What Do HR People Do Every Day? Part 1 of 4 – Entry Level Jobs

As I have noticed a large interest in my article “Again…What Does HR Do Every Day?”, this also raising some controversial comments from readers who had had unpleasant experiences with unprofessional HR people, I have decided to prepare for you a series of 4 articles with more detailed information concerning HR jobs. 

This article presents main HR entry level jobs (up to 2 years of experience) – position name and main responsibilities as they appear on large recruitment websites and as they have been posted by large companies seeking for HR professionals. 

The list of responsibilities includes only those responsibilities valid for most open positions – I have tried to delete those that are specific to only one company. The idea is for you to understand that HR people actually are not all spies (as it has been suggested by some readers) and that compenies pay them to do real HR duties for their staff.

Junior Recruiter (area of expertise: recruitment and selection of new hires, either on new openings or back fills):
-          Build strong relationships with hiring managers, understanding recruitment needs;
-          Gather information on candidates, industry and market trends;
-         Select appropriate recruitment channels for optimum results to make sure that positions are covered within deadlines;
-          Recruit, screen, interview candidates and present the best to the hiring managers for final decision;
-          Prepare recruitment reports;
-          Plan and organize recruitment events (job fairs, presentations, workshops);
-          Create and negotiate candidate offers;
-      Administrative tasks: schedule candidates for interview, archive applications and tests, update recruitment database (candidates, feedback);
-          Provide background checks of candidates;
-          Offer feedback to all candidates that have been contacted;
-          Adhere to the recruitment policies and procedures at all stages of recruiting and hiring;
-      Proactive recruitment plan implementation – having candidates ready to be hired in advance;

HR Generalist (area of expertise: most HR areas, responsible for recruitment partially, administration of paperwork, legal aspects, payroll, training, a bit of everything; the HR Generalist is present mostly in smaller companies where one HR person does most of the HR duties):
-          Post job openings, review and interview candidates, offer support to hiring managers;
-          Present job offers to selected candidates;
-     Manage employee hiring paperwork (contract and other items requested by legal authorities);
-          Manage employee personal files;
-          Coordination of performance evaluations;
-          Set up training classes and workshops for employees;
-          Enter payroll information;
-          Conduct new employee orientation;
-          Administer corporate policies and procedures as well as local ones;
-          Administer employee benefit plans;
-          Prepare requested reporting;
-          Conduct off-boarding process for employees that are leaving the company;
-          Prepare employee communication campaigns;
-         Serve as primary contact and resource for employees and managers to address HR issues;

Compensation & Benefits Assistant (area of expertise: compensation and benefits, administration of main benefits that are offered to employees mandatory by law or optional; assist with the creation of benefits plans, suggesting additional benefits to engage employees to the Comp & Ben Manager):
-        Administration of employee benefits programs, such as medical, vision and dental, life, accident, disability, investments and savings, meal tickets, fitness subscriptions, movie subscriptions, glasses, company cars, other;
-     Maintain benefit plan eligibility systems and records and check them for accuracy, completeness, and compliance with administrative guidelines and company policies;
-          Serve as the initial contact for basic benefit questions from employees;
-          Comp & Ben reporting;
-          Prepare Comp & Ben communications for employees;

Payroll Administrator (area of expertise: payroll and all activities connected to paying salaries to the employees; sometimes responsible for only part of the employees, not having access to all salaries especially those of managers due to confidentiality reasons):
-   Data entry of all employee changes into payroll system – new hires, leavers, salary and position changes, type of contract (part or full time), other;
-      Files and maintains personnel and I-9 records to ensure all records are complete, accurate, and compliant to company, local, state, and federal regulations;
-       New hire and payroll related reports;
-      Reviews Audit reports to ensure changes were made and payroll is accurate before it is final;
-        Records sick, personal, and vacation time on payroll records;
-        Receives and processes child support deductions and garnishments;
-        Records night shift and week-end shift bonuses, cash advances, any other detail impacting salaries;
-      Communicates with employees to explain payroll details, replies to employee queries related to payroll;

Junior Trainer / Training Assistant (area of expertise: employee trainings, seminars, workshops):
-          Assists in tracking staff attendance at training;
-          Serves as back up to Training Specialist by assisting in identifying staff in need of training; scheduling of training and creation of class rosters; tracking training cancellations and reporting rosters to HR;
-          Assists department supervisors with questions related to scheduling staff/training;
-          Creates newsletters for employees related to training news;
-          Assists in maintaining training library (books, visual materials);
-          Manages training feedback from participants;
-          Assists with maintaining training room equipment/supplies;
-    Assists with development/revision of training handouts/materials and Power Point presentations, internal and external monthly training calendars;
-          Assists with revision of training curricula;
-          Assists with scheduling, greeting and preparing equipment for external trainers;

I hope you are starting to get a clear idea of what HR is really about. I will be back next week with the second part (out of 4) of the series – experienced (non-manager) jobs.

Take care,


Why Being the Best at a Job Interview Doesn’t Always Mean Success

Have you ever been invited to a job interview and after that you went home confident that all was great and that the job was yours? Have you been so confident that you knew all the details they asked for and that you went with your friends to town to celebrate before the company even called you back for a feedback? Have you been so well prepared for all the questions and you did so well that you were sure you blew their mind with your knowledge? Have you been so sure you were the right candidate; the one and only, that you had the best skills, the best knowledge, the best attitude, and the best of the best?

Did they call you later to tell you that you were rejected, the whole world crushed around you and you simply didn’t understand why no matter how hard you tried to figure it out? Well, here are some possible reasons (I am talking only about professional reasons, not silly and unethical reasons like they hired someone’s friend or relative instead):

-          Sad as it may be, you simply weren’t the best as you expected – there was another candidate just a little better; what can you do – simply ask what you could have improved and do it; some recruiters will tell you;

-          You were the best, but the team manager didn’t see you as part of their team – being the best individual doesn’t always mean that the candidate is right for the team – each team manager investigates candidate’s skills to see if they would work well with the rest of the people in the team – no matter how great you are, not working well with the existing team can mean project failure;

-          They found out some information about you that they didn’t find suitable or that damaged your image – did you check all the profiles and comments that you have made public on LinkedIn or other similar networks? Did you check all the photos that you have available on Facebook? Did you do a simple Google search with your name as keywords to see what comes up? Did you ever think that your picture from the seaside 4 years ago that you placed online, picture where you were happy to show your friends how drunk you were after drinking 6 bottles might be available and might affect your credibility?

-          Have you been a good employee in all your previous jobs? Did you know that HR people know each other most of the times and can ask for unofficial information about your performance, behavior, attitude, team work, loyalty and so on? Sometimes labor law requires that the candidate is informed when background checks are done, but let’s be honest, if you had a friend in another company and wanted information about something happening there, wouldn’t you just ask unofficially? Just between friends? Well, HR people do that, just between friends and sometimes find out interesting information about candidates; so you must be really careful as the past can haunt you;

-          They have some hidden selection criteria that they are not allowed (by law most of the times as this is considered discrimination) to publish, but which unfortunately exist – what I mean, they need to hire a man instead of a woman or the other way around (for example you will be selling lip gloss, you are a great salesman, but they think a woman would make better connections with their target audience), they have a specific age range in mind, they don’t want a mother with children as she is not available to do overtime and they want someone willing to do that, they prefer someone single who can travel a lot (even if you say you are available, being married and traveling all the time may affect your relationship and at some point you may quit and they don’t need that after they have invested in you) and other similar ones;

-          You have some specific features that they would like to avoid due to some previous negative experiences they had with similar candidates – for example – we were searching at some point for our help desk team French speaking candidates; we found some great ones that had French teaching as previous professional background; we hired a few and after a short while most of them decided to leave as they considered the job too demanding and below their professional level. This was a mistake from our side as we didn’t check their motivation thoroughly enough and we offered them just because they were the best French speakers. We found out that teachers most of the times have a much less demanding job in school than French speakers in a help desk center dealing with angry customers all the time, that they have 3 months of vacation during summer which was not the case in our company, that they had the respect of their students while our clients would be always angry and treat them badly. All this made us think really well if we wanted to hire another teacher again, no matter how great their French was.  Do you understand my point?

I hope that my article will help you choose the positions you apply for wisely. Make sure that you really want the position and make sure that you are really well informed and ready for what is expecting you.

Take care,



What Is Headhunting? Beginner’s Guide…

Most of you have probably heard about this term. It’s actually not new in recruitment. Headhunting has been used for several years now and sometimes successfully. But did you know that headhunting is not accessible to all recruiters, that some hate doing it and that you need some special skills (similar to those used by sales people) to actually be successful? Did you also know that not all candidates are on the list of headhunters?
Well, in this article I will tell you about headhunting from scratch – my goal is for every potential candidate to be able to identify headhunting when they are facing it. In order to do that I have decided to reply to a few common questions about headhunting for you to get an idea:

1.       What is headhunting?
Headhunting is a form of recruitment and selection where the recruiter finds the contact details of a specific candidate that has some specific skills and contacts him/her in order to convince him/her to participate in the recruitment process. Headhunting doesn’t mean that the recruiter is calling you to make an offer. Just to convince you to participate in the process. They may have liked your CV, but they need to test you, so don’t be super excited. However, if they have called you without you applying for the job, your chances for the job (considering that you do have the skills you mention in your CV), are higher than those of some other regular candidates that applied directly. Headhunting means that the recruiter has done some research concerning you and that they are interested in your knowledge and experience. So, is them calling you a good thing? Of course… if they are interested, it means you are able to have higher demands.

2.       Why do recruiters do it and when?
Recruiters normally use headhunting when they have listed a certain position on the market and nobody interesting applied, when they are looking for certain skills and don’t want to waste their time placing ads that useless candidates would apply to, when a certain position is rather confidential and they don’t want to list it publicly on the market or simply when filling a position is critical and needs to be done fast and they don’t have the time to wait for candidates to apply.

3.       Who is usually on the list of headhunters?
Not everybody of course – just those candidates that have special skills, employees from the competition most of the times. If you are a fresh graduate, don’t wait for recruiters to call you because they won’t. Apply yourself and hope to be called later when you get those special skills they need.

4.       What skills does a headhunter need in order to be successful?
As I said earlier, not all HR people can be headhunters. You need to have some skills similar to those of sales people:
·         you must be tough and don’t take rejections personally (this time the candidate is rejecting you as a company not the other way around);
·         you must have a vivid imagination concerning how to get contact details (candidate’s email and phone number don’t just sit there waiting to be discovered – you must search the internet, call people you know that may know the candidate you are interested in, sometimes invent stories over the phone or email – believable and professional stories - to get to the ones you are interested in);
·         you must be persuasive (to convince the candidate to accept to come meet you or the hiring manager);
·         you must be shrewd sometimes – I told you earlier that sometimes you have no idea how to contact someone; that someone may be a key resource of a competitor, a manager or who knows what important person that won’t just give their contact details to just anyone; you must have believable stories for their secretary, their colleagues who may be answering the phone; sometimes you have to lie, to invent details and all just to get some contacts. If you feel you’re not up to it, just give up;
·         you must be fast – sometimes there may be other headhunters interested in the same candidate – you must be there first;

5.       How should a candidate behave if approached by a headhunter?
Nothing special. If they are interested in the position – ask questions and agree to come to the meeting; if not, simply thank the recruiter for the call or email and explain that they are not interested either at the moment or at all. If some specific project is not allowing you to change jobs right now, it’s fine to accept that the recruiter keeps your CV for later use. You don’t have to be suspicious and ask questions like “Where did you get my phone number?” or “Who gave you permission to call me?” This will only look bad. Just be polite as you may never know what great position they may be offering you in the future.

6.       Is headhunting illegal?
Well, it depends on what the recruiter does with your contact information which should be confidential and protected by law. If they don’t make it public and just use it to contact you while explaining how they got it and what they need from you, then it’s fine. Making headhunting illegal or not depends on how professional the headhunter is.

7.       Where do headhunters find your contact data? Are you allowed to ask how they did it?
First of all, yes, you are allowed to ask. Just be natural and open if you really care so much how they got it. In terms of where they get the data, there are several sources – they may be a connection you had not noticed on LinkedIn, Facebook or other social network, they may have your details from one of their contacts who knows you, they may have bought it from job portals who allow recruiters to unlock your CV after paying a certain amount of money, they may have found it online somewhere if you have a personal website or are a public person, you may have applied at some point in your career to the company they work for and have forgotten since, or you may have applied to some position in another company they worked for and they have saved your contact details just in case (this one is a bit on the edge of illegal, but it’s possible), they may have told someone that knows you a story and convinced them to give them your details, you may have exchanged business cards at some meeting you no longer remember – the possibilities are multiple and they only depend on the imagination of the headhunter;

8.       What are the risks of headhunting?
For the candidate there’s the risk of being heard by someone while answering the phone and accepting to meet a headhunter. So if someone calls you and they tell you they are interested in your CV, just ask them to call you back if you can’t speak and are really interested in finding out more. For the headhunter the main risk is that the candidate rejects the proposal and that the position doesn’t get filled in on time – this is just time wasted. There’s also someone else at risk – the company the headhunter works for – if the candidate is being part of a headhunting process, they may get the idea that they are highly desirable (which is true) and ask for more money than the company intended to pay or can afford.

All in all, is headhunting a misleading black practice? Well, not really. It may be perceived so because headhunters must sometimes turn to almost illegal ways to contact candidates. However, headhunting proves sometimes even more efficient for both the company and the candidates than regular recruitment and selection. Headhunting must be taken as it is and must be practiced in a professional manner.

Take care,

*** Video version of this article available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKel3cQ4INs&feature=youtu.be