Tag: Career

When to Say “No”

Posted on June 9th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or whether you’re well into it, it’s important to take on new opportunities. Joining a task force, working on a cross-departmental project, taking on a group presentation to a new client . . . things like that give you a chance to find out what you like and what you’re good at. Taking on such projects tests your will and your fortitude, especially those projects that are likely to stretch beyond the usual forty- or fifty-hour workweek.

The key is to take on projects that you know you can complete. You need to feel confident that you can deliver. You don’t want to be the one who volunteers and then doesn’t carry her own weight. Whatever you take on, you have to follow through. You have to push yourself to do it, even if it means you might have to sacrifice your personal time as your work week extends to seventy or eighty hours for a certain period of time. The last thing you want is to sign up for an extra project and then be the one who always leaves early or never shows up. You don’t want to be the one who makes a lot of promises but never delivers. You don’t want to be that person.

Opportunities and risk go hand in hand, and saying “yes” to opportunity means you’re taking on some risk. Saying “no” also can be risky, even when it’s the right thing to do.

Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of volunteering for extra work. Your boss volunteers you instead, saddling you with a project or a presentation that you have little time for. Some of these projects might not be to your liking, or they might not provide you with the kind of visibility that will put you in line for a promotion. Sometimes you just know that there’s no way you can take on another project and give it your all.

So what do you do when you know the right thing is to say “no”?

The key here is to decline politely without actually saying “no.” One way to do this is to say something like, “This sounds like a great project, and I’d be happy to help. I’m working on Project X, Y, and Z right now, and so I could take this on early next month. Would that work for you?” or something like, “I’d love to work on this. Do you see this as a priority over Project A, which is due at the end of the week?” Responses like this let your boss know that you’re both enthusiastic and willing while at the same time prompting him to consider your workload and how much time you could reasonably dedicate to the project and still get the job done.

Saying “no” can be uncomfortable, but it’s often necessary. Only you know how much you can really handle. While you don’t want to be afraid to push yourself, it’s important to know when to say enough is enough—just so long as you say it in a way that keeps your good reputation intact.

About the Author: Jena Abernathy is a nationally recognized leader in human capital management, performance excellence, and organizational development. A sought-after speaker, she is a passionate advocate for women in executive and governing board roles. She has written for and been featured in a wide variety of media, including CNN, the Financial Times, CBS Money Watch, FOX Business, and the Miami Herald.  You can connect with Jena on Twitter or at www.jenaabernathy.com.


Finding Your Breakthrough Moments #SHRM16

Posted on June 7th, by Jennifer Payne in HR Conferences, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. No Comments

I will once again this year be attending the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C. from June 19-22 as part of the social media and blogging team.  Stay tuned over the coming weeks for more updates and coverage from the show.

 

When I think back over the course of my HR career thus far (now nearly two decades long….yikes! When did that happen?), I can say with certainty that there were distinct moments in time that helped to define and shape the course of my career.  These times may not have been “moments” in the context of minutes, hours, and days, but they were moments in time in the context of transformational periods – some more finite in nature, and some that were a bit more of a slower evolution.  But regardless of the manner in which they happened, the outcome was the same…they provided a crossroads where afterwards my career trajectory changed in a fundamental and noticeable way.

 

Read the full post on the SHRM Blog.


Knock-Knock: Let Technology In The Job Search Today

Posted on March 31st, by Jacqueline Clay in Career Advice, The Funny Side of HR. 2 comments

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 Joan Axelrod 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.


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.


How Do I “Hook Them”?

Posted on February 2nd, by Kristin Kaufman in Business and Workplace, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

How do I ‘hook them’ when interviewing, vying for a promotion, or closing ‘The deal’?

As many may know, ABC has a real hit on its hands with The Shark Tank! The stars are a ruthless, shrewd collection of diverse, self-made millionaires who judge, qualify, and either select or ‘de-select’ budding entrepreneurs for further investment. If you haven’t watched it, you will either love it or hate it. This show can teach us a lot…..whether we are selling a concept, a product, or ourselves….let’s face it: who isn’t in sales in one form or another?

I have several clients who are currently interviewing for a new position/promotion within their existing company or in some cases other positions outside their current employer. Many are seasoned veterans who have not had to formally interview in quite some time. How can they get noticed and stand out when so many of the individuals they are up against are equally qualified? This is an art – not a science – as we all know. Yet, there are a few easy tips to keep in mind:

  • The devil IS in the details. So, when you are presenting yourself or your idea – in person, electronically, or in hard copy format – be polished in every way. No typos. Prompt thank you notes and emails. Be on time. Be prepared. All the details we often let go by the wayside the higher we climb in the corporate chain, COUNT. I am here to tell you – these small details and nuances matter.
  • First impressions count. How are you showing up….do you look and act successful? Are you confident? Do you act confident? (Not with false bravado and arrogance….with authentic knowledge of who you are and security that what you have to offer is of value.) Are you respectful? Are you dressed appropriately? Are you calm, cool, and collected? Are you well-spoken? Do you look them in the eye – personally and sincerely?
  • Have a compelling value proposition. What are you selling – about you or your idea? Why and who cares? What makes you and this product/service different? Who is your competition – and how do you ‘trump’ them? What need are you filling? What desire are you squelching? Why you? Why now?
  • Stay curious and open. Interviews and sales calls are often not so much what you tell them about you – it is what you ASK that makes the difference. Go broad and deep…industry, company, culture, leadership, current challenges, etc. The questions show your thoughtfulness (or lack thereof), and this is a sign of maturity and executive thinking.
  • Pre-briefing calls and phone interviews are not casual get-to-know-you conversations. Treat every interaction like it is the real deal. Smile while talking (they can tell….even if over the phone). Keep the energy high – without being an “eager beaver.” Be prepared and professional.
  • Know your stuff…..particularly the facts, figures, and data. If you are selling your concept, idea, or product – how much money have you made so far, i.e. what is your revenue stream? How much profit comes from that top line revenue number? How are you getting your product to market? What is your price per item? What percentage of that is profit? How do you plan to scale? What do you see your greatest challenges to be at this stage- and what do you recommend to fix it?
  • Raw, controlled, passionate enthusiasm. Areyou real? Do you LOVE what you are doing? Do you LOVE the product/service/job you are representing? Do you believe your offering is the ‘bees knees’ and will knock their socks off…..really?!!  Do you engage your audience like real people….and possible consumers? Are you meeting them where THEY are (not where you are)…i.e.: are you engaging them like the decision makers they are? Are you bubbling over…..in a contained, professional way? (Remember: energy begets energy….and enthusiasm SELLS.) Are you happy to be there?
  • Finally,have your answer to the “So what?” question well engrained in your mind. In other words…Why YOU? It is not enough to share what you have done, where you have done it, etc. You need to be clear on what it is that you uniquely offer and the results you can bring to the table. Full stop. In preparing for your interview, ask yourself at the end of every question asked – did I make it clear what I uniquely offered and delivered? If the answer is “I’m not sure,” then start over and create sharp, crisp answers which leave your mark.These steps guarantee nothing.However, what I know for sure, is that if we don’t hit each of these steps with all we have; we will never make it to 2nd base…..much less make a home run. Sure, there are at least a hundred more points of advice to offer in order to get that second round of funding, secure the non-profit donor in order for you to ‘break ground’ on the new facility, close the first multi-million dollar deal in a new account, or secure the promotion you have been working toward for years…..for whatever the sale is we are trying to make. Yet, those bits need to be developed and strategically customized for the sale.These steps are simply the basic blocks to get the door opened. Whatever profession we are in….software startup, non-profit organization, charter school system, or volunteer effort…..these steps are the constants. THAT is how you will be remembered when stacked up against others of equal tenure and experience.

 

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.


Is The Finish Line Really a Dotted Line?

Posted on December 22nd, by Joan Axelrod in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. 2 comments

Why is it from the time we are children we are always striving to reach the next milestone. We can’t wait to lose our baby teeth, only to find we look silly and can’t successfully chew.

Reaching double digits comes next accompanied by gaining entry to a coveted seat at the grown up table. Where consequently we are introduced to chores and responsibilities and often where the conversation is quite boring!

Fast forward, we speed through our high school years.  Our new focus becomes getting accepted into to the college of our dreams.  We are warned by our family, teachers and trusted advisors that these are the best times of our lives.  We do not heed their warnings and fail to truly savor the simplicity of the time.

We then become excited for college graduation.  This is when real life will begin! We will build up our resumes, network and interview like a madman and woman.  The next thing we know we are drones on the train station platform, ordering coffee on auto pilot, and entering the Monday morning rat race.

Finally comes grown up life. True independence; life on one’s own terms. In reality this means mortgages, bills, car payments and more.  Often this is followed by cohabitation or marriage. “If only I was in a relationship and had kids then my life would really start,” might become the next goalpost or mantra. Like all other milestones, does anything truly prepare you for this? Who provides you with the warning labels and fine print?

So net net my dear reader is this; whether you are 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50, in Childhood, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Marriage, Divorce, Parenthood or Old-Age, the one thing you can undoubtedly count on is that life will continue to raise the stakes.

What are you going to do when life throws you a curve ball? Are you going to lie down and take it or are you going to raise the bar?

One can never truly know what life has in store; nevertheless, you need to be prepared to face each challenge head on.  Always bear in mind that adversity bares vast opportunity.

Here are my favorite tips for dealing with life’s ebbs, flows, curve balls and bombshells while continuing to raising the bar:

  1. Recognize the signs:

Get real, life does not usually fall apart overnight.  There are signs. Do not ignore the red flashing lights from the runway.

  1. Read between the lines:

Look for the hidden signs. They are there, you just might not be looking hard enough.

  1. Be realistic:

Face reality.  Whatever the facts are deal with them head on.

  1. Get some rest:

Change is exhausting.  Get some rest and by all means schedule in some fun!

  1. Save yourself first:

When you get on a plane they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first. This is good advice.  If you are ok, you will have the strength to do what needs to be done. You can then help those around you get up to pace and follow your lead.

  1. Practice Self-Care:

This is no time to let yourself go!  Make sure to continue or adopt self-care rituals that helps revive and rebuild your energy stores. Exercise, Eat Well, Walk with a friend, Spend time outdoors, get a massage, and fill in the blank:_______!

  1. Fake it till you make it:

My late Aunt Phyllis taught me that if I did not know how to play tennis to get a great tennis outfit, learn how to jump over the net and then get lessons. “You will catch on” she explained.

I do this with everything in life.  I decide what I want to do or be next and then I the figure it out in the trenches.  Consequently I always get there!

  1. Be Your Personal Best:

Learn, Explore, Read, Stay Relevant, Repeat …………

  1. Outsourcing and Lifelines:

If someone offers to help you thank them and say yes! You do not have to be a hero. I have not done a load of laundry or a stitch of housework in the two years that I went back to school to change my career.  Relinquishing control is difficult, but necessary.  Something has to give!

  1. Let go:

There are things that you will need to let go of along your journey.  These may be people, places and things.  You cannot be all things to all people.  You cannot divide yourself too thin or you will lose focus and you may not succeed.  Remember you are the one on the Journey and you are the one that is undergoing Transformation.  Trust the process.  Let others catch up.

  1. Contact & Thank your Supporters & Personal Board:

You put a Personal Board together for a reason – this is it! During times of transformation you need your closest supporters and accountability partners the most.  They will keep you going, talk you off the ledge, cheer you on, and be your best sounding boards.  All this, while keeping you honest and sane.

My grandfather taught me at a young age the importance of finding the people you admired the most in life and your career and bringing them into your inner circle.  More importantly I learned on my own that in order to have a good friend you needed to be a good friend. I value my close relationships above all else in life, and give relationships my all.  I treasure each and every one of you. You all know who you and I know you are reading this.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank You!

  1. Welcome New and Fabulous Fellow Travelers!

Wow, the people you will meet!  Doctor Seuss might have said this first but boy was he right.  I have met the greatest people during my transition into my new career.  When I walked into NYU that first Sunday morning two years ago I did not realize the door I was truly opening.  I have met the greatest people, some I believe to be lifelong friends.  Through opening up to new networking opportunities I have again met fabulous people, joined a board and again made fantastic new friends.  I have had lunches and coffee dates that have been like warm comfortable sweaters and long deep exhales.  Yes, there are people out there that will truly get you, and get what you are going through.  Be open to them and let them in.  Your will expand and new opportunities will be endless.

  1. Steal and savor all and any Peaceful Connected Moment:

I coined the phrase Peaceful Connected Moment when I had small children.  By definition a Peaceful Connected Moment, is a very small window of time when the wheels stop, the noise in your mind slows if only for a moment, and you can savor a moment of quiet peace and contemplation.

You will know when one arises.  Learn to recognize it, and enjoy.

  1. Be willing to take a risk:

At the end of the day, when the preparation, contemplation, and analyzing is over, you must be willing to roll the dice.  (I can’t take credit for this, it came from a board member)

You must trust the “Net Will Appear” -Zen Saying

or

“Learn to Swim or Build a Boat” me 

  1. Let go of dead weight (kindly), but beware of the carnage:.

When you emerge from the rubble and dust yourself off, not everyone will be there to cheer you when you take your victory lap. This is ok. The ones that are supposed to be there will and the ones that aren’t won’t. That’s life.

You will survive.

 

My life has imploded and I have reinvented myself so many times, I can hardly recognize myself. This is a good thing; adversity has brought me great opportunity! I have been knocked down and have gotten up each time from my face down in the ring moments stronger, wiser and more resilient from the fight. I have faced adversity and won.  I have raised the bar each time and clearly understand there is no finish line or end game in sight.  There are only targets, goals and lots and lots of surprises. I am excited for every new challenge.  Bring them on, I’m ready willing and able!

I challenge you to do the same.

 

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.


Getting What You Want In the Workplace

Posted on November 19th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in Business and Workplace, Personal & Professional Development. 2 comments

Recently, I gave a talk to the Association for Women in Communications in Springfield Illinois (aka AWC Springfield) called Getting What You Want in the Workplace.  Since we focus on women in HR on this blog, I thought it was fitting to share what I discussed here as well, especially since I mention this site during my talk:

 

So let’s talk about today’s topic which is getting what you want in the workplace. Seeing as this is a women’s program, we will talk about it from a woman’s perspective and getting what you want as a woman. In a blog I wrote for Women of HR, I have talked about the first ten years and The Perfect 10, which was the last ten years of my then-20-year HR career. I loved having the flexibility of being able to be a mom and be a professional at the same time. I talk about credibility in the workplace and bereavement leave. Most recently, a drunk driver killed my brother and I shared what it is like for employees to take bereavement leave. It is really not flexible in most cases.

Let’s start with a true workplace story: How many of you have been engaged? How many remember the details of that day? When I was engaged, I was very excited as most would be, but when I got to work I was asked to take off my engagement ring and not wear it for 6 months! Luckily, I didn’t get married sooner than the 6 months as I had already planned to have a one-year engagement so that my husband and I could pay for the wedding.

How would you have felt if you were asked to take of your ring and not tell anyone else in the company you were engaged? I felt terrible. I did write a blog post, called Bride To Be = Discouraged Employee, about this incident. This experience brings me to my first piece of advice – DO NOT LET PEOPLE WALK ALL OVER YOU. In today’s environment, the Internet, which was not available when I first started my career, makes it possible for an individual employee to understand his or her rights within an organization. That incident would not go over well in today’s workplace. I would say stand up for what you want. If you don’t understand your options, what your rights are, look them up. There is no excuse for not knowing as you each have unlimited resources.

My second piece of advice came from the same manager that told me not to wear the ring. She was trying to look out for me and she did not want me to suffer as she had with male challenges in the work place. What she did do was give me a lot of advice. One thing I have lived my career by is to TOOT YOUR OWN HORN because no one else will. If you do well in something, make sure people know about that. If you have been honored in an organization that perhaps does not have to do with the business but is still an honor, make sure your manager finds that out. SHRM actually recognizes volunteerism and will send letters to your boss on your behalf, which toots your horn for you. Make sure you’re tooting your horn and look into those opportunities. Don’t think of it as a selfish, stuck up, or snobby kind of thing to do. It isn’t. It is the way to get ahead. Men do it. Maybe in a different way, but they do it. Maybe over beer or on the golf course. They do it for each other as well. They do not necessarily promote women like they should as much as they do each other. Women don’t promote women like men promote each other either.  How many women would look to another woman to promote her? None, women are competing against each other so they are not promoting each other’s efforts. Sadly this is the truth in my humble opinion.  I often ask myself, why is that?

My third piece of advice is ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. If you want a promotion or a raise, ask for it. I’ve had to that a few times in my career. It doesn’t always come easily and it is sometimes challenging to ask. Most recently, I was honored by a call to interview for a high level political HR position that I did not seek out. The call was based on reputation and the recommendation of others. Although, I didn’t fully consider the position due to a variety of reasons, I did use the situation to my advantage.  Since they called me, I let my boss know I was interviewing.  It was a toot your own horn opportunity at the very least as it was an honor and reflection on the university as well as my own career achievements.  Once I discovered what they pay level would be, I did take it to my boss and asked for a raise. I have used it a couple other times as well. Not just that I had a competitive offer but just simply asking for a raise that I felt I deserved. Back to the Internet resources, you can go on salary.com, Indeed, Monster, etc. and do salary surveys free of charge. You can compare jobs and focus your search criteria to specific demographics. You can go to the Department of Labor to look up salaries as well. It is important that before you go to your manager and ask for a raise, you conduct a comparison, do your homework and be prepared with answers to justify your request. You also must understand that despite the fact that you are asking, you may denied. Prepare for that and understand that there is a budget and a profit to be made. If there isn’t a profit, and you’re in a for-profit organization, it may not be possible to offer a raise; but, at least you’ve tried and you’ve asked.

Another topic related to pay is the idea that 10-20 years ago, it was not kosher to talk about salaries. Nowadays, people will talk about wages all the time and there is absolutely nothing an employer can do about it because of the National Labor Relations Boards (NLRB) current administration. There have been many cases that have been turned around on the employer where they have tried to keep the information quiet and an individual fought it. If any two or more people are talking about a workplace issue, this is what is considered a concerted effort. This used to be only with unionized organizations. But now if you go online or onto social media you will see a big campaign called Fight For Fifteen. This started in Chicago after retailers on Michigan Avenue declared they would walk out on Black Friday if their wages were not increased to $15 per hour. Now multiple organizations and people around the country are on board with this initiative. They are using social media to spread the word and becoming a concerted community with the same fight/request/desire to promote a change. Talk about it. You will not get in trouble. If they do, retaliation laws do exist. If they retaliate against you, there are legal implications in place to protect you.  Talking with your co-workers can prepare you with an internal audit as well for when you do approach your manager with that pay raise request. These are your rights as an employee, so ask for what you want.

My fourth piece of advice is to BE NICE, CONSIDERATE AND UNDERSTANDING. Be the person you want other people to be and treat people like you want to be treated. Understand cultures and differences. Don’t be a bitch. You don’t have to be a bitch. There is another article I’ve written about being a bitch as oftentimes, people see you as that even if you’re not. If you are being assertive, as a woman, we are being considered a bitch. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are some women that tend to be bullies who are control freaks and narcissistic. You don’t want to be one of those especially if people are coming to you as their manager or supervisor. I’ve never seen myself as that and my prior employers have said I teach them why we have to do what we have to do. Just last week the departments graduate assistant said “On it, boss” but I told her I was “not her boss and if anything, we are a team player”. We are on the same team. I might have a different role but we are on the same team trying to reach the same goal. I might be a catcher and you might be a pitcher but we all have different roles on ONE team. You don’t have to have the “I’m bitchy, better than everyone attitude”. There is help out there if needed! Founder of the Bully Broads program Jean Hollands offered a class for $18k in the early 2000s in Silicon Valley for women considered to be bullies in the workplace which was featured on NBC news. These women can actually go to reform school for being a “bully boss”. So be nice, considerate and understand, and always put your best foot forward.

Finally, HAVE FUN. I remember my father; he worked for an organization for over 20 years that he absolutely hated. You could see it on his face when he went to work and when he came home from work. He was a good father and husband and he was trying to do ‘the right thing’ for the family, but he could have kept looking and found a job that he loved. I really think you should have a job that you love and that you are passionate about, one that you cannot wait to do. I love to be able to share and educate. I need to see an immediate reaction. Occasionally, 10-15 years after an event, I have run into someone who was in a class I taught and they will say “you really changed my thinking” or “you inspired me” and that makes me feel good in a “not that I am any better than any other person in the world” way, but I feel like I made a difference. You should feel that you love your job, and if you don’t, then start looking for that passion. It is out there, I know it is. If you can’t do it working for somebody else, then work for yourself. Sometimes it’s like taking a bullet to your family financials; in fact, we lost half our salary when I quit my job to start my own business, and it took a while to get back up there, but it was worth it in the end. I had more opportunities with my brand new baby boy, and I was travelling all over the country with my daughter. So I really felt like it was the happy ending for me. This, to me, is how you get ahead as a woman in the work place.

So as a summary, here is my advice in just five steps

  1. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF
  2. TOOT YOUR OWN HORN
  3. ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
  4. BE NICE, CONSIDERATE AND UNDERSTANDING
  5. HAVE FUN

Enjoy your job and find something you’re passionate about. It is so important. These are things that I have learned over the years and share with you to wish you success! So to quote my favorite Dr. Seuss:

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re Off and away!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any directions you choose.                                                        

~Oh, the Places You’ll Go

 

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.

 


Reimagining HR’s Role As a Key Business Partner Can Lead to Career Advancement

Posted on October 8th, by a Guest Contributor in Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: The following is the final installment of a three-part series featuring influential women from Paychex. Part I of the series kicked off on Sept. 22 in conjunction with American Business Women’s Day.

 

I’m a big believer that professional development is the basis for achieving success in almost any field, and HR is no exception. It’s important to assess your own strengths and opportunities to determine what competencies you need to master in order to advance to the next step, and then execute an Individual Development Plan (IDP) that is targeted to help you achieve your career goals.

 

Over the course of my career, I’ve made it a constant point of emphasis to be self-aware of my performance in areas that I consider to be key competencies in my current role and the next role that that I aspire to attain. This has enabled me to develop an IDP that leverages my strengths and close my gaps through actions that provide me with valuable exposure opportunities, hands-on experiences and continued learning. My philosophy is to invest in yourself because the ROI is priceless.

 

Business leaders today know that their employees are the driver of business success. While employees are valued, many business leaders rank human capital as a top challenge. This presents a huge opportunity for HR practitioners to add value to their companies and grow as professionals, if they can help their organization reimagine HR’s role as a key business partner. Here are some key competencies that can help you tremendously in achieving that goal:

 

Functional knowledge and expertise. The field of HR is extensive and continues to advance and transform. It’s vitally important to stay abreast of the field so that your knowledge – and practical application of that knowledge – is modern and relevant. Having strong functional knowledge and expertise better equips you to quickly align HR and business strategy.

 

Business acumen. Understanding the big picture and the ability to look out the windshield at what lies ahead are critical. Having strong business acumen will result in the aptitude and knowledge to become a more critical thinker and capable problem solver. Developing business acumen involves being keenly aware of the economic and social issues that are affecting your company, staying close to emerging industry trends, your companies competitors,  and truly understanding the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) of your organization. When all of these things come together, you’re in a position to diagnose a business problem and offer a strategic solution that will drive business outcomes and your company’s success.

 

Executive disposition.  It’s more than about what you know. It’s also about how you perform in your role as a HR practitioner. You want to be viewed as a leader not only in your profession, but in the organization as a whole. HR practitioners have a really unique opportunity to develop relationships that are both cross-functional and cross-hierarchical. When doing so, it’s important to convey an image that’s consistent with the vision and values of the organization in order to be an effective advocate for the company. You want to exude a demeanor of poise and confidence, especially in times of change, ambiguity, or stress. It will command respect and reassure others within the organization – from front line employees all the way to the C-suite.

 

If you’re a HR practitioner who may not yet have these competencies mastered, don’t fret. Simply make a pledge to your professional development by formalizing your IDP and making it a priority. That commitment will pay huge dividends, both for yourself and your organization.

 

About the Author: Leah Machado is the director of service for HR Services at Paychex, a leading provider of integrated human capital management (HCM) solutions for payroll, human resource, insurance, and benefits outsourcing services. She leads an organization with over 500 HR practitioners who provide HR outsourcing services to 32,000 Paychex HR Services clients with 880,000 worksite employees.  Leah’s career spans over 22 years in the retail, restaurant, and HCM outsourcing industries, and includes HR practitioner and leadership experience.

 

 

 


American Business Women’s Day Celebrates Both the Accomplished and Aspiring

Posted on September 22nd, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Career Advice, Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

Today, we officially celebrate national American Business Women’s Day. The date coincides with the September 22, 1949 founding of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA). The strides and accomplishments of women in businesses all over the United States have been monumental, giving us the opportunity to recognize the day’s intent all year long.

 

To put things in perspective, in 1949 no woman had reached the Chief Executive Officer title at a Fortune 500 company. The most recently published list counted 24 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. That’s a record and one that will certainly be surpassed as barriers continue to be broken.

 

Similar to many business executives – male or female – my path didn’t start out with the intent of becoming an officer of a Fortune 1,000 company. As a matter of fact, I didn’t fully realize that level of leadership was within reach until much later in my career.

 

Women are breaking barriers left and right every day. While I don’t necessarily view myself as a trailblazer – there are plenty of other women who fit that bill – here are some quick tips to keep in mind when starting down the path to executive leadership:

 

  • Keep your options open. I went to school for computer information technology and worked in that field for a time at General Electric. Eventually, I was asked to lead a specific program for the GE Aerospace business that involved recruiting on college campuses, hiring, training and compensation. This really sparked my interest in HR. GE sponsored me to get my graduate degree in management from Purdue University, and I officially transitioned into HR. The moral of the story here is just because you earned your degree in or began working in one field doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. Keep your options open, especially in the earlier points of your career.

 

  • Step outside your comfort zone. Research has shown that women may not be as willing to take on something very new or different as men. Step outside your comfort zone, and you might find that you’re very successful in that area. During my time at Bausch and Lomb, I realized I wanted to take my career to the next level. I knew I had the drive, passion, and work ethic to make that happen, but I also knew there were some necessary skills that I didn’t own at the time. I then purposefully took a role in compensation and benefits knowing full-well they were both areas of expertise I would need to add to my repertoire. I knew nothing about either area, which made it scary and completely out of my comfort zone. It was a very challenging time, but that cross-functional move taught me what I needed to know to further advance my career.

 

  • Develop business acumen. It’s one of the most important competencies for an HR professional to have in their back pocket. HR’s purpose is to ensure the company has a workforce that’s capable of driving the business goals. To do that, you need to understand what the overall business goals are, the financials, the operations, all aspects of the business. Then you can determine how HR will contribute to achieving those goals. Be proactive and strategic in developing HR initiatives that will drive the future success of the company.

 

  • Always be on the lookout to learn new things and have new experiences. Change is constant, and accelerating at a rapid pace. It is critical to keep learning and growing to stay relevant.  Look for projects, change jobs or functions within your company or change companies. I did that a few times in my career and it worked to my advantage.  Not only do you gain valuable functional experience, you also develop agility and leadership skills.

 

  • Don’t let anything stand in your way. I grew up with two brothers and a dad who didn’t discourage me from getting my hands dirty with him and the boys. Those experiences encouraged me to look at men and women as having the same level of capability. A good part of my career was spent working in male-dominated fields. In fact, I’ve only ever had two women bosses. I worked my hardest and did my best and went for what I wanted. I never thought of myself as a woman leader, I am simply a leader.

 

  • Surround yourself with good people. This may go without saying, but form meaningful relationships both at work and at It will do wonders for your productivity and happiness. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook once said, “The most important career choice a woman will ever make is who she marries.” This could not be more true to life. My husband has been incredibly supportive of my career, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Surround yourself with people who share your goals, values, and motivations.

 

  • Never stop networking. It’s absolutely critical to stay connected with people. My first two jobs in the HR industry are the only two I landed through traditional ways. Every position since then – especially the ones later in my career – happened due to a connection and recommendation. I am still connected to people at every company I have worked for. It is a great way to learn about best practices and find out about career opportunities.  Also, LinkedIn makes networking easier than ever.  Make sure your profile is up to date and you are connected to the right people.

 

Most of these pieces of advice ring true for aspiring male or female HR executives. But it’s American Business Women’s Day, so let’s take a pause to reflect upon and celebrate how taking these steps could help the businesswomen around us advance.

 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

 

About the Author: Laurie Zaucha is the vice president of human resources and organizational development for Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of human resource, insurance, and benefits outsourcing solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses.  In this role, she is responsible for all aspects of human resources, organizational development, and the company’s award-winning training department. Laurie boasts more than 20 years of experiences as an HR executive. Previous positions include vice president at Bausch & Lomb and senior management positions in HR for Footstar, Inc., Starbucks, and Pizza Hut. Laurie has a master’s degree in management from Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind. and a Bachelor of Science degree in computer information technology from Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.