12/28/12

Best HR Junior Blog 2012 - Selection Criteria

Dear all,

Please find below the selection criteria for Best HR Junior Blog 2012. Criteria applies mostly to new blogs as this is what we are selecting here. We can't ask for hundreds of posts or for an amazing social media presence. Criteria below applies to a new blog being live for a few months only, but having great potential for the future.

The column Details and Total are filled in only as example for you to see how the total score is calculated.

So, please start sending nominations to georgianaflorina@gmail.com
Looking forward to receiving as many nominations as possible.

Take care,
Geo


Criteria Comments % Details Total
Total number of posts Shows commitment to the readers 15% 65 9.75
Google Page rank Shows level of SEO effort put into the website 10% 2 0.2
Total number of comments from readers Shows that they have managed to attract readers 15% 16 2.4
Blogger's HR relevant profile Number of years of actual HR experience that the author/s has in the field of HR (showing that they know what they talk about from real practice, not quoting from books); if blog has multiple contributors, an average of all years will be used; 20% 5 1
Number of posts with advice that can be actually applied practically Shows how useful the blog actually is to readers, we are seeking for practical advice, not personal opinions 25% 60 15
Number of months the blog has been live Shows consistency and commitment 5% 11 0.55
Consistency Shows number of active months (10 - no months missing from blog start date; 7 - maximum 3 months missing; 4 - maximum 6 months missing) 10% 10 1
100% 29.9

12/25/12

HR FAQ Carnival - First Edition - December 25th, 2012

Hello everybody,

Merry Christmas and all the best to you and your loved ones - A Wonderful and Happy New Year.

Greetings

The very first edition of the HR FAQ Carnival is now live.

We are happy to introduce the first articles published.

First, it's Jennifer with a sensitive and hot topic - the use of software that monitors employees at work. Is it good, is it bad? Find all about it here on the "Do More With Software" Blog.

Then we have Bill who recommends an article about "Innovative Technologies For Employee Training". Always handy nowadays, right? Must keep up with our fast changing times.

And last but not least Nick offers us valuable advice about how to improve our online presence as future employees - how to remove all unprofessional pictures and information and how to become desirable to all those recruiters out there searching our internet profiles. Read it all here: "Carefully Cultivate Your Online Profile".

Until next edition,  thank you very much for your submissions and take care,
Geo

12/23/12

Resume Advice: I Worked as a Taxi Driver - Do I Write That in My Resume?

Recently I have been taken to work by a taxi driver who started asking me questions about the company I work for when hearing about my destination. I didn't mind and I replied and when he heard that I work in the Human Resources Department he was so happy and asked for advice about building his resume.

His question was - if I apply for the position of Help-desk Analyst should I mention that I was a taxi driver in the UK for a few months or it affects me in a negative manner? My reply was - write in your resume relevant information for the position you are applying for.

In his case, he was applying for a position requiring fluent English. I told him to mention the taxi driver position, but the emphasis should be on "UK", not on "taxi driver". We hire people speaking great English and if he mentions that he has been working in the UK, this obviously shows that he knows some English, the level needs to be determined later on, but this information will at least convince us to call him for an interview.

So, write in your resume all the information relevant for the position. If the position is that of Gardener, you have never worked before as professional gardener, but are passionate about gardening and your own garden, mention that and put less emphasis on your other positions as bartender, flight attendant or whatever. Mention those to avoid questions like "What did you do during these two years that don't appear in your resume?", but don't offer too many details.

Focus on the position requirements and offer as many details as you can on those.
For example, if you are Computer Science Graduate, work currently in Finance, but hope for a position of Software Tester, mention your studies, offer some details relevant to the position you want, and also mention all the extra training that you have done by yourself or the books you read, anything relevant showing that you are preparing for the position you want. Mention your current position only by name, time frame and compress your current responsibilities if not relevant in 1, maximum 2 lines, just to show that you are working, but that's it. They will ask if they want more information.

The purpose of the resume is to buy you an interview. If you give too much irrelevant information, chances are they won't even bother to read it. Don't lie in your resume (NEVER!!), because information can be verified, but limit the volume of irrelevant information.

Good luck and take care,
Geo

12/16/12

Best HR Junior Blog 2012

Hi everybody,

We are launching now the first edition of the "Best HR Junior Blog" Awards - Best HR Junior blog of 2012.


I got the idea while browsing through the web in search of lists with best HR blogs. I was disappointed to see that most of them include only old blogs with years of posts and tradition. No chance for a new ambitious blogger to be in there. It's a pity so we decided to start such a series to offer new HR bloggers the chance to shine.

So, here are the rules for 2012:
- you can nominate yourself if you think you deserve a spot or you can nominate a blog you follow for a while and like; nominations are received at: georgianaflorina@gmail.com (for Geo Mihalache);
- nominations are accepted until January 31st, 18.00 EEST (GMT +2);
- nominated blogs will be registered and shown here as they come;
- results will be shown here on February 18th 2012;
- we will select one "Best HR Junior Blog 2012" and add the next 9 positions to be displayed here as finalists;
- blogs can't be older than January 2012 and younger than July 2012 (meaning that all blogs started between January and July 2012 - included - can be nominated);
- blog must be HR related only - we don't accept blogs that write about everything (HR, IT, food, travel, etc.) - all posts must have some connection to HR;
- consistent blogs only are accepted - meaning that you must have at least one post each month (minimum 6 posts); however, the more, the better as it will give us a chance to see how good you are;
- original posts only are accepted - no copy - paste from other blogs;
- practical advice that people can actually use earns more points;
- location of blogger is not important as long as the blog is good and useful.

Criteria of selection:
- number of posts - the more, the better;
- practical usage of information in posts - ideas than can actually be put into practice from your posts earn you more points;
- number of valid comments - this means that people are interested in your posts;
- clean design - posts are easy to navigate, you have a clear menu and the user can easily find what he wants, you don't suffocate the user with commercial ads;
- willingness to actually help people - a blog that aims at people not at money.

I will come back during the following days with more details concerning the criteria - I will publish a clear list of criteria with percentages so that rating is transparent for everybody.

So, please start your nominations.

Kind Regards,
Geo

12/12/12

How To Create an Effective Employee Engagement Survey

Employee Surveys are used in a lot of large and small companies. Their objective is to evaluate employee engagement, motivation, company strengths, weaknesses and to offer the employees a simple (and most of the times anonymous) tool to express their opinion and suggest improvement ideas.

The effectiveness of any survey you may decide to apply in your company depends on a series of simple factors:
- proper communication: tell the employees that a survey will be conducted (offer details concerning purpose, length, expectations), tell the employees that the purpose is to offer them the possibility to speak their mind and that it will NOT be used against them;
- sharing the results - always share results and keep employees updated - otherwise, the second survey you send will be ignored;
- sharing the action plan - tell the employees that you have prepared an action plan and keep them updated on the way it is being implemented; involve some of them in the implementation plan where possible;
- employee involvement in decision making - involve employees where possible in the creation of the action plan; if they receive the action plan already made, chances are they will not embrace it; if they come with some of the ideas, for sure they will help implement them;
- time frames - try not to organize surveys every month - everybody will get bored and eventually stop opening your emails; a large survey once a year is more than enough; also, give the people plenty of time to open the survey and reply - depending on the number of questions, try to give them 2-3 weeks for 20-30 questions and up to one month and a half for over 60-70 questions; also, remember to consider people on vacation, business trips or sick leave - give them a chance to speak their mind too.
- reminders - people tend to forget all about tasks that are not urgent; reminders once a week or once in 2 weeks help.

In terms of questions, please find below a few ideas. You can use them as they are, delete some or add more.


Engagement Profile All in all, I am satisfied with [Company name] as a company.
Engagement Profile I am proud to work for [Company name].
Engagement Profile I plan to continue my career with [Company name].
Engagement Profile I would recommend [Company name] as a place to work to a friend or colleague.
Attitude Towards Client/Company Client problems are dealt with quickly.
Attitude Towards Client/Company I believe that our professional excellence differentiates us from our competitors.
Attitude Towards Client/Company I feel personally responsible for my clients' satisfaction.
Attitude Towards Client/Company We convert our clients' suggestions and complaints into improved services and/or deliverables.
Communication I am well informed about what is happening in [Company name].
Communication I have a good understanding of the overall strategy and objectives of my business area. 
Communication I have been adequately informed about the results of the past employee survey and actions have been taken in response to the survey findings.
Communication I see a clear link between my objectives and the objectives of my business area. 
Communication In my day to day job, everyone is encouraged to openly express his/her opinions.
Communication The leadership of my business area has communicated a vision of the future that motivates me. 
Communication There is open and honest two-way communication in my business area. 
Communication I can easily get the information I need to do a good job.
Compensation & Benefits My compensation is in line with my role and the market.
CSR I feel [Company name] is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen (e.g. working with communities and charities like Naandi/Planet Finance, reducing our environmental impact, working with our clients on sustainability issues, e.g. Green IT).
Ethical Business [Company name] shows a commitment to ethical business decisions and conduct.
Ethical Business I feel that [Company name] encourages diversity.
Ethical Business I feel that [Company name] gives opportunities to everyone.
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Average time spent at work
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Bonus and rewards system for holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.)
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Bonus system for results recognition
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Budget for travelling
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Company headquarters
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Conditions for physichal recreation
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Conditions of periodical recreation (trips, parties, etc.)
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Conditions of serving lunch
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Degree of information upon company results
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Degree of responsibility on the job
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Feedback from direct manager
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Good initial training (Induction)
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Internal opportunities to develop your career
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... IT support
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Meeting efficiency
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Opportunites to develop technical/specialist skills
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Other material benefits (car, bonuses, etc.)
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Overtime compensation system
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Promotions system within the company
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Quality of collaborating with HR
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Quality of collaborating with IT
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Quality of collaborating with other departments
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Quality of collaborating with top management
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Recognition of my results
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Recreation spaces
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Respect the employee is treated with
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Safety of position
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Salary increase system
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Salary level
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Support offered during the activity
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... The Office
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... The way knowledge is transmitted within the company
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Training system offered periodically
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Transportation facilities
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Work atmosphere
Main Motivators I am motivated a lot by ... Work itself
Management  All in all, I am satisfied with my manager.
Management  I am encouraged to be creative and innovative in my work.
Management  I am sufficiently involved in decisions that affect my work.
Management  I get the necessary support from my manager to be able to carry out my assignments.
Management  I trust my manager.
Management  I trust the senior leadership of [Company name].
Management  My manager clearly communicates what is expected of me.
Management  My manager deals appropriately with poor performance.
Management  My manager encourages me to contribute, re-use and share knowledge.
Management  My manager is an effective leader.
Management  My manager is committed to providing high quality services to our clients.
Management  My manager supports and practices high standards of ethical conduct.
Management  My manager supports my professional and personal development.
Management  My manager treats me with respect.
Performance Evaluation and Recognition I understand how my performance is measured and evaluated.
Performance Evaluation and Recognition In my business area, poor performance is dealt with appropriately. 
Performance Evaluation and Recognition My last performance review was conducted in a fair and reasonable way.
Performance Evaluation and Recognition Outstanding performance is recognized appropriately.
Performance Evaluation and Recognition Throughout the year my manager gives me useful feedback on how I can improve my performance.
Professional Development All in all, I am satisfied with my opportunities for professional development in [Company name].
Professional Development I have the training I need to do my job effectively.
Professional Development New employees receive the training necessary to perform their jobs effectively.
Professional Development The training I receive in [Company name] allows me to develop my competencies for my current and future roles.
Team work There is good collaboration and teamwork within [Company name]. 
Team work I feel that I am part of a team.
Tools I have the tools, equipment and support I need to do a good job (technology, equipment, knowledge database, templates, methodologies, quality processes, helpdesk).
Work-Life Balance I am able to balance the needs of work and personal life.

In terms of statistics, try to use the Likert scale for answers. It looks like this:
1- I stronlgy agree
2 - I agree
3 - Neutral
4 - I disagree
5 - I strongly disagree

If you have only a small number of employees and a small number of questions, processing the data internally is simple and you can do it even on paper with paper surveys and then insert the data in a small spreadsheet. However, a large number of employees (let's say 100+) requires a huge amount of time and effort to process all surveys. A dedicated software or even an external company can help you. Just for your information - I work in a company with 120 000 + employees throughout the world and our survey has over 80 questions - imagine the amount of data there! We use an external provider.

In terms of interpreting the results, add the positive answers on each question (or area).
I.e. Calculation of Engagement profile in your company - see how many employees answered with 1 (Strongly agree) and 2 (Agree) to questions 1 up to 4 above. The highest the score, the better.

Your action plan should focus on the questions/areas with lowest results. Try to ask people what's wrong and why did they give low ratings - maybe they didn't understand the questions or maybe there's a problem in your company that you don't know about.

All in all, I strongly recommend employee surveys. If you need my help with anything, please feel free to ask. I am going right now through my third yearly survey and we do it seriously.

Take care,
Geo

12/10/12

Motivating Your Employees - Opening the Johari Window

A good manager is the one that people know and trust, the one that people are not afraid to share ideas, thoughts and fears with, the one that shows not only strengths but also weaknesses. Good communication is a critical key in a team. Only when your teams knows you, they will trust your decisions even when you are not allowed to share all the details with them.

A good tool to build engagement and motivate your employees is opening the Johari window.
What on Earth is that you may ask?

Well, you can find a lot of great details about it on Wikipedia if you want to go in further detail. It's a concept developed by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the US, in the 50s. I will not detail it too much - I will just tell you that from the table below which represents the Johari window, you need to start opening the Hidden area, the area which includes all the items you know about yourself and that others don't and would be useful to know for the well-being of your team.

The Johari Window
The Johari Window
All nice so far, but what to do exactly to open this area?
I will tell you what I did. I created a set of open questions, some work-related and some personal that we all answer during our weekly meetings.

At the end of each regular weekly HR meeting where we discuss important items for our department, I bring out a set of 5 questions that each of us has to answer (refusal is of course an option - nobody is forced to do it, but answering allows us to know each other better and allows the ladies in the team to know me better and understand my decisions).

5 questions in a session are enough because answering them (we are 4 people) takes us around 15-20 minutes, so that's enough for one session. You can use our ideas or create your own questions - the idea is to start communicating with each other and share thoughts and ideas, know each other better, know what you like or dislike and understand your fears and reasons for being proud - the purpose of the exercise is to bring the team together and create stronger bonds.

Ideas of questions to use:
1. What I like most in this company is that...
2. What I would improve in the way our team works is.....
3. What I like about you best is ... (here each member of the team tells each of the others what they like best)
4. The positive items that I bring to this team are...
5. What I would improve about myself is.......
6. I find it difficult to work with people that...
7. I would like you to support me when...
8. The most difficult thing about my work is...
9. During week-ends I love to...
10. I find balance in life doing.....

The list is practically endless - you can put in it whatever you can think of. Just make sure to insert personal details as well not only work-related; the team is stronger if the members have personal connections as well, not only work-related. And use it as often as you can. You will be surprised to see how many new things you discover about each other.

Take care,
Geo

12/5/12

Recruitment ABCs - All in One File

Dear all,

For all of you who think about becoming a recruiter but don't know what lies ahead, I have put together one file that will help you decide - you will find out details about what tasks you will be performing as a recruiter, what oportunities you have, what threats, what abilities you need and what kind of companies can employ you.

You can download the file here:
http://www.administrarehr.go.ro/HR_Docs/Recruitment_and_Selection-The_Good_and_the_Bad.pdf


Enjoy and Take care,
Geo

9/7/12

Non-Financial Motivators

As HR Manager in a fresh company (by fresh I also mean new subsidiary of a larger one) your main job besides monitoring the market and drowning your managers in reports is thinking really really hard about how to motivate the company's employees. Simple as it may seem, it's a huge task if your budgets don't include salary increases and bonuses as often as the people may like and also if your managers keep shouting "Mind the costs, please!. We are planning to be a profitable company, not a non-profit humanitarian organization."

What can you do then? Well, put your thinking caps on, start reading HR books, browse HR websites and contact your fellow HR friends in need. Ideas will surely pop-up. Here are a few from my side:

  • Thorough recruitment process - start from the beginning; verify candidates' motivation to make sure you have no surprises later on; how can you verify that? ask them what they know about the company, about the position, where they have seen the job posting, how they have prepared for the interview, what are their short term future plans concerning career development; if they have no idea about the position, the company and they are just desperate for the job or want to be promoted in 4 months, forget about it. They don't want your company or your position. One more thing, don't conceal any information when making the offer - tell the candidates all about the salary, the benefits, about the difficulties they will encounter, about shifts, any contract clauses - you don't want them to find out one month after they are hired. They will quit and you will start recruitment all over again. Better avoid that and hire a candidate that is prepared and willing to accept all the conditions.
  • Detailed training plan for each new joiner - this means the best Induction you can think of and then a clear training path later on. By Induction I mean details about the company, the position, Human Resources procedures that might affect or help them, the team, the manager, job description, personal objectives. A proper induction can take even up to a week leaving the employee confident about coming to work and knowing where to go to get details or have a problem solved. Then, personal training plan can be discussed with HR and with the employee's manager allowing the employee to select a certain career path in the company and having all the instruments he/she needs to achieve that. 
  • Proper information channels - an engaged employee is an informed one; an employee who knows nothing about the company doesn't care too much about its status. Make sure employees receive enough information about company results, company plans, clients, perspectives. Knowing the big pictures allows each employee to understand his/her role in the business. Displaying an org chart for the employee to actually see their place is also useful to keep them informed. This way they also find out the structure of the organization and can imagine their future career path.
  • Proper communication between manager and employee, between top management and employees and between colleagues and teams; employees need to feel like part of the whole and need to understand what's going on around them. If they can be involved in decisions affecting their work or at least consulted, even better. Channels you can use for communication: regular newsletters, short emails from time to time, larger scale meetings where all employees are allowed to come and meet the managers, scheduled meetings with top management allowing each employee to speak directly to the "big boss", printed bulletins and reports, company intranet with plenty of news, internal boards with printed materials displayed, employees being invited to other company subsidiaries to meet other teams and exchange information.
  • Support offered - make sure each employee has someone to rely on at first - at least for a while. A Buddy program which includes connecting an old employee with a new one who can go to the first with various issues anytime can facilitate proper integration in the company.
  • Regular performance evaluation -  each employee needs to know what their job is, what their objectives are and how they've done throughout the year; two meetings each year are OK. Employees need to know when they have done a good job and also what's there to improve; rewards like salary increases or bonuses can be added, but we're discussing non-financial motivators, so I'll skip that. Simply telling the employee how they are doing makes them feel appreciated and allows them to know that someone cares about their job. 
  •  Internal promotions - making sure that as many positions as possible are covered from the inside; making sure that employees are involved in trainings that prepare them for that; making sure that all open positions are published internally first and that the recruitment process is fair and transparent.
  • Fair recruitment process for external candidates that are being recommended bu employee for the job - hiring someone's friend or family is OK but only if they pass the same recruitment process like everyone else and they get the position in a fair manner. Employees need to trust HR and management.
  • Work environment - try to make sure as managers and as HR representatives that employees have all they need to perform a good job; if the company can't afford all that, at least make sure that you show the employees that you have done your best. Listen to them, encourage them, talk to them first and try to avoid disciplinary actions and any other negative motivators unless absolutely necessary. Try to make the environment as pleasant and open as possible. A dictatorship doesn't work for most employees.Terror and intimidation as well.
  • Allow employees to have time for their families and personal life. You need balanced individuals in your company not robots. Only balanced and happy individuals have an open mind and not only perform a good job, but are also open to innovation.
  • Facilitate good communication between departments - allow employees to know each other, team buildings are not always expensive, but can do wonders. Also, employees working together from different locations work better if they have seen each other at least once. You don't need each department to work perfectly separately, but your entire company as a whole to achieve great performance.
  • Encourage employees to be task oriented not time schedule oriented. Where possible, allow those who are efficient and finish their job (well done of course) go home earlier.
  • Remote work - where possible allow employees to work remotely from time to time - this increases engagement because employees get time for themselves and can solve family matters in the mean time (mothers who don't have a babysitter available can work from home for a few days); also, they save money on transportation to work.
  • Always reward results - not necessarily with bonuses. There are a lot of ancient methods that still work - employee of the month board, public congratulations during a meeting with the entire team, a day off, asking the good employee to train others, etc.
Here are just a few items that we have implemented in the company where I work.
Any new ideas from your side are welcome. Please post them as comments.

Kind Regards,
Geo

8/25/12

For Recruiters : How to Use LinkedIn for Free to Get Good Candidates

On my current position as HR Business Partner in a large multinational IT company I have been several times responsible with the recruitment of specialized candidates. Shortly after I was hired they asked me to find a few Linux guys that also spoke English plus French/Italian. Trust me this is not that easy to find.

After posting the ads several times on the best paid job portals and waiting for the candidates to apply I have realized that they weren't going to come to us that easily. I have realized that good IT guys are also a bit weird (please forgive me, guys, but like all geniuses, IT ones are out of the ordinary too) and are not actually open to new positions once they are engaged in a project unless you go to them and convince them that what you can offer is better.

I was desperate for CVs and at that moment I have discovered the magic of LinkedIn. I had very low knowledge of Linux, but I managed to find my good candidates. How can you do it and more than that - for free? LinkedIn offers great possibilities for job posting and searching, but as all large and famous portals, they cost a LOT. So, how can you do it for free?

First of all, register with LinkedIn. Fill in your profile as accurate as you can. A sloppy profile will always be rejected by groups and partners. Be professional and spend the necessary amount of time to fill in your information. It will be worth your time, trust me.

After you have created your profile (don't forget your picture to build your trust) search for groups. I have searched during my recruitment projects for keywords like "Linux", "SAP", "French speakers" or "Francais" for groups in French, or for various groups where IT recruiters met and posted ads. When you have a group you are interested in, apply to become member unless it is an open group where you can post ads and comments without joining. Don't give up if some groups don't accept you. Headhunters may be considered spammers sometimes and some groups focused on technical issues only may not want you.

When you get accepted - and I got accepted in most groups I applied for - post a job ad in the Jobs section or in the Discussions section if you ask for advice or are looking for connections or more than just CVs. All the jobs and discussions are sent periodically (daily or weekly) to all the members of the group on their email (unless they have unsubscribed from group news). The more groups you join, the better chances you have to reach a larger audience. Also select the most active groups or those with more members - LinkedIn offers you this information when you search for groups.

I am allowed to be member of maximum 50 groups, but that's OK as you can step out of a group and join another or rejoin the first one again anytime.

Good luck with the recruitment of difficult positions and please remember you can come back to me with questions anytime.

Kind Regards,
Geo

8/11/12

Career Change at 30+?

Have you ever been in a point in your life where you felt like saying "Enough! I need a huge change!" ? I have...a few months ago...I will mention the resolution towards the end but until then, the story...

I am HR Business Partner for a multinational company in the IT field. Lots of work, crazy deadlines, pressure, tens of people to work with every day, 10 years in the field, tons of paperwork, legal requirements to fulfill and be very careful about (otherwise huge fines for the company), awful reporting, annoying meetings after hours with partners on a different time zone, 14 interviews/day sometimes when needed, fussy top management with crazy requirements that pressure you but  which you can't discuss with others, days when you need to smile to everybody even if you feel like grabbing a gun...

I am also Computer Science graduate still passionate about IT, databases and web design. Two separate fields, IT being the one where I run for cover during my bad HR times. I leave the office to drown myself in web design and online marketing to forget about everything. Until one day when I decided I had enough of HR and looked towards Software testing. I decided I wanted to start fresh and I had the courage and the power to do it.

I started reading all I could find about software testing: Agile, black box, white box, software development life cycle, I grabbed my old SQL books, I searched for tests, for all the online courses I could find, I even ended up with a few diplomas and then I decided I was ready to apply to a new job - a Junior Tester job which required only general testing knowledge and a degree in IT - I had both. I went there for a test, I passed it, they invited me for an interview, they asked me all they could think of and I replied to most of the questions.I refused to lie and change my CV with my current career path hoping that my knowledge and motivation would convince them. Unfortunately no - my 9 years in HR proved them that I am not the suitable candidate. Was knowledge enough? NO. Was the degree enough? NO. Was motivation and determination enough? NO. My past haunted me and got me rejected. I was obviously overqualified and they didn't need me in their team. I was hard to shape on such a different position.

So, is a career change possible at 30+ ? Yes, but awfully hard. And the later, the more difficult. And if you have a clear previous career path and you occupy a top/middle management current position, forget about it.

How can you increase your chances to have a career change at 30+?

- Start your own business. Nobody will tell you at the interview that you are overqualified for the job; this is the best option;
- Go for a specialist position on your new chosen path rather than for a junior one; of course, register for trainings before and be prepared;
- Get prepared - do as many trainings as you can and gain some experience - as much as you can;
- Prepare a CV according to the position you apply for - mention all your old jobs, never lie or conceal information, but don't offer too many details and focus on the items that recommend you for the new position;
- Get some recommendations in the new chosen field (a trainer, a teacher, a colleague working in the field) and place the contact details in your CV; 
- Not having a job at the moment of the application helps but it's silly to quit a safe job for a possibility;
- Be confident and determined and if you really want the change, don't give up.

And now, the resolution I promised earlier - I am still in HR with a new member in my team taking some of my tasks and realizing that I actually like my job and don't need a career change. The others rejected me for being overqualified. But this is my story. As for you, do more of what makes you happy and never give up.

Regards,
Geo

7/25/12

I Want to Fire Someone..How Do I Do It?

Any new manager may find himself or herself in this new and unpleasant situation. Sometimes unfortunately it is necessary to start thinking about the company and the team and not about each individual in particular no matter how great your relationship with each of them is. Remember that it's not fair for the team to do the work of someone unproductive (you may start losing the good ones at some point) and also remember that you may end up explaining to your managers your team's poor results. How does this sound?

If you decide that someone in your team is not performing as expected, do the following:

1. Discuss the matter directly with the person in a 1 to 1 meeting; allow them to explain as the situation may be caused by an isolated family matter or personal matter that makes them not perform for a limited period of time. Also, allow them to explain if they feel not motivated, if they would like a different job, tasks, if they feel they don't have enough opportunities to develop themselves. Don't jump to conclusions. Find out all you can about the employee's history. If they were performing well at some point, maybe something happened. Find out what and don't start firing people just like that;

2. If you are a new manager ask for advice from your own manager or from other fellow managers. They may have some tips and tricks about motivating people, about communicating with the individuals in the team, some pieces of advice from their previous experience. If you are lucky, one of them may even agree to evaluate your own employee and give you a second opinion. Maybe you are young and eager to impress and you push the team too hard;

3. If the employee doesn't have any personal matters and they are just not willing to perform, meet with them and tell them straight that you are not satisfied and that if they don't change, they will receive a termination notice. Try to prepare an Improvement Plan with clear deadlines and consequences for the employee not to have any surprises; do everything in writing and ask the employee to sign; ask HR for advice;

4. During the Improvement Plan implementation meet periodically to receive and offer feedback. If the employee is really willing to improve and keep their job, they will collaborate and ask for advice. Don't give more than 3 months to extend the illness unnecessarily. 3 months should be enough to see if the employee is willing to work with you and the team or not.

5. If in the end the final decision is to fire the individual, then before taking any action prepare your plan in detail. Think about the following - order of steps, timing and what you plan to say:
-communicate to the employee - the most difficult step; think if you plan to give them notice or you want them gone the next day; ask for advice from HR concerning labor law and potential restrictions, risks and problems that may occur; think what to tell them concerning reason, think what tasks they are still allowed to perform during the notice period, remove any materials/information they may use in a negative manner, talk to other managers that have been in your shoes before;
- communicate to the team; be straight, give real details and reasons - they may already suspect something and some ugly lies can generate unnecessary rumors;
- post the recruitment ad - internally or externally;
- think if the two people should meet or if you can pass the knowledge to the new joiner yourself;

This is it and good luck.
Geo

Also read:
I want to become a manager
http://hr-faq.blogspot.ro/2012/05/i-want-to-become-manager-what-should-i.html

But also...do we really need managers?
http://hr-faq.blogspot.ro/2012/07/do-we-even-need-managers-or-should-we.html

7/12/12

Do We Even Need Managers? Or Should We Make Them Disappear?


A lot of employees think of management positions like they are the ultimate goal in their professional life; like they offer maximum satisfaction and that they prove and reward outstanding performance. Lots of companies offer hundreds of related trainings and thousands of management books sell in book stores every day. 

Students and fresh graduates hope and dream to become managers while parents teach their kindergarten kids that being a manager is like being the king. The last one is a bit exaggerated, but you get the idea.

Reality check: do we really need all these managers? Wouldn’t the employees who actually do the real work be better on their own? Are all this time, money and effort to grow and use managers really necessary? So much money invested in trainings, so much time, so many preparations and in the end even more money to pay all these people…does the company get anything back?

All managers reading this post will reply for sure that “yes, they are really needed”. But my post is not for you, sorry guys, but for the people you manage. It’s one of my tricky HR FAQs – do we really need managers around? Most employees with non-management positions may reply “of course not, we can manage ourselves just fine”. So, how is it?

The answer is in the middle, both are right, we actually need managers “yes, sometimes” and here’s why:

-          We need people in a company who are required to continuously check, analyze and adjust the big picture; all of you specialists know your tasks very well, but are too busy to know everything in the company; someone has to know all the processes (not necessarily in detail) to be able to confirm the right direction of the company and to implement  any required changes;

-          You need someone more experienced to confirm that you are doing a good job, to guide you and to help you improve. Why you may ask? I can decide myself or I can ask a colleague. But…your assessment is subjective and your colleague may not be honest; a manager may not be fair, but if you need improvement he will make sure you actually do it; you may be postponing trainings or forgetting about them; a manager will make sure you do all that is needed on time;

-          You need someone to represent you in front of the company owners (if a company has 3000 employees, not all of them can go to owners directly – imagine the queue) and why not propose salary increases for you to reward your performance; have you thought that you may not have the suitable speech to convince and that your more experienced manager may know better how to present the situation to have costs approved? In the eyes of the owners, it’s all about the costs and the profit. You need strong arguments to have things your way. Do you have all of these arguments ready?

-          You need someone to do the dirty job, the things you don’t like. Have you thought how many tasks managers have that they don’t like but which someone needs to do. Just a few ideas: tons of reports, answering in front of the company board for things that weren't achieved in your team, carrying out disciplinary actions for your team mates that don’t do their job (and whose job you need to do sometimes and of course you don’t like it), doing your job while you are sick or on vacation, meeting sales people from various partners, wasting time in conferences and meetings, staying overtime to meet with partners from a different time zone, traveling all the time (it can get annoying after a while, don’t imagine business traveling is all that fun, leaving your home and family for weeks and so on);

-          We need managers to represent the company in front of partners and clients and to take responsibility for any failures concerning signing contracts and closing deals; if contracts are not signed and clients are gone, guess what happens to your job. Do you feel strong enough to do this task?

-          You need someone to mediate any conflicts between you and your team mates for the job to go on and work to be done;

-          You need someone to see your needs (material needs, development needs, motivation needs) and take care of you. Do you always feel strong enough to have your own back?

And the above are just a few. The list can go on. My point is that delegating tasks to non-managers is ideal. This makes them more responsible and engaged. However, managers are also needed as they bring experience, decision making skills and strength to the company. They connect employees and company owners and are mediators in various situations. Wondering about me? Just for your own curiosity, yes, I am a manager and yes, I feel and hope people need me :)

Take care,
Geo

Also read:

6/21/12

I Think I Want to Become a Salesman – Should I Bother Even Considering It?

If you are thinking about such a position, then you must have heard that this is a field where big money can be made. Well, it’s partially true – big money can be made depending on what you sell (the niche you are working in) and depending on your skills.

First of all, you should know what you would be doing on such a position. Most probably you will start as an entry level salesman, be involved in some training sessions, the product or service of the company will be presented to you and then you will be asked to start selling. If you are lucky to get a job in a larger company, you will go in the field with a senior agent to observe how things are done. If not, you are on your own. Your job is to contact clients (some already existing in the company database, some brand new that you think of), convince them to meet you, present them the offer, give details and answer tons of questions and again if you are convincing enough and if they need the product or service you sell you will get to close the deal and cash a nice commission. Sounds easy? Well, don’t bet on it…

Right now you may have some native skills, but you have no experience and you have had no training. Why should they hire and pay you if they can get someone who has experience, who comes with a network of customers and who will sell for sure? Well, the first thing you need to learn how to sell is yourself.
Start preparing a strategy. You have no training – then get some: selling techniques, direct marketing, viral marketing, etc. Don’t expect your employer only to organize this for you. To show them you are interested, do some trainings on your own, read books, talk to other agents, get connected (I recommend LinkedIn), then put all these details in your CV, add your native skills if you have any that might be useful, then start applying to jobs. Get prepared to be rejected, but never give up. It’s crucial. If you give up, then you don’t have the main skill that you need for a job in sales – being perseverent, not taking rejection personally and understanding the other side’s perspective.

Some additional trainings you can get involved in besides sales techniques are communication, public speaking and negotiation skills. They will also help you during the interview. Expect a lot of role plays and get prepared before. Ask one of your friends to test you and also talk to yourself in the mirror to get used to the presentations. Good luck in getting hired and here are a few Sales FAQs that might help you decide if this is a job for you.

Is there another position I can start on?
Yes, merchandiser. This is someone who approaches clients in large stores or areas where target customers wander around and offer them free samples of products, talk to them about offers and discounts sometimes even asking them to buy something .

What’s the nasty part of sales?
Getting rejected over and over again. Don’t take it personally and don’t give up. This is going to make you stronger and help you come up with better and better presentation and arguments until one day you will realize you’ve become one of the best in your field. 

What should I sell?
Start with something you know or like even if you don’t make that much money. If you love reading, start selling books. Knowing and loving the product helps you come up with arguments that will convince the customer. Then, after you have learnt the sales techniques, you can move up to products that really bring you the big money – like luxury cars, homes, any other luxury goods. Of course moving up is not mandatory. If you like what you sell and you are satisfied with your earnings, you can stick to your initial product or service.

How should I address the potential customer?
By identifying a need they have and offering solutions to that need (your product/service of course). If the customer doesn’t have that need or if you don’t convince them that they do, your scope is lost.

How important is networking?
Crucial. Being sociable and getting to know people allows you to identify their needs. They will trust someone they have known for a while to sell them something than someone brand new. Also, try to get recommended. A satisfied customer will bring you his friends and family, so more money.

What’s a target?
It’s a number (number of products sold, amount of money cashed in, number of contracts signed, number of customers contacted) that you need to pursue on a given period of time. Achieving your target and even going above it are the things that you need to focus on in order to be a successful salesman.

How do I start finding customers?
Create a strategy in order to work organized: think of who might want/need your product/service and then prepare a list of names and contact details. Start with the people you know, then the people recommended by the ones you know and only then go to strangers. Again, don’t give up. Some customers may not even bother to answer the phone or agree to meet you. Just don’t give up, search details about them and think how you can approach them. You need to remember that your target in front of them is not to get rich, but to solve a need they have. This is how you think your presentation.

How do I present the price?
Always have a price prepared, show it to the customer when they ask about it or include it in the printed materials if you offer the client any (and you should do this for them to have something to think of otherwise they will forget all about you the second you’re out the door), but mention that you are willing to negotiate discounts, offer them additional benefits and so on.

How do I present the product/service?
Present the main features that you think would interest the client and solve his/her need first. Deciding to buy takes only a few seconds. If you’re not able to capture the attention during the first moments, the sale is lost.
Start with the need it is addressing then have a lot of arguments prepared. Always study competition before and be prepared to receive questions about the advantages you offer compared to the competition. Offer solid arguments. If your product is better, but costs more, talk about quality and its durability in time. If it’s not, be prepared to discuss lower prices and additional benefits you are offering. Sometimes you may be selling the same product as the competition so additional benefits and your relationship with the customer are key elements in the final decision.

How should I behave?
Be open, listen carefully to questions, don’t contradict openly, keep answers to questions short and precise, and try not to waste the client’s time. If the client clearly rejects you, try to understand why and try to come back in a while with something new in terms of product/service, with a new offer of discounts or simply during a period of time when the client has money or is able to buy. Again, don’t give up and don’t be aggressive and desperate to sell no matter what. You don’t only want a customer, but also want the customer in front of you to recommend you further. Agreeing with them the best time to come back is better than a sale pushed upon the client who will never want to hear about you again. Show you care about their needs too and not only your profit.

If there’s any additional question you would like to see here, please write me on my email or post a comment here.
Good luck with your careers and take care,
Geo

And one more thing - this post was part of the Carnival of HR on the 4th of July.
More details here: http://www.blogging4jobs.com/hr/its-the-shrm12-notatshrm-carnival-of-hr/ 

Also read:
Becoming a Project Manager:
Becoming a Recruiter:

6/4/12

How to Become a Project Manager

The position of Project Manager is more and more present on the job market and on job portals, so becoming Project Manager is attracting employees more and more. It sounds important and it is convincing people to specialize and follow project management courses and acquire project management certifications. But is it that simple? And are there details you should know before starting? Is there something that you should be careful about? The answer to these questions is “No”, “Yes” and “Yes” in that order. It’s not simple – it’s a long and serious process that requires lots of work and also since there’s money to be invested you must be really careful what you invest it in.

Let me start by telling you what a Project Manager does:
  1. A Project manager is assigned a project to complete  by a certain deadline – has a clear mission like build a bridge in one year;
  2. He/she then needs to start thinking what he/she needs in order to do that: how much money (this is the planned budget), how many people, how many machines and what other type of equipment and materials, what authorizations and what paperwork needs to be done; all these items are called resources;
  3. Then a clear plan needs to be made so that the large project is split is smaller activities: the materials need to be bought by this deadline, the people hired by this deadline, the machines need to clear the land by this deadline, soil structure analysis needs to be done by this deadline,  the pillars need to be built by this deadline and so on;
  4. Then risks need to be identified and addressed: what do we do if we don’t manage to hire all the necessary workers by the set deadline, what do we do if the price of materials raises suddenly and we need to increase the budget, what do we do if there’s a flood and we need to stop work for a week and so on depending on the project;
  5. Then clear tasks need to be given to the members of the team, conflicts should they appear solved, people need to be monitored and so on.
-          The Project Manager is the one responsible if the project is not delivered on time.

How should you start, then?

First step: takes a few months and allows you to acquire the basics of Project Management – learn notions like project, details of a project, start date and end date, intermediary deadlines, milestones, project resources which include both human and material resources, project risks and how to address those and the role of the project manager and of the team (because a project manager never works alone). All these notions can be acquired by trainings you do yourself, or books you read. You don’t need courses that are too advanced or a certification from first. Take your time to understand the basics and realize if this is really for you. Be really careful what trainings of Introduction to Project Management you attend. There are a lot of companies which offer them and most of the times cheap equals to poor quality, so be really careful. You may end up with the diploma you wish for but get no real knowledge you can use.      

Second step: try to develop the skills you need to be a good Project Manager – first the skills for the “project” part like organizing and prioritizing skills (these are crucial), analytical thinking, ability to say “no”, to be assertive, then the “management” part of the skills like the ability to lead a team, to solve conflicts, to efficiently split resources and tasks among team members to meet deadlines, the ability to motivate your team. Again, think carefully if this is really for you because from now on you start investing the big money and not only your time. And if you get a Project Management certification that is really expensive and don’t use it, then it has all been a waste of time and money.

Step 3: register in a Project Management training to obtain a Project Management certificationFoundations Level. Some good certifications that are accepted all over the world are Prince 2 and PMP. The prices are quite high but they look great in every Project Manager’s CV and can help you get good paid Project Management jobs. The Foundations level for Prince 2 for example costs around 1000 USD/750 Eur. This is the step when you turn professional. You no longer learn and practice Project Management by yourself, but are officially a Project Manager. Try to get involved at the same time in projects to practice what you have learnt.

Step 4: learn how to use Project Management software. You can start with the basic Microsoft Project which is part of the Office Suite. It offers a lot of functionalities from project properties, milestones, resources and budgets. You can create charts of activities, deadlines and resources. Then go online and see what’s available in this field. You will be amazed to see how much this area has developed too in the past years. 

Step 5: get more advanced Project Management certifications. You can try Prince 2 Practitioner to start with. Of course all these certifications need to be combined with practice on the job. Information on the Project Management certifications can be found online so I will not get too much into details.

So now, all I can do is hope that my article has helped you decide whether Project Management is really for you. It’s a specialized job that requires years to become really good and remember that a single course of two days in Project Management basics is not enough to give you confidence to apply to such a serious position.

Take care,
Geo

Also read: