Archive for Business

Hot DAMN: Clarity and Consistency

pillowsThe invitation arrived several weeks ago: “You’re invited to a Romance FUN Party.” The accompanying image showed four impossibly attractive women with perfect hair toasting each other with glasses of champagne. “Bring 3 Guests and Win a ‘Date Night’ bag!” we were promised. In a separate email the hostess pointed out “ladies only!”

Yeah. You know what this was all about. As did everyone who responded “yes” on their RSVP.

The gals arrived with handbags in tow and quickly set about consuming wine and cupcakes while checking out the dizzying array of merchandise on display. After 30 minutes of readiness (alcoholic lubrication as it were) the hostess gathered us all together and the Personal Romance Consultant took over.

We introduced ourselves by playing a game – “Hi! I’m Debbie. My porn name is Fluffy Bayridge and my secret bedroom name is ‘Tiger”!” More games followed; some using props. There was a slide show.

Then we got down to business. There were stories and demonstrations. The jargon flowed freely; no need to sugar coat what this was all about. As we were indoctrinated into the world of “Romance” the Personal Romance Consultant was very clear to point out that the greatest romance you have is with yourself (“You are ALL beautiful!!”).

“Can you explain again the 4 different ways to use that product?” asked Debbie.

“Let me show you again,” said the Personal Romance Consultant as she deftly manipulated the merchandise she held in her hand. “I use this myself; it’s my favorite.”

And with that the store was open for business. Purchases were made in the privacy of the hostesses’ spare bedroom.

Debbie left the party with a sizable credit card bill and a smile on her face.

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The letters arrived several weeks ago: “Welcome to our company!” The accompanying glossy brochure displayed four impossibly happy looking ‘employees’ (age, gender, and race diverse!) kicking back on colorful sofas in what appeared to be a common work area. “We’re so pleased you’re part of our team!” the brochure stated. “Employees are our most important asset,” began one sentence, “and we demonstrate that by living our values of communication, transparency and personal empowerment.”

Yeah. You know what this was all about. As did the eager new recruits, or so they thought, who had just landed a job.

The new employees arrived on day 1 and quickly set about consuming coffee and donuts while looking askance at the piles of paperwork and binders placed at each seat. After a brief period of strained chit chat the HR Representative quieted the group and the day began.

New employees introduced themselves by playing a game – “Hi! I’m Carla. I have a 12 year old son and a 14 year old daughter. My hobbies are playing bunco and working in my garden.” More games followed; some using props. There was a slide show.

Then they got down to business. There were stories and demonstrations. The jargon flowed freely. It was an indoctrination into the company with the HR Representative taking great pains to point out that the company was committed to providing a great work environment (“You are ALL important!”).

“Can you further explain the company’s flexible work policy listed in the brochure you sent me? asked Carla. “The recruiter told me about it but he didn’t have all the details.”

“Your manager will determine if your position qualifies,” said the HR Representative as she deftly shuffled the stack of I-9s on the conference room table. “You’re eligible to be considered for flex scheduling or telecommuting once you’ve been here 12 months and have received satisfactory performance appraisals with no disciplinary actions.”

And with that the new job tenure began; clarification of company values and policies to be made in the privacy of individual managers’ offices.

Carla never did manage to find that common work area with the colorful sofas… before she resigned on day 65.

Four Quick Tips for Job Seekers

wake up(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by and brought to you by our friends at JobTonic, a US job search engine site where you will find listed vacancies from numerous and multiple boards in the USA)

Every person who has decided to start looking for a job must remember that this process usually takes much longer than expected. In order to optimize the search process we’ve prepared several tips that will be useful to anyone who wants, as soon as possible, to find a job that meets all their needs.

For most people the ideal job not only brings enough money but is also enjoyable. In order to combine these two aspects in your new job it’s helpful to follow a few easy steps:

Determine what’s Important

Decide which type of work is right for you (i.e. part-time or full-time) and even consider what you’re willing to do on a volunteer basis. Clearly define for yourself what you would like in your “dream job” as well as what you know you won’t like. Begin your analysis by looking through open vacancies on job boards like JobTonic.com and focusing on jobs that match your skills and interests. Look for information by conducting online research, determine if you need to upskill or pass any necessary courses, and arrange visits with company representatives or colleagues working in your chosen field.

Evaluate your Experience

Be realistic about your abilities and when preparing your CV and other documents remember that your current skills, abilities and experience may be transferable to the duties in a new position. For example, knowledge and experience with project management, customer service, information technology and even sales are often needed in many fields; these transferable skills should be highlighted and clarified on your resume and in your cover letter.

Prepare for the Interview

Be honest with yourself and others and don’t feel you need to embellish the reasons why you’ve started to search for a new job. Tell a potential employer about your past honestly and openly; the biggest mistake that an applicant can ever make is to lie. If you were dismissed don’t hide that; your references can be, and often will be, checked and the truth will emerge.

Take it Step by Step

The only way to truly find out whether ‘this job’ or ‘that job’ suits you is, sometimes, to just try it; it’s certainly OK to try something new if it presents the lowest possible personal risk. But thorough analysis and exploration, as outlined in step 1, will allow you to find out when your expectations are at odds with reality as well as allow you to discover the pros and cons of any job, field, or profession.

Of course there will be times during any job search when you’ll just want to turn off the alarm and sleep in but if you approach your job search in a systematic way you can reap the rewards and ultimately experience moments of elation when you land that “dream job.”

Be clever – be smart – and be rewarded for your efforts.

 

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This post is sponsored by JobTonic; I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

HR & IT: Friends, Foes or Partners?

HatfieldClan-EI recently read The Evolving Workplace: Expert Insights, part of a global project commissioned by Dell and Intel. For the study, TNS Global is exploring key future trends and themes pertaining to the workplace and workforce, with a specific focus on understanding the role that technology has played in its evolution

There is some fascinating information in Report #1 as the researchers outline seven trends and their accompanying hypotheses. Among these trends are Productivity (measured in outputs, not hours), Employee-led Innovation, and a revised view of Employee-Employer trust – labeled ‘Values versus Rules’ by TNS Global. We’ve been discussing these trends in the HR sphere for some time now but it’s interesting to read about them from the side of the IT professionals.

One of the interesting trends identified is one called “Many hats of the IT Manager.” The researchers state that as employee aspirations shift and people seek greater fulfillment and happiness at work, the role of the IT Manager will increasingly align with that of the HR Manager. Their hypothesis further states: “Workplace IT of the future will not merely be a tool to accomplish tasks, but constitute a means of recruiting and retaining staff, of managing well- being, and of facilitating personal and professional development.”

There are some global comparisons noted; the perception of the IT role will vary depending upon whether it is based in the East, West or someplace else, but in any event, the authors believe, IT managers will become increasingly responsible for satisfying the needs of employees.

The authors point out that the IT department has often been viewed as a barrier; implementing and enforcing policies and putting in place regulations that block employee development – rather than assisting or encouraging access to technologies that increase employee efficiency or provide satisfaction.

Our friends in IT are warned that if, for example, they don’t offer choice of device or access to software, tools and technologies desired by employees or applicants the organization will lose in the long run; engagement, talent attraction, retention…you name it.

I wonder how this makes the folks working in IT feel?

Let’s face it; if you work in HR, depending upon your organizational experience, you’ve either been best buddies with your IT manager or viewed him/her as the very embodiment of Satan. Over the last several years, more and more IT Managers have come face to face with empowered HR gals and guys who have pushed for the previously unthinkable.

“She wants a cloud-based HR solution? Let employees bring their iPhone when all we’ve ever supported are corporate issued Blackberrys? Unblock Facebook and YouTube and all those social sites? Has my HR lady lost her mind?” thought Joe the IT Manager.

The skirmishes continue. Within the last several weeks an HR leader told me “I would really like to implement xyz, but our IT Department won’t let me.

Time and budget constraints? Lack of clarity or understanding regarding the business strategies on both sides? Territorial pissing matches?

Undoubtedly all of the above.

But you know what? If you work in HR and are in need of getting some alignment and cooperation from your IT group start with a discussion around these seven trends. Approach the conversation from their perspective. That SHRM Research report you’ve quoted before isn’t going to sway their thinking…but something like this TNS Global report might.

Just gloss over the fact that your IT manager is going to have to start thinking like an HR strategist; that might start a feud akin to the Hatfields & McCoys.

Job Connection: Song and Dance

dance stepsEarlier this year, Louisiana Economic Development (LED) announced they would be launching the Louisiana Job Connection; a free job board to link Louisiana employers with job seekers. I sat through the first song-and-dance about this in January when a few of the folks (i.e. the marketing team) came to speak to the Louisiana SHRM State Council.  As 2014 rolled on I kept an eye on the launch which was, wisely, done in phases: employers were allowed to sign up and create profiles in June while job seekers were able to begin registration last week.

I have run into the LED Marketing folks (and their hired guns) all over town; they popped up again last week at a local SHRM chapter meeting for a 5 minute update. Their talking points have not evolved much; they continue to bring in the sexy factor by talking about their “innovative” and “advanced matching algorithm.” Many of the HR gals and guys, not fully realizing this technology has been around for years, think we in the Bayou State are pushing the envelope or something.

But how does it work?  How does any of this work?

I have seen ZERO details shared with either recruiters or job seekers on the magic behind the system. If I’m with one of the companies that LED is attempting to woo and/or placate (and thus presumably I have a lot more power in this game than Joe the Job Seeker) I would expect to get a lot more details about the how, why and what of the inner workings of this “innovative algorithm.” If I’m a recruiter with Big-Deal Company A I best have a pretty clear explanation on how, exactly, these search algorithms are working. If I’m going to let LED ‘match me’ with the employees they anticipate I will want to review, interview and hire…I sure would like to know HOW these folks were matched.

Is the matching of keywords, skills, jobs, whatever done as a broad match, a phrase, or an exact match? How, exactly, does the ranking system work? LED tells me I can choose to be matched with candidates who meet 10%…20%…on-up-100% of my posted job requirements.  But there needs to be a bit more transparency coming from LED on how the scoring works. Is, for example, the system creating some sort of Boolean search string of keywords from both the job posting and the job seeker profile?

As a recruiter, if I’m going to use the system, I demand a bit more transparency. Otherwise, just like other sites that have come before it (I’m looking at YOU Louisiana Workforce Commission) it will become nothing more than a place where Debbie the HR Assistant has to go do some busy work every few days. (note: the mechanism to post jobs is fairly straightforward, even allowing the employer to scrape job postings from other sites, but it’s nowhere near the greatest).

Granted, it’s only been a week but there are certainly a number of improvements needed to the site. On the recruiter side there is absolutely no integration with social channels and the search capabilities are crap; the criteria one can search are industry (broad and basic categories), job fields (i.e. Accounting, Banking, Insurance), experience level, and or keywords. It also appears that the keyword search is not even working; to test this I searched by job field “human resources” and came up with 175 candidate results statewide. I looked at 20 of these candidates, noted they all had the phrase “human resources” multiple times in their respective resumes yet, interestingly enough, when entering “human resources” in the keyword search box (and only keyword search) I got – wait for it – ZERO results. I repeated this with a search for software developers and got 127 candidates when searching “Information Technology” in job field and ‘software developer’ as keyword yet when I JUST did a keyword search I got – wait for it – ZERO. So, it would appear, that even though the directions to recruiters state you can enter “one or more” criteria that’s not really accurate.

The goal for these LED folks is a numbers game; get as many employers to post jobs as possible (to show opportunities!) and get as many job seekers to create profiles as possible (to show availability of talent!) and as this initiative gains steam the requisite heavy hitters have come out to share gushing quotes via LED press releases. I recently read a rah-rah quote from the VP of Global Talent Acquisition for a company with a huge gleaming office building in Baton Rouge which, it should be noted, is winnowing the staff in the Red Stick and informing hundreds of employees they can either opt to relocate to Houston or pick up their pink slip.

Look…I get it; this all sounds enticing when LED heads out to pitch to Company ABC why they should relocate their business to Louisiana – “You’ll find the talent here! We’ve got matching algorithms y’all!!” Mr. CEO, the recipient of the pitch, will think this sounds great.

But I wonder what Company ABC’s recruiting team will think.

It surely doesn’t appear any recruiters have been asked to participate in the development of a system they’re been clamoring (or so LED tells us) to use.

(note: I have also created a job seeker profile and, while I give LED credit for using the LinkedIn API, errors abound. Eight days after the launch and I continue to get the message “Alert: Could not update, please try again later.”  (this occurs whether I connect via LinkedIn Or enter my data manually). To their credit, the marketing folks I spoke to told me to call the Help Desk and they would sign in to my profile and see if it’s a programming issue. I think it is; I had to send them a tweet on day 1 to inform them that the abbreviation for Wisconsin (WI) was listed, incorrectly, as WA on their drop down list. Now, perhaps every time I select WI I get tossed into some sort of netherworld.

I’m also not sure the search engine on the Job Seeker side is functional; I’ve tried keyword searches for companies I know have posted jobs and I get ZERO returns.

Then again, it appears from the marketing efforts that this site is created for employers… the hell with the disposable commodities… I mean candidates. But that’s a post for another day…)

 

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