Hi! How Are You Doing?

No, Really…How are you doing?

If the answer to this question is fine, stop. Eject that thought and put in a new one. Are you really fine, because what I am going to tell you is that it is okay, not to be.

In my now 9 plus months of unemployment with an unheard of 900+ applications in 2021, I have taken some classes through my local employment security department and they are fantastic. The two women that run these courses are empathetic and smart. They have been where I am now and the other participants in the class support each other through the chatbox. Through these classes, I have learned to say that I’m not fine and I hope that what I am about to share with you allows you to say that too if that’s the case.

I want to state for the record that I am not trying to be a downer. I am a very positive person but I have been searching for employment for a long time now and I don’t understand why I have not been hired. I know I am older but I am not dead. I know I would command a larger salary but I am not outside most of the ranges that I am seeing for the roles I am applying to. If I don’t know the range, then I ask for it. If the company doesn’t share that information, then I probably don’t want to work there anyway.

So is it my interviewing skills? It might be that, but I have had friends interview me and coach me through what they see as areas of improvement. I am open to mixing it up. I actually love to interview. It provides me with a platform to show how passionate I am about what I do. The fact is, I am getting interviews and I am making it to the 2nd round with some companies. Then, poof, they are gone. I ask for feedback knowing that I probably won’t hear anything, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Is it my resume? I don’t think so. I have recruiter friends that have looked it over with a fine-tooth comb and they just remind me to change keywords and phrases to match the job description in the advertisement. I do all of these things so I feel that my resume is pretty good. I refuse to pay someone to write me one. I don’t have the extra cash lying around anyway.

How about the number of people applying for each job I am? Yes, this could be it. For one recent position, there were over 700 applicants. Is that real? Are that many people job hunting when the media says that unemployment is reducing? 700 people, that’s crazy! If I am 701, will my resume even get looked at? Will I get a shot at the job that matches my skillset over these other people? How do you possibly stand out in that type of crowd? I apply anyway and hope that my application magically slips through the cracks and lands on the hiring manager’s desk. So, I’m not fine. I’m frustrated. I want to work. I want to be a productive member of society again. I would like to be able to pay my bills. I would really like to stop borrowing money from family and move into a new place of my own. I made this change to pivot out of a toxic environment and I’m having a heck of a time making it happen.

I am surviving though, barely. I am honestly hopeful. I know my job is coming. It’s almost here. I have put in the work. This class I took was about mental health. In job-hunting, you are on the computer all day, every day, looking at jobs, updating your resume and cover letter, and applying with the information that is on that resume. It takes time to go through an application so imagine how long it took to do over 900. The class teaches to take breaks. I have really tried to do this on the weekend and get out of the house to do something fun. Or even just walk around the block or get a coffee from your favorite barista. I know you will say to me, “I might miss something!” Yes, you might but isn’t your mental health more important? I believe it is.

Whatever your higher power is, please use it to pray. I ask for your prayers for me, but also for all of the rest of you that are telling yourselves that you are “fine” while you are job hunting. I want you to find work too.

Maybe when I get my new job, I can hire you. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Keep up the good work, it will come!

Keeping Negativity Out of Conversations

“What I heard you say was…”

I have been doing a lot of inward searching lately and I have decided that I no longer want to hear nor be a part of a negative conversation. When people say things to you that are not necessarily friendly, we tend to go inward and wish they said something else. No one likes confrontation but I think there is something magical about what I want you to try.

Example: You are working from home and your kids are home from school. Your spouse/partner is supposed to be watching them and you have an important call coming up. You hear a loud bang. Your call is in minutes. You rush out to see what happened. The kids tell you that they were just making a large banging noise so you tell them they don’t need to be so loud and you ask them if they are all right. All of a sudden your spouse shows up in the room and says, “They’re fine.”

Well, now I am really irritated because my spouse is supposed to be watching them and there is no reason they can’t play a little more quietly. I want to scream. Instead, I stop and think because I have a call in mere minutes and I don’t want my emotions to get the best of me. So what I say is, “What I heard you say was, thank you for coming out of your office to see if the kids were not hurt. We’ll try to keep it down for you.”

I am not yelling, yet I have conveyed my feelings and shown my children the alternatives to arguing with my spouse in front of them. I have also shown my spouse/partner how I feel about what is going on in the house while I am trying to work. Yes, kids are noisy however, they can be taught to be respectful and given alternative activities during the day.

So, how do we translate this to business?

There are times when conversations get heated and it is important for us to keep our cool and maintain our emotions. If your boss is upset with you for something you didn’t do, or if a co-worker says something snarky to you for no reason. You can try this statement and paraphrase their thoughts into something positive, or let them know what is actually going on.

Example: I was told about a team lead that had just finished an extremely hard customer service call in a fast-paced environment. Normally these calls are about 10 minutes maximum, but this one lasted around 30 minutes. The team lead followed all the protocols but the customer started swearing at them and the rule was that they were allowed to ask them to stop or they will end the call. Of course in this instance, the customer kept going and the team lead ended the call.

The customer left a bad review and the team lead’s manager came over to speak with them. Needless to say, the manager did not take the time to find out what really happened and blasted the team lead for being too long on the phone and hanging up on the client.

The team lead was visibly upset but as a trained customer service representative, had the tools to respond to the manager and say;

“What I heard you say was that this must have been a difficult call for you. You were on the phone for a long time trying to diffuse the situation but since the client was unwilling to listen, you ultimately had to end the call. You followed all of our protocols. Let’s discuss what was said on the call and see how we could have handled things differently, if possible.”

You haven’t been disrespectful to your manager, but you have set some boundaries about how you will be spoken to. When this type of linguistics is used more frequently, patterns will change over time. It is a very powerful tool.

Most of us go home and stew about what was said to us and we try to come up with a snappy come-back. Or we just start to resent our boss and end up quitting to get away from them.

If you feel this is too harsh of a way to respond, then I challenge you to really listen to your inner voice the next time someone says something that is upsetting for no reason because, “What I heard you say is this might be difficult for me to try at first, but I am willing to give it a shot because I am worthy of being spoken to in a professional manner.”

Employment Application Dilemma

Dear Future Employer,

Why do you ask me if I have been terminated, laid off, or resigned and not include an “other” option? I know how important it is to find out so you won’t hire someone in your organization that will wreak havoc or cause problems, but there has to be a better solution or question that can be asked. How about another option for people to use?

Sometimes jobs are not a good fit for the employee.

Sometimes the employee is leaving a toxic manager or environment.

Sometimes employees are not a good fit for the organization.

Sometimes employees are asked to do things that are in opposition of their personal and business values and morals.

This is the tough one. What happens if an employee was asked to do something illegal and wouldn’t do it? Is that insubordination? It could be seen as such, but in my opinion it isn’t. There are toxic work environments and shady leaders out there and we must be mindful of them and the employees that work in them and for them.

Certain positions require the utmost ethical and moral behavior. When it is tested you must prevail with your ethics intact. The problem is, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you give in to the request of the leader, then you risk having it backfire on you and end up being thrown under the bus when shit goes sour. If you don’t give in to the request you end up getting terminated. This is where looking for a new job is difficult.

So, I ask you first….PLEASE stop asking people to do things that are not legal, moral, or ethical. Easier said than done, right? Wrong! Just don’t.

When we answer truthfully that we have been terminated on your form, don’t use this as a reason to not bring forward for an interview. Instead provide us with a drop down comment section to write something that will give us a chance to explain and ease your mind at the same time. This will provide you the ability to ask more questions when you interview us. Remember too, we may be under legal documents that prevent us from saying anything against our former employer (release documents). That doesn’t mean that we are bad employees. That doesn’t mean that we are trouble makers. It could mean the employer had something to hide and this was the easiest way to deal with it. If you read the information we provide and you deem it to be legitimate then you already have a glimpse of the person you are thinking of bringing into your organization and the higher standards they strive for. Don’t you all want an upstanding employee with high integrity? I surely do.

Think of it this way, can you imagine how hard it must be for them to have lost a job for doing the right thing? For following the law? For standing up?

So future employer, not only should you update your applications with legal items, you should update this termination question section too. Please do the right thing.

Signed, Everyone.

Why do I feel guilty when I am on vacation?

We have all hear it, “Don’t log in”, “Don’t check your email”, “Try to relax”. Yeah, right.

How can I relax when even after I have set my “out of office” notification, the constant chiming of the email notifications brings me anxiety and guilt for not looking and not working?

Oh, I know I need a break. I know my brain and my body are exhausted. I also know that just like everyone else, I deserve time off now and again.

However, the thought of only being gone for three days and returning to three hundred emails is a tad overwhelming.

I am at home on “vacation” during COVID-19. My original plan was to have my first vacation after landing the new job poolside in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii with a flight of Mai Tai’s at the ready. So, I have turned the heat up, put on some Hawaiian music, and found a documentary about the ocean that I am playing in the background on mute.

It. Is. Totally. Not. The. Same. (sigh)

I will make some Mimosa’s to mock the Mai Tai flight, only because I do not have the ingredients for them, and I am not interested in going to the store in my COVID mask. Oh, did I tell you, this is only day one.

I think I will nap as my head and my body are reminding me that I promised to rest during this time and are counting on me to keep to my word. It is also raining outside (go figure), so I cannot exactly take out my lawn chair and sit in the sun.

Tomorrow is another vacation day. I will be more rested and ready to figure out some activities to keep me from opening that laptop that is staring at me from my makeshift home office desk.

Ding, ding, ding…there goes three more emails into my inbox.

I think it is time for another Mimosa.

A Million Tears

Normally I would write about something HR related but I can’t. I don’t have anything to say that at this point has not been already said. As a person with the great capacity to love on people, I find myself unable to comfort the fears of my friends, family, and neighbors during this time and it is in my nature to try and fix things.

This is a scary time. All of us are on edge. In the past few weeks, I have seen the good that can come from a tragedy such as this. However, it doesn’t mend the mind when you stop to take a well-deserved rest. It’s in that moment when you finally take the time for yourself that you start to think. You start going down that rabbit hole like Alice, but when you hit bottom there is no bottle to drink, no morsel to eat. All that is left is the fear.

That is when the tears come. I have never been afraid of crying as I feel it is a great release of stress and anxiety. So I encourage you to cry, scream, and hug yourself. Consider it mental health. My favorite place to cry is the shower. The hot water warms me to the bone and the water coming down on my face washes away the saltiness of my tears. The heat of the shower on my head lulls me into a state where if I am fast enough, I can fall asleep still warm in my core.

Rest, Sleep. These are also things we need. I am just as guilty as many of you working from home. That computer is so close, maybe, just one more email, one more report. No. Stop. Give yourself work hours. This is a very trying time and any sense of normal is better for you. Wake up in the morning and put your work clothes on. Take breaks, take a lunch time, and get some fresh air. End your day at the same time every day and if you can, cover up that laptop.

Have dinner with your family. If you are single, like I am, text or call a friend. Watch a TV show, read a book, color, paint, or just rest. Take off your work clothes and put on your workout gear. Go for a walk, exercise on your deck or in the yard. Go up and down the stairs a few times to get your heart rate up. Then, clean yourself up and put on those Jammies. This is your time.

Again, those tears may come. You have been watching the news everyday and hearing the same horrible news. Overload. That’s where I am now. Instead of the news, I now put in my favorite movie and do my dishes.

I speak to my friends and they are stressed too. More tears. Friends with children at home from school. They are trying to balance working at home and being a teacher. Some are not working, no paycheck, no money. Donate to a food bank if you can. Put food on your local Buy Nothing page. Offer what you can to others in a safe way, a safe distance. I won’t use the statement that keeps us a certain distance apart because I am overwhelmed with it. It’s the only thing you hear each day.

I write to you not just to remind you to take care of yourselves. I write today because this is me, taking care of me. Writing makes me happy and helping people does too.

I’m sending you all the love and light in my heart. Be safe, stay home, and we will get through this together.

I’ve Been Hired!

Some of you know that I have been in the job market for about seven months now and I am happy to announce that I have a new home!

I will be at the corporate headquarters of Merrill Gardens handling their Employee Relations!

I am very excited to be part of a team that loves where they work and who they work with.

A great culture and being happy in your job are just as important as having enough compensation to pay your bills and feed your family.

I will have the time to once again blog about HR and how we can make a difference to our team members, making them feel safe and valued in our organizations.

Hint: It starts during the recruiting process!

Sneaky….not so much!

I have been in the applicant pool for a few months now and you can’t fool me when you have this fancy HRIS system that sets up a “profile” for me to check my applications and I am required to put my birthday in it. Why do you need this information? You are not supposed to discriminate against me or anyone else on the basis of age among a long list of other items.

You Can’t Fool Me

As an HR professional in the market place, you can’t fool me with this tactic. I guess you feel like people are so desperate that they will give you the information so they have a chance to get in to your company.

When an applicant is applying to multiple organizations, the thought of having to first fill out a profile and then an application is daunting. In my opinion, you should be making the application process much simpler for people. They should have the ability to send you their resume, answer a few pertinent questions for your team and be able to receive text messages for the status of the application.

Remember to K.I.S.S.

Continue reading “Sneaky….not so much!”

Why Does it Take So Long to Hire?

The time it is taking employers to make decisions on hiring is excruciating. I am all for finding the right person for the job and the right fit, but if after multiple phone screens and in-person interviews you can’t decide, then you don’t have the right person or you are being way too picky. Employers should be hiring with diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their thinking as well. But if you wait too long, you will lose the candidate that could take your organization to the next level.

Please Consider the Candidates Timeline

You as the employer, have no idea of the circumstances of your candidates and why they are looking for new employment. Unemployment only lasts six months and there are no extensions in Washington State. So, this could mean that your candidate is on the brink of homelessness or bankruptcy at no fault of their own. I’m not saying that all candidates are in this dilemma but there are many people that I have spoken to that have been looking for a position for up to and more than a year. They report that unemployment is low and companies are having a hard time finding people, (so they say) I just don’t buy it.

Speed Up or Fine Tune Your Processes

You can find good people quickly. That same first impression or chemistry test you all use when meeting a new friend or potential mate can also be used to find a new employee. Do you like their knowledge, skills, and abilities? Are they answering the questions correctly? Do they have a nice demeanor? Then give them a shot! You may be saving a life in the process or the life of an entire family.

What Can HR Leaders Do?

Work with your executive teams and hiring managers to set compensation ranges, job descriptions, and hiring timeline expectations. When you are organized in the beginning and you have a generous advertising budget you will gather the resumes you need to start the phone screening process and get people in the door to begin interviewing. There will always be those exceptions in the process, but ultimately you can speed this up by planning ahead and being organized.

Recruiting Trends

They say we’re in a candidate-driven market.

They say that the candidate picks the employer, not the other way around.

With the use of social media to advertise your position, comes the added amount of candidates seeking work at your organization. Are they quality candidates? Do you have a quality company? How do you stand out to create the kind of experience that will entice a candidate to come to your organization, apply, accept an offer, refer others, and stay for the long haul?

Make sure that you are truly comparing the resumes you receive to the job descriptions you write.  Make sure that you are in as much contact as possible with your applicants. I know that when you receive hundreds of resumes that this may not be easy, but even a standard response email is better than being ghosted by a potential employer.

Candidate Experience

One of the trends that are really important in recruiting is the candidate experience. This occurs at the beginning of sourcing through the onboarding process. How does the candidate feel about their experience with you? What is their overall perception of your company based on these experiences?

I briefly mentioned above about being ghosted. This occurs way more often than you think. This is not the kind of experience that an applicant wants when job hunting. The applicant tracking systems also have a login and password. So think about the potentially large amount of ATS systems that a job hunter is having to navigate. Sometimes a text message on the progress of an application is appreciated more than an employee having to remember the login credentials for each ATS to find out where they are in the process or if they have been declined without so much as an email. Pay the extra money to set up this type of text programming for your candidates to enhance their experience with you.

What is the importance of the candidate experience?

If your candidate, now employee, has had a satisfying experience they will refer others to your company.

Their great experience along with the culture of your organization gives them the confidence to refer people they know to your company. They expect that you will treat them the same way they were treated.

If their experience is far from satisfactory, the organization could potentially lose a lot of money. Companies with a bad reputation will lose employees, or worse.

Job seekers won’t take jobs with companies that have a bad reputation. The result of this is that there will be limited or no employee referrals. If the culture of your organization is such that no referrals are coming in, then you must reevaluate what your mission is in order to gain the trust of your employees and create the type of experiences that translate to more referrals, candidates, and new hires.

Is It Happy Hour Yet?

Why do we limit happiness to an hour?

We have all been there; It’s Monday afternoon and the first day of the workweek, already you and your colleagues are itching to get to happy hour to bitch about your day. Why aren’t we happy at work?

Now, I’m not saying that leadership should have an open bar in the office, but the atmosphere obviously requires an upgrade if by 10:00 am your team needs a collective drink.

Of course, what I’m talking about is company culture. Is yours so bad that your team would rather be buzzed to cope? How can you change it?

The Bartender is Essentially your HR Director

The bartender is always there to listen. Listen to your troubles and offer tools to cope. The difference is, they are handing out rum and cola, where your HR team can provide tools like mediation, suggestions for improvement, and company-wide training.  Now, HR can’t solve all the problems of corporate unhappiness alone. To change the culture and make things “happy” again, you must start at the top and require buy-in from your leadership. Communicate with the workers to find out what they think can be improved. Reevaluate the mission of the organization or write a new one.

Don’t Belly up to the Bar, Raise it.

  • Raise the bar on the expected behavior of the team at all levels
  • Raise the bar on the benefits you offer
  • Raise the bar on the compensation you provide

Expect Results to change, but not immediately. Like a fine wine, culture change takes time and nurturing.

Cheers to You!

You have gone through the process of culture change. You have partnered with your HR Director and created an atmosphere that your employees can enjoy. You have asked for feedback and listened to your team members to provide better products and services for them and their families. Great job! This rounds on me!