not all interviewers are polished, so prepare for that possibility as well.

Take a class

There are a number of resources available for interview training.  The Workforce center in any state has many workshops for job seekers, including interview skills.  In Denver, Donna Shannon offers intensive workshops through the Colorado Free University (www.freeu.com)

Hire a coach

If interviewing is still a mystery, hiring a coach to evaluate your performance and make recommendations can be very valuable.  A professional can identify the true weaknesses as well as your strengths.  Knowing what you will say is only part of the process.  Ideally, you will get a recording of one of your mock interview sessions.  This way, you can see where not only your answers can be improved, but your body language and nonverbal communication as well.

Evaluate actual interviews

When you leave an interview, be sure to take a few moments to write down what you did well and what could have been improved.  Take special note of any question that you wished you answered better, and then write down that answer.  You can’t get a second chance at that opportunity, but you can use it as a learning tool to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

The Curse of the Objective Statement on Resumes

warning don't use objective on resumeEveryone knows that the amount of time that your resume will be judged is getting shorter and shorter.  From the generous 60 seconds 10 years ago to the strict 10-30 seconds of the modern era, the amount of time you have to impact the HR recruiter or hiring manager keeps getting shorter.  However, do you know the sure-fire way to get screened out in only 2 seconds?

The Dreaded Objective

The moment that someone adds an Objective statement to the resume it is a kiss of death.  It doesn’t matter if the Objective is too specific or too vague; either way, the Objective limits possibilities and makes sure that the reader will only consider your resume from one point of view.

Getting Too Specific

For some job seekers, they list a very specific Objective at the top of their resume. For example:

“Objective: to gain a business-to-business sales position with a dynamic medical device company.”

This may seem like a good idea, but in fact, it is limiting.  If the exact job title doesn’t match this Objective, HR will cut the candidate because they are given the impression that the applicant would not be open to other positions.

Worse, many job seekers get lazy and won’t adjust the Objective.  For example, I recently posted a job opening for a resume writer at my company.  Ironically, I saw a number of really bad resumes.  Of these, the very worst were the ones that didn’t bother to change that Objective, especially when they were coming from a different industry.  One Objective literally read: “To host my own talk show in radio or television.”  Obviously, this has nothing to do with my job posting.  In fact, it is insulting that the job seeker couldn’t be bothered to even address my job in any way.

Bottom line: beware of the specific Objective statement.  It can box you in more than you realize.

Being Too Vague

A vague job description does nothing but takes up unnecessary space on a resume.  These generic statements tend to all sound the same:

“Objective: to gain a challenging and rewarding position with a stable company with plenty of opportunity for growth.”

Well, who doesn’t want that?  The same could be said for any job seeker.  This does nothing to impress a hiring manager or recruiter.

Another problem with the vague Objective is that there are no active key words in it.  Resumes are screened first and foremost by the key words within the job description or job posting.  Anything that doesn’t relate to either the requirements or responsibilities is eating up valuable real estate.

The Nature of Sin

Finally, the biggest problem with an Objective is that is completely self-serving.  The truth is that companies don’t really care about what you want; they care about their own needs.  When you write your resume to match the employer’s needs, you get a better response.

For example, if I am hiring a salesperson, I care about her track record of success.  If I am hiring an executive assistant, I care about his proficiency in Microsoft Office.  If I am hiring an accountant, I want him to be able to do math.

Always consider the employer’s needs when writing your resume.  How can you help this company? Can you make them money, save them money or solve problems?  If you prove that you can do one of those three things, the employers will take notice.

Summaries Instead of Objectives

Instead of the hated Objective, try writing a Summary instead.  This is 3-4 sentences about your best features – remembering, of course, to relate it back to their needs and use matching key words.  At the top of the resume, do include the title of your target job.  That lets the company know exactly where your interest lies:

“DRIVEN SALES PROFESSIONAL

“Highly successful sales professional with talents and experience in regulated industries, major account management, enterprise sales and capital expense purchases.  A collaborative sales expert, with the ability to help customers determine the best products for their technical, budgetary and company needs.  A specialist in building long-term customer relationships based on technical expertise, availability and pro-active customer service.”

Now that is a salesman that I want to call!

How to Close an Old LinkedIn Account

When I start working with clients on their LinkedIn presence, many of them have an old account that they started years ago.  However, they don’t know how to get rid of the old account.  Believe it or not, it is extremely easy to do this – once you know how.

 1.       Log into the old account

You do need to have the email address associated with the old account. If you have forgotten your password, you can click on the “Forgot Password?” prompt to reset it.

 2.       Go to the Privacy & Settings pageget to LinkedIn account settings

To get here, hover over your profile picture on the very far right and top of the LinkedIn page.  This opens a new drop-down menu.  Click on the Privacy & Settings tab.  You may have to reenter your password, as this is the secure backstage area of your account.

 3.       Look for the “Account” tab on the bottom of the page

At the left and bottom half of the page are four additional tabs with all kinds of controls: Profile, Communication, Groups and Account. When you click on the Account tab, an additional menu opens just to the right of the tabs.

 4.       Click on the “Close Your AccountHow to Close your Linkedin account

From here, you do get a confirmation before you kill the account completely.  When this is closed, you will lose all the contacts, recommendations, etc. associated with this account.

 5.       Add the email address to your main LinkedIn account

After 48 hours, you can add the email address from the closed account to your main LinkedIn account. You can have multiple emails associated with your account, which is a good idea.  That way, everything is in one central space instead of creating multiple accounts all over the place.

 

Agency Spotlight: The Ekström Agency

Ekstrom logoA relative newcomer to the domestic staffing industry, the Ekstrom Agency was founded by Nils Ekstrom in June 2013.  Thanks to his 25 years of experience in the service industry, he has studied hospitality across disciplines including domestic service, restaurant operations, and cruise lines.  Nils has had the honor of serving in both large and small estates and have managed staffs including maids, chauffeurs, chefs/cooks, day workers, houseman, nannies, personal assistants and butlers.

 “The reason I built Ekström was to bring this work ethic and integrity to an industry that needed change,” states Nils.  “Change in the way that talent is being hired, change in how clients needed to become better educated about what is required in order to run their homes efficiently, and change in how the employee/employer relationships are built and sustained.” 

 

  1. How long have you been in business? 

We just started operations in June 2013.

 

  1. What makes your agency unique? 

We treat and promote talent, not domestic help.  We believe that by attracting the right talent and then spending time in person with the family, we increase the chances of a healthy and long term working relationship.  In addition, we have a specialty in working with Chinese clients who are purchasing homes and investment properties in the Tri State Area and require specialty talent support.

 

  1. What types of positions do you place? 

Chefs, House Managers, Estate Mangers, Housekeepers, Nannies, Equestrian Management, Personal Assistants, Couples & Butlers.  We also maintain a strong group of bi and tri-lingual talent (Spanish, French, Portuguese & Chinese). 

  1. What is your ideal candidate? 

An experienced individual with a high degree of integrity and work ethic.  We do thorough background investigations and require the utmost in confidentiality and work ethic.

  1. Do you place across the country or locally?  If so where:

We concentrate in NYC and the Tri-State area but also do placements in Florida including both Palm Beach and Miami.

  1. Do you look for any special training or certifications, such as college degrees, private service schools, etc? 

While we do look for certain certifications especially with our chefs and nannies, we are open to those who have experience equal to a degree or other certification.  We find that nothing really beats good old fashioned hands-on experience and elbow grease.

  1. Where do you announce your open jobs? 

We promote through partnerships with other agencies, conferences, referrals from our existing talent pool and colleagues. We are also very active on social media.

  1. How should a candidate apply for a job? 

Do you want an online application, resume or both?  We start with an online resume and then move to a formal application and then video interview.

  1. Do you belong to any professional associations?

DEMA, NYC Personal Assistants

  1. How can people contact you?

http://naekstrom.com or at (347) 410 1862

 

Special discount for DEMA members

Special sale for DEMA membersThe 2013 DEMA convention in Orlando was another great success, with definite strides to improve the industry across many levels.  As we get back to our offices and estates, it is important to keep up the momentum from the conference.

 As a special bonus to DEMA members, we are offering 10% off all resume packages purchased before December 31, 2013.  If you are considering sprucing up your resume before the final hiring push of the year, now is the ideal time to get it done.

To find out more, please email donna@personaltouchcareerservices.com to arrange a 15 minute free consultation to discuss your resume and job search techniques.

A Recruiter’s Take on Resumes

resume_jpeg_w300h200Recently, I spoke with Christopher Baker, owner of Christopher Baker Staffing, about some of the latest trends in resumes for private service professionals, specifically Estate Managers, Household Managers, Personal Assistants and Butlers.  As most people know, this unique industry requires some unique features on the resumes – usually factors that you would never see on a traditional business resume.

 Reasons for Leaving

“I think everyone should have two versions of their resume,” stated Chris.  “One that’s of normal length, and one that is longer and includes the reasons for leaving a former employer.  This really helps agencies, so that we don’t have to scramble through an application while on the phone with a potential employer.  They always want to know why someone left, and it helps the recruiter to have that available right on the resume.”

 The reasons for leaving don’t have to dominate the resume.  “Even something as simple as one sentence in italics at the end of the bulleted duties – and yes, I like the bulleted format – that’s all you need to put,” said Chris.

 The Full Professional Experience

In the business world, it is common to limit the professional experience on a resume to 10 – 15 years.  However, private service requires a more in-depth view of the work experience.  In fact, since many household management professionals enter into the industry as a second career, knowing the previous background is especially important.

 I will see a resume of someone with 8 to 10 years’ experience as a household manager, but then you know that they are 50 years old.  People have whole other careers before private service, and our employers want to know about it,” stated Chris.

 Pictures

In corporate environments, pictures on resumes would be inappropriate.  However, in private service, they are the standard.  Several years ago, the standard was to dress in a full suit for the resume picture to give an impression of professionalism.  Yet, according to Mr. Baker, the standards have shifted.

 “I realize that pictures can be a delicate issue, but they are a standard practice in the industry,” said Chris.  “A suit can be ok, but it works better if the candidate looks really approachable. For men, that may be a button up shirt and jacket, but no tie.  Women, well, they shouldn’t look like the men.  So no stuffy business suit, but no too casual either.  You want to look comfortable with yourself, pleasant and alert. “

 Computer Skills

One of the biggest changes in private service in the past few years is the rise of computer skills.  More and more employers are demanding excellent use of Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, iPads, smart phones – not to mention custom software for household systems, such as Smart Home technology.

 “On the resume, people really need to list all the computer programs they know, and how well.  Don’t leave it to be assumed – if you don’t tell us what you can do, we can’t promote you properly to the employers,” stated Chris.

 Do You Have Principals or Principles?

“It’s my number one pet peeve,” sighed Chris. “It seems like 99% of the candidates confuse ‘principal’ and ‘principle’…”

 Here’s a trick I learned in school: the principal is a “Prince of a Pal” – ending the word with ‘-pal’ is the designation for a person.

 The Letter of Introduction

“My top candidates are the ones that write a phenomenal letter of introduction,” emphasized Chris. “Even better, they should write it themselves.  This is your opportunity to give me a real writing sample – one that I do forward on to the employers.  You can get a framework or template for your letter, but ultimately, the candidate needs to write that letter.  It’s like creating a beautiful frame for your resume.”

 Formats

By and large, most agencies want to receive your resume as a Word document.  Practically every agency will transfer your information into their own template, or at least remove your contact information.  If it is sent as a PDF or has lots of complex formatting, this makes it difficult for the agency to present you.

 More about Christopher Baker Staffing

Christopher Baker, owner of Christopher Baker Staffing, has spent the last 13 years in the private service staffing business, first as a national recruiter and account executive for the nation’s foremost retained search firm specializing in private service for high net-worth families and their offices.  Since 2004, Chris has led his own Los Angeles-based company, Christopher Baker Staffing.  Christopher Baker Staffing enjoys a reputation of providing personalized and discreet staffing on a contingency basis for clients throughout the country.

Visit them at:

www.christopherbakerstaffing.com

 

What goes in an awesome letter of recommendation

positive job search tipsOne of the more important tools of your job search portfolio is the Letter of Recommendation.  It is important to capture not only the facts about when and where you worked, but to give the reader a real sense of what you did in the previous job.  Plus, when you ask your contacts for a letter, it lets them know that you are looking for a position – a valuable networking tool.

 Unfortunately, many people may be willing to give you a letter of recommendation, but they don’t know what to write. As a result, they either write a very poor letter – or procrastinate and never get it done.

 To escape those traps, here’s some tips for recommendations that matter:

 First Paragraph – Establish the job

This is the facts of the position – dates, title, company and location.  This doesn’t have to be a boring repetition; in fact, you can start with the accolades right away:

“I am happy to recommend John Smith’s work for our company.  John worked as our Accounting Manager from 2005 through 2010.  Under his pro-active management, we always had accurate reports within tight deadlines…

 

Body Paragraphs – Details of what you did

Once the introduction is done, the recommendation needs to cover more specifics about not only your duties, but the significant outcomes or quality of your work.  Letters of recommendation are more valuable when they include specific details about the job:

“John not only managed all of our financial reports, but also led a team of five accountants and clerks. As a leader, John made sure that all team members were receiving the continuing education and development to handle our rapidly-growing company.  Thanks to his forward-thinking tactics, our billing turn-around significantly improved our cash flow for the company…

 Personal Paragraph – A bit about you

Recommendations are not just about duties and accomplishments.  They should reflect something about your personality or working style:

“John is highly-detail oriented, making sure that everything is accurate as well as easy to understand.  With his pleasant nature, John was able to stay cool, calm and collected, even under stressful situations…

 Closing – Would they hire you again?

The final paragraph is the strongest recommendation language.  It should definitely include a phrase about willingness to hire you again:

“In conclusion, I can whole-heartedly recommend John Smith for any position.  He was an extremely valuable member of our management team, and I would happily hire him again.

 Further follow-up

Some employers will verify letters of recommendation.  Make sure that your reference knows this, and includes his contact information in the letter:

“Please feel free to contact me at 303-555-5555 or fakeemail@email.com if you have any questions.”

Deadly resume mistakes: Every part of your resume matters

 

resume mistakes

What’s hiding in your resume?

When it comes to resumes, most people know to look out for the deadly spelling and grammar errors.  But did you know there are other factors that can be just as terminal?  Take a moment to see if your resume is carrying a hidden job search killer…

 Strange Resume Names

Ideally, the document name for your resume should be your full name, plus title and maybe even a date so you can keep track of the current version.  However, too many applicants will use a secret code that they develop to manage their updates. 

 For example, instead of “Schmoe, Joe Manager Resume 2013.doc” or “Joe_Schmoe_Resume_2013.doc” HR receives “Resume v2.081213”.  Considering that Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS, also known as online applications) are advanced enough to upload your Word document, you want it to be a search-friendly document.  This way, if you document gets separated from your main file, there is at least hope of finding it again.

 When emailed as an attachment, the name game gets even more important.  Managers and recruiters can get nervous about email attachments from people they don’t know.  If the document name is a mix of letters and numbers, they are less likely to open it for fear of a virus.

 Hidden Agendas?

I recently received a resume which was titled “FT Resume”.  In this case, it was the candidate’s initials; however, the connotation I interpreted was “Full Time Resume” – I had to read it twice to make sure what she meant.

 What was even worse was my next assumption: if she is naming her resume for “Full Time” work, does that mean she also has a “Part Time Resume” out there too?  If that’s the case, a recruiter may doubt the dedication to a full time job.

 Missing Contact Information

There is a lot of debate on the internet as to whether you need your full address on your resume.  In my opinion, it depends.  For entry level or support positions, employers are more likely to interview candidates who are physically closer to their location.  As we move up into middle and upper management, commuting time matters less.

 But there are some things that must be included: your email address and your phone number.  And yes, I have seen resumes recently that didn’t have a phone number on them.

Out-of-Date Email Addresses

Most people have heard that your email address needs to be professional, ideally based on your name.  But did you know that the service provider you choose can be just as deadly?

For example, if your email address is still AOL, this tells the HR department and the hiring manager that your internet skills are dated.

Updating to a Google gmail account shows at least the possibility that you have access to more modern online tools, such as Google Docs and other cloud computing environments.

Does your resume tell your story?

Domestic staff resumes are more formalIn a world that has become driven by key words, relevant experience and short attention spans, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that resumes are actually telling a story.  In this case, it is the story of your professional career.  When your resume can convey you story, you greatly improve your chances of landing an interview.

This doesn’t mean that we are going to write in a long narrative, or include a novella just to get your foot in the door.  Instead, the story within your resume is the turns and twists your career path may have taken, and why they led to where you are today.

The Complex Path

I was recently working with an executive on his resume.  I quickly noticed that there was a pattern to his work history: every one to two years, he changed his job.  A typical recruiter may assume that he was a job hopper.  In truth, he was part of an established corporate succession plan that groomed him for more senior management positions as he completed critical components in each rotation.

When we re-designed his resume, we added in a summary of the leadership program into the overall company description, with the individual jobs falling underneath.  Now instead of a job hopper, he looked like he was successfully climbing the corporate ladder – a highly desirable trait for senior management positions.

Career Transitions

Telling your story is also critical when doing a career change.  In this case, the challenge is convincing the recruiter not only that you have the skills to do the job, but the passion to make it in a new industry.  One case where we frequently see this scenario is the transition into private service.

One way to show relevance in the new industry is to focus on transferable skills.  It increases the key word count while allowing us to include important life skills.  However, just loading up key words will only get so far.

Whenever work passion comes into play, the resume must have a strong personal profile or summary.  It needs the short paragraph to explain why the candidate wants to make the change.  In some cases, it may be a life-long dream.  For others, it is the satisfaction in anticipating someone else’s needs.  For another, it is knowing that they can deal with any contingency that may arise, all with a cool and calm demeanor.

The point?  When the recruiters and the employers understand your passion, they are more likely to grant you the interview.  Smart employers hire for the fit and train for the skill; part of any fit is a passion for the job.

I once helped a new college graduate with her career transition.  Previously, she worked in IT, but went back to school to gain a degree in marketing.  Following graduation, she had a series of interviews with a marketing company for a Marketing Coordinator position.  She was not the most qualified candidate; in fact, she was missing some of the software applications critical for the job.  However, we worked with her passion statement and coached her to speak about that passion in the job interview.  In the end, she got the job – and before her first day, the company paid to send her to an InDesign class.  And mind you, this was in January 2009 – at the height of the Recession.

Final note – Key Words still matter

In our search engine-driven world, key words still do matter as a major factor in any resume.  While important, that doesn’t mean that need to be arranged in a boring manner.  It is possible to tell your story while still capturing the right phrases to survive the screening process – it just takes some finesse and strategy.

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