Tag Archives: HR

A Smarter Way to Lunch: Networking for the Rest of Us

30 Mar

Networking. I know, right.


There was another HR blog post about “How to Get a Great Job in 2015” waiting in my inbox the other day.  It boiled down to the old adage about getting out to get the job. You’ll find your next role over lunch, via phone, or  somehow otherwise directly engaging with a human-being, who is not behind the glossy computer screen in your kitchen.

This sentiment has been well documented, and I do think there is absolutely merit to the statement.  What strikes me as noteworthy about this though, is that in this new age of social presence and online connection often times lunch breaks are spent engaging in twitter chats from the comforts of home, with hundreds of strangers we’ve never actually met.  There are even schedules of upcoming chats, so you can always plan for a weekly lunch date .

I think these chats are just as valuable as an initial meeting for coffee or a luncheon request. We’re developing new relationships while exchanging ideas and building our social presence over our predetermined lunch topic. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chats feel a lot less anxiety producing  for those of us who curate our thoughts a little more thoughtfully than others.

Personally, I’m not always the loudest, or most extroverted person in the room; sometimes I sit back and watch what’s happening before diving in and making my own opinions known. These lunchtime chats give us the opportunity to read through the responses, develop our ideas and share when we’re ready.

I call it a smarter way to lunch.

Navigating these social media conversations is a lot like navigating a networking luncheon, and the keys to success are still the same: engage, offer something of value, stay thankful, stay humble. All from the comfort of your kitchen table.

If you’re patient and consistent, these online relationships may develop into phone calls, and phone calls may lead to interviews, and offers.

Or at the very least a shiny new LinkedIn connection, and I still call that a win.


The Time is Now! Use your Data & Improve your Recruiting Process

24 Mar


In years gone by, content producers across the digital divide didn’t always know who they’d influenced. But that’s changed. Companies like Buffer, Hootsuite, make it as easy as pie. You can schedule your messages, and follow the potential and actual impact your information is having in real time.  These things are typically measured via clicks, views & re-shares, as compared to the number of followers and tags referenced.

I’m curious to see how HR pros are tapping into these tools to curate their messages for passive and active job seekers in social space.

  •  Are they tracking the number of  job ad views in their social presence?
  • Are they following the digital bread crumbs from the first twitter link to the website, to Glassdoor?
  • Are they capturing the information that leads a candidate to close out of their website or job application?

This is the quantitative information that should be easy to gather on the back-end.  But why aren’t more employers doing it?

HR Bloggers have discussed the suckiness of the job application process many, many times in the past. In this day of HR software it’s mind-blowing that companies still make candidates fill out page after page of repetitive, clunky text boxes, just to send information into a void of silence.

We know the application process can be simple. So why this reluctance for everyone to get on-board?

The prevalence of new HR tech means big changes for stuffy HR offices.  The companies who start the conversation the quickest, and offer an engaging, humanizing experience are winning this race.

I really think there should be more employers in the winners circle these days.  You have the technology to help your recruiting brand not suck. What are the stragglers waiting for?

Should You Reschedule an Interview for Illness?

27 Feb

Yesterday, while attempting to avoid squishing my smallest dog, the couch jumped up and tackled my toe.

It was a massacre.

One that ice cream and ice packs helped to remedy, but it got me thinking. What would I have done had I broken my foot prior to an interview? What is the proper procedure for an unexpected, unplanned (embarrassingly clumsy) assault on your physical self when you’ve got the interview of a lifetime lined up for bright an early the next morning? What steps do candidates take when they come down with the flu prior to an interview for that matter?

I took to the interwebs to research the topic, and the consensus according to our friendly staffing cohorts is unanimous:

Unless you’re maimed beyond recognition, in a coma, or just really don’t want the position, never reschedule an interview for the sniffles or banged up appendage. 

Here are a few friendly tips to get through an interview when you’re not feeling like a Rockstar:

1. Medicate! Motrin, Advil Sinus, Imodium, whatever. Take something to alleviate the symptoms and move on; Also, do something to pep yourself up (caffeinate!),when you’re feeling worn down. 

2. Dress for Success. Look as presentable as possible despite the illness or injury. Dress to Kill and you’ll feel a lot better.  

3. Showing up is half the battle. Show up as scheduled. Mention the situation in passing to the manager you meet with, but don’t play for sympathy points. Stoicism wins this round and indicates how badly you want the gig.

4. Never Procrastinate. If you’ve been preparing for this interview before hand (as you should!) then a last minute illness won’t knock you off your A Game. 

As always, thoughts, comments, differing opinions welcome! What do you think? is there ever a time you should cancel an interview last minute?



Be a Better Neighbor; Be a Better Coworker

14 Jan


A few days ago my neighbor came over with homemade goodies to share. I was struggling through a fitness challenge. It was a thoughtful gesture, by a genuinely thoughtful person. Seriously, her family is that “borrow a cup of sugar anytime” group that makes you feel a little guilty. I was touched, and slightly embarrassed that she caught me looking like a drowned rat, but she didn’t judge. It started a conversation about her own personal struggle to get back into fitness.  She’s the kind of neighbor who makes me want to be a better neighbor. Seriously.

I can’t remember the last time I brought her something just because. Did she really know how much her thoughtfulness meant to a jaded homeowner like me?

All this got me to thinking: neighbors are a lot like coworkers.  What type of person makes you want to be a better coworker? I’ve got a few thoughts:

1.  Be conscientiousness. This is one of those buzz words, but if you want to be a good coworker, remember that the things that others as you to do may be top priority for them. The quality and care you take with a request shows them how much you value what matters to them. If they feel you valued, they are more likely to value what matters to you.  Reciprocity at it’s finest!

2. Hold the judgement, please. We are all struggling through something. Sometimes it’s a workout, sometimes it’s getting a spreadsheet to behave. I’ve found my team mates are more forgiving  when they don’t perceive negative scrutiny and judgement as they work through their own situations.  Everyone’s challenge is different. At least they’re working on it.

3. Take courteous initiative. Think of others. We all know coworkers who have large looming deadlines, or just a lot on their plate in a given week. Do something nice–drop off a snack, offer to run a report across the hall. Be the kind of person  you would want helping you.

None of this is rocket science, but if we all remember these things, the office might be a little bit kinder.

Be the hero you wish you’d had.



Everything I know about Service, I learned from Publix.

23 Mar


My very first long term, life changing, character shaping job was with Publix Supermarkets, a grocery chain relegated to the southern states.

My first encounter with their customer service was during my application process. I was 16 years old, applying at my first ever in store kiosk. I was lost.

I had no clue what I was doing, and would have much rather been reading at home, behind the safety of a closed door, than applying for jobs– but the future was upon me.

I had to start working, so said my mother.

I wanted to appear professional and put together in my first job attempt, so I had on my pressed dress pants, most professional blouse and a manilla folder with notes on my personal data (i.e. my social; I hadn’t memorized that thing yet!) in tow.  I strode purposefully to the kiosk, tucked my folder under the keyboard and tried to look prepared, astute and approachable.

I probably looked ill.

My mother always told me, “you never know who’s watching, so be prepared, be courteous and be professional.” I thought I played it pretty cool during the process, up until I received an on screen notice saying something like,“This social security number has already been assigned to an applicant. Please check the number or log in to continue.”

What?! Panic time.

SOSwoman21My mother was in the car and this was pre-cell phones. I stared at my personal data, double checked my numbers and panicked. How the hell was I supposed to look put together if I had to walk outside and get my mom to help me? My plan was falling apart, my 16 year old nerves were not ready for this kind of pressure!

Lucky for me the Store Manger saw my look of horror and came to help. We never did figure out how to enter my information into the system, but he hired me via phone conversation later that afternoon. I like to think calm, courteous and professional landed me the job. (Thanks, mom!)

I worked with Publix for 7 years. IMG_0001_NEW

They taught me most everything I know about service, timeliness, professionalism, courtesy and bending over backwards to save a sale.  Back then, they also taught things about the value of teamwork, organizational commitment, and the importance of positive relationships with management. publix_buttons-thumb

Now that I’ve progressed beyond retail and transitioned into  (semi)Corporate America, I still use the values and skills from my years behind the Customer Service  counter every day.

What I am not used to are the looks of surprise every time I complete a task or find requested information for one of my employees. The looks of happiness and words of thanks are appreciated– they really are, but the extent to which I’ve been getting thanks has me curious…

Are employees not used to service with a smile from their Human Resources departments?

I view every day through the lens of my customer service experiences.  It’s what I know, and it’s what makes sense.customer-service

  • If you are nice to people, they want to help you.
  • If you provide them with the tools and resources they need to do their job well, they are (usually) grateful and have your back.
  • If management and leadership takes the time to have an active interest in your life, you work harder for them, and are more receptive to what they have to say regarding policy.

These are things I learned as a teenager. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure these things out, but I’ve been surprised by the number of people who don’t seem to view Customer Service in HR as an important characteristic. Is it any wonder people hate HR?

catbert vacation policy

  • Some HR professionals find customer service to be a hindrance to the true function of HR—to support the business.  Aren’t the employees part of the business? Aren’t they on the front lines getting the sales that fund our paychecks?
  • Many view Service as a responsibility of only entry level HR assistants and coordinators.  Don’t employees have interactions and questions that can only be handled by Directors or Managers?

 Customer Service is everyone’s responsibility.

Service is vital in any agency, and while it shouldn’t take scientific studies to make this clear, there’s a plethora of science to back it up.images

The conversations about HR and the role we play abound, but the data all supports the same thing: Customer Service in the HR department matters. Here are a few findings:

  • According to a study from a Dutch University, there is a distinct positive relationship between HR practices, employee satisfaction, and client retention.  (Yousaf; 2011)

HR practices that provide for the employee’s basic needs in a professional, timely and courteous manner have a distinct end benefit for the bottom line.

Sometimes employees just need to know how many vacation days they have left. It should be no big deal to get them that answer with a smile. Universities have even set up Employee Service Departments for things like this. If you’re a larger organization, keeping a separate HR department for things like that may make sense.

If your swamped with daily legal issues and really don’t have time to speak with your employees, create an entity specifically for the needs of your employees. If you have a smaller staff of 125, you should make the time to help them, no questions asked.  These payroll, benefits, parking permit questions are little things in the grand scheme, but they mean a bunch to our employees.

How you handle their inquiries affects their perception of the business and their performance.

  • If employees feel like they have a connection with managers and leader within the organization, they are more likely to stick around and get the job done.



According to a study from The International Journal for Human Resources Management, there is a positive correlation between the relationships of organizational leaders and their employees, and their overall satisfaction with HR practices. There is also a correlation between strength of those leader/employee relationships and organizational commitment. (Yousaf; 2011)

Another study (Frenkel, Bednall; 2011) found that if HR can provide a feeling of value and worth to an employee (i.e. continue to their work satisfaction, and help them get their jobs done effectively) the employee is more likely to view the policies and procedures from the top line as fair and favorable.

So you can check with the scientists, or your local grocery clerks. They’ll tell you the same thing:


The level of courteous service provided to employees affects how likely they are to feel satisfied with their employer. We all know satisfied employees usually produce better quality work.





Yousaf A. Having two bosses: considering the relationships between LMX, satisfaction with HR practices, and organizational commitment.International Journal Of Human Resource Management [serial online]. September 15, 2011;22(15):3109. Available from: Advanced Placement Source, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 23, 2013.

Frenkel S, Restubog S, Bednall T. How employee perceptions of HR policy and practice influence discretionary work effort and co-worker assistance: evidence from two organizations. International Journal Of Human Resource Management [serial online]. November 15, 2012;23(20):4193-4210. Available from: Sociological Collection, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 23, 2013.