This week we are attending the annual conference of the Society of Human Resources – the Lollapalooza of HR, if you will. We’re hitting the sessions to learn the inside scoop about the employer side of recruitment and employee engagement and pass them on to you, the job seeker. If you’re on Twitter, you can see the latest if you follow #shrm10 or #cbshrm10. Here are some of the things we learned today.
What can Kennedy and Gore teach us about work?
First up this morning, I hit the keynote speech with Al Gore. Before the former Veep came out, we were treated to a surprise guest, Edward Kennedy Jr. The son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy addressed an issue particularly special to him – employing people with disabilities. Kennedy, who lost his leg as a child to bone cancer, shared a startling stat: 2/3 of people with disabilities can’t get jobs. He also said the most important lesson his father taught him was that if you can find common ground with someone, you can solve anything – a lesson that can be applied in any workplace.
Next up, Al Gore, who called himself “the former future President of the United States” and a recovering politician, discussed the importance of diversity in the workplace. It’s not too often that one goes to a conference keynote session and the speaker actually ties in the audience to his or her topic. I thought that would be the case yet again but was pleasantly surprised when the Grammy- and Oscar-winner/ Nobel Prize recipient seamlessly tied his expertise in global warming with trends in HR. His overall lesson: Sustainability and diversity can make a workplace thrive.
Insider interview secrets
As a job seeker, it’s always useful to understand where the hiring manager is coming from. I sat in on a great session moderated by Nancy L. Newell, SPHR with nth degree consulting in from Albuquerque, N.M. Here are some of the things she talked about:
- Interviewing is hard for hiring managers, too. These folks are responsible for determining in a very short amount of time if a virtual stranger is going to be a good fit for the job, company culture and co-workers.
- What’s more, employers think job seekers are pretty dang smart. They know job seekers are more savvy than ever before and know how to look good to hiring managers … the caveat, Newell said, is that there’s a difference between giving a textbook answer and showing that you’re the best candidate. The stakes are higher for employers and recruiting is more crucial than ever. Companies need their workers to do more with less in this economy and are expecting more from these smarter candidates.
- Search for a company’s interview questions online. If you have an interview with a large company, there’s a good chance you can find some of their favorite interview questions online and the types of answers they’re expecting. I’m not suggesting you completely lift the answers, but use them as a guide for crafting your own responses.
- Be prepared for: “Tell me about a time when…” vs. “What would you do?” Newell told recruiters that past performance is predictor of future behavior. They should be looking at what the candidate did instead of what they would do. Be able to tell employers about your successes.
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Although I personally think this is a great idea, since I love dogs, I can see how take your dog to work day might raise some office controversy for the canine-aversive. As someone with a serious cat allergy, if there was such thing as annual Take Your Cat to Work Day, I would call in sick on that day every year. Yet despite any potential employee opposition, an increasing number of companies are making it policy to allow animals in the workplace — and not just once-a-year.
According to a 2008 survey by The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 17 percent of businesses in the United States allow pets in the workplace. Indeed, large companies like Google, The Jim Henson Company, Dell, Clif Bar, Athleta Clothing, Smith & Hawken, DraftFCB and Amazon.com are all dog-friendly.
TheWorkBuzz wanted to see what employees thought about pets in the workplace, so we talked to a bunch of workers at companies with animal friendly policies — whether those policies exist just for today, or all year round. Here’s what they had to say:
“We got a puppy in December and bring him to work every day. It’s really improved morale and socialization in our office. The dog reminds us to have fun and take a break to play ball or give a treat. One of my staffers told me that he’s one of her favorite things about the office. We call him our chief puppy officer!” — Michelle Madhok, CEO, SheFinds.com
“Allowing employees to bring their dogs to work is great for morale, retention, and is a reminder of our start-up roots.” — Collin Bass, public relations associate, UShip
“We welcome dogs and cats and, although we have had our share of chewed computer speaker wires and unplanned carpet cleanings, it is very positive for the employees who bring in their pets and those who are interacting with our pets. We employ 20 disabled adults through a local non-profit group who work at our facility packaging healthy dog treats. The office dogs give our diverse workforce unconditional love and delight them with their tricks and shameless begging.” –Rebecca Rose, CEO, InClover Pet Supplements
“For my company, every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day. It just wouldn’t be the same without Sandy, my golden retriever, at my feet. Sandy is so well-behaved that I’m not concerned about doing conference calls with her here–she seems to consider it rude to bark indoors. For me, Take Your Dog to Work Day is a good idea every day.” — Mellanie True Hills, CEO, StopAFib.org
“We work really hard during the week and each Friday many of our producers, developers and other staff members bring their dogs to work. Allowing dogs in the office one day a week has been a great program for the company – and it’s a nice to have some furry friends around our very busy, hard working, deadline driven environment once a week!” — Carrie Peters, Smashing Ideas Digital Media
“I love the concept of taking your dog to work and know it is fraught with challenges. I once worked for a PR firm with offices in Emeryville, California (near Berkeley) that had a dog-friendly office. It was a great idea, and having dogs in the office did a lot for creating a family and friendly atmosphere. The real challenge is that you have to interview the dogs who come to work as well as their masters. The concept of bringing your dog to work is great, assuming the dog is well behaved and the master is willing to take responsibility.” –Tom Woolfe, Woolfe Media
“OtterBox is participating in take your dog to work day with “Otter Barks” day! We are celebrating with our furry friends while giving back to a great local organization, the Animal House Dog Shelter in Fort Collins, Colo. Each person bringing a dog will make a $10 donation and all proceeds will be given to the Animal House Dog Shelter.” — Kristin Golliher, public relations manager, OtterBox
“We’re a graphic design firm and [our office dog] is a full member of our company. Every member of our staff loves her. She’s even listed on our ‘Meet Our Staff’ page.” — Brian Law, president, Prime Design Solutions
Based on the responses we received, it seems like the overall reaction to animals at work is positive, but what do you think? Let us know in the comments section.
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If you were reading the Twitter messages of actress Amanda Bynes on June 19 — and why wouldn’t you be? — you read the following:
I know 24 is a young age to retire but you heard it here first I’ve #retired
Retiring at 24 seems hasty to me. Bynes, whose roles include Nickelodeon’s “All That” and the feature film “What a Girl Wants,” might stick to her word and stay out of the film industry for the rest of her life. After all, at her age and with her (presumed) wealth, she has the chance to pursue many other opportunities. Still, if you’re in your 30s, think about the decisions you made in your 20s. Chances are they weren’t always wise decisions. After all, Bynes did announce her retirement under the Twitter handle Chicky, which sounds like a name she might rethink when she’s older.
Time will tell if Bynes can resist the lure of the industry forever.
If she decides to backtrack on her plans, she’ll be in good company. Many celebrities have announced their retirement only to revive their careers shortly after. You can’t blame someone for realizing that life isn’t as exciting when they’re not doing the thing they love the most. However, celebrity retirements and unretirements are interesting to compare to the professional exits of your regular, everyday worker. Many people worry that they won’t have enough money to retire. Others push off retirement for several reasons. Perhaps they don’t want to spend their days on hobbies and want to stay in the field, so they switch to part-time or contractor status. Many employers ask their would-be retirees to stay on at the company until the new batch of workers has the knowledge and skill to replace them. And many retirees who like their quiet time at home don’t want their spouses ruining their golden years, so they don’t allow them to completely retire.
Here is a list of notable retirements that didn’t last very long.
After an unprecedented boxing career, Muhammad Ali retired in 1979. The man had beaten virtually every boxer in the world at that point, so it made sense to go out on a high note. However, the next year he decided to fight Larry Holmes and another year later to take on Trevor Berbick before finally retiring for good.
File this retirement under TBD. Last year Lily Allen wrote in a blog post that she wouldn’t record another album. She also decided to give up social media, which meant pausing her MySpace page and Twitter account. Then she came back to Twitter earlier this year and has composed new music for other projects since, in addition to appearing at awards shows. She says she still won’t be writing and recording music for albums that she plans to release herself, so this might be the promise of a pseudo-retirement that she keeps.
In the 1990s, Garth Brooks managed to make country music palatable for an audience that often dismissed it as a lesser genre. He sold records and concert tickets at historic rates and then decided to retire in 2000. He decided to walk away from touring and releasing new albums until his youngest daughter was 18. Aside from a performing a few charity shows and releasing box sets of older material, Brooks kept his promise. Last year he announced his return to live shows by doing a residency in Las Vegas. He’s neither touring nor making a new album, so he’s only somewhat out of retirement. For now.
In March 2008, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre announced his retirementafter 17 years in football. During that summer, Favre gave interviews suggesting he would be returning to football the following season, and, after some turbulent discussions, he was traded to the New York Jets. Following a short stint with the team, he moved to the Minnesota Vikings. Talk of retirement surfaced again earlier this year, so his future remains to be seen.
When one of the most famous rappers of all time announced his retirement with the release of 2003’s The Black Album, people scoffed. Sure, Jay-Z would be going out on top with a career spanning eight albums and hits, not to mention critical praise and millions of fans. Plus, a year later he was named president of Def Jam Records. So Jay-Z didn’t need to work, but in late 2006 he released a new album and has only gained popularity since. In fairness to Jay-Z, he told Entertainment Weekly, “It was the worst retirement, maybe, in history.”
Few athletes have the iconic status of former Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan. For that reason, Jordan’s retirement on October 6, 1993 was watched by everyone. Unsurprisingly, his return to the Bulls was watched just as closely less than two years later. After deciding to retire one more time from the game in 1999, Jordan said he was 99.9 percent sure he wouldn’t play another NBA game. Of course, that pesky 0.1 percent pulled him from retirement in 2001 when he decided to join the Washington Wizards. He retired once again in 2003, so this one might be the retirement that actually sticks.
When Frank Sinatra announced his retirement in 1970, he was already a legend. With his Rat Pack days and a series of memorable songs behind him, he could’ve stepped out of the limelight and still be considered an icon today. However, in 1973, he decided three years of retirement was enough and returned to music with “Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back.” He continued to record for the next three decades. In 1980 he recorded a rendition of “Theme from New York, New York,” which went on to become a signature song and a staple of New York City’s soundtrack. Maybe coming out of retirement was good for him (and the Yankees) after all.
So, will your retirement be a done deal or do you think you’ll be tempted to return to work? Any other celebs whose unretirement we forgot to include?
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We finish up our trot around these 50 states (and one district) with a look at the companies hiring in the Western region of the U.S. We picked a couple of positions from each state. You can click on the job title to see the posting, on the company name to see other openings or on the state name to see state-wide postings.
So get your finger ready to click away!
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Workplaces are not new. They’ve been around forever, figuratively speaking. Yet, thanks to evolving technology, employees and bosses continue to find new controversies to settle. Twitter, e-mails, blogs, etc. They’ve all caused headaches and lawsuits. The latest kerfuffle has gone all the way to the Supreme Court, and it could change the way some workers think about workplace privacy.
In City of Ontario v. Quon, Jeff Quon, a police sergeant in Ontario, Calif., had the text messages on his company-provided cell phone audited by the city and claimed he had a right to privacy. A lower court agreed and said he had the right to file suit, but the Supreme Court ruled otherwise.
According to NPR:
A review of the transcripts revealed messages between Quon and his wife, Jerilyn, from whom he was estranged. He also exchanged intimate texts with his girlfriend, April Florio, another police department employee.
Internal affairs investigators pulled two months of transcripts and concluded that of 456 messages Quon sent or received during work hours in August 2002, no more than 57 were related to his job.
Ontario police officers had been put on notice that their e-mail messages and texts could be subject to oversight by department supervisors.
For an overview of the case, you can head over to ScotusWiki and read the details of the case. In a unanimous decision, the court decided, that Quon had no reasonable expectation of privacy in this particular case and that the city did not violate his constitutional rights. The court also made clear that it did not mean workers have no right to privacy with regard to workplace communications. In other words, this case isn’t quite as far reaching as it could have been. And since I’m no legal scholar, I won’t hypothesize about what it could mean for us beyond what the court ruled.
Still, the case is worth thinking about as an employee. If you have a company-provided pager (or cell phone as it probably is in most professions), should you expect that anything you write during the workday is private? Does that mentality extend to how you correspond via work e-mail? Do you think employers should be able to audit your correspondence if they want or only if it directly relates to an issue where your messages are pivotal to the outcome? Do you agree with the Supreme Court in this case?
Let us know what you think.
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What do you think about these recent termination stories? Let us know in the comments section.
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Whether you’re a recent grad or a career changer, there’s a common catch-22 that comes with embarking on a new occupation: You can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job.
How many of us have said, “I’ve got the brains and the know-how, I just need the chance to prove it and start building my experience”? Today our guest blogger Wendy N. Powell, author of “Management Experience Acquired: Necessary Skills for Successfully Managing Any Employee” (Synergy Books, May 2010), tackles this nagging issue. Powell has spent more than 20 years of her career advising managers at the University of Michigan and is currently on the business faculty at Palm Beach State College and the University of Phoenix. Here’s her advice for this common conundrum:
When you need experience to get experience
By Wendy N. Powell, author of “Management Experience Acquired: Necessary Skills for Successfully Managing Any Employee”
One of the most common questions from job candidates is “How can I get experience when jobs require experience?” Overcoming this “career catch-22,” however, is within your reach; the key is preparation. Here are some tips to land a job without experience, whether you are a new grad or changing careers.
1. Evaluate yourself
Are you truly ready to search for a job or do you need to spend time catching up on current work trends? Perform a critical and honest personal audit of your style and skills. Think about the type of employee you want to be and list the qualities that come to mind. This list will help you discover any issues that you need to work on prior to your pursuit of a job. Once you have addressed these issues, you will move ahead with your search with more confidence. To employers, confidence translates to readiness for the job.
2. Stay current
The good news for new grads is that many hiring managers place considerable importance on current learning experiences. Because conditions change and techniques evolve, a recently conferred degree often holds more weight than a degree received years ago. If you have contemporary learning experiences that relate to what the company needs, explain what you have learned and how you can apply that knowledge to their company.
The bad news for career-changers is that earning a degree doesn’t mean you get to stop learning! Always read about the current issues in the profession(s) of your choice and have a plan in case your present career choice doesn’t work out. You might even consider taking classes at a local college to learn new methods and technologies. If you keep abreast of modern business practices in your desired field, you will be well-prepared to describe how your experiences will contribute to the success of an employer.
3. Do your homework
As you should do in any job hunt, research the company and identify the specific requirements for the position in which you are interested. Before you submit your résumé for a job, find out what the company does and how they do it. Once you understand this information, you will be better able to relate and apply your knowledge and experience from school or a different field of work to the needs of the company.
4. Find a role model
Choose someone whom you admire at work or school and ask that person for guidance in modeling your chosen professional behaviors. Most people will be pleased and willing to help, as imitation is flattery. Emulate the employee you want to be and be ready to demonstrate these traits in searching for a job.
Use this experience as preparation to respond to behavioral questions in the interview process. Employers ask questions such as, “What would you do in these circumstances?” and “What have you done when this type of situation has happened in your workplace?” With prior consideration and the example set by your mentor, your responses will be well-practiced and sharp.
5. Donate your time
Yes, I am suggesting you work for free. No, I am not suggesting you quit school or your current job to do so. Plenty of companies, nonprofits in particular, are more than happy to accept the free labor of someone without copious amounts of related experience. Are you an accountant hoping to break into advertising? Volunteer a few evenings a week to put together a small campaign for a local charity. Unfortunately, new grads often don’t have an income to support them while they search for a job. Sometimes, it might be beneficial in the long run to take a position short of your dream job while you earn valuable experience in an internship or volunteer position.
Don’t forget, the selection process is a place for you to shine. Be ready to explain why you are the best candidate for the job, whether it is a career change or a new business endeavor. You may not have the job experience, but you can still demonstrate to the boss that you are ready to do the work. Be the job candidate the company can’t refuse to hire.
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Chicago is still riding high on the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup win. The team has been all over the news, parties haven’t stopped since Wednesday night, and at this very moment, there is a parade in the team’s honor taking place downtown. Imagine if people got this excited when you did your job well.
Since the Stanley Cup marks the official end of the hockey season, here’s a look at what the top 10 11 highest paid players made during the 2009-2010 season.
1. Vincent Lecavalier
Team: Tampa Bay
2009-2010 Salary: $10 million*
2. Sidney Crosby
2009-2010 Salary: $9 million
3. Evgeni Malkin
2009-2010 Salary: $9 million
4. Alex Ovechkin
2009-2010 Salary: $9 million
5. Chris Drury
Team: New York Rangers
2009-2010 Salary: $8.05 million
6. Daniel Briere
2009-2010 Salary: $8 million
7. Scott Gomez
2009-2010 Salary: $8 million
8. Dany Heatley
Team: San Jose
2009-2010 Salary: $8 million
9. Wade Redden
Team: New York Rangers
2009-2010 Salary: $8 million
10. Jason Spezza
2009-2010 Salary: $8 million
And one for good luck next season:
11. Marian Hossa
2009-2010 Salary: $7.9 million
*Salary information provided by CBS Sports
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After seasons of watching as the stars of MTV reality shows like “The Hills” and “The City” flit from one dream-job to the next like the job market is their shopping mall (they even get jobs when they bomb their interviews — à la Stephanie Pratt circa 2009), MTV took a true reality-check and decided to document what it’s really like for new graduates trying to land entry-level dream jobs in the current economy.
The show, called “Hired,” made its debut in mid-May; since then we’ve seen hundreds of hopefuls vie for positions at companies like Steve Madden, VaynerMedia, Blowfish Shoes, American Rebel Public Relations and David Barton Gym.
As expected, the show is a mixture of success and failure — while some of the interviewees knock it out of the park, others make rookie mistakes. It can’t hurt to watch the series if you’re a new grad or unemployed; however, if you can’t pry your eyes away from those job-postings, below is a recap of some of the best and worst interview moments.
Rookie mistake: In episode 1, a new graduate brings in a large, impressive looking portfolio of work — except most of it was done in a college public relations class. The portfolio proves irrelevant to the job opening and a waste of time to the interviewer, leading him to remark “It’s like opening Pandora’s Box and finding a turd in there.”
How to fix it: If you have relevant work or internship experience, or if you wrote for your college newspaper, a portfolio can be a great way to supplement your application and prove you have talent. However, while a portfolio is great if you have one, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. Hiring managers don’t expect new graduates to have tons of work examples. If you only have one or two relevant pieces, there’s no need to create an entire portfolio — just bring the examples in a folder with your other application materials. Then, focus your energy on creating a killer résumé and cover letter.
Homerun: In the episode featuring Blowfish shoes, the final interview candidates are asked to make a sales pitch about one of the company’s “classic” shoe styles. While all of the interviewees seemed moderately prepared, one girl went straight over to the company’s signature shoe and gave an accurate, confident presentation — and landed the job.
Why it worked: A rule of thumb for all interviews: you can never be too prepared. Companies often ask candidates to prove their skills by completing a project or presentation as part of the interview process. Sometimes the assignment will be given before the interview, while other times candidates will be asked to perform on the spot, like in the interviews with Blowfish shoes.
Before any interview, study the company’s website and press releases, and do a search for the company both on the web and in recent news. That way, no matter what is asked of you, you will be ready.
Rookie Mistake: In one episode, an interviewee handed a pink résumé to the recruiter. If you’ve seen “Legally Blonde,” you probably know what comes next. The recruiter asked the candidate “is it scented, too?”
How to fix it: Just because Elle Woods peddled a pink, scented résumé in her search for a law internship doesn’t mean it’s acceptable in real life. Résumés should be professional, easy to read and consistently formatted. A résumé is a “straight to the point” document, and not the right place to demonstrate your creative flair or favorite color.
Homerun: Aspiring shoe designer Courtney impressed footwear-mogul Steve Madden by wearing shoes that she designed to the interview. Madden said he liked that Courtney showed “a little ego” by wearing her own shoes, and gave her the job.
Why it worked: While you don’t want to show too much ego, confidence is key in landing any job. Employers want to hire candidates that are self-assured and confident in their skill set and abilities. To ensure you put your best foot forward, recite a confidence-boosting mantra before going into the interview. For example: “I’m here because I am a qualified applicant. I’ve had two successful internships, and killer recommendation letters to prove it. This employer would be lucky to have me.”
Have you seen “Hired?” What do you think about the candidates?
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