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Want to Move Ahead in Your Career? Develop these skills

January 30th, 2014

Ready to get serious about taking that next step in your career?

If you have the technical skills and experience needed for a promotion, you may think you’re a shoe-in. These factors are certainly important, but they’re only part of what you need to move ahead. The final element? People skills.

Often referred to as “soft skills,” people skills are the attributes and competencies that help you effectively interact with others. They’re the intangibles that make you a successful team member or leader. And in many cases, great people skills can help you land the promotion you know you deserve.

So, what are the “soft skills” you need to develop to move ahead in your career? Here’s a list of 7 that are applicable to a wide range of job functions, summarized from a recent post “The 20 People Skills You Need to Succeed at Work”:

  • Persuasiveness. The ability to form a solid, convincing argument for why you, your ideas, your products or your services are the “right” ones. Being persuasive will help you achieve what you want in your job – including landing a promotion.
  • Open-mindedness. When you respect others’ points of view and feedback, you build trust and respect. Being known as someone who is open-minded also makes you more approachable.
  • A great sense of humor. Laughing is a great way to ease tension and break the monotony of routine work. When you can help create (appropriate) lightheartedness in your job, you’re more likely to be viewed in a favorable manner – and thrive in your job.
  • Awareness of body language. Non-verbal cues account for the majority of how we communicate with others. Being mindful of others’ gestures, posture and tone of voice – and correctly interpreting those cues – greatly enhances your success as a communicator.
  • The ability to support and motivate others. Look for opportunities to praise others and show your enthusiasm (without going overboard). When you effectively encourage others to perform, their success will drive your own.
  • Flexibility. Having sound people skills requires the ability to shift gears when needed – in thought patterns, behaviors and even beliefs.
  • Good judgment. This soft skill comes from learning, listening to others and observing the world around you. It helps you select friends, colleagues and work allies wisely; gauge their actions, reactions and responses accurately; and ultimately make good decisions on the job.

Conduct yourself honestly, ethically and with empathy in your job, and you’ll make great strides in developing the people skills you need to move ahead. Then, use the tips in this post on help you demonstrate your soft skills in the interview.

Not finding the promotion opportunities you need with your current employer?

Register with Berks & Beyond today. Our team of recruiting experts will review your experience, listen to your needs, and then match you with the right opportunity to help you take that next step in your career.

Mechanical Engineer in Allentown, PA; Warehouse Lead in Reading, PA

January 9th, 2014

The following top candidates are highly skilled, motivated and ready to go to work for you:



Candidate Initials: M. S.

Skills and Experience: Looking for a bright, seasoned engineering professional? Your search is over. Our top candidate has over 25 years of mechanical engineering and electrical technician experience. His most recent experience as a mechanical engineer was in design development and manufacturing engineering, supporting fast-paced industrial design and manufacturing environments. Prime engineering contact for LEAN, SIX SIGMA and Kaizen events.

Desired Pay: $80K

Don’t delay! This top candidate will not be seeking employment for long. To learn more, please contact Larry in our Allentown office at or call 610.435.9270.



Candidate Initials: J. T.

Skills and Experience: Excellent candidate with over 15 years of experience in the warehouse / distribution field seeking temp-to-hire or direct hire placement. Responsible for: maintaining an ABC cycle count program covering $1.2 million value inventory; leading FedEx and UPS shipping areas, with an average daily shipping volume of 500 to 2,000 packages; conducting a continuous training program for warehouse personnel; achieving on-time and accurate shipments, as well as maintaining strict retail compliance standards. Licensed to operate and train employees for tow motors, forklifts and pallet jacks, AS400, RS600, PRMS and PKMS management systems. Working knowledge of MS Office products.

Desired Pay: $13/hr.

To learn more about this candidate, please contact Allison in our Reading office at or call 610.376.9675.

Southern PA Workforce Planning Tips

September 3rd, 2013

When it comes to staffing, too many businesses are still stuck in a reactive, “vacancy-filling” mode. An employee quits, and then HR (through no fault of its own) scrambles to fill the empty position.

That’s no way to staff a business.

To make your organization more flexible, responsive and (ultimately) profitable, you need to plan your personnel needs well ahead. That’s where a workforce plan comes in. Properly designed and executed, a workforce plan can transform your staffing function from reactive to proactive – and keep your human capital needs aligned with your strategic goals.

Sound appealing?

While every organization approaches workforce planning differently, the process typically includes these four steps:

  1. Analyzing Supply. Gain a thorough understanding of your current workforce, including composition (demographics) and capabilities (competencies). Develop a profile of your current staff as it will exist in the future, in the absence of any management intervention.
  2. Analyzing Demand. Forecast the competencies that will be required by your future workforce, for your organization to overcome challenges, seize opportunities and thrive. Envision how the nature of your work will change, considering both internal (business mission, strategies, goals) and external (legislation, economic conditions, technological advances, market competition) influences.
  3. Analyzing the Gap. Compare your supply and demand data to determine skill surpluses and deficiencies. Pinpoint individuals with limited long-term value to your organization, as well as talent gaps that will put your company at risk.
  4. Developing Solutions. Create strategies and implement tactics for building an ideal workforce – one that has the people capabilities to meet your business goals and sustain competitive advantage.

No matter what your company’s goals are – growth, cost-effective operation, retaining top talent, capitalizing on new opportunities, more effectively deploying your human resources – a sound workforce plan can help you get there. By taking a systematic, proactive approach to using employees, you can dramatically improve your company’s ability to thrive under any circumstances.

Tips for Success

Use these tips to make your workforce plan more successful:

  • Don’t create your workforce plan in a vacuum. Directly link your plan to your company’s strategic mission and involve members of all departments. Integrate the workforce plan with other HR programs, such as succession planning, career development, etc.
  • Designate a champion. Give an executive-level employee primary responsibility for not only spearheading the effort, but also generating the buy-in you’ll need to make your plan a success.
  • Hold managers accountable for adhering to, and achieving the desired results from, your plan.
  • Make it an annual process. Workforce planning isn’t a once-and-done event. It’s a continual process that involves regular review and updating as your organization’s needs and goals evolve.

Contact Berks & Beyond for a Free Workforce Planning Consultation

In today’s volatile economic and business environments, workforce planning is absolutely essential. Be proactive! Contact Berks & Beyond today to schedule a free workforce consultation. Our employment experts will:

  • analyze your talent needs;
  • examine your talent supply;
  • help HR align the two by providing the right staffing and support services;
  • help your business thrive in any economy.

Not Interested in Being Sued? Keys to protecting your Southern PA Business

May 28th, 2013

The “Great Recession” saw a rise in employee lawsuits against their employers.  Across the nation, claims of age discrimination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, disability discrimination and retaliation suits increased dramatically.

How can you protect your company from falling prey to employee lawsuits?  Here are a few common-sense tips from Berks & Beyond.  While these ideas are not intended as legal advice, they can help you understand some fundamental ways to limit your exposure:

Distribute an employee handbook.  Provide a handbook for every existing employee and new hire, and require all employees to sign a statement saying that they’ve received, reviewed and understand the handbook.  Make sure your handbook contains your equal employment opportunity policy, as well as the other policies outlined in this post.  Periodically review your handbook, updating it to keep pace with changes in the law.

Include a formal, internal complaint mechanism.  Within your handbook, outline an internal mechanism employees should use to complain about discrimination (as an alternative to automatically filing a lawsuit).  This may give you an added measure of protection, should an employee skip this step.

Develop and enforce a code of ethics policy.  Create a policy which tells employees that they shouldn’t do certain things, such as accepting kickbacks or engaging in other unethical behavior.  Include the policy in your employee handbook.

Include an anti-retaliation provision in your employee handbook.  In recent years, there’s been a marked rise in claims of employer retaliation (i.e., that the employer took action against the employee because he brought suit against them).  Protect your company against this type of claim, by including a statement saying that it’s your company’s policy not to retaliate against employees over accusations of discrimination or harassment.

Train your staff.  Train your supervisors on your company’s HR procedures and policies, as well as current employment discrimination law.  Make sure they understand:

  • how to properly discharge employees;
  • how to prevent workplace harassment/discrimination;
  • how to deal with an employee who claims he’s been harassed or discriminated against.

Be consistent.  When you enforce workplace rules, do so for every employee who violates that rule – every time.  By being consistent in your enforcement, you make it extremely difficult for an employee to cry discrimination over a simple discipline dispute.

Consider EPL insurance.  EPL insurance protects businesses from the financial costs incurred from employment-related lawsuits filed for a range of reasons – from wrongful termination to harassment to discrimination.

Minimize your exposure by using a staffing service.  When you work with Berks & Beyond, we assume many of the risks associated with hiring and employing workers – such as making sure that non-discriminatory hiring procedures are followed and serving as the employer of record for our temporary employees.  Simply put, we make it safer and simpler to get your work done!  To learn how we can help you minimize your employment-related risks, contact your local Berks & Beyond office.


May 16th, 2013

Leading Central and Southern Pennsylvania Staffing Firm Number Six on Greater Reading Top Businesses List

GRCC_TopBusinessAward Winner logo

Wyomissing, PA – Berks and Beyond Employment Services, Inc. is pleased to announce that they were ranked sixth on this year’s Greater Reading Top Businesses list.  This latest honor comes on the heels of the staffing service’s announcement that they’ve also launched a new professional recruiting division, Berks & Beyond Professional.

Making the top ten, let alone the Top 50, is a source of great pride for Chris Garner, President of Berks & Beyond.  “It’s an honor to once again be recognized as one of Reading’s top businesses.  We hope that our new professional recruiting services will help us deliver even greater value for area employers and job seekers, and keep us at the top of our industry.”

The success of this year’s Top 50 is great news for the local economy, proving that businesses of all sizes, and across all industries, continue to thrive after several years of economic upheaval.  Garner spoke to this point when interviewed.  “Because we do business primarily with local companies, Berks & Beyond’s success is closely linked to the strong local economy,” stated Garner.  “When area employers do well, so do we.”

To make the eighth annual Greater Reading Top Businesses List, sponsored by the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GRCCI) and KPMG, companies had to nominate themselves or be nominated, and agree to supply revenue figures, which had to be at least $1 million yearly, for the past three years.  They had to have headquarters in the Greater Reading area, and those not based in Berks County had to be members of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry.  To create the list, KPMG used a formula that took into account actual dollar increases and percentage increases during the three-year period, giving the most recent years more weight.

Straight from the Source: Berks & Beyond Employee Testimonials

April 4th, 2013

Any staffing service can claim they’re the best, or that they’ll find you the right job opportunity.  But we’re not just “any staffing service.”  So, we thought we’d go straight to the source – and show you what our employees have to say about their experiences with Berks & Beyond:

From our Staffing Firm in Mountain Top, PA

“I have worked at my current job for the past two years, and the Berks and Beyond staff (especially Paul and Carla) have been really helpful.  They help me with any questions I may have.  Working through Berks and Beyond in Mountain Top has given me the opportunity to get hired on full-time through Jacobson Companies.”

–Renee Brown


From our Staffing Firm in Reading, PA

“The staff is very helpful and friendly.  They are eager to help you get started in the work force.  I went to other agencies, but had no luck.  I came to Berks and Beyond with little experience, but they helped to place me in a position where I could get my feet wet.  I learned a lot!  Unfortunately, I did not stay with that company, but Berks and Beyond was quick to find me another job!  I was placed at another position within the week.  I took the skills previously learned and applied them to my new position. Berks and Beyond is helpful and sensitive to your needs.”

-Ashly Valentin


From our Staffing Firm in Reading, PA

“Thank You so much for this opportunity.  It was a very nice surprise  to receive your email this morning. It was my pleasure to be apart of  Berks and Beyond. You and your team were  amazing to work with and I couldn’t have ask for more. Thank You!”

–Jesenia Portalatin


From our Staffing Firm in Reading, PA

“Berks and Beyond is a good agency to work for because it allows me to work for Godiva – and I enjoy working at Godiva with all my co-workers.  Berks and Beyond allows me to have a job, which is hard to come by these days.”

–Maria Keller

Ready to Work: Assembler in Allentown, PA; Skilled Laborer in Reading, PA

January 24th, 2013

The following top light industrial candidates are highly skilled, motivated and ready to go to work for you:


Candidate Initials: M. C.

Skills and Experience: Highly adaptable light industrial candidate who excels in a wide variety of environments.  With an excellent attendance record and positive attitude, this individual is ready to step in and make an immediate contribution to your team.

Desired Pay: Negotiable

To learn more about this candidate, please contact Brandon in our Allentown office at or call 610.435.9270.



Candidate Initials: D. H.

Skills and Experience: Detail-oriented leader with a solid work ethic and strong technical and mechanical skills.  A quick learner, this candidate works well within diverse groups.  Has experience operating heavy machinery such as bucket trucks, log skidders and bob cats, as well as trim and chain saws.  Served seven years in the U.S. Army and successfully completed three combat tours.

Desired Pay: $10/hr.

To learn more about this candidate, please contact Allison in our Reading office at or call 610.376.9675.

Turnover Problems in Southern PA? Exit interviews may help you understand and fix them

December 18th, 2012

Employees may leave your Southern PA company for any number of reasons.  From higher pay to better opportunity, job burnout to management issues, the reasons people quit are as diverse as the employees themselves.

The fact is, change is a constant in business and a certain amount of turnover is to be expected.  But that’s little consolation if you have a “revolving door” in your organization.  Left unchecked, turnover can lower productivity, lead to substantial knowledge loss and undermine your company’s profitability.

If turnover is affecting your business, it’s time to start asking some questions.  Exit interviews are powerful tools to help you understand turnover and stop it in its tracks:

  • Because employees are leaving, their exit interview responses are generally very honest, constructive and objective – providing insights about your company, processes and staff you might not otherwise get.
  • Once you understand employees’ reasons for leaving, you can take appropriate remedial actions (e.g., changing your recruiting process, onboarding, training, etc.) to increase employee tenure.
  • Ultimately, exit interviews may reveal systemic problems (e.g., organizational structure, corporate culture, out-of-touch management, etc.) and uncover opportunities for improving your company as a whole.

Of course, the success of your exit interviews will depend on the quality of questions you ask.  While the specific questions you include will be driven by the unique requirements of the position, here are a few sample exit interview questions to use as a starting point:

  • Why have you decided to leave?
  • What have you enjoyed about working for us?
  • What is the primary reason for your decision?
  • What other factors influenced your decision to leave?
  • How do you feel about our company?
  • How well were you managed?
  • What could we have done early on to prevent this situation from developing?
  • What can you tell me about communications within your department and throughout the company as a whole?
  • What has been frustrating, difficult or upsetting about your work experience here?
  • How would you describe our company’s culture?
  • How could our company improve working conditions, amenities, hours/shifts, etc.?
  • Were you trained/developed adequately for your role?
  • What more can our company do to keep its best employees?

Additional exit interview questions for recent recruits (who worked with you for less than a year):

  • How would you describe your recruiting and onboarding experience?
  • How could we improve our recruiting process?  Our onboarding process?  Our new employee training process?
  • How could we have helped you better understand your job, your role and how to work effectively with other departments?
  • How well did your skills, personality and experience fit the actual job?

Ideally, these questions should be asked during a face-to-face exit interview.  An in-person exit interview allows you to ask relevant follow-up questions that clarify responses and yield higher quality information.

As a leading Central and Southern PA staffing service, Berks & Beyond understands the challenges chronic turnover poses.  In many cases, we can help you staff high-turnover positions more effectively – saving you time, money and countless headaches.  Contact Berks & Beyond today to learn more about our staffing and recruiting services for Berks County employers.

What’s the Scoop? Latest Reading, PA Economic Indicators

November 15th, 2012

Well, another six months has elapsed since the government has provided an economic and employment “snapshot” for the Reading Metropolitan Statistical Area.  Back in May, businesses in the MSA were making up lost ground from the recession.

This time around, Reading is showing continued (if slight) improvement.  The Reading MSA’s unemployment level is down 2.3 percent from where it was a year ago, dropping from 16,100 in September 2011 to 15,700 in September 2012.  Our current unemployment rate is 7.5 percent, which is virtually identical to both the state of Pennsylvania and the nation as a whole.  And while Reading is still not adding jobs as quickly as the country on the whole, our nonfarm employment has increased by .8 percent since this time last year – which is right on par with the state.

To see just how the Reading area stacks up against Pennsylvania and the nation, download the “Reading,Pa.pdf” file on this Selected BLS Economic Indicators page, last updated November 5, 2012.

For comprehensive employment statistics, follow this link:

Bureau of Labor Statistics Reading PA: Nonfarm employment and labor force data

Want to learn more?

Contact us and a Berks and Beyond staffing professional will show you how our services can help you make the most of our current economy – by giving you the flexibility to meet the changes of today’s volatile business environment.


November 8th, 2012

Brandon Trautman Named Branch Manager of Allentown Location

Wyomissing, PA – Berks and Beyond Employment Services, Inc. is pleased to name Brandon Trautman as Branch Manager of their Allentown office.   In his new role, Trautman will oversee daily operations for the leading Central and Southern Pennsylvania staffing firm’s largest branch.  Additionally, he will help Berks & Beyond’s newest location in Breinigsville get up and running, and will ensure that both locations offer premier customer services to clients, prospects and candidates in their respective markets.

As Berks & Beyond has rapidly expanded, Trautman has grown with them.  He started with the company in January, 2012, as a Recruiter for their York office; soon after, he was assigned the position of Account Manager for two of the branch’s largest clients.  Trautman’s experience with candidates, clients and the local market provided the solid staffing foundation he needed to assume the role of Branch Manager in York.  But he didn’t stop there.  Today, Trautman is helping the award-winning firm to continue capitalizing on their already explosive growth in Allentown – by strengthening existing partnerships, and developing new ones.

“Brandon has done a tremendous job as a Branch Manager of our York location,” says Chris Garner, President of Berks and Beyond Employment Services, Inc.  “ He is a proven leader and works diligently to make sure every customer has a great experience with us.  We are excited to give him the opportunity to bring his past success to Allentown, which is a much larger territory for Berks and Beyond.”

When interviewed, Trautman stated, “I look forward to joining a great team in Allentown and building our business there.  Moving forward, we will focus on providing quality service to our customers, while offering great opportunities to people who are looking for a way to make a living in the area.”

Trautman brings a ton of energy to the Berks & Beyond team, an essential quality for driving growth.  He has a background in sales management, as well as a degree in journalism from the Pennsylvania State University.  Outside of work, Brandon enjoys working out, soccer, snowboarding, reading and attending Penn State football games.  He is an avid Steelers and Penguins fan.

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