PSG and the Candidate Experience

PSG and the Candidate Experience

It was May of 2018 and I was stuck.

My supposed “dream job” had not panned out, and I found myself sitting at my kitchen table, large iced coffee in hand, skimming through job posting after job posting – a familiar place for a lot of folks out there.

I came across the website for Professional Staffing Group (PSG). Since I wasn’t looking to dive headfirst into a new role without truly understanding what it entailed, and I felt like my job search was going nowhere fast, I liked the idea of exploring temporary work. Being someone who asks a zillion questions, though, I knew I needed to learn more.

So, I submitted a job app assuming it would get sucked into the black hole job apps went to die (you can tell I wasn’t really setting my hopes that high).  I was surprised when PSG sent back a response THAT DAY to set up a time to meet me via video interview (score).  When the morning of my interview came (got to choose the time and day which was a plus), I woke up bright and early, jogged to the corner to grab iced coffee #1 (can you tell I like iced coffee?) and returned home to throw on my most professional little black dress and blazer. I ditched the heels though, since I knew there was going to be much more flexibility interviewing over video – what’s better than networking from your living room in slippers at a time that works with your schedule?

I connected to ZOOM, which was much easier to get on than I had expected, around ten minutes prior to my interview (current candidates take note).  I started to panic…

How would this go?

Just as I was in the midst of a potential mental crisis and practicing my enunciation techniques (red leather, yellow leather, toy boat, toy boat), the PSG recruiter connected to the video on the other end.

There was an energy that reached all the way through the screen!  The recruiter introduced themselves, and we connected immediately. They were friendly, knowledgeable, answered all of my queries, laughed off our one minor technical difficulty and knew just the right questions to ask to get to know my experience and what I was looking to do next. This is hard to do, especially when you’re talking to someone who is just starting out in the working world, with not a single clue what the future holds! They were also genuinely interested and invested in my career and assured me that PSG would be there for me to help any way they could.

Over the next few weeks I was in constant contact with PSG, reviewing new job descriptions and opportunities with engaging and thoughtful recruiters, getting assistance with my resume and cover letter, discussing upcoming interviews in prep calls, getting feedback and, to everyone’s surprise, actually ENJOYING my job search.

If you find yourself stuck like I was a little over a year ago, take a page from the book of someone who has absolutely, totally been there – connect with PSG. You’ll find your next position in no time, and I know it will be a great one!

Caroline Fay is a former PSG candidate turned PSG employee and was eager to tell her story!


Nail Interview Attire – No Matter Your Budget!

Nail Interview Attire – No Matter Your Budget!

You have your first round interview with your dream company this week.

You’ve done your research, you’ve prepped, and you have your questions ready to go.  What’s left to consider?

That’s right – what you’re wearing.

Interview attire can be one of the most stressful aspects of an interview.  Why? It’s expensive!  You want to look like the sharp professional that you are, but you don’t want to spend your future paycheck to get there.

Let’s take the pain, stress, and anxiety out of this for you.  PSG has pulled together the attire you need for an interview, and has taken into consideration that not everyone’s budget is the same.  Scroll down to check out what we found to help you look your best without spending an arm and a leg!


  • If you’re starting from scratch stick with classic items from affordable brands (like H&M or Primark) in neutral colors.  While these items may not last you for years to come, they’ll do the trick in a pinch!
  • Think ahead, schedule some time, and shops SALES.  This is a great way to stay within your budget and snag a quality item for your interview.  Planning ahead is key for this as some digging may be involved.
  • Invest in items that will get more wear – a good pair of professional shoes, or a crisp well made button up will be worth the extra $$ if you plan to wear them regularly.
  • Go the extra mile – put some money aside for dry cleaning and tailoring.  A well fitting, freshly laundered suit shows that you took the time to prepare.
  • Do your research BEFORE you buy that new suit.  How do folks in that office dress? A good rule to follow is to always dress “one level” up from whatever the standard dress code is.  For example – if you’re interviewing at a business casual office, you may want to come in wearing a suit.  Or maybe you’re interviewing at a very casual office (jeans is their normal dress) – you may want to arrive in more business casual attire (no suit, but a crisp shirt and pressed trousers/khakis).


Stay Tuned!! Next week PSG will cover different dress codes and how to navigate them!

Job Postings and Gender Neutral Language

Job Postings and Gender Neutral Language

What is the purpose of a job posting? To attract candidates with a desirable skill set for a specific position, Right?

So why do so many companies overlook gender coding in their online job postings and job descriptions?  The answer is fairly simple:  Folks may not realize the impact the words they use have on their audience.

Everyone wants their advertisement to stand out from the rest, which is why we will see a number of ‘buzz’ words or phrases used (does the phrase ‘we are looking for a rock star’ make anyone else roll their eyes a little?).  Facts are that some words skew more masculine and some skew more feminine and that impacts who is applying to your job.

So what do we do?

  1. Educate yourself – What adjectives are more masculine vs. more feminine? What are their gender neutral alternatives?

As a quick example, we can explore one of the more commonly used adjectives – Bubbly – often times we’ll see this word in an advertisement for front desk personnel, administrative roles, or receptionist positions.  While we may use this word to attract someone who is outgoing the word itself sits on the more feminine side and may screen out those that don’t identify in that way.  Consider replacing the word all together with something more neutral.

  1. Review, change, re-post

It’s easy to make the right changes in your posts – especially with tools out there like the Gender Decoder for Job Ads.  This is my all-time favorite tool and I frequently double check what I’ve written to ensure that the post uses neutral language that will not unknowingly screen out qualified applicants.

  1. Make it part of your everyday

Last but not least – embrace gender neutral language in your everyday communication.  Using the ‘they, them, their’ pro-nouns when referring to someone (either in a written post or in conversation) keeps your language inclusive!  While some of these changes can be tricky, you are ultimately ensuring that every individual you interact with feels comfortable.

There is A LOT we as staffing professionals can do to weave this into our everyday (job postings, interviews, etc.).  This only scratches the surface, but is certainly a step in the right direction!

The Evolution of ‘Shirley’ – PSG’s Resume Robot

The Evolution of ‘Shirley’ – PSG’s Resume Robot

Technology has taken us to places we never thought we’d go before.

  • Real time health and wellness tracking? Check
  • A drone delivering your paper towels for that week? Double Check
  • Snapchat filter that turns you into a baby? Triple Check

So why did it take us till 2017 to leverage technology to do the tedious work for us?  We didn’t know where to start!

Once upon a time, one PSG team member was tasked with sitting in front of their computer, Outlook inbox open, poised and ready to qualify a resume as soon as it came in.  We figured out a while ago, that if we reached out to a qualified applicant in 5 minutes or less – we were (x) amount more likely to get that individual on the phone.  Of course – getting that person with the stellar resume to answer a call from an unfamiliar number is not always the easiest.  So we started emailing them.

As we took steps to modernize our recruiting process, we kept asking ourselves ‘there must be a better, faster way to qualify these resumes’.  We were having a valuable member of the PSG team spend countless hours staring at an inbox when they could be impacting other areas of the business, and while this is a crucial role we knew that there had to be a better, fast, more efficient way.

Here’s what we did:

  • We pulled together tens of thousands of resumes
  • We reviewed resumes of candidates successfully placed into opportunities with our clients
  • We pinpointed common keywords on those resumes, and fed them into our algorithm? (Think ‘administrative’ or ‘Microsoft Office’)

After that a dedicated team met daily to review the results.  How many resumes were qualified correctly? How many were missed? Why were they missed? What changes need to be made to push the qualified % up?

It took months of tweaking key words, working with the algorithm to make sure the right words were identified in the right spot, and A LOT of painstaking attention to detail.

But we got the robot to be 90% accurate in qualifying incoming resumes.

The best part? Since this is now out of the hands of a human, technology moves so much faster!  We went from scheduling one out of every 5 candidates, to one out of every 3! AMAZING!

3 Ways PSG Improved Candidate Response

When it comes to calling up candidates (let’s be real – even your family and friends), the odds of getting them on the first, second, or even third try is SLIM at best.  And why wouldn’t it be?  In this day and age, we have so many different avenues of communication that picking up an ‘out of the blue’ call just seems exhausting.

That’s why we changed EVERYTHING about how we approach connecting to our candidates in three steps.

  1. Email is great – texting is better

This was an easy suggestion to make, but came with a lot of “what if” statements.

“What if this is too much?”

 “What if response is negative?”

“What if we are over stepping our bounds?”

These are all valid questions, and it’s natural to be nervous about implementing something that we have never tried.  However, we were letting perceived fears get in the way of pushing forward with something new and ultimately successful.  Overall, we saw that we received over 80% of our responses from text message, while email trailed behind.

  1. Follow up, Follow up, Follow up

Texting was a little scary – this downright terrified some people.

The thought of sending multiple messages to individuals in a short period of time brought to mind that episode of The Office – with Ryan trying to convince his co-workers to invest in a new social media platform ( that would send (at once) a Facebook message, a tweet, a text, an email, and a fax.  Hilarious as the episode was, Ryan’s service seemed a little like overkill.


However there is a big difference between gentle follow up, and aggressive outreach.

We found that by sending non-responsive candidates a quick “Did you see this?” text after the initial message moved our response rate from 48% at the end of quarter 1 to 63% at the end of quarter 2, and rather than receiving the much feared “stop it!” text, we saw much more “thank you for the reminder” responses.

  1. Diligence in responding back

This one seems like a no brainer, but often times we are so wrapped up in getting the message out that we neglect to put the same care and attention into what we do when we DO get a response.  The speed in which you respond to an engage candidate matters more than any of the above which is why we adhere to a 5 minute response rule – and staff for it.

Anyone that responds to any kind of alert from PSG receives a response in less than 5 minutes to schedule next steps.  In doing this, we ensure that when we have someone’s attention – we keep it – providing a positive experience on both sides.

Annual NEHRA Gala Insights – an event close to our heart(s)!

Benjamin Disraeli famously said “The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity”, and the young women that were recipients of the NEHRA scholarships are a testament to the immense potential that youth have to make the world a better place. I left the NEHRA gala feeling inspired by their stories, their passions, poise, and most importantly, by the invaluable work that they have been doing in their communities. At such a young age, each of them has such determination to affect positive change in the world by challenging stigmas, cultural norms, and oppressive systems that are impeding true socio-cultural progress. By advocating for the voiceless and going against the grain, they are making a statement that we can create a new reality in which everyone is represented and respected. Nayleth, Bergeline, and Shandira have taken the adversity that they have faced and used it as a motivational force behind their platforms, raising awareness on stigmas on mental health, racism and colorism, and LGBTQIA+ rights. They are living proof that there is no age too young to get involved and make an impact, and are a reminder that we all have a responsibility to step up and make strides to leave the world better than we found it. Everyone in attendance was moved by their stories as they spoke about the trials and tribulations that they have had to power through in life, exuding wisdom beyond their years.


Nayleth – Recipient of this year’s Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA Blue Beacon Scholarship

Nayleth is currently a senior at Newton South High School and is planning on attending Harvard University in the fall. 

Nayleth is a remarkable young woman who has left her mark on the Newton South community as well as in the community of Hyde Park, where she lives.   As a METCO student she learned to effectively balance her “two communities” helping to reach across cultural divides.  She has been a leader within the school as a member of the South Senate and the Student Advisory Council.   She has been recognized for her ability to communicate effectively, receiving several debate and speech awards.

Nayleth’s guidance counselor had this to say about her, “Nayleth is fearless in exploring opportunities.  She jumps in to her passions with enthusiasm and energy that is unparalleled.  She takes on leadership roles and works well with diverse groups of peers.”  Her leadership in school extends to her Boston community where she has led a Youth Community Organizing program at Sociedad Latina, where she helped to engage other youth in workshops on social issues.  In her own words she describes the culmination of her summer experience this way, “I was able to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones, with the understanding that we are not defined by others, but that we define ourselves”.

Within the Newton South community, Nayleth has been a leader and facilitator for the Courageous Conversations on Race program.  The program is designed to improve race relations at the school by giving students the tools to have civil conversations about race and identity.  Most recently she engaged students who were struggling with the concept of white privilege.  She was able to share her own experiences as a student of color at the school.  But more importantly she was able to listen respectfully to their dialogue and guide it to a better place.

She has discovered that “living in two worlds” has allowed her to more deeply understand who she is and who she will be.  “She knows that she is valuable bridge between peoples and cities and cultures.”  She ended her essay with an apt quote from Walt Whitman, “Do I contradict myself?  Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”


Bergeline – Recipient of this year’s Gaucher and Associates Scholarship


Bergeline is currently a senior at Boston Community Leadership Academy and is hoping to attend Georgetown University in the Fall. 

Bergeline is an outstanding student and an emerging activist.  She can already see herself running for public office – becoming a voice for change and justice.  She pursued a role in student government so that she could be a voice for students who have not yet found their voice.  She is a born champion and a committed advocate.  When the issue of a ban on head scarves came up she jumped into action – she lead a social media campaign; she organized a day of action at the school to demonstrate not only the importance of this issue but to show how students speaking up could make positive change.  After discussion with faculty and school administration the policy was changed.

More importantly this effort gave birth to defineBLACK.  DefineBLACK’s mission is to embrace our differences but also cherish our similarities.  The group has fostered discussion about the cultural variations that exists within the black community.  The success of the club was acknowledged when they were invited by school administration to revise the student handbook to better fit the needs of the students. 

In the interview process Bergeline described herself as strong, optimistic and funny.  She described how she has been able to use humor to educate and confront in a way that is respectful and meaningful.  Whether she is confronting the need for an appropriate prayer space for Muslim students or coaching a younger student, Bergeline is a compassionate leader.  The school’s headmaster has experienced Bergeline’s commitment to making her school a better place for everyone first hand..  The Headmaster describes her as empathetic, with the ability to step outside of her own life experience and  see the needs of others and then advocate for them.  Bergeline epitomizes peer leadership;, she can both identify with her peers and still understand the diverse perspectives that can be present. 

This quote from her headmaster sums up Bergeline best, “Bergeline will take advantage of every opportunity college will offer – her tenacity dictates it.  She will also be an asset to any school or community that honor diverse voices and is committed to cultivating future leaders”.


Shandira – Recipient of this year’s Professional Staffing Group Scholarship

Shandira is currently a senior at Boston Latin Academy and is hoping to attend Pitzer College in Claremont, CA in the Fall.

Shandira is an outstanding student with a passion for learning and social justice.  She described herself during the interview as an “over-achiever”, interconnected and Insightful.  She is an exceptional student who has maintained her status on the Honor Roll since she enrolled.  Her guidance counselor said she improved every year and is the type of student who will rise to any academic challenge.  This is also evidenced by her selection and participation in the SCS Noonan Scholars program – a program that supports college bound first generation students, students from low income backgrounds and students of color.  She is always committed to doing her absolute best.

In her school community she has consistently demonstrated leadership and a strong commitment to make the school a better place for everyone.  She is a member of the student government as a senator as well as being a part of the Greater Boston Regional Student Advisory Council.  As an Ambassador in the Ambassadors Club she has helped to ensure that all students feel welcomed and included.  As a student intern in WorkSmart she has participated in a Job Readiness Training Workshop and Boston’s Bridge to Excellence. 

Another school faculty member said the following; “I am most impressed by her unwavering commitment to social justice and equity.  I have watched her grow into a compassionate and humble leader in our community”.  She is dedicated to making sure that every voice is heard.  Her passion for diversity and inclusion is evident in her commitment to support and advocate for the undocumented students who attend her school.  After a particularly cruel and insensitive comment directed at a friend, she worked to create the Student Immigrant Movement Club (SIM Club).  The club is designed to create a safe place for students to discuss the complex issues surrounding immigration.  She has lead workshops and activities that raise awareness about the unique challenges faced by immigrant students. 

As an emerging student leader and activist Shandira has found her voice.  In her own words – “now that we have started having real conversations about immigration, LGBTQ rights and education reform I never want to stop.  For the first time, I feel I have a voice to share that can defend others and actively influence people’s opinions of immigrant, queer, POC and other minorities, like myself.”


I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be in the presence of the inspirational young leaders of tomorrow. Nayleth, Bergeline, and Shandira are so deserving of the support provided by the NEHRA scholarship. Their futures are so bright, and I cannot wait to see the incredible things that they will accomplish. One can only imagine where the world would be if we had more people like them. I gained perspective and insight from these recipients, and I do believe that we all can learn from the coming generations who challenge the status quo, and who take initiative to create the change we all know is needed but that few want to take on.



7 ways the Celtics started the Journey from “Good to Great”

book celtics

If your organization is anything like mine best practices come from books and inspiration comes from life.  Right now I have to admit I am pretty inspired by the Celtics (spoiler I know they lost, I blame the refs).  I grew up watching the Celtics in a house where my older brother sported the ‘21’ jersey on every team he ever played on and my Dad still bets 21 when playing his luck at roulette (can you tell we love Kevin Garnett?).  Recently I read Good to Great by Jim Collins and wanted to share my takeaways on how the C’s are on the road to greatness, and how I apply that to my everyday job.


  1. 1. First who, then what. The Celtics are a young team and hopefully have many more seasons to develop together.  They invested and took a chance on new players and it paid off.  Before you can think of winning you have to have the right people in place.  Elongating the hiring process to get that next star instead of settling is well worth the wait.  It’s important to decide who you can train and what skills the person needs to walk in with.


  1. Culture of discipline. The team stayed focused throughout the season and had the maturity to maintain their confidence. The consistency allowed them to persevere throughout the season and make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  The same can be true for work.  Success isn’t always a straight line and you have to work through the unexpected bumps to keep moving forward.


  1. Confront brutal facts, but never lose faith.  The C’s were down two starters this season. The rest of the bench had to step up and lead the way. The reality for the team was that it was going to be a tougher season and was going to be a long journey to the finals. Instead of throwing in the towel, they banded together and made the changes needed to be successful. We do this all the time at PSG, we make data driven decision and sometimes that data doesn’t stack up in your favor. If we didn’t look at the facts, we wouldn’t know what we need to fix and move forward.


  1. The flywheel effect. Would I have loved to watch the Celtics crush LeBron in Game 7? Absolutely.  Am I still happy with how the season turned out? You know it.  The Celtics had a great season and went farther than expected.  They played as a team and rightfully earned a spot as a top team to watch for next year. They will come back ready to win. They started the flywheel that will keep going into next season.  Every day I try to build better practices that will build on each other to start my own flywheel.


  1. Level 5 leadership.  What I love most about watching the Celtics this season was watching Tatum become a true force on the team.  The Rookie proved you don’t have to be the coach or a returning player to set the tone for the team. Tatum at 20 years old played with determination and humility that lead the team to the finals. Leadership comes in all forms, but I want to take a second to focus (*humble brag*) on the leadership team at PSG. Our CFO and CEO don’t even have an office; in fact, Aaron Green, our CEO, doesn’t really even have a desk!  Aaron chooses to sit where he’s needed, to support when he’s needed.  To me, that is true leadership.


  1. The hedgehog concept.  Other than being completely adorable, hedgehogs do one thing really well: protect themselves. They may not be the fastest or smartest, but if under attack they curl up and their spikes come out.  The idea of being the best at one thing and not average at everything is one that carries from the court to the office.  To me, what makes the Celtics fun to watch is their team work.  No one player dominates and they work as a group. Their spike is that they are all able to carry their own weight. Being an industry expert and owning a section of the market allows you to focus your resources to truly band together and become great. My personal goal? Be the hedgehog of candidate experience.


  1. Tech Accelerators.  Alright, this one may be a reach. Basketball might not be the most tech savvy, but this is the method from the book I try to implement in all aspects of my life.  Collins talks through the concept of pause- think- crawl- walk- run (for the Celtics maybe it’s more crawl before you ball?) and specifically applies this when deciding on new technology. The team has to implement this ideology when strategizing how to match up with a competitor just like any businesses has to do when making a big decision. Your initial reaction isn’t always the best and it’s worth it to take the time needed to be informed.


Inspiration comes in all forms, what’s currently pushing you from good to great? Comment below to help spark inspiration for others!


5 reasons to be 10 minutes early to an Interview and 5 ways to make it happen!!

  1. It shows general courtesy and social grace. If you ask someone to meet you for dinner at 9:30 and they show up at 10:10, you might be a bit angry or at least annoyed. Turn that around, a Company invites you into their space, their metaphorical home, for a 9:30 interview and you show up at 10:10, they might be a bit turned off as well!
  2. Practice makes perfect as the saying goes. Interviewers can view you actions at the Interview as practice for when you are with the company. If you show up late on the big day, what’s going to happen 6 months in?
  3. Showing up too early is a problem too! The ideal time to show up for an interview is 10 minutes early, give a minute or two either way. If you show up to an interview 45 minutes early you might be interrupting someone’s lunch, breakfast, important meeting, or they just simply may not ready for you. That’s never the impression you want to start with.
  4. People run their days on schedules, by arriving late or too early you could be throwing a wrench into a finely tuned system meant to maximize the day. Again, not something you want to be remembered for.
  5. 10 Minutes really becomes the “sweet spot” when factoring in balancing between two early or too late. It’s early enough where you are able to show promptness and diligence, but not enough were you are inconveniencing anyone. It allows the perfect amount of time to introduce yourself to the front desk, get offered water, sit down for 5 minutes and then get greeted by your Interviewer to get things underway!

So how do you make this happen?

  1. Know where you are going! All directions and mapping should be secure and laid out the day before. You should not be Google mapping things that morning or an hour before the interview!
  2. Do a test run if you can, actually going to the office location or taking the drive will take out a lot of guess work and make for a less stressful day of commute!
  3. Pick your outfit the night before and have it laid out. Trying to pick out what tie or shoes to wear that morning is just asking for undue stress.
  4. Account for traffic and delays. Train delays or highway traffic can happen when you least expect it, account for it! Leave 15-20 minutes earlier than needed.
  5. Ok so you did the above you’re early….but really early. Take a walk, listen to your favorite pump up song in your car, grab a coffee, go over your notes, or browse cute cat photos on Instagram. Anything to occupy your time before you hit the magic 10 minute mark. Showing up 30 minutes early can be just as detrimental as showing up a minute late.

6 Reasons why to Delete your Summary & Objectives off your Resume!

To Summary or Not to Summary, that is the question! Summaries and Objective Statements on a resume can be a flash point for contention and debate. Many are left wondering; “Should I write one? Do I need one? Are they important?”

The short answer is No, and here are the top reasons why!


  1. Objective statements tend to be too general. If the recruiter has your resume they know your objective, to get the job you applied too.


  1. Summary Statements tend to written in such a general manner that they lose effectiveness. When they all read the same, they blend together.


  1. Recruiters only have a limited time to look at your resume, and they will mostly default to looking at your last few positions and educational history. Objectives and Summaries tend to be skipped over.


  1. Anything in a Summary or Objective statement can be better conveyed in a cover letter if one is required. If the position does not require a cover letter then they are probably not concerned with seeing a brief one on a resume


  1. They take up valuable Space. Think of your resume as Real Estate, you want to make sure you can maximize value! You also want a clean and crisp presentation. A bulky statement up top takes eyes away from your most immediate and relevant experience.


  1. Actions speak louder than words. People do not want to see that your “hard working” in a sentence, they want to see you have “exceeded or meet quotas 13 months straight” in a bullet point underneath a job you had.


For more Resume tips, tricks and tactics, email me! Michael Conte at