Tag Archives: personal values

Leaders: Find the Connection

Today’s post might be a little more about opinion than it is facts- and that’s completely fine with me because sometimes we need a little thought provoking blog post to get us all thinking. As I thought about some of the best and worst leaders I’ve dealt with over the years, I considered some of the qualities I appreciated in the leaders I truly felt strongly for. There are a few people in my life that had made me believe in them and their goals. Call me a skeptic- but this is something that’s hard to accomplish with me. And I’m sure many of you have dealt with the ups and downs caused by the economy, so there are probably plenty of you out there that are feeling the same way. So what qualities of a leader made you not have your doubts about them?

For me, it’s all about a leader that can take the time to find the connection. In my crazy and idealistic mind, I truly believe that everyone has something to relate to with someone else. Tiny things or “Hey! We’re practically twins!” things are what can really help build a relationship between others. Sometimes, leaders almost seem unattainable because of their status or how busy their schedules are that many of us never really get to know our leaders for who they are and they don’t get to know us, either. So how can we put our faith in our leaders if we feel like we’re following blindly? Will this person lead us over a cliff? And how can leaders expect to gain the allegiance of their followers if they don’t even know what their followers value?

Ok, I get it- leaders are busy but that’s no excuse for them not to make a periodic presence to help build a connection. Whether you are running a 2 person start up or a Fortune sized company, you need to make the effort. Relate to people, find the connection, and make them feel like “my leader really gets me.” I don’t care if it’s every day, once a month, or once a quarter- you need to make that effort. Unfortunately, over the last few years, the changes in the workforce have weakened loyalty among employers/employees. If the loyalty and devotion isn’t there, then how can you expect to get the best out of your workforce? Are they 100% in or are they 50% in and 50% securing other options if things go sour?

The best leaders are the ones that get involved. They’re not always the singer on the stage in front of their loving fans. They’re the ones that dive into the crowd and get in the middle of all the action. They take it all in, listen, and emerge themselves in the bigger picture.

Leaders- isn’t it time we did this together?

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How Genuine are you When Providing Endorsements/Recommendations?

In the other week’s #Tchat, we tackled the topic of endorsements and recommendations via social media. With all these new social media platforms emerging, people can easily locate and research companies and individuals for jobs, partnerships, or just generally to discuss specific things. Although technology has made it extremely easy to interact with people you wouldn’t normally run into every day, it also can have its disadvantages. For example, people can easily be whoever they desire to be online or may exaggerate some of their credentials and skills. So how can we ensure that what we see is what we get? Simple: by reviewing the public and accessible endorsements and recommendations found on their social profile.

Endorsements and recommendations can be a great way for people to verify that the person is who they claim they are and that their experience, credentials, and skills are legitimate. It’s almost like doing a pre-reference check and another source for referrals. This is all good and dandy, but most of us have noticed that sites like Linkedin are making it extremely easy for people to endorse one another. It can be a one-click free-for-all if someone’s feeling overly generous that day. For example, I have received endorsements from people who I’ve never conversed with in my life- so how can they know that I have the abilities to successfully perform the skills they endorsed me for? Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the endorsements and recommendations I received, but I’m more concerned about quality over quantity.

The more that people endorse others in this way, the quicker it will reduce the accuracy and meaning of these endorsements and recommendations. And then after that occurs, we’re basically back to square one. So how can we try to limit this? By being genuine in our own recommendations. Set the bar again. If you are going to endorse someone, it would be beneficial to endorse them for things you truly know the individual has done and is capable of doing. Let it hold some weight.

But let’s even do one better- let’s also utilize the recommendation function. If you have time and honestly feel strongly about a person’s skills/work, do them (and all those reviewing their profile) a favor and write something for them. Leave a few sentences or paragraphs about your experience with them, what you learned about them, and make it thoughtfully written. Help paint a picture of their capabilities.

Remember, endorsing and recommending someone doesn’t only reflect on their reputation, but yours, as well. Make others believe in your words and trust in your opinions/suggestions by providing honest feedback. We all work so hard to be recognized for what we do, don’t let our reputations get muddied up by false endorsements.

If you enjoy topics like this, be sure to join in #Tchat on Twitter- Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

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Are You Embracing Diversity?

In last week’s #Tchat, we had a discussion about the importance of diversity. However, there was a bit of a twist to this chat: it wasn’t just about demographic or cultural diversity. Whenever I thought of this subject, I always considered race, sex, and so on. Needless to say, I was pretty intrigued when other members of the chat had discussed what other aspects can be considered diverse.

  • Creative diversity: don’t for a second think that creativity is only restricted to marketing, art, graphic arts, and the like. Each employee can possess a certain level of creativity in their job role that can help your business in ways that you never could have imagined. Be open to their creative suggestions- even let them experiment. Sometimes allowing new ideas to be put into play can give you results you’ve never witnessed before.
  • Educational diversity: not everyone comes from the same educational background. Perhaps some of your workforce has a degree, perhaps some do not. Maybe they went to an Ivy League college, or maybe they went to a specialized/technical/vocational school. Maybe they are the type to independently learn. Options are endless for education and this can create an educational diversity that can benefit your business.
  • Natural Talent diversity: Resumes are nice and all, but sometimes people’s natural talents aren’t presented on there. Do you unknowingly have someone who can be considered a “human connector”? Maybe someone has a knack for researching the most impossible information. Regardless of their secret skills, it’s best for you to take the time to figure out what each natural skill your employees have and see if it has a place to be utilized within the workplace.
  • Skill diversity: With the economy making employment a little bit shaky, it’s not uncommon to find employees who have worked in several jobs or within several industries, rather than committing 30 years to a single organization. These “job hoppers” actually have built some knowledge and skills that can be extremely useful to your organization.
  • Demographic diversity: Maybe an employee lived the next town over. Maybe they lived in another country. Regardless of the demographic distance, it’s important to realize that these demographics allow employees to have certain experiences, educations, skills, and knowledge that might differ. This uniqueness can help open up a company’s “eyes” to things they may never have discovered on their own.

With businesses becoming globalized and companies seeking unique talent to give them a competitive edge, it’s important for employers to realize that diversity is extremely important in helping them grow. Look beyond race and sex and realize that diversity can come in many forms. Have you recognized any of these things in your current workforce? If so, what are you doing to help nurture it?

If you’re interested in topics like this, be sure to join #Tchat on Twitter on Wednesday at 7pm EST.

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#Tchat Preview

#Tchat Recap

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Stretch Projects to Increase Development and Engagement

Recently, I came across something pretty inspiring. I learned that a department manager has taken the time to learn the individual needs and passions of each of her subordinates, regardless of how insanely busy she was in her own role. She regularly takes the time to speak to them one on one to learn what their career goals are, what skills they want to develop, and address any concerns. Although that is impressive in itself, she doesn’t stop there. She takes the time to find opportunities for her employees to develop the skills in order to work their way toward their personal and professional goals. Since she started doing this, the increase in engagement has been phenomenal.

If you are a manager that’s looking to increase engagement in your workplace, consider trying this:

  • Regularly schedule one-on-one talks with your employees in an open atmosphere.
  • Make sure you talk about your employees’ career goals so you can get a feel for what they’re looking to accomplish.
  • Discuss some of the tasks and skills they would like to develop.
  • Talk to other managers in your organization to learn of different tasks or projects they’d need assistance on.
  • Discuss these opportunities with your employee to see what they’d be interested in pursuing and what would be feasible for them to do on top of their current workload.

The extra work involved in this might seem overwhelming but the benefits are worth it:

  • Employees will feel more accountable and appreciative to have a chance to develop themselves.
  • Engagement and morale will increase.
  • Turnover may decrease because employees will feel like they have professional and career growth opportunities within the organization.
  • Employees will develop skills that can help them become more of an asset to your company.
  • Departments using the employees for their projects may be more efficient with the extra help.
  • Opportunities like this can allow departments to build a stronger bond and work better, cross-departmentally.
  • Employees can gradually work their way into a role or even determine if the role or career path fulfills their passions as much as their originally had assumed.
  • It can bring in new perspective and fresh ideas.

Sometimes extra training or promotion might not be feasible in your organization due to budget, financial, and hiring issues. But, in the interim, this could be a great way to keep your employees engaged and happy while working there. It promotes continuous learning and in a way they are truly passionate about. This can create a stronger and better workforce.

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Filed under Company Culture, Employee Engagement, Finding your Passion, Human Resources, Internal Mobility, Learning and Development, Participative Leadership Style, Professional Growth, Retaining Talent, Social Learning, Training

Taking Initiative for Your Professional Future

Being involved with Gen Y, and seeing how the economy has affected career growth and mobility for recent grads and early careerists; I can’t help but notice some of the pain points they regularly voice. One of the biggest gripes they express is the lack of room for internal mobility. Along with this, many of these individuals also feel as if though there are no opportunities for them to learn, train, shadow, or develop in a way to prove to management that they are worthy for more responsibility in their current role or that they are worthy of promotion. But for those who feel this way, it’s important to realize that just because management hasn’t presented these opportunities doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Sometimes, you need to take initiative to develop your own professional skills and opportunities.

When I’ve mentioned this to individuals, I’ve had many people respond, “Why would I put in all this time and effort if I’m not getting compensated for it? Most of the time it goes unnoticed so what’s the point?” Regardless if those things seem to initially be true, you must remember to take a step back and see the big picture. Taking initiative doesn’t just help you potentially get a raise or promotion, it helps you grow.

Each new project, task, or innovative idea you allow yourself to be a part of will give you so much and will only help you get better and better. You will gain new skills, learn how to overcome challenges more effectively, and really get an idea of what you are passionate about and good at.

Most importantly, the things you do can be a tangible part of your experience. Maybe you’ve done something relatable outside of work on a side project or hobby, but it was hard to prove to your employers that you had the experience. Taking this initiative can give you the experience in a work setting so you can put it on your resume, help build up your portfolio, and have a witness (your employer) be able to prove what you’ve done and refer you.

So, before you claim that doing something a little extra isn’t worth it, think about what you gain in the long run. You are giving yourself the ability to be attractive talent for your current or future employer. That’s the best kind of investment.

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Why Isn’t Your Company Retaining Employees?

Working in talent acquisition has allowed me to talk to multiple candidates, day in and day out. Some candidates are currently working and open to opportunities, while other candidates are unemployed for specific reasons (either voluntarily or not) and aggressively seeking. While talking to candidates, I like to take the time to ask them why they voluntarily move on from their current employer. I had always assumed that majority of the time it would have to deal with financial reasons, but I soon discovered that compensation was one of the least common reasons that were provided. Needless to say, I was interested in learning more.

Here are some of the most common reasons that I come across when inquiring about a candidate’s decision to voluntarily quit (in no particular order):

  • No room for growth: one of the most common things I come across is the fact that candidates feel like they have hit a ceiling in their current role. Candidates have expressed that management does not take the time to help them define their career path and, therefore, candidates feel like that the only way to professionally grow is to look for a company that offers them a position that fits what they’re looking to reach.
  • No training opportunities/lack of training: candidates have mentioned to me that their employers’ training programs are seriously lacking or non-existent. Many candidates expressed their desire to work for a company that was well known for their training, development, and continuous learning opportunities because it can not only set them up for success at their current role, but it can help pave the way for a better professional future.
  • Not challenged: sometimes candidates are given an unrealistic job preview and learn that the job actually lacks the challenges they had thought it would have. On the other hand, some candidates have excelled at the current role that they are in but have no opportunities to move up or take on more responsibility. Regardless of the situation, employees are feeling unmotivated which is affecting their happiness at their current role and often causes them to look for something else.
  • Feeling underappreciated: some candidates put in extra work, time, and effort but feel like it goes unnoticed. This had caused candidates to feel underappreciated and also feel like their talents are not being appropriately noticed, especially when it comes to incentive or promotion. In these cases, candidates expressed their desire to find a company that is known to have great management that takes notice of each employee’s contributions.
  • Cultural issues: in some situations, candidates were painted a picture of a certain organizational culture only to learn that the organization does not practice what they preach. In other situations, changes in the organization may have caused disruption in a strong culture. Either way, candidates felt that their company culture no longer matches their personal values and have been more focused on finding a company that is better aligned with this.

So, employers, sometimes it’s not about the compensation, perks, and bonuses. Your employees might be looking to move on from you for deeper reasons than your financial offerings. Take the time to talk to employees and find out the things they value and need in an employer. Truly understanding this can help you create an employer brand that not only attracts talent, but retains your current talent to the best of your abilities.

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The Real Reasons Your Employees Are Leaving You

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Maintaining the Work-Life Balance

Have you ever worked late or on the weekends? Have you incessantly checked your phone and emails while relaxing or involved in social events? Have work-related thoughts clouded your mind and disrupted your attention outside of work? Have you stopped a conversation with a friend or family member to take a call? I know I’m definitely guilty of all of these (sometimes even simultaneously). As technology becomes more widely and regularly used, this has become a common issue in the daily lives of the employed.

Overworking yourself can actually make you LESS productive at work than taking a break to breathe and rest your mind. Additionally, it can seep into your personal life, causing issues. So how can you keep your balance? Check it out:

Set Boundaries: technology and mobile devices make it easy for you to be available non-stop. You need to set boundaries. Turn your phone on silent outside of work. Only check your emails/voicemails for an hour a night after you finish your shift. Only respond to things that NEED to be responded to.

Schedule: I literally have a white board for daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and to-dos. I work extremely hard to stick with that schedule. Having this schedule will make sure I don’t over-do it and actually reduce time worrying about whether or not I’m forgetting to do something. It saves a lot of brain power.

Prioritize: living in the instant gratification age could make it seem like if you don’t respond or aren’t present every second of the day that the world may end. It won’t- trust me. Deal with any fires that need to be put out. Then, prioritize whether or not something needs to be done ASAP or if it can be put on the backburner. Do this regularly to ensure you’re managing your time well.

Be realistic: we have become multitasking masters, which can sometimes make us believe we’re capable of doing the workload of 3 people all at once. It’s a nice thought but unrealistic. Sometimes you need to say no to people (do it nicely, though!) and if you do say yes to someone, make sure you set realistic timelines and expectations. Give yourself some extra time in case something more pressing comes up and cuts into your time. This can help you avoid the need to cram things in to meet a timeline you set.

Sometimes our lives make work and personal life blend too easily but you need to regularly take a step back and remind yourself that your brain needs a break. Do yourself a favor and follow the steps above and see if it makes a positive difference in your life.

If you like topics like this, be sure to join in #Tchat on Twitter on Wednesdays at 7pm EST.

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The Quaint Notion of the Work Life Balance

Work, Life and Peace

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Hate Your Résumé? Learn From My Mistakes

Hating your résumé is a terrible feeling. Believe me, I’ve been there. My first post-college résumé was a document that was almost personified by how much I loathed it. It was free of typos and used proper grammar. It met all of the standard requirements of what a résumé is supposed to be. So what was the problem?

Simply put, it wasn’t me. It was devoid of all of the qualities that made me special, all of the details that made me a great hire. I had a résumé that did not yet reflect professional experience in my field and looked like a template. There was nothing on that piece of paper that said “you need to hire this person.”

As a recent graduate, my lack of experience was common. However, just because I was new to the professional landscape didn’t mean that I didn’t have other experience. My mistake was that while trying to make the résumé look neat and professional I stripped away all of the important things.

There were no keywords to help HR software find my résumé. Not getting the résumé into someone’s hands is a crucial error. Even if a résumé is stellar, it will do no good if no one sees it. My résumé also failed the six-second test. If a recruiter or HR manager looked at it for just six seconds, it would almost certainly go into the reject pile.

My terrible first professional résumé ended up being a huge lesson in what not to do. Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned from the experience:

  • Optimize for keywords: the first step in the job-search process is getting your resume into someone’s hands. Most companies use some sort of applicant tracking system to sort through potential candidates before deciding who to call for an interview. If you tailor your resume to feature keywords mentioned in the job posting, you are more likely to have your résumé picked up.
  • Highlight your skills: don’t rely solely on keywords to make your résumé shine. Take time to showcase your specific achievements and abilities. The skills that the job posting doesn’t mention could still help get you hired. Think of it this way, the applicant tracking system pulls résumés based on keywords and similar factors. This means all of the potential interviewees probably used the same keywords as you did. Highlighting other noteworthy skills or accomplishments can help you stand out from the stack of applicants.
  • One size does not fit all: every résumé should be tailored to a specific job with a specific company. No exceptions! It may be tempting to send the same résumé to 15 companies rather than taking the time to tailor it for 5 specific companies, but this is not the most effective strategy. The time that you spend personalizing the résumé will help make it easier for you to get results.
  • Include a personalized cover letter: this may be a polarizing topic, as some recruiters dismiss the importance of cover letters. For me, however, a strong cover letter is a must-have. In fact, it was my cover letter that got me in the door for my first post-college job despite my sub-par résumé. A cover letter gives you more freedom to be yourself and really connect to the hiring manager.

Your résumé should be as strong on paper as you are in real life. Whether you are fresh out of college or have over a decade of experience, your résumé should be tailored to suit the specific job and highlight your experience and skill-sets.

I didn’t know better when I wrote that first résumé, but I do now. An over-formatted piece of paper that lacks any real sense of your abilities will not improve your chance of getting a job. If you can’t seem to fix the problems on your own, there are professional services that can create your ideal résumé for you.

Don’t hurt your chances of being hired by sending out a résumé you hate. Creating something that you are proud of can help you land an interview and even increase your chances of being hired. When making your résumé, be yourself and be smart. You have what it takes to get hired, all you have to do is show them why.

 

erin_palmerThis guest post was provided by Erin Palmer. Erin is a writer and editor who covers topics found in the Masters Degree in HR online programs for the University Alliance. Learn about human resources careers such as HR manager and other career information at villanovau.com. Feel free to connect with Erin on Twitter: @Erin_E_Palmer

 

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Getting Connected: Networking Communities

In past blog postings, I have written about topics involving social media communities and talent communities. Of course, I am very passionate about both of these types of communities but the main reason behind my feelings towards it is what these communities offer. If individuals get involved in these types of situations, many will be happy to find that the communities offer some incredible networking opportunities. Not only do they offer networking opportunities but they can also be a great resource for learning, development, and thought leadership. So, what can networking communities do for you?

Here are some potential networking communities you can explore:

  • Networking groups: Recently I discovered the website www.meetup.com. It’s a great way for people to discover specific groups who are meeting up in your area. There are plenty of groups meeting up for specific reasons, whether it is for business, certain interests, or generally just to meet people.
  • Professional clubs: professional groups that meet regularly are also a good way to network with people in different industries. For example, in Charleston, SC there is a professional club called the Charleston Young Professionals. They typically set up monthly events to allow people to have fun and also mingle for business contacts.
  • Social media: websites like Linkedin and Twitter are fantastic ways to connect with individuals. Discussion groups and chats that are based on specific professions, topics, or industries can also make it easy to casually connect with individuals.
  • Work events: surprisingly, work events can also be a great place to network. Sometimes in office settings people don’t have the time or ability to talk to people outside of their department or to individuals they don’t directly work with. This can be a great way to get to know about others in your company.
  • Conventions: conventions are a way to meet people who are in a specific industry or specific role. This will allow you to connect with people that could potentially be in the same industry/role as you. Therefore, it may be a quick way to form a bond.

Some of the benefits of networking:

  • Business connections: networking with individuals can help you find business connections that can assist you with specific business needs or business development.
  • Learning and development: networks can help open up opportunities to learn and develop. For example, social communities can present online learning, training, and development opportunities for those who want to extend their learning outside of what their company can offer.
  • Resources: networking can help you discover some really interesting resources. For example, when I was starting my blog I came across some useful reference material that helped me add something extra to my posts. It’s also a great way for people to discover job opportunities or companies that they may never have heard of.
  • Thought Leadership: networking groups can promote discussion, which can ultimately promote thought leadership. I’ve witnessed occurrences where a simple group discussion resulted in a solution that helped better a business and situation.

Since I’ve been networking in some of the ways mentioned above, I feel like I’ve developed greatly as a person. I could almost kick myself for not partaking in this sooner. The individuals I’ve met have been unbelievably inspiring and have helped pave the way to build my knowledge to grow personally and professionally. Being involved in networking communities has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made. How about you?

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Are You Giving Realistic Job Previews?

Recently, I had a nice discussion with Dr. Marla Gottschalk in regard to a study she did a few years back about Gen Y in the workplace. As we talked about some of the statistics she found during this study, I was quite interested when she mentioned the reasoning behind why a certain percentage of Gen Yers are unhappy and unsatisfied with their jobs. It turns out that a good portion of this is due to the fact that they were not presented a realistic job preview before they decided to accept a role with a company. As I researched this workplace issue more, I found that no matter what generation you’re a part of, there still seems to be this common issue. Are employers working too hard at presenting their company in the best light that they’re not giving realistic job expectations and previews?

One of the things I often like to research and write about is creating and promoting your employer brand, which is extremely important to do when it comes to attracting quality talent. However, it can come to the point where trying to make your company appear to be the “employer of choice” could actually hinder your ability to attract and retain quality talent. It has come to my attention that many companies are competing to be the best company to work for and often will try to paint an ideal picture of their company and the job. Of course, showing only the best side of your company will easily attract a ton of candidates but many of these candidates aren’t necessarily the right fit for your company, causing your recruiters to be overwhelmed. Additionally, some of the candidates that have applied could be a great asset to your company but can easily be discouraged when they learn that the job and company is what they initially were led to believe. In this situation, employees may have lower engagement and turnover numbers can increase. So, what can you do to ensure you find a happy medium?

  • Give a realistic overview of your culture:  this can help candidates see if your culture will match up with their personal values.
  • Give a realistic overview of the job details: many job descriptions have almost become like a marketing strategy. They are well written and enticing, however, people can get caught up in this rather than the actual job itself. Be sure to lay out a thorough job description.
  • Break down and give details about the day-to-day: take the time to break down the day to day duties. This can help candidates determine if they have the experience to perform these duties successfully and it can also help them determine if this is a job that they’d enjoy doing.
  • Give realistic timelines: many jobs talk about advancement opportunities (especially for top performers), and many candidates who accept a role may have a skewed idea on how quickly they can move up. Be sure to give realistic timelines on this.
  • Talk about the negatives: negative things about a job are realistic factors. I appreciated it when a recruiter once told me that there would be weeks where I could work 10-20 hours of overtime. It helped me know if this type of job would work with my lifestyle and other responsibilities. This also allowed me to not be surprised when my boss required me to be there on extremely demanding weeks.
  • Welcome your candidates to talk to multiple people in the department/job/company: it’s always a great idea to allow candidates to get multiple opinions on this. I once went to a job interview where I casually sat down with multiple people in the office. Having the time to talk to them in a casual way allowed me to see the truth behind the company, job, and so on and allowed me to appropriately decide if the job was right for me.

If you are an employer, it would be wise to consider the importance of realistic job previews. By giving the details (including the good and the bad), unqualified candidates can stop overflowing your inbox and ATS with their resumes. Additionally, candidates who accept the role can feel happier with the decision because they were well informed of what the job required and what the expectations were, which can ultimately reduce grievances and turnover.

 

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Realistic Job Preview

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