The Benefit of More Women in Leadership Roles

Posted on April 28th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Women account for half the world’s working-age population globally. However, the persisting imbalance of women in positions of power has started a debate in corporate circles about the viability of a gender quota so as to encourage gender equality in corporate positions of power. But why so much hoopla about gender equality? For one, reports suggest that more women in higher roles reflect in the form of better performance for the companies. Moreover, companies that have women in leadership roles have traditionally fared better than their counterparts during times of financial crisis, similar to the recent one. Here is a detailed account of why women leadership would work better in certain situations and how can you promote the same in your office.

A study carried out by Pew Research Center on women and leadership; there is little difference between men and women in key leadership traits like ability to innovate and intelligence, while many observing they are even better than men when it comes to being compassionate and organized.  Despite these facts, we see a very limited participation of women in boardroom discussions and at the upper management level. The story is same across all the continents, whether it is Asia, Europe and the US. In an extensive survey carried out by 20-first, a UK-based global gender consulting firm in 2014, women held only 11% of the 3,000 executive committee positions in 300 surveyed companies.

 

It’s good for financial performance of the company

Multiple research studies have been carried out in this direction. In 2007, a not-for-profit organization Catalyst reported that Fortune 500 companies having females as board members show significantly better financial performance than those having low female representation. The surveys took into account three points- return on sales, return on equity and return on the investment and found that companies having better female representation excelled on all the three parameters. Another major research that reports similar findings is that of DDI, (Development Dimensions International), a global talent management firm based out of US. According to DDI survey, companies that had majority of board members as women witnessed a substantial 87% better performance than their competition.

women in leadership

 

It’s better for the job economy, as a whole

Better financial performance of the organizations obviously leads to a better economic state where there are greater number of job opportunities, better productivity and more development.  This improved financial health will directly reflect in the number of jobs that will increase proportionally. Whether it is marketing jobs or healthcare, the industry hardly matters as long as it is working towards better gender diversity.

 

It’s Better for Relationship Building

We all have a common understanding that women are equipped with better relationship building skills. This is backed by research from Harvard Business Review, which notes that female leaders are consistently rated a notch higher than their male counterparts in the category of relationship building. This is obviously a good thing for the organization as good peer to peer camaraderie is essential for keeping up the productivity at its optimum level. In addition to inter-office relationships, this skill is also going to boost a company’s client satisfaction levels and help expand the business.

 

It’s better for Collaboration

With good networking skills comes the ability to easily collaborate with colleagues, clients and workers across teams, functions, and departments. A paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research agrees on the fact that women are more attracted to cooperation than men.  Men, often overestimate their capabilities, while downplaying those of their colleagues, while women are a better judge of their abilities and therefore are not averse to suggestions and help from their team members. In short, women make better team players than men.

 

Women are Better Communicators

While women undisputedly rule the roost when it comes to communication at personal level, does this also extend to businesses? If experts are to be believed, on the whole, women often make better communicators than men. Zenger Folkman, in their survey, also reported the same. A leader should and must have the ability to establish a crystal clear communication with his team members, clients and consumers. Women tend to be better listeners than men, and that’s what makes for a good leader.

 

It’s also better for men on the whole

Surprised, you might be, but gender diversity at leadership level or in the corporate in general is a good thing for men. This might sound lopsided, but there are many aspects to this argument. We could deal with them one by one.

 

Men have the freedom to break the norm

In the male dominated corporate world, a man’s identity is inseparably connected to his job, role and pay package. However, once the corporate world comes to term with the rising prominence of women, and their increasing participation in management decisions, this will take some performance pressure off the men’s shoulders. They will no longer be expected the default bread winner of their families, the sole earning member, who has to earn more than his spouse, and lead the family. Men can also try to be what they really want to be. They can break the stereotype and follow their passion, at least once in a while. It does give some breathing room and creates some kind of financial cushion to which they can fall back in case their plan B doesn’t work out as well.

 

Men can try to be a better parent

As more women take up careers and become an equally important financial support of the family, men can take some time off their work to be a better parent and run the family in a more involved, holistic fashion. When fathers work fewer hours per week, the family benefits, and it reduces the risk of behavioral problems in the kids that is often witnessed in children who had their fathers missing due to work.

 

About the Author: Saurabh Tyagi is a career and motivational author who consistently writes articles on various job related themes, including gender diversity in organizations.  He has been published on various career sites such as under30ceo.com and blog.simplyhired.comYou can follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

 


Happiness vs. Engagement…What Should We REALLY Care About? #WorkHuman

Posted on April 26th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences, Workplace Culture. No Comments

About a year ago, right after I first heard about the concept of #WorkHuman and the inaugural WorkHuman conference was held, I started writing a post on the difference between happiness and engagement.  As it happened, life got in the way and the post was put on the back burner, but as we’re now gearing up for the second annual WorkHuman conference, which this year I have the honor of attending, it seemed like a great time to revisit the topic.

As one of the more recent overused prevalent catch phrases and trends in the Human Resources profession, discussions about “employee engagement” in the workplace have been going on now for quite some time.  Just Google the word and undoubtedly you find thousands of articles, blog posts, and best practices about how to achieve and attempt to measure how engaged your employees are.  Heck, even my own job title has the word in it now.  The discussions and debates have been going on for so long, in fact, that some have said it’s time to move on from that topic, that there’s nothing more to say about it.

I was part of a live, call-in episode of my favorite HR podcast, Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane’s HR Happy Hour a while back, in December 2014, where we addressed just this issue.  Titled “Celebrating the Final Conversation on Employee Engagement?” the 200th episode of the show set out to lay to rest the employee engagement debate once and for all.  But what we discovered through the various callers and discussions on the show is that the topic is far from dead.  One element that did come up was the difference between happiness and engagement.

If you look at the official definitions of “happy” and “engage” on Dictionary.com, you’ll see that there is a difference:

 

Happy: delighted, pleased, or glad as over a particular thing; characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy.

Engage: to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons); to attract and hold fast.

 

From these definitions we can infer that just because someone is engaged, it does not necessarily mean they are happy.  Engagement simply means they are putting forth the effort; happiness on the other hand implies an intrinsic sense of joy or pleasure.

One point that was made on that show is that we don’t need to care about whether or not employees are happy, we just want them to be engaged and productive.  It’s not our jobs as employers and human resource professionals to ensure that our employees are happy; and in fact, there are too many outside factors that play into that anyway.  We just need to ensure we’re providing an environment where they can be connected to their work and achieving what they need to achieve.

But I ask this question: are happiness and engagement REALLY mutually exclusive?

Shortly after last year’s WorkHuman conference, another episode of HR Happy Hour aired, one that was actually recorded live at the event.  Steve and Trish kicked off the show touching on the idea of happiness and happy employees, and referenced something that was said at the conference: “Happier workers work harder.” And I think I tend to agree.

You see, I’m not convinced that happiness and engagement are completely separate issues.  Yes, it’s true that you cannot control all factors that play into someone’s happiness.  You can’t control whether or not they are having marital issues or problems with their children.  You can’t change the fact they may be dealing with aging or ill parents.  You can’t fix depression or mental health issues.

But you know what we can do?  We can help to build and shape cultures where people feel recognized and appreciated.  We can take the time to care about the well-being of the folks who show up and spend a large percentage of their lives with us, helping to achieve the goals we set out for our companies.  We can create departments and teams where people feel included and like they belong, somewhere they can generally enjoy coming to; where they can say they love their job, even if they don’t actually like it every day.  And when we do that, doesn’t that help to create employees who are, in fact, happy….even if it’s only in the workplace?

I offer this example.  One of my own coworkers deals with an exceptional amount of drama and issues in her personal life.  From issues with kids to ongoing problems with family, it seems as if it’s just one thing after another for her.  All of this could easily get her down, distract her, and even create disengagement from her work.  Yet, because of the environment we’ve created, she’ll be the first to say, “I’m thankful for my job; it’s what keeps me sane some days.”

Is it our responsibility to create that type of environment?  No, not necessarily.  We have an obligation to create workplaces where our employees have the resources they need to do their jobs.  But does it behoove us to think about the benefits of a happy work place?  By my own experience, I’d say it does.

Just as happier people outside of work could tend to be more engaged and productive in their jobs, I also believe that a happy work environment can offset a hectic or difficult personal life.  And by extension, also creating a more productive and engaged employee.

We all strive to be good employers.  Is it enough to create an environment of engagement?  Or SHOULD we be thinking of taking that extra step and striving to create an environment of happy workers?  Some may still disagree with me and say happiness is not our business.  From my experience I beg to differ.

 

What do you think?  Are happiness and engagement two separate issues?  Should we be concerned about the happiness of our employees?

 

Interested in joining in the discussion about creating great workplaces and cultures?  Join us at WorkHuman 2106.  Register here, and as a reader of this blog use discount code WH16JP300 for $300 off the regular registration fee.

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


How the War for Top Performers Can Be Won by Redefining Success: Capacity and the Definition of Talent

Posted on April 19th, by Rita Trehan in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Talent. The War for Talent. Those two terms are the headlines that strike fear into the hearts of companies and create top-line action items for HR groups across the globe. The major fear for us all is what skills will be needed to ensure corporate longevity and success, and how will you get to them before anyone else does? Well, let’s also add to that the ability to attract and retain them. It’s a large problem to solve, that’s for sure. But I’m not entirely sure that it’s an external job. I think it starts with searching internally first, and that means a long, hard look at your leadership and competency models.

 

This is not to say that more traditional competency and leadership models are failures. Quite the contrary: these frameworks have succeeded in providing the qualities/attributes previous leaders and employees required for daily operational and long-term success. Built upon the success profiles of the past along with proven business acumen, these models have sparked development programs, helped forge career paths, laid the baseline for promotions and compensation rates, and crafted the means through which staffing is performed. The issue isn’t that they’ve never been successful; it’s that they may not be what’s needed moving forward.

 

We live in a global business world that is filled with daily disruptors, things that come flying at the business before anyone could conceivably see them coming. Technology advances every day, the customer is closer and more vocal than ever, cloud-based services are revolutionizing the way the workplace runs as well as how products are delivered, and it seems our entire lives can be run from our phones. Virtual technology is coming faster than we think, and with artificial intelligence and robotics working its way from the factory floor to self-driving cars and home-based products such as Amazon’s Alexa, the ebb and flow of product delivery and customer contact is getting faster than the speed of imagination. Does your leadership model work in the same way? Maybe it’s time to take a look.

 

When you review a traditional leadership model, you’ll notice they all have one great similarity: all competencies apply to all leaders, irrespective of their role, division or market. The premise has always been that a central set of leadership behaviors, traits, and competencies must be applicable across all leaders, that everyone must be held to the same standard, and that in order for the company to be successful everyone in management must march in the same direction in the same way. Before maybe five years ago, that worked. But in today’s rapidly-changing world of business, I’d argue that it’s a static, antiquated approach that might get you smashed against the windshield of oncoming change. It’s coming fast, so you must be adept and adaptable, which means rewarding a new set of leadership principles.

 

Let’s also explore the new prevalent population of the world, the Millennials, and how they affect more traditional role descriptions and success models. This generation isn’t driven by the same cash and prestige rewards as were Boomers and Generation X. They thrive on social causes, they desire to make more global impact, they demand work/life balance, and they require constant feedback. They’re also the most swiftly-adaptable generation in history, they solve problems more efficiently, process data more quickly, and can utilize technology better that their predecessors.  We must consider how we look at where these skills fit into the world of work, how to attract and retain their ranks, and how to measure success against present and future corporate needs.

 

All these points direct us to one overarching point: we must change our leadership and competency models. Question is, how do we do it? I have some thoughts.

 

First, I don’t believe we should scrap the entire thing. I think it starts with understanding which baseline aspects of leadership must be required based on your corporate vision, mission, and values; you have to start with performance aspects that point to corporate DNA. What does it take to achieve your corporate goals and move your company forward? What does that look like? Those are your baseline leadership aspects. Describe them and attribute them to everyone.

 

Next, look at your overall goals against market data and understand what it would take to achieve success in each individual role. Adaptability, social change, market expansion, innovation, customer acquisition and satisfaction, the ability to do whatever it takes to ensure customer and market success (also described as leadership brand) — all these things describe what it takes to be a leader. Then you must differentiate at different levels and within different divisions. Growing businesses require leaders with strong entrepreneurial skills. Manufacturing business may measure excellence by production floor innovation and cost savings. Goods-based services might reward the expansion of the business through contract labor. Internal efficiency in companies with large amounts of data such as banks and law firms might be a tremendous measure of success. Every company may financially reward the ability to positively impact the local community or to reduce the impact on the planet. These skills are leadership based, and can (and should) work their way into competency models all the way down to the lowest level of the organization. Once these differences are implemented, you have leadership and competency models that have a similar baseline for success, but reward for individual roles and performance. That is the way to progress to a brighter, more profitable future, and it is the way to win the global talent war in any market in which you play. The same truism applies to the different skills needed to manage a turn-around or a merger.

 

The difference with this approach is the models remain dynamic. Outside the baseline core, as the needs of the company change, the attributes of the model continue to shift with it, continually updated and reflective of where the business is in its life cycle. It is where corporate capacity lives, breathes and grows, and it is where the game of business is won.

 

 

 


Female Managers vs. All-Male Staff

Posted on April 12th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

In the hotel industry, the housekeeping department is comprised of room attendants (100% female) and housemen (100% male). Management is typically 90-100% female. This predominantly female management team often has difficulty working with the housemen. Housemen are responsible for public areas of the hotel such as the lobby, hallways, restaurant, and lounges. They range in age from 25-62 and ethnicities include Hispanic, African American, Asian and Caucasian. Most have been employed full time for 15 or more years. Housekeeping managers are often young (25-30) and have little experience. Some have been promoted from room attendant positions while others come straight out of hospitality school having spent a year or two as an intern or junior manager.

 

This dynamic is not easy to manage. A lot of conflict is generated around gender and experience (Who is she to tell me what to do? I’ve been here 10 years longer), and resistance to authority (She can’t change that- for what?).  Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts for women to effectively manage an all-male team:

 

1. DON’T try to be ‘one of the gang.’ You are not one of them, so joining them on break, or inviting them to chat in the office only creates confusion and makes it more difficult to establish boundaries and effectively lead.

DO create an authentic relationship by showing interest in who they are. Notice a haircut, new glasses, logo on a hat or sweatshirt (I see you’re a Yankees fan). This builds a connection- you care about more than just getting the job done.

 

2. DON’T be defensive. When you are challenged (You’re wrong. Can’t use that chemical) you may automatically attempt to assert your power and position.(Do it my way! I’m in charge) but this will only serve to escalate the conflict.

DO be clear and responsive. You’ll need to make it clear that the worker must show respect even when disagreeing with you (We can discuss this, but no yelling or accusing). Be responsive to the worker’s idea (OK, so if not this chemical, what would you use?). This shows that while you have the final say, you are open to learning from those with more experience and can admit you don’t know it all.

 

3. DON’T let go of your authority. It is easy to become intimidated and overwhelmed by resistant and angry men. But retreating is not an option. The group needs leadership and structure, so for better or worse, you’re it.

DO lead in your own unique style. Think about what you have to offer: enthusiasm, sense of humor, passion for the work. Whatever you have, USE IT. Be authentic and honest when you don’t know something (I’m not sure what the policy is on X. Let me check it out) and admit your mistakes (Sorry, I was late ordering the supplies you need). Acknowledge the expertise of your staff (You know a lot more about this than I do) and elicit their help and feedback (What do you think and what’s past practice?). All this shows your humanity, which is crucial to building a strong relationship.

 

Managing an all-male staff as a female has its challenges, but the key is always authenticity. Be clear and direct and work through whatever comes your way. This is not always easy or comfortable, but well worth the effort. Stick with it and you’ll build strong relationships and an effective team.

 

About the Author: With a background in social work and 2 decades of experience as a union worker, Laura MacLeod created “From The Inside Out Project®,” with all levels of employment in mind to assist in maintaining a harmonious workplace. She is an adjunct professor in graduate studies at the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work. MacLeod speaks on conflict resolution, problem solving, and listening skills at conferences across the country.  


From Entrepreneur to Leader: 6 Tips For a Successful Transition

Posted on April 5th, by a Guest Contributor in Entrepreneurship, Leadership. No Comments

To be an entrepreneur requires a special spark, and the urge to follow your own star rather than hitching on to the wagon train that’s headed towards someone else’s idea of success.  As HR people, we’ve all seen entrepreneurs in action, maybe even picked up the pieces after them as they drive the business relentlessly onwards!   

 

Entrepreneurs bring focus, energy, charisma, and creativity. Part of their success comes from breaking the rules and thinking outside the box. That’s great for a solo operator because the only person who suffers when things go wrong is the entrepreneur themselves — they burn their fingers, say ‘ouch’, learn their lesson and move on to the next thing.  

 

But to grow a business of substance, the entrepreneur needs to figure out how to work with other people. She needs to harness others’ creativity and energy rather than just relying on her own. Becoming a business leader is a whole new ball game. Here are my six tips to help those HR entrepreneurs make the transition into a leadership role:

 

1. Visualize Where You & Your Business Will Be

Where do you visualize you and your business will be a year from now and ten years from now? Create a picture in your mind of your successful self, dominating your market and running an awesome business. Don’t let doubts about juggling home life or anything else come in here — this is your positive vision of success and nothing should mess with it!

 

2. Set Goals and Stick to Them

Set yourself long-term goals, including business goals, financial targets, and personal development points. Break them down into shorter term goals so you’re always working towards achieving them. While you might be taking care of all aspects of the business in the beginning, as your business grows that will change. Look at where you will need to delegate work.

 

3. Let Go of Your Ego

Yes, I said it. You needed one to get  you this far, but don’t let it get in the way now that you’re bringing other people on board. It’s your business and you love it, but believing that you’re the only one who can run it will simply lead to self-destruction.

To avoid burning out, you’ll need to be comfortable sharing the responsibility of running your business. Invest your time and energy in hiring great people and training them so that they will be able to take on some of the load.

 

4. Hire a Great Team

Write a list of all the things that need to be done to grow your business. Tick the ones you’re good at and the ones you want to keep doing and make those into your job. Then hire great people to fill the gaps.

When you hire people to go out and represent your business, make sure they share your vision and values so they’re credible ambassadors. If they’re providing services or advice under your brand, they need to do it your way.

You know the theory, now go put it into practice! Create a company culture that you love and find others who love it too, and success will follow.

 

5. Keep it Flexible

Be open to working with people in different ways to meet the needs of the business. Use contracts creatively to flex the size of your team, so you keep your core costs low and bring in the right people when you need them.

You need a good network, so get out and meet lots of contacts. When you’re exploring working together, be clear about how much you’ll pay, what work you expect them to do, and how they should manage any client relationships.

Offer your associates a cut of the client fee if they bring some business to you. If you create a big enough pool of associates, you’ll always be able to call in a specialist when a project comes up. Best of all, you don’t have to sweat at the end of the month with a huge pay bill and not enough clients.

 

6. Remember Your Roots

Whether your roots are in HR, or somewhere else, remember what it felt like to be noticed by the top guy for doing a good job. You don’t need to understand Motivation Theory or  employee engagement measures to know how good it feels when someone says thank you. Stay meaningfully connected all the way down through your team, so that you notice when people are doing a good job. Tell them personally that you’ve noticed.

About the Author: Sharon Crooks is an HR Consultant and an expert in training business people and leaders to communicate effectively with their employees. Sharon is the co-author of a new book HR for Small Business for Dummies, which provides valuable insights into how to run a small business.

Knock-Knock: Let Technology In The Job Search Today

Posted on March 31st, by Jacqueline Clay in Career Advice, The Funny Side of HR. 1 Comment

Welcome to another edition of…

The Funny Side of HR:  From the Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age

Thank you for coming back to check on me “A Woman of a Certain Age”.  I hope that you are enjoying  my view of the evolution of all things HR including a hint of humor.  Please feel free to leave your comments.  I welcome your thoughts and your remembrances.

 

Last month, I discussed the job search process of yesteryear.  The process was what we today can call “manual”.  Everything was done on paper or with paper. Tons and tons of paper.  Job seekers searched via newspapers.  Companies advertised via newspapers.  The job search world was paper logged.  Agencies held job seekers captive.  They were the proverbial gatekeepers of many companies, holding the key to the door, that we felt potentially housed thousands of open jobs.  It was critical, therefore, to develop good, productive relationships with the Agencies to successfully navigate yourself into even a piece of a job.   We smiled and greeted the Agent with reverence (even after having been told to wait and wait and wait in their “waiting room”)  We waited  with frozen smiles because we did not want to do anything that would inhibit, limit, trim or slim our prospects in ingratiating ourselves to our Agent.  Agencies were in control.  The process reminded me of going to a club, where the guard at the door selected who could come in and who could not.

Most companies did have human resource or recruiting offices.  The test, though, was if you could locate them, if you could gain access, if you could find the direct number and if a “human” answered the phone.  If the stars and moon aligned and Jupiter was in its house, you were able to get in and fill out an application.  However, since you had no idea what opportunities were available, it was usually just that, you filled out an application and unbeknownst to you at the time, it went into the company Black Hole of Applications, never to be dug out again.  (Come on now, I can’t be the only person who has experienced this!)

Today, while some companies still use agencies, the tides have significantly turned.  Agencies now NEED  Candidates (the word “candidates” is capitalized to show the turn of power).  Companies have online applications.  Candidates now have a Santa Claus bag of options available for free.  They do not need agencies at the same level as in years past.  Technology has come to the rescue.

With that being said…let’s talk about the job search process of today…

 

  1. If you do not have a computer, you might as well say “game over”. You need to get one (desktop, laptop or even a tablet).  It is okay to have a “do it all, world of tomorrow,” Android phone.  However, you need a computer to produce the still required, still arduous, still annoying resume and cover letter and to make sure you can provide and retain up to date information.  (A printer with scan capabilities is also necessary…but first things first…get a computer).

 

  1. Yesteryear, there were no such things as websites. For the most part, the only way a company could  obtain  information on a candidate was to “wait and see”.  Today, we all have the worldwide web and candidates can use it to strengthen their professional acumen and advertise expertise and experience.  As a candidate, make sure you only incorporate information that will present you as professionally current and worthy of the type of employment you are seeking.  Remember, whatever you put on the web can and usually does, remain indefinitely.  Therefore, think twice…okay…three times before you put anything on the web that you wouldn’t want published on tv for all of your friends and family to see.

 

  1. Networking from the sofa. In-person networking is still one way to go, but not the only way, especially if you are on a budget.  You do not need to get off the couch, get dressed and attend some potentially boring, get-to-know you, lack luster, no guarantee event that you most often have to pay for and expend transportation dollars.  From the convenience of your home, while drinking a cup of coffee, you can make connections and develop professional relationships through a number of websites, i.e., LinkedIn.

 

  1. Application Process.  There is one aspect of the job search process that has gotten much more convoluted and tiresome.  That is the online application process.  Let’ say you have found a company or agency that “seems” to have a position available that meets your qualifications.  Rarely are there phone numbers to call (just like yesteryear).  Sometimes there may be a direct email address to which you can submit your resume.  However, most often, you need to complete an online application.  You click on the job.  You are connected to another site and have to click again.  You are connected to another part of the site.  You see no application.  So you search the site and after a while (can be anywhere from a minute to many minutes), you find the application.  You click APPLY.  What?!!  Now you need to create an account!  You enter the information requested and of course, decide on a password (that you quickly forget) and click GO.  Now you are asked a thesis amount of information, several pages.  I don’t know who developed these arduous, long, time draining pieces of technology.  In any case, since you are interested in the job and the company, you trudge on.    I recall completing one of these hour long thesis questionnaires and when I finally got to the last page and clicked SUBMIT, it would not go through!  The screen went blank and my only recourse was to start over!  Did I?  Absolutely not!   Even if you were able to seemingly successfully transmit your information (you never know for sure what happens at the other end), rarely is there a return piece of communication.  Now…where did all that information go?  Oh…yeah….the Bermuda Triangle of Computer Applications located near the Black Hole of Paper Applications (from yesteryear)

 

  1. Resumes and Cover Letters.  Again…another arduous, time consuming task, but by all accounts in the world of job searching, required (unless of course, your uncle owns a company and hires you).  If you are not fortunate enough to be an heir, heir-in-law or family friend/relative of a business owner, you need to get your resume together.  Resumes and cover letters are still your calling cards, but now one more element is included…“key words”.  Key words are words that hiring managers and agencies use to search their database for resumes.   These individuals no longer review each and every resume…they filter out resumes based on key words.  If your resume does not include the necessary words that relate to the job you are seeking, off your resume goes to the Black Hole of Resumes (closely associated with the Black Hole of Applications) .

 

  1. Dress for Success.  I can not tell you how much money I spent back in the day ensuring that my  dark skirt suit, white shirt and pearls  were perfect for the interviews.  Climbing the ladder dressed for success has turned into wallowing in costumes of “accept me as I am”. (Just my observations).  First impressions are sometimes lasting impressions, but some job candidates today, want individuality and expect companies to detour professionalism for individualism.  While I am all for a more casual working environment, I still believe that interviews are the opportunity to put your best foot forward and show respect for the business.  However, how can candidates show respect for the business when the interviewers lack the same.  Many companies have acquiesced into a much more casual environment…even during the interview.  Business casual is fine, but in some instances, there appears to be no boundaries.  In fact, I recently had an interview and did my best to “dress for success” (no pearls) and was astonished to see the mid level interviewer dressed in old jeans and sloppy shirt.  It really changed my impression of the organization.  However, when I left the interview, I saw another candidate dressed in jeans and a button down shirt.  How times have changed!

 

All in all, technology has made it easier and more time-efficient for both the job seeker and the hiring company.  No more going to the library to do company research.  The web allows for job seekers to do research on various companies easily and with little effort.  However, once a company of interest is identified, you will probably be lead to an online application.  (Refer to the Application section above).

One problem, though (at least for me), is keeping up with the trends and the multitude of options available.  Certainly, technology in this process, can be considered impersonal.  However, how personal was it yesteryear when we had to wait and wait at an agency or travel to a company and be told that they are not taking applications. Not very personal.

One aspect of the job search process that has not changed one iota is the dreaded compensation question.  “What are you seeking in compensation?”.  What kind of question is that?  My first thought is to respond with, “how much are you paying?”  We could go back and forth until one of us raises the white flag of surrender and gives up a number!   But, if the number is too low, you may be disqualified.  If it is too high, you may be disqualified.  It is like being a contestant on The Price Is Right.

Lastly, I do think, that we still need to be visually considerate of the business, both as job seekers and those who are involved in the interview process.  We don’t have to dress like we were on Dynasty (Remember, I am a woman of a certain age), but I do think we should be mindful as to how we are presenting ourselves.  You may be able to do the job or hold the position, but what first impression are you giving to others?  What are you exhibiting that shows time, effort and thought to support employment entrée into the company?  And…as hiring managers, recruiters, how are you representing the importance of your role and the company?   We all need to step back and look in the employment mirror.  Just something, I think we should consider.

Thank you for reading my article and stay tuned for the next installment of “The Funny Side of HR….from a Woman of a Certain Age”.

 

About the Author: Jacqueline Clay is a freelance HR business consultant working with small and midsize organizations to assist them in meeting the challenging responsibilities associated with the full realm of HR management.  With  over 20 years leadership experience in all aspects of the HR business, she has helped organizations in a myriad of areas, including  on boarding, labor/employee relations, policy and procedure development, organizational effectiveness, coaching and training.  She holds a BA in Psychology from Fordham University.


In Case of Emergency Break Glass

Posted on March 29th, by a Guest Contributor in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. 2 comments

I sleep at night with the security of knowing that there is a box of snowcaps in my night-table.  This box of snowcaps has remained in my night-table unopened for over twenty years.  It has accompanied me through multiple moves, various trials and tribulations, and a multiple of life changes, players and personal iterations.

For those who know me personally, I live on carrot sticks and hummus. I rarely even eat chocolate.  So why the Snow Caps?  The answer is quite simple; it’s symbolic and synonymous for comfort.  It is for the same reason that when I was preparing for Hurricane Sandy I bought water, gas, flashlights and five boxes of snowcaps.  After all, if life was going to become challenging, I wanted to make sure I had my comforts available!

I have spent the past month, as I do the open of each year, cleaning (well organizing), purging, and setting the stage for the upcoming year. While cleaning my night-table I came across this ancient box, smiled, and began to contemplate the other “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” habits I have adopted over the years.  Further I pondered how important these survival habits, safe guards and rituals have become to my well-being and survival in today’s crazy, surprise laden, 24-7 world.

Looking back on simpler times, before the age of cell phones and constant internet contact, having an emergency contact list really had meaning.  When leaving the house as a pre-teen and young adult one was told to be home before dark and handed a couple of quarters so you could call someone ”In case of an Emergency”.  We all instinctively knew just who to call.  For me it was my Grandma Fanny.  She would get you anywhere, anytime, no questions, no judgment. Who is that person or those people for you?  Who will you call when the stakes are high and the chips are down?

It’s wonderful when your children become adults and you can have really honest conversations about what kind of parent you were when they were growing up, and how you continue to support them today. I have come to learn that I am an “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” Mom. What does that mean I asked? Apparently, when it came to the simply day to day stuff like teaching them how to change light bulbs, do laundry, boiling eggs and making beds neatly I failed my kids miserably.  After all we were always in survival mode, who could be bothered! Thankfully, everyone turned out great in the end. We skipped egg boiling and went right to omelets. We would be appalled if we got less than A’s in any of our classes, a project (present company included) or showed up late or unprepared to a game or practice!  We lived by the golden rule, “Do on to others as you want to be treated yourself”.  Most importantly, if you dropped any of us on the set of survivor I am sure we would all make it off the island.

Here are my favorite in case of emergency break glass habits and rituals:

 

Stop!

I used to be the queen of running away from my issues.  NO MORE!

In fact I was so skilled at the art of self-deception that I have multiple degrees, a wall of certifications, a laundry list of accomplishments and success beyond my humblest comprehension, all to cover up for problems neglected.

Consequently, I have left shipwrecks of astonished people and boat loads of unanswered questions in my wake. Those days are over.

You can mask running with productivity all you want, but in the end you will need to face your demons and issues head on. Today is as good a day as any.

Slow down, dive in and face the music. This too shall pass!

 

Empty, Not Fill

As an ex-chronic runner, filler, busy making problem avoider, and collector of both people and things, I have actually made this one of my New Year Resolutions!

There is nothing better in times of stress, trial & tribulation, and deep contemplation to go on a Personal Purge.

What does this mean?  If you need to ask yourself more than once, “Should I hold on to this? The answer is NO.  This includes people places and things!

 

Don’t Isolate

Chances are if you run, you also hide.  Waiting till you feel better to contact your friends make no sense and defeats the purpose of having them?

Misery does require company.  There are others that have walked in your shoes, find them and they will comfort you.  Open up to the people you trust.  You will be amazed to learn you are not as unique as you think.

 

Know When To Let Go

Knowing when to let go is always a challenge and often what brings us to our “In Case of Emergency” state.

It is helpful to remember that

“Some people and circumstances present themselves for a reason, some for a season and some to stay.”

I have used this phrase to comfort myself, my clients, my children, and many a saddened friend when they did not get or lost their job, gone through a horrible break up, divorce or life just did not live up to their expectation.

Should I stay or go? Hold on or cut bait?

Knowing the difference is crucial and knowing when to let go is critical!

It helps to remember that life and relationships are dynamic, cyclical and fluid.  Be open to all possibilities, and keep your eyes open and learn to read the signs. The right people will actually seem to appear out of thin air.

Trying to make a situation work when it shouldn’t is futile, staying too long may be counterproductive and often destructive.  Trust and move on.

The people and things that are supposed to be there will. The ones that aren’t won’t.

Definition of insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!

 

Break the Rules

I am a definite do gooder, non-corner cutter, live by the golden rule type of girl, but desperate times may call for desperate measures.  In times of emergencies you just might be forced to cut a corner or two. Step out of your comfort zone or just push boundaries a bit to experiment with what is possible.  Hey you never know? You could stumble into something positive. Just be mindful that you don’t push too far and that you can live with the consequences of your actions.

 

Sweat the Big Stuff!

I am a firm believer that there isn’t an issue or problem that cannot be worked out through with good old fashion sweat and a pair of sneakers, bicycle, yoga mat, weights or whatever physical activity floats your boat. Once a gym rat always a gym rat.  I started my Entrepreneurial track as a personal trainer 25 years ago and have always kept a gym membership since, even though I prefer outside workouts (even in the dead of winter). I suggest you do the same. The point is not to isolate. Get up, get out, sweat and start your day right.  If you prefer working out at night then go straight to the gym not to your couch. Not to sound unoriginal…JUST DO IT!

I have recently developed a love hate relationship with Hot Yoga.  Seriously, who comes up with these things?  As if balancing all of your body weight on one leg while holding perfectly still for 60 seconds is not bad enough, now add the element of 104 degrees.  Sheer insanity!  Yet I show up every Sunday. Why you ask? Discipline? It’s good for me? I’m nuts? My logic, it is mental conditioning. If I can do an hour of yoga each week while being roasted alive, everything else that is going to happen to me will be uphill from there.

 

Adventures

Along with my gym rat mentality is my zest for adventure. I am a definite adrenalin junkie and know this has served me well to help me through many rough patches.  For me stepping out of my comfort zone is most often around trying new kinds of physical activity. Parachute Yoga (I know who thinks of these things, but my favorite!), Mountain Biking (15 years ago before it was cool), Rollerblading (when they first came out) to name a few.  My son is still traumatized from when I would blade past his bus in middle school and people would say, “Isn’t that your mom?”  He would say no, as if there were many other rollerblading moms in the neighborhood.

Bottom line is pick your poison.  Live on the edge just long enough to get out of your head for a bit of a break.

 

Fun & Laughter

As hard as I work is as hard as I play. If you read my blogs, or perhaps know me personally, you know that I find the humor in even the most awful situations and topics.

I am a survivor but aren’t we all, we could not have gotten to where we are today without a few bumps or bruises.

I have surrounded myself with some of the best people in the world. Trust me; we have had no shortage of fun.  I have laughed at myself, we have laughed at each other, but most importantly we have never stopped showing up for life, and having fun, fun, fun.

I recently described a best friend of mine as a “Party in a Bag”.  This is such a great description of many of my closest friendships. Many of us don’t live in the same state. Our relationships take extra work. So we put in the time and the effort, schedule phone calls, we drive in traffic to see each other, we get on planes and when we arrive we make it count!  We laugh, we cry (if necessary) and we have FUN.

LAUGHTER, FUN, CONNECTION are truly the best medicine.

 

Calling All Contacts

This will sound like such a contradiction to so much of what I have preached, but I used to be in the habit of waiting till I fixed my problems and then reporting my progress back to my friends.  This is absurd!

I am happy to report that I am over this.  I will admit that I have had to call myself out to my friends on this habit and they know to reach out if they do not hear from me.

I recommend having regularly scheduled times to speak to out of town friends and specific times you meet your local friends and actually put it in your calendar.  This way it actually happens!!

 

Comfort Food

Surrounding yourself with creature comforts in times of trouble is a great thing to do, but remember when you popped that last snowcap, finished the bag of potato chips, and drowned your sorrows in a pint of rocky road you will feel no better about yourself the next day. News flash, your problems are still going to be there.

Remember Rome was not built on Fast Food and French Fries!  Think “Brain Fuel” and make healthy choices especially when the chips are down.  My rules of thumb, “If it does not fly, swim, grow or have a mother, don’t eat it.”   In other words, stay away from anything processed if you want to think clearly to work through your rough patches.

Do treat yourself but make healthy choices.  Like one glass of heart healthy Red Wine (good red wine of course!), or a square or two of dark chocolate.

 

Self Care

Times of trouble are no times to let yourself go.  In fact you should step up your game even more.  My sister-in-law and I have a running joke.  She will always say to me in my darkest hours.  “You look fabulous, how can I help”?

If you are a girl, don’t leave the house without make up, if you are a guy shave for heaven sake.

Keep up with manicures and pedicures, dye and cut your hair, schedule a massage, update your wardrobe.

This too shall pass and the last thing you are going to want to do when the dust settles is personal triage, nor should you require a full make-over once things have settled down.

Your grandmother was only partly right.  You should never leave the house without a nice clean pair of matching underwear. Only you shouldn’t do this in case you get in an accident, you should do this because it makes you feel good about yourself!

 

Spoil Yourself With a Little Retail Therapy

For me there isn’t a problem in the world that cannot be solved when I have found the perfect pair of new boots and a matching handbag.  This I know might not work for everyone.  I also don’t recommend retail therapy if your problem is in relation to finances!

Retail therapy comes in all forms and defined is purchasing anything large or small that makes you feel good about yourself, if even for a moment.

Truth be told my favorite retail therapy is gift giving.  I love buying gifts and sending my friends random things in the mail spontaneously.  No occasion required. I do this out of the blue when I come across something I think will be helpful, or just because it reminds me of them. I do this a lot so they no longer think it’s strange.  I highly recommend it.  It definitely gets you out of negative thinking for a while.

 

Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Every night before I go to sleep I write down at least three good things that happened to me that day and/or three things that I have to be grateful for.  It does not matter what is going on in your life, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for at the end of the day.  As you start doing this, the positive things will out way the negative things and before your know it the tide will turn.

 

Contemplation

“What brings me to the mat can most often be worked out on the mat”

Translation:

For those of you who have not read my blog the “Is the Finish Line Really a Dotted Line” please do.

Your face down in the ring moment is when your face is on the mat and you are down for the count.  The crowd is waiting.  What are you going to do? Stay down or get up? Let the other win or claim your rightful victory? This moment is golden; however, it is important to remember this moment is yours to claim and choose alone.

That is where the other mat has always come in for me, the yoga mat that is.  Here I can strip down the noise, adrenalin, anxiety, outside influences, and conventional wisdom to decide what I really want.

Find your means of peaceful contemplation.  Then ask yourself what you really want?  What is your gut telling you?  It is in those quite moments of peaceful contemplation that the healing takes place and the answers come.  Follow your voice.  Don’t the next right thing.

So in conclusion dear reader I wish you neither malice nor harm. I do hope that you read this blog and file it someplace safe and never need to use this list of “In Case of Emergency” tactics.  My list is safely nestled next to my snowcaps as you conclude. It is however an uncertain world and life will continue to throw us surprises and curve balls.  Today I do hope you wake up emergency free; nevertheless, just “In Case of Emergency” my list of tactics is my gift to you as you never know, “Maybe one will come up?”

 

About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax, a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture.  Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.


Putting the Human Back in HR….and Our Workplaces #WorkHuman

Posted on March 22nd, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Conferences, Work/Life Balance. No Comments

I’ve noticed for some time now, at least amongst some HR professionals, and in some pockets of conversation within the HR world, that there has been a fair amount of discussion about the need to put the “human” back in human resources.  Not so much implying that we’ve all become robots or total slaves to technology (at least not yet!), but rather that as we get busier, add more to our plates, and expand the scope of HR, or as we get caught in the grind of our day-to-day, that we also need to remember that first and foremost it’s PEOPLE we’re dealing with.

Yes there are policies and guidelines that need to be in place, at least in most workplaces, mostly to ensure that we are legally compliant, that our workplaces are safe and harassment free, and that there are standards in place for fair compensation.  And with more and more technological solutions available to automate HR processes and make the function more efficient and effective, many HR pros are becoming more systems focused in their day-to-day jobs too.

But none of that changes the fact that it’s people that we are supposed to be advocates for. After all, in the end our function is not called “Policy Resources” or “Rules Resources,” or even “Technology Resources”…it’s Human Resources.  Our reason for existence shouldn’t be just to enforce the rules of the company, or put systems and technology in place, but rather to ensure that all of those pieces in place are in the best interests of the people within the company. That they are not just arbitrary rules, systems, or processes, but that they are in existence to help build workplaces and cultures that encourage the best work out of everyone, ultimately in an effort to support company goals.

In fact, this isn’t really a new concept to me.  For my entire career I’ve been trained and coached by my leaders in my HR practice to keep the needs of people front and center in decisions that are made. Even when a decision had to be made that wasn’t necessarily in the favor of the employee, the question that needed to be asked was “have we ensured that we’ve given them every opportunity to fix the issue first?” so that by that point the negative action had to be taken, it was more a function of facilitating what that person had already set in motion by their action, or lack of action.  I’ve been taught over the years that it’s a huge responsibility, facilitating outcomes that can have an enormous impact on someone’s life, so at all times it’s critical to remember that the person you’re dealing with has bills to pay, perhaps a family to help support, and a life outside of your workplace.  And it’s a concept that can extend way beyond just when dealing with issues and negative situations, it’s one that can be used to cultivate and promote positive outcomes as well.

On the surface it seem so simple, but in the midst of our day to day grind can be easily (if not intentionally) forgotten. After all, most of us that are working in the “HR trenches” have more on our plates than ever before. Not only are we dealing with issues, but we’re managing processes, evaluating and implementing technology, and various other responsibilities to help make our organizations successful.

Regardless, it’s a concept that not only can we not afford to forget, but can’t afford to not put front and center in not only our HR practices, but throughout our organizations as a whole.

And that’s where the idea of WorkHuman comes in.

WorkHuman is a concept started by the folks at recognition software company Globoforce, and it’s an idea that they are “all-in” passionate about. To quote the WorkHuman mission, it centers on the idea that “when companies harness the transformative power of human connections, well-being, purpose and communications, we build a work culture that both reminds us of our worth as individuals, and pulls us together in pursuit of shared success.”

In fact, the folks at Globoforce believe so strongly in the idea of WorkHuman and in building a movement around it, that last year they hosted their inaugural WorkHuman conference. I watched that conference from afar with great interest, and this year am jumping in to join the movement.  It’s an entire event focused on building more human workplaces through great cultures, recognition, engagement, communication, and forging connection.

Seems like a worthy focus, doesn’t it? That only good could come out of promoting more human workplaces?

If you’re interested in learning more about building more human workplaces, join us in Orlando in May at WorkHuman 2016. You can register here. Use discount code WH16JP300 for $300 off the cost of registration.  Hope to see you there!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


The Reality of Adult Bullying

Posted on March 2nd, by Kristin Kaufman in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of working alongside our educational system coaching (and teaching) leadership principles to the senior leaders in our educational institutions from New York City to the Rio Grande Valley. It has been an amazing experience, which has tremendously enriched my life and fulfilled my professional career. Recently, one of my incredible clients, Uplift Education, published a newsletter highlighting the issue of bullying in their schools, and how to address this reality. I was impressed with their coverage and their staunch stance of a ZERO TOLERANCE for bullying in their schools.

While reading their commentary, it was impossible for me not to realize that much of what they were addressing is not limited to children. Bullying is alive and well in our adult circles – professional and personal. Chances are each of us have experienced bullying at least once in our workplace, if not in our social circles. To be clear, let’s identify what we mean by bullying:

  1. The behavior toward another individual is deliberate. It is pre-meditated with the bully’s intention being to hurt someone – in some way.
  2. The behavior is repeated – over and over again. It becomes habitual and the ‘accepted’ approach toward the other person. The behavior may change in how it manifests – yet, the behavior is indeed consciously calculated and intentional.
  3. The power between the individual and the bully is imbalanced – real or imagined. There is perceived difference in power, status, strength, societal or political position, etc. between the bully and the victim – and the bully leverages that to their benefit.

With that as our baseline, how ‘bullying behavior’ shows up as an adult may vary from how it manifested as children. Physical bullying (hitting, pushing, slapping) is far more prevalent when we are younger, than as adults.  However, other forms of bullying such as name-calling, divisive gossip, exclusion and deliberately getting others to hurt, exclude or ‘gang up’ on others, and cyber bullying via Facebook, and other social media mechanisms is much more widespread and common than many may realize.

As a team leader and leadership coach, I hear examples of this on a regular basis. Many of my clients have shared that team members are blocking them on Facebook or other social media channels, or withholding critical information they need to do their jobs. This also cripples their ability to become a part of the team and/or to foster spirit de corps.  Others have stated how peers and team members have spoken half-truths about them and continue to proliferate these fibs and rumors to that individual’s demise and ongoing exclusion. Still others have ‘voted individuals off the island’ due to a simple difference in opinion, a different choice made, or just to assume a superior position that the bully’s victim.

Bullying in the workplace and in life can be completely disruptive not to mention hurtful. It is typically driven by the perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual. This can be driven by jealously, insecurity, unbridled ambition, or an imagined sense of superiority. Bullying can show up by a set of acts by commission  – actually DOING things to others; yet it can also manifest by acts of omission – which can be someone withholding resources from others or simply not being loyal and standing by the victim, to others. And in the worst of all cases, the bully involves others to gang up on the victim and those that ‘cave’ and do not stand tall to support the victim are in many cases the greatest bullies of all. Over the course of my adult life and career, I have been the victim of both types of bullying.  It is no fun and can completely derail your self-confidence, and have you questioning your every thought, word, and deed – which is, of course, what the bully wants.

So what can we do about this reality? Well, there is a website that does an amazing job of highlighting a few steps to take when this happens in the workplace. It consists of shining a bright light on bullies in the workplace and requires nothing short of turning the workplace culture upside down. Bullies must experience negative consequences for harming others. Senior leaders need to call out that negative behavior, and certainly not reward it. Only Senior Leaders can reverse the trend; and if they actually support it – then the team and organization can become toxic. I have actually had a leader support the bully’s behavior, and that can be extremely disheartening. However, what I believe whole heartedly is this: the truth ALWAYS will reveal itself over time.

A few additional thoughts for consideration:

  1. Always take the high road.As our father has always taught us, ‘if you see it, so does everyone else’. So let the bully reveal their true behaviors – as over time, even if they are the best actors in the world, their passive aggressive, manipulative, and mean behaviors will be revealed.
  2. We need to try to do our best to LIVE the Golden Rule.Yes, trust me when I say this can be hard when folks have been ugly and divisive relative to you and your work. Yet, again, as my parents would say – at least you can sleep well at night knowing you are living YOUR life in integrity and with purity of intention.
  3. Take care of your health during these stressful times.When folks are mean to us, if we internalize this, it will most certainly show up in our bodies. Thus, we need to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Eat well. Exercise every day at least 30 minutes. Consider Yoga or medication to help lower your blood pressure.
  4. Finally, we need keep these ‘evil doers’ in our prayers.It is impossible to harbor ill will against someone when we pray for them – of this I am 100% certain.

What are your thoughts? What suggestions to you have when we face situations like this in life and/or in business?

 

About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat  anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.


The Interview – Part 1: Remember When?

Posted on February 24th, by Jacqueline Clay in Business and Workplace, The Funny Side of HR. 3 comments

Welcome to another edition of

The Funny Side of HR from the Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age

 

It is nothing short of amazing how the business of human resources has changed overall during the last 25 years.  And…certainly, if we look back at the job search and interview process 30+ years ago, there is less and less recognition of the art as we know it today.  (Remember, I am a woman of a certain age, so I can discuss this aspect quite thoroughly).  Both the job search and interview process has changed for the HR professional as well as for the candidate.

 

As I mentioned in my introductory piece last month, HR has its hand in a myriad of responsibilities and understanding the job search process from the candidate’s perspective is a key element in the attainment of the ideal candidate.  Given the amount of time it takes to conduct a candidate search, however, many organizations utilize agencies to expedite the process.

 

Today, I am going to do a backstory and take a look at the job search and interview process through the eyes and actions of a candidate seeking a job in years gone by.  This is almost cathartic for me since I have had many experiences job searching.  I will use the pronoun “you” to refer to all of us because we all have been in the job search marketplace at one time or another.

 

So…..walk down memory lane with me…

[Picture a blurred dreamy screen…Yes, I am also budding film producer!]

 

It is the 1980’s, back in a time when you could work your way up the corporate ladder and in essence, were expected to do so.  Many of us started somewhere near the bottom and made it to the top or very near the top.  (If only our boss would have left,  we could have made it to the top!)  Anyway, some of us made our way via education, certification, preparation, dedication, determination, innovation, recommendation, motivation and perspiration.  Some others made it by perpetration, falsification, association, relation, expiration, degradation and quite possibly, incantation.  However you made it, the force was with you, so congratulations are in order!

 

In any case, at the beginning, you found yourself in a situation to seek employment.  What kind of job?  Let’s see.  You have some experience and some education in your field of choice.  Most importantly, though you can type and know how to use a word processor, IBM computer.  You can type 60 words a minute.  (Actually you can type 70 words a minute…but unfortunately, only 60 words are correct).   You know how to use the arduous “cut and paste” and “find and replace” options.  You do not get a headache by looking at the word processor screen that has a dark green background with day-glow green print.  You know how to operate a fax machine and use a calculator.  You have the basics locked and sealed!

 

Now…let’s get started.  First things first.  Living in the Northeast and looking for work in New York, no job search could be launched without getting the job seekers bible…The New York Times.  How could you possibly be serious about any job search effort without thoroughly, eye glazingly (not sure glazingly is a word…but it IS the word needed here!)   reading the opportunities listed in the one and only New York Times.   You had to make sure that through hell or high water, you were able to get your copy of the Times.  This was so important that many people left their warm beds in the middle of the night, pajamas under raincoat, on Saturday evening, to make it down to the corner store to get their copy before it sold out.  Some stores would (somehow) just sell the Classifieds section so that you would not have to lug the entire 3 lb. Times when you only needed or wanted that part of the huge paper.   You still paid for it, but a reduced price.

 

Whew!  You got your copy!  Now to the Classifieds Section.  All you see are job advertisements from agencies, agencies and more agencies.  You circle the jobs most in line with your skills and qualifications.  Most of the jobs listed give short, fragmented descriptions, so it is difficult to determine whether you meet the qualifications or not.  You circle them anyway.  Some are listed with contact numbers, but when you call, you are not provided any additional information,  just told to come in.  “We don’t take appointments.  Just come in between 9 and 5 and bring several copies of your resume” was the mantra.

 

Resume!  Ok…you have a few copies printed on nice, expensive paper.  You prefer not to waste providing an agency with a resume printed on expensive paper.  But…alas…you may never get to the company interview if you don’t show a well written, professional resume and providing a copy on expensive looking paper may give you a minor edge.  You check to make sure there are no errors.  If there are, you have to retype the resume from scratch and take it to a printing company to make copies (unless you have a word processor and printer at home).  But…thanks to the resume gods, your resume looks good.

 

Ok….back to preparation.  Now…what to wear.  There are only a few acceptable choices.  A dark skirt suit (navy, black, brown, gray), a white or light colored shirt, low heeled shoes and flesh tone stockings.  Low heeled shoes were key because you never knew how far you would have to walk to get from agency to agency.  Accessories could be a string of pearls, a pin or a bow.  Simple, clean, professional.  We followed the Dress for Success rules to a tee.  One of the old adages routinely applied was, “don’t dress for the job you have (or in this case, going for), dress for the job you want”.

 

Finally, you have to decide the route to take.  (I am only going to speak from the perspective of seeking jobs in New York City and the subway, since that is where my experience is founded).  Most of the agencies were located near the 40th  midtown street location….although there were also numerous agencies in the Wall Street area.  Since you needed to keep your travel expenses to a minimum (in the 80’s, there were no metro ride all day for one low price cards), you made a list of the agencies in the same general vicinity knowing that you would, if lucky, only be able to get to two…maybe three agencies in one day.  Why?  Because you would have to wait…and wait and wait to be interviewed, especially on the Mondays and Tuesdays after the Sunday classifieds were published.  I recall walking into a “just come in” agency and seeing tens and tens of people just waiting.  Once you were called to move from the waiting room into the main room…you thought you were finally going to see someone to discuss the job…but no!  You were led to a room to take endless tests.   Typing, computer, spelling, math, calculator, etc.  Take a test…then wait…take another test…then wait.  Hour after hour.  At long last, some kind soul would call your name and usher you into the kingdom….the place where you would finally be interviewed for the job you circled.  You feel as if you had won the lottery!  It’s my turn!   Off to see the agency rep.

 

The agency representative, let’s call her Ms. Smith (very original, I know).  Ms. Smith scans your resume and reviews the mountain of tests you took earlier.  She asks about your experience and you regurgitate the speech you so diligently prepared.  Ms. Smith tells you about the position, but says that the agency has sent several candidates to the company already and waiting for a call back from them (the company).  Ms. Smith thanks you for coming and says, she will be in touch.  The entire interview took less than 5 good minutes.  Be in touch??  After several hours, you are told, “will be in touch” and given a polite good bye handshake???  At that point, YOU want to reach out and “touch” someone yourself!

 

Ready, set, go….. on to the next agency.  Never discouraged, you trot off to the next agency in your low heeled shoes with your New York Times circled classified section under your arm and your expensive resumes in your briefcase instilled with the confidence that you will eventually find a job.

 

Good Luck!

 

Next month….Interview – Part 2: How technology and social norms have changed the job search and interview  process for the candidate.  

 

About the Author: Jacqueline Clay is a freelance HR business consultant working with small and midsize organizations to assist them in meeting the challenging responsibilities associated with the full realm of HR management.  With  over 20 years leadership experience in all aspects of the HR business, she has helped organizations in a myriad of areas, including  on boarding, labor/employee relations, policy and procedure development, organizational effectiveness, coaching and training.  She holds a BA in Psychology from Fordham University.