New-Collar Workers and Emotional Intelligence: Q&A With Jordan Quigley, North American Vice President, Robert Half

By Robert Half on January 26, 2022 at 12:30pm

Welcome to the latest post in Robert Half’s Thought Leader Q&A series, which features insights from those who have made our company a great place to work and a premier provider of talent solutions.

Jordan Quigley used to travel for work nearly every week, more than 40 times a year. Most Mondays, he’d fly from Southern California to various markets throughout North America, visiting almost every Robert Half market throughout the United States.

Then the pandemic hit, and like others, Jordan found he could keep working without jumping on a plane every week. In fact, he could do even more than before.

As a North American vice president for Robert Half’s administrative and customer support group, he helps manage corporate and field operations in the United States and Canada, including team mentorship and development. He also monitors industry trends to enhance Robert Half’s operating models, coaches leadership teams on how to build healthy and prosperous team cultures, and leads and develops other operational initiatives.

Here’s what Jordan shared with us in our recent Q&A session:

What advice can you share for using contract workers to address skill gaps in permanent staff in a competitive labor market?

A lot of companies have more work to do than they have employees to do it. Oftentimes, they’re in a situation where they can’t permanently hire anyone — or they don’t have the budget to cover the total project cost of creating a new permanent role that might not become a long-term strategic hire.

Recruiting specialists save companies money by doing the heavy lifting of building a workforce, and contract workers can be great additions to their immediate and long-term needs.

According to research for the 2022 Salary Guide from Robert Half, nearly 4 in 10 companies are increasing their use of contract professionals. One of the ways Robert Half provides peace of mind for hiring managers is by creating a working interview. That’s where we have the job candidate meet with teams and work with them for a period of time, which gives both sides the opportunity to learn about each other before they make a commitment.

Then there’s the contract-to-hire approach, one of the most efficient and cost-effective strategies for hiring committed, long-term employees. It takes time to thoroughly evaluate someone’s work ethic, personality and quality of work, and by hiring on a contract basis, employers are given the opportunity to assess these attributes firsthand before extending a permanent offer.

What is a trend that’s disrupting traditional requirements for hiring, and how are your clients modifying sourcing strategies to find more of these clients?

Traditionally, we have blue-collar and white-collar jobs, but a new-collar job — a term coined by a former IBM CEO — focuses more on prioritizing a person’s aptitudes and transferable skill sets over their formal education or experience. Think of a new-collar worker as one who develops technical skills through nontraditional paths, or who has certain traits, such as adaptability, to succeed in a role.

As an example, some incredible candidates with transferrable administrative and customer support skills are teachers who have summers off or part-time real estate professionals with the flexibility to take on contract work. Their communication skills, work ethic, industry awareness and attention to detail may be even more important than the requirements listed in the job description.

Three trending industries for new-collar jobs are nonprofits, technology and healthcare. As in other industries, hiring managers may have been trained to look at resumes a certain way. But instead of passing over candidates who don’t have a certain education or experience level, many employers are looking deeper to identify the unique abilities and competencies that could help someone thrive in a position.

Technology is now embedded in every aspect of the employee life cycle. Where do you see it having the greatest positive impact on hiring and management?

Technology can empower employers to expand their search capabilities to identify highly skilled talent quicker and more efficiently. It can also enhance engagement within their teams. It’s a win-win for all.

These are just some of the technologies being used in the workplace:

  • Gamification — Some organizations are turning to game elements as a tool to cultivate a culture of accountability while their employees are working remotely. But it doesn’t have to be limited to remote workers. What it comes down to is this: How do I gamify the job duties my workers are being asked to perform in a way that’s fun, maybe a bit competitive at times and that encourages collaboration and growth while boosting morale?
  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) — This software collects and processes resumes in a database for hiring professionals. With the evolution of ATS, the algorithms they leverage have advanced to the point where they can look for more than keywords on a resume or cover letter. These tools can highlight the full picture, including industry experience and soft skills, or the availability to work on-site versus remote. The software can do other tasks as well, such as automatically posting on social media and scheduling interviews.
  • Video interviewing — This is a trend that’s here to stay. The use of videoconferencing technology in the hiring process has many advantages: It reduces the time to hire, reduces candidate travel costs for interviews, makes scheduling easier and allows employers to reach a broader audience by removing the geographical limitations of in-person interviews.

Workers are expressing a preference for flexible schedules. How do you see this trend toward hybrid and remote work affecting employers’ ability to recruit?

If you’re looking to hire, train and retain someone in today’s highly competitive market, flexibility is key, whether you’re looking to hire someone to work remotely, on-site or a hybrid of the two.

The Salary Guide shows that 75% of workers want to work remotely at least part of the time. Many companies are willing to offer work-life balance perks even after pandemic restrictions are universally lifted, such as flexible scheduling, remote work options, compressed workweeks and permanent part-time arrangements.

Something that companies should also prioritize is company culture and how it still matters. You should be asking what your virtual company culture looks like, and how it affects the types of individuals you’re hiring and retaining. How do you check in virtually with your teams, and what do you do to cultivate a thriving, virtual corporate culture? It’s going to be an incredibly important factor to retaining top talent, and also for motivating them.

Managers will also need to showcase their company culture to someone they’re hiring remotely. Some ways to do that are with testimonials and by hosting a virtual open house.

What is a cause that is important to you and how do you like to support it?

I’m passionate about mentoring people and helping them develop. I take a servant-leadership approach, a philosophy in which I set a goal of helping individuals and teams attain the level of success they’re striving for and capitalize on what motivates them.

It was author John C. Maxwell who gave this leadership advice that I take to heart: “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

I’m also big on emotional intelligence. One of my favorite books is Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry. So much about what we do today is not just our IQ; it’s our EQ.

Follow Jordan Quigley on LinkedIn and read more of his thought leadership:

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