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.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is relatively easy to define, but somewhat difficult to describe. I discovered years ago that this creates some challenges for executive recruiters discussing candidates’ EI competencies.
In the mid-90’s, I worked a search along with a colleague for a rail yard general manager at a large metropolitan subway system. The system had been having some labor trouble and needed new leadership. A strike in the system, which was brewing, meant a transit shut down which would bring the city to a grinding halt.
One of the candidates we presented had exceptionally high EI. Our attempts at describing this competency to our client fell flat. Fortunately, they selected him for other reasons, among them, he was articulate and well groomed with a history of success working a similar role in other environments with labor unrest. Our client also felt he would fit in with the system’s leadership team. Offer letter signed, our client and candidate established a start-date.
Per our usual practice, we planned to call the client towards the end of the first day to check in. On this placement’s first day, however, our client preempted the call at 10:00 am. This is never a good sign, so I began to listen to the call with apprehension. My colleague was repeating the client’s side of the conversation with increasing dismay:
“He showed up; okay, that’s good.”
“In…a muscle shirt…”
“…and he has tattoos all over his body?”
By this time, I was convinced we were going to have to resurrect our back-up candidate or conduct the search all over again. After a moment, my colleague began to chuckle and concluded the call with warmth and mirth; apparently, the new general manager hadn’t failed his first day after all.
Our client had reported that our placement had earned instant credibility by
showing up in a persona with which the rail yard workers identified. They immediately recognized that their new boss understood them and was willing to enter their world despite his management title. That first day, our placement never went to the office, but instead walked the yards introducing himself, learning about his new team, their roles, responsibilities and their challenges. In the short term, this placement averted a strike and eventually, he turned around the morale and the performance in the yard.
I often think about the emotional intelligence our placement exhibited by understanding the assessment process with us search consultant and our client; recognizing our potential for risk aversion, during the interviews he had worn suit and tie and showed no evidence of tattoos. He presented as a leader with which anyone in management would identify. Yet, he also understood the value of establishing immediate credibility with the workers and knew exactly how to ensure they would recognized him as one of their own, despite his title.
During the search, we weren’t able to sufficiently communicate the EI we saw in our candidate. I imagine other executive recruiters have experience the same challenge. Fortunately, in this circumstance, our client selected the candidate for other reasons; and there’s no question they quickly saw what we had been trying to convey; they recognized EI when they saw it in action on our placement’s first day.
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About the author: Before founding ScoutRock, Caroline McClure enjoyed more than 16 years working on both sides of the executive talent equation, as a search consultant in a global retained executive search firm and eight years as director of executive search for a Fortune 50 company.
I started working in Human Resources a bit by accident.
As a member of the IT department, I was teaching software training for employees at our firm. Over time, I took on more of the “soft skills” training classes, and my role in new employee orientation grew. I became close to the HR Director as I shared my impressions of the new hires and made predictions about who would be a superstar, and who wouldn't make it past the first week. When a new HR Manager position opened up, the HR Director recommended I apply for it. I got the job, moved into HR and never looked back.
One of my first tasks was to hire an entry-level HR Assistant for our department. I had a senior recruiter with over 20 years’ experience helping me, and she taught me how to write the job description, told me about the skills and abilities we were looking for, and generally guided me through the entire process. I posted the position and eagerly awaited responses.
Once I had a good stack of resumes and cover letters, I took them to the senior recruiter and asked for her assistance in selecting candidates to interview. She went through the stack in about 2 minutes, ruthlessly culling anyone from the pile who had a typo or misspelling in their resume or cover letter. I didn't understand why she removed some of the people who looked like great candidates to me. I asked her what criteria she was using to separate the Yeses from the Nos.
“Oh,” she said. “I get rid of anyone who says they like people or they’re a people person. Because after working in HR for twenty years, I can tell you, this job will make you hate people. And I don’t want to do that to anyone.”
I was shocked. And confused. After all, I’m one of those who had said I wanted to be in HR because “I’m a people person.” Obviously she hadn't been involved in recruiting for my position!
t of all, I was disappointed. She was someone I admired and thought would be an excellent mentor for me. But her jaded attitude put a bad taste in my mouth and I vowed not to end up like her.
Fast forward 15 years.
At times, layoffs, a long recession, and new technological challenges have taken their toll on me. Especially in my previous role as a hiring manager, and my current role as a career coach, I struggle when the number of bright, talented people outweigh the available positions. I become jaded when management says “Do we have to do that? After all, they’re lucky to have a job.” And when I hear about people struggling economically with unemployment and see the impact it has on everyone in the family, part of me wishes I was back in a classroom, teaching someone how to format a document and create a spreadsheet.
But I’m not. Because I am a people person. And despite my mentor’s advice, I have remained one because I think HR is the perfect place for people who like people.
People are a never-ending, ongoing puzzle. Figuring out why they do what they do will always fascinate me. And if people behaved rationally, calmly, and logically all of the time, well, I am guessing HR wouldn't be needed very much, and I’d be out of a job.
Why did you get into the HR profession? Why do you stay?
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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.
During a recent business trip, I passed five states and multiple cities between New York City and Washington, D.C. within a matter of 4 hours on Amtrak.
As my company breaks into new markets, I have expanded my recruitment portfolio along the Eastern Seaboard as well as into the Midwest.
Coming from the Midwest (Chicago, specifically), there are many things I’ve had to learn about recruitment and culture across state lines. For example, the rivalry between Cubs and White Sox fans will never amount to the hatred between Eagles and Giants fans. The appropriate toppings and bun for a hot dog vary from city to city, and residents of Virginia and Maryland in the Greater Washington, D.C. area will not visit each other for a BBQ let alone a job interview.
Food and sports aside, there are many peculiarities to each city, and understanding them is crucial to making a successful placement. When recruiting from a national pool of candidates, it is the HR professional’s responsibility to serve as the liaison between the candidate and company as well as be a representative of the state or city.
I would like to share some best practices for national recruitment that I have learned along the way.
- Know the public transportation system. Know what the public transportation system is in each city, how it works and and if it’s punctual: New York – Subway, Washington, D.C. – Metro, Chicago – L, Philadelphia – SEPTA, and Baltimore – MARC Train.
- Visit the organization or company to know where it is located as well as to assess the culture.
- Know your candidates. For local candidates, know where they live in relation to the organization and be able to give them directions and key landmarks. For national candidates, include a Skype interviews as a preliminary search step in order to confirm a candidate’s interest before putting them on a plane or train. Skype is an incredible tool and it’s FREE!
- Understand tenure. A government contractor’s resume from Washington, D.C. make look choppy compared to other cities where contract roles are less frequent and retention is greater. It is the responsibility of HR to debrief the Hiring Manager during their review of resumes.
- Confirm and reconfirm a company’s relocation policy. Know whether is is a partial or full relocation package and exactly what it does – and does not – include.
It’s very easy for an unemployed applicant in California to apply to a position in St. Louis, Missouri but when push comes to shove, will they relocate? As a recruiter, it is imperative not to be overeager because you found the best Marketing Director West of the Mississippi on LinkedIn. Try a Skype conversation first, and then proceed with caution. Roots are strong and they can impact a search’s success if the applicant is not committed – and fully prepared..
While I’ll never put ketchup on my hot dog, I have enjoyed some cheese wiz on a Philly cheesesteak from South Street. There is an incredible amount of talent available and very unique and interesting opportunities nationwide.
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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.
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
A few clicks through your connections on LinkedIn should bring up some recruiters. After all, we are the most popular profession to utilize this social media platform.
A quick glance at the titles of these connections and you will discover that you are not in Kansas any longer.
Talent Acquisition Specialist. Staffing Consultant. IT Recruiter. Or my personal favorite, Rainmaker. Do you really shake someone’s hand, give them your business card and say, “Hi, I’m a Rainmaker?”
When did we stop being recruiters? Job titles will always be an important part of human resources. The title should go hand-in-hand with the responsibilities, direct-reports and pay of the position.
Why is simply being a recruiter no longer enough to differentiate ourselves and stand out from the crowd?
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