Coaching vs. Human Resources

As an HR Director, I trained and advised team members, managers, and directors on issues they were having in their departments. As my career progressed I turned to coach these managers and directors showing them how to gain back the power of their positions. I also coached them on how to become better leaders instead of just being “the boss”.

Full-time Coaching

I am making the bold step into the coaching world outside of my human resource role, utilizing the many years’ experience I have in business and HR to help others to achieve their dreams. I have opened Level Up, Career & Business Coaching. Don’t worry, I will always be your sassy HR People Wrangler, saying it and writing it like I do!

Ready to Serve You!

Now is the time to put aside your fears and get what you want out of life. What is stopping you? If you don’t know or do know but are having trouble working through it, this is where I come in. Call me, hire me, I want to help you. Find my phone number and email on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisagallucci/

The vision of Level Up, Career & Business Coaching is to coach women to empower themselves to level up their personal, financial, and career goals, and attain them. You can have what you want out of life.

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.”

Let’s Talk Resumes!

Since I am an HR Professional and on the job hunt myself, I thought I would share my experiences with resumes and how you should alter them for each application.

“What?!?”, you say? Yes, you heard me correctly. You NEED to update your resume for each application. I am not saying you need 6500 resumes, but I am going to tell you to have at least two resume templates.

Example: I have a heavy HR template and I have a heavy Talent Acquisition template. I can do both but if the job requires more recruiting, then I have the base document to update for the particular position I am applying for. Here is another thing. In this paragraph alone, I used “talent acquisition” and “recruiting”. Which word is more relevant in the job description I am looking at? If it is talent acquisition, then I want to update all my “recruiting” words to “talent acquisition” so the ATS matches it up or the HR professional screening my document sees I have the experience and skills they are looking for.

You can also look at your resume to see what kind of person they are looking for. It will say something like: “You are…” or “The successful candidate will have…”. Statements like these can be inserted into your cover letter and your resume where appropriate.

Here is another example: If they are looking for FMLA skills, and they post Family Medical Leave Act, I would suggest spelling it out and then putting the acronym at the end in parenthesis. This way, again, the ATS will pick it up and you will be on your way to your first phone screen.

These examples are for an HR resume but can be duplicated with marketing, sales, operations, etc. Use resume readers that compare your resume with the job description and give you a percentage of matching qualifications. You can usually get five free matches, then they will ask for a membership. You can also earn more free matches. The best scenario for getting matched with a company is to get at least an 80% match or higher. This is not a guarantee that you will be chosen, it is a guideline set by the matching software company.

Make sure your resume is the same font and the same font size throughout the document. Spell check, spell check, spell check! I can’t reiterate that enough! Spelling counts. Have a trusted friend read it for grammar and stylization. Believe me, when you have read it a thousand times, it all seems like stereo instructions. Having a second set of eyes to check out your document and give you feedback will be very helpful before you start applying and submitting.

Another piece of free advice, track your jobs on an excel spreadsheet. PLEASE!!! I have been doing some recruiting on contract and when I have called the candidates for their phone screens and they ask me, “who are you again, I have applied to so many places”. This is a real turn-off for me. You should always be prepared to know where you are interviewing and who is calling you. Granted, sometimes you don’t know the name of the company if it is a recruiter reaching out to you with a blind ask, but you should still remember that they are contacting you and what the job title is that you will be discussing.

That being said, I wish you all luck. I am in it with you for sure! Let’s get this done by 12/31/2021! We can start off 2022 with new positions and a great new attitude! Happy Holidays everyone and may you have a prosperous new year!

Sincerely yours,

The HR People Wrangler

Retaliation: Not a Good Thing

Dear Managers, Owners, and Presidents, Please don’t retaliate against team members that leave your organization and are seeking work elsewhere. The team member expects that you will give the standard answer of yes or no, they worked for you and yes or no, they are eligible for rehire.

I have been told that sometimes former colleagues will contact each other for references and that they think it is “off the record”. Well, guess what? If it affects the ability of the person seeking a job to lose it, or have an interview canceled, it becomes “on the record”.

You also don’t know if the former team member you had, took some classes to improve their shortcomings, or have changed. You should assume good intentions all the time because if you don’t, and you give a bad review or reference, you could affect the person’s livelihood. Their ability to get a job and make some money.

No matter what, do not disparage the former team member. Let it be the next company’s issue if they are not up to par. You interfering is what causes lawsuits.

So, tell your colleagues, yes that person worked for us. They were great at x, y, z…and leave it at that. You should always assume that the person has improved and has good intentions.

“What’s the one thing you’d change about the world of work?”

We’ve learned so much this past couple of years about what we like about our employers and what we may unfortunately dislike. We have also learned whether or not we want to continue to work remotely or go back in the office, or both. A few of my contacts have flat out told me that they are not the “remote” type at all. They need people to stimulate them and keep them accountable to work at all. If they were remote, they would be in their jammies all day. I thought I would be one of those people but honestly found that I enjoyed being remote because I had more privacy to do my job than I did at the office. I worked in a place that had cubicles for human resources and this was not conducive for someone like me who handled all of the employee relations and investigations. Some might say that I could book a conference room for those conversations however, I would have needed to book it 9-10 hours a day every day. Being at home alone gave me the freedom to speak out loud where the only one that could hear me was the person on the phone and my pet bird!

I would like to hear what your preferences are and how you would like to see your current employer adapt to the new hybrid model. Did they pivot and shift during the pandemic? When they said that you would be returning to the office, if you have already, did they allow for remote work to continue or are they unwilling to do so? If they are unwilling, have they given the team a reason? If so, what was it? If not, what does that tell you about your organization?

I would love to have you comment below on what your ideal situation would be. What would that look like. We have seen lots of polls out there but not a lot of substance. Each company is different and not all positions can be remote. Not all companies can. What are your thoughts?

#ConversationsForChange #FutureOfWork

The Art of Active Listening

Have you ever been in a situation when you were sitting down with someone having a conversation and you were trying to listen to them? All you wanted to do was butt in and tell them your story, your opinion and all the examples that match theirs? Then instead of listening to them and hearing what they had to say, you did just that?

Active listening is one of the hardest things to do because it is about the other person in the conversation. It is about what they are saying and not about how you can “one-up” them or compare their stories with your own.

Now, active listening can have some paraphrasing in it. If you are trying to understand something, you can paraphrase what they just told you so you can make sure you understood what they just said, but it is not a time for you to say, “Oh, yeah, one time, this thing just like that happened to me and…”.

You might be really surprised how hard it is to listen to your friend or co-worker without talking over them or interrupting them. I challenge you to try it. I guarantee you will fail the first few times you do it but that is okay. I want you to fail. Failing forward is the only way we learn. Keep having these conversations and each time get better at not saying anything. Really try to listen so you can hear what your friend or co-worker is talking about.

If you practice long enough you will learn more and have better communication with that person. You will also gain their trust and admiration that you are someone they can count on. Most people just want to be heard. When they are, they feel validated. Some people may not normally have the chance to offer up their ideas for improvements in the workplace and the company may find that these team members and their ideas are valuable.

The best part of active listening is when you are sitting with close friends, and they need you. You can hear their frustrations or sadness, sympathize with them and in the end, you are able to ask questions, offer support, and tell them that you are there to listen whenever they need you. They will know this to be true and trust you. They will in turn, hopefully be there for you when you need someone to listen.

Conversational Interviews

Recently, I commented on a post about making interviews a conversation rather than an interrogation and it got me thinking about this blog that I do. I am one of those strange people that love to interview when I am looking for a job. I do not like looking for a job, mind you. I would rather have one however, I love when the interviewer asks questions that I have not had before, and I really get to dig deep into my past and talk about the fun that I have had in my past career as an HR professional. Yes, I have had fun!

If you are an HR person like me, you are truly passionate about the subject of HR. Employee relations, training, and yes, even the icky stuff like FMLA, ADA, and worker’s compensation. Of course, we prefer things that make us happier like the employee relations stuff and training, but it all balances out if we have a good team and a great boss.

Let us get back to the interview process though. In the beginning when we are hiring for a position and we have the luxury of conducting a phone interview with the candidate, I personally like to ask two types of questions. The first few are housekeeping questions. Why are you looking? What kind of notice are you giving? How did you hear about us? What kind of salary are you looking for? This last one is tricky because people get shy about this one. I personally like to give a range so that there are clear expectations of where the salary is compared to where their budget lies. If they know what the range is, they can see if it fits within their needs. If not, then the interview can end right then and there. We do not waste each other’s time. The next set of questions pertain to the job itself and I always begin by saying the following sentence: “I have a bunch of questions and I hope to have a fun conversation with you. During the course of our conversation, you might answer questions I have not asked you yet, so bear with me while I take notes, lets have some fun!” Then we begin. This is when you start the conversation. The interview may start out slow but if you engage in something they say, the candidate may start to relax and show you bits and pieces of their personality or the true passion they have for the position they are applying for.

One of my favorite conversations was with a man that loved to garden. We were hiring for a groundskeeping role, and he was talking about how much he loved to garden. He went on about the tools he liked to use to edge the lawn and how he took pride in making the edge straight up the walkway to the front door. It was moving. I know that sounds silly, but he was so passionate about what he did for a living that I moved him on to the next round and he got the job. He has been with the company for 12 years now. He does not need to be promoted; he is not looking for a management position. He is content and happy living his best life making the garden, lawn, and grounds beautiful and being happy in the process. A true work/life balance.

I know that sometimes we focus on the gaps in employment. I even have some gaps. Life happens. Sometimes we take time to have kids, we get laid off and have a hard time finding a new job due to the economy, we have ill family members that need care. As an HR professional, I tend not to focus on these too hard. I will ask about them, I want someone that is serious about staying in a position because as we all know, turnover is expensive. We do not want to have to rehire someone over and over again.

It is time to have those fun conversations with your candidates, see what you can find out. Listen to the other jobs that they have worked and the other skills they gave obtained for the current position you are offering. Education in a field is great, but you cannot beat real-world work experience. When a candidate is comfortable, they will reveal more of themselves to you.

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.