#DearGrads Your Work is just Beginning – Advice for New Grads

Courtesy Microsoft ImagesOver the last several weeks I have read many blog posts with great advice to the graduates of 2013. I figured it’s time I put  my experience to advice. Hopefully, our new graduates are in the social media world and reading all this excellent advice!! Al-righty, here we go…..


Your work is just beginning. Walking down the ceremonial aisle and reaching for that leather-bound folder containing that very important piece of paper is an awesome feeling. Typically there is a lot of emotion tied with this day. You’ve worked hard over the last 4 years to achieve this degree, you’ve built many relationships with people and lastly this day commences this part of your life’s journey. Your new chapter into adulthood is now beginning. 

My college experience was a bit different, I did not go away to school. I worked full-time while paying for classes with cash, so my journey was not only a little longer but lacked the full “college experience” dorms, friends my age, games, parties etc. I took night classes and many of my classmates were adults going back to school. This brought new appreciation to my pursuit of education and I felt like a learned a bit more about life experience from my classmates.

Here’s my advice for new grads:

  • If you know your direction and purpose then pursue it, hard!
  • If you’re not sure your direction, take time to figure it out. Employers want people who have demonstrated passion for the work they do. And by time I don’t mean take 4 years, while living in your parent’s basement rent free, I mean do some purposeful soul-searching.
  • Start planning your future, set some short-term career goals.
  • Get involved in your community and your desired profession. Join your local chamber, societies, associations, non-profits, meet-ups and volunteer.
  • Build your network your new professional network and invest in the relationships you built in school (the ones with friends, advisors and professors).

Transitioning into the workforce is harder than ever, developing a solid strategy for your entry into the “real” working world will set you apart from your competition.  So when you’re done enjoying a little vacation break from your last 4 years of hard work be ready to get back into that game!

Also check out my dear friends the Early Careerists. They are an excellent resource for new graduates and early careerists.


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!!

Recruiters, Stop Wasting Your Time at Job Fairs!

Photo Credit: Microsoft ImagesGuess what recruiters if you’re attending job fairs just to get out of the office and telling job seekers “We aren’t accepting resumes. Apply onlineyou’re wasting not just your time and the job seekers time, but the company’s money and possibly damaging their reputation!

I recently attended a local job fair. Of all the fairs I attend this is one of the better ones, ie attendees that are actually pursuing jobs not free pens and key chains. Normally I hear an array of negative comments about the “BIG BLACK HOLE OF HR” and the “I applied and NEVER, EVER heard back”, but not this time. However, I did receive my share of feedback from attendees and their level of frustration about other employers not accepting resumes and directing them to apply online. Well, wake up recruiters if that is you, then yes you are wasting your time!

I’ve learned over the years that the candidate experience matters at every level and I have changed my stance as a recruiter for job fairs. My goal is to be the most memorable employer at the fair. The one that made a personal connection and left a positive impression (regardless of my level of interest).

My strategy is to ask a couple basic, but insightful questions of the job seeker.  I do a quick assessment on organizational fit and then schedule an interview for the following week. Also I ACCEPT THEIR PAPER RESUMES! Oh lord, right? Some say the “paper resume is dead” well yeah in many circumstances it is not necessary but at a job fair it matters. The job seeker probably put a great deal of time, effort and possibly a lot of money into their résumé. They think that the job fair will offer them the opportunity to meet a real HR person and make a real splash but instead HR does the *talk to the hand* and asks them to apply onlineIt’s like a child that paints a picture for their parents and the parents say “Nice but we cannot hang that on the fridge, we will put it in the recycle bin” OUCH, that hurts!

Let’s recap what recruiters need to do to enhance the candidate experience at job fairs:

  • Make a personal connection by being friendly and memorable
  • Accept resumes
  • Be productive and schedule interviews! Nothing is worse than spending 4-5 hours at a job fair to leave with no interviews, it’s simply not productive.

Employers need to see that value in job fairs is more than just pushing their information out there, its their opportunity to build their network, increase their talent pipeline with a diverse group of talent.

DJANGO Your Career Potential

DJANGO Your Career Potential(SPOILER ALERT: There may be portions of this blog that could be considered SPOILERS)

My husband and I finally rented DJANGO Unchained. Aside from being one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, this pre-Civil War western showing the brutality and utter cruelty of slavery, Tarantino style, brought depth to the characters of the film and the stories they told. I can’t say enough about this film and will simply say it was phenomenal and a MUST see at least one time! Oh and the end was totally kick a$s!

In my reflection of this film and this time in history my thoughts eventually swayed from the film content to the HR world. Mind you I’m obsessed with HR, I’m constantly looking at situations through my HR glasses. As of late I have thought a great deal about leadership and employee growth & development.

I then began to think about Christoph Waltz’s career. I questioned “Did he just bust out in the acting world at age 50?” I quickly learned that he’s been acting since 1977, but really hit it big with his performance in the 2008 film Inglorious Bastards. It was at that moment a light went off “Ah-ha”. It was the perfect match; Tarantino and Waltz. Tarantino (director/leader) was able to uncover the natural abilities Waltz always possessed. Tarantino’s direction and vision aided in uncovering Waltz’s his true potential.

Then my mind went back to the film and Jamie Foxx’s character Django. In the film, Django partnered with Waltz’s character, Dr. Schultz, to bounty hunt. Prior to meeting the doctor Django was enslaved. Shortly after working together the doctor noticed Django’s true potential. The doctor (leader) help Django by providing the tools he needed to uncover his full potential and to become the man he was always destined to be. Again, it was the perfect match.

Then my mind  took off and I was recalling many other Hollywood and well-known matches. It’s like the right mix is the path for true potential to be uncovered. In regard to our careers this formula is important to acknowledge. Why? Because when you find your match aka right leader the sooner you can develop and uncover your full career potential.

Ask yourself these questions:
Does your leader recognize your talents? Does your leader bring attention to your special skills? Does your leader provide insight, that helps to guide you on your career path? 

Is your leader uncovering your true potential? 

If you answered no to any or all these questions you may need to start searching for the right leader. You need to find that experienced person that will help guide you to be your best you. The one that will see your hidden talents and help you develop. The one that will help you unchain your full career potential.

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!


The In Crowd – Networking Part 2

People Talking- Courtesy of Microsoft ImagesMy last post “Networking is BS” aka “Networking is malarkey” was a hit. My post was featured on the oh so fabulous social media pro, entrepreneur and author, Susan Avello’s site HR Virtual Cafe. As promised in that post I would give advice to being inclusive at networking events to, so here it is. My advice is based on what I have seen to be successful and what I know I want to see.

It was July last year when I started using Twitter for professional purposes and since that time have connected with many stellar HR, PR, SoMe Folks and more!  ILSHRM was the first conference and networking event I attended after establishing connections via social media. I was able to meet several of the people I connected with via Twitter, in real-life (IRL). While it was exciting, I’m not going to lie many of the encounters were kind of socially awkward. I felt like a regular person meeting celebrities and they looked at me like “OMG, is she stalking me?!” And no I’m not stalking your completely public profiles and information that you share with the world.  Anyway, of all the people I had met on social media first and then IRL Susan was the most sincere, open, friendly and genuinely engaging person I met at that conference.

Here’s how you too can be inclusive: This advice is for the seasoned professional that may get tied up in their “normal” behaviors and for the newbie that wants to know how to connect with others!

1.) Awareness: Be aware of your surroundings. While it’s important to be fully attentive while in conversation, make sure your blinders aren’t on. Notice passerby’s or people who are looking “lost”. You know the people I’m referring to, the ones walking around pretending to read the posted promotional materials and signage for the event. They are most likely just buying time. Take notice and invite them into the conversation, or excuse yourself from the conversation at the proper time and approach that person.

2.) Open circles: When speaking in a small group people have the tendency to gather in a closed circle style. To an outsider this says “Exclusive conversation happening here, no one else is welcome…move along“. The best way to counteract this perception is to make sure the circle doesn’t close. This is so easy to do because it really only takes the positioning of one person to open that circle. Create a space that allows outsiders to see they are welcome to join in the convo!

3.) Face Time: Eye contact, smile, greet! These are all the same skills we use when encountering anyone in the workplace and in life so do it here too! Your friendly demeanor will show others that you are approachable.

4.) I know you? I don’t remember but lets chat! If someone does approach you claiming to know you from somewhere and you don’t recall its ok to say  “Ok I don’t remember.  What’s your name? Nice to see you again!” Then show genuine interest in that person by asking thoughtful questions and really engage with that person.

The reality is not everyone will have a connection with everyone they speak to and that is completely natural and ok but that doesn’t mean we should deviate from common sense and social etiquette.

Happy networking!

Networking is BS!

How to make a real connection with other professional? 

Ah-ha, gotcha! I don’t really believe networking is BS, however earlier in my career I honestly did not see the value and here’s why I was meeting the wrong people. In the beginning of my career I attended a several conferences, seminars and networking events and had a decent amount of exposure to HR folks. However, a majority of the time I had the luck of running into one of two kinds of people “The burnt out HR person” and “The blah blah me, me, me person“. Of all the many HR folks I met I only made two valuable HR connections (connections that I am still in contact with today!).

Here’s one super awkward example from my experiences. A couple of years back (before my professional social media days) at ILSHRM, I attempted to “network” during the lunch break. I approached three different tables with people and asked if I could join them for lunch. The first two tables told me they were full, the last table had one woman and she was the “classic burnt out HR person”. It was terrible! I felt like I was in high school, and that I was a huge LOOSER:(

But it’s not just me! Recently, in speaking with some of the younger folks at work about networking I’ve learned they too don’t see the value. Additionally the networking events I do attend in my community (from an eyeball perspective) the average age is 45+, not to mention many of these seasoned professionals have well established relationships so when they are at these event they are talking with each other. This situation is highly intimidating to “younger”/ “foreign” people. (Stay tuned for my post about seasoned professionals and being inclusive.)

Here’s how YOU can network more efficiently:

1:) Use social media to make connections. Using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and/or G+ or one of the many other social media sites out there will help you find “the good ones”, the people worth connecting to!! It’s kind of like how Match.com changed the dating world. Yeah, you’ll still meet weirdos but you’ll also have a greater chance at connecting with really amazing people in your industry!

2:) Once you’ve established the “superficial” social media connection, schedule a phone chat, G+ hangout or Skype call with the people you see potential value in. This will further your relationship and open the door to a real professional connection.

3:) Ask your new contacts if they will be attending any of the upcoming conferences, seminars, etc. If they are arrange a time to meet.

So that’s you’re 1,2,3 to making valuable connections and networking more efficiently.

On another note, if you’re like me and kind of shy, don’t be afraid to say hi to someone you’ve met through social in person or AKA “IRL”. Some will be receptive and some may not, but at least you can walk away saying you tried.