As of December 2014, the national unemployment rate is 5.6%. That is a decline of 1.1 percentage points from December 2013. This is good news and a sign that things are headed in the right direction. As the unemployed and under employed vow to make 2015 the year of change as it relates to their career or job situation, there is one thing everyone should think about. Relocation.
There is a huge misconception surrounding work performance that I would like to clear up. As employees we have been led to think performance management is something that others do for us. This approach has left employees at the mercy of managers when it comes to salary increases, advancement opportunities and overall job satisfaction. However you should know, with a little effort on your part, you can take control of your career and ultimately land the position and salary that you deserve.
What do you want is a simple question. Yet in my profession of human resources development, I have found it to be a complex question for people to answer. These four words manage to stump many. It is something that you may have thought about ten times over. But have you thought about it enough to be able to articulate it with accuracy?
The business world is thriving. The global economy is here to stay. Couple that with technological advancements which runs through a life cycle within the blink of an eye, employers must be creative in the effort to stay on top. Companies such as Apple has demonstrated the ebbs and flows of business and the art of survival. We all sat by and watched Apple nearly fall flat only to resuscitate and become one of the most relevant businesses of all time.
Believe or not there is a strategy behind this incredible comeback which can be used by not only larger employers but employees as well. This may sound strange to some because most people think of successful brands as larger than life but they are much like humans because they are managed by humans. Continue reading
Second Order of Business: Knock the Interview Out of the Park
So you got the call! The hiring manager will like to meet with you. That’s exciting. You have positioned yourself well and now you have transitioned from the applicant to the candidate category. This is good news but you still have work to do. Being interviewed for a position can be nerve wrecking but it does not have to be. While you can never be too sure of yourself, there are some steps you can take to improve your odds of leaving a lasting impression.
Depending on the skill of the interviewer, you may be a victim of some biases but you have some level of control over this. The name of the game in this phase is “knock it out the park”. That’s the agenda. In order to do so successfully you must be on point. Below are my suggestions to overcoming common the mistakes of mist interviewees.
In this age of technology, preparing for an interview is easier than ever. The internet has placed the world at our fingertips. A simple search can reveal valuable information about a business such as the company’s mission, values, structure and lines of business. Study this information. It is highly probable that you will be asked questions about your knowledge of the company. Your ability to respond appropriately will demonstrate to the interviewer how serious you are about joining the team.
Your second task is to research possible interview questions. Again, you can find this information on the internet. It is as simple as typing a question in Google. For example, if you are being considered for a project management job, you can conduct a Google search on “Project management interview questions” and countless sites will load. Click on them. Copy the questions and then answer them. Although the interviewer may not ask you the same questions precisely, more than likely you will be ask something similar. Again, your ability to respond will make a difference.
Another exercise you can do is put on the interviewer’s hat. Ask yourself, if I was conducting the interview what will I ask the candidate. In order to use this tool, you must be familiar with the job and what it takes to be successful at it. In other words, this option works best for those with considerable experience in the field for which they are interviewing. If you chose this route, make sure your prep questions are job related. Remember the purpose of the interview is to determine the knowledge and skills of the individual and then determine if the candidate is a good fit for the company or the department.
First Things First: Get Your Foot in the Door
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate was 6.7% as of February 2014. Although this is a 1% decrease from a year ago, there is very little sign of significant improvement. Some states reported rates as high as 8.7%. These numbers do not reflect the millions of Americans who are underemployed; defines as those who work part-time jobs or jobs outside of their field of expertise due to lack of openings, or the discouraged workers; those who have given up on the job search because they believe there are no jobs available.
If you are in any of the above categories or if you are employed but is in search of a better opportunity, I don’t need to tell you about the stiff competition out there for a limited number of job openings. This may seem like a grim situation, but you can increase your chances of landing the job you really want. It may take some change on your part but if you are serious about your job search it will be well worth it. Before you even think about expressing an interest in a job posting, you should consider these three things.
As a Human Resources Manager, I am often asked about how to transition to a new career field or how to move up from one’s current position. Ironically, I am asked this question primarily by new hires and employees who haven’t done much to stand out in their current field. It is not uncommon for a new hire to sit in orientation and be concerned with nothing other than how to land a job different from the one he or she was selected to fill. Or for a current employee to throw their name in the hat for a position he or she is clearly not qualified to perform. While this can be frustrating, it tells me one thing, and that is, the workforce is gaining confidence. Although this brings joy to my heart, it also tells me the art of gaining a promotion is lost.
I understand times have changed and patience is no longer considered a virtue especially since young adults are acquiring success much sooner than generations before them. However, if you want to be taken seriously when seeking advancement, it is important for you to charter your path carefully. If you are interested in taking your career to the next level, here are 6 simple steps to assist in this endeavor.
1. Perform your best and seek leadership opportunities in your current position
Performance is key. The best predictor of future performance is past and current performance. With that being said, the best way to convince someone that you can handle new responsibilities is to first excel in the job you were hired to do then take it a step further. Take the initiative. Shine a light on your “underutilized” talents you think will be of value to the company or department by volunteering for special projects. By doing so, you will gain new experiences and hopefully gain the attention of someone who can help you advance to the next level. However, don’t be dismayed if no one takes notice. Continue to do what you are doing. The extra or new experience will prove to be invaluable later on down the path. Also, don’t be overly concerned about being compensated for the additional work you are doing. The goal is to increase your skill set and improve your performance.
2. Speak with your Manager about opportunities to train in other departments outside of your work schedule
The purposes here is number one, exposure and number two, learn as much as possible about other facets of the business. No one department operates independently. Each business unit depends on each other (rather directly or indirectly). Understanding how the pieces work together will give you a leg up. This knowledge can assist you with making better decisions in your current position as well as help you make great recommendations to improve products, services and or process. This can ultimately make you the shining star and impossible to be ignored. Not to mention, you may find that you are better suited for a position far greater than the one you are pursuing.
3. Seek feedback from your Manager concerning your performance and try to improve in areas as needed
Don’t be an egghead and don’t assume you are doing a great job just because no one says anything to the contrary. If there is one thing Managers fail to do properly it would be accurately evaluating employee performance on a regular basis. With all that is going on in the department, many Managers do not mention performance until it is appraisal time. That is when you will more likely hear all about what you have done wrong or right throughout the year. And even if your evaluation is “good”, if it is the first time you heard these words from the Manager, all year, take it with a grain of salt. A good report can simply mean you stayed under the radar during the evaluation period or that you performed satisfactory. However this does not mean you are ready for promotion. Traditionally, a promotion means, your performance has exceeded the expectation of your current position and you have taken on some of the responsibilities performed by incumbents of the next level. To get an accurate account of how well you are doing, seek feedback on a regular basis (I would say quarterly), especially if you have been taking on special projects and seeking extra training opportunities as mentioned in steps 1 and 2.
4. Update your resume when you master new skills
(Okay, here is my soap box). Nothing is more irritating than to read a resume that has not been updated. Sourcing applicants is a tedious job for HR professionals especially when there are numerous applicants for limited vacant positions. Nonetheless, most of us actually read through the submissions. And it never fails. There is always a fair share of resumes that makes us stop and wonder; what job is this person applying for? That is the question because what we have before us clearly does not match the job post. If you seeking a promotion and you want to stand out, update your resume each time you master a new skill. Your resume should always be a work in progress. While you may have the skills needed to do the job in question, if you fail to follow this simple step, you may forget all that you have to offer and subsequently cost yourself a shot at advancement.
5. Enroll in courses or programs only if it necessary to advance in your chosen field
Let’s face it. Post secondary education is expensive and may not be necessary for advancement in all professions. If this is the case in your field, thank your lucky stars. Forgo the student loan burden and apply all of the other steps in this post. In this case experience is the name of game. Gain as much of it as you possibly can. If your employer offers some type of education benefit, take full advantage of it. Some companies have their own “university” which offers trainings in career paths valued by the company. Some offer tuition reimbursement as part of the benefit package. Contact your Human Resources Department to inquire further. But at any rate, I suggest that you also stay abreast of what is going on in the industry by joining society groups and subscribing to appropriate literature. If you want to stand out, it won’t hurt to take a continued education class or two. Or you can seek a certification in the field (if a degree is not a prerequisite). Whatever you do, research your options and do what works best for your situation.
6. Apply to open positions (when they become available) and highlight what you have to offer as it relates to helping the department or organization reach its goals/improve its services
If you apply steps one through five, this will be the easiest of them all. That is because by now you are ready. You have sought out new experiences and feedback. You have improved your performance and updated your resume. You know the current best practices in the field and possible expanded your formal education. Now all you have to do is apply for vacant position. If your company has a bidding process, bid on a new job. Let it your interest be known. Familiarize yourself with the company you are applying. Learn about its structure and culture. Then start practicing for your interview. Be sure to highlight you skills and abilities as it relates to the hiring needs. Be patient. I know some things appear to happen overnight but they seldom do. Rome was not built in a day and neither will your career. Trying to acquire something before it is time will only speed up the demise. Remember sustainable growth will always outlast overnight success.
Within a two-week period, Mother Nature managed to shower the metro Atlanta area with a snow and ice storm not once but twice. The Governor of the State of Georgia, Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency advising all citizens to stay off the roadways due to hazardous conditions. Employers from Henry to Hall county were forced to implement its inclement weather procedures as employees proceeded to either leave work early or were unable to report to work for a couple of days as a result of the storm. This left many employees wondering if they would be compensated for the missing time.
As the ice began to melt, many learned their absence will be considered as o my unpaid time off. Others learned that they would have to use their benefit time to cover the absences. On the other hand, “Essential” Personnel (those who were stuck at work for an extended period of time; in some cases two days), learned that they will only be paid for the time in which they actually worked. The question I always get during these times is, “Is this legal?” and the answer in a nutshell is, “Yes”. The most common response to my reply is “That’s not fair!”
As an employee and a member of management, I clearly understand both sides of the argument. But in my opinion the real injustice is the fact that most employees are not aware of their employer’s policy on inclement weather either because there is not one or it is poorly communicated. So how can you settle the score?
Get an Understanding
If your company does not have an inclement weather policy, employees should appeal to management. As with all emergencies, employees need to know what to do, who to call where to seek information and what to expect in order to make informed decisions. Things to consider are who would be responsible for deciding early departures, closures and/ or operating with limited staffing. Will employees be compensated? If so, will they be required to use their benefit time? What accommodations will be made for employees who are unable to leave the property? When will employees be given a break? Is there a designated place for them to rest? Will they be compensated at the regular rate? And what about meals? Will they be given a meal allowance?
The inclement weather policy should not be a mystery. It should be a part of the new hire manual and posted in community areas or an online portal accessible by everyone. If there is a storm warning, management should begin planning immediately to decide how things will be handled. All decisions should be discussed with the employees who are at work if and when the warning is issued during regular business hours. If the decisions are made after hours, depending on the size of the organization, the employer should consider using a phone tree, text or an email blast to deliver the message.
If policy states the absence will be unpaid, employees should inquire about working an additional shift or shifts before the end of the pay period. This will allow them to make up the hours and receive a normal paycheck. If the business is a twenty-four hour operation with “essential personnel” the extra shift can be offset by allowing those who worked during the inclement weather additional time off to recuperate. In this case employees will swap shifts, allowing management the opportunity to possibly reduce overtime which is a win-win!
There is no doubt the Winter Storms of 2014 have given employees and employers alike much to consider. As usual, Mother Nature has managed to not only get us thinking but talking as well. Take this time to learn from this ordeal make some changes in preparation for future events.