One of my favorite things to do to pass time when I travel is observe people and strike up conversations with total strangers. And it has often worked for me in several ways, be it on my flight when I travel, while at the bus stop or when I am at places that I have never been before.
Strike up a conversation
I know some of us may not be comfortable talking to strangers and it is just the way we are. But I understand that I am making myself approachable and likable to the other person by making a small friendly gesture, an eye to eye contact, a smile, talking about the weather or probably sharing a story or experience about me which somehow relates to them. This can help them open up their mind, start a conversation and share something that is of common interest.
Life is quite often like this. Every day we meet someone who wants to know about somebody or who knows somebody that we want to know about. And as an HR professional who loves to network, I always keep this in mind. Not just to connect with others with an ulterior motive but to learn something new, some experience that I never dealt with before or probably help each other out by sharing experiences that help us grow as a person.
Stories help you build connection!
I know of an incident that happened not to me but to one of my close friends while she was on her journey from Dallas, Texas to Tampa, Florida. As it turned out, the two hour journey helped land her a job when she got talking to a lady sitting next to her. Fortunately for her
that random person on that flight was a recruiter. She sparked up a conversation seeing the PHR Prep book in the hands of that recruiter. This helped her understand that the lady was an HR professional and they started talking about job searches and interview processes in different companies. She indicated that she is looking for a position in health care industry. Unfortunately, the recruiter was a headhunter in the financial industry.
But to her surprise when my friend got back home, she received an interview call from another recruiter who happened to be friends with the lady she met on the flight. And my friend got that job. How cool is that?
I am sure they might have felt much more comfortable talking to each other in a casual manner rather than sitting in an interview room across each other or at a crowded networking event.
So start striking up conversations and build connections, you may never know who knows who!
Have you had any experience like this? Would love to hear from you!
About the author: Nisha Raghavan is the author of Your HR Buddy blog and a co-host of DriveThru HR. A former HR Generalist with extensive experience in Talent Management and Development, she specializes and writes about Employee Relations, Organization Development and how companies can keep their employees more engaged through Employee Engagement Initiatives. Her experience in the corporate world was as an HR Deputy Manager at Reliance Communications Limited, India.
It’s common sense (well it should be anyway!) that job seekers shouldn’t bad mouth former employers on a job interview.
However, when you’re looking for a new job, there’s always a good reason for it and you should be honest — in a professional way. I’m not talking about getting into an hour-long drama explaining how tired you are of the office politics.
I read an article where the author stated you should use the following reasons to explain why you want to leave your current employer:
- Seeking new opportunities
- Looking for more responsibility
- Interested in career advancement
Don’t get me wrong – these are very viable reasons to look for a new gig. But they’ve been around for eons and are ultra cliche! Everyone who doesn’t want to talk about the fact that they hate their boss will use one of these reasons. If one of these reasons are legit for you, skip the cliche and just provide an example. For instance, share an experience about why you’re ready to tackle new responsibilities and how it will add value to an organization.
Unless the person interviewing you has just fallen off of a turnip truck or is on their first day of the job, they’ll want to know more. It’s best if it comes from you rather than having the interviewer make an incorrect assumption about you or your work.
And what if you really are leaving your job because you hate your boss. Is it best to be honest? Well, we’d like to think we could be because there is a laundry list of bad bosses out there. But, like it or not, perception is reality and you’ll be judged way too harshly if you were that honest. In this case, my suggestion would be to think of the second biggest reason of why you want to leave your position and go from there.
The most important thing to remember is to be your real, unscripted self.
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About the author: Kimberly Roden is an HR pro turned consultant and the founder of Unconventional HR. She has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology.
As an HR person, I always find it fun, exciting and a great opportunity to judge people when I go through my own interview experience.I realize this probably makes me a little crazy and a bit of a nerd. Internal interviews are great in the sense that I continue to learn how much internal interview processes suck. Who needs feedback or consistent follow-up? Apparently not me, however, that’s not where I am going to focus today. Internal interviewing is a whole different can of worms I am not opening.
Sometimes, I have a horrible day at work and I say to myself, “I am done being a human punching bag, I am going to find a new job!” I have a feeling this happens a lot when you’re young in your career as I am. I should probably stop saying I am young in my career because as we continue to hire more and more recent grads, I start to feel ridiculously old. Regardless, I am still younger than many of my colleagues. In the last few years, I’ve dabbled in some interviewing at places other than my current employer. I have always told myself that if I were to ever leave it would have to be for a bomb opportunity. Yes, I said bomb. This being said, I’ve learned a couple of things:
- Many organizations have terrible interview processes
- I am clearly too process oriented
- I have seriously high expectations for potential employers
I’m really only going to focus on the first bullet. Mainly because I don’t want to write a 20 page blog post and even if I did, you wouldn’t read it. I wouldn’t even read it.
Many organizations have terrible interview processes
I use the word many, but I am probably exaggerating. I often find myself frustrated with the lack of communication that happens. I also realized recently, that I am sometimes “old school” in how I prefer to be communicated with initially during the interview process. There was one organization that communicated only via e-mail. As someone who works with an employer that truly believes it is import
ant to build relationships, this was something that was hard to move past. I want to get a feel for the organization based on my conversations with the recruiter, not over e-mail. I realize I am probably one of very few who feels this way. I guess I want to feel like I am worth a phone call.
Another organization didn’t let me ask questions! WHAT?! I spent all this time preparing and coming up with thoughtful questions so that they knew I was taking the interview seriously. You suck. I want to ask my questions. It was the first time this had ever happened to me, but I was annoyed. I think it shows little respect for the candidate as most people will come prepared with at list a few questions. Me, it’s more like 15 to 20, but I’m a little crazy.
Part of my personal problem with interviewing is that I do have high expectations and I know how easy it is to make a phone call to keep the candidate informed of where we are in the process. I also recognize that all recruiters have multiple positions they are recruiting for, but if you don’t keep the candidate informed (especially your top candidate,) they are going to change their mind or go elsewhere. I find it ridiculously frustrating as someone who has worked in recruiting and someone who currently works in HR to have to be subjected to a subpar interview experience at a very reputable organization.
The interview process gives the candidate an idea of what they may be walking into should they be offered and accept a job at your organization. Don’t screw it up.
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About the author: Cindy Janovitz works for a great Fortune 500 company in Minnesota. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communications and Spanish from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Cindy has a passion for working with and helping people and a love for organizational culture. Three words Cindy uses to describe herself are energetic, passionate, and driven. You can connect with Cindy on Twitter as @cindyelizabeth
Good morning Women of HR readers! We have an uber special interview for you today. In fact, I'm sure a lot of you have been waiting for this interview for a while. So if you are as excited as I am, I should get right to it then!
This morning we will be speaking to one of my favorite people: Laurie Ruettimann!
With over a decade of Human Resources experience in Fortune 500 organizations, Laurie Ruettimann is an influential speaker, writer and social media expert who now works with The Starr Conspiracy.
Hiya Laurie! Let’s start off with a little about what you do. I am the Director of Social Media at The Starr Conspiracy, a marketing and advertising firm in Texas. I am also a writer, speaker and consultant.
You forgot to mention loving mom to a handsome ginger kitty named Scrubby!
So how did you get to where you are now? I used to work in Human Resources. I parlayed that expertise into a portfolio career, which is really just a bunch of part-time jobs that pay the mortgage.
Hey, sounds good to me. Whatever keeps Scrubby in the life he has grown accustomed too.
Can you complete the following thoughts for me?
My best advice… is to stop asking for advice. Y
ou won’t listen, anyway.
I encourage… people to get moving. Every day is one day closer to death.
People… like to talk about themselves. Shut up and let them.
One of the best ideas… is sliced bread. Nothing beats it.
HR… is where I learned how to use a fax machine.
Every HR professional… is a skank ho. Most people have secrets, even your HR lady.
I lose it… when people discriminate against the unemployed. There but for the grace of God go you, jerk.
Awesome answers! So while I'm busy trying to figure out other HR ladies secrets, while covering up my own, is there anything else you’d like to share with the Women of HR?
Working in Human Resources made me realize that I’m a big fan of dichotomies, mass categorization and black and white constructs. I like things simple and straightforward. This is why it’s good that I no longer work in Human Resources. Life is much more complex than an either/or scenario. HR requires flexible people with strong critical thinking skills. That’s not me. That probably isn’t you, either.
Not that I need to tell you this, but you can find Laurie at her blog, The Cynical Girl!
Laurie, lots of hugs and thanks for your time!
I always used to struggle with awful nerves particularly before and during interviews and it meant I was missing out on many opportunities. I had to train myself to control these nerves to stop them from taking over. This took a while to do but here are a few of the things that I learned along the way.
Preparation is one of the best things for reducing nerves before and during an interview. Ensuring that I was fully prepared for questions and scenarios that may arise helped in a massive way. There are a few key things that I think are the most important things to prepare for:
- Researching the company, the job and the market – there is no point in applying for a job that you know nothing or very little about and turning up to the interview with a small amount of information. Visiting the company website, reading any relevant publications and generally keeping a look and listen out for things that can help you is the best start. Turning up unprepared will just make your nerves worse.
- Finding what format the interview will be in can help you to prepare for that type of questioning. I once turned up to an interview and was required to do a presentation that I was not at all prepared for. Needless to say my nerves got the better of me and I didn’t do well at all.
- Find out what you will need to bring to the interview. Often a portfolio of previous work will be required. Turning up without this could make nerves worse and generally looks bad on you.
- Double checking the time and date to ensure you have them right is highly important, it’s difficult for anyone to keep calm when they’ve got the time wrong. Calling the day before to confirm the interview can ensure no-one’s time is wasted. Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at the interview early and you can make a good first impression. Running late for an interview always caused me even more stress and made me more nervous than usual.
Panicking on the morning of your interview about what to wear does nothing to help nerves. Pick an appropriate outfit in advance of the interview. Try it on, ensure it is comfortable and fits well. Clothing should be smart, it is always better to be over dressed than under dressed in an interview situation. Ensure tops are not too low, skirts are not too short and clothing is not too tight, otherwise you run the risk of being dressed inappropriately.
Think about what the worst that can happen would be. The probability of that happening is likely to be low and even if something does happen no-one is perfect and the interviewer is human. Compose yourself and continue. If you don’t get the job you can learn from what happened and avoid it the next time.
If your nerves are really difficult and these techniques do not help then it may be worth visiting your health care provider who could suggest an appropriate course of action.
Most important of all relax and be yourself! Do you have any tips for keeping calm for interviews?
Photo credit: iStockphoto
I recently had the opportunity to attend a women’s networking event hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in St. Louis. Our speaker was Adrian Bracy, CEO of the Metro St. Louis YWCA.
Ms. Bracy told her story of growing up in Miami and not feeling like she fit in. She shared stories of how she found a small group of friends to support and accept her, ladies who still are a major support to her years later. Her stories of career transition as an accountant working in the NFL for various teams to her current role as the CEO of the YWCA in St. Louis were fascinating. It was something she shared about what inspired her that leads me to share with you today.
Ms. Bracy mentioned reading Women Don’t Ask a few years ago as she was on a plane for a high level job interview. From what she shared about the book, the lesson is that women are raised to receive an offer (job offer or other offers) and say “thank you.” Men are raised to receive an offer and start negotiating.
Do women know the art of negotiation?
There are exceptions to every stereotype out there, but in this case, I’ll venture to guess that many women do accept job offers or answers from our leaders without question. We don’t ask for higher salaries, for more help or resources nor more help from our family members. Is it because it is not comfortable? Is it because we are not competent in negotiation? Is it because we want to avoid confrontation? Many women avoid negotiation for varied reasons. However, whatever the reason, it is something we can learn and get better at with time.
Right now, today, you can:
- Arm yourself with information. Take time to think about what you truly need then do the research necessary to get yourself comfortable. This will position you for having a creative approach to the solution you desire.
- Don’t be afraid to be honest. A good example of honesty paying off comes when negotiating workload. Many employees today get their work from multiple sources; a supervisor, other colleagues, company leaders, clients, vendors…the list goes on and on. After sifting through what needs to be done, being able to approach people and squarely address and negotiate different deadlines and deliverables will be key to better managing the workload.
- Build a relationship. Whether you are negotiating with a family member or a potential boss, being able to show you are not afraid to ask for something and negotiate a situation will ideally build a stronger relationship and demonstrate you are worthy of respect. Show respect to them and understanding for their needs and they are likely to want to negotiate to help you reach your needs as well.
The key to being a good negotiator is not about how many negotiations you win at. The key is getting yourself comfortable with doing it more often- or just starting to do it. Take that step and you’ll be the one asking for, and getting, what you want!
Photo credit: iStockphoto
This is the 9th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Go into your next interview prepared to negotiate.
One can argue that a well laid plan is never a bad idea. However, when it comes to negotiating a salary—it’s a must!
I am telling you this from experience.
When on the job search a few years ago in Denver, I accepted a really low salary because I wasn’t prepared to negotiate pay for what I thought was fair. I ended up feeling stuck in a low paying job with no chance of a near raise or bonus. So I sought the advice of a personal injury attorney, who advised me on the proper techniques for negotiating a fair salary that both myself and my employer were happy with.
Going into your next interview prepared with some rough salary calculations will keep your eye on the prize. And because salary negotiations in an interview can create a lot of anxiety—the thought of confrontation might leave you feeling nervous. Or you might end up sounding either too greedy if you ask for too much or just plain pathetic if you don’t ask for what you think you’re worth and just accept the base offer. Having a range in mind can take a lot of pressure off both you and your potential employer.
Follow these 5 steps when negotiating your next salary:
1. Settle on a suitable salary range before your interview
Going into an interview, you may be afraid of the uncomfortable point when the interviewer will ask you what your salary expectations are. You know it’s going to happen, so why not be prepared with a salary range? You can settle on a suitable salary range by researching the average salary of comparable positions in the city you work in. You will get paid more for your higher education and any special skills or qualifications you might have as well. Keep this in mind: if you ask for more than you want, the interviewer will be forced to negotiate if they really want you and you may end up with money than what the employer originally had in mind.
2. Don’t bring up salary
At some point during the meeting, the interviewer will want to talk about your salary expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be the one to talk money first. I recommend letting the interviewer bring the topic up, then ask about the range they are willing to pay, before you offer up an expected amount. This way, you get the upper hand by learning what they are willing to pay first (they are probably working within a budget). After that, you can aim for the high end of the employer’s range instead of guessing in the dark.
3. Always negotiate in a range
Never state a solid number and stick to it. It’s best to give the employer a high and low end to work with. This tactic is not meant to devalue your skills or education, but stating a range rather than a firm numbers shows that you are willing to work with the employer so that everyone is happy.
4. Support your worth
Your potential employer isn’t going to just agree to pay you what you want without some sort of explanation on your part. You will be expected to provide the “why?” Meaning “why” you think you deserve this range of pay. Your calculation should be based on the skills and work experience you will bring to the table (i.e., so your education, skills, expertise, professional accolades, and your years of service).
5. Remember there are bonuses to any salary
If the job is one that you know you will really enjoy, but the employer can’t pay you the money you expect, all is not lost! Negotiations as far as things like holidays, lieu days, and health benefits are still on the table. Many start-up companies and small businesses will offer employees lower salaries, but make up for it when it comes to additional holidays or bonuses until they can afford to pay employees more in salary. Remember, bonuses and holidays can bulk up your salary by almost half if you consider lieu days, reduced hours, and the option to work from home.
Learning the proper techniques for negotiating a salary means that you won’t end up accepting the base offer or agreeing to less pay than you think you’re worth. If you do, your whole job hunt could be for nothing because you’ll be unfulfilled financially and looking for a better paying job right away.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About The Author: Colleen Harding is a staff writer for a Denver personal injury attorney and guest blogger who specializes on writing about law. Today, Colleen hopes that sharing her knowledge will make us all happy, law-abiding citizens. She is also a member of Amnesty International as well as an active volunteer in her community.
This is the 7th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
After the marathon that is the job interview process, reference checks can be the last mile and where it is easy to trip up.
Once, at 6:00 p.m. on a weeknight, I received a call from a U.S. Congressman who I had called earlier as a reference for a candidate. He spoke about how the candidate was a strong and influential leader in his office and told a story about the candidate’s strengths and perseverance throughout his tenure. While we might not all have elected officials as our references, we can help prepare them to speak as eloquently as this reference did.
Easily forgotten, the 10 minute reference call can make or break your candidacy for a position.
We pick our references, but do we prepare them? By the time you get a job offer, it may be months since you gave your old supervisor the head’s up that you were searching. Or maybe you didn’t give them any notice and they are on a sabbatical in the north of France.
The worst thing a reference can do is not respond, but a vague response is just as bad when impacting a hiring decision.
Properly preparing your references is essential to making the best impression possible. Create a document for each reference that highlights the accomplishments you made as well any awards or honors you received. Include a story of how you overcame a weakness. Use a skill set vs. a personality trait to demonstrate your professional growth.
Unlike the interview process, a reference check can include personal accomplishments and challenges that you had to overcome. The best references are individuals that you built relationships with and maintained throughout your career.
Overall, the 2-3 references you pick should be able to speak on your behalf and convey the traits that will make you an asset to any company. Providing them a point of reference will only enhance the information that they convey, and increase your chances of making the best impression possible.
Don’t we all want that?
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About the author: Jessica Gross serves as the Lead Recruiter for a nonprofit staffing firm in Washington, DC where she performs full-cycle recruiting for entry level to C-level management roles. Jessica provides career counseling and job readiness assistance to individuals and nonprofits in the DC-area. Connect with Jessica on Twitter as Jessicas144 and on LinkedIn.
This is the 6th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Recently, I wrote a guest post for my employer’s blog. I shared what I look for and consider when I’m hiring for our company. What I wrote isn’t new or groundbreaking, and most likely sounds like a thousand other HR articles with hiring advice.
The most important thing I shared is probably the most overlooked with all the people I interview. When I open the door for the candidate to ask questions, few people take me up on the offer.
When you’re considering spending a significant amount of your day somewhere, why wouldn’t you try to discover what the place is like? One of the reasons I give you the opportunity to ask me questions is to find out how interested – and interesting – you really are. We’re a small employer, and you’re not going to be able to lose yourself in any kind of crowd. The position we hire you into will likely change significantly within a year or two. Do you want to know whether or not you’ll enjoy working with us? Or are you simply in it for a paycheck? The types of questions you ask me will give me insight about those things, and will benefit you in the long run.
It’s important you find a job you don’t hate, that won’t make you bitter and resentful. You may not be interviewing for your dream job, but the job shouldn’t drain you of all hope to the point that you’re simply living day-to-day, giving up on your dreams. Interview me. Ask about big picture items. Find out as much as you can about the company culture, the customers, strategies and the bigger goals. Is the company profitable? Is it growing?
I meet a lot of nice people. When I’m interviewing candidates for an entry- or mid-level position, a majority of the applicants would likely do a good job. The opportunity to interview me is a chance for you to demonstrate that you care about more than just the position. Any little bit of extra effort you exert may sway my decision your way.
Photo credit iStockphoto
This is the 5th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Being unemployed really sucks!
Having a break in your career can be more frustrating than ever and can move you outside the active job market.
Depending on how long you have been unemployed, you may already have have gone through the mental trauma of being ignored – not receiving any interview calls or responses to your job applications.
Now the question is, what can you do to make this situation better or what steps can you take to position yourself in a winning spot?
As Andrea Ballard recently wrote, it is time for a career check up. And the diagnosis is . . . address what you can do to keep yourself relevant in your industry even if you are out of a job and fill in your career gap.I think there are quite a few readers out there who are in this predicament.
How do you avoid this career gap? What do you say if an interviewer asks you about this break?
Apart from being highly active on LinkedIn and participating in networking events of your local SHRM chapters, what else can you do to improve this situation rather squandering away time waiting for the interview calls to happen.
Well, I am not saying to make up a job to fill in the gap in your resume because that would be foul, but what you can do now is to operate as a FREE-lancer. yes, totally free. There is no law that says that you can’t have an unpaid job on your resume. Go find one now.
Engage yourself in volunteer work or jobs without pay, especially in nonprofit organizations. If you are an accountant, consider making yourself available to organizations that require accounting services (Click here for volunteer opportunities in your city). Open yourself up such opportunities. They make not pay you anything but the experience and goodwill you earn can be invaluable.
People will love to have you. You will be able to display your potential to do the job, prove that you can be a valuable asset who can contribute to a good cause and possibly create an opportunity for yourself. You never know, after few months of your stellar voluntary service, a position might open up where the organization would be happy to retain you for permanent salaried employment.
And when an interviewer wants to talk about this FREE-lance job, articulate what have you gained and you will look great! Tell them how by doing this job you kept yourself pertinent in the industry, gained experience and developed new skills.
Chances are are a potential employer will value your volunteering experience over another candidate’s gap. You will show that you are a go-getter and a results-oriented person who an employer would benefit from hiring.
What do you think? Would you be a FREE-lancer today?