Yes, You Must Read the Posting First…

As you may have previously read, we are on the job seeker journey together.  I promised to share some helpful tips, and here is my first one.

Help me help you.  The number one rule, when applying via an ATS is to READ THE DESCRIPTION before applying.  Seriously.  Then, UPDATE YOUR RESUME.

If you have two screens like me, keep your resume on one screen and the posting on the other.  If not, snap one window to the right side and use the split-screen.  First, however, save a copy of your resume.  If you use OneDrive, it has a super fun feature where it will automatically save your progress, i.e., save over your original version.  I only had to do this once to do a Save-As the next time.

Okay, back to the magic.  With your new resume WIP on one side, and the desired job posting on the other, pay attention to the prioritized responsibilities and skills required.  Look at your resume, and move up and/or expand on those skills that seem to be of highest importance in the posting.  Also, pay attention to the wording and change yours to match.  If your resume states “Recruitment” vs the posting stating “Talent Acquisition,” you’re not going to match.  Make sense?

Why does this matter?

There are a few reasons.  The number one reason:  there may not be an actual human being screening your resume first.  You have to get past the scan before you have any hopes of dazzling that hiring manager with your sparkling personality and engaging storytelling, right?

Trust me, seeker to seeker and HR pro to seeker, it makes a difference.

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It’s Okay to Ask for Help

Being in HR for nearly 15 years, I can tell you that I know my strengths and my weaknesses.

Patience is not one of my virtues.  However, it is vitally important when you are unemployed.  In my prior role, I had a rule with my team that when we had an applicant, we responded to them within 24 hours – even if all we were saying was “I don’t have an answer, yet.  I will get back to you.”  When someone is unemployed or currently employed and contemplating making a change, every hour counts to them.  We didn’t always meet 24 hours – sometimes it was 48 hours or the next business day, and we took advantage of every automation possible to help us be more efficient.  A good ATS should help you communicate more effectively with your candidates – not hinder it.  That’s a post for another day, though.

Asking for help is another struggle for me.  When you have a servant leader mentality, you want to help others – not yourself.  My blog is HR Without Ego because I don’t ask for praise or thanks.  I take satisfaction from helping others and knowing I made an impact.  In the current state of the job market, however, I have learned that it’s okay to not only ask for help but to accept it.  I have always built my network based on a pay it forward mentality, and I was very uncomfortable asking anyone to reciprocate.  However, that changed thanks to coffee one morning with John Rhoads who I met at the HR Roundtable moderated by the fantastic Steve Browne.

John is a life coach, and trust me, when you think you’re going to retire from your current company, the harsh reality that you’re not is hard to take.  He was the first person that I had spoken the words “my last day is next Friday” to at the Roundtable that morning, and I nearly cried saying it.  I’m sure I looked like it because he looked at me and said:

“It’s going to be okay.  You’re going to be okay.”

I was nervous to meet him for coffee that morning for a multitude of reasons.  First, I was embarrassed that I had lost my job.  Second, I didn’t want to ask anyone for help.  I was in HR, after all, I do this for a living.  Shouldn’t I know how this works?  Third, I was facing unemployment, so if he was selling something, I wasn’t buying.

I survived the meeting, nerves and all, and I was so glad that I had not talked myself out of going.  John had just posted this video that morning, the importance of owning our story.  He reminded me that it’s okay to ask for help, and that I’m most valuable helping my next organization, so I need to focus my efforts, own my story, and in the meantime, I will blog about the journey of being “in search” (where did that name come from?) and hopefully help others that are in a similar circumstance.

Thank You. It has been my privilege.

Today, I sent a message that I wasn’t ready to send.  I’m still not ready.  I haven’t helped enough.  I’m not in a place where I can say “I’ve done all I can do, and now it’s time to help someone else.”  I just got started with my amazing team, and I’m not ready to go.

It’s not about my timing, though.  This is the best decision for the organization, and so I am saying goodbye to the company I love with all my heart and the people I have grown with and learned from for the last 5 years.  It has been my esteemed honor and privilege to serve them.  I want to thank them, no matter the position or title, for teaching me about compassion, selflessness, and for the amazing work that they do every day to care for our patients and their families.  They truly live their passion, and it has been my esteemed honor and privilege to serve them and watch them grow.  I have put my heart and soul into this, and I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity.

If you have a job that you love, supporting amazing people, doing valuable work, appreciate it a little more today.  It is your privilege to support them.

 

Are People Mistreating Your Most Important Asset?

Raise your hand if you have a policy against mistreating company assets, most likely detailed as company equipment.

Raise your hand if you hold people accountable if they mistreat company assets, most notably equipment.

We all say that our people are our more important asset, right?   Raise your hand if you hold people equally accountable for mistreating your company’s most important asset:  PEOPLE.

I attended a workshop last week where Scott Warrick began the morning with this thought-provoking analogy, likening it to someone kicking the copier at work.  The consensus in the room was that the person would be disciplined for damaging company equipment.  A lot of money goes into the care and maintenance of equipment.  However, we don’t always do the same with managers of our people.

In a past life in my career, I worked in manufacturing.  In manufacturing, we allocated considerable expense toward preventative maintenance and training on proper handling of our equipment.  It’s an investment we want to protect, right?

Compared to costs of labor, however, it’s a pittance.

When you think about it, combining wages, benefits, recruitment costs, retention initiatives, taxes, travel reimbursement, training, turnover expenses, etc., your costs of labor could be 60% of the budget.

We spend so much on the preventive maintenance and training of proper handling of our equipment, yet we promote individual contributors to management roles and do not ensure the proper training to prevent damage to our most important asset – our people.

It is our responsibility as leaders to hold others accountable for the proper care and handling of our people.  It is our responsibility as an organization to ensure that our managers have the proper training to appropriately care for the people we have entrusted to them.  We cannot simply take the highest performer in an area and promote them to a manager without providing tools and training.  Chances are, in order to be the high performer of that area, considerable time was dedicated to honing their craft – whatever that may be.  People inherently want to perform well.  When someone goes from individual contributor to manager, we must provide the tools and resources to succeed in that role, and then we must hold them accountable.

Fostering a culture of accountability is not enough, though.  We must also make it safe to have those conversations.  When left to their own devices, people tend to exhibit the behaviors they have previously observed or been taught.  If a manager has been adopted some poor habits, particularly regarding communication with their team, we do that manager a disservice by not addressing it.

We must pay attention to the data, particularly with trends in movement inside and outside the organization.  Do you have a department that has high transfers out and turnover?  Are you conducting exit interviews prior to departures or transfers?  Better yet, are you performing stay interviews to be proactive in retaining your talent?  What are you doing with the information?  Are you prepared to address the seemingly indispensable toxic producer or are you willing to continue to sacrifice talent to keep them happy?

All of our employees are counting on us to provide a safe work environment – physically and otherwise.

Please train your leaders to handle with care, and please have the courage to address those that don’t.

Why Are You Saying No?

This will be very short and sweet, but I feel it is vitally important lately…

Why are you say No?

Is it life or death?  Illegal?  Unethical?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

Maybe you are afraid of letting go of control.  FYI – if this is you, you already have a reputation for this, and your goal this year should be to change that reputation.  You can do it.  I have faith.

Having a reputation for having to control everything in your purview shows two things about you:

You don’t trust others.

If you do not share the knowledge, teach others, and share or give control, you are showing people in your actions that you don’t trust them.  Why do these people work here if you don’t trust them in their role?  If they truly want to grow and learn, and you are the miser of control as well as their manager, they will leave you, I promise you.

You don’t trust yourself.

If you don’t share, cross-train, etc., you are showing others that you don’t trust your own value in the organization that you could possibly do more than simply being the SME on this particular system or department.  You know what happens in that case?  You are not promotable because there is no one else to do it.

Was that your plan?  Probably not.

As a recovering control freak, I can tell you it’s possible.  As a leader, you must relinquish control, share, help others learn, and support them.

The next time you receive a request, give it a try.  Say yes.

How to be Patient at Work

In your career, you are not going to agree with every decision is made.  If you have already experienced this, you’re thinking “Duh” in your head, if not, wait for it, it is inevitable.  It’s not always negative, either.  There have been plenty of times, especially early in my career, when I may not have understood or agreed with a decision at first, but it turned out to be the best thing for the company.

We are in a service-oriented career, and we want to help people.  I care about the people I serve and support, and if you are in Human Resources (or any iteration of it), I’m sure that you do, too.  As my good buddy Steve Browne says in his book HR on Purpose, “If employees are a pain point or source of frustration for you professionally, then get out of human resources.  It isn’t the career for you.”  If you haven’t read his book, download it or pick it up today.

This is not to say that those making the decisions do not care about people.  I feel that is a common misconception.  Having been the one making unpopular decisions at times, I can promise you, I cared.

Full disclosure:  Patience is not one of my virtues.  My team is giggling at this right now, and my husband is sighing, I’m sure.  It’s a work in progress.  I do, however, have an appreciation for having patience in the workplace, and I greatly admire those that exercise patience.

To be a great leader, and to serve people, you must exercise at least a modicum of patience.

Being patient at work does not mean that you are blindly following orders, without question, without a second thought.  It does, however, mean that if a decision is made, and you don’t understand the rationale, respectfully request more information, asking your questions, etc.  Focus on the issue or the situation – not the decision maker(s).  Assume positive intent that those that made this decision have done so with all the information available to them at the time – some of which you may not be privy to, and that the decision was made in the best interest of the business overall.

If you are the person that will inevitably deliver this news, it is imperative that you make sure that you are clear on the rationale and underlying understanding of the decision.  YOU WILL BE ASKED.  Be prepared for the questions.

Choose your moments to challenge wisely.  You don’t want to get a reputation for being the person that continuously pushes back or challenges decisions.  Do not behave in a way or create a reputation for yourself that you are difficult to do business with.  If and when you do pose a question or respectfully challenge a decision, you will have greater impact if you have typically demonstrated support from your position.

That being said, even if you believe that you have a valid business case for why this decision is either not living the company values, is not the right thing to do for the employees, etc., your belief is exactly that – a belief.  If your feedback is taken under advisement (or not) and there is no traction, do not take it personally, focus on understanding the rationale, and move forward.  Becoming emotionally attached to decisions will emotionally highjack you.

At the end of the day, our role is to support our people.  Whether we agree with what has happened or not, we must trust our senior leadership to make the best decision for the business overall, and we must do our best to support our people as the decision impacts them.  They will take their cue on how to react and handle things from us.

Demonstrate patience.

 

How to Apologize in Business

We all make mistakes.  We are human.  We are not expected to be perfect.  If you are expecting perfection, your focus is misguided.

Knowing that it’s not a matter of if or when a mistake will happen, how you handle a mistake is a true testament to your character.  If you are a leader, and your team makes a mistake, they will look to you for how to respond.

Acknowledge.  You must first acknowledge the mistake happened.  AS SOON AS YOU ARE AWARE IT HAPPENED.  There is no partial credit here.  If you wait until someone calls you out on it, you do have to own it at that time, but the first question will be “when did this happen?”  Stay in front of it.

Apologize in your Words.  You may not be at fault for the mistake.  Fault does not equal responsibility.  However, you must express your most sincere apology and express empathy for those affected.  If you get defensive, you will lose all trust and respect.

Trust is the currency of leadership.  Guard it.  Own your mistakes.  Admit when you mess up and encourage your team to do the same.  It makes you human.  We need more humans in business.

Apologize in your Actions.  You must not only communicate the error, but you must communicate what steps you (you, your team, the organization) is making to ensure the error does not happen again as well as what you are doing to make it right.  Then you have to hold yourself and others accountable that those things are done.

Do the Right Thing.  I don’t have to tell you what that is.  You already know.  Trust your gut.