Tag: Human resources

The Interview Question Candidates Always Get Wrong – And Why That’s OK

Posted on April 17th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Job seekers often underprepare for the interview. Understandably, it can be difficult to prepare answers for the millions of different questions they might be asked by an HR professional or potential boss. And that’s probably why the answers to my favorite interview question vary so greatly.

The Interview Question Candidates Get Wrong

My favorite interview question is this: If you had a blank canvas and could paint your ideal job, what would it be?

I guess it’s kind of quirky, and perhaps that’s why I get quirky answers. When I’ve been in a position to hire people and I’ve asked this question, the candidates never described the position they were interviewing for. It didn’t matter what position it was or how experienced the candidate was. They never described the job duties outlined in the job description for the position they were interviewing for.

Why It is OK to Get It Wrong

Our true selves don’t want to work where we are every day; very few people are doing what they’d be doing if they didn’t have obligations such as family and mortgage payments due each month. I understand that as the person in a position to hire you. Although it would seem that the “right” answer would be the position that the candidate is applying for, I see a lot of value in the other answers I have heard in response to the question, “If you had a blank canvas and could
paint your ideal job, what would it be?”

The responses I’ve gotten have detailed positions in other industries, the candidate’s interest in creating their own company, and even a desire to work at a restaurant on the beach in the Bahamas. These answers might surprise and disappoint a less experienced interviewer, but I know that these answers reveal more than they seem to.  These answers, though they seem random, show how a candidate thinks, whether or not they’re innovative, and what their values are.

As an HR professional, I’m most interested in hiring authentic people, and when candidates give unfiltered answers to my questions, especially the blank canvas one, I get a good look at who they really are and that helps me figure out how well they’ll fit into the company I’m hiring for.

 

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About the Author: Kimberly S. Reed, CDP, Corporatepreneur™, Managing Partner and CEO, Reed Development Group, LLC (RDG), has earned a reputation as one of the most dynamic speakers and trainers. Reed ignites audiences internationally on topics ranging from entrepreneurial leadership, leadership, professional and personal development, diversity & inclusion, personal resiliency and presentation skills. For nearly fifteen years Reed has helped executives and professionals develop a “Y.E.S.” (You, Empower, Self) mentality. After over a decade as a diversity and inclusion strategist for some of the largest companies in the world including PwC, Campbell Soup Company, Merrill Lynch and Deloitte, Reed had the ability to develop innovative solutions to identifying, attracting , retaining and developing top diverse talent. Reed has acquired key skills that have enabled her to position organizations and business units to increase recruitment, retention, deployment and the management of talent for Women and People of Color in record growth.


Keeping the HUMAN in Human Resources

Posted on April 14th, by Dorothy Douglass in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. No Comments

My smart phone took the plunge yesterday.  Though it was just milliseconds before I fished it from the sink, it was long enough evidently for it to drown and it is now awaiting resurrection in a bag of rice.  Oh, and I’m over age 50 – that might be significant later in my saga.  Or not….

I quickly retrieved my phone, wiped it down, and took it apart, wiping off all the significant parts I could find.  I then had to jump in a car aimed for a full day seminar.  No rice in sight until later in the day.  Much later….

And as we plunged into this training session at precisely 9:00am, I thought, as a ‘mature’ (oh how I hate categorizing myself with that term) professional, I won’t even miss my smart phone.  After all, I have been in the professional world since before the fax machine.  Before the internet.  Before everyone – age 10 to 100 – carried a cell phone.  Heck, I’m of the generation who received resumes and cover letters through the U.S. Mail.  We sent hard copy memos, letters, and correspondence.   I would be just fine, laser focusing in on the seminar message and interacting with 20 awesome coworkers.

10:00. First break.  I reached for my purse to grab the phone, putting it back together in the hopes of that lively Android light would blink back.  Nope.  My colleagues around me kept up with work emails, personal texts, and some even took notes on their smart devices.  Not me.  Pen to paper, I was.  Deep breath.

12:00. Lunch time. Reached back again. “ Stop it, I don’t need that infernal thing,” I said to myself.  But what if there were an “emergency” at work? At home? And whatever would I do having to get through the multiple emails that were, undoubtedly, filling up my inbox? Deep breath, I  can do it.  i can go on without that electronic device.  I think, as a small headache began to come on….

The afternoon was much the same, and I won’t continue to bore you with my internal thoughts and struggles.  It is now the first FULL day without my smart phone.  I am in withdrawal.  Hello, my name is Dorothy and I am addicted to my smart phone.  I’ve had to email colleagues, friends, and family and let them know that in order to get in touch with me – they would have to pick up the telephone, or send an email.  How old-fashioned, right?

I actually got up out of my seat to go talk to colleagues and employees.  How thought-provoking!  Maybe this is my path this week – to remember that in my role as a Human Resources professional, I need to remember that I am dealing with HUMANS. I am HUMAN.  Face-to-face is not always bad, nor does it have to be.  It was not painful to get up and walk around the office and our buildings. Human interaction wasn’t bad.  A few people looked up as I walked by and even said hello.

We all get wrapped up in this electronic world, and a smart phone is really convenient to  keep up with work email,  & stay in touch with family, friends, colleagues.  It is easy to flip through Flipboard for news and Facebook for photos of those cute great nieces. Maybe though, just maybe, we could be better role models in the HR profession if we were out talking to people more.  In person. When it’s not bad news.

Hmmm.  Perhaps one of my future “stretch” assignments for my HR team will be for them to put down their phones, get up from behind their desks, and go talk to employees.  Just because….I’m old.

 

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 About the Author:  Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution.  She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University.  She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization.  She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job.   She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn.  She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.


HR & Social Media: Mending the Uneasy Relationship

Posted on March 13th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Society has gotten to the point where it is more interesting to find that a person does not use some sort of social media platform, than one that uses a platform daily. This deeply personal display of information, however, often finds its way into a workplace environment, and not always in a positive way.

There are numerous ways that Human Resources departments can use social media. For example, businesses have successfully utilized the content for team building, training, communication, work delegation, research and blogging. However, there are 3 fundamental areas that social networking sites could positively affect.

  • Communication: Clear communication between Human Resources and employees is critical for the health of a company. Through social media, it is much easier than ever before. Using these networks as a tool, Human Resources departments can easily communicate a message to everyone in the company, regardless of their location. A tweet or a status update can quickly convey a short message to hundreds in an instant.

 

  • Employee feedback: Long ago, Human Resources departments relied on suggestion boxes or private meetings for employee suggestions and concerns. Now, using social networks or online forums, employees can voice their opinions and have open discussions.

 

  • Recruiting: Human Resources departments know that today’s job seekers are online. Recruiting departments now use social media to market their company and talk directly to potential employees. Many Human Resources departments also use social media when conducting background checks on applicants, looking for additional information not provided in a traditional resume.

 

But what exactly can each social platform do for Human Resources? Let’s look at the 3 main networks.

 Facebook

The social media giant has literally millions of users from all over the world, making it a handy  tool for Human Resources personnel. Since Facebook is so popular, the chances of an applicant having an active profile are high. It is a great place to start additional research on a potential hire.

 

LinkedIn

The professional social network, LinkedIn is perfect for recruiters looking for qualified applicants. With an active job board, it is also a good place to post a job ad that will be seen by the right people.

 

Twitter

Twitter has an excellent search feature which allows Human Resources departments to look for potential employees by searching relevant hashtags and keywords. Like Facebook, Twitter is also a good screening tool for looking up applicants.

 

The way Human Resources departments run themselves have evolved as the use of social media has become crucial. And they continue to evolve. Here are a couple of issues that Human Resources need to keep an eye on and be ready for.

 

Employees using their own devices

Before the widespread popularity of smart phones, companies used to provide handheld devices for their employees. Today, Human Resources departments need to understand that they can’t control the communication channels of their employees, and prepare accordingly.

 

The ever-changing legal side

Since social media changes so frequently, some states are making efforts to regulate what employers can and cannot access on applicant’s social media profiles. Currently, 6 states have passed laws that prohibit employers from obtaining information on applicants via social media. While these laws haven’t hit the majority of states, it’s definitely something that could happen and businesses should watch the legal and regulatory developments.

 

Social media has become increasingly accepted in the business world. Once mainly used for marketing and advertising, social media networks now serve a purpose for Human Resources departments as well. It can be used to make companies run more efficiently, as a hiring and job search tool. Smart HR departments are now using social media to their advantage and keeping an eye on the constant changes that could help or hinder their efforts.

 

About the Author:  Today’s guest contributor for WomenOfHr.com is Mark W. Kirkpatrick,  an enthusiastic writer and infographic designer who focuses primarily on public relations, tech and the business globalization. You can also find more of his writing at 1800-Number.com, which covers all things related to business communications.


How Mindful Are You?

Posted on February 20th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

As I was reading a recent issue of Time Magazine, I stumbled across a feature article entitled “The Art of Being Mindful” and it immediately piqued my interest.  The focus of the piece was an exploration of a fairly recent movement centered on learning to shift focus back to the present moment, a remedy for the fractured attention spans and constant multi-tasking that has become not only prevalent, but normal and even expected in our fast-paced, technologically driven society.  Though this idea is certainly nothing new, it seems in a world where there are increasingly more distractions and demands for our attention as a result of devices that allow us to be connected around the clock, more and more people are realizing the benefit of focusing on being mindful.

 

In fact, enough people have begun to see the benefits of mindfulness that there is now a growing industry surrounding it.  The article talked about “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) classes that people regularly pay hundreds of dollars to attend to learn mindfulness techniques.  In 2007, Americans reportedly spent $4 million annually on mindfulness related alternative medicine, a figure that will be updated later this year.  And there is even an Institute for Mindful Leadership, a Wisdom 2.0 annual conference for tech leaders in Silicon Valley, and numerous mindfulness and meditation apps available for our smart phones.

 

This fascinates me.  As I already mentioned, the idea of being mindful is certainly nothing new.  I recently began practicing yoga, and one of the key elements of the practice is focus on being present in the moment, most often by paying particular attention to your breath.  Yoga and meditation have been around for centuries, long before MBSR classes began to be offered.  What interests me most is the idea that more and more people are realizing there is a need to bring more awareness to being in the moment; that too many of us are multi-tasking to the point of complete distraction.

 

As HR professionals regularly interacting with other people and/or dealing with various people related issues, it would seem to be common sense that we would always be mindful in those interactions.  But are we?

 

How often can you honestly say you are totally and completely in the moment in your interactions with others?  Are you really listening, or do you find your mind wandering to the next task on your to-do list, or the next meeting on your calendar?  When you have an employee or one of your team members in your office, do you focus on the conversation, or are you multi-taking by reading or answering emails?  Are you likely to take a phone call if it rings in the midst of that conversation, or will you let it go to voicemail and center your attention on the person in front of you?

 

Mindfulness in interactions with others is important for all leaders, but in HR, when we’re often dealing with emotionally charged situations, it’s even more critical.  If you can honestly say that you are 100% mindful in all of your interactions, great – keep up the good work!  However, if you are like many of us (myself included) and tend to find your mind wandering and your attention everywhere but where it should be, I challenge you to consciously focus on keeping yourself more in the moment.  Bring just a little more mindfulness to the work you do each day.  It may just make you not only a better leaders and HR pro, but by truly giving undivided attention to the person in front of you, may actually help strengthen your relationships with those around you as well.

 

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About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has 15 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

 


7 Fastest Ways to Lose Employees

Posted on February 6th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

When it comes to attracting and hiring top employees, there are several things you can do to help employ the best and the brightest. On the other hand, there are other things you may do, without even realizing it, that will drive your best employees away. In my experience, here are the seven fastest ways to lose employees – and how to turn those negatives into positives for your business. These are tips that Human Resources should share with every manager, and make sure they are practicing within the company.

 #1 Unreachable Expectations

The first way to lose an employee fast is to set unrealistic expectations. This does not mean managers should lower their standards. What it does mean is that they should be in tune with the business and what it takes to succeed.

Instead of setting goals and deadlines that cannot be met, managers should come up with realistic goals for employees. This doesn’t mean they should be easy; goals and expectations should involve hard work. The difference is the expectations should be attainable for those who work hard for the good of the company.

 

#2 Constantly Criticize

Another thing that managers do to drive employees away quickly is to constantly criticize them throughout the workday. It is difficult for a person to do any job well if they feel that everything they are doing is wrong.

Instead of criticizing every wrong move, managers should acknowledge employees for what they are doing right. You can help them by teaching them how to turn a negative comment into a positive one. Constantly reinforcing this within the company will help others learn to manage this philosophy in a daily work environment.

 

#3 Managing the Micromanager

By the same token, some managers may find it is easy to be critical when they are constantly looking over their employee’s shoulders. It is difficult enough to do your job without the added burden of having a manager within reach, second-guessing every move you make.

Instead of micromanaging employees, managers should learn to give their employees some room to work and occasionally make mistakes. As long as the mistakes are not career or business ending, this will help them learn the right way to do business in the future.

 

#4 Pass the Blame

Part of being a good manager is sometimes accepting the blame when things do go wrong. It is not possible for a manager to control everything, and mistakes will happen. It is what happens next which will chart the course for the company’s future.

Instead of passing the blame, Human Resources needs to foster an environment where it is acceptable to make mistakes without fear of a person losing their job. This will make it much easier for both managers and employees to accept both success and an occasional mistake.

 

#5 Expect Long Hours and Overtime Without Compensation

There is no doubt most top employees work hard, and that is what likely keeps a successful business thriving. However, no one should expect to work long hours and put in a lot of overtime without the understanding there will be some type of compensation or job security gained because of it.

Instead of demanding mandatory overtime every week without any extra pay or benefits, build in a structure that compensates employees in some way. If an employee is constantly working difficult extra hours, without an end in sight, it is likely they will soon set their sights on a new place to work.

 

#6 Fail to Offer Rewards, Incentives or Bonuses

Along with compensation and pay comes the need for some type of system that rewards employees. No one wants to put in a lot of hard work with nothing to show for it. Big or small, rewarding your employees can go a long way.

Instead of avoiding all rewards, incentives and bonuses due to the drain on a company’s finances, Human Resources should lead the charge in finding creative ways to support employees. An occasional treat, a prime parking spot, or even a paid day off can go a long way when it comes to emotionally uplifting employees.

 

#7 Treat Employees Only as Employees

Finally, managers and executives within a company need to understand that employees should be treated with respect. If workers are acknowledged simply as “employees,” they will not work their hardest for the good of the company and likely be eager to leave.

Instead of creating a division within the company, Human Resources should encourage managers to create a respectful environment. It is important that employees feel valued and that they feel their opinion is respected.

 

While the economy may still be recovering for many U.S. businesses, employees will not want to stay with any company that does not respect them or value the contribution they make to the business. Ensuring your company understands what drives employees away will help make it easier for you to retain the employees the company values most.

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About the Author: Cassy Parker, social media advocate for CreditDonkey (@CreditDonkey on Twitter), a credit card comparison website, has experience helping small business owners thrive.  As the content manager for the business section, she keeps a pulse on the challenges small business owners face.


The Unique Challenges of an HR Job Search

Posted on January 7th, by Andrea Ballard in Career Advice, Career Transitions. 5 comments

You’re an HR professional and you’ve decided it’s time to change jobs. Maybe it’s something happening within your company causing you to switch, or maybe it’s something inside of you telling you it’s time. Either way, this is one time where things should be easy, right? After all, you’re a professional in Human Resources! Finally, a chance to use all of your knowledge and ‘insider information’ to position yourself competitively and go for what you want.

Except…

It’s not so easy.

Expectations are raised in an HR job search. Most of this comes from the pressure you put upon yourself. “I should know what I’m doing.” “My resume and cover letter better be 100% perfect and error-free.” “I interview people all day long, how hard can it be to turn the tables?”

Yet many of us in HR have put our own career development at the bottom of our massive to-do list. Our resume is not only imperfect, it may be completely out of date or merely an exhaustive list of our job duties, rather than a presentation of our accomplishments. We may use LinkedIn to find candidates…that doesn’t mean we’ve put any time or attention into our own profiles. And interviewing? We began to think of all the times we’ve nit-picked and criticized candidates for not being prepared enough, or spouting rehearsed answers that didn’t really answer our questions.

On the other side, expectations of professionalism from potential employers run high as well, and with good reason. If an employer asks for a cover letter and resume in the format they request, you’d better be giving them both – and don’t even think about using a canned cover letter.

Loyalty is another issue many struggle with. When you spend all day touting the benefits of working for your company, and comparing how good your company is to the competitors, it’s hard to imagine going to work for a competitor! Many employees feel loyal to their employer, but it seems especially hard for HR people to imagine leaving for a similar job in the same industry. And how many times have we discarded candidates for being “job-hoppers”? That’s the last thing we want for ourselves. So 3 years turns into 5, and then 7, and finally 10 and before you know it, you can’t imagine leaving, even if you’ve completely stopped growing or learning in your position.

Confidentiality is another challenge HR professionals face in a job search. Many of us have counseled employees against using our employers equipment and/or time to conduct a job search, but let’s face it: many activities related to job searching take place during the day when you are working at your current employer. Sure , you can fill in online applications or do email at home at night, but interviews often work best for employers when they can take place during the day, and suddenly you may find yourself needing to be out of the office on numerous occasions, without wanting to share the reason.

Many of these challenges are related to applying for a posted job, which we know is not the best way to land a new position. Time spent networking and building relationships is the most productive and often leads to your next position in HR. Still, many HR folks let some of these challenges stop them from even contemplating a change.

What unique challenges did you face when searching for your HR job?

 

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About the Author: For 15+ years, Andrea Ballard, SPHR, has brought a unique, common sense perspective to the business of HR. A former HR Director and Training Manager, she advises companies on how to design/implement flexible work life programs to attract/retain top talent. A certified coach, she helps women create a balance between motherhood & career. She is the owner of Expecting Change, LLC,  blogs at Working Mother and is on Twitter as @andreaballard.


Why Engagement is the Wrong Word

Posted on December 3rd, by Bonni Titgemeyer in On My Mind, Wellness and Balance. 13 comments

I was engaged once.  It was 1988 and in between a course of sweetbreads and lamb at the Millcroft Inn in Alton, Ontario, the blue-eyed guy across from me popped the question.  I looked at the ring, and I looked at him, and I said, “yes”.  In other words, I said (on the inside), “I find you very attractive, I have no idea how this story might end, but yes, I think there are good odds here and I’m game to give it a shot”.  After all, we were very young, we had no money, but we had high hopes for the future. We set a date.

That’s engagement.

During engagement, you buy an expensive dress you’ll never wear again, and you fuss over the strange details of a hopefully once-in-a-lifetime ceremony.  You drive your friends and family crazy.  Then once the engagement is over and you’ve settled in, you find true happiness.

I’ve thought about this as it relates to the workplace.

Do we need engagement?  Or do we need that sense of settling in and happiness?

I think it is the latter.

I’m not sure we are at our best during the engagement.  There are reasons why there are TV shows about bridezillas. There is frenzied anticipation and many, many details.  There are a lot of things to balance, with time always seeming to be at a premium. Our goal is to have a lovely wedding. We fret at not being able to see much beyond that day.  It is when the engagement is over that we have a routine and new goals and a longer-term outlook.  We fall more deeply in love with our spouse. That’s happiness.

I fully realize that not everyone on the engagement bandwagon agrees with me.  They argue that an engaged employee is not necessarily a happy employee and they argue that a happy employee may be happy because their work isn’t challenging, which doesn’t benefit the business.  Ok, fair enough.  That said, perhaps I’m being overly technical but the definition of engagement does not include the word motivation (in fact, appointment is a synonym for engagement).  Ultimately, motivation is another positive side effect of being settled in to a role where you have confidence. Again, during engagement you are not settled in yet.

So how can you achieve a workplace full of happy people?  Try these strategies:

  1. Find ways to include your employees in long-term planning.  So often we set short-term goals in our planning without thinking about how this contributes to the big picture.  The more employees can see themselves in your organization 3, 5, 7 years down the road, the more likely they will contribute in ways that will ensure the organization is sustainable.
  2. Love your organization.  Love your employees. I’m talking to you HR. Some of the best organizations out there have amazing programs not only for current employees but also alums.  Make it a family atmosphere full of positivity and mutual respect by focusing on programs designed to be supportive of the whole employee, at 24 and 64.  The workplace should feel safe and a place to find your centre.  This can’t happen in a place where there isn’t an environment of mutual trust.
  3. Lessen the distractions. People focus best when they aren’t surrounded by a myriad of distractions.  They’re happy when the details are set.  If that means organizing central pick up for dry cleaning, providing access to a concierge service or being more flexible about work arrangements, go for it.

If you think of your employees after the engagement, the onboarding, all that preliminary stuff, and make the workplace feel like an extension of home, you’re well on your way to achieving workplace happiness.

 

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About the author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award.  You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.


Do You Have What It Takes To Retain Good Talent?

Posted on November 21st, by Rowena Morais in Business and Workplace. 3 comments

In his latest article, Winning the War for Talent 2.0 in Malaysia1, Professor Sattar Bawany of the Centre for Executive Education in Singapore comments:

“Lower your prices and competitors will follow.  Go after a lucrative market and someone is there right after you, careful to avoid making your initial mistakes.  But replicating a high-quality, highly engaged workforce is nearly impossible.  The ability to effectively hire, retain, deploy and engage talent—at all levels—is really the only true competitive advantage an organisation possesses.”

I would hazard a guess that most of you agree with this statement. However, it’s what you do about it that actually makes the critical difference in your life and in the lives of the people you lead.

And so, what do you know?

Whether you’re big business or not, you understand that the workforce of today is not the same as that of yesteryears and that you need to learn how to adapt to that reality and engage with talent in a way that they can appreciate. Therefore, while it is important for you to pay attention to your strategic direction, the globalisation of your services, the need to constantly refine and develop your product and the ever-changing bottom line, you also need to place enough emphasis on the people front. The people you choose to bring in – these are the people who choose to work with you and for you.

Some of you have more resources at your disposal than others, but there is a lot that you can do to ensure you attract and retain good talent that isn’t contingent on the money you  choose to throw at them or the size of your company.

There’s this ongoing debate around how the Gen Y ought to be managed, how they profess loyalty not unto their employer but unto themselves. I feel that at times, some of the emotion behind such debate is a little off center.

Those who are brought up in a different era will undoubtedly look at things in a different vein. Ultimately however, it should not matter if Gen Y want more autonomy, more information flow or more assignments that truly stretch. What matters is that you can’t force others into a box and make them into little mini-me’s. You can’t judge them according to the standards you grew up in.  These differences in the workforce are the result of change, change that you have to accept is part and parcel of development, innovation and advancement. Change resulting from being in a different time and place, of the face of the market and of the pervasive influx of technology in your lives and the consequent ripple effects. Your job, as leaders, is to find a way to make things work, to make your organisations relevant and inspiring and to align the goals of your organisation with that of the individuals you seek to bring to it.

So, how do you find, retain and grow good talent?

 

1.Networking is critical to ensuring you are able to find good talent

You open yourself up to a bigger source of good talent, and one that is not entirely reliant on your efforts alone. Others are on a search similar to you. They will have different experiences, they may get burnt, learn a lesson or two and be willing to share their story. They may have some good experiences and be willing to let you in. But there is a real skill involved in networking effectively. For one, you need to integrate your efforts online and offline. Spread your reach. Secondly, if you want to be noticed and if you want assistance, the best chance you have is when you decide to focus on giving before getting. See how you can be of benefit to your network. Thirdly, developing your network goes beyond simply introducing yourself via social media or asking people to recommend you or give references. It involves real connection, one that is established at a deeper level and which makes it clear to the other party that you are not taking a copy/paste approach to developing relationships. With practice and driven by the value you can create for others, you may be able to reap rewards by establishing and maintaining your network.

 

2. Employment references are an important part of this  process

Yes,  there are limitations to the use of references. You are only likely to provide a reference from someone who is willing to provide a glowing report. The chances are high that you can get a friend or colleague to provide such references.  Given these factors, you would therefore want to put in place systems that can overcome some of the limitations of the employment reference. For example, you could do a reference check on the person providing the reference : Is he who he says he is? Bottom line, you don’t rely on references exclusively.

 

3. You need to develop the skills to find the talent who aren’t looking for you

Let’s face it – if they are good at what they do, chances are they are gainfully employed, very much engaged and they are not looking to move. That is not to say that you have no hope of getting them over. Locating these great talent will take time and may not be smooth sailing but anything’s possible. Be careful though : you need to ensure, before you start, that you are able to make a compelling case for them to reconsider their options.

 

4. Can you identify good talent when you’re face to face with them?

This is both an art and a science. You need to know not just what to assess but how best to do so. As Carol Quinn argued, in The Truth in Interview Part I2,

 

“Applicants are learning more about getting a job than interviewers are learning about hiring”.

 

Skills in itself are not an accurate indicator of job performance. And at some stage, you might  have come across the skilled applicant, who was able to outsmart the interviewer and present a picture of herself that, in the final analysis, did not match reality. The question therefore is whether, as an interviewer, you are able to ascertain what you need to look for and have the tools to do so.

 

5. Understand the importance of employer branding

You put all the things you need in place. You build up a picture of who, you as an organisation, are. You reach out on various platforms – website, social media, offline networks – to create and maintain this consistent image. You understand the value in doing this, you nurture this delicately and hope to build on your successes, layering on, significant ideas of who you are, as an organisation, hoping that it matches the impressions created in the marketplace.

 

6. You remember the team in place

You remember one thing : the talent you already have in place. These are your brand ambassadors and they too have their own network. You don’t lose sight of this fact as you work to ensure that the impressions you create about who you are, needs hold true internally, within the organisation as well. Failing which, disaster may strike.

 

7. Wherein lies your focus?

Finding good talent is impacted by your focus areas. Sometimes, it may be easy to forget that everyone brings something to the table. We may each have our weaknesses and no doubt, these should be addressed but the strength movement, is one based on sound principle.  Marcus Buckingham, author of published bestsellers, ‘First, Break all the Rules‘ and ‘Now, Discover your Strengths’ is right in asserting that it’s far more about harnessing the best of what you bring to the organisation than addressing what is weak within the individual.

 

“Since the greatest room for each person’s growth is in the areas of his greatest strength, you should focus your training time and money on educating him about his strengths and figuring out ways to build on these strengths rather than on remedially trying to plug his ‘skill gaps.’ You will find that this one shift in emphasis will pay huge dividends. In one fell swoop you will sidestep three potential pitfalls to building a strengths-based organization: the ‘I don’t have the skills and knowledge I need’ problem, the ‘I don’t know what I’m best at’ problem, and the ‘my manager doesn’t know what I’m best at’ problem.”
Donald O. Clifton, Now, Discover Your Strengths

 

In the end, you take the best of what you have to offer and make that compelling to the talent you seek to bring in. None of this is rocket science. Talent management frameworks have their place and significance but this is about making real connections, about being human in how you treat people and in seeing the relationship for what it is.

If you can do that, if you can connect authentically with your talent, if you can make them see the vision you have for your organisation, if you can put this across well and see how you can align what you want to achieve, with the growth paths your people are on, that alignment will create a world of wonder, passion and engagement.

 

1 Appeared in the October 2013 issue of HR Matters Magazine

2 The Truth in Interview Part I

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Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters  Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource  professionals.  She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional  certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as  oversight on client training and corporate functional  areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal  development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two  young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at editor@hr-matters.info.


The Real-Life Impact of HR

Posted on November 19th, by Lois Melbourne in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. No Comments

Looking for a life-impacting role for HR? Explore the opportunity you can use to save lives and life styles. I am talking about the life skills and balancing of life decisions of both your employees and their spouses.

My mom’s cousin lost her husband in the last year.  In her grief and lack of education, she ignored the opportunity to keep her insurance and other benefits going.  She has now had a stroke and may need brain surgery.  I don’t want to go into the healthcare debate; I want you to think about the people and the impact a little education and/or policy changes could make.

What if her insurance and benefits could have continued automatically, paid out of her survivor benefits?  This could at least have happened for a reasonable “grief” period, when there are so many decisions to make.

Let’s go beyond insurance and jump to life skills discussion.  Want to increase family engagement? What about addressing the often ignored factors of estate planning and organizational skills?  85% of households have one spouse solely responsible for bills and paperwork. How can you help employees and their spouses, regardless of which one is the household operator, understand the critical necessity of cross training or at least strong organization of these processes.  It can be touchy, but in many cases, it would be very welcome to have tools and discussion facilitated.

This issue is gender and socio-economically diverse.  Think about it.  Think about your mom, dad, sister, brother, grandparent, spouse.  Who is going to be impacted by a tragedy compounded by complexity of new skill requirements, or financial messes that have never been shared?

You can make a difference.

 

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Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children’s books about career ambitions.  She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.


Five Tips for Attracting Top Talent

Posted on November 5th, by Amanda Andrade in Business and Workplace. 2 comments

The stagnant job market hasn’t made it easy for companies to find top candidates for open positions. In reality, it is actually more difficult. For every open position it seems as though hundreds of applications come pouring in, but the applicant pool is often under-qualified. It’s understandable, many people with substantial skill sets are holding on to the job they have while they wait for the economy to stabilize. So, what can an employer do to up their value proposition and opportunity to recruit great talent? There  are many ways to increase your chances as a recruiter. In addition to online searches and job postings, here are few tips that may help you out.

 

Remember it’s Not a One Way Street

If you have a position that needs to be filled in your company, waiting for the applicant to come to you may end up giving you more of the same, lots of resumes, but not the quality you’re looking for. Consider proactive recruiting. Take the initiative to go out and look for great candidates that will fit your company’s culture. In addition to keyword candidate reviews on web searches like LinkedIn, do some good old-fashioned networking. Ask other professionals you respect if they know of anyone they’ve worked with in the past that could be recommended for your open positions. Get the rest of your hiring team involved, and have them connect with their contacts for any leads on top performers that may benefit your company.

 

Don’t Forget Your Current Employees

One of the best ways to attract new employees is to have a company full of happy, motivated people who like where they are working.  Loyal employees are not only more productive, but are also inclined to recommend other great professionals for open positions. Consider an employee referral program that is more than just the “submit a name of someone you know” process. Have them recommend the person for a specific position and tell you why they think the individual is a great candidate. Although some may think that employees will simply try to get all their “buddies” hired on, usually that’s not the case. Employees who take pride in their company won’t be inclined to suggest the candidacy of someone who would be a bad hire –  they wouldn’t want to stake their reputation on someone they can’t get behind.

 

Consider the Décor

Seems like an odd consideration, but if you want to bring in the best, your first office space impression means a lot in the eyes of the ideal candidate. If that person walks through the doors and sees a dry atmosphere full of white walls, compacted cubicles, and unfriendly faces, they are going to have a hard time envisioning themselves spending 40+ hours working in your office space. When you’re trying to appeal to top job candidates, and also working to keep morale high for your current work family, consider the environment you are asking them to work in. Personalized work spaces where people can express their personalities help to create attachment and belonging, and that translates into satisfied employees. You don’t have to forgo a consistent office décor, just consider providing ways for individuality to emerge.

 

Know Your Candidates

Great candidates want more than just a high paying salary. They want a company that offers development opportunities, upward mobility, rightful recognition, and a balanced lifestyle. They also want to see passion throughout their potential new workplace, and want that passion to be in line with their professional aspirations. Before you pitch your company to a candidate, find out what they are really seeking from a new employer and what factors would actually be enticing enough to make the switch to your company. Make sure it’s a values match for both of you.

 

Get Everyone on Board

A disorganized management and/ or hiring team can be a big turn-off to any interested candidates. If a top candidate hears their potential position described one way, and then hears it described differently by another team member, they are going to become concerned about the legitimacy of the position you are offering.

 

Before you even begin seeking out ideal candidates, meet with your hiring team to make sure everyone knows just exactly what the position is you are trying to fill. Everyone should be on the same page when it comes to explaining the expectations, duties, and potential opportunities related to the open position. That way when a potential top performer inquires about the position, further questions or concerns aren’t created.

 

Don’t sell your opening short by taking an applicant through the process because they seem “qualified” enough and you have pressure to fill the role. Top performers within a company drive innovation, can motivate current middle-of-the-road employees, and increase profitability. Taking the time to actually seek out and find the ideal candidate for each open position may take extra time and effort, but it is the most important role a recruiter can play. Get the right people on the bus. That’s what builds and sustains stellar companies.

 

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About the Author: Amanda Andrade is the Chief People Officer for Veterans United Home Loans – Fortune magazine’s 21st best medium workplace and one the fastest growing companies in the United States according to INC magazine. Amanda has led human resource organizations in both public and private sectors. She also has a doctorate in Environment and Behavior, focusing on highly profitable, employee-centric work environments. Connect with Amanda on Google+.