The Diamond Dispatch

BDN Hikes for Hope with Lazarus House!

Posted on Tuesday, October 07, 2014 by Bita Naghibi



As a company, we enjoy getting involved with our local community in Andover, MA and the surrounding towns. One organization that Black Diamond Networks has worked closely with over the last year is Lazarus House Ministries located in Lawrence, MA. Each month we send 4-5 representatives to serve lunch at the Good Shepard Kitchen in addition to various other event they hold throughout the year. On Sunday October 5th, we participated in and helped sponsor the Hike for Hope walk that took place in downtown Andover. 


The Hike for Hope was initiated in 1999 and is an annual family-centered fall event. This year the annual walk-a-thon began and ended on The Park on Bartlet Street, Andover, MA. Teams, individuals, church groups, schools and local businesses joined together for a 3 mile walk in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Lazarus House....and it was a great success!!! 

Throughout the day we enjoyed music, entertainment and a BBQ lunch at the end of the event. Proceeds from the Hike support all the programs and services provided by Lazarus House Ministries. With the help of fundraisers in the community this year’s Hike will make a dramatic difference in the lives of their guests by offering emergency shelter, food and clothing to people in crisis and then providing transitional housing, advocacy, health services, education and work preparation to permanently break the cycle of poverty. 

Together we can help even more people who are now living in poverty and homelessness. This year's goal is $200,000 and so far the community has raised $158,000!! Donations will be accepted until the end of October so please don't hesitate to check out our team page and contribute to the great cause! 

 







For more information, to donate, and for volunteering opportunities please visit: http://www.hikeforhope.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1117160&lis=0&kntae1117160=126BBD030CE8489A9578C688AACABFCC&team=6158445


Tips for Staying Fit on the Road

Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2014 by Bita Naghibi

We all know that staying fit is no simple task. There are many factors that affect your health and fitness such as your diet and your workout regimen to name a couple. Having a set routine or schedule is imperative to maintaining this fit lifestyle.  What makes this lifestyle even more difficult to maintain is if your job requires you to travel and be away from your home for several months. The temptation to go to a restaurant instead of cooking is always there and more than likely always gets the best of you! In this article you will see 7 workout movements you can do in your hotel room, apartment or anywhere you have a flat surface and some extra time!




These 7 movements are great to mix and match for your daily workout because they exercise a variety of different muscles in your body and help you get a balanced work out. You can choose how many reps and sets of each movement to do for the best workout for your body type.


The best thing to pair with a good workout is a healthy meal! Below you will find two recipes that are both healthy and delicious! These recipes are great for a limited hotel kitchen or a small apartment kitchen. The first recipe is a kale and apple salad with toasted almonds and pecorino (also known at Romano) cheese. Click here for the full recipe from The Food Network!


Kale and Apple Salad


This next recipe is great for those of you who aren’t sold on the new kale trend and want a more hearty meal. This spicy beef stir-fry is very simple to make and very delicious. The great thing about stir fry meals is that they are ready to eat within 8 minutes of cooking! Click here for the full recipe from The Food Network!

Spicy Beef Stir-Fry


Do you have any tips and tricks for staying healthy and fit on the road? Please share your feedback in the comments section below! 




Q2 2014 Consultant Survey Results

Posted on Monday, July 21, 2014 by Bita Naghibi

As many of our consultants know, I send out surveys periodically throughout their assignments to obtain feedback on their assignment experience and Black Diamond’s services. Surveys are typically sent out at the assignment three month mark and again at the end of the assignment.


Survey responses provide us with key information to help us and our clients improve the assignment experience, develop services desired by our contractors, and to fine tune our engagement with and support for each individual contractor.  As such it serves a vital communication role in improving job satisfaction and outcome.


Below are the survey results from our Q2 2014 survey reporting. Ratings are based on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being “Poor” and 5 being “Excellent”. We also provide additional space at the bottom of each survey for contractors to comments on the ratings they give or on any aspect of their assignment or service experience.


Assignment Evaluation Survey – 3 Months


Question

Q2 Average Rating

How satisfied are you with the work that you are being asked to perform?

4.0

How would you rate the client's preparation during the orientation process?

3.2

How would you rate the work space that the client is providing?

3.7

How would you rate the equipment/tools the client is providing?

3.7

How would you rate the client in providing you with the appropriate Online/Network Access and Security?

4.0

How would you rate the client with respect to the direction and support they have provided?

3.7

How would you rate BDN service and support? 4.2



Assignment Completion Survey


Client-Related Questions

Q2 Average Rating

How would you rate this job assignment?

4.0

Attractiveness of Work

4.0

Suitability of Match

4.1

Work Space, Equipment and Tools

3.7

Client Direction and Support

3.3

Treatment of Contractors

3.7

BDN-Related Questions

Q2 Average Rating

Service/Support

4.3

Responsiveness

4.4

Communication

4.4

Follow-Up/Follow-Through

4.3

Problem Solving

4.0

General Helpfulness

4.4

Would you recommend BDN’s service to others?

Q2 Responses

Yes

92%

No

2%

N/A

6%



While survey results vary from workplace to workplace, generally speaking, clients have work to do in a number of areas to help improve the productivity and success of their contract workforce.  Areas commonly cited for improvement include better orientation to the work environment and client project personnel; clearer management direction and feedback; more client accessibility; and better, more suitable workspace, tools, and equipment.   Based on this feedback, Black Diamond account managers are able to better advise their clients on how to create a better work environment for contractors in order to get the highest return from their contracted services.


Looking at the Black Diamond scorecard, BDN continues to receive consistently good ratings across all the components we measure. That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement.  While our marks are good, we will continue to strive to provide an exceptional service and work experience for our contractors.  So long as our contractors continue to utilize the surveys to voice their interests, concerns and opinions, we should know quarterly how well we are doing in achieving that goal.


If you have any questions or suggestions regarding our surveys, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I can be reached at bnaghibi@blackdiamondnet.com


Interview Tips for the IT/Engineering Consultant

Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 by Bita Naghibi
There are many articles and blogs written about how to be successful in any type of interview. I know because we've published and shared quite a few on our social media channels! The only problem with self-help articles like these is that they are extremely generic and don’t always relate to a specific industry or job. We've asked some of our Sales Representatives here at BDN for their advice to our consultants before they go in for an interview. Here is what they had to say:

1. Always have your own resume in front of you during the interview so both you and the manager are following what is written. Often times a consultant will think they know their own experience so well that a manager will ask a specific question and they are stumped to answer with their own experience/examples because they essentially just have a momentary lapse. 

2. When being asked about your previous experiences, be sure to give specific details and don’t assume the hiring manager knows everything about your skillsets. It will be helpful to actually spell out what steps specifically you did for any job, step by step. Being able to cite specific examples of past work is imperative. (This is when having your resume in front of you will be helpful.)

3. Be sure to have questions to ask the manager after they have conducted the interview. These questions can be about the company, the product line, the group you will be working with, etc. This show’s interest in the company and work assignment.  Even better, research the company online prior to the interview including any recent news affecting the company.  You may be able to reference this information during the interview.

4. You will want information about the product line the team is working on and what else the company does. Always set aside time to review their website and more importantly have a conversation with your recruiter about these details and how your skill-sets fit.

5. Always stress that you are able to contribute and work as a team member as well as work well on your own. You are never too sure if you’ll be in a group of 30 people or by yourself. 

6. Avoid talking negatively about past consulting experiences unless specifically asked to relate such experiences, and even then, be as discrete and general as possible in your description.  You don’t want the hiring manager to equate any past negative experience with how things might turn out on his job.

7. As the interview begins to wind down, do not make the common mistake of overselling yourself. By this time, the impression is already made and there is no time for “I would be great for you because of reason XYZ”. It will be far better to make sure to provide detail in answering questions because your skills and experience will speak for themselves - technical managers do not want to be “sold”. 

In the end, if you are well prepared and use these tips to prepare for your next interview you will be sure to impress the hiring manager. If you have any questions, please feel free to consult your recruiter or reach out to me at bnaghibi@blackdiamondnet.com !


From Behind the Desk – Part 3: A Consultant’s Point of View

Posted on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 by Bita Naghibi

In this final installment of our three part blog series, we take a look at the consultants’ point of view. Leonard is a devoted consultant who has been working with Black Diamond for many years and has an abundance of consulting experience under his belt. In this piece, he talks about the value of IT and Engineering consultants and all the hard work involved in being a “valuable” consultant.

 

The relationship, specifically between the contracted professional, the client and the technical staffing firm has one principle that inextricably links the three entities together.  It can be described in many ways, but is summarized by one word, which is “Value”. Value exists in our personal lives and in business and it can be measured in a manner that accounts for every second of every day.  As it relates to the success in business relationships, if any one of the three entities fails to provide and/or sustain value, or even more importantly, fails in enhancing the value of doing business jointly for the long term, the business relationship and return on investment can suffer and even be lost.

 

As a consultant, the education, developed skill-set and demonstrated accomplishments contribute to the equation and level of value.  Certainly, one can further expand on that knowledge base and become more diverse and universal and in doing so, the recognized value of the consultant increases and the worth and/or value to the client and to the employer also increases.

 

In addition, character traits from the consultant can significantly add value.  Having passion in pursuit of achievement, commitment, integrity, honesty, being trustworthy, being a team player and demonstrating continuous usefulness in effective productivity and throughout are recognized more often than not, by both, the client and the employer. Although some of these characteristics are subjective in nature, they do contribute in kind to your personal financial gains, your recognized capabilities and your reputation in the network of professionals that you interact with.


In the end, there are a lot of attributes that make a consultant and the relationship they share with their staffing firm “valuable”. We cherish every relationship we have with our consultants and know they are all extremely “valuable.


From Behind the Desk – Part 2: Memorable Consultant Experiences

Posted on Friday, May 30, 2014 by Bita Naghibi
As we found out from the previous piece, the temporary staffing industry has its ups and downs. From our recruiters’ experiences with consultants we have found that it can also be very unpredictable at times. From the interview to the last day of the assignment, there is a lot that can happen. In this post we have featured the good, the bad, and the unusual! Read along for some of these stories…

The Good
This story has a bit of an uplifting feel to it. One of our recruiters, Adam, has worked within the temporary staffing industry for 11 years. As expected, during this time he has experienced both highs and lows with consultants. One of the highlights for him was working with a consultant who was laid off and essentially had to leave an industry that she loved to be able to put food on the table for her family. She took a role as a bookkeeper in a retirement home and as time passed she found herself out of the tech industry for 2 years. Adam was working on a job order that was looking for a Nortel Engineer with some experience with some of the older Nortel equipment. While qualifying her for the role she let Adam know that while she had been out of the industry she had worked on her own to keep up on the technology. We advised our client of our candidate’s background as well as her situation and  after a series of screening interviews and technical testing and finally client interviews - she did get the job and has been there for the past 5 years and is enjoying it! That is surely a situation that sticks out in his mind as a “highlight”.

The Bad
On the other side of the spectrum, some assignments aren’t as desirable or glamorous for our consultants. Another one of our recruiters, Joe, had a consultant in which the client had him work out of their factory warehouse in St. Louis, MO during the winter.  He worked in the middle of the factory floor, essentially in a hut, with just a few personal space heaters, while forklifts were operated all around him for the entirety of the day. This goes to show that our consultants are dedicated employees who work hard to get the job done.

The Unusual
Let me start this off by saying, there are many ways to prepare for an interview. You can read the advice columns about what to wear, questions to ask, how to respond to the ever-so-common, “tell us about yourself” question and a lot of the time people consider these tips to be common knowledge. There was one scenario in which a consultant was very qualified for a position he was submitted to. The client also agreed and asked the consultant for a Skype interview. After the interview, the client reported back to let us know that this candidate was technically sound, but neglected to wear a shirt for the interview. In the end, I think that consultant learned the proper attire for that next important interview.

All in all, as I’ve mentioned before, the temporary staffing industry has its ups and downs. Many times we are unable to predict what will happen but what we do know is that without our consultants and clients, we wouldn’t be where we are today. So whether you forgot your shirt or had to deal with less-than-ideal work conditions, please know that we appreciate all of your hard work day in and day out.

From Behind the Desk – Part 1: Temporary Staffing Experiences

Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 by Bita Naghibi

Recently, we have received comments and suggestions from some of our consultants regarding future blog post topics. One individual had the idea to have BDN recruiters write about their recruiting experiences and working in the temporary staffing industry. We decided to make a three part blog series showcasing this and other related topics. This blog series will feature recruiters’ opinions and experiences as well as a piece written by one of our consultants. We hope to show our readers both sides of this business.


Rob Berlan has been a recruiter for about 10 years now and was one of the first employees to launch the Quality and Validation group at Black Diamond. Here is what he had to say about the temporary staffing industry…


“Recruiting for contract employees is a very challenging profession.  The contract job market is extremely volatile and presents new challenges each and every day for contract employees and contract recruiters alike.  As a contract recruiter, I am tasked with staying abreast of the contract job market, communicating the vital project information to contract employees and understanding the unique necessities of my clients (i.e. the contract employees who utilize our services). Although contract recruiting is demanding, every single day is exciting and offers an opportunity to learn more about the industry, technologies, client companies and the individual contract employees I work with.”


Jonathan Lyng is another recruiter in our Quality and Validation group. He works out of our Arizona office and has been a technical recruiter for about one and a half years. When asked about the “highs and lows” of this industry he said, “Some of the highs would include a client needing 10 consultants to start on Monday and you are able to meet their needs. Some of the other highs are when the client and consultant both enjoy working with each other and help get life changing products out to market. Some of the lows in this industry would include projects/budgets getting cut or when consultants are not in an ideal situation.”


Next piece, several more of our recruiters will speak about specific experiences they’ve had with consultants. As always, we love hearing from our readers so please don’t hesitate to let us know what you think and if you have ideas for future blog posts!


Travel Tips for IT and Engineering Consultants

Posted on Friday, March 28, 2014 by Bita Naghibi

That moment when a recruiter calls to tell you that you've been accepted for that new project you wanted in New England is quite exciting! The not-so-exciting part of it is realizing that you are in Arizona and have to get to New England in a week to start your new project.


Here are a few tips to help you plan your travels quickly and efficiently:

  • Work with a travel management service provider as soon as possible to organize and coordinate the cheapest flights, car rentals, hotel rates, etc.
  • Keeping a designated credit card solely for the use of business travel will help you track your expenses. This will make it easier for you to itemize your expenses report for submission. (There’s also an app for that!)
  • While we’re on the topic of expenses, be sure to keep all of your paper receipts together in one secure location. This will keep you organized and able to quickly reference any charges.
  • Utilize your smart phone! There are many apps for iPhones and Android that are great for frequent travelers.
    • TripCase (available for iOS, Android, and Blackberry) is a free app that helps you stay in the know about your trip with updates and flight alerts delivered right to your phone. Plus, helpful tips and tools when you need them every step of the way.
    • AwardWallet (available for iOS and Andriod) is a free app that keeps track of all your loyalty programs on the go. AwardWallet keeps you hotel and credit card points, frequent flier miles and all of your log-in credentials locked in a single hub.
    • Expensify (available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone) is another free app that can be used for seamlessly tracking all of your expenses from a single app. You sync all of your credit and debit cards to Expensify, and the app takes care of the rest, tracking each expense as you go and compiling an easy-to-navigate expense report at the end of your trip (and email it as a PDF if you wish). If you pay with cash, scan the receipt using your phone's camera and the app will file it.
  • Utilize any corporate discounts for national hotel chains that your staffing agency may provide. You will end up saving yourself a few extra dollars!
We understand how time consuming and difficult it can be to plan and organize travel arrangements when beginning a new assignment. We hope that our consultants can utilize and these tips to make their travels to and from assignment more efficient and enjoyable.



As always, please don’t hesitate to contact our Contractor Services Representatives at any time throughout your assignment! If you would like to find out more about our travel management service provider or any national discounted hotel rates that Black Diamond provides please contact me at bnaghibi@blackdiamondnet.com or 978-474-9980 EXT: 9754! I would be more than happy to help you!


Black Diamond Turns 15! Building One Relationship at a Time

Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 by Bita Naghibi

In life and in business, the relationships we build are imperative to our future. At Black Diamond, we wouldn't be where we are today without the relationships that were built over the years. As you know from a previous blog post, “The Black Diamond Story”, the road to present day was far from ordinary.


Over the last 15 years Black Diamond Networks has seen many significant and positive changes - expansion into new markets, creating new departments, building new offices and taking on big challenges with the objective of benefiting all that are involved in our business.  None of this success could have occurred without the help and trust of individuals - employees, consultants, clients, suppliers and business partners - that have joined us along the way. Many of these individuals were the voice behind servicing the FDA-regulated industry market and launching a national recruiting capability; both of which are now the cornerstones of the organization.


By meeting individuals through the years, we have been introduced to and been able to recognize opportunity and gain confidence that even in down times there is a strong team behind Black Diamond and the business will succeed in the end. We hope to continue to find and work with intelligent and talented individuals whose ideas will turn into more opportunities for the future. As Black Diamond continues to grow, we are excited to be able to contribute to the success of our clients, consultants and internal staff.


Cheers to the next 15 years!


A Matter of Trust

Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 by Andre Pascal
I've spent a long career in this business and while I can’t say that I have heard and seen it all, I certainly have heard and seen a lot.  Fortunately, in my case, the vast majority of people I have worked with and for have been fair, ethical and just plain good folk.  But I've also had the occasional, discouraging experience of having to deal with the unscrupulous and underhanded side of this business where terms suddenly change after an agreement has been reached, jobs mysteriously vanish with no explanation, and money that’s promised never gets paid, to name a few transgressions.

There is advantage to gain from these manipulations and people get away with them – that’s why they are done.  But any benefit is short-lived.  Fool me once – you caught me not paying attention.  But fool me twice? Hopefully, not. Manipulations, gimmicks, and shiny promises do not make for successful business or relationships.  Ultimately, successful and lasting business comes down to Trust.
  • Do I trust that my recruiter has my best interest at heart?
  • Do I trust that my recruiter knows what he or she is doing?
  • Do I trust that my recruiter knows who I am?
  • Do I trust that there is an assignment for me on the other side of this plane ride?
  • Do I trust that I am being offered a fair rate for my services?
  • Do I trust that my pay will be in my bank account at the end of the week and that the amount will be correct?
  • Do I trust that there are people to help me with problems, if one should occur?
  • Do I trust that there will be another suitable job for me when the current one ends?
  • Do I trust that my commitment, work effort and loyalty will be appreciated and recognized?
  • Do I trust that my employer will be in business at the end of the month?

As a contractor, these are some of the questions you should be asking when the phone rings with that next tempting job opportunity.  In the end, trust should guide your decision.  If there is anything more important than that when it comes to your livelihood and peace of mind I’d like to hear about it.