Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Job Hoppers Are Better Employees?

Penelope Trunk wrote an article on BNET, touting the benefits of hiring habitual "job hoppers" as employees.  The entire time I read this article, I thought, Am I crazy?  Can I be the only HR professional who disagrees with this (admittedly unique) viewpoint?  Judging by many of the responses to her post - no (a great relief to me.)

I agree that job-hoppers, at least on paper, should not necessarily be dismissed.  If an applicant at least has the requisite experience I'm looking for, then I'm willing to interview him/her by phone and probe the work history.  There could be valid reasons why an applicant left a company after a relatively short amount of time.  But to state that job hoppers "know more" because they can only commit to a couple of years to each job (due to a "steep learning curve") is just painting those applicants with a broad brush.  I'm sure there are many "hoppers" out there who are very bright, eager to learn, and easily master their responsibilities with a couple of years.  But there are many more who are just plain bored by their responsibilities, and instead of looking to expand the scope of their job description, bail at the first opportunity.

Ms. Trunk also states that these employees "can't be 'job hoppers' if they don't add value each place [they] go."  Perhaps she has been lucky enough to work with these exceptional contributors, but too often job hoppers aren't looking to drop into an organization, perform exceptional work, and take off (as though it were an inter-office drive-by!)  In my experience exceptional performers stick it out - even when the job gets tough.  They are satisfied by the work they do, and consistently look for more opportunities to utilize their skills.  It's not necessarily about "company loyalty" or "settling" so much as it is about a personal work ethic.  To state that job hoppers are "higher performers" who are more "emotionally mature" is inaccurate and unfair.

Job Applicants Strike Back At Employers

Last week I touched upon the fact that employment rejection letters are an excellent way to preserve a company's "brand" - not to mention the fact that it's good business etiquette.  Many applicants are feeling increasingly frustrated with never receiving any follow-up from the companies they have taken the time to interview with.

Enter a newly created feature on the website Ask A Manager:  "Email Your Interviewer," a free service that sends an anonymous email to that recruiter who never called you back regarding your applicant status.  Simply enter the recruiter's email address, and a polite form letter is sent, imploring the interviewer to "please reconsider [your] practices."  The site does caution that this service should only be used when proper applicant protocol has been utilized: in other words, don't fire off a reproachful email to a hiring manager if it's only been a few days since your interview.  All things considered, the hiring process can move rather slowly.  It's certainly acceptable to call or email the company's recruiter and politely inquire about your candidacy.

That being said - I think this service is an excellent idea.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Get to Know the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The U.S. Department of Labor has released a fact sheet that outlines the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("PPACA").  Signed into law on March 23, 2010, PPACA requires employers, among other things, to provide a "reasonable" break time for nursing employees.

After reading these requirements, I have two questions:  why aren't exempt-level staff included in these breaks? And what constitutes a "reasonable" break time?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

An Interesting Analogy for HR....

Michael Scott just can't seem to get along with his office's HR representative.  

Job Hunting Really Is Like Dating

One of my favorite HR advice columnists, Lily Garcia, wrote an excellent article about the fickle, often frustrating task of job hunting (read the article here.)  Going through the employment selection process is a lot like dating - and having the right attitude can save your sanity and put the entire process into perspective.  Has the following ever happened to you?

The employer never called me back.   This can happen at any point during the selection process, but it's particularly disappointing after interviewing with a company.  Just like a date, you got all dressed up, took the time to prepare for your time together, asked questions.  The interviewer seemed genuinely interested in what you had to say.  And then.....nothing.  No follow-up phone call; no email.  Being cut loose without feedback can really sting, but don't take it personally.  Get back out into that job pool.  And always remain courteous.

The employer stood me up.   In my experience, this is rare, but it does happen.  You arrive for an interview, and the individual you are meeting with has had a change of schedule - without calling you in advance.  Maybe he or she left for the day.  In some cases, the employer has misplaced your resume entirely and decides to just "wing it" instead.  In these circumstances, it's best to be polite, but consider whether this company is the right fit for you.  You only have one chance to make a good first impression - and that applies to employers, too.

The employer doesn't know what it's looking for.   You've responded to a job advertisement and have been lucky enough to score an interview.  Great!  But in the course of conversation, the recruiter notes that the company "really hasn't created a job description yet" or "isn't really sure" what the position entails.  Maybe it's a newly-created position; possibly it's a position that is being re-vamped with additional responsibilities.  I've seen this situation present itself many times, and usually the end result is the employer pulls the job posting until it can reorganize.  This can be very frustrating for applicants.  My advice?  Jump back into that job pool - you can always re-apply to the position when, or if, it is re-posted.

Keeping your head up and your options open is the ideal approach to the Great Unknown that is the job search (and dating!)    

New York Says No to Bullying

Time magazine reports that New York is pushing a Healthy Workplace Bill that would protect workers from abusive bosses.  According to the article, "workers who can show that they were subjected to hostile conduct — including verbal abuse, threats or work sabotage — could be awarded lost wages, medical expenses, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages."  The offensive behavior must be repetitive and done "with malice," although it allows for those companies who investigate workers' claims promptly and with good faith.

Not having seen the details of this proposed bill, I can't help but wonder how it will differ from a worker's claim of constructive discharge, which essentially provides the same protections against deliberate, intolerable behavior on the part of the employer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Employment Rejection Letters Are A Good Investment

You might read the title of this post and think, Why?  I strongly feel that rejection letters (or emails; I'm not that picky!) are not only a business necessity, but a good investment for your company.  I'm amazed - and disappointed - by the number of organizations who do not notify those applicants who do not qualify for a particular position.  

Aside from the simple fact that it displays poor business etiquette, failing to notify candidates of their standing is bad PR for an organization.  Creating bitter feelings between the potential employee and the potential employer can also be costly:  suppose the individual was an otherwise fantastic candidate who simply didn't match the requirements of a particular position.  Maintaining a respectful, cordial relationship with this individual can reduce the costs of recruiting for all-new candidates when a position opens up that this individual might be well-suited for.  Put simply: don't burn any bridges!

An excellent article on this subject, "Five Reasons to Send Employment Rejection Letters," is available here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How NOT To Act During A Phone Interview

Hostility toward the recruiter is not the way to secure an in-person interview. As for including "martial arts" on your resume? That's up to you...

Phone Interviews: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!

I am always surprised by how casually people treat phone interviews.  Sure, an in-person interview is ideal, but competition is fierce, and more companies are using phone interviews as a way to screen the hundreds of applications received for an open position.

I am not a fan of them myself, but in this recession, phone interviews are a necessary evil.  The only way to increase your chances of advancing to an in-person interview (which is the ultimate goal!) is to prepare for your phone interview as though it is an in-person interview.  Some tips that have worked for me:

1.  Jot down some typical interview questions (you can find them online) and write down  
     your answers.  Practice these answers out loud, so you can hear yourself - this will cut 
     down on nervousness during the interview and help develop your answers so they sound 
     well-developed and natural.

2.  Sound positive and upbeat over the phone.  Remember, all a recruiter has to go on is 
     your resume and the sound of your voice.  If you've just woken up, it will be reflected 
     through your voice.  Drink coffee, chug a Red Bull, listen to a comedy CD - do anything that
     will make you sound alert, enthusiastic and ready to tackle this interview.

3.  Keep your answers short.  Remember, the idea is to advance to an in-person interview.  
     It's tempting to go on about your accomplishments - especially when there is a lull in the 
     conversation (don't panic; the interviewer is probably taking notes.)  But answers that are 
     too lengthy will likely bore a recruiter and make you sound unfocused.  Keep answers 
     short, sweet and relevant.

4.  Practice a few "behavioral" questions.  We've all been asked behavioral questions in an
     interview, but very few people provide thorough answers.  Practice answers to questions 
     such as, "Tell me about a time when you had to exercise independent judgement?"  Be 
     specific.  Answers to these questions should have a beginning, middle and end that 
     demonstrates your skills in real-life work situations.  Again, keep your answers brief, but be
     as detailed in your answers as possible.  

5.  Always ask questions!  Don't waste a valuable opportunity to indicate your interest in a 
     position, or in a company.  When asked by a recruiter if you have any questions, have 
     some on hand (preferably, written out beforehand) that you can refer to.  Ask about specific 
     responsibilities of the position; what the company's culture is like; what qualities the 
     company is looking for in its employees, etc.  Asking questions will not only solidify your 
     interest in the job, but also help you in deciding whether this company's values mesh with
     your own.  Trust me: not asking questions will indicate disinterest, and that will almost 
     guarantee that you aren't invited to an in-person interview.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Websites Result in More Facebook Privacy Concerns

Facebook users should revisit their privacy settings.  Two websites, youropenbook.org and facePINCH.com offer access to those profiles that are either made public or allow status updates to be visible to everyone.

The results can be rather embarrassing for job seekers - as well as the employed.  FacePINCH allows access to profiles based on topics such as "one night stand," "drunk last night" and "hate boss."  Popular searches at youropenbook.org include "bikini, "nip slip" and "i hate my job" (that last one is just begging to be discovered!)

When it comes to Facebook's privacy settings, it is always better to err on the side of caution.  Make status updates and photos visible only to friends.  As Facebook's privacy policies seem to change on an almost daily basis, check in with your settings periodically to be sure your info can't be leaked by other sites.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Employee Participation in Wellness Programs

An interesting point was made in "Prescribing Wellness," featured in the March 2010 issue of SHRM's HRMagazine:
"...Wellness program rewards should be based on employees' participation, not on achievement of specific results such as weight loss or reduced blood pressure."  
My experience with health and wellness programs has included a "Biggest Loser"-type staff weight-loss program, in which the employee who sheds the most pounds within a certain period of time (about 3 months) wins the prize.  Perhaps we should be rewarding all participating employees in these programs, as a means of motivating staff to join the wellness initiative.  

The rewarding of simple participation can go a long way towards gaining support for any initiative, come to think of it.

How Is HR Viewed by Your Organization?

Ah, the roller coaster relationship between Michael Scott (Regional Manager) and Toby Flenderson (Human Resources Rep.) Has any other professional relationship been more contentious and downright hostile?

Hopefully, your organization's Supervisor/HR relationship is more harmonious. In the clip below, Michael expresses his - ahem - disappointment upon finding his former nemesis once again working in the office.