Tony Pogo by The Plus Group The Plus group - Helping Staff America

Hey! Thanks for visiting my blog.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Tony PoGo. I work for The Plus Group, a full-service staffing agency. I'm sort of their secret weapon. Whenever there's a staffing emergency, there I am, ready to spring into action. (I've got great legs for jumping.) Check back here for the latest staffing news and tales of adventure from the staffing jungle.

Job Hopping

We all know that the old model of work is long since passed. You know, where you went to work for one company, stayed there 35 years, retired and collected a pension? Not so much these days. People change careers mid-life for a number of reasons – burn out, salary cap, personal fulfillment just to name a few. When you get the itch to move your career in a different direction, signing on with a staffing firm can be a great first step on your new path.

Maybe you have an impulse to go back to school. Say you have an idea that you might like to enter a certain field, and a two year program will qualify you to enter the workforce in the exciting new position you covet. You invest hard earned time and money into your program, and find the job of your dreams – only to find that the job of your dreams is really a nightmare.

One way that you can dip your foot in the pool of experience, rather than plunging in head first, is through temporary work. Jobs are available in most industries that can expose you to the position you're interested in without specific training. Perhaps you think you might be interested in being a nurse. A staffing firm may be able to place you in a clinic in an administrative position, allowing you to interact with and observe people with the job you desire. You can then decide whether to invest in the training you need, or to consider another job.

On the other hand, you may not know what type of career interests you, only that you want out of your current industry or position. Signing on to a staffing firm can provide opportunities to explore career options you've never even dreamed of. You'll gain valuable life experiences and even get a better sense at the skills you excel at. You can observe trained professionals in their native environment and imagine yourself in their shoes.

So if your thinking of hopping to a new career path, consider a staffing firm to ease your transition. It just may be the smartest move you make.

posted by TonyPogo at 2/17/2009

So You're Unemployed. Now What? Part 2 of 2

It's been a while since I posted a blog entry. Sorry! But, I've been busy hopping about and helping companies match up talented employees with the right company. This job market is highly competitive, which is a good thing for the companies we work with. But if you're one of the recently laid-off or otherwise newly unemployed, it can be a daunting time to look for a job.

Start by reading my most recent blog entry, which outlines what your first steps should be. This entry will cover the following weeks and possibly months of unemployment.

So, we've already covered Day One, and Week One… but now what?

The First Month

Now is not the time for major home-improvement projects, or for catching up on your favorite soap-operas. You do have a job, even if you are unemployed, and that job is: FINDING A JOB. Wake each day as if you are being paid and evaluated on your performance at this task.

Create a routine – Devote regular hours to regular tasks. The temptation to get off track can be powerful, and one way to stay focused is to set regular hours for your job search. Allow yourself time for lunches and surfing the web, so you won't be distracted or tempted during your "working hours".

Self-improvement 101 – After scouring the want ads, networking and sending out resumes, you'll probably still have some time on your hands. Now is the perfect time to round out your skill sets. Your local public library and community education departments offer many low-cost options for skilled trades, language, business and software programs. And you'll be meeting new people, which can always lead to a networking possibility.

Resist the part-time temptation – Though you may have the opportunity to sign on to a part time gig in a relatively short time, this may thwart your unemployment benefits, and reduce the amount of time you can devote to your job search. Unless the part time work is directly related to your career, or offers unbelievable benefits and opportunity for advancement, it's probably not worth it.

Stay positive – This might be especially challenging in these economic times. So turn off the news and get some exercise instead. Look to the support of friends and family, or a church counselor if applicable. Eat well, avoid alcohol and remember, this really is a temporary situation.

posted by TonyPogo at 12/8/2008

I googled you! How the Internet Changes the Job Search Game Part 2

I know all about blogging on the job. The Plus group, like many companies, sees the value an impassioned tree-frog/employee can bring to the blogosphere. I can discuss matters of importance to me, as a staffing expert, with the rest of the folks at the Plus Group. It also let's the rest of the world know that The Plus Group is always striving to stay on top of the latest trends, hiring practices and staffing news.

If you're compelled to blog on the job, or about your job, here are some things to keep in mind. Blogging can greatly influence your job search, your relationship with your current employer, and can even have legal implications. So before you login, read up!

Who are you talking to anyway, and why?

Basically there are two types of employee blogs: those intended for reading internally, by other employees, and those for the external public. Both are potential landmines, or goldmines, for bloggers and the employers who have them. If your purpose in blogging is to provide a forum for unfiltered communication between employees, then keep it positive, while remaining open and honest. Blogs can provide a great forum for brainstorming, idea sharing and keeping lines of communication open. They can become harmful if they are a repository of whining, sniping and gossip. If potential employers find your blog, they'll see how you've used it to generate new ideas, and encourage employee dialogue without exploiting it as a platform for griping.

Be especially careful of blogs intended for reading by the general public. Many companies have developed Blog Writing Guidelines in the aftermath of several lawsuits by high-profile employers like Google and Delta Airlines. Find out if your company has an Employee Blog Guidelines? If not here are few good rules, paraphrased from Yahoo! Personal Blog Guidelines, to abide by:

1. Know your legal liability: If you defame or libel your company or any individual within the company, YOU are responsible. Also know that any confidential, proprietary or trade information is definitely off limits.

2. Be respectful and thoughtful: Rants and diatribes will only hurt your own reputation and tarnish you in the eyes of future employers. Providing context and support for your opinions legitimizes them, and opens the door for more meaningful discussions of your complaints or observations. To simply say "My boss stinks!" or "I love retreats!" doesn't really add anything to the conversation, unless you provide the reasons why.

3. Just the facts ma'am. Don't post based on rumor or hearsay. And if you want to write about something outside your area of expertise, look to a fellow employee who knows more about the topic than you do. By presenting actual facts, you help t clarify communication, not muddy it. And you also avoid the possibility of being libelous.

Non-employee Blogs

Many bloggers don't talk about work at all. People tend to blog about what they are passionate about. That may be sports, music, pets, politics… the sky's the limit. But if you're searching for a job, you may want to think twice about starting a blog about a controversial or potentially offensive subject. A good guideline is: if you wouldn't want your parent to read your blog, you wouldn't want a prospective employer to read it either. In many cases, employers are forbidden from discriminating on the basis of political views, and can only use information relevant to the position to make their hiring decision. On the other hand, whatever your political views, if you come across as overly negative, or even aggressive, that can be used to gauge whether you are a good fit for the position.

Why blog at all then, if it is so risky? Handled in a smart and responsible way, blogging or maintaining a personal website can be a powerful marketing tool. It can demonstrate how well you communicate. It can serve as a chronicle of your achievements, and provide insight into your personality that a resume can't. In today's competitive job market, an applicant needs every tool at their disposal. So keep on blogging. Just be smart about it.

posted by TonyPogo at 11/7/2008

Chin Up!

Well, this tree frog knows what's on everybody's mind these days: the economy.

Luckily the latest issue of SI Review just published an article with some advice on how Staffing Firms can keep strong in a down economy. The article looks to eight staffing firms, from small to large, for indications of industry trends, and examples of how different firms are coping with an uncertain economy. Since I'm an incurable optimist, I'm going to focus on the ways that staffing firms making the best of a hard time. To read the full article by Bridget Mintz Testa, visit the SI Review website.

Specialize – The key trend that is helping staffing companies stay afloat is specialization. Staffing companies with a niche are over-all faring better than their more generalized. The most sought after employees are Engineers, but professional fields including sales, accounting and finance, IT, biotechnology and life sciences are also hot. Many so-called blue-collar jobs are also strong areas for specialists: machinists and machine operators, skilled trades, technicians, mechanics, laborers and production operators.

Increase Efficiencies – One way all companies can cope with an economic downturn is to make their processes more efficient. Now is a good time to review your various internal departments and for ways to cut back on overhead and reign in expenses. Streamline your processes with emerging technology and utilize external specialists for things like IT, accounting and training.

Make the Most of what You've Got – Nearly every company interviewed saw downturns as opportunities to invest in training for internal personnel. Said one top exec for Winter, Wyman, "We make the existing staff more productive. We spend more time in training and developing people, focusing on productivity and management practices."

Don't Stop Marketing– It can be a temptation to reduce costs by cutting your marketing budget, but undercuts your growth potential in a serious way. Terra Hull, Executive VP for the BOSS Group says, "When things get tough, we do get lean and mean, but we try not to cut marketing initiatives. That's how we continue to gain ground." Marketing consistently through lean times keeps you visible, and ensures your existing customers that you are still strong. Look to non-traditional marketing platforms, such as PR and viral marketing, that can be lower cost than traditional advertising.

The upturn will happen, everyone is confident in that. And when it does, companies will look to our industry for the talent to turn things around.

posted by TonyPogo at 10/1/2008

Read the Tipster

Hey check out this great article I recently wrote for all my friends at The Plus Group. It's filled with great tips for interviewing and landing that position you're dying to land. Hop on over and download the PDF by clicking on this link. Tipster PDF

posted by TonyPogo at 9/17/2008

Survey Says

Good news! The 2007 ASA Staffing Operations Survey has been completed and is available for your viewing pleasure.

For almost ten years the ASA has been conducting this annual survey and this year’s results are better than ever! The staffing firms that participated—over 50 of them—performed better than the industry, on average, and combined sales revenue from respondents totaled $13.8 billion for the 2007 fiscal year, 15% of staffing industry revenue!

So you might be asking, what does this all have to do with me, Tony? Well, knowing how your firm compares with others in the industry is imperative to staying competitive. And you can also see how successful firms operate and learn from the best in the biz—I taught them everything they know!

If you’d like to get your hands on more information on the ASA Staffing Operations Survey, hop on over to the ASA website.

posted by TonyPogo at 7/15/2008

This week marks the beginning of the ASA Annual media blitz! Part of this campaign gives you and other employers the opportunity to vote for the National Staffing Employee of the Year. This is the industry’s highest staffing honor and is meant for an employee who embodies one of the industries key messages: jobs, flexibility, bridge, choice, and training.

Although every employee at The Plus Group demonstrates the skills of a first-class employee, we are looking for you to nominate that one person who you feel is exceptional, who goes above and beyond as a temporary or contract employee.

Nominate your exceptional employee by visiting

And remember although I am a ribbeting employee, frogs are ineligible, so don’t bother voting for me!

posted by TonyPogo at 6/24/2008

Go Tony Pogo! (That's ME!)

OK, so now I'm being chased by little round critters with very sharp teeth! In a maze! Help me escape them and gobble fruit snacks and jewels along the way.

And since I'm busy running for my life, I don't have time to blog this week. Instead, check out some of my archived blogs, a Greatest Hits, if you will.

For my entry on greening your office check out this one from October 2007.

As the camapign season heats up this summer, it will be important to remember Campaign Season Savvy .

And finally, for a refresher on the importance of updating your resume and interviewing skills check out this Spring Cleaning entry.

Whoah, I better get a move on. If you have just a minute I could really use the heeeellllpppp!!

posted by TonyPogo at 6/18/2008

Take time to clear your mind

When you enjoy what you do, it’s hard to take time off. But with the flexibility of The Plus Group’s staffing options, it’s easy. Whether in-between contracts, or just trying to fight the winter blues, The Plus Group offers holiday pay and a flexible schedule. Plus, when else would you have the opportunity to drop by my ficus tree?

We appreciate our employees and recognize that time off can actually increase productivity and performance. And not taking time off can lead to some pretty serious health hazards including: higher stress, burnout, sleeplessness, heart disease, and more!

Whether you desire temporary, temp-to-perm or direct placement employment options, we’ve got the resources to help connect you with employers who share the same values that we do!

posted by TonyPogo at 6/2/2008

Help me get to work! Please!

Well, you know you've finally really made the big time when you're an animated game! Check out my new game Job Hopper ! I'm so proud to follow in the footsteps of my great uncle Swampy who inspired the classic video game Frogger from the early 1980's. In my version of the game, I'm trying to cross the road, or river, and get to work. Don't let me down now. I've only got three lives! Have fun!

posted by TonyPogo at 5/16/2008

Be proactive - manage conflict before it arises

Conflict in the workplace is something that everyone deals with. Whether it is caused by differing opinions or a specific event, it decreases productivity and success within organizations.

As noted in an publication, “Informal counseling provides managers and supervisors with an effective means of addressing and managing conflict in the workplace.” However it’s not always that easy!

Here are some simple ways to avoid workplace conflict:

- Address issues before they become a larger problem – glares and hissing won’t solve everything.

- Have a process for resolving conflicts – creating a plan of action works best if it’s BEFORE conflict arises.

- Provide conflict and mediation training for all employees – learning makes the world go round.

- Discourage gossip – and other lame school-yard bullying tactics.

- Make sure job expectations are realistic and consistent with job description – riding a unicycle for an hour blind-folded might be out of most people’s league.

- Recognize and encourage praise for accomplishments – gold stars for all!

Managers who are able to successfully manage conflicts will experience fewer complaints. Appropriately, employees who are able to diffuse conflicts in a respectful and timely manner experience will create a more positive and efficient work environment for all!

posted by TonyPogo at 4/28/2008

Networking 101

Working and learning go hand-in-hand. We are always learning new skills to help us do our job better, more efficiently, learning how to utilize our existing skills, and more about ourselves as employees.

As stated on the ASA website, “Education. Training. Networking. Knowledge. These are the hallmarks of staffing industry professionalism.”

Networking is regarded as one of the most effective job search tools, and it’s simple: build relationships and share information with others. More specifically, networking is the process of creating and sustaining relationships with people you meet.

Top 5 reasons why networking is important:

1. Build rewarding relationships
2. Connect with individuals from a variety of industries
3. Learn about jobs and other career opportunities that aren’t advertised
4. Build a list of contacts that are willing to mentor and help
5. Future employment – 60% of jobs are landed using a network

So get out there – meet people, and explore all of the opportunities that others in different industries have to offer!

posted by TonyPogo at 4/16/2008

Job-hopping made easy

Jen worked as a customer service representative for some time. Eventually she decided that she needed a change. While Jen wanted to continue to work in a communication position, she desired a change of industry. By identifying her core skills, Jen was able to find a Human Resources (HR) position, which allowed her to gain additional skills and experience. Her responsibilities and environment changed, but she was still able to do what she was good at and loved!

In all my years of being Green, I’ve seen a lot of success in switching industries. For old times sake, I’ll tell you the story of my not-so-green-friend, Jen.

Current trends have shown that many employees are switching industries through different professional positions. And, working with a staffing industry provides a great opportunity to do this!

In a recent study done by the American Staffing Association, “Diversity in jobs is a top reason staffing employees choose temporary or contract work.”

Furthermore, employees that are able to switch industries provide additional skills and experience to employers and their position: “When a candidate has strong and relevant core skills, employers appreciate the fresh perspective.”

So, take advantage of all of the opportunities that the staffing industry has to offer! Flexibility and diverse opportunities - what more could you ask for?!

posted by TonyPogo at 4/2/2008

Campaign Season Savvy

While it used to be considered taboo to talk politics in the office, times are changing! According to a recent Workplace Insights survey by Adecco USA, many employees and employers are talking about the 2008 presidential election in the office. Rather than pretending the election isn't happening, which is virtually impossible, take care to be tactful and practice good politics in the office.

Here are 10 ways to be politically active, yet politically correct in the workplace:

10. Keep heated debates outside of the office setting – know when to hold your tongue or walk away.

9. Encourage balanced discussions – it’s not fair to gang up on the lone green party supporter (It’s not easy being green like myself!)

8. Don’t give your work e-mail address out to political parties.

7. Never, ever, ever bring up politics in a new business setting. Period.

6. A campaign donation under your boss’ name is not an appropriate birthday present.

5. Don’t pass petitions around the office or post lawn signs – they ARE meant for lawns.

4. Selling fundraising candy bars for your kids’ activities is ok – fundraising for your chosen political candidate or party is not.

3. After the election is over, practice good sportsmanship – resist the temptation to gloat in your co-workers faces.

2. Never assume you know what someone’s political orientation is, you might be surprised, or even embarrass yourself.

1. Leave apparel baring candidate’s faces and slogans at home – that “Obama for your Mama” shirt might be more appropriate for the weekend.

As Adecco’s Bernadette Kenny notes, “We need to be aware that our opinions on key political issues and the candidates can affect how we’re viewed at the office by our managers and peers.”

posted by TonyPogo at 3/19/2008

Spring ahead!

It’s me again – your trustworthy green friend! I’ve got spring fever, and with spring fever, comes spring cleaning!

As an employee, or potential employee, it’s important to keep your documents and skills up-to-par and up-to-date! Taking a few minutes to update your resume, practice your interview skills with friends, and create a portfolio of your work will make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.

And if you procrastinate like me, you won’t have to worry about scrambling to do these things at the last minute!

The National Association of Colleges and Employers has posted really helpful information on their JobWeb site – you should check it out and see how it can help you achieve your goals!

Interview and resume tips

posted by TonyPogo at 2/28/2008

Take time to clear your mind!

When you enjoy what you do, it’s hard to take time off. But with the flexibility temporary staffing and contract work, it’s easy. Whether in-between contracts, or just trying to fight the winter blues, many staffing companies – like The Plus Group – offer holiday pay and a flexible schedule. Plus, when else would you have the opportunity to drop by my ficus tree?

At The Plus Group we appreciate our employees and recognize that time off can actually increase productivity and performance. And not taking time off can lead to some pretty serious health hazards including: higher stress, burnout, sleeplessness, heart disease, and more. So even if you do love your job, remember to take time for yourself.

And with the weather we've been having, a trip home to Costa Rica is starting to look pretty good.

posted by TonyPogo at 2/22/2008

Me and My Big Mouth!

Why I speak out for the industry I love—and you should too.

I'm always talking up the benefits of being a part of the Staffing Industry. Because it's exciting, and because I believe in it, and as the local Amphibious Spokesperson at The Plus Group it's my job. But there are many reasons that you can and should become a local spokesperson for the staffing industry, or whatever industry is your stock and trade.

Fact is, advertising of the old sort just isn't enough. Too hard to break through the noise. You have to be a cute, British gecko to get any attention these days. Becoming a vocal and knowledgeable representative for your business is one way you can garner additional exposure and credibility.

SI Review published a great article about the benefits of becoming a spokesperson for the staffing industry, but it could apply to any savvy businessperson or individual with a cause to promote. The idea is to position yourself, through concerted efforts, as a local expert and go-to source for the media. It's Public Relations 101, and it takes time and energy – but the results can mean added exposure for your business, and that top-of-mind name recognition that is so hard to come by.

So first read Mark Hersberger's full and fascinating article, then go ahead and open your big mouth.

posted by TonyPogo at 1/31/2008

The University of Opportunity

Happy 2008! Really, the future looks bright, or at least a little brighter, for college grads in the class of 2008. According to Lindsay Estes, reporting for Staffing Today, '08 college grads can expect an increase in employment opportunities, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

NACE reports that over 57% of the approximately 1,000 employers surveyed reported plans to increase their college hiring. And data also showed that service-sector in particular plan to increase that hiring from last year by a whopping18%!

What does this mean for staffing firms? According to Estes, staffing firm clients may be especially interested in recent grads with financial and technical degrees. The 10 degrees in greatest demand at the bachelor's degree level are:

-Mechanical engineering
-Electrical engineering
-Computer science
-Business administration and management
-Economics and finance (including banking)
-Information sciences and systems
-Marketing and marketing management
-Computer engineering
-Management information systems and business data processing

posted by TonyPogo at 1/17/2008

Season's Greetings!

posted by TonyPogo at 12/18/2007

Hoppy Holidays!

The Holidays are a great time for temporary and contract work. On the one hand, many industries, like retail and delivery services, have the need for seasonal help. For many temporary workers this can be a great opportunity to try out a new company, earn a little extra money, or add a new skill set to their resume.

On the other hand, temporary workers often have more flexible schedules–which can mean more time to travel home for the holidays. However you look at it, it's a great time to enjoy the benefits of our industry.

As for me I'm headed back to Costa Rica for some much needed R&R. I can't wait to be surrounded by the lush green of the forest canopy, and the bright green faces of my family. So from my family to yours, Hoppy Holidays!

posted by TonyPogo at 12/18/2007

an average 3.05 million people daily can’t be wrong

How much is three million? It's the number of iPhones Apple made ready for sale at launch. Or the number of the final Harry Potter volumes sold in the UK the weekend it was released. And it's about the same as the population of Chicago, actually. But most importantly -– it's the average number of jobs that are filled by temporary and contract workers daily.

With an average of 3.05 million jobs per day in the third quarter, the industry broke the three million mark for only the third time on record, according to data released today by the American Staffing Association. That figure represents an increase of over 2.3% over the same period last year. The third-quarter rate of job growth was the highest in five quarters—staffing employment had been flat to down slightly in the previous four quarters.

posted by TonyPogo at 12/11/2007

Tony Gets Real

Wow, am I ever wiped out, I just returned from the ASA Staffing World convention in San Antonio. Now that's a climate fit for a tree frog! It was a great time, and left everyone with a lot to think about. As the world changes, so does the world of staffing.

For example, a lot of candidates think that just because they don't have a four-year college degree they are less desirable. Not true. A survey conducted by the Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management concluded that human resource professionals are searching for candidates with applied skills – real world skills and on-the-job experience .

Important skills like oral communication, teamwork and collaborative abilities, and overall professionalism and work ethic are all attributes that are highly valued by employers. The crazy thing is, many recent college graduates are actually lacking in those fundamental skills!

Now, I graduated from Rainforest University, but it was the years I spent sweating it out in the jungle that I acquired those essential competencies. I mean lets face it, when I first graduated from college, I was pretty green.

No one devalues an education, but an impressive alma mater isn't the only important thing on a resume.

posted by TonyPogo at 10/3/2007

Move over Kermit...

I've got a new Hero: Agapito Soto!

The American Staffing Association announced its National Staffing Employee of the Year, Agapito Soto. Agapito is an information technology consultant at the Orange County Sheriff's Department in California. He works with a department whose ultimate mission is the safety and security of residents, coordinating technology and communications between various agencies – ensuring optimal operation in the event of a disaster or crisis.

Agapito is a retired Marine who looked to contract work to help transition to his civilain career. He is known for his hard work and "willingness to go the extra mile". I think he's a great example of the type of truly important work that temporary and contract employees do every day. Work that strenghtens our communities and improves our lives.

Mr. Soto will be honored at Staffing World® 2007 in San Antonio. But Tony Pogo salutes him today!

posted by TonyPogo at 9/18/2007

Is this how you Blog?

Welcome to the Frog Blog!

I'm so happy to get this thing up and running. But man is it hard to type with sticky webbed fingers!

posted by nonononon13 at 8/20/2007 | 3246 comments

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Tony PoGo is an authorized agent of The Plus Group, Inc.- providers of staffing services including long-term staff augmentation, temporary, temp-to-hire, direct placement and performance-based project work. 1-800-STAFFING -