Category: Women of HR Series: Career
This is the 11th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
“How can I find time to attend this networking event when I am already spread too thin between work, my 2 year old, and my graduate studies?” asked one thirty-something overwhelmed professional/student in my office a few months ago.
Great question. And one I didn’t have the perfect, fix- it solution for. If I did, I would perhaps be better at my daily juggling act as well.
A typical morning for me often involves acquiescing to my 3-year-old’s desire for a little Yo Gabba Gabba before preschool, chasing my 18-month-old who has found diaper cream and proceeded to spread it all over her cherubic cheeks, and hopefully catching a quick glance in the mirror to ensure my ensemble is professional enough to greet the recruiters looking to hire the MBA students I work with.
As a career coach working with graduate business students, I have found that more and more students are coming to me with similar questions about balancing motherhood, professional careers and aspirations, and graduate studies. No small feat.
I have taken to reading many expert opinions on the subject in hopes of gleaning tidbits of advice that will provide solace and practical solutions for the students I work with. There seems to be a general consensus among career experts and life coaches on this topic of work life balance. The advice given is, stop trying to balance it all because you can’t, seems contrary to what we, in corporate America, have been focusing on for the past few decades since women came into the workforce in numbers.
Think about it. Giving up the goal of a perfect balance of equal parts time, passion, and energy in all aspects of life actually takes a huge weight off of a working student mother’s shoulders.Rather than continually beating yourself up because you couldn’t give your children the same amount of time and energy as you did your work that day, instead focus on the time you do have with your kids.
Productively managing multiple roles in life can be accomplished through making choices that match your values. Working overtime is a necessity if your boss comes to you with a last minute deadline. When your child has a lunch concert you make a choice to put that obligation first. If your Organizational Behavior professor piles on the number of papers due in a week, you might have to block out weekend time to study at the library. All choices are valid and none of them makes you a bad mom, worker, or student. Instead, it is an incredible exercise in prioritizing.
Making choices that match your priorities takes away guilt, provides confidence in your lifestyle, and helps you focus on the positive. Give yourself the freedom to give yourself a break and stop aiming for balance.
Aim for choice and embrace the fact that we as women have one.
At least focus on that when you are lamenting the fact that you are headed home from work at 5:30pm and you still have a night of dinner making, bath time rituals, and paper writing ahead of you!
Photo credit iStockphoto
This is the 10th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of network. It’s amazing how powerful a network can be.
Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve always invested time in building my network and helping people around me. For some lucky reason, networking came natural to me and I started networking early on in my career and even as a student. Today, I realize how much I’ve accomplished by building my network. After 15-20 years, my network has become powerful
I have some great stories, related to finding a job, which demonstrates the power of a network:
My Dream Job
I decided, 2 ½ years ago, that I didn’t want to be a consultant anymore. I missed working with a team. I made a list of my ideal job: technology company, small to medium business (SMB) size and ideally near my home. So I started researching on Google and found this amazing SMB techno company not even a mile from my home.
After more research, I found out on LinkedIn that this guy I’d just helped preparing his resume was linked to one of the co-founders of this company. There is a lot of luck and great timing in my story but because of my network, I found an easy way to introduce myself to this company and I’ve been working there since.
I LOVE my job. Thank you to my friendly network.
Helping Others Find Their Dream Jobs
Recently, because of my network, I helped 2 friends find their dream jobs.
The first friend called me up to get some feedback on her resume. She was starting to search for a new job as a web coordinator and wasn’t sure her resume gave the right impression. After hanging up with her, about 10 minutes later, 2 guys came in our office to look at our office space (our offices are moving to a bigger space) and I realized that one of the guys is someone I knew from school. So we start chatting and they explain to me what business they are in … yes, web sites development. My friend would be the perfect match for them so I tell them about her. They agreed to meet her and they hired her!
The second friend had been looking for an HR job for around 6 months. She was taking her time because it was important for her to find the right fit. So I find myself one morning in a networking event and I’m talking with someone I’ve met a few times before. We work in the same industry and are both in HR. He shares with me the fact that he needs to hire someone in HR but he finds it challenging to find the right person. After discussing the profile he’s looking for, I tell him about my friend whom I think would be a great fit for his job. When I tell him her name, he realizes that she applied for his open position and they where meeting a few days later for an interview. He hired her!
So what do these stories have in common?
Amazing timing and luck for sure, but more than that, they each reflect the power of a network. In competition for jobs today, it makes a difference if you are recommended or referred by someone the company already trusts. You can get your dream job because of your network – because you are connected with someone the company already trusts.
Read that again. Powerful!
Never, never neglect your network because you never know when it will have such a powerful impact on your life.
Photo credit iStockphoto
This is the 9th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Go into your next interview prepared to negotiate.
One can argue that a well laid plan is never a bad idea. However, when it comes to negotiating a salary—it’s a must!
I am telling you this from experience.
When on the job search a few years ago in Denver, I accepted a really low salary because I wasn’t prepared to negotiate pay for what I thought was fair. I ended up feeling stuck in a low paying job with no chance of a near raise or bonus. So I sought the advice of a personal injury attorney, who advised me on the proper techniques for negotiating a fair salary that both myself and my employer were happy with.
Going into your next interview prepared with some rough salary calculations will keep your eye on the prize. And because salary negotiations in an interview can create a lot of anxiety—the thought of confrontation might leave you feeling nervous. Or you might end up sounding either too greedy if you ask for too much or just plain pathetic if you don’t ask for what you think you’re worth and just accept the base offer. Having a range in mind can take a lot of pressure off both you and your potential employer.
Follow these 5 steps when negotiating your next salary:
1. Settle on a suitable salary range before your interview
Going into an interview, you may be afraid of the uncomfortable point when the interviewer will ask you what your salary expectations are. You know it’s going to happen, so why not be prepared with a salary range? You can settle on a suitable salary range by researching the average salary of comparable positions in the city you work in. You will get paid more for your higher education and any special skills or qualifications you might have as well. Keep this in mind: if you ask for more than you want, the interviewer will be forced to negotiate if they really want you and you may end up with money than what the employer originally had in mind.
2. Don’t bring up salary
At some point during the meeting, the interviewer will want to talk about your salary expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be the one to talk money first. I recommend letting the interviewer bring the topic up, then ask about the range they are willing to pay, before you offer up an expected amount. This way, you get the upper hand by learning what they are willing to pay first (they are probably working within a budget). After that, you can aim for the high end of the employer’s range instead of guessing in the dark.
3. Always negotiate in a range
Never state a solid number and stick to it. It’s best to give the employer a high and low end to work with. This tactic is not meant to devalue your skills or education, but stating a range rather than a firm numbers shows that you are willing to work with the employer so that everyone is happy.
4. Support your worth
Your potential employer isn’t going to just agree to pay you what you want without some sort of explanation on your part. You will be expected to provide the “why?” Meaning “why” you think you deserve this range of pay. Your calculation should be based on the skills and work experience you will bring to the table (i.e., so your education, skills, expertise, professional accolades, and your years of service).
5. Remember there are bonuses to any salary
If the job is one that you know you will really enjoy, but the employer can’t pay you the money you expect, all is not lost! Negotiations as far as things like holidays, lieu days, and health benefits are still on the table. Many start-up companies and small businesses will offer employees lower salaries, but make up for it when it comes to additional holidays or bonuses until they can afford to pay employees more in salary. Remember, bonuses and holidays can bulk up your salary by almost half if you consider lieu days, reduced hours, and the option to work from home.
Learning the proper techniques for negotiating a salary means that you won’t end up accepting the base offer or agreeing to less pay than you think you’re worth. If you do, your whole job hunt could be for nothing because you’ll be unfulfilled financially and looking for a better paying job right away.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About The Author: Colleen Harding is a staff writer for a Denver personal injury attorney and guest blogger who specializes on writing about law. Today, Colleen hopes that sharing her knowledge will make us all happy, law-abiding citizens. She is also a member of Amnesty International as well as an active volunteer in her community.
This is the 8th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work for yourself? First of all, consider these factors to determine if your temperament is a good fit for self-employment. If the answer is yes, then you’ve cleared the first hurdle, but you still aren’t home free.
Before self-employment becomes a viable option, be sure you’re not buying into any of the myths out there that may lead you astray. As a self-employed home-based business owner since 1995, I’m here to debunk those myths and further help you determine if you should hang out your shingle. Trust me, it’s not for everyone.
Here are four misconceptions of small business ownership that I’ve repeatedly encountered over the past seventeen years:
Consultants make big bucks. Oh, if I had a dollar for every time somebody said this to me I would be rich! Usually, the conversation goes something like this:
They: So, Jennifer, you’re a consultant, right?
Me: Yes I am.
They: Well, our company hired a fancy-pants consultant last month. Geez, the daily fees that guy got! I wish I could earn that kind of money. You must do OK for yourself, huh?
This is one of the biggest myths I encounter about self-employment. People with this mindset lack a fundamental understanding of how small businesses operate. That “daily fee” the consultant charges is the company’s revenue, not the consultant’s paycheck. Out of that dollar amount comes any cost of goods sold (for example, the personality assessments that I purchase from a publisher), utilities, office supplies and so forth. After I pay all my bills and if there is money left, then I pay myself. Some months, there is no paycheck.
Working from home means less daycare costs. Big. Fat. Lie. Sure, now that my kids are older, I can sneak in some phone conferences and a quick check of emails. But if you want to do heavy thinking work, or lead a conference call, then you’ll need someone besides you to handle the daycare. Nothing kills your aura of professionalism like hearing strains of “Mommy, Charlie just threw up!” in the background while you’re trying to conduct a business call.
You’ll have more flexibility in your schedule. Well, sort of. Being independently employed does mean that you can arrange your schedule in whatever way you want it. I have found however, that Murphy’s Law is very much in effect when it comes to client needs. It never fails that a client needs something urgently during the time you’ve blocked out for your “flexible” schedule. And, if you are flying solo like I am, then there are very few to whom you can make the hand off.
The write-offs are a huge perk. Yet more evidence that the person saying this to me doesn’t understand a basic Profit & Loss statement. Yes, there are many things small business owners can write off, but it’s not like the amount written off goes straight into our pockets. The “write off” reduces the tax liability, but it’s not like some amazing rebate plan. Items like meals eaten during business meetings and certain travel expenditures are only partially deductible.
So, still think you’re ready to make the leap into self-employment? Then let me be the first to offer you encouragement. It has the potential to be an extremely rewarding career. It’s a choice I’ve never regretted and hope you will find as much satisfaction as I have. Drop me a line and let me know if you take the plunge.
This is the 7th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
After the marathon that is the job interview process, reference checks can be the last mile and where it is easy to trip up.
Once, at 6:00 p.m. on a weeknight, I received a call from a U.S. Congressman who I had called earlier as a reference for a candidate. He spoke about how the candidate was a strong and influential leader in his office and told a story about the candidate’s strengths and perseverance throughout his tenure. While we might not all have elected officials as our references, we can help prepare them to speak as eloquently as this reference did.
Easily forgotten, the 10 minute reference call can make or break your candidacy for a position.
We pick our references, but do we prepare them? By the time you get a job offer, it may be months since you gave your old supervisor the head’s up that you were searching. Or maybe you didn’t give them any notice and they are on a sabbatical in the north of France.
The worst thing a reference can do is not respond, but a vague response is just as bad when impacting a hiring decision.
Properly preparing your references is essential to making the best impression possible. Create a document for each reference that highlights the accomplishments you made as well any awards or honors you received. Include a story of how you overcame a weakness. Use a skill set vs. a personality trait to demonstrate your professional growth.
Unlike the interview process, a reference check can include personal accomplishments and challenges that you had to overcome. The best references are individuals that you built relationships with and maintained throughout your career.
Overall, the 2-3 references you pick should be able to speak on your behalf and convey the traits that will make you an asset to any company. Providing them a point of reference will only enhance the information that they convey, and increase your chances of making the best impression possible.
Don’t we all want that?
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Jessica Gross serves as the Lead Recruiter for a nonprofit staffing firm in Washington, DC where she performs full-cycle recruiting for entry level to C-level management roles. Jessica provides career counseling and job readiness assistance to individuals and nonprofits in the DC-area. Connect with Jessica on Twitter as Jessicas144 and on LinkedIn.
This is the 6th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Recently, I wrote a guest post for my employer’s blog. I shared what I look for and consider when I’m hiring for our company. What I wrote isn’t new or groundbreaking, and most likely sounds like a thousand other HR articles with hiring advice.
The most important thing I shared is probably the most overlooked with all the people I interview. When I open the door for the candidate to ask questions, few people take me up on the offer.
When you’re considering spending a significant amount of your day somewhere, why wouldn’t you try to discover what the place is like? One of the reasons I give you the opportunity to ask me questions is to find out how interested – and interesting – you really are. We’re a small employer, and you’re not going to be able to lose yourself in any kind of crowd. The position we hire you into will likely change significantly within a year or two. Do you want to know whether or not you’ll enjoy working with us? Or are you simply in it for a paycheck? The types of questions you ask me will give me insight about those things, and will benefit you in the long run.
It’s important you find a job you don’t hate, that won’t make you bitter and resentful. You may not be interviewing for your dream job, but the job shouldn’t drain you of all hope to the point that you’re simply living day-to-day, giving up on your dreams. Interview me. Ask about big picture items. Find out as much as you can about the company culture, the customers, strategies and the bigger goals. Is the company profitable? Is it growing?
I meet a lot of nice people. When I’m interviewing candidates for an entry- or mid-level position, a majority of the applicants would likely do a good job. The opportunity to interview me is a chance for you to demonstrate that you care about more than just the position. Any little bit of extra effort you exert may sway my decision your way.
Photo credit iStockphoto
This is the 5th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Being unemployed really sucks!
Having a break in your career can be more frustrating than ever and can move you outside the active job market.
Depending on how long you have been unemployed, you may already have have gone through the mental trauma of being ignored – not receiving any interview calls or responses to your job applications.
Now the question is, what can you do to make this situation better or what steps can you take to position yourself in a winning spot?
As Andrea Ballard recently wrote, it is time for a career check up. And the diagnosis is . . . address what you can do to keep yourself relevant in your industry even if you are out of a job and fill in your career gap.I think there are quite a few readers out there who are in this predicament.
How do you avoid this career gap? What do you say if an interviewer asks you about this break?
Apart from being highly active on LinkedIn and participating in networking events of your local SHRM chapters, what else can you do to improve this situation rather squandering away time waiting for the interview calls to happen.
Well, I am not saying to make up a job to fill in the gap in your resume because that would be foul, but what you can do now is to operate as a FREE-lancer. yes, totally free. There is no law that says that you can’t have an unpaid job on your resume. Go find one now.
Engage yourself in volunteer work or jobs without pay, especially in nonprofit organizations. If you are an accountant, consider making yourself available to organizations that require accounting services (Click here for volunteer opportunities in your city). Open yourself up such opportunities. They make not pay you anything but the experience and goodwill you earn can be invaluable.
People will love to have you. You will be able to display your potential to do the job, prove that you can be a valuable asset who can contribute to a good cause and possibly create an opportunity for yourself. You never know, after few months of your stellar voluntary service, a position might open up where the organization would be happy to retain you for permanent salaried employment.
And when an interviewer wants to talk about this FREE-lance job, articulate what have you gained and you will look great! Tell them how by doing this job you kept yourself pertinent in the industry, gained experience and developed new skills.
Chances are are a potential employer will value your volunteering experience over another candidate’s gap. You will show that you are a go-getter and a results-oriented person who an employer would benefit from hiring.
What do you think? Would you be a FREE-lancer today?
This is the 4th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
You have a job, so you’re not really worried about your digital footprint.
You received so many invitations to join LinkedIn, you finally built yourself a profile. Now, if you could only remember your password! People keep talking about social networking and personal branding, but you are too busy to keep up with all of that; you’re working.
Don’t be complacent. A job today is no guarantee of a job tomorrow.
A CareerBuilder survey of more than 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes provides some sobering statistics: more than a third (35 percent) of American companies are operating with smaller staffs than before the recession. Thirty-six percent of companies will hire contract or temporary workers in 2012 and this percentage has been inching up every year since 2009 when it was 28%. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive late last year, says 27% of companies will hire temporary or contract workers in Q1 2012.
An M Squared poll of independent consultants suggests a temporary (or “flexible”) workforce is a permanent change. Fifty-five percent of independent consultants surveyed expect their revenue will increase in 2012. Could an outside consultant accomplish your job? If you don’t generate revenue (sales) or create product ideas, your position could be outsourced.
You don’t have to just sit around and wait for 36 percent of companies hiring contract workers to equal 50 percent. Act now to own and manage your professional reputation.
You should always act as if you may be facing a job search. If you are an expert in your field, other people should know it. Grow your reputation and stretch your network beyond the walls of your office or company. If you do not, you will face a big challenge should the time come when you need to either market yourself as an independent contractor or find a new job.
If you’ve poo-poo’ed social media, consider these four uses for tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to assist you being prepared:
- Demonstrate your expertise. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, you can easily make a habit of sharing useful information via links to posts or articles you read. It’s not difficult to contribute to conversations in all of these networks, which will help you cultivate an aura of expertise (assuming you are, in fact, an expert). When you do enter the social media fray, you may be surprised by how quickly you can become part of a community of other leaders in your field.If you play your cards right, before you know it, colleagues will be looking to you as a mentor and calling you an expert.
- Expand the network of people who know, like and trust you. You no longer need to rely on your brother-in-law or neighbor to introduce you to someone who could potentially hire you. Social networking broadens your network to include new mentors, colleagues, and contacts from around the world and right next door! We all know the best opportunities come via networking and a TIME Business article hits the nail on the when it compares job searching to throwing paper airplanes into the galaxy. In the article, Gerry Crispin, principal and co-founder at CareerXroads, cited surveys suggesting “… At least 28% of all hires came from employee referrals, although (Crispin) suggests the number may be even higher.” Don’t leave your network to chance. If you don’t spend time online expanding your network how will you effectively identify mentees? If you’re not up-to-date and cutting edge with your skills, how will you help those coming along behind you?
- Learn information you wouldn’t otherwise know. No doubt there are conferences and events you might like to attend, but can’t swing the travel or the time. It’s likely someone is “live tweeting” the events. If you join Twitter, with a little know-how, you can find and follow all the best information and learn what people are saying without ever leaving your home or office.
- Get hired and attract opportunities to you. Whether it’s a job opportunity you were not even seeking or a contract you need to land to pay your bills, creating a meaningful digital footprint can make the difference between being on the inside, or being outside and looking in. Results don’t happen overnight, though; don’t wait until you desperately need an online presence to try to create one. Start now. You won’t be sorry.
Are you convinced? These are just are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reasons you should consider creating your online presence. Take it one step at a time and be sure to let me know when your first unexpected opportunity lands in your lap!
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Miriam Salpeter, author of Social Networking for Career Success, is a CNN-named “Top 10 job tweeter” and contributor to U.S. News & World Report’s “On Careers” column. Quoted in major media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and NBC news for her cutting-edge career advice, Salpeter is an in-demand writer and speaker regarding job search and social media. Follow her on Twitter (@Keppie_Careers), Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.
This is the 3rd post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
In January, the Wall Street Journal posed the question “Is the Paper Resume Dead?”
As it turns out, the answer is “No.” Using information from HR recruiters and managers, as well as tracking sales of high quality paper stock at Staples, the author concluded that a paper resume is still a necessity, especially at places like career fairs.
Anyone job searching these days has experienced the online application. Some companies no longer even want a resume – they just want your application. But I’ve spoken to candidates who have been called for interviews and been caught off guard when asked for their resumes. Sometimes the online application is available to certain employees in the company, but not necessarily the ones doing the interviews.
It’s a confusing time to be in HR and experience the transition from paper resumes to employees who have a social media presence – perhaps even a brand!
On the one hand, we are advised to thoroughly research our candidates, perform background checks, and look into their past experience as a strong predictor of future performance. On the other, we’re advised not to let many things a candidate has posted on social media influence our hiring decision, given the possibility that the information posted is inaccurate or discriminatory. Further complicating the matter is our current employees, who, if they are involved in the recruiting and hiring process, love to Google and research the candidates as well.
Employees and job candidates also suffer from the same confusion.
Last week, I noticed a surprising post from a seasoned employee and resume coach. He posed a question on LinkedIn, ranting about a performance review that was only a “Meets Expectations” rating. While this employee said all of his supervisor’s comments were favorable, he was completely angered that the overall rating wasn’t an “Exceeds Expectations” as it had been in the past.
When he discussed the 4 page rebuttal he was in the process of preparing for HR, he received almost 25 responses – most of which advised him against posting about his employer in the first place. The question is now closed, but it is not deleted which means that his rant is forever out there for all to see – including future customers, clients and employers.
A professional paper resume – and a professional online presence – are both necessary.
When caught up in the heat of the moment, it feels good to just let loose. If we can stop and ask ourselves “Is it true?” and “Is it kind?” before we post it on line, we may be able to develop an online presence that it complements, rather than competes, with our well-written resume.
A paper resume may “make or break a bid for a job” and an online presence may make or break a career.
This is the 2nd post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
There is nothing more annoying than a constant complainer.
A friend of mine is planning a wedding. She picked her color scheme and told the bridesmaids that they could choose whatever dress they’d like in the specific shade. One of the bridesmaids whined (and whined and whined and whined) about how the dress she wanted wasn’t available in that color. It began as an act of passive aggression and progressed to full-on complaining.
The fact is, sometimes things don’t go your way. In a wedding, the bride is the boss. It doesn’t matter if the dress you loved was recently featured on an episode of Gossip Girl. It’s not your call. Pick a new dress and move on.
This is especially important at work. You might have to do things that you think are pointless, but moping about it does not mean you will be excused. Some things are out of your control. Accepting that is the only way you can really work through it.
There is an alternative. If you have a genuine reason to dislike one of your work tasks, try to think of how you can improve it. For example, complaining to your boss, your coworkers and your Starbucks barista about how much you hate writing a report is not going to accomplish anything but annoying innocent people. Being proactive is always a better option than being a continual grumbler.
Create a plan that highlights how the report could be improved and pitch the plan to your boss. Focus on the specifics of what does and doesn’t work and explain what changes could be made to make it more efficient. Even if your boss doesn’t accept your proposal, at least you’ll have gotten your grievances out in a professional manner.
Remember, even your boss has a boss. Everyone has their own job requirements to be accountable for. The office does not revolve around you. There might be work that you don’t enjoy or processes that you find antiquated. If you can’t figure out a way to improve upon such things, your only option is to suck it up.
Moaning about your work all of the time is unprofessional. It will be a lot more difficult for you to move up the corporate ladder if you are always being negative. It will also be a lot harder for you to get things accomplished. Take the energy that you would use for criticism and focus it on your work. Your time is better spent working towards your goals than ripping apart your obligations.
In work and in weddings, sometimes you have to smile through the frustrations. Don’t be bitter, make things better.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Erin Palmer works with Villanova University on programs such as their masters in human resources online and HR certification programs. She happily writes for a living and enjoys mentioning that fact to people who think that Writing and English majors will never find a job. She loves to meet new people, so reach out to her on Twitter @Erin_E_Palmer.