ITS Talks

Three Habits of Successful Remote Employees– March 20, 2020

While some prefer to work remote and the benefits that come with it, others love the structure that going into an office provides. In light of COVID-19, and for the safety of others, many companies are having mandatory work from home policies. Our team at ITS has also temporarily switched from in-house interviews to video interviews.

Luckily one of our own team members at ITS works remote as a contractor and is sharing: Three Habits of Successful Remote Employees.

  1. Start the day with a plan

It is important to set the tone for your day even while working remote. Stick to the routine you would commit to before going into the office such as: working out, reading, meditating or quiet time. We are creatures of habit and will feel more on track when we stick to what we know. Schedule your day according to your projects and calendar, make a to-do list, and set yourself up for success. 

2. Create more than one workspace
While working from home, you may find it easy to get distracted if you are not used to this environment. Set up a workstation in a room with a lot of sunlight and windows, away from the TV, and where it’s quiet to be able to take a phone call, or Skype into a meeting. If you find yourself getting restless in your main workstation, move to another. Make room in your kitchen, spare bedroom, or living room. Changing up your environment can help to reset and realign with what you have to accomplish for the day.

3. Take advantage of the benefits
Working remotely comes with advantages such as being able to make a delicious meal in your kitchen, or taking a walk in your neighborhood when on a phone call for a meeting. Take advantage of this unconventional work environment, take breaks if you feel your focus diminishing and refocus. Experiment with your days and find what works best for your new routine. 

Most importantly, the team at ITS wants you to be safe during this time and take time to learn a new perspective. We know that great businesses are built upon relationships, and take the time to connect with others virtually. Head to our social media accounts and spark a conversation in the comments, leaving your own tips for working remote. Together we will prevail through kindness. 

What to Look for When Hiring your Future Employee– March 13, 2020

When it comes to hiring people for your company you want to surround yourself with the best employees. After all, they are the ones that make the organization successful. But, how do you know if you are getting the best?

Of course, we can learn a lot about the candidates during interviews, but we can’t always rely on “gut feelings” to make such important decisions. That is why it is crucial to consider the value of references. A candidate’s references can give you great insight into their character and work ethic. If you ask the right questions you can gain a rich understanding of who you are considering as a potential employee. This is a critical next step when determining whether your candidate will add to the value of the company. We have some great advice on what to look for when hiring your future employee, to help you get the most out of those references!

What to look for when hiring and calling references:

1. Get to know your Candidate

First things first, be sure to get to know your candidate. This is particularly important if you weren’t part of the interviewing process. Ask the interviewer some questions about the candidate. You want to know if there were any areas of concern or glaring “red flags”. Maybe your company makes notes within the candidate’s files during an interview. Take the time to read through the notes to see if there is anything you should pay close attention to. Also, read through the candidate’s application and resume. Familiarize yourself with their background and experience so you can ask the right questions.

2. Become acquainted with your Candidate

Create a list of specific questions you want to ask. This will keep the conversation on track and help you get the details you need in order to make an informed hiring decision. It is wise to include specific questions, as well as, some open-ended questions. This will prompt the referee to talk about the candidate’s experience and behavior.

Allow enough time to talk to references. This is not the time to be trying to go to lunch or creating that report. Set time aside to have rich conversations. Remember, this is the time to focus on getting as much information about your potential employee. You want to allow enough time to get to know the candidate’s skills, qualities and experience.

3. Set the stage for a relaxed conversation.

Remain friendly, despite the mood you sense from the other end of the phone. Keep positive and excited! This is not only a time to interview the referee, but you are also representing your company. You never want to come across as disinterested or unfriendly. There might one day be potential for some business with this person or company.

4. Ask the right questions

You want to be familiar with the position you are trying to fill. Be sure that you know the job description and any pertinent details of the job. Discuss the job specifics with the referee and ask the question; “We are considering this candidate for ________  position. How do you think they will do? They can tell you if your candidate has experience in those skills or if they think it would be a good position, given the candidate’s past work history.

Stick to the facts! This can be hard, especially, if you get a chatty Cathy on the phone. It is easy to get off subject when you enjoy talking with the person on the other end of the phone. You want to remain positive and friendly, without becoming too friendly. Stay on subject and get as much information about your candidate’s work background. This is when a specific list of questions will come in handy. It will keep the conversation on the facts!

5. Actively listen

Turn your listening ears on! Take a back seat to the conversation. Ask the questions and listen. A majority of the time you will get some great stories and find out about specific projects and contributions that the candidate made to the company. Sometimes, what you hear may lead to another set of questions that could give you more understanding of the person you would like to hire. Also, you talking, might skew the conversation and put words in the mouth of the referee, that might, otherwise, not be there.

You should get, at least, 2 verbal reference checks. Don’t go on just one reference, whether good or bad, you need several references in order to gage the candidate’s characteristics and background.

What not to do when hiring and calling references:

1. Hiring based off emotion

You shouldn’t ever go on emotions or hunches. Sometimes, if you come out of an interview and can’t get a good read on a candidate, follow up with the references. References can also be beneficial if you are deciding between candidates. They could help “tip the scales” toward your next great employee.

2. Asking only closed ended questions

As you create your list of questions don’t make them all yes or no questions. Be sure to keep them specific and open ended. For example, a great question to ask is “What type of environment did he/she work in?”. This question allows for the referee to talk openly about the work atmosphere while you learn the challenges that the candidate faced daily. Depending on the type of job, you may need to stream-line the questions.

3. Not keeping your reference call professional

Don’t allow yourself to get too caught up in the conversation. Keep it professional and remain a neutral party. Remember, you are getting the facts.

References should not be seen as “going through the hiring motions”. Take them seriously! You are bringing this person into your work family. Is it not worth some “due diligence” to find out if they are going to be a good fit? Not to mention, the expense and time wasted hiring the wrong person.

We hope this helps in your journey to finding that next great candidate! You will find that spending time calling references is worth the investment. Good luck finding those candidates and, as always, let ITS know if we can help with any of your recruiting needs!

Three Ways to Support Women in the Workplace– March 6, 2020

This week at ITS we are celebrating International Women’s Day and being a woman owned full staffing firm in the Triangle area!

Equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue,” Women’s Day tell us

International women’s day allows us to spend a little extra time focusing on efforts and accomplishments of equality, women in the workplace, and breaking through the ever dissipating glass ceiling. 

Last week, on ITS Talks, we focused around our woman founder and CEO. While we know failures and mistakes are formative steps to lead you to where you desire to be, it isn’t without  perseverance, drive, and a good support team to get yourself where you ultimately want to be.  

Having a support system is important in anyone’s personal and professional worlds. While it might sometimes seem you’re chasing the moon, you need to have people behind you telling you it’s possible and actually within your reach. Personal cheerleaders are great to have! At ITS we rely on each other to:

-Celebrate the victories: we do this by celebrating wins in the gym, at the office, and by being dog moms to puppies.

-Embrace life’s challenges: obstacles present themselves without warning and it is important to be able to talk through these issues with those who are close to you.

Get across the finish line whether it’s in a race or to meet a deadline.

While International Women’s Day this year is Sunday, March 8, we at ITS challenge you to find the women you support and who support you- acknowledge them, thank them, and give each of them an extra boost! 

February 28, 2020- Five Secrets & Tips to Achieve Success

Do you ever wonder what it takes to step out of fear and lead a successful career? Our CEO and Founder did exactly that when she started ITS 17 years ago, as a full service staffing firm. Her vision and dedication shine through in Innovative Talent Solutions’ ability to foster relationships with our candidates and understand what’s at the heart of our clients’ business. 

ITS is a company that loves to give back to our employees, candidates, clients, and community. That is why we took a page from Tim Ferris’s “Tribe of Mentors”, and gathered a few questions to ask our very own CEO and Founder on the Five Secrets & Tips to Achieve Success.

  • When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

When I feel overwhelmed or unfocused, I usually just keep working. When possible, I try to squeeze in a workout. Running has always been my go-to stress reliever. Also, I’ve recently found Yoga to be extremely helpful. It helps me clear my mind and refocus on what’s important.

  • What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore? 

What you put on social media today matters tomorrow. You should ask yourself, “Would my future employer think this post represents their company well?” If the answer is no, don’t post it! 

  • If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?

“Think Local. Call ITS.”  Our local staffing firm will out-pace and out-place any national firm if given the opportunity. We prioritize our clients and give them the attention national firms can not compete with. Companies often make the mistake of thinking bigger is better.

  • How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

There are definitely worse things in life then failure…like regret or perpetually wondering, “What if?”. I’m grateful for every failure or mistake that has led me to this point in my life. I feel truly blessed.

  • What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise? 

Your resume and application are such a key part to the hiring process, it doesn’t do you any favors to over-sell yourself or exaggerate your abilities. The truth will come out and may cost you your dream job. Let your actual experience and successes speak for themselves.

ITS hopes that this short Q&A with our Founder and CEO helps you to go after your goals and look forward to a successful future ahead. What are some ways you have overcome fear? Help us to Celebrate our 17th Anniversary and start a conversation on our social media pages in the comments! 

February 21, 2020- 3 Tips on How to Manage Stress

In today’s culture of hustling and doing it all, life can get overwhelming! It can be hard to disconnect and find balance in your day. Perhaps you are stressed over: looking for a more fulfilling job, managing your current workload, managing your personal life with work, or are dealing with a layoff (more tips on that from our January 26th post, “How to Manage Your Mindset After a Layoff”, see below).

We will all have seasons of life where it can feel overwhelming but remember you are never given anything you cannot handle. That is why ITS is sharing 3 tips on How to Manage Stress.

1.      Take it a Day at a Time

Try not to let yourself get overwhelmed. Set daily goals and mental checklists and try to accomplish what you can that day. Formulate plans for even the worst-case scenario so you are mentally prepared. If you can handle and mentally prepare for the worst thing that could happen, then you won’t sweat the small stuff. Make a running checklist and try to complete things daily, not all at once, so you can be more aligned with what’s important in the now.

2. Look for the Silver Lining

Instead of focusing on everything that could go wrong, look for opportunities to find the good in the situation. Every hard task has a reward and outcome that will bring a new perspective or new gratitude. If you’re having trouble trying to get your head above water, just remember your purpose, why you chose this path, and what you’re hoping to get out of it.

3. Focus on the End Goal

Feel like you’re at the end of your rope and defeated? Know that these moments of pushing outside your comfort zone and preparing you for something greater. It is building your mental toughness giving you some grit and character. When you start to feel defeated, focus on the end goal. Why you started this journey and how when you look back on this process 5,10, or 15 years from now how minuscule the time will feel in comparison. 

There you have it, ITS 3 tips on How to Manage Stress. What are some ways you manage stress?

Share it on our Facebook page and start a conversation! 

February 14, 2020- Top 10 Dos and Don’ts of Job References

It is common to only focus on updating and polishing off your resume but it is JUST as important to keep you references looking their best. Did you know, your references are your personal campaigners?  

They should be people who can speak highly of your qualifications for the position you are pursuing. The primary reason for references is for potential employers to find out about your work performance and character. No one can truly vouch for you like the references you supply!

The interviews can go well, and you may have perfected your elevator pitch, but until the references are confirmed with the same sentiments, don’t go thinking you have that job, just yet! 

We have some practical advice on The top 10 Dos and Don’ts of Job References, to help you get the most out of your references!

The top five Dos: 

  1. Always ask your reference if they are comfortable speaking for you

Before you submit any references take some time to call them and touch base if they are comfortable speaking on your experience. Some people will want to sing your praises, while others may feel awkward. You always want to use people you have built good working relationships with. Most of the time these are the ones that will glorify your skills, qualifications and character. 

2. Be sure to submit quality references

Most employers want to hear reviews from previous managers, supervisors, and team leads. It is important to include people that have overseen your duties. Include a complete list, with name, company name, title, phone, and email. It is important to have as much information as possible. It will allow the employer to get started at their convenience, without delay. A solid list of references can be the first sign to a potential employer that you are on top of it!

3. Use references that can speak on experience that relates to the role you want

If your past jobs have similar or overlapping skills, it really gives the employer an idea of your qualifications. This is key if you are going for a specific type of position and may have gained some past experience. You may not have all the skills they are looking for, but a little can go a long way if your references can attest to the few you do have. 

4. Make sure to have three to four solid references

Your potential employer may not need this many, but it gives them enough options to go on. Some companies may want more, especially if it is a senior position. Have your references ready to go! Make sure they are clear and precise and “ready upon request”. Also, it never hurts to have them match your resume. Keep the fonts and graphics the same to have them look like a set. It will show that you have put thought and time into making yourself stand out. 

5. Send a thank you note

Send a note of thanks to your references if you do land that job! They helped you get there and they deserve to feel appreciated. Depending on the relationship you might want to follow up with a small token of gratitude by sending a small gift, gift card or treat them to lunch. If that feels like too much, then just let them know you are willing to return the favor. 

The top five Don’ts: 

  1. Professional references should stay separate from personal references

We have all heard the old adage “keep personal and professional life separate”. That goes for your references, as well! Unless, otherwise requested there is no need to give a potential employer, personal references. More often than not, your professional references will give an insight into your character. 

2. Always provide truthful references

“The truth shall set you free.” Never lie on your references! You always want to provide truthful information. It wouldn’t be worth it to be caught with false information and jeopardize getting the job you want. Always be honest.

3. Don’t keep your references on your resume

Your references should accompany and compliment your resume. They should never be on your resume. Be sure to keep the two separate, but professional looking. You want everything clear, concise and clean. It will make you appear polished and thoughtful.

4. Never assume that your past managers will speak highly of you

Call the people you want to list as references and have candid conversations with them. Talk over the positive skills, qualities and contributions that you made to the company while you were there. This is not easy, but it will benefit you in getting that future job. 

5. Don’t burn bridges

You may not always love where you work, but you should put differences aside in order to keep lasting references. Despite how you feel about the work environment or company you can still have good enough relationships with previous managers to have them speak on your behalf. 

There you have it your top 10 Dos and Don’ts of Job References! It is also important to keep in mind that your potential employer is busy. Recruiting and hiring may not be their only responsibility. Be mindful of their time and give them as much information, upfront, as possible to keep the process flowing smoothly! Your references not only give them insight into who you are, but providing solid references, in the beginning, can be the very first impression for your potential employer to see what kind of employee you will be.

ITS believes in you and your ability to land your dream job! What are some references you can think of that would give you a promptly glowing review? Get started on your reference list today! 

February 7, 2020- How to Negotiate a Flexible Work Schedule

Work from home, remote-work, and flexible schedules are on the rise and are quickly becoming preferred and sought after environments. In fact, a recent LinkedIn survey shows 70% of people- employees and employers-claim their biggest cause of stress is lack of a work-life balance. Are you stuck wondering how to shift your schedule or how to enhance your work-life balance?! If so, we have four key tips for how to negotiate a flexible work schedule at your current employer.

1. Take a look at your current work habits:

  • Consider, where do you work best. Is it at your desk in the office, at home, or in a coffee shop type environment? 
  • When reviewing your work habits, think about how many days or hours will be impacted by a more flexible schedule. For example, do you need to leave early on Wednesdays or do you need to work from home on Tuesdays? Reviewing your schedule and organizing your work will be crucial when negotiating with your employer. 

2. Think of how will this benefit your employer: 

  • Do you spend more than an hour commuting? Could you spend that time working instead if you were home or at a different location? Could you alter your hours so that your commute doesn’t include traffic? 
  • Will a flexible schedule lower your stress? Less stress will arguably make you a better employee.

3. Develop a plan for maintaining goals:

  • Organization will be key to effectively managing your time and accomplishing your tasks 
  • When speaking with your employer, suggest a trial period. You want to ensure this change works for you as well as your employer. 

4. Come up with a problem solving strategy: 

  • Define your specific need for a flexible schedule. 
  • Help your employer understand what flexible means to you.

We hope these tips help to give you the courage to ask for a more flexible work schedule and better work life balance. If you haven’t caught our post on work life balance, see below!

January 31, 2020- Work life balance: How to stay motivated and healthy in 2020

If you’ve been following ITS on our social channels then you know how important healthy living is to our culture! The team at ITS motivates one another by having in office wellness competitions and signing up for local races that benefits charities for our team buildings. We believe at ITS that staying healthy and motivated throughout the year can benefit your work life balance and decrease stress.

That is why we are sharing five easy tips to implement this year to achieve more balance in your day.

1.You can have it all but not all at once

Be happy with where you are now and visualize where you want to be in the future. Set goals, dream big but don’t stress over it. There will always be a higher level of success you want to achieve, but you only get one life to live and you should enjoy it.  

2. Manage your time

Plan for your day, make a schedule, and prioritize projects. When you can successfully manage your time, you’ll be surprised at how fast your anxiety and stress levels diminish.

3. Prioritize 

Get those Z’s in; sleep should be a top priority. When you’re functioning on no sleep you’re doing yourself a disservice and your body. Getting enough sleep helps you to think more clearly, be energized for your day, and even suppress food cravings, another way to stay healthy and happy.

4. Take vacation 

Allow yourself to disconnect and enjoy time off. Many people will take a sabbatical and travel the world for a year or achieve a dream. Make a bucket list and use up that vacation time, you’ll feel refreshed, relaxed and happier.

5. Know when to say no

This is hard to do, but necessary, know your limitations and what you can handle, it is better to say no than to be overwhelmed. Remember you can do it all, but not all at once. 

These five simple tips could be the change you need this year to live a more motivated healthy lifestyle and achieve work life balance! If you have more tips that have worked for you over the years, head to our social media channels to leave a comment and inspire others today! 

January 26th, 2020- How to Manage your Mindset after a Layoff

Imagine this conversation taking place in your company’s Human Resources office:

“I’m afraid we are going to have to let you go. It has nothing to do with your performance. Unfortunately, our business plans have changed and we need to make cuts.” 

“Wait. What? I don’t understand. What is happening?”

These words can cut like a knife. Within minutes your world can turn upside down.  First, shock, then rejection, eventually panic sets in. Our mind is flooded with questions and clouded with emotions. “Why is this happening? What did I do? How am I going to pay my mortgage? What will my family and friends think of me? What will my coworkers think?”

Being laid off is one of the most difficult circumstances someone can go through. Although companies perform layoffs for various reasons such as: cutting costs, staff reduction, relocation, or mergers and buyouts, it is still not easy.

No matter the reason, you can’t help but take it personally. It can leave you feeling inadequate, angry, and fearful. 

One emotion just keeps replacing another each day. For some, it can leave a big hole in our lives, especially if you were truly invested in your work and work relationships.

There may be a mourning period after a layoff, so much of who we are is wrapped up in our jobs and the relationships we develop while at work.

We have to remember not to let all the bad feelings take us down.  It’s important to remain positive and focus on the road ahead. We have provided some practical advice on how to manage your mindset after a layoff.

  1. Remember, this was a business decision.
    Business models change. They are in business to make money. Sometimes, it is the simplest way for companies to reduce their cost. Think of it the way as the way you run your own home. We are constantly making economic decisions that affect our bottom line at home, businesses do the same thing. 
  2. Seize the moment
    Think of this as a chance to start over. Have you been thinking of getting a degree or certificate, maybe a career change? Dust off the resume and get it updated! OR It might be a good time to just take a break from working and this might be the time to do it! Look at this as an opportunity. Life might just be handing you the chance to do something that you have desired for a long time.  
  3. Keep looking forward
    Author, Max Lucado, said it best, “There is a reason why the rear view mirror is smaller than the windshield”. Don’t focus on the past. It’s behind you. Time to move forward! The future is full of hope. There are good jobs out there, you have gifts, talents and experience to offer the world. Go get it!
  4. Trust the journey
    Sometimes we get caught up in our own plans and ideas. We think we have it all figured out, but then life reminds us that there might be something better for us. Let go and let life take you where you are needed. Believe it or not, you might find a job that you enjoy more. You might even make even more money. The unexpected plans can be the best blessings. Let life be an adventure! 

    Remember ITS is here to help bring you on your journey to finding a career you love! If you find yourself unemployed right now, use this time to self explore, dig deep into your passions, and cultivate a new meaningful career. ITS hopes these tips helped you and wishes you the best on your new chapter. Until next time!

January 17, 2020- Selfish Meetings and Why They are Worth it!

A selfish meeting, what is that? Imagine a meeting you set with an agenda you create to leave with newly gained information. Don’t think selfish in the negative sense, this is something for you. Your growth. Your career and future. Another way to think of a selfish meeting is a smaller-scale, intimate networking opportunity. 

You might request a selfish meeting to:

  • Learn specific details about working in a specific sector, like the nonprofit industry or medical technology.
  • Get advice and tips from people who have gone through it, either a career change or interview process.
  • Practice your interviewing skills, it is always good to refresh these skills! 

If you have just graduated, unsure of your next move, or want to make a career change asking someone to hold a selfish meeting with you is a great start. 

Questions you might want to ask someone might include:

  • Why did you choose this field?
  • What do you enjoy about working in this field? What do you not enjoy about working in this field?
  • How was the interview process at X company?
  • What advice would you give for someone trying to enter this career or field? 

If you feel: stuck in a rut in your current position, want a career move, or are looking for your next opportunity, always give your local staffing and recruiting company a try. American Staffing reports 9 out 10 employees said staffing work made them more employable! So, hold a selfish meeting and start a new journey this year.

January 13- New Year, New Goals

We are Innovative Talent Solutions, a women owned and women ran talent firm with more than 15 years of experience in successful staffing across the Triangle Region in North Carolina. 

We are excited to announce that we are launching a blog known as “ITS Talks”, which will bring meaningful insight into staffing and getting to know our team at ITS. Each week our ITS talks will provide various topics on the industry and blog posts to our candidates, clients, and readers.

To kick off our first blog post and the new year we will be talking about goal setting and resolutions!

Did you know almost 80% of people will fail at their New Year’s resolutions? Why is that? It could be because these resolutions are unmanageable, unreasonable, or unrealistic. What can you do to change that? 

Try setting a SMART goal or resolution instead. What is a SMART goal? 

SMART simply stands for:






So, when setting your New Year’s resolution or goal, keep SMART in mind. If changing careers or finally obtaining a full-time job is one of your goals, how could you apply the SMART method? 

If you want to go beyond SMART, take a look at our tips for setting powerful goals below!