Job Search

I Need a Job, But Not That One

Another update from the Jungle…..

Nancy has been the HR manager at her company for several years. Over that time, she’s looked at scores of resumes and interviewed many job applicants. She has a lot of practice since her employer tends to have less than ideal employee practices, leading to a revolving door.

Nancy converted her experience into a thriving hobby of helping friends of friends and family to spiff up their resumes and practice interviewing techniques. She thinks of her unofficial placement service as passive resistance to her company’s less than stellar notions of how to treat employees. Her boss thinks she’s brilliant at spotting talent without realizing that her hobby is the source of the candidates she uncovers.

Last week Nancy agreed to meet with Mercedes, who recently moved to town and would like some help with her job search. Mercedes shows up ten minutes late. Mercedes says her family moved to town about six months ago, and she’d like a job that allows her to use her college degree in marine biology.

That’s unfortunate, thinks Nancy, since they live in a land-locked state, a time-zone away from the ocean. Nancy takes another look at Mercedes’s resume to see whether any of her work experience might be transferable to another industry. Mercedes volunteers that she’s had a couple of job interviews but they weren’t “right” for her. What wasn’t right about them? asks Nancy.

Mercedes says the first company requires some evening and weekend work, but she wants her weekends free. The other interview was with a company in a neighboring suburb. Mercedes doesn’t want to sit in traffic, and besides, the salary they offered was too low. She’s really hoping for a job that pays a salary comparable to what she made on the west coast.

Mercedes rambles on for several more minutes on what she wants from her future employer. She has a garbled explanation of why every suggestion made by Nancy won’t work for her situation. Gradually, Nancy realizes that Mercedes has just wandered on to earth from a distant planet.

How might Nancy advise Mercedes?

  1. She can tell Mercedes to have a nice life and bail on her.
  2. She can suggest that Mercedes look for a modern day Daddy Warbucks to take care of her.
  3. She can give Mercedes a few pointers on refining her job search to increase the chance of finding a job she wants.

HR managers (and small business owners) expend many hours reading resumes from job seekers who aren’t clear about what they want to do. Some decide to outsource the task to placement services.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Hey, Y’all, I’d Like A Job

Another update from the Jungle….

It’s been a long day and Mary is catching up on her emails. As she deletes all the unsolicited introductions from sales people trying to sell her stuff she either doesn’t want or can’t afford, she wonders again if she was completely nuts to open her own business.

When she’s not avoiding obnoxious sales pitches, she’s dealing with job seekers. She can track the college graduation season simply by the number of unsolicited emails she receives. She rarely reads the attached resumes because of the first impressions created by the emails. The smart graduates use proper grammar and complete sentences in their emails. The smartest graduates actually look at her company website to see what kind of business she runs.

She sighs and clicks on the next email. Its contents strike her so forcibly that she takes a big swig of her single malt scotch. She glances out the window to see if it’s a full moon; it’s not. It’s also too early for the solar eclipse. No natural phenomenon explains the email she’s reading.

The email says, “Hey, y’all, I just graduated from college and I’d love to come work for you if you’ve got an opening. If you don’t have any jobs right now, please keep me in mind when you do. Thx, Candace.”

Mary’s received some strange introductions from job-seekers. She was once chased two city blocks until she realized the crazy man running after her wasn’t a stalker; he was trying to hand deliver his resume.  She’s had friends ask her to hire their college-aged children because some of those young people are otherwise unemployable.

Mary knows that millennials are much more informal than her generation of workers. But Candace’s email introduction surely takes the prize.  This clueless waif graduated from college without ever learning how to present herself to a potential employer.

What should Mary do next?

  1. She can hit delete and ignore Candace because it’s not her responsibility to teach millennials how to apply for a job.
  2. She can drink more scotch and save the email for the bad days when she needs a quick laugh.
  3. She can remember her own job-hunting mistakes and email Candace some kind advice on how the power of first impressions affects gainful employment.

Informality is preferable to the strict workplace hierarchies of the past that stifled innovation and creativity. However, informality should never cross the line into disrespect. HR can help by encouraging college placement offices to teach soon-to-be-graduates how to properly approach prospective employers.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Another update from the Jungle….

Danny is interviewing for a new job, and the question he dreads most has just been asked. Why did he leave his last job?  Danny stares at the in-house recruiter of his prospective employer and thinks back to his former job.

Danny is a young salesman, bright and energetic. He was hired straight out of college into his dream job. He thought his former boss, Sam, was his friend because they talked about sports when they weren’t talking about business.

They often hung out at a sports bar after work watching sports events.  They also called and texted each other about games they were watching during the weekend. Unfortunately, Danny hadn’t made the mental transition from college buddies to business colleagues.

He learned this hard lesson during March Madness.  Danny hosted a party for some of his college frat brothers. Since he was hosting his own party, he couldn’t attend Sam’s party for colleagues and clients.

As the game progressed, Danny called Sam to discuss the latest score and joke about some of the action. But Danny was drinking heavily and jokes that amuse frat brothers don’t necessarily amuse a boss, particularly a boss trying to entertain his own guests.  After the tenth call in as many minutes, Sam ordered Danny to not call him again. Danny laughed drunkenly and agreed. A few minutes later, he called Sam again. Sam hung up and turned off his phone.

The next day, Danny was met at the office by an HR rep who explained that getting drunk and making harassing phone calls to a boss was inappropriate. She informed Danny that he could resign and receive a severance package or he could be fired.  Danny chose the first option and returned home to nurse his hangover.

This sorry sequence of events flits through Danny’s mind as he stares at the in-house recruiter. What are Danny’s options?

  1. He can admit that he got drunk, showed poor judgment, and was invited to be successful elsewhere.
  2. He can trash his former employer as a rotten place to work.
  3. He can say that his former employer wasn’t a good “fit” or that he is looking for a new challenge.

In the actual situation, the young employee was given a few coaching tips during his exit interview, regarding appropriate behavior outside the office.  It’s always a good idea to add a segment in the on-boarding process to remind new hires that what they do on their own time can negatively affect their employment.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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I Gotta Be Me!

Another update from the Jungle….

Annie is desperate for a job after being kicked to the curb by her last two employers.  One employer cut staff when sales plummeted off a cliff; the other went straight in to bankruptcy.  Working a cash register in a big box store is a high risk job these days.

Annie doesn’t care about her dream job.  She just wants to pay her bills while she decides how old she’ll be before she can afford to retire.  With dimming hopes of a better life, she applies for every job opening she can find.

Finally, she is offered a job at a sporting goods store.  The company’s C-suite wants to sell more sporting equipment and clothes to women.  The company’s HR director hopes that a diverse staff in the local stores will help meet the corporate goal of expanding the customer base.  Annie doesn’t know that she’s an experimental lab rat let loose in the maze to test new management objectives.  She’s just happy to be employed.

In her first week on the job, Annie learns more about sports and sporting goods than she ever wanted to know.  She thinks some of the camping equipment is pretty cool but would never camp out in the woods with all the germs, vermin, and lack of Wi-Fi service.  Her male co-workers consider her an urban blight on their outdoorsy message to become one with nature.  Even the other female employee thinks Annie is a sissy for not understanding that sweating is fun.

Annie wears leggings with flowing caftans and handcrafted jewelry.  Her co-workers wear Dockers and golf shirts with the company’s logo.  She wears shoes made of eco-friendly fibers; her co-workers wear hiking boots.

After a month on the job, Annie gradually realizes that she’s not fitting in with her co-workers.  She’s the fastest cashier in the store, but who cares when she doesn’t know a fly-fishing rod from a regular rod.

What are Annie’s options?

  1. She can continue being the oddball on the job, feeling increasingly uncomfortable and isolated.
  2. She can try fitting in by taking up big game hunting and picking her teeth with a Bowie knife.
  3. She can be herself but begin looking for a job that matches her personal values.

The above scenario illustrates the mismatch that can occur between employees and employers.  With the Great Recession behind us, employees may find it easier to work for companies that match their values.  Meanwhile, employers may want to review the connection between their corporate goals and their corporate values.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Great Leaders Hire The Right People

Another update from the Jungle….

application-1915347_1920Finding the “right” employee is one of the most difficult tasks for any company. There will always be job applicants with the skills and expertise required for the job. But will the new hire fit in well with the existing team? A technically skilled person is so much dross if she or he has a toxic personality that destroys team morale.

On the other hand, the person with the perfect technical skills may not fit your company’s culture. What if the company preaches one set of values but practices another? Ambivalent messages from senior management are even more detrimental than one employee’s toxic personality.

Here’s how one leader solved these problems.

pic3In World War II, U-boat captain Peter “Ali” Cremer was concerned about how new crew members would fit in with his existing crew. U-boats were claustrophobically tiny. There was no privacy and no room to separate crewmen if a dispute arose. Meanwhile, U-boats took weeks-long patrols looking for Allied convoys and risking enemy attacks.

Bravery and technical skills were useless if a crewman was not willing or able to be a team player. Cremer knew that he needed men who were used to working as part of a team. So when Cremer looked at applicants for a place on his boat, he looked for men who had played team sports. He knew that men who played team sports were used to functioning as part of a group. That made it easier for them to work in the close quarters of a U-boat.

pic4At the same time, Cremer was consistent in his approach to the job (i.e., his corporate culture). Every crew member was treated with respect and discipline was enforced the same for everyone. No unnecessary risks were taken with the boat or the crew. Across the fleet, every U-boater knew that Cremer always brought his crew back alive. That was important since only 10% of U-boaters survived the war.

Cremer’s criteria worked. He’s the only U-boat captain that operated in the Atlantic Ocean for the entire war. His crew losses were minimal. By the way, Cremer had a fascinating family background. His mother was English, his father was German, and one set of grandparents was from Alsace-Lorraine.

pic5For more information about Peter Cremer, check out his memoirs U-Boat Commander (1984). For an example of the U-boat service, see the movie “Das Boot”, based on Lothar-Gunther Buchheim’s book of the same name. If you would like to tour a U-boot, visit Chicago’s Museum of Science + Industry.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Falling to Pieces

Another update from the Jungle….

Patsy was named for Patsy Cline and she has a pretty good singing voice. So she moved to Nashville with visions of international fame dancing through the lyrics in her head.  She took the first job she could find while she pounded the pavement seeking a record contract.

4She never landed a record contract and her last three employment gigs were as abbreviated as her open mic gigs. But her luck is about to change. She just got a job with a regional company that is distantly connected to the music business. Sure it involves doing boring stuff that she did at several of her previous jobs but she enters the new employer’s offices with a smile on her face and a spring in her step.  

After a day with HR, filling out paperwork and learning about all the things that can get her fired, Patsy’s enthusiasm wavers. But she arrives early the next day determined to do well. The HR rep shows her where the bathroom is located and guides to her a rabbit-hutch sized cubicle. Then the HR rep abandons her to go deal with an HR crisis.

Patsy leans around the cubicle corner to ask Doris for a little assistance. Doris is on the phone. Rebecca, on 1her other side, clues Patsy in to a few basic procedures, such as which database takes which customer information.  Patsy realizes from prior experiences that she’s just gone through “orientation” and she sets to work.

In the first week, almost all her work is rejected for a variety of reasons. Patsy tries to explain to co-workers that in her last job they did it this way. Her supervisor says in front of co-workers that she doesn’t care how the company’s main competitor does business.

Before her first paycheck, Patsy’s demoralized. As her probationary period ends, the HR rep tells Patsy that she’s being dropped because she “just doesn’t get it” and her co-workers think she’s whiny.  

What should Patsy do next?

  1. She can reach across the desk and slap the HR rep for not ensuring she received proper training.
  2. She can leave quietly and bad-mouth the company on her Facebook page.     
  3. She can find a friend like Merle Haggard’s “Leonard” to help her until her singing career takes off.    

The above scenario is a composite of many employers who expect to find ideal employees without investing in training. It’s a doomed process similar to seeking your life’s soulmate in a 2nd Avenue bar on Saturday night.2

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Did He Really Say That?

Another update from the Jungle….

unnamed (13)Erica is interviewing for a job as the HR manager for a small privately held company.  Erica heard about the job opening from a friend. She is looking for a change after growing bored with her current employer.

Erica is capped on pay and promotions with her current employer unless her boss dies or retires, neither of which seems likely.  Months ago, Erica suggested a special project working with IT to upgrade some of the creaking systems that slow down productivity and offered to lead the project task force. Her offer was rejected by her boss and her boss’s boss, leaving Erica with the impression that they weren’t serious about productivity gains or keeping her engaged as an employee.

So Erica decided to move on. She applied for the HR manager opening and was invited in for an interview. At the interview,
she waits in the shabby lobby for 20 minutes past the time her interview is scheduled to start. Finally,a man in his late 60’s steps in to the lobby to invite her to the conference room for the interview.

In the conference room, Erica blinks as she gets a closer look at her interviewer. He looks like an
image045extra from the Godfather movies with chunky gold rings on both hands and a large gold watch.  His shirt is open half-way down his chest displaying gold chain necklaces.  In a voice roughened by cigarettes and cheap whiskey, the man explains that he’s looking for an HR manager to keep the “government off his back”.

Erica asks if his company’s employment practices were audited by a government regulator but he brushes aside the question. He says that companies like his would be a lot more successful if the government would stop interfering and telling him how to run it.  Then he explains that he’s had trouble in the past hiring women because “they start with single coverage on the medical plan but next thing you know, they’re on the family plan”.

What should Erica do next?

  1. She can call him a dinosaur, list all the federal and state employment laws he’s violated during the interview and storm out of the room.
  2. She can expend a lot of effort trying to get the job since the company obviously needs all the HR help it can get.
  3. She can send the owner a bottle of cheap scotch after the interview to thank him for his time and pray that he doesn’t offer her the job.

In the actual situation, the interviewer never made a job offer. The interviewee continues to congratulate herself on one of the narrowest escapes of her professional career.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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3 Keys to Hiring the Right Employee

Another update from the Jungle…
image029
Renee owns a small bakery that is growing rapidly but still needs to plow the profits back into the business to ensure its long term success. She knows the long term success of the bakery depends on the quality of the employees.

She learned through trial and error that she needed to be clear about what she was looking for in a new employee. One early hire, Debra, was great at baking muffins but seemed to hate people. Customers would dash out the door if they saw Debra at the counter waiting to serve them. Renee eased Debra out the door so that she could go be successful with a different employer. Then Renee revised her job descriptions to focus on all the skills, not just baking, that she needs.

Renee also realized that hiring the right employee is not enough. New hire Marta didn’t know how to use a convection heat oven and her first batch of cookies were harder than hockey pucks. After
image027the smoke cleared and the hockey pucks were trashed, Renee decided to assign an experienced employee as a mentor to train Marta on using equipment. Marta now bakes cookies using her grandmother’s recipes that are the hottest sales items in the store.

Of course, assigning a mentor was not enough either. Cherie had a mentor but wasn’t making progress in learning how to use kitchen equipment or the cash register. A quick investigation revealed that Cherie was intimated by her mentor and never asked questions. The mentor admitted that she is a perfectionist and isn’t comfortable trying to teach new hires.

This mismatch taught Renee that she needed to more closely monitor the progress of each employee. So every week she meets with each employee to answer questions and to ask for suggestions on improving the business. It’s a huge time commitment for Renee but in the past year, turnover among all employees has dropped dramatically and would-be bakers now beg her to hire them.

What are Renee’s 3 keys to hiring the right employee?

  1. Know what you want and clearly state it in the job description so that you hire the right person for the job.
  2. Have a good “onboarding” process to integrate the new employee into the workforce that includes training the new person on equipment and business processes.
  3. Monitor progress of all employees to match skills to opportunities to increase job satisfaction and the chance of retaining each employee.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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The Right Person for the Job

Another update from the Jungle….
image013Wanda owns a small company and she’s preparing for her next round of job interviews.  She hates the interviewing and hiring process. It takes a lot of time away from running her business and the results can be iffy.

The last few batches of job applicants she interviewed left much to be desired. One job applicant said that if he was hired, he would need to take time off to fix a “mix up” about his probation. Another asked if a job offer was contingent on passing a drug test.  Another applicant candidly admitted he didn’t want the job but had to perform a job hunt in order to keep his unemployment benefits.  After that interview, Wanda tottered home and had an extra-large glass of wine
image016 with her dinner.

In the last batch of job applicants the only one showing real promise was a biker dude with prison tattoos. Heshowed up on time, was polite and actually asked relevant questions about the job duties.  Even though the biker dude lacked many of the job skills she was seeking, she immediately offered him the job because he seemed willing to learn.

But Wanda knows that she can’t continue such a hit or miss process. She needs to find a better method for hiring new employees.

What are Wanda’s options?

  1. She can reconsider what she’s looking for by ensuring the job description accurately reflects the job duties. It’s difficult to hire the “right” employee with the wrong job description.
  2. She can outsource much of the hiring process which will save her time. Of course, the staffing agency will need an accurate description of the job duties in order to find appropriate applicants for the job.
  3. She can rely more on referrals from friends, family and current employees as they understand her business are more likely to refer suitable candidates for job openings.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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5 Folders You Should Create to De-Stress Your Job Search

KrisDamico-best-whtbkgrd-tuMany thanks to my friend Kurt Kirton for this week’s column! Kurt regularly writes about best practices for a job search. Job searches are a natural corollary for any company’s HR program. After all, a company is only as good as the employees it hires. But job applicants need successful strategies to become employees. Here are Kurt’s tips on de-stressing your job search.

file_folderNow you may be looking at the title of this post and thinking, “How can something as piddly and insignificant as folders on my computer merit a blog post or do anything for my job search?” Allow me to explain: I’m a very organized guy. Ever since I was about 13 and starting high school, ways of organizing things started to come to me. It was just logic.

As an adult, I was able to enjoy the fruits of my already established organized habits. And after my first layoff from a record label (my dream job in moving to Nashville) in 2000, I’ve been applying my organization skills to perfecting the job hunt. Making and regularly using the following five folders can help you find what you need quickly and take the tendency toward procrastination out of your daily job search activities.

  1. Job Search—This is your top-level master folder and should contain the folders below plus any other files, such as aptitude tests, letters of recommendation, articles, references page, business card print files, etc.
  2. Company-Specific Information—This is where you’ll store information on any company for which you prepared for an interview or put in an application and can include documents you’ve created or information you’ve downloaded. You can make sub-folders by company name here and use those to file applications, directions, background check documentation, etc.
  3. Core Items—This folder should contain the files you use most frequently such as your most current Action Plan, elevator speech/exit statement, versions of your résumé, and job application and networking tracking spreadsheets.
  4. Letters (cover, follow up, future position, and thank you)—Keep all these letters in this folder. You can save a lot of time using them as templates, modifying them when applying for similar jobs. I suggest this format for naming the files: Account Exec–Aug 15ABC Enterprises.doc (i.e., job title, month/year you applied, company). Then you can add “–fu” for follow-up, etc. to indicate what type of letter it is. This will keep the files sorted by job title, which is best when using these letters as templates.
  5. Résumés: Old—Store older versions of your résumé here. It’s good to keep these, since at some point you may need to reference one to refresh your memory about some of your experiences or use the information when applying for a position that’s a bit of a stretch.

Looking for a new job? Want to get what you want faster? Check out Kurt’s new book, Here Today, Hired Tomorrow

HTHTcover-72res_final12-6-14In Here Today, Hired Tomorrow, Kurt Kirton, a successful veteran job hunter, provides actionable advice and teaches his proven systematic approach to getting hired. He draws upon his years of recruiting for Brantley Services, his marketing consulting experience, personal job searches, and invaluable guidance from career professionals. When Kirton is not sharing his job search experience and advice on KurtKirton.com, he is a speaker, blogger, marketing consultant, graphic designer and the Secretary for the Nashville chapter of the American Marketing Association.

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