The Best (And Most Rewarding) Way to Bond Your Team

MATRIX has been annually volunteering with HouseProud Atlanta since 2012. This organization provides no-cost repairs to low-income, senior homeowners living in the greater downtown Atlanta neighborhoods. Their mission is to keep these homeowners “warm, safe, and dry” in their existing homes. MATRIX volunteered with HouseProud for the first time several years ago and we recently decided to return in 2012. Everyone has enjoyed it so much that we continue to go back every year. We’ve done everything from painting to planting, and the families are always so friendly and appreciative. It’s nice that we get to meet and interact with the people we are helping.

Last week we worked at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Smalls. Mr. Smalls is a veteran who has terminal kidney cancer and his wife, Mrs. Smalls, has a very bad lung disease. The couple wanted their house to look nice so that they can enjoy it as long as possible. We were lucky enough to get to know Mr. Smalls as he stayed outside with us the whole time and made it a point to talk to and thank everyone! It was a very rewarding experience for everyone involved.

I personally think it’s great that MATRIX has such an active community service committee. We do multiple donation drives throughout the year for various organizations such as the Salvation Army, the Atlanta Humane Society, Partnership Against Domestic Violence and many more. While partnering with these organizations is important, it’s even more valuable when we get to do something hands-on like volunteering with HouseProud or in the Fun Zone at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. It brings coworkers closer together, acts as a team-building experience and gives us the ability to help others in need…win, win, win! I hope that the community service involvement at MATRIX continues to grow year after year.

HouseProud

Here is what some other MATRIX team members had to say about their experience with HouseProud:

“HouseProud is always a great way to spend an afternoon with your coworkers, helping people in need. It’s nice to feel like you are making a difference in someone’s life! I’m glad that MATRIX continues to volunteer with HouseProud, and I’m excited to keep coming back each year!” – Catherine Mootz

“HouseProud is awesome! It gives us a great opportunity to help the Atlanta community in a very hands-on way (literally!). The homeowners are always so appreciative and grateful. It’s definitely rewarding to see our small repairs come together to keep them warm, safe & dry.” – Kara Ritter

“For me, it was just great to be part of something that helps people in our community who are in need of a little assistance, especially people going through a difficult time in their lives, and put a smile on their faces. It really stood out to me how kind, appreciative, and hospitable Mr. Smalls was to all of us. You could tell that he takes pride in his home. I learned that he served in both the Korean and Vietnam War! It’s always nice to be able to help someone out who has given so much to his country.” – Michelle Spears

“This was my first year in volunteering at HouseProud and it was a very fun and rewarding experience. I had a great time with my co-workers and the fact that we were able to help a family in need made the time we spent together that much more fulfilling. I think HouseProud is a wonderful program that helps many families in need and I hope we continue our support of this worthy cause.” – Savannah Dortch

“What a fun afternoon! It was great spending time with my MATRIX teammates and most importantly, being able to participate in such a wonderful activity. I feel honored that we could help out the Smalls family and hope we can do it again.” – Sage Kroell

“This is the one event I look forward to each year. It’s just the most fun. It’s hard work, but it’s very rewarding.” – Legend Wilcox

“The homeowner was so appreciative and grateful. He was outside with us the whole time, encouraging us and thanking us. It felt good to help someone and feel like we were making a difference.” – Heather Folkers

“This year was my third time participating in the HouseProud volunteer event with MATRIX. It's a great way to spend time with your coworkers while helping out a family in need and it’s a very rewarding experience. “ – Christine Geiger

Check out more pictures on our Facebook page.

About the Author: 

Hanna is the Proposal Analyst for MATRIX. She manages the RFP/RFI process for all MATRIX offices and provides sales support for client-facing presentations, proposals and required client documentation. Learn more about Hanna and connect with her on LinkedIn.  

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Making the Most of Your Internship

Three years ago we faced a unique challenge. We knew emerging social platforms were presenting unprecedented opportunities to build meaningful and lasting relationships with our customers. But no one in our industry, including MATRIX, was doing it well. So, on a limb, we hired a socially savvy intern to help us create a solution. Today, with a focus on engagement and content, I would argue that no one in our business is better at building relationships through social platforms. If it was not for the intern’s fresh ideas and new outlook, we would not be the market leader we are. Oh, and that intern, she is already a leader at MATRIX and undoubtedly one of our most valuable employees.

Fast-forward to 2014 and you will see I have never been more bullish on the mutual value an intern program can create. Today, we have twelve interns from nine universities working across three different states. They are driving real growth and adding tremendous value to our organization. In return, they are getting some sweet, real business experience. Each day they are entrenched in emerging technology, data & financial analysis, marketing and sales. All while being paid well and having fun.

Making the Most of Your Internship

That said, not every intern is the same and some will not work out. Often, the intrinsic skills we did nothing to earn or learn are what make us successful. Sure, they can be sharpened, but you were either born with it or not. However, every semester a few always rise to the top and really stand out. And those few consistently demonstrate behaviors that can be learned. Lucky enough to land a paid internship? Keep reading. Below are a few consistent characteristics of interns who put their careers on the fast track.

Take Initiative
They ask for work instead of waiting to be assigned tasks. They spot patterns and complete repetitive duties without having to be told each time.

Communicate
They tell you what has been accomplished before leaving and let you know when an assigned task has been completed. They ask good questions and are not afraid to ask others for help.

Punctuality
They show up on time, consistently. When we give them the freedom to create their own schedule, they stick to it.

Relationships
They build trust by doing what they say they are going to do and taking pride in their work. They get over their fear and talk to other employees.

Work Ethic
They accomplish things. They understand what their expectations are and exceed them. They ask for more to do. There is no slacking and you will not see them on Facebook or sending snapchats.

Has your company benefited from an internship program? Tweet your thoughts to @MATRIXResources.

About the Author: 

Justin Thomason is the Regional Director of Recruiting at MATRIX. His expertise includes hiring, training, and leading world class recruiting organizations. With a focus on innovative delivery strategies, Justin's recruiting teams specialize in leveraging social media to develop lasting relationships with talented IT professionals.

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How to Focus Your Job Search for Success

I speak with overwhelmed job seekers every week who can't seem to gain any traction in their job search. They tell me, "I'm applying for just about anything that will pay me". This, my friends, will get you nowhere. My suggestion to the job seeker is to stop the scatter-shooting and laser focus your search.How to Focus Your Job Search for Success

FOCUS
Here is a great way to start narrowing your focus. Make some lists. Start with a list of things you have recently been paid to do. Your next list is of things you like to do. Then make a list of things that you have been paid to do that you like to do. Finally make a list of things that you like to do and are most likely to get paid to do. This last list is where you should focus your job search.

If you are applying for jobs that you are not really interested in just to see if you can get an interview and possibly a pay check, that probably won't pan out well. But if you really target jobs that are specific to what you do and what you like, your chances of success go way up. Your attitude towards these jobs will be better and your enthusiasm will show in the interview process.

IDENTIFY
Once you have your narrowed list, try to identify some companies who might hire someone to do the things that meet your focus. Find people on Linkedin who work for those companies. Look at the Linkedin groups those people participate in and join them. Participate in those groups a couple of times a week by posting interesting and relevant links to articles or new items and by asking or answering questions.

NETWORK FOR REFERRALS
After you have participated in these groups for 2 or three weeks, and shown yourself to be an active and valuable resource, ask the members who work for the companies you have identified to join your network. Let them know you are in job search mode are interested in learning more about their experience with their company. Continue to build rapport and finally ask these new members of your network if they would feel comfortable referring you in to their employer. Maybe even invite them to coffee to make the request.

When you have a focus and a target for your job search, you give yourself direction and a better chance for success. A huge percentage of corporate placements happen by referral. So focus, identify, network and get referred in. Happy job hunting!

To read the original post on TalentNet, please click here.

About the Author: 

Craig Fisher is a recruitment consultant, social media strategist and trainer, and serial entrepreneur. He consults with some of the world’s top companies on using social media for sales, marketing, recruiting, employer branding, and talent attraction. He is a featured author and speaker in industry publications and at conference events internationally. Craig created and hosts the original social recruiting forum on Twitter, TalentNet Live (#talentnet), and the TalentNet Live Social Recruiting/HR conferences. Follow Craig on Twitter @fishdogs and @TalentNet.

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Job Seeker

The Three Cs of Recruiting Successfully

As an IT professional, how do you prefer to be recruited? You’re in high demand right now, and are likely being contacted by recruiters on a weekly basis. You might be thinking, “I don’t want to be recruited.”The Three Cs of Recruiting Successfully Or maybe you don’t mind an email here and there as long as it’s perfectly aligned with your skillset.

Last Friday, I attended TalentNet Live Dallas, a strategic recruiting conference featuring leaders from some of the biggest brands in the world including Capital One, Yum! Brands, AT&T, Pepsico and many more.

Now, I’m not a recruiter, but I do work for a company that specializes in recruiting. My job, ultimately, is to discover how to engage with candidates in a way they actually want to be engaged. Below are my key takeaways from TalentNet. I’m curious if they are what you would expect HR buffs to talk about at a conference – and if they ring true to what you are looking for in a company.

Culture

“Beer Friday doesn’t make your company unique…people do.” – Craig Fisher, CEO at TalentNet

Culture has become more and more of a deciding factor in whether or not a company is considered appealing. But when it comes down to it, is a stocked bar or arcade room in an office really going to make you a happy employee? Craig Fisher emphasized that it’s the people in the office that define a great culture – not the foosball table. Another big point the speakers stressed was how often you recognize the people in your company. Appreciating and celebrating your employees is essential for good morale. As Tiffany Harvey from Southwest pointed out, happy employees = happy customers.
How do you define culture? And how much of a factor is it for you when choosing a place of employment?

Content

“If you’re not listening, you’re operating blind.” – Tommy Blanchard, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Capital One

As a Content Specialist, I was happy to find that content was an overarching theme at TalentNet. Authenticity and engagement were big buzzwords as far as what companies should focus on when creating content. Tommy said the above quote as he discussed the most important factors when speaking with potential candidates. In the same way, I don’t want to blindly post content to our audience – I want to post the things that people are interested in seeing.
What kind of content do you want to see from employers?

Customer Service

“Our business is customer service, we just happen to fly airplanes.” – Tiffany Harvey, Employment Lead at Southwest Airlines

This quote is one of the founding principles at Southwest Airlines. Many are familiar with the fun culture promoted at Southwest – they even have a culture department! But the real reason they are so adored by customers is the level of service they provide. On the agency side of customer service, the speakers reminded us that we are a business of humans working with humans, not placements. At MATRIX, our focus is building and nurturing relationships so that we can fulfill the needs of our customers. We would be nothing without our relationships.
What companies have stood out to you with their customer service? Why?

I’d love to get your feedback on these points. Leave a comment below or tweet your thoughts at @MATRIXResources.

About the Author: 

Jennifer is the Digital Content Specialist for MATRIX. Her primary mission is to understand what information our various communities want and need from MATRIX, and to deliver it to them in ways that are enlightening, engaging and in sync with who we are as a company. She loves pop culture, Oklahoma football and the great state of Texas. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Fun

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Did you join in?

MATRIX Atlanta ALS Challenge

Still wondering why your timeline was full of people dumping ice cold water over themselves last month? They were participating in a viral movement to attract attention and money to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” It’s unclear how the challenge actually started, as the earliest roots go back to 2013. However, August 2014 was definitely the peak. As of August 29th, the challenge has raised $100.9 million for the ALS Association, not including donations to other ALS research programs. Fortunately, it seems the challenge has winded down and is just about gone from our newsfeeds.

Our MATRIX headquarters in Atlanta participated in the challenge after being nominated by multiple employees. Those employees then nominated the Dallas, RTP, and Houston offices resulting in numerous Ice Bucket Challenge videos and donations throughout the company. To take the challenge a step further, MATRIX vowed to match every dollar that employees donated. So far, MATRIX has raised $2,091 for ALS.

Of course there has been some controversy surrounding the challenge, but that comes with anything that goes this viral. The real question is how did it catch on so quickly?

The reason the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been able to attract attention from your family, friends, favorite celebrities, and political figures is because it focuses on one thing in a unique and genuine way: people. The challenge is not only entertaining, but it socially bonds us to others who’ve participated while making us feel good inside.

Visit our Facebook page to see all six videos from our offices. Did you participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge? Feel free to share your own photos below!


About the Author: 

Danielle is a graduate student earning a master’s degree in public relations and marketing from the University of Denver. She enjoys developing strategy in a variety of areas, from playing fantasy football to reaching goals for clients. She is receptive to learning about new opportunities and ideas. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Fun