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Human Resources (HR)

Planning Your Staffing Needs for the New Year

17th December 2010 Posted in Blog, Human Resources (HR), Planning, Staffing 0 Comments
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The new year is almost upon us. And, if the end of 2010 is any indication, there are clear signs that business is picking up.

It’s the time of year when you need to think past the holidays and put your plans in motion for staffing your teams to make sure projects go smoothly and that you’ll be able to meet the building demand in the year ahead.

How a Staffing Agency Can Help

If you’re going to need to add staff – either permanent or contract – a staffing agency like Writing Assistance, Inc. can be a great partner to have on your team. We have a very large database of skilled workers in the following areas:

Most hiring companies turn to a staffing agency after their plans are in place. What many don’t realize is that you can also get help during the planning phases even before you post a position.For example, our Guide to Estimating Writing Projects is an informative 3-page chart that can help you estimate various projects in terms of hours. Projects include technical manuals, user guides, web content, brochures, CBT’s and more. To get this useful guide instantly, just complete the very short form on our home page.

Our staffing reps are very knowledgeable in the marketplace for the professions in which we specialize. They’ll be happy to discuss your needs with you and help you in any way they can in preparing your manpower budget. You can call us toll free at 877-392-9772 to discuss your needs with one of our helpful representatives.

The team here at Writing Assistance wishes you and yours a happy and safe holiday season, as well as a happy, healthy and prosperous new year for 2011!

Scott Hartmann, President

Related helpful staffing topics:

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Getting Axed: Myths and Misconceptions About Layoffs

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A Reduction-In-Force (RIF) or layoff is usually seen as the easiest, fastest way to cut costs as companies trade immediate, short-term gains for long-term growth and performance.

But the downside is that the negative effects on the company can be wide-spread and lasting. Yet, it seems, layoffs are the first things management considers, especially in a down economy. More and more companies have followed the crowd in believing this policy just makes good business sense. But, as Kerri Barber points out in Common Myths and Misconceptions About Layoffs, year after year, hard data and analysis disprove that theory.

While Kerri wrote the article quite some time ago, it’s a useful piece of information even today as the economy is hanging out in a trough of sorts. She not only methodically goes about debunking these myths, but offers some good employer alternatives to layoffs that deserve serious consideration.

In the article, Barber looks at three of the most common myths companies hold about layoffs:

  1. Layoffs are necessary to cut costs.
  2. Reducing costs through restructuring and downsizing results in higher stock prices.
  3. Layoffs help streamline the workforce, weeding out the poor performers and creating a more efficient employee base.

After you’ve read the article you’re likely to agree with her conclusion: “Successful leadership will be defined by those decisions made for the benefit of the company to preserve short- and long-term goals, not jeopardize them for the benefit of a few individuals at the top.”

What are your thoughts on layoffs or RIFs and how do you think employers can work to avoid them? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

Read Common Myths and Misconceptions About Layoffs

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HR Policy Writing: Conversations or Lectures?

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HR policy writing is not always simple. First, you need to condense a lot of information into a small space – no easy task. At the same time, the text needs to be as clear as possible so as to educate the reading audience. But even before you get started, you need to think about what tone to use with the reading audience. 

Perhaps the stodgy ways of the past aren’t the ways of the future anymore.

When writing for the everyday employee, the technical writer should be focused on writing in a more conversational tone. Not only will this help express ideas in a more compelling manner, it will make the many policies easier to read, easier to digest, and easier to remember.

While some Human Resources technical writing might focus on the lecture tone, this can actually do a disservice to those who read it. It can often lead to a reading audience that is less than receptive to the ideas presented since they may feel they are being talked down to.

Though there are some policies which can not be explained in layman’s terms or in slang, having a technical writer who can write in a more loose style may be just what the policy manual needs to become less of a paperweight and more of a useful reference tool for employees.

Conversational writing is something that may not come easily for some technical writers, so looking at a wide variety of candidates helps ensure that the desired tone for the HR policy manual can be achieved. It might take a few tries to get the tone just right, but when accomplished, it makes it much easier for Human Resources to show new employees what they need to know.

Related:
Communicating for Diversity
Hiring Contract Technical Writers

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Why Human Resources Should Handle Policy Writing

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It makes sense that the Human Resources department might want to write up the policies for each department. But since many companies are more than willing to hand over this sort of work to the department in which the policies will be used, it seems that policy manuals have become less than accurate – or helpful.

Choosing to create a more effective policy requires technical writing to be at least supported by the Human Resources department of the company, along with the help of the management team in the affected department. This combination of talent will help to create a policy, which will cover the issues the department might face, while also helping to create a standard for future employees and Human Resources personnel.

Here are some tips for ensuring the policy is drafted to be helpful as well as accurate:

  • Answer questions – The policy should offer answers to the following questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. When these questions are answered, the policy covers anything a reader might ask.
  • Grammar police needed – When a policy isn’t grammatically accurate, it can be difficult to read and to understand. Employing a technical writer with grammar skills is the best way to ensure grammar usage is appropriate.
  • Know the reader – If the reading audience is not kept in mind, the writing will not be effective. The technical writer should always know who the audience is in order to create text which will help the reader, rather than confuse them. Additional, some consideration needs to be given to the diversity of the audience.
  • Short and sweet – The long policies that are often included in Human Resources handbooks might have the best of intentions, but they can also be confusing and difficult on the reader. When you need a policy to be followed, make it as simple (and as short) as possible.
  • Use another set of eyes before publication – By asking someone else to read the text, you will ensure you are able to convey the ideas you need to convey before you print out the new policy manual. As a rule, technical writers are especially appreciative of the value of a second set of eyes.

Creating new policies, with the help of a technical writer, makes sense. Combining the experience of HR with the skills of a professional writer allow everyone to win.

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Which Skill Set Should You Look for in a Technical Writer?

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Like any profession, becoming a technical writer requires a mastery of a certain set of skills. This skill set used to involve primarily writing and illustration skills, as large manuals for print publication were the standard in the profession.

The worlds of communications and technology have evolved dramatically in the latter part of the 20th century and the early part of this century. How has that evolution affected the skill set required for a technical writer?

Continue reading Which Skill Sets are Important in Hiring Technical Writers

More Articles on Technical Writers

Considerations for Hiring Technical Writers
How Technical Writers Add Value to Your Team

Need Technical Writing Services?. Just contact us and we’ll take it from there!

What skills do you feel are important for today’s technical communications professional? Leave a comment!

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Workforce Planning Conference Coming Up in Chicago

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Event: Workforce Planning Conference 2010
When: Monday, June 14 through Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Location: Chicago, IL

Sponsored by the Human Capital Institute (HCI), the second annual 2010 Workforce Planning Conference is designed with senior executives in HR, talent management and planning in mind. Since the economic downturn began, planning for future workforce needs has become more difficult than ever.

The conference is set to discuss the issues of workforce planning in challenging times. According to HCI:

“Rapid reorganizations, whether through downsizing or M&A activity, have made it difficult for companies to understand their current talent pool. Developing a hiring plan that accounts for a wide range of future scenarios is even harder. While many firms see the downturn as an opportunity to build a competitive advantage by acquiring top talent, this effort must be carefully guided by strategic workforce planning, with careful attention being paid to the alignment of talent with future business goals.

Conference Links
Conference Brochure
Meet the Presenters

Register Online

Also of Interest
Potential Position Descriptions for Information Engineering Professionals
What to Consider When Hiring a Technical Writer

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Hiring Contract Technical Writers

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As the economy starts heating up, the demand for contract technical writers is likely to be strong. As a rule, in the early stages of economic recovery temporary workers are first to get hired. This makes it easier on employers who may still be uncertain how robust the recovery will be and how long it will take to fully recover to the point where business resumes its once-steady growth.

When it comes time to resume permanent hiring, if the company needs to add a full-time technical writer to its documentation team, it can be very beneficial to convert a successful and highly-valued contract technical writer to permanent status. This saves employers time and money in the recruiting and hiring process.

In this article, Writing Assistance Inc.’s founder Scott Hartmann provides valuable insight into how to go about hiring a contract technical writer, including the development of an appropriate job description and what to look for in contract technical writing applicants. His insights will provide guidance not only to those needing to hire contract technical writers, but to those who may be considering the possibility of adding one or more permanent technical writers to their team.

Read: Hiring Contract Technical Writers

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Companies Boost Productivity and Put off Hiring

8th April 2010 Posted in Blog, Human Resources (HR) 0 Comments

Featured in our last newsletter

Employers are managing to boost production without creating new jobs. The question is, according to this piece on moneynews.com, when they’ll feel the need to ramp up hiring.

Many employers lack confidence that the recovery is sustainable, especially as government stimulus measures fade, economists said. Companies still feel bruised from the recession.

A recent Labor Department report suggested that companies are still cutting costs and putting off hiring even as the economy recovers.

Is your company in a similar situation? When confidence is down and workload is up, utilizing a contractor creates the flexibility needed for uncertain times. Because of that, some signs seem to indicate the number of temporary jobs is rising. So now is a very good time to bring in contractors to get the work done while still providing a hedge against too-slow economic growth in the months ahead.

Our broad pool of talented technical writers, copywriters, designers and training developers allows us to offer you the most experienced, highly qualified professionals available, local to you and precisely targeted to fit your needs.

Whether you require contract or direct-hire, we match our professionals to your project within two days and within your budget. Contact us today to get started.

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More and More Employers are Using LinkedIn for Recruiting

7th April 2010 Posted in Blog, Hiring, Human Resources (HR), Social Media 1 Comment
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LinkedIn, like other forms of social media and social networking sites, is growing increasingly popular as an effective way to recruit employees.

While recruiters are still using big job board websites, like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com and CraigsList.com to find applicants to fill job vacancies, contacts from these “traditional” sources often include hundreds of resumes from unqualified applicants and plenty of spam.

In her article, Use LinkedIn for Recruiting Employees, Susan Heathfield, About.com Guide to Human Resources provides specific insight from several recruiters on how they are using LinkedIn to find qualified applicants for open positions. And, as she correctly points out:

“The potential for LinkedIn and other social networking sites to play a major role in your employee recruiting strategy increases as millions of potential employees profile themselves on these sites each year.”

Source: Use LinkedIn for Recruiting Employees
For Applicants: Social Media – Are You Missing Out?
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HR Pros Actively Use Social Media

26th March 2010 Posted in Blog, Human Resources (HR), Social Media 0 Comments

According to research from PJA Advertising + Marketing and community site Toolbox.com active use of social media has become a vital part of many HR professionals’ careers. This research shows that HR pros now spend more time interacting on social media sites than in reading editorial content.

About one-half of respondents said a social media presence helped build their personal brand and made them more valuable as a job candidate.

Professional networks, such as LinkedIn and Ryze were tops for HR pros followed by best practice social communities, like Toolbox.com and StackOverflow.

Results Summary and Charts on eMarketer

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