Are You Pregnant and Interviewing?

Are you pregnant and interviewing? Have you ever questioned whether to disclose this personal (completely non-relevant) information to the potential employer? If you have asked this question the below information could be helpful.

This is a question that has come up several times over the course of my career and I’ve consulted with both men and woman HR professionals about this topic.  Interestingly more often the men I’ve spoken to felt full disclosure is best. However, a majority of women agreed that pregnancy  is a temporary “condition” and does not have ANY direct impact on a woman’s knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job, therefore it is not relevant information for a future employer to know. (NOTE: Not ALL men felt one way and ALL women felt another way. This information is based solely on my memory.)

Earlier in my career I witnessed a very blatant pregnancy discrimination situation during the interviewing and selection process. I informed the decision makers about  a little something called …..wait for it…… The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The decision makers were surprised that such an Act existed, which I found shocking!! This experience opened my eyes to the potential discrimination issues that could arise with pregnancy and interviewing. My simple interpretation of the Act is: legally employers cannot make employment decisions based on pregnancyThat being said I would recommend approaching the topic with caution as some employers can be smart, or stupid, however you look at it and  can find completely legitimate business reasons not to extend an offer or to retract an offer once they learn about a pregnancy. 

So back to the question, Do I tell a potential employer about my pregnancy? I will answer with more questions. Based on your interactions with the potential employer ask yourself:

  • Is the company culture family friendly?
  • Does your potential future boss have a family or has he/she mentioned anything about their company culture regarding families and work-life-balance?
  • Do you know anyone that works for the company? If yes, can you find out more about the  culture?

Obtaining a better understanding of the employers perception and culture could help guide you to the “best” decision.  As a working mom you need to do what is best for you and your family, you are your own company in that moment. However it’s important consider the company’s perspective and business needs.

In a worse case scenario say you exercise full disclosure and the company withdraws you from consideration or retracts an offer. You can either A: Pursue legal counsel (good luck) or B: Thank your luck stars from saving you from a crappy employer that does not care about work-life-balance.

I want to hear from you, especially any of the legal experts and attorneys!


3 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Your Job Search!

Photo Credit: Microsoft ImagesWe all know recruiters are using LinkedIn to source and connect with talent. Job seekers are using LinkedIn to seek jobs and connect with employers. But did you know that job seekers can use LinkedIn to prepare for a company interview or to learn more about the company culture? Well, they can!

Here are a couple of ways to use the information on LinkedIn to aid in your career decision-making process.

First, search and follow the company LinkedIn page. While this is the most obvious, it is a great opportunity to learn about the company culture, people and company news.

Next, look for open or public groups created by the company. They may have a group specific for job seekers. Observing and participating in the employer group discussions can give you a little insight in to how the company communicates with people; plus the added bonus of building a relationship with the employer.

Now, the GOLDEN part… conduct a people search for the specific company. You can narrow your search to just people in your department, and I recommend searching for both past and present employees. Study the length of employment, titles of positions, responsibilities, promotions, accomplishments and recommendations from other employees. This information will give you a first hand look at the culture of the company, culture of recognition, opportunities for advancement in the workplace and more.

Just as GOLDEN… contact some of the present and past employeesAsk the people you contact for feedback on the company culture, day in the life of that position, advancement; just about any of the pros and cons. People are generally very willing to share information. Their first-hand experience can provide great value in your decision-making process. Contacting people who work in that position, or have worked in that position can offer the most accurate depiction of what the job really looks like.

Some people may find this advice sneaky, but it’s really just a smart approach to using social media in your career decision-making process. Completing thorough research when deciding to make a career move is critical. Taking the time to find out as much as you can about an employer before making this decision can save one a great deal of time and agony down the road. So go forth, seek out and ask!!

Hire for Potential- Stop Dumbing Down the World!

Courtesy Microsoft Free Images

Courtesy Microsoft Free Images

When are we going to stop dumbing down the American Workforce and start hiring for potential? As an advocate of solid training programs and hiring for culture match over hard skill set I struggle with hiring people that claim candidates “MUST have 5 years of really specific list of skills for EVERY SINGLE JOB“.

We all went to school for some length of time thus showing the ability to learn new skills. Completing school requires one to learn and apply that learned knowledge in some form to show a level of competency. Even with this proven, many employers seem to dumb down the workforce by insisting only candidates matching the outrageously long list of specific requirements will be considered for even the most entry-level positions.

When a company lists a number of specific “required” skills for a highly trainable position, I think one of two things:

1.) The company does not place value and time into training programs. AKA Lazy, oh wait I’m sorry “Everyone is working so hard, no one has time. (bad excuse)

2.) The company believes  job seekers and applicants are morons.

I disagree with both reasons for not considering “hiring for potential“.  Here are a couple of reasons why I believe those reasons are poor business decisions:

  • Top talent comes in all forms.
  • It is human nature to learn, grow and evolve.
  • Hiring for culture match is more critical, values are ingrained.
  • Hard skills CAN BE taught and learned!
  • Companies that hire for potential have more opportunity to develop a diverse team, (diversity = success!)
  • “Fresh” eyes! Bringing someone with no to little experience offers a new fresh perspective to the team, opportunity for new ideas!

So let’s stop dumbing down the world! Step out of the “we don’t have time to train” box and start looking at real potential! You don’t need a Receptionist with “5 years of direct reception experience in your specific industry.” You don’t need a cafeteria worker with “At least 2 years of professional customer service experience in a food service industry.” What you need are high quality recruiters who have the ability to identify top talent and top potential. Start hiring for potential and just see the positive impact it has on your team!


Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth? Listen Up People!

“Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth!” ~ Chris Tucker, Rush Hour. Guess what if you’re only hearing people speak you’re not going to “understand the words coming out of their mouth” and here is why….

Welcome to the 2nd Whine Wednesday of the HR life. Today’s whine is a classic, listening. Listening has been a concept at the forefront of my mind since middle school when we learned about how humans send, receive and interpret messages. The act of listening is more than just “hearing” the message being communicated, it’s the act of absorbing, processing and retaining that message. Hearing, in the workplace, is all too common cause of breakdown in communication. People think because they are hearing others speak means they are listening, well friends it’s totally different.

I experience a great deal of hearing in employee relations meetings. For example, an employee will see me to discuss an issue they are experiencing in the workplace. Now, I have trained my ear, my mind to fully and engage and listen to that employee. I’m careful not to make assumptions and jump to conclusions. I listen intently and collect facts and information before speaking. Nothing is more irritating than finally receiving the opportunity to speak and offer information, knowledge and/or advice than seeing the employee just hear me!

Here’s how you know someone is just hearing the your message:

  • Lack of eye contact
  • Glossy, blank stare or gaze in their eyes
  • Interrupting your time to speak
  • Continuing to state the same question or issue after hearing your message

Here’s how to aide someone to listen:

  • Engage them by asking questions like: “Does that make sense?” “Does this information help you?” “How can I best help you?”
  • Engage them with continue eye contact
  • Ask if you may complete your thoughts before they speak

Here’s how you can listen:

  • Maintain proper eye contact
  • Clear your mind from preconceived notions, thoughts and ideas. Essentially be unbiased.
  • Listen completely to the words they are saying
  • Do not interpret their words, just listen
  • Repeat back to them what you understand from the message they sent you
  • Ask questions and gain clarification

Hopefully, these tips with help you with the art of listening. A listener will have more opportunities to succeed than employees that just hear messages! The reality is everyone is a poor listener, aka “hearer” at times but in every conversation there is always an opportunity to get back on track and engage with the person you are speaking with to make sure there is limited breakdown in communication. Employees work best together when they understand each other, the company and the leaders expectations. There are less conflicts and time wasted when we actually listen to one another. So next time you’re talking with someone at home or at work, LISTEN UP!

Wall Street’s “Blunt” Job Applicant

Did you hear in the news today about the “blunt” job applicant? Apparently this applicant applied for a summer internship program with a financial firm on Wall Street. His tactic to “get notice” brought more attention than he probably ever expected. And he did this all through the “dead” cover letter. It’s about  the 3rd paragraph into his cover letter he states the following:

“I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles, or feeding you a line of crapp about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship. The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you. I’ve interned for Merrill Lynch in the Wealth Management Division and taken an investment banking class at (BLOCKED), for whatever that is worth.”

All the buzz it would you hire this applicant? Here’s my analysis:

1.) The cover letter is a bit long! However, it worked for him because he created personal interest by reminding the hiring manager of their meeting in NY. He engaged his reader from the beginning.

2) He demonstrates his skills: He’s straight and to the point; which for a finance major perfectly aligns with their nature of directness and being factual. He also demonstrated the ability to use problem solving skills. Problem: 100s of people are applying for this internship. Solution: Stand out!

3.) He created something special and unique.  Just with that paragraph he was able to stand out from the rest of the hundreds of applicants that applied with the same old boring praise cover letter.

Personally, I don’t hire based on cover letters but I would absolutely interview him. Would you hire him?


First Impressions; The Good, The Bad, The CREEPY

Image from Bachelor Site    The new Bachelor’s series on ABC premiered this evening! Sean Lowe is our “newest” recycled bachelor. The first episode is ritually dedicated to the uncomfortable, odd and showy meet and greet session. There are some great takeaways for job seekers and candidates about making first impressions in this episode. First impressions are so important when meeting new people and especially when interviewing for a job. Here’s what we can learn from the GOOD, the BAD and the CREEPY Bachelor contestants.

Starting with the creepy candidates, oops I mean contestants. One of them wore a wedding gown, she hummed wedding music and then requested a kiss, “kiss the bride”.  Creepy contestants take extreme to a new level, to a level of pure uncomfortable creepiness. Unfortunately for them, they come across as needy, unraveled, and even pathetic. Job candidates cannot afford to take this uncomfortable risk in this job market. By all means if you’re genuinely a creepy person, than creep on, but for the rest of us its best to avoid being identified as the creepy candidate because chances are you will miss out on a great opportunity. Here’s the thing recruiters find in creepy candidates a pattern of potentially concerning behavior. As the episode continued all the contestants that presented creepiness in the first impression continued to exude more concerning and creepy behavior as the evening progressed. So in a nutshell, creepiness is often times foreshadowing and is not a trait employers are interested in pursuing. 

Bad candidates, surprisingly not as terrible as the creepy, but not as good as the good! Bad candidates will come across as inexperienced, lacking knowledge, unprepared and just overall bad! Another contestant attempted several fancy gymnastics moves from the limo to Sean’s feet however, she ended up falling on her butt after the 3rd move. She made a fool of her self. She was so embarrassed that she continued to apologize and talk about what just happened. She completely missed the opportunity to introduce herself and make a genuine connection. Employers are seeking candidates that have their act together, understand their business needs and more often than not present themselves in a professional way. Employers want someone they can trust and rely on! 

Finally the GOOD! Being a good candidate is the goal. The job market is bustling with qualified and competitive candidates and is not the time to fool around with uncertain trickery. Making a solid first impression is crucial to your success. There were several good contestants tonight and here is what they had in common; confidence, security, genuineness and enthusiasm.

Key takeaways:

  • Be confident and secure in your knowledge, skills and abilities.
  • Be prepared; review your employment history, know the employer and practice for your greeting and interview.
  • Be genuine in making a sincere connection with the interviewer. 
  • Your enthusiasm will come naturally when you present your true self.
  • AND MOST IMPORTANTLY don’t be the creepy! BUT if you must be the creepy than make it good so all the recruiters can have a great laugh:)

Stamp Tramp!

Tonight I caught an episode of CBS’s How I Met Your Mother and boy I’m glad I did because it was not only hilarious but totally related to an HR topic, employee referrals! But before we go further I must clarify the STAMP TRAMP is not to be confused with the infamous TRAMP STAMP, totally different meanings! The stamp tramp is a person that gives their “stamp” of approval on almost anything, thus losing the value of their approval. Others begin to question the stamp tramps standards for recommending products, services, friends etc when their recommendations are less than stellar. (Check out a clip from Stamp Tramp, here.)

In this episode Marshall runs into an acquaintance and fellow practicing lawyer who appears down on his luck. Marshall decides to help him out by scoring him an interview with his boss. Long story short his acquaintance blows the interview and royally offenses Marshall’s boss. As a result of this poor employee referral Marshall’s boss pulls him off a major case. His boss lost trust in Marshall’s judgement. Marshall had to do a lot to rebuild that trust and value in his recommendations. Building trust and a good reputation can take a great deal of time and effort. It’s important to be considerate of your reputation when referring a friend or family member to a position at your company.

How can you avoid a stamp tramp situation? 

Treat the person you are referring as an extension of yourself. How will they represent your brand?

Pretend it’s your company. Would you hire this person?

If you have any concerns or doubts about referring a friend, family member or acquaintance dig deeper. Are your concerns valid? If they are you may not want to refer that person.

Depending on the role you hold at work you may “have” to refer certain people. In that case be honest with the hiring authority. If you don’t know that persons’ work history or work ethic let the company know and they can decide whether your referral is a good fit. You’ve done your part!

Lastly, if you do refer someone who is “bad hire” don’t beat yourself up about it. Just learn from your mistakes and don’t turn into a stamp tramp! Stamping your approval on everything will make your stamps meaningless. To keep your value and weight with employee referrals, in addition to the advice above, you may want to give the people who ask you for a referral a mini interview. If they pass refer them, if they don’t….tell them to take a hike! Just kidding, find a kinder way to break the news.