2013 Reflections and 2014 Resolutions

Before I take my brief blogging hiatus during holiday madness, I felt that the last blog of 2013 should focus on reflection and resolutions. January brings us a new year and promises new starts, so it’s important to understand what we’ve accomplished this year in order to properly set ourselves up for a successful future. Of course this can mean a multitude of things to different people, but today I’m going to focus on my career in the human resources and talent acquisition world.

Reflections

2013 has been quite the interesting year for me. I finally settled in with an employer that made me feel like I had control over my own learning and development. Once the year started, I felt like I was beginning to gain momentum in my sourcing/recruiting role. I felt secure enough with the company to get creative in my methods to the point where I was able to be successful in multiple markets and different industries. My searching methods, social media tactics and general sourcing knowledge had helped me hit the ground running every time I changed accounts and I was able to make an immediate impact each time.

My ability to do these things has allowed me to create opportunities for development of the delivery team. During my time on this team, I created a training on social media recruitment methods in which all sourcers and recruiters were able to learn the basics or learn new tricks. In addition to this, taught them the art of personal branding to gain credibility for their current career. This also gave our company opportunities to develop brand ambassadors and SMEs which promoted additional learning and content creation. Most importantly though, I was able to build up a market research spreadsheet for the tech/IT industry which has helped my co-workers ramp up faster in this market (which isn’t easy).

I eventually graduated from the delivery team and found myself on the marketing team around September. I wasn’t sure what to make of this job promotion, mainly because my background had focused solely on HR and recruitment. I was apprehensive about whether or not I could be successful in this and wondered if my education and experience in HR/recruitment would become stale. After four months of being in this role, I soon found that I actually learn MORE about the HR and recruitment industry than I did in previous roles. Also, I was able to surprise myself when I discovered the areas I was naturally good at and the things that seemed to interest me.

Which leads me up to my next point.

Resolutions

Although I’m still developing my role, I am beginning to realize the things that I enjoyed in HR can still be achieved in this marketing role. Of course, priorities change within the company and industry so I’m sure that some of these things might be propelled forward while others are put on hold. But a girl can dream right?

Employment branding is something that inspires me. As the months went on, I felt myself gravitating towards this topic more and more. I’ve even caught myself researching and silently critiquing a company’s employment brand. Lately, I’ve been given opportunities to investigate related things in my current job. I’ve had to research brands, find positive things, identify where brands are falling short and provide insight and suggestions. I love the fact that my research and input can potentially influence how a brand is able to attract candidates and retain current employees.

The other area I’m hoping to get more involved in is on a global scale. As my company expands into Western Europe and eventually Australia, I’m excited about the opportunity to get an inside look at how these companies function. I’ve always enjoyed conversations with HR professionals outside of the US and became intrigued about hiring practices, recruitment initiatives, HR laws and generally how talent acquisition and HR differ between each country. Even just learning about how resumes different from country to country was awesome. I’m looking forward to exploring these topics more.

After this brief break, I’ll be coming back refreshed and renewed with a plan of action to tackle these areas. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my career, it’s all about how I position myself. It will be interesting to see how I can evolve this throughout 2014.

Happy holidays!

Photo Source — By the way, I hope I can see the Festival of Lights in person one day!

What Are They Taking With Them When They Go?

When I first considered human resources as a focus in college and as a career path, I always felt the intense desire to be that person that found the potential in others. I wanted to find that perfect person for a company’s needs. I wanted to find that connection and help companies discover a person’s hidden talents that may have been overlooked. I wanted to hone in on those aspects to a person, learn their passions, and help them foster it. I wanted to be the reason why a company had progressive employees. It wasn’t just about talent acquisition for me. It was about improving the internal team. These individuals weren’t going to be just another employee- they were going to be the people that made the difference.

As I got more involved with human resources, I started to realize that in order to succeed, you had to build a relationship. As I thought of my own personal relationships in the past, I thought about the best and worst aspects of them. I recall growing up and having those highly emotional, yet highly destructive relationships. You know, the ones that you feel like you’ve just sunk yourself into a black hole and it will take forever for to build yourself up again. When I matured a bit more, I realized that all relationships don’t last forever and that the best thing I could do is to try to be supportive to the other person in the relationship. Let them build themselves up as an individual so if things didn’t work out, they wouldn’t be left with nothing. They wouldn’t have to start over again.

I feel like these aspects are very similar to an employer/employee relationship. I’m sure we’ve all experienced some sort of negative situation: the employer didn’t care; you hit a glass ceiling; it was a hostile work environment; your employer was underutilizing you; and so on. I’m sure you’ve experienced the times when you were disengaged, dreading to go to work. I’m sure there have been times when you wanted to just give up because it didn’t seem like anyone noticed or recognized your efforts anyway, so why not put in the bare minimum. I’m sure there were also times when you had positive experiences. Maybe you still talk to your previous employers or coworkers. Maybe you also talk highly of them and would have stayed with them if they had the opportunities that matched your professional goals.

As an HR professional, I’m wondering what we’re doing to change these employees’ experiences into a positive one. With the way the world of work has changed, it’s becoming a common trend for employees to move on from an employer within a few years, whether it is voluntary or involuntary. What are we doing to make them feel like they’re a better person and employee by the time they move on? Are we developing those relationships? Are we giving them the resources and tools they need to build themselves up? Are we utilizing their untapped skills so they feel like they’re making the most of their time and effort?

I never wanted my experience in HR to be about “policing” employees. I didn’t want to be the warden of policies and disciplinary action. I didn’t want to be the one putting up so much red tape that employees felt stuck. HR has the ability to do something greater for their workforce. They have the ability to help with career progression. I want to know that my efforts impacted my employees’ lives so when and if they do leave the company, they are leaving with something more than what they came in with.

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Spotlight on HR Technology: HR Cloud

Recently, a contact of mine reached out to me when he noticed that I had a love for technology, especially when it dealt with Human Resources. He informed me that his employer, NEOGOV, had come out with a platform geared towards the private sector. After a quick chat about what this platform did and the future of it, I was eager to be shown a demo.

HR Cloud really takes HR management systems and HRIS to a different level. It allows you to have a full view of your employees by centralizing all your employees’ data and records. Anything you need to research on an employee (such as position, performance reviews, pay, PTO, and so on) can be easily accessed on one cloud-based platform. HR professionals that work remotely or travel over a region can appreciate being able to access this secure information from anywhere.

I’ve done the operational side of HR before, so I know how annoying and frustrating it can be to have to log into multiple systems or deal with a slew of paperwork when handling on-boarding or off-boarding processes. It was nice to see that HR Cloud was a one-stop shop for all your on-boarding/off-boarding needs. HR professionals are able to customize the necessary paperwork and processes to fit their specific needs. Additionally, it is organized nicely so HR can see what has been completed and what still needs to be done. Having all these processes located in one place makes it quick and efficient.

HR Cloud even offers a self-service portal for new hires. This can help new hires get prepared and engaged before their start date, on their own time. They can do anything from: completing pre-employment paperwork; review the organization’s mission and values; and even get involved in trainings and videos. This can help ease employees into their new role with the company and get a head start.

Being a lover of social HR, I enjoyed the fact that this platform supported social collaboration. You are able to get feedback, manage projects, visually see organizational charts, and pass along real-time messages. Along with this, it also has options for employees to see their career planning options. Employees can easily compare their current role and skills against the position they’re targeting. Additionally, they can learn the necessary steps they’d need to take to achieve that career goal. Expectations are clearly communicated and employees can easily track their progress. It’s always nice to see that employees are able to take charge when it comes to their professional development, and this platform really makes that an option.

But it doesn’t stop there- managers also will be able to track their employees’ progress, as well. With the performance management system, managers and HR can easily monitor individual performance against goals and expectations. The platform allows them to easily track, cross-organizationally collaborate, and document. All information is neatly stored there so auditing and referencing is easy. Managers can effortlessly see how employees are progressing and provide solid feedback with reporting and visual dashboards.

After being impressed by the demo, HR Cloud informed me of some of their future plans to make this platform even more mobile. Needless to say, I think HR professionals can sincerely benefit from this solution, mainly because it organizes it all in one user-friendly platform. No more logging in to multiple systems, toggling screens, and cross-referencing against multiple resources. It’s all right there: visually; analytically; and documented. And even if you do have trouble finding the information you need, status updates can show you who the last person was that updated the record so you can easily reach out to them for clarification. Sounds like a dream come true for the HR professional!

Read more about HR Cloud and schedule your Demo today: http://hrcloud.com/

 

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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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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Say Yes to Continuing Education

In grammar school and high school, we’re taught to get good grades and participate in extra-curricular activities so we can get into our dream colleges. In college, we are once again told to get good grades, encouraged to take on internships, and asked to join clubs- all to help our chances of landing a great job upon graduation. And once we land those jobs, gain experience, and slowly but surely move along in our career paths- then what? Does education and learning just end there because we achieved the “ultimate goal” of getting a job that offers financial security and benefits? Does it just end there?

It shouldn’t. People should be driven and encouraged to do whatever they can to continue to learn. So many people believe that once they receive that diploma or certificate that they’re done. They paid their dues and finally got their careers in check… and that’s that. When I’ve asked people why they aren’t continuing their education and learning, I often got answers such as this:

  • I’m too old to go back to school
  • I’m too busy with work and home-life to take on anything more
  • I don’t have the money
  • I don’t need it
  • I wouldn’t even know where to start
  • I’m too scared to start something new

All are valid reasons and concerns but the reality of it is, skills are becoming outdated, people are being automated out of jobs, and technology is upgrading/advancing so quickly that most of us can’t keep up. The world of work is evolving in some major ways. So, the “ultimate goal” isn’t about landing a job anymore, but more about keeping up.

Like I said earlier, all those reasons are valid but there are ways to work around it. For example:

  • Online school
  • Certificate classes
  • Work training
  • Informal social groups
  • Reading new industry books/blogs in your free time
  • Networking
  • Stretch projects
  • Work shadowing

Education shouldn’t just be a stepping stone or a distant memory- it should be ongoing. The world has so much to offer and we live in an amazing time where we can easily access this. So take advantage of the things that generations before us could not. Become the ultimate asset and more importantly, do it for yourself.

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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.

More links:

The Real Reasons Your Employees Are Leaving You

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