Tag Archive for career

Your Mantra for Success at #SHRM14

shrm14It’s almost upon us; that wild-frenzied time when HR professionals from across the US (and the world) travel to a VENUE that can accommodate 15,000+ attendees to get their HR groove on.  The Expo Hall is chock-full of swag and the booze flows freely during the Sunday night opening.  The SHRM bookstore is loaded with thousands (thousands!) of titles for review, immediate purchase or shipment. The sheer volume of content and number of sessions is overwhelming but, fortunately, with some pre-work you can plan your educational experience so as not to end up arriving at the convention center for a 7 AM session and only then wondering “what do I want to see?” (download the conference app here to plan your daily schedule!).

It can be very easy to slog through the days intent on gobbling up HRCI credits just like Pac Man gobbles up blue dots.  Up at 5:30 AM; shuttle to convention center; session…session…session.  Box lunch.  Session…session…session.  Shuttle  back to hotel; collapse in bed.  Repeat.

Please breathe.  And adopt a simple mantra:

“I will be curious.”

  • I will visit with the vendors in the Expo Hall. Even if you have no intention of purchasing a new HRMS product, employee referral software or employee recognition solution for your company you can learn a lot if you have conversations with the reps at the booths. Ask the vendor reps why their product or solution is relevant/needed in 2014. Inquire what HR or organizational issue it is designed to solve.  Probe for clarity on how their particular solution or service could help you deliver outstanding HR results. You should be able to walk away armed with insight, research and information that can help you forecast and plan – if not for today then certainly for the future.
  • I will expand my HR Knowledge.  Perhaps you work in Employee Relations and day-to-day you’re not dealing with recruiting and talent acquisition so you figure there’s no need for you to check out sessions on employment branding or social recruiting.  But you should.
  • I will plan for my future. It’s possible that your HR career is in the early stages; with just a few years under your belt your focus has been on solidifying your foundational HR knowledge.  Reach up – and out – for high level content; you may feel you’re not in a strategic role today…but you are making plans to get there!
  • I will purposefully connect with others.  Opportunities to expand your network exist everywhere at the conference.  Start a conversation with the HR pro waiting for her caffeine fix in the endlessly long line at Starbucks (and it will be long), say “hello” to the attendee sitting next to you in a Mega Session, and commiserate over your aching feet with a fellow traveler while riding the shuttle back to your hotel.  Make some friends, exchange business cards and partner up with someone to attend a vendor party.  Want to know where the parties are?  Check out this guide from Jessica Miller-Merrell at Blogging4Jobs.

If attending this year’s conference is not in the cards, you can still follow the twitter hashtag #shrm14 and join in the conversations from the comfort of your home or office.  And make sure to follow (and connect with!) the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference Bloggers.

I hope to see you there; let’s be curious together!

Goals: Making Them Stick

Stick ItFor the last few days (we’re on day 2 of 11) I’ve been serving as a Social Media Ambassador for Visit Baton Rouge and covering the Miss USA Pageant activities going on here in town; thus far it’s been a whirlwind of sequins, hairspray, high heels and photo ops.  Everything – I mean everything – is a photo op.

It’s a happy, cheery, candy-coated world of filtered loveliness – in a good way.  Everyone affiliated with the Miss Universe/Miss USA organization is smiling, friendly, pleasant, and seems genuinely excited to visit our lovely city.  It’s a bit of a change from the normal lot I hang out with (and love!) at HR and Recruiting events where there’s cynicism and sarcasm and the conversations are punctuated with world-weary sighs of jaded resignation.

Aye me.

These Miss USA contestants have their lifelong (for as long as lives are at ages 20 or 22 or 23) dreams on the line.  I’m sure that underneath much of the PR-smiley joy that is shared with the adoring public there are times when a gut wrenching stab of fear causes Miss Whoever to wake up at 2 AM in a cold sweat as she feels a twinge of anxiety about the whole deal.

As I’ve observed the poise and professionalism with which these contestants pose for pictures, converse with children and hug the old geezers men that inevitably want a hug I’ve wondered how they keep that energy on high.  After all, in their relatively short lives, they’ve done this stuff a million times; a lot of them began competing in Miss Teen USA pageants and have been parading around with sashes for years.  I would have grown tired of it long ago.

But you know what it comes down to?  Each of these contestants is very clear on her goal.  Before she signed up for this fishbowl life Miss Whoever knew it was all about being triumphant.  Wearing the crown. Getting to go on speaking tours with Donald Trump.   Being called Miss USA.  I’m sure she’s imagined herself, envisioned herself, gliding triumphantly down the runway over and over and over.

I can guarantee you that everything Miss Whoever has done over the last 5 or more years has been with a determined focus on achieving her goal.

That goal became sticky.

So Miss Whoever will persevere, eye on the prize, until the last musical note is played on June 8th.  Whether she rides on out with the crown on her head or heads out of town after being relegated to “not the Top 5” she will have given it her all.

No messy residue left behind. But sticky nonetheless.


Behind the Scenes fun:  this picture of Super Stick It! was taken in the wardrobe/make-up room at the contestant’s hotel. This, my friends, is apparently the magical elixir that makes sure a bosom doesn’t pop out of an evening gown and alleviates that pesky problem of one’s swim suit riding up into one’s lady bits.

“Stick It! is the entertainment industry’s double-stick tape that can be applied apparel-to-apparel or apparel-to-body. It is hypoallergenic and resistant to heat and moisture. Its unique flexible soft material design is almost undetectable and comfortable to wear. Stick It! stays put, yet is gentle enough to use on fine fabric. It leaves no messy residue behind.”

The Realistic Job Preview

jiminy21The eBook for the North American 2013 Candidate Experience Report was released this week by The Talent Board. If you work in HR or Recruiting I encourage you to read it; you can register to receive the eBook here.    The report covers a wide range of topics from candidate attraction to the application process to screen and selection and nearly 50,000 candidates who applied to close to 100 companies shared their insights.

One of the areas I found quite interesting was the information gathered around Type of Interview Events.  Per the report “A small number (5.3 percent) of candidates participated in a realistic job preview (RJP) via a ride along, job shadow or actual workplace experience. Traditionally, the RJP serves two functions – educate the candidate on a range of workplace conditions and demands of the performance environment and inviting candidates to self-select out. RJP research shows candidates that are given a fair and balanced understanding of the job are more likely to increase their commitment and work through rough spots they encounter.”

I was somewhat surprised that the percentage of candidates participating in an in-person RJP was so small.  Granted, this probably has a lot to do with the type of position; it’s highly unlikely that a company will take Joe the Coder Candidate through a RJP and tell him “Hey Joe; we want you to sit with Steve for 4 hours and watch as he knocks out some Python coding!” Paint = drying, am I right?

Why an RJP?

The first step in the interview process, of course, is making sure the right candidates are applying; being ‘realistic’ in recruiting, targeting and acquisition strategies helps at this point.  Accurate, complete and meaningful job descriptions, postings, and messaging means you should be able to successfully limit the number of candidates – resulting in applications from only those who are truly a fit for both the job and the organization.

Being realistic means resisting the urge to market malarkey; not every moment in the job you’re trying to fill or in your organization is filled with sunshine, champagne and jubilant employees. Throughout the recruiting process you need to share a balanced view of what day-to-day life is really like including being brutally honest about the job’s inherent joys and satisfactions as well as the challenges and frustrations.

There is great value for both the employer and the candidate when the candidate truly understands the realities of the job, the work environment, and the dynamics of the team/co-workers. There are one of two outcomes – either the employee makes the decision to remove themselves from consideration (good thing!) or they have a keen sense of what the job and work environment will truly be like and agree to move forward (also a good thing!). I’ve worked with hiring managers to successfully provide RJPs during the hiring process for route sales positions, health care professionals, HR staff, manufacturing jobs and high-volume phone/customer service positions. It makes a difference.

And remember Joe the Coder?  He also wants to learn all he can about the job; from the expectations to the time demands to the type of equipment and technology he’ll have available.  The RJP applies to all positions.

Technology as Friend

It’s important to provide the opportunity for candidates to ‘see’ where they will be working; I’ve always made sure that final candidates check out the physical space (office or cubicle), get a tour of the facility in which they will toil, and observe other employees in action.

Some organizations are successfully using video to share some of this information with job seekers; as an example check out the series of Home Depot’s Behind the Apron videos on their career site. Sure, the videos are snazzily produced and full of corporate-speak but notice that amongst all the talk about passion and pride it’s also mentioned that the job in customer service is “hard work” and “challenging.”

While this may make sense in a high-volume hiring environment, I don’t think a video can replace a deep and heartfelt conversation between hiring manager and candidate nor can it replace time spent on-site by the candidate.  But it’s better than nothing.

Technology as Foe

If an employer opts to hide their head in the sand and not share the ‘real deal’ they can be assured their current and former employees are doing it for them; online reviews at sites like Glassdoor can attest to that.

But technology is not really a foe.  In this case technology is a bit like Jiminy Cricket – serving as a conscience and reminding employers of the importance of telling the truth.

Wishing upon a star is not good enough.

Saying Goodbye: Managing Employee Departures

miss you MGD©The way in which an employee is treated when departing your company is just as important as how you handled the process when they joined you. (It’s also, obviously, a reflection of your organizational culture).  Remember those heady days?  You wooed and courted and promised them the moon with the ardent fervor of a love-struck teenager until you convinced them to come on board.

But now they’ve decided to leave.  The romance has soured or a more attractive suitor has arrived and lured them away. When an employee tells you “It’s not you – it’s me” (even though it may, in fact, be you) there are a few situations to avoid as you work through the break-up:

Asking them to leave immediately – This has always struck me as about the stupidest thing ever. Ever!  Oh sure, this may make sense for a salesperson who’s not going to be filling the pipeline with new leads if he’s walking out the door in 2 weeks but what’s the point of tossing Carol in Accounting out the door the moment she gives notice?  Yet there are companies who apparently assume all resigning employees are going to gather all the corporate intel they can and sell it to the highest bidder.  I’ve joined organizations where this was the norm; so much so that resigning employees who had to work out a 2 week notice were actually offended they weren’t asked to depart forthwith.

The Shunning – Bob tenders his resignation and is immediately a pariah. He’s no longer invited to meetings and his name disappears from email groups.  He can probably live with all of this but it pains him just a bit when his boss, the division director and, so it seems, the entire leadership team don’t even offer greetings in the hallway.  One step removed from Hester Prynne.  Poor Bob.

The Security Guard with a Box – This is the workplace equivalent of placing your beloved’s belonging on the driveway and calling a locksmith to change the locks.  The neighbors will gawk while furtively pretending to avoid eye contact with all involved and you’ll be the talk of the neighborhood for years.  In the office, I implore you, don’t enlist the services of a building security guard who accompanies the departing employee to her cubicle and keeps a stern eye as she packs up the photos of her kids and her collection of shoe figurines.

The Farewell Party – This is nice, right?  Sally gets treated to cake and punch and her manager gives her a gift card to Outback Steakhouse after he makes a speech about all her contributions and how she was an integral part of the team’s success.  Her co-workers sign a card (funny and slightly ribald because Sally has a sense of humor) and wish her the best of luck.  There are hugs all around with promises to stay in touch and get together for the occasional lunch or happy hour. But Sally feels a bit sad as she wonders “why didn’t they say these things and treat me this way during the 4 years I worked here?  If I knew this is how everyone felt I might not have looked for another job…”

When an employee decides to move on and enter a relationship with someone else you may not be ready to say “I’ll always love you” but you can surely tell him “let’s be friends.”