Blogging Elsewhere…

February 14, 2011

Thanks for stopping by HumanityInc.  As of February 14, 2011 I am no longer blogging on a new site.  You can find all the great content from this blog and brand new stuff at HRChatterbox.  You can still find me on Twitter and Linkedin.

Have a wonderful day!

Things are looking up.  I have several opportunities in various stages of development.  The interesting thing is that they are all fairly different.  One is a trench HR leadership role, another a recruiting leadership role and a final one a contract recruiter role.  All three appeal to me for different reasons.  All three have their positives and negatives.  It is going to be interesting to see how each play out and the final outcome.

Here is the most interesting thing about these jobs – not one of them is from a job board.  Not one of them is a job I applied too.  Ok, maybe that isn’t surprising to you social media mavens, but it was surprising to me.  Each of these came through a connection on Twitter or Linkedin.  In April of 2010, I joined Twitter just to see what other HR people were talking about and to help me stay connected while being at home.  At the same time I got more active on Linkedin, connecting with people in my field or in my hometown.  Now, nearly a year later, the network that I have built is working for me in ways I could not even imagine.  I am eternally grateful.

If you are reading this and you are not on Twitter or active on Linkedin – start today.  We have all heard it said that it is important to build relationships before you need them and I am living proof of how true that is.  Had I popped up in January for the first time and asked people to help, they probably would not have been so willing.  As it is so many are more than willing to help and for whatever reason, refer me to job openings.  I will never understand it, but I will forever appreciate it.

I interview for a couple of these jobs in the next week or so.  I wonder if my next job search update will be my last?!?  Fingers crossed!  Regardless of whether it is my last, my next job search post will be on my new site.  Launch date is still Monday, February 14th.  Be sure to check it out.  I’ll post the link to the new site here on Monday!

Last week my sweet boy turned one.  This week Chicago experienced the third largest snow storm in its history.  Between a 1st birthday party that could rival something you would see on My Super Sweet 16 (complete with car pictured below) and the snowpocalypse (or Blizzard 2011 as it’s known in the media), I have not been job searching much.  I really do not have much of an update to give.

As I sit to type this though, the thought does occur to me that I am very lucky to be in the position I am.  I am able to engage in a very relaxed job search.  While I want to and am ready to work, I am not in a position where I must have something now.  I can take my time, apply only to jobs that really appeal to me and even take days off from the job search if I want.  I am blessed to be in this position.

So many Americans do not have this luxury.  They are out of work and need something now.  They have bills piling up and unemployment running out.  They spend each day treating their job search as their job.  They have revamped their resume no less than fifteen times.  They desperately check their email and Linkedin accounts every morning hoping for some glimmer of hope.  They have faced more rejection than they ever wanted too in their life, but they keep trudging on as if their life depended on it – because it does. Their job search takes no breaks due to birthday parties or snow, they must find a job at all costs.  They are in a desperate situation and getting more discouraged by the day.

So this is what I’m thinking about tonight.  Yes, I want a job and yes I can spend all of my time helping myself, but what about others? What about those who are in a different situation, who need it more?  What can I do for them?  How can I help? Hmmm…..

Wrapping Things Up Here….

February 1, 2011

Consider this my official two weeks notice.  This blog has been a lot like my first “real” job out of college.  I came into it with no idea what to expect, no idea what I was doing and no idea how the experience it provided would prepare me for the next step.  Just like my first job, the time has come to move on.

I will be launching my new blog on February 14th – Valentine’s Day.  I am not normally a symbolic person but since the opportunity presents itself, Valentine’s Day seems appropriate.  I was not sure if I would enjoy blogging when I first started, but I have come to really love it.  There is something very cathartic in writing for me.  The blog has allowed me an outlet for my thoughts, ideas and even a place to share a bit of my home life.  It has become something special to me.  So on that day, HR Chatterbox – the new blog, will be live.

I will be writing here once or twice more, probably only for my weekly job updates, and officially closing this site sometime next week.   I hope all of my wonderful subscribers will follow me over to my new home.  The look will change, the features will change, but the content will stay the same.  I will still write about communication and building relationships in the workplace.  I will still write about issues related to Human Resources.  I will still write about complete randomness as the mood hits.

Why HR Chatterbox?  Well that is a good question.  One you’ll have to read about on the new site!  Hope to see you there!

So I’ve been a little narcissistic this week.  I’ve been reading great recruiting blogs like Boolean Black Belt and Norton Folgate: The Recruiting Unblog, both of which give amazing advice on how to be found by recruiters.  I have become obsessed with changing my Linkedin profile and my online resumes to see which format and which key words change how I show up in search results.

At first, I just googled myself.  Baker is a pretty common last name, but Sabrina is kind of unique so I had no idea what would come up.  My Linkedin profile and Twitter account was found on pg 2 of my search results.  Not too bad I guess.  I then went to Bing and did the same thing.  My Linkedin profile popped up as the second link – I was so excited.  Then I realized that most employers do not think, “Hmm, I would like to hire someone named Sabrina Baker so I’m going to google that name.” So searching my name meant very little.

Then I dug in a little more.  Doing some very simple boolean search techniques, I searched by words that I would hope to be found by: recruiting, talent acquisition, human resource director, PHR etc.  I was very sad to see that most of my searches did not produce my profiles anywhere on the first several pages.   Then I did the same thing on Linkedin.  Very, very sad with my results.

So, now I’m obsessed with improving how I show up in search results.  I have tweaked my LI profile several times and think I’m getting there, but still have a lot of work to do.  I’m making it more keyword rich, ensuring I have good connections and recommendations and participating as much as possible in my groups.

It’s all a work in progress, but the cool thing is I’m learning so much along the way.  I know more about searching than I ever did and those skills will certainly come in handy with my next role.  Which by the way, nothing affirmative yet, but some strong leads in the pipeline…….

I’ll keep you posted.

Do Amazing Things in 2011

January 25, 2011

Chris Ferdinandi over at RenegadeHR offered me the opportunity to contribute to his ebook titled, Do Amazing Things in 2011.  I feel very privileged to be included among top notch HR professionals all giving sound advice on how to make this year really count.  You can download your free copy here:  Do Amazing Things 2011


I am very thankful to Chris for allowing me the opportunity to contribute and I hope you enjoy!

Companies spend thousands of dollars each month recruiting top talent.  They go to the ends of the earth (or the ends of the internet) to find the best of the best.  If they feel that a hire is worth the money, they will spare no expense in wining and dining to get that yes upon offer.  The potential employee will meet with a countless number of people and be given the best sales pitch available as to why they should join Company X.  That potential employees then becomes an employee and is so excited for day one.  They get a new hire orientation agenda and show up for work.  And then it happens.  They sit for a day, or two, or five and at least once, wonder if they have made the right decision.

So often, new hire orientation is viewed as something that has to be done to get paperwork filled out.  In reality, an effective new hire orientation should be viewed as the final piece in the recruitment process.  Sure, the offer has been accepted, but they aren’t overly committed.  A good new hire orientation seals the deal and paves the way for a good working relationship.

So what makes a good new hire orientation?  In my experience there are a few key ingredients.

  • Give the new hire something to brag about.  New hires, especially those who have been out of work, are super excited about their new jobs and want to tell everyone they know.  Why not feed those discussions with a few cool facts or success stories.  Then they can shout to everyone they know, “I got this job at Company X and did you know that they…”
  • Give the new hire face time with top leadership.  Even if their day job will never interact with the CEO, it is important that they see his/her face during their first few days.  People want to feel connected with those at the top of their organization.  Leaders should spend time with new hires and talk about stuff other than work a little too.  It establishes a sense of caring and trust that every employee longs for.
  • Give the new hire something to be excited about.  If your company is launching a new product or strategy in the next year, tell them.  If there is big news that most of your other employees know, make sure it is shared with the new hires as well.  Again, it makes them feel connected.  Connected employee’s stay with their employer’s.
  • Give them Q&A time.  There is nothing worse than a new hire orientation where someone vomits information for hours or days with no interaction.  New employee’s have questions and allowing them time to ask and receive answers will go a long way in making them feel appreciated early on.

There are countless ways to make a new hire orientation effective, but these few simple ingredients make a great base for any program.  Is it time to revamp your new hire program?

I have conducted my fair share of terminations.  I certainly do not say that to brag, in fact, just the opposite.  Regardless of whether deserved or not, telling someone they no longer have a job is not something I enjoy.  Even more difficult is when the person made an honest mistake.  Unfortunately, even honest mistakes can be fatal.

I spent the last seven years in a call center environment and as with any customer service job, there are very specific rules on dealing with the customer.  Since so much of the customer interaction was over the phone, verifying identity, using names and proper handling of credit card information were all a very big deal.  A few times we would have very good employees who missed a step, a big one, and we would have to let them go.  Honest mistake, but fatal.

It is tough to get an employee with a good track record and no prior disciplinary history, why that one mistake is costing them their job.  It was sometimes hard for me to understand myself.  Inherently, people feel like if mistakes are honest and their intentions were good then they should be overlooked or at least treated with less force than termination.  Nine times out of ten they can be, but not always.

That is why doing the work you do every day to the best of your ability is crucial.  Even if you hate it.  Even if you are actively seeking employment elsewhere.  Even if you have done it for ten years and could do it in your sleep.  One simple mistake could ruin everything.

A termination for performance on your record is never a good thing.  Regardless of whether it seems unfair, all future employers are going to see is that you were terminated.  In my career, I have never sided with a candidate who tried to justify a termination.  HR/Recruiting minds know there are two sides to every story only hearing one side makes us leery.  All things equal, we will choose the person who has never been terminated – honest mistake or not.

So take your job seriously and try to minimize the opportunity for mistakes as much as possible.  Doing less can really come back to haunt you.

It has now been just over two weeks since I officially kicked off my job search and things are heating up.  I have a couple of promising leads but nothing definite.  I’m eternally grateful for all the help and support I continue to received.  You guys are awesome!

I do have a little bone to pick though.  My beef is with a few recruiters – not all, but a few that I have interacted with over the past several months – even before I was really job hunting.

Let me start by saying, again, that I have had some level of recruiting responsibility in every role.  I know what it is like to post a job, get 1,000 resumes within 30 minutes and have to figure out how to sort the good from the bad.  I have no expectation of communication from recruiters when I apply for a job.  I completely understand that they will probably only communicate to me if  they want to interview me or when they send out their blast email rejecting all left in their inbox.  I completely understand it and am fine with it.

That’s when I apply.  When a recruiter initiates contact with me however, that is a different story.  Several times over the last few months, I have had recruiters reach out to me on Linkedin or through my resume posting on Careerbuilder with a job lead.  They send me a job description and ask me if I am interested.  I respond yes and send a copy of my resume and cover letter.  They reply back and say that they will call me the next day to talk more about the position, some of them even set up specific times for us to chat.  AND. THEN. NOTHING.  No call, no email, they go radio silent as if they have dropped off the face of the earth.  Sometimes we will have several days worth of email exchanges before they disappear.  Every time I will send one final email or leave one final voice message that says, “I’m still here, what’s going on” and get no reply.  What gives?  When a recruiter initiates contact, I do have an expectation of follow-up.

There are several legitimate reasons why they may want to end their communication with me.

1.  Maybe they lied and didn’t really have an active opening, but wanted to just get my resume on file.
2.  Maybe their original email was a blast email and they found someone more qualified through that process.
3.  Maybe something in my email/voice communication led them to believe I would not be a good fit personality wise

All of those are perfectly legitimate in my book – well maybe not the lying, but you know what I’m saying.  Here’s the deal though.  I’m a big girl, just tell me.  You are not going to hurt my feelings.  I am not going to hound you for days or weeks after trying to get you to change your mind.  I will drop it as quickly as you do if you are just honest.  Instead of taking the very easy route of silence, just tell me where we are.  If you found me, initiated contact and started to develop a relationship with me, I think I deserve at least that. Closure, it’s that simple.

So here is my compromise.  If I submit to a job you have open and you do not think I am a good fit, you never have to say a word to me in any format.  If you reach out to me first, however, I want closure.  I think that’s fair.

I am a big fan of football.  In fact, I have a whole series of football posts planned for Superbowl week so all I am going to say for now is that I really like football.  By default, I am a Bears fan and by default I mean, my husband reads this blog and would divorce me if I said anything else.  Also by default, I am not allowed to like the Colts, specifically Peyton Manning.

While I do not have the same deep loathing of the older Manning brother as my husband, I have gotten sick of hearing about why he has struggled this season. It seems there is always excuses, none of which include him.  A few weeks ago on Monday Night Countdown, someone echoed my sentiment when they talked about how Peyton needs to work with the guys he has and stop making excuses (paraphrased).  You can read a great article about this here.  With all of the praise about the leader that Peyton is and about what an amazing talent he is, shouldn’t he be able to work with any team and raise their playing level?

This same phenomenon plays out in the business world.  Talented leaders make excuses every day about why their team is not performing.  Often the excuses have nothing to do with them and focuses on the lack or immaturity of the talent they lead.  Leaders, it is time to stop the excuses and work with what you have!

Part of a leaders essential job functions and dare I say, one of the most important, is to develop their people.  If a team has little talent or underdeveloped talent, then it is the leader’s job to get them up to speed.  Does it take a little more time, of course!  Is it harder, absolutely!  Is it more rewarding than anything else you will accomplish as a leader – in my experience, YES!

Who wants to be the leader of a team whose success has nothing to do with their contribution?  You are not really a leader if the team does not and has never needed your guidance.  That isn’t to say that successful teams aren’t important, but if they were successful before you and are successful without you, then what are you doing?

Here is the good news.  Peyton Manning doesn’t have to develop those around him alone and neither do today’s leaders.  There are other coaches (HR/Training), mentors (other employees) and methods (books, e-learning) to aide in development.  The leader’s job is to facilitate the development, provide feedback and accountability which all help to raise the level of talent.

If Peyton puts the time in during the off-season to help develop his team, what do you think the Colts will look like next season?  What about your team?