positive attitude, career accelerator

Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Job Interview Tips, What HR Really Thinks

Positive Attitude

Attempt to avoid the traditional HR “positivity quote” of the day

Positive attitude vs. Negative attitude

A positive attitude is an asset and anyone that tells you otherwise sucks. All kidding aside, a negative attitude is one of the personality traits that will keep an individual contributor out of management. It doesn’t matter how technically proficient we are at the job. Without a positive attitude, the career ladder will only reach so high. Most of us are reading this post and thinking “HRNasty, you state the obvious. I don’t have a negative attitude so I don’t need to continue reading.”

Au contraire mon ami.

90 percent of employees think they have a positive attitude. Mangers think 90% of their employees are neutral to negative. My Vegas odds say that most managers feel only 10% of their team verbalize a positive attitude. We may be positive thinkers but if the team or our manager “perceives” us to be negative, then that is how we will be branded. This brand will not help us climb the ladder. 

The thing about a negative attitude is that most of us do not know we sound negative. We may think we have a positive attitude, but what is heard by others is often different. Below I will provide examples of common responses to request that most of us take for granted. 

It’s not what we say, it’s what people hear

HR observations

Three couple of observations after years of seeing employees passed over for promotion and declined in interviews:

  1. Having a neutral tone in conversation is better than having a negative tone. A neutral tone won’t get you promoted.
  2. We may have a neutral tone. We may not sound negative, but if we don’t sound positive, we won’t be perceived as positive. Let me say that one more time. We may not sound negative, but if we don’t sound positive, we won’t be perceived as positive.
  3. We can be positive about our friends, our colleagues and our projects, but if we are negative on our selves, it will be tough to climb the ladder. 
Positive Attitude

In the immortal words of Rob Schneider from the movie Water Boy “You can do ittttt”

I used to be the guy that rolled his eyes when someone was talking about PMA. I wasn’t just THAT guy I was the guy that had eyes rolling like a giant Ferris wheel.  Over time I trained myself to see the “other side” of every situation and trust me, in my field, there is always the “other side”. 

Fast forward to the present. I roll my eyes when I hear anyone poo poo an idea, tell me a project cannot be done, or comes into an interview and the answers end on a negative sound byte. In most cases, these party pooper’s don’t even know what they sound like. After all, who would come into an interview with negativity or present themselves as less than positive to their manager?

Why demonstrate a positive attitude?

For starters, no one wants to be around Negative Nelly. Gather any 5 people, ask them about the traits they want to see in their next hire or co-worker and “positive attitude”, “fun”, and “open minded” will be at the top of the list.

Requisite dating analogy

It doesn’t matter how easy on the eyes a potential plus one is, or how much we have in common with our future ex. We will grow bored and frustrated if they possess a negative attitude. We will put up with the potential longer than normal, but the end result will be the same. 

When it comes to management roles, having a positive attitude is key. Managers aren’t really needed when the times are good, deals are rolling in and everyone is making their bonuses. Any monkey can hand out a raise or a bonus. Managers are needed when times are tough, when deal flow is drying up and when the results are not there. Good managers are paid to solve problems and it is tough to follow or being inspired by a manager who is always thinking “we’ll never get it done” or “that’s impossible”. Managers figure it out. Great managers solve problems. The expectation is that managers produce results.  Most managers believe they can teach technical skills and do NOT believe they can teach a positive attitude. F-U-L-L S-T-O-P.

Moon Shot

If you say any of the below on a regular basis, you probably aren’t getting into management any time soon.

  • “No”. Extra steps backwards in the ladder to management if you say “No” without a reason why it is a “no”.
  • “That can’t be done”. I have said it before and will say it again. If we put a man on the moon in the 60’s, we can do anything. It may cost more money and take more resources than what is initially available, but it CAN be done. The United States proved it. Our first rocket didn’t make it to the moon, we made baby steps, but we did it.
    • NASA shot a moon into space.
    • The US put a monkey into space.
    • We orbited the moon.
    • THEN  we landed on the moon.
    • The United States put a man on the moon.
  • Any sentence implying an idea is stupid, dumb or useless. We don’t have to state the idea is stupid, dumb or useless, but if that is the impression we leave, we probably are not going to hear any further ideas.

Positive Examples

One of the most creative biz dev guys I know and admire taught me that the answer should never be “No”. The answer should always be “Yes” or “Yes, if”. As in “Yes, IF we can do X or Y”.  So, if someone asks if we can haul the piano up the stairs to the 4th floor, we don’t say “No, it can’t be done”. We try some version of “Yes, IF we just have the right equipment including a crane and we can take the window out of the room it is supposed to go in. We will put the piano through the window.

The CEO pulled me aside and gave me an edict: “Don’t ever let me fire CBD. He and TL are the only two guys that understand where I am coming from when I am thinking forward and dreaming big. Everyone else thinks I am on crack and shit’s on my ideas but those two guys can see the potential”. Two lessons here:

  1. If you want to hear ideas from your team, don’t shit on them when they are suggested.
  2. Anyone can see the potential of an idea with the right frame of mind.

These two guys didn’t think about how it “couldn’t be done”. They were always figuring out how it CAN be accomplished and this is why they were able to keep up with the CEO. Are you an American or an American’t?

There are no impossible tasks. There are “interesting problems” and “tough challenges”.

Alternatives to negative answers

Instead of saying “No”, “No, it can’t be done.” or “No, that’s stupid.”

Try: “That is an interesting challenge. That could be tough. Let me think about that for a minute?” If we say “It can’t be done” and someone does get it done, we will have mud on our face.  

Try: “I can see where we could come to that conclusion. Have WE thought about it this way?”

Instead of saying: “We don’t have enough people / budget to get that done.”

Try: “Let’s figure out how many / how much it will take to get what we need and back off from that number.” Then follow up with:  

  • “What is the minimum that we can get away with?”
  • “What can we do to make an initial viability test?”

Instead of saying, “It isn’t MMYYYYY fault”

Try: “I am sure what ever happened wasn’t intentional. Let’s figure out how to improve the situation.”

Instead of saying “I don’t like that.” Or “I hate that”.

Try: “I haven’t learned to appreciate that yet. What should I be looking for?”

Instead of saying “Johnny is stupid, dumb, an asshole, etc”. 

Try: A small personal dose of STFU.  OK, that sounded horrible, but I am pretty sure you will remember it. BOOYAHHH!

Glass half full

The goal is to think before we speak and try and present ourselves in at LEAST a neutral tone. It’s not going to happen overnight. Change will be a process. 

Look at the glass as half full instead of half empty and if the glass is less than half full, find a smaller glass.

Next week: how to shed a reputation for having a negative attitude.

See you at the after party,

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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Presidential Debate 2016, the ultimate job interview

Posted: by HRNasty in Job Interview Tips

presidential debate

Presidential debate or job interview

Presidential Debate Disclaimer:

Any political opinions as it relates to the presidential debate in this post are not intentional and merely coincidental. The writer does not take any financial compensation from advertising or placements. This blog is intended to provide tips on interviewing and career advice only. Political opinions are not intentional and intended for learning purposes only. All data and information on this site are for informational purposes only. HRNasty.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness or validity as it relates to political views.  

Debate or Job Interview

Like many people, I have been sucked into the train wreck of politics. I have been watching the presidential debates and seeing job interview lessons to be learned from both candidates. Both candidates are interviewing for one of the most powerful jobs in the world. The candidates are in the largest panel interview of their lives.

presidential debate

Interviewers Holt, Raddatz, Cooper, and Wallace conducting the interview on behalf or the American public.

Instead of walking into a room where there is just a panel of 3 or 4 interviewers, the candidates are being interviewed on behalf of the American public.

Rest assured, I am NOT going to discuss politics in this post

My one and only goal is to leverage the presidential debates as a platform for job interview lessons.  Instead of using my normal dating analogies, I will be using presidential debate analogies. Wish me luck. 

There are a number of lessons that can be demonstrated as it relates to interviewing for a job within this presidential debate. We are only going to focus on one, Behavioral Interviewing.

Behavioral Interviewing

The theory of Behavioral interviewing says that prior success is the best indicator of future success. Recruiters want to find a track record of success and candidates want to prove that track record of success. I am a big believer that this is one of the best ways a candidate can prove their qualifications into a job and have blogged on the topic here.

In the first presidential debate, the 1st question asked of both candidates was on the topic was “Achieving prosperity”.

Lester Holt asked both candidates,

“Why are you a better choice than your opponent to create the kinds of jobs that will put more money into the pockets of American workers?”

Hillary response:

The central question in this election is really what kind of country we want to be and what kind of future we’ll build together. Today is my granddaughter’s second birthday, so I think about this a lot. First, we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That means we need new jobs, good jobs, with rising incomes.

I want us to invest in you. I want us to invest in your future. That means jobs in infrastructure, in advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean, renewable energy, and small business, because most of the new jobs will come from small business. We also have to make the economy fairer. That starts with raising the national minimum wage and also guarantee, finally, equal pay for women’s work.

I also want to see more companies do profit-sharing. If you help create the profits, you should be able to share in them, not just the executives at the top.

And I want us to do more to support people who are struggling to balance family and work. I’ve heard from so many of you about the difficult choices you face and the stresses that you’re under. So let’s have paid family leave, earned sick days. Let’s be sure we have affordable child care and debt-free college.

How are we going to do it? We’re going to do it by having the wealthy pay their fair share and close the corporate loopholes.

Not about politics

This is not about the answer being right or wrong answer. This post isn’t about politics so please don’t read into it this way. (Noticing a theme?)  But I am an interviewer and I cringed when I heard the above answer as it relates to a job interview question. Behavioral interviewing says that “Demonstrating prior success is the best indicator of future success.” With this in mind, candidates want to demonstrate prior success and give details of prior success as it relates to the question.

Politics aside, and with only job interview lessons in mind, (recurring theme) I didn’t hear anything about prior success in Hillary’s answer. The answer we heard is what typically gets candidates declined from hiring managers and department heads. The answer was simple arm chair quarterbacking.   

Breakdown of the answer

The very first sentence of the candidate’s answer doesn’t relate to the question. There is talk about the grand daughter and the connection to the initial question is tough to make. As an interviewer I am IMMEDIATELY wondering “Where is this answer going?”   

Hillary then goes on to list off what we should do on a number of various topics including equal pay, companies implementing profit sharing, affordable child care to name a few. But she doesn’t give evidence that she CAN make the changes. 

Towards the end of the answer, Hillary stated the following but in my opinion, she didn’t close the deal. 

“How are we going to do it? We’re going to do it by having the wealthy pay their fair share and close the corporate loopholes.” 

But at no point in her answer did we hear how she is qualified to implement the solution, has deep knowledge about the situation, or had solved anything similar in the past. 

When it comes to being qualified for the role of president, Hillary Clinton is much more qualified than HRNasty but I wouldn’t have been out of bounds if I had given the exact same answer. She could easily differentiate herself from HRNasty as a candidate if she listed prior successes. ( I would not be able to list prior successes)

(Again, politics aside)  Hillary has worked in public service and in politics for a long time. I have done nothing even close. I could have easily given the exact same answer and not been out of bounds. The answer didn’t contain specific examples. She could have easily separated herself from a monkey like me by talking about her prior successes as it relates to politics and change.

She could have followed up her initial answer with a demonstration of prior success. “And I have helped put more money into American pockets when I did X, Y and Z.)

As it relates to Behavioral interviewing, Trump said something very similar.

Trump explained that jobs are leaving the country and that US companies are going overseas. Trump then pointed to a reduction in taxes to keep the United States as an attractive place for companies and corporations. 

But at the end of the day, I could say all of the above with just as much credibility because the answer doesn’t give any specific examples. And this is exactly what happens in a job interview. The candidate tells the hiring manager what they want to do, or what they think should be done. What we as candidates need to do in a job interview is articulate how we have had success solving a related problem the past. A hiring manager hears candidate and employee ideas every day of the week. It’s all just hot air to the manager.  The candidates that receive job offers are the ones that have been able to articulate prior success and the steps taken to accomplish the desired outcomes.  

A history of success creating jobs or higher salaries would have been a demonstration of prior success. Demonstration of providing tax breaks to corporations would have shown prior success. In the context of a presidential debate / job interview, the above examples are talking points that I personally would NOT be able to demonstrate. HRC has the ability to separate herself from a monkey like HRNasty as a candidate for the position.   

Demonstration of success

Hillary DID articulate prior successes when she addressed Trumps comment about her being in government for 30 years. Hillary responded with “So let me talk about my 30 years in public service, I’m very glad to do so”.  She then went on to tick off a laundry list of accomplishments directly related to a presidential position. Hillary was able to demonstrate she is more qualified to fill the job of president over HRNasty. I would NOT be able to rattle off even one of the below bullets.

  • Eight million kids every year have health insurance, because when I was first lady I worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
  •   Hundreds of thousands of kids now have a chance to be adopted because I worked to change our adoption and foster care system.
  • After 9/11, I went to work with Republican mayor, governor and president to rebuild New York and to get health care for our first responders who were suffering because they had run toward danger and gotten sickened by it.
  • Hundreds of thousands of National Guard and Reserve members have health care because of work that I did.
  • Children have safer medicines because I was able to pass a law that required the dosing to be more carefully done.
  • When I was secretary of state, I went around the world advocating for our country, but also advocating for women’s rights, to make sure that women had a decent chance to have a better life.
  • N egotiated a treaty with Russia to lower nuclear weapons.
  •   Four hundred pieces of legislation have my name on it as a sponsor or cosponsor when I was a senator for eight years.

The above bullets are more effective in proving qualifications over “What we need to do” or “What we should be doing.” “What I could do” and “What we should do” is just arm chair quarterbacking and not effective in a job interview. The above bullets demonstrate she has plenty of political experience and success. Candidates that provide examples of prior success are a higher percentage bet.

Again, I am NOT trying to show one candidate in a better light as it relates to the presidential debate. (Plug for neutrality) I am trying showcase behavioral interviewing as it relates to a job interview.


Numbers can lend credibility. Both candidates demonstrated this tactic in their answers. Hillary stated she was re-elected to office with 67% of the vote. Trump spoke to numbers when he talked about being endorsed by 16,000 border agents. Numbers put everything into perspective. 

EG: Instead of saying “I am a hard worker” try the following. “Yes, I believe I am a hard worker. I put myself through school in 4 years while working 30 hours a week. I am proud of this because I maintained a 3.0 GPA.” 

What other lessons can we learn about job interviews from these candidates who are both interviewing for our votes? Share them in the comments below and let the games begin!

For my Behavioral Interviewing style answers to the top interview questions click here. 

See you at the voting booths!


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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HR professional brand

Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Personal, What HR Really Thinks

professional brand.

protect and reinforce your professional brand

Professional brand

I was recently asked to sit down with a small group of HR professionals and the intent was to talk about our professional brand as an HR professional. The session was a lot of fun and turned out to me more of a round table Q&A than me just presenting. The group was very insightful. I thought that regardless of what you do for a living the discussion was applicable to all professions. The talk was a good reminder for myself as to what I stand for personally. My hope is that the below comes across in the way I hope it did person. The below helped me move my career to be an executive in HR and then a COO with responsibility beyond HR.  

What is the most important thing HR can do?

Make sure that employees are paid on time and accurately. When in doubt, clear up questions ASAP. Employees don’t come to work because they like the product or the people. Product and people are the icing on the cake. They come to work for the cake and the cake is the paycheck. Do everything you can to make sure that people get paid and their expenses are taken care of in a timely manner. Miss this a couple of times and employees will always be suspect of you.

I believe that individually, we alone are ultimately responsible for our own careers. Despite the manager, despite the VP, despite my nosy, bitchy, or dick headed co-worker that I am sitting next to, it is up to me to take responsibility and actions for my own career. I should NOT rely on my manager to read my mind or just hand me opportunity. We need to show we are ready for more responsibility by doing more than just our job and we need to let our manager know what we want to do. we need to make it easy for my manager to give me more responsibility and by easy, I mean, they need to be able to defend WHY we are worth more money, more responsibility, more of anything to their boss.

What is an HR no no?

Responding with “No”, “It can’t be done” or “It is impossible”. Nothing is impossible. If we could put a man on the moon in the 60’s with 64 kilobytes of memory, then in todays age where we can buy terra bytes of storage off the shelf for PERSONAL use, we can do anything. It may take more time and more resources, but we can do anything. Start any answer with with what it takes to get something done and work backward from there. This is a very different mentality than starting the conversation with “That can’t be done”.

I am NOT here to look out for individual employees. My primary – job one, is to protect the company and make a return on investment for our investors. By protecting the company I am looking out for the individual employees. When I help create a fair and welcoming environment, I make it easier for our co-workers to do amazing work. By looking out for the company I AM looking out for the employee.

As an HR practitioner, all I have is trust. As soon as I lose the employees trust, my value as an HR professional is worth nothing. Protect the trust.


If an employee wants to tell me something in confidence, then I need to let them know up front that if an employee or the company is at risk, I will need to get help. I am here for the company first.

There are no rules, just guidelines. I worked in Corporate American and we had an employee manual. Rules, Rules Rules. I now work in technology and I believe in a book of employee guidelines. We are dealing with people and all people and situations are different. A single rule is not going to cover our diverse workforces. We are all adults so providing the “intent” of the guideline is much more mature than providing a hard rule.

HR sitting at the table

If we want a seat at the table, we need to act like we deserve a seat at the table. This means presenting our ideas in a business fashion that the executive team can relate to. This is going to sound harsh but most exec teams are alpha males and most HR practitioners are folks who got into HR because they wanted to take care of individual employees. Communications styles need to adapt to the audience. Execs don’t think about individual employees, they think about the entire work force. I could not stress the upside of a mentor here. 

No asshole rule

For me personally, it doesn’t matter how smart they are, no assholes. I would rather have a hole on the team vs. an asshole. That being said, and I say this all the time.

If I had an ENTIRE team of assholes, I can probably put that company on the best place to work list. Everyone is on the same page, everyone understands and appreciates the asshole culture. It is when we have random employees that don’t abide by the culture of the company that things go badly. If we want an asshole culture, then I would go out and hire nothing but assholes and explain up front that we have an asshole culture. All the assholes are on the same page, and no one is surprised when they encounter asshole behavior.

It isn’t a place I want to work, but I believe it can work.


Culture is not ping-pong tables and beer Fridays. Too many CEO’s think that adding a ping pong table and a kegerator is a culture dial. Culture cannot be turned up or down with “more or less stuff”. Regardless of the values, corporate cultures happen when the entire workforce is engaged with the leaders vision and values. You can have a corporate culture that works for some individuals and doesn’t work for others. As individuals, we need to find company we can believe in not just from a product standpoint, but a corporate culture point of view as well. See asshole rule above.


I want to explain business decisions 5 different times and 5 different ways. Not every employee can relate to the same message. The executive team should not expect the employee to understand a decision that is explained in 2 minutes at a company meeting or in an email. Execs are the ones that created new policy and were involved in the discussions. They had time to adjust to the new ideas. My goal is to have employees understand why a business decision is made. They may not like the decision at a personal level, but I want to explain the decision so they respect it from a business perspective (vs. a personal perspective). Once they can respect a decision, they can get behind it and we can move forward. Too many HR people don’t take the time to explain the WHY. 

Successful HR practitioners understand that they are not going to be able to please all employees all the time. Successful HR practitioners understand that there will ALWAYS be someone that doesn’t agree with a business decision. We will not make business decisions in anticipation of a single employees reaction. We need to make decisions for the good of the company goals and the employee force. Too many times, decisions are made with the intent that the small group of offenders will hear the message. Trust me they won’t. Small groups or individual offenders should be addressed by individual managers.

professional brand

Being successful in HR means being able to hold the respect of the team while executing on hard and painful business decisions. Any monkey can hold respect on the easy and obvious decisions. Being upfront and transparent will move your credibility a long way.


Do everything you can to hook up with a mentor. Buy that person coffee on a regular basis and pick their brain, let them know what you are up to and ask for their advice on projects and presentations. Managers have 4-8 others people on their team and they don’t have time to be your mentor. Network and find a mentor! 

As a stereotype, HR people look out for others and not themselves. They can make a case to give someone a raise, but won’t ask for anything on behalf of themselves. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Ask!

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

If you felt this post was valuable, subscribe to weekly updates here, (I promise, no spam) “like” us on Facebook, and leave your comments below. Thank you!

Job offer

It started when we accepted the wrong job offer

Accepting the wrong job offer

In the past 3 weeks, I have met with three different job seekers and I noticed a common thread. With each situation, the candidates DID NOT realize they were working against themselves in their job search. Frankly, I think that this phenomenon is happening with 90% of the candidates out there and I want to give folks something to marinate on.   

To provide some quick background on the candidates:

The group consisted of a product manager, a project manager and a business analyst.

  • I consider all three candidates to be very smart. All three candidates had a Masters or MBA, all had at least 5 years of experience post MBA. No dummies here. These folks are very purposeful about their careers and don’t just “take a job because they don’t have options”.
  • All three are successful in their current / prior jobs and wanted to pursue jobs in similar industries. The product and project manager wanted to stay in tech and the business analyst wanted to stay in corporate finance.
  • All three candidates told me a little bit about themselves and all three had a list of strengths and weakness. In addition, they all came prepared with ideas of where they could be successful.
  • 2 of the three had job postings they were interested in applying for and were wanted advice on how to get into these respective roles. Like I said, “Purposeful”.  

Interesting conclusion

After asking a few questions, I came to the same conclusion with all three candidates:

None of the roles were interesting to any of the candidates. All of the candidates assumed that since their prior experience was X position and Y industry, their next gig should be X position and Y industry. The candidates that came from technology companies wanted to stay in technology and the analyst wanted to stay in banking. To a person, they all admitted that they were not super excited about receiving a job offer for these positions.

I understand why they would come to this conclusion. They had success in their prior gigs. Why wouldn’t anyone continue down a similar path and increase their record of success? My hesitation was that although they may be successful, I didn’t think any of these smart candidates would be “happy” in their desired roles. They had boxed themselves into a traditional thinking mindset. I am a project manager in X industry, I should continue to be a project manager in X industry. Never mind that these industries were not that interesting to our candidates. “I got bills to pay and kids to put through college, I need to get a job offer dammit!”   

HRN and candidate conversations


HRN: “What would be your dream job? What would you love to do? What would the job offer look like?”

Analyst: I love to travel, I wish I could write reviews on travel destinations, but who is going to pay me for that? I have been in the finance industry all my life, I have an MBA.”

HRN: “One of the largest cruise lines is based here in the city. Alaska Airlines is also based here. You may not be working as a travel writer, but you can be working in the industry and getting a great discount on your travel. 

I could see the gears turning in the Analysts mind. “I never thought about either of those companies or that industry. Both of those companies have GOT to be collecting big data, I would love to analyze data based on travel.” 

If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.

As a guy working in HR, no matter what we do, there will be aspects of the job which we won’t care for as much as others. To overcome this, we can work in an industry which we find genuinely interesting. I don’t expect any job to be all fun and games, but a job can be less of the salt mines.   

Trust me, when we find a company or industry we are interested interviewing becomes much more interesting. The answers that we know we should be giving during an interview for a Jay-Oh-Bee suddenly become answers we WANT to give because we are looking at a potential career. The interview isn’t an fake act where we are trying to show interest in a position. The interview becomes a dialogue and a conversation because both hiring manager and the candidate genuinely want to be working with each other.

If you are looking for a job or considering a job change, my suggestion is avoid trying to fit your skills to the job. With this mentality, the company might make a hire, but the employee loses because there isn’t a genuine interest. Figure out what you LIKE to do, and fit the job to you. This way the company benefits because you are genuinely interested in the work and you benefit because you are working on something you are already interested in.

A VP of Sales gave me this mug years ago and I use it to this day. Concidently, I find myself working with him again 10 years later

Perfect HR mug: A VP of Sales gave me this mug years ago and I use it everyday. Fortunately, I find myself working with him again 10 years later. Thanks MM

Make the company work for you

Applying to a company or position that only fills the requirement of paying the bills. We could be applying to a company that not only pays the bills but is genuinely interesting. We are settling (for the position) before we even explored options (other industries) and are literally forcing a square peg (candidate) into a round hole (position).  Lets fit the square peg into the square hole.

Requisite dating example

If you are a single person and using online web sites to find a potential +1, it helps to use a dating site that caters to your desired demographic. If you are a country girl and want to find a country boy, yes, go to Bumble and go to Match, but also check out www.Farmersonly.com If your parents are pestering you to find a nice Jewish boy, yes, check out Tinder, but also check out www.jdate.com. Look for happiness in a target rich environment.

Today, I talked with an person relatively young in their career. She wants to go to school and then pursue a Masters so she can become a counselor. She is currently working part time in an industry unrelated to counseling while she goes to school.  Because her part time job is literally “just paying the bills” and she has no long-term interest in the field. I believe she could expand her job search and land a job offer in an industry of interest. 

Although not be a counselor now, working in the counseling industry while going to school can help her long term. It doesn’t really matter what niche of counseling she works in at this point. We want to add a track record of interest to our resume so when we do apply for our first career job, we get a relevant job offer.

More than one way to skin a cat

My other suggestion is to explore working with a company that will help pay for school. We have a LOT of large companies in this town and we can name a dozen that have tuition reimbursement programs including the colleges themselves. 

The point is, don’t feel boxed in with your job search. If you have a passion, although we may not find an exact job, we can probably find something with our industry of interest.

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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LinkedIn Connections

LinkedIn isn’t just about the numbers

Linkedin connections question

I recently received a question on LinkedIn connections from one of our interns.  His goal is to become a wealth manager where network cultivation will be critical. I thought it was a great question and should be shared. The guy asking the question is smart, has initiative and holds leadership positions within his school and fraternity (not your stereotypical douche fraternity guy) and I am confident he will be successful. Consequently, I figured if he is asking this question, others are as well.  

His initial question is below (with permission):

“Is it the objective to make as many LinkedIn connections as possible  For example, I have had multiple recruiters invite me to connect, but I am curious if it (LinkedIn) is meant more for the personal/meaningful connections or is the shotgun – “connect with everyone you can”, approach the best? 

Before I present my answer to this question, I know there are very different views on this topic. I am at a point in my career where I am limiting my LinkedIn connections and social media in general. Currently, I fall into the quality vs. quantity camp. I know some very smart people that I look up to and admire that will accept any and all invitations to connect. The below is my opinion and I expect there will be some counter points. Comments welcome.   

Advice to the intern

Until you are a couple of years into your career, no one is going to look at your profile and say “This guy only has 50 LinkedIn connections, he is a loser.” As a junior in college, we are at a point in our career where I don’t think it is fair to expect as many professional connections. With only a few years of experience, we haven’t had an opportunity to meet many professionals. Folks with a 5 plus years of experience will have had many more opportunities and more time to build a network.

LinkedIn profile, have or have not 

Before I go on, I need to say the following: If someone is looking for a corporate job and doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile (or I am not able to find it) THIS IS BAD. This is veddy veddy bad. The hiring manager is using LinkedIn, the recruiter is using LinkedIn and the head of the department is using LinkedIn. We should make it easy for these decision makers to find us. I blogged about LinkedIn profiles here, and I take the above paragraph one step further. I recommend that candidates add a hyper link on their resume that directs the reader to the LinkedIn profile. This would be at the top of the resume right next to the contact information. If we know that hiring managers will search for this profile, we should make it easy on them. Let’s not ask them to do a Google search on John Smith + LinkedIn.  OK, I got that off my chest. 

LinkedIn connections as a ratio of years worked

If someone is in a business development role / sales role, holds a senior position (7-10 years of experience) and doesn’t have 500+ LinkedIn connections, that is bad. Roles like these are being paid to network and it is assumed if you are in this group, you are shaking the bushes.  These candidates will have a tough time gaining credibility when they are not able prove they have a network. Yes, we can artificially inflate the number of connections, but the number is a lead indicator.  

Quantity vs. Quality

Back to our intern’s question: Personally, I am striving for a network of quality vs. one built around quantity. I am not sure what a recruiters motivation is to connect to someone that is a junior in college. I don’t think they are reaching out to you with the hopes of recruiting you or asking for financial advice. Make sense? Accept a couple and see what happens.

I think it is similar to our Facebook and Instagram profiles. When we first created our social media profile, we wanted to connect with anyone and everyone that was interesting, attractive, or both. We literally asked our friends, “How many friends do you have on Facebook?”

With experience, we realized that our social streams were filled with chaff and we began to limit and cull our connections. We are OK with fewer connections and want relevance in our networks.

As an HR person, some managers will get paranoid that employees with large networks could get recruited away. I say this is short sighted and these employees with large networks can help bring in revenue or candidates for job openings. Candidates are not leaving because they have large networks. They are leaving because the current employer / manager isn’t doing enough for them. 

My question to the intern:

If we are asked: “Hey, I see you are connected with John Smith on LinkedIn, can you make an introduction?” and we don’t know them from John, all we can say is:

“Uhh, Dude, I don’t know that guy. He must have just reached out and I randomly accepted. Sorry, I wouldn’t feel right making an introduction to a stranger.”  

If the only thing we have done with a LinkedIn connection is hit the “accept connection” button, will that help either of us? Will we use that connection to make an introduction for a job posting or to do a deal? What do we think when we are approached by someone we don’t know or remember? 

For the record, I think it is completely OK to connect with a stranger on LinkedIn. As long as their profile picture isn’t a windowless van with “Free Candy” painted in Krylon AND our intent is to start a dialogue. But to just start reaching out to build up the numbers may be short sighted. 

Requisite dating analogy:

I ask a super-hot girl to hang out with me. She says yes, but when we are sitting down to coffee, she is answering texts, checking out guys and not paying attention to me. It takes two to tango. If we are not going to put equal effort into the relationship, then it doesn’t matter who we are connected to. One sided relationships, whether we are face to face over a glass of wine or over the inter webs are not helping anyone. The connection should be beneficial to both. 

See you at the after party,

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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5 year plan

Have you thought about your 5 year plan?

What is your 5 year plan? 

The “What is your 5 year plan?” and “What is your 3 year plan?” are both very common interview questions. I admit I ask the question on a regular basis when I am conducting interviews and there are a couple of things I am looking for in the answers. There are definitely answers that will move you along and answers that will result in the candidate being declined. Recently, I was colleague-ing  with a good friend who is interviewing for a senior position with THE premier search company and one of our practice questions was “What is your 5 year plan?”

This friend is one of the smartest people I know. To put this into perspective, she has a PhD, and an MBA, studied music all her life and leads a disciplined life. In other words, she isn’t just smart, she isn’t just horned rim glasses smart, she is intellectually horsepowered Asian smart. She showed up with a 3 ring binder of research, interview questions, and examples. I love working with folks with this much initiative. Yeah, I was more than flattered to be asked to work with her. 

Before I launch into her answer to the “What is your 5-year plan?”, let me try and explain what I am looking for when I ask this question based feedback from hundreds of hiring managers.

When I ask “What is your 5 year plan?”, what I am looking for is “purpose” and “direction”. Specifically, I will weed out candidates who do NOT have a plan. A lot of readers will say that culling candidates because they don’t have an answer is harsh and typical of an arrogant and self-righteous recruiter.  Guilty as charged, just hear me out and listen to my logic. Comments welcome below.

Requisite dating analogy:

You are on one of the first couple of dates with Mr. Potentially Right, and we ask all the normal questions:

First date questions:

  • What is your sign?
  • What foods do you like?
  • Favorite movie?
  • Do you have any brothers or sisters?
  • Blah blah blah. Just checking for chemistry here, not going to ask anything potentially argumentative just yet.

Things go well on the first date and on the second date, we up the ante with Mr. Potentially Right.

Second date questions:

  1. “Do you want to have kids?”
  2. “How many kids?”
  3. “What presidential candidates are you going to vote for?”
  4. “What are your career goals?” AKA “What is your 5-year plan?”

If the answer to question number 4 is:

“Well, I am finishing up my degree in Information Systems after which, I hope to study for the GMAT and then get my MBA at Michigan State.  My goal would be to work for Acme Publishing.com or one of the big search companies. I have been working during my summers saving for grad school and I will need to take out a small loan, but I can’t wait to study advanced business topics and combine them with technology.”

Wow! I am a straight dude and I want a third date with this guy. He has his shit together and could be a great life partner.

Bad answer

If I hear:

“Career goals? Hmmm, hadn’t really thought about a career. Just trying to get through school.”


“Well, I am in my third year of school, but I am not feeling it. I don’t feel right about corporate America, the presidential candidates and where the country is going. I am thinking about dropping out.”

Uhhhh, yeah, you were Mr. Potentially Right, but now you are just Mr. Loser Wrong. Dropping out after racking up 3 years of college debt with no plans? WTF Dude? I don’t want any part of that. If you said you were on the verge of inventing a paint that goes on dry or had a mobile app that was getting 1000’s of downloads a day, I could dig it. Sadly, you don’t even sound like you are dreaming at this point. Show’s over, no +1 here.

Back at our interview

The hiring manager just asked our candidate, “What is your 5 year plan?”

Candidate: “Wow, I hadn’t really thought about a 5 year plan. I don’t have the experience to know what is out there. Having just graduated from college, my goal for the past 4 years was to just get through school. Right now, I am just trying to find a job”

Mr. Potential New Hire is now Mr. Declined.

Most of us want to date, hang out with, and hire folks that have a sense of purpose and direction. If we are going to pay someone, we definitely want to know they have some ambition. We may not know what is out there, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for not having a plan. What I am looking for is someone with a purpose. Said with the right backup, I can be happy with all of the below:

  • “I want to be CEO of the company”
  • “5 year plan? I want your job”
  • “This is easy, I want to make $300K a year”

All of the above can be perfectly good answers as long as we back them up with a path to get there. Just saying I want to make $300K isn’t enough.

The “Why” lends credibility

But, if I hear:

“My father is in sales and makes a comfortable living. I want to do the same. He has taught me that the sales people have the ability to control their salary. Most positions have a comp band. Sales positions provide commissions. Consequently, the more you sell, the more you make. I am not going to make 300K my first year, but in three years, my hope is to have a job where I am making 75K as a base and 75K upside in commissions.”

This candidate has thought about his goals and has a plan. 

What I usually hear:

I want to be a manager, I think I am a good people person, I have leadership potential and want to have a team reporting to me”.  Full Stop, end of sentence. 

10% of candidates provide the following:

“I want to be a manager. I think I am a good people person, I have leadership potential and want to have a team reporting to me. In the past I was in a leadership position at my fraternity and enjoyed it.”

Our PhD / MBA friend provided a very similar answer to 10 percenter’s above. Even though she was articulate, she lacked emotion. In the end, I didn’t believe her. 

What I really thought:

I asked her again, “What do you really want to do?” She provided a little longer answer thinking that her answer wasn’t detailed enough. 

My response:

I like your answer. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like it is YOUR answer. The answer you provided is the answer you think I want to hear. It is the answer that you think you are supposed to give, and what you think managers want to hear. (She nodded her head in agreement) I didn’t feel any passion behind the answer, I didn’t feel any emotion. I’m not buying it.”

I asked the same question a little differently: “What do you want to do? What do you want to be known for?”

Her response: “I don’t know that I really want to be a manager. I want to be a multiplier. I am a data scientist that takes business questions and translates them into data analysis. With my findings, the department or company will make exponential improvements and I really like being behind the scenes and making that kind of impact. For the past 10 years, I have made a career out of leveraging data and improving results. Ultimately, my 5 year plan is to do this at a larger scale and build my reputation for improving performance based on data.”


This is the answer I am looking for. This is what SHE wants to do, and not what society or her parents or her manager wants her to do. She has thought about what she wants to do. She wants to scale her talents and I heard it in her voice. 

The answer that will decline a candidate is an answer that shows the candidate has no direction about the future and no plans to self-improve.

A good answer doesn’t have to be about landing a management or leadership position.

Your answer should show that you have thought about a future, you can articulate it and you are on a path to getting there. Just saying what you want without explaining the prior progress towards the goal is just trash talkin’. She was excited about her answer because it was HER answer and it was the truth. Her answer explained what SHE really wanted to do. She had a 5 year plan. 


See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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What friendship is

Posted: by HRNasty in Personal



What friendship is

A month ago, I blogged about the passing of Mrs. HRNasty. She was my best friend and proof read these posts. The past couple of months have been a blur and I wouldn’t have gotten through it without some amazing friends both old and new. I have learned a lot about myself and specifically about “friendship” and wanted to share the stories. The support we have received from old friends and new has been nothing short of amazing. So many people selfishly gave their time and energy to help Adi and myself, and although not enough, this post is the least I can do. In addition to the circle of friends I know and trust, there are friends we haven’t seen in years that helped. There are also friends of Mrs. HRNasty who I had never met and made me feel like a long lost friend. So let me start with “Thank you for your friendship”.   

LaurenP:  As always, you were there for me when I needed support. There were a number of tasks I really didn’t want to face alone, and you made sure I didn’t have to. You cried for me and you made time for me on very short notice to help. You made sure the paperwork was taken care of when I couldn’t think straight. Mrs. HRN always loved and trusted you. She appreciated that you have always looked out for me over the years and I know she would have thought it was perfect you were there for me now.  How can I ever return the favor? Thank you.  

TianaB: Thank you so much for all of your support. Whenever we met, you were always there with a big hug and smile. You always make me feel like I matter. The birthday surprise was a great touch. It is hard for me to accept help or kindness and your text (below with permission) was perfect and helped many sleepless nights and made it easier to accept help. Thank you for your gift.

You’ve always been the wind in our sails, so helping you through your storm really is an honor. You’re the strongest person I know. And I know you’d get through this nightmare without the help. But allowing us to give you and hand is. . . there are no words. We love you. And we’ll do anything we can to make this dark time a little brighter.

KeithS: You called every day, hoping I wouldn’t answer the phone and would get my VM because you didn’t know what to say. Despite knowing it was a hard call, you made it and were there for me. Even though you were across the country, I knew you would do anything you could. I knew those calls would be emotional and as much as I didn’t want to pick up, I did.  You have done so much for my career and financial situation. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to take the time off to stay with Mrs. HRN or successfully fight the paperwork battles.  You are an amazing friend. Thank you!


Winning 1st place Best Place to Work. KeithS, JeffM, and HRNasty

JeffM: I think you take pride in the fact that folks don’t always take you seriously. By now you know I look at you as one of the smartest technologists in the city and the guy that will always care. You were one of the few people that visited us in the hospital last year and the guy that made it out this last cycle. You brought groceries and respected our space. You have a lot of style Brother and it is great knowing you are in our corner. I know you will always have my back.  Thank you.

YorkB: What can I say. As a CEO, you were “soliddddd”. As a friend, I couldn’t ask for more. You checked in, you gave us space. You brought your son to help us move furniture when we needed room for hospital equipment and brought in AC when we had the heat wave. The bags of gourmet meals was over the top. Your entire family was there for us and the love they showed was unquestionable.  Thank you.

KaityS: I really appreciate what you said about not knowing Mrs. HRN. You explained that she helped me grow over the years and so you feel that you grew through her because you grew threw me. Pretty special. She watched you grow up, loved going to your Cheer competitions, and was always in awe of your maturity. I know I will be reporting to you some day, and despite that you treat me like an equal and a colleague. Thank you for keeping me company and allowing me to show you “My Seattle” these past few months. I look forward to seeing “Your Manhattan”.   

KathyM, JamieM and JennyM: You have been Mrs. HRNasty’s friend for over 20 years. We have watched your children grow up and the circle is now complete because Jamien and Jenny were there for the both of us. When we were in the hospital, you treated Jane as the long time friend she is and not as a patient. The conversations the three of us shared were normal every day conversations and not focused on our condition or the negative. Jamien and Jenny, provided the same. Jenny, had just met Mrs. HRN and had a way of making everyone feel so comfortable during a stressful time. She radiates inner beauty and they are one of the most attractive couples we know. Even though your schedule was filled with travel, you made sure we were taken care of. The help you provided for Mrs. HRN’s celebration was amazing. I didn’t have to do a thing. I know you were much closer to Mrs. HRN, but you, your husband and your children made me feel like I was just as close and part of the family.  Thank you.

MattW: Dude, I don’t know what to say. You have taken care of me on so many fishing trips over the years, it makes sense you would take care of me now.  You are what friendship is all about. You figured out how to host close to 200 guests at Mrs. HRN’s celebration with an award-winning chef on very short notice. You drove 70 miles one way every day for a week just to check in on me. I saw you cleaning up after Adi the morning of the celebration so the place would be respectable. I was against the celebration being scheduled so early because I didn’t have the heart to clean up the place after everyone left and you made sure I didn’t have to do a thing. I really don’t know how to thank you for everything. You always know when to push me. Taking the trip to Montana was another example. A box of Series P No. 2’s wouldn’t be enough.  Thank you.

Leisl: As always, you took the time out to listen to me when I had a moral dilemma and was questioning my direction. Knowing you will listen and call me on my bullshit is a luxury that not many have. You always find a way to steer me back on course with a carrot instead of a stick and as the guy that is usually counted on for guidance, I appreciate it more than you know.  Thank you for the peace of mind.


Clinic on Montana waters

JoeW: I was hesitant on the Montana fishing trip because it was so soon after, but really glad we went. It was great to hang out with you, see Ke’lah and meet the little ones. I don’t know what I would have done back home on my birthday and am really glad I could share it with you and the Donkey. I learned a ton from you as always watching you cast tiny bugs to rising fish across multiple currents 2 inches off the bank. You are a Jedi. As the smaller guy on every trip, I don’t fish from the front of the boat much, let alone all day. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday or a better fishing trip.  Thank you Brother!  Ke’lah, thank you for giving him up for three days. With a newborn in the house, I know it isn’t easy. (Well, I don’t know, but I can imagine).  Thank you to all 4 of you.

Megan and JillB: When I really needed help taking care of Mrs. HRN, you magically showed up on my doorstep and took the initiative. I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was the first time in months that I actually sat down and didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t feel guilty about resting because you had the situation in hand. You validated the medication and our evening with Mrs. HRN was the last night where she was communicative. She articulated to us that she wasn’t in pain and without your medical background; I probably would have taken a different path. You held my hand and not only let me cry you encouraged me. As a guy from a culture that isn’t supposed to show emotion, I felt safe. You always found a way to see the glass half full. Thank you.

MichelJ: Dude, what can I say? You really gave me a sense of pride when so many of Mrs. HRNasty’s colleagues continued to show up and visit us at the hospital. In the HRNasty house, I am usually the one focused on career, but all the support, visits, laughter and dinners reinforced to me that Mrs. HRNasty had a career to be just as proud of.  I know she was proud that she had so many colleagues coming to visit her as well. She worried about me less with you guys watching my back and making sure I was fed. You provided us both with an incredible gift. Thank you Brother.


Homemade pasta

StephanieF and Jana: I met you both through Mrs. HRNasty, but you treated me as if I worked with you and we have known each other for years. You guys brought food to the hospital for me and kept Mrs. HRNasty company to break up the monotony. Even now, we share great times making pasta and smoking cigars. Your friendship means a ton and I look forward to sharing time together.

Dr. MishaH: You are a professional and a gentleman. I really don’t know how else to put it. This is probably the shortest thank you on the list but for me professional and gentleman is the top of my food chain. We both had a ton of confidence in your ability and your bedside manner was perfect for us. We really could not have asked for a better-fit. You were honest and transparent with me, and you protected Mrs. HRNasty when we needed to. I honestly felt like Ichiro was at the plate. If it could be done, you would do it. This one was out of our control.  You have my utmost respect as a friend and a surgeon. Thank you. 

Doctor Wes: You were the one piece of continuity we had between the breast cancer last year and most recently the lung cancer. Mrs. HRNasty absolutely adored you. I respect the hell out of you and I hope that you continue to help others the way you cared for the both of us. Keep the faith. I only do one thing at work and that is evaluate people for potential. You are one of the smart ones. Stick with it. I personally had the utmost confidence in what was happening at the hospital because I knew you would do what ever you could for us professionally and personally. I don’t know any doctors / surgeons that offer to help us re-build a deck. Protect your hands Brother! Looking forward to getting on the motorcycles together.  Thank you!

Doctor JanieG: You were more than a doctor or surgeon, you were a friend. You made Jane feel special as a patient and no one would have blamed you if you were not around as her condition this time around wasn’t in your wheel house. I was able to provide love, but you made her feel special and important as a person. She really did feel individually special when you came by to visit everyday. She admired you for being a surgeon, and a mom with style. When you visited our home with gifts, it was over the top. She (we) REALLY appreciated seeing you towards the end and it meant the world to her. I am glad that you were able to leave her with that feeling of importance. Your counsel to me was invaluable.  Thank you SO much for everything and your continued support.  

Bronwyn: Thank you so much for making the trip up to visit during Mrs. HRNasty’s celebration of life. I know your friendship goes back years and years. I just wish I could have spent more time with you. Mrs. HRNasty had a friend who recently passed of cancer and she flew out a number of times to visit her so I know she appreciates your gesture. In these days of email and “we’ll do lunch”, it is a rare gesture to make a trip like this on short notice and it doesn’t go un noticed. Thank you SO much for flying up to see us.

TamiL: Thanks for keeping me company these past few weekends. The opportunity to hang out with you, without any pressure to impress, or have to do anything for that matter really was a luxury. You never asked me about our situation and when I wasn’t very talkative, which was often, you kept the conversation going. You are great company and I really do hope we can continue to explore PNW together. Thank you.   


Chef, Angler and treasured friend

EricD:  Brother, not sure what to say. I am speechless and every time I see you, I end up breaking down. You prepared food for close to 200 people on short notice and when I approached you to settle the bill you said “You picked a bad week to get on crack and heroin brother. You aren’t paying for anything”. When I tried to settle up again a few weeks later on the water to, you explained that this is what friends do for each other, it was YOUR honor and that I should just accept it.  That wasn’t Costco finger food. As a James Beard nominee, I don’t even know what that menu would run or what it took to source all those oysters. To find out you were closing on a new home while trying to open your second Seattle restaurant Flint Creek in the same time frame kills me. You and MattW really honored Mrs. HRNasty and I am at a loss on how to repay you.  You are a stand up dude and I would share a run on a river with you any time. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. Jane’s celebration would not have been the same without you and your crew. I hope that I can be half as gracious in someone else’s time of need.       

CSP: Dude, you hung out with me for first couple of nights so I wouldn’t be alone or do anything stupid. You made sure I was able to get wet and swing a fly shortly after on the Cowlitz River. You guys even thought about me on your trip to Europe and brought back the beautiful scarf. “Thank you” to you and Kat for your friendship.

LeslieL aka Asian Barbie: Visiting you at your salon was my first time out of the house after Mrs. HRNasty passed and I am glad it was you taking care of me. It means something that you and Mrs. HRN go back close to 30 plus years and we all have history. Getting my hair cut isn’t just about looking cleaned up, it is about feeling good and gaining a bit of confidence after a setback. You gave me that and I know Mrs. HRNasty loves that you are looking after me moving forward because you both speak your mind and have an opinion.          

Courtney: You and Bryson took care of Adi and let us know it was your pleasure every step of the way. I couldn’t even reimburse you for the cost of Adi’s food. Mrs. HRNasty really enjoyed the pictures you sent of her and I know I have said this, but it really allowed both of us to concentrate on Mrs. HRNasty. If you knew how much your selflessness meant to us, you would know the envelope wasn’t heavy enough.


First dozen eggs (pix not doing artwork justice)

AmandaB: Your painting of the first dozen eggs that Mrs. HRNasty gave you from our chickens is priceless at so many levels.  She loved the chickens but we rarely eat eggs. I know she loved bringing the eggs into work and giving them to friends because of all the work she put into the chickens when she came home from work. She didn’t want money, she just loved giving them away. We would occasionally get baked goods but I know she would absolutely adore and brag about your painting and more specifically the gesture. It is something we will be showing off and talking about for a very long time.


Spirit water, Metolius river rock (pix not doing photo justice)

AndrewW: We haven’t seen or fished with each other in 10 plus years but it felt like old times. You pulled me into the back room and said I would have a lot of days “staring at the wall” and I should have something to stare at. Thank you Brother. For continuing to reach out and offering a way to blow off steam. For offering to take me to your Spirit water, the Metolious River. I couldn’t make it as I was off to Montana, but you brought me a piece of your home waters to hang on the wall I DO find myself staring at.  All I can say is “thank you”.  Looking forward to sharing some sushi and moving water with you very soon.  

I know I am forgetting a lot of people. To all the folks that came out to Mrs. HRNasty’s celebration, thank you. I knew this celebration was as much for me as it was for everyone else. I was able to see how much of an impact Mrs. HRNasty had on so many people and how much support the both of us have. I learned the meaning of what friendship can and should be. I think that is a great gift and legacy to leave.  

Thank you,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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In memory of Mrs. HRNasty 1967 – 2016

Posted: by HRNasty in What HR Really Thinks

phyllodes tumor

Mrs. HRNasty, gentlewoman chicken farmer with hatched chick
1967 – 2016

Phyllodes Tumor

For those of you who don’t know me personally, last year, Mrs. Nasty was diagnosed with a Phyllodes Tumor. This ultimately became a terminal case of cancer and at the time I started this post, she had very little time left. In April of this year, I took a leave of absence from a very supportive CEO and employer to care for her full time. Over the last few months, my posts have been a bit sporadic and I wanted to provide an explanation because they will probably continue to be sporadic in the near future.

In June of 2015, Mrs. HRNasty was diagnosed with a fast growth tumor. She ended up having a lumpectomy and then shortly after a mastectomy on the same breast. Following radiation therapy, she came back strong and returned to a very supportive team at her company in January of 2016. Life was good, and we looked at the situation as a 6-month pause on our lives which brought us closer and taking our appreciation of our lives together to another level.

Phyllodes Tumor

With Mrs. HRNasty on the oars, Mr. HRNasty gets into fish with Adipose “Adi” Finn

In April of this year, it was discovered that the tumor had returned in her lungs. Amazingly, she was working full time through the end of April. She came down with what we thought was a cold that hung around. She went to the doctor thinking she may have walking pneumonia and was put on antibiotics for a couple of weeks. When that didn’t work, she went back in and a scan was ordered. They found tumors in both of her lungs. If you thought working with this “cold” was amazing, she was rowing me down a local river in our drift boat and consistently putting me on fish just a few weeks before the operation (we still thought this was a cold). After being together for over 20 years, we had one of our best days on the river and our first real float with our two-year-old puppy Adipose “Adi” Finn.

Chemotherapy hasn’t been proven to show any success with her particular type of cancer. With this type of cancer we didn’t feel like the timing was in our favor to try radiation therapy. If the radiation wasn’t successful, with the tumors fast growth rate, it would be too late to take other measures.

Why would I share this with the blog’s Community? Not much is known of Phyllodes Tumors and Mrs. HRNasty wish was that others could learn from her experience. I plan to post some personal learnings in the near future and this post will put those learnings into perspective.

Phyllodes Tumor

Proofreader and best friend with Adipose “Adi” Finn

The other reason is that Mrs. HRNasty was my biggest supporter. She was the biggest supporter of this blog and my underground efforts to help readers beat the corporate system. I have mentioned her regularly over the years and many of my friends jokingly refer to her as Mrs. HRNasty. Wife of 20 plus years, she was and continues to be my best friend. She was an evangelist, proofreader and a reality check on most of the posts since day 1.

Wednesday’s was date night in the HRNasty household. I would try to leave work at 7:00PM on Wednesday’s and get home by 8:00 so we could eat dinner out together. It was on these dates that I would ask Mrs. Nasty to review the upcoming blog post every week. We usually went to the local biker bar or the local diner. We got a lot of stares from patrons of the restaurant as we were both working through dinner on our laptops. I would make last edits to the weeks post, turn the lap top around and she would quickly proof read it for me. We looked forward to our “date night” as a much needed break during the week. Moving forward, if I have a dangling participle, you will know that it is not Mrs. HRNasty’s fault.

She believed in me and my mission around this blog. I take a lot of flack because of my views, but she understood the intent. Explain what is really happening behind the HR doors to help candidates find the jobs they want and create new opportunities. We didn’t worry about the haters, nay-sayers or non-believers. No one author will please everyone, and I decided early on to just stick with my style of writing not worry about the chaff. We are close to 50K subscribers, but she was just as proud of me when our only subscribers were our two dogs and us individually. Despite my desire to keep my personal name on the down low, she took every opportunity to let folks know who I was. She was proud that I could help folks in a job search, climb the career ladder and that I was penning this blog. Some of her friends were able to land $25K raises and skip level promotions because of the blog and coaching. Despite me trying to keep our identity quiet, she was not bashful.

She heard me just about every Sunday morning on a Skype call or coaching someone in our kitchen one-on-one and was able to share this insight with her co-workers as well.

In April of this year, we were admitted to the local hospital’s Intensive Care Unit where Mrs. Nasty had the operation to remove the tumors in her lung. We planned on being there for 2-3 weeks and we want to thank Courtney H and Bryson for temporarily adopting our 2-year-old lab Adipose “Adi” Finn. It was a huge weight off our shoulders knowing she was well cared for. Thank you both for the peace of mind. This was as meaningful a gift as we could receive because it allowed us to spend that much more time together.

Mrs. Nasty had ¾ of her right lung removed and ¼ of her left lung removed. We spent a total of 34 days in the hospital. This was a pretty severe operation which included a by heart pass. She made it through and was on a strong recovery. On day 25, she had a CT scan and the doctors found three more dark spots.

With her body still recovering from the lung surgery, she didn’t have the strength to undergo another operation or therapy.

The doctors explained that it is just a matter of time. Our focus became her comfort vs getting better. It has been a lot to deal with personally, physically and emotionally but we became a real team.

I held her hand when she was scared and she held my hand when I felt helpless.

The reason I wanted to share this news is purely selfish. I wish that everyone could see how Mrs. Nasty carried herself. I wish everyone could see how she handled what ever was dished out. I couldn’t be more proud of how she carried herself. Physical therapy twice a day, doctors and nurses coming and going at all hours of the day and night. I wouldn’t have lasted 3 days in there. She never complained and never questioned “why?” Despite being roused at 5:30 am every morning for x rays, daily blood draws, and 3 shots a day, she always figured out how to smile and wink at me. It was her way of telling me she was OK when I couldn’t hold her hand behind an x ray wall. She thanked the nurses when they drew blood and gave her shots. She went out of her way to make sure the folks cleaning her room were appreciated. She asked me to bring in donuts and treats for the staff of nurses on the floor because she thought they were so amazing. I never thought I would say this, but she taught me the meaning of being gracious. I am the luckiest guy alive and received the greatest gift in the lesson learned watching her go through very difficult times both emotional and physically with dignity and style. I couldn’t have asked for more in a wife and best friend. She didn’t ever question my month long fishing trips, boats, motorcycles, and yes, the blog and time spent on date night and early weekend mornings. She encouraged me on every pursuit I was interested in. 

Even when we were expecting a full recovery, the hospital staff was really generous with the both of us. I think that it is because of the way she handled herself.

  • Where most of the rooms held two patients, the nurses arranged a private large room and brought in a bed for me.
  • Even though they were not involved at all this time, the doctors that performed the surgery last year visited daily to offer support.
  • The nurses were wondering who we were because we had direct numbers with so many doctors.
  • Nurses explained this never happened in the past, but the nursing director brought us home made baked goods. Mrs. HRN is the one getting operated on and I am the one getting the benefits.
  • Special thanks to the nurses and techs in the CCU and Level 16 who made us feel so special.  Ruta, thank you for all of your emotional support. 
Phyllodes Tumor

Mr. and Mrs. HRNasty on an Orange Popsicle date in the hospital

Towards the end, we transferred to Hospice and I can’t believe how efficient and caring this group is. We met with the Hospice nurse at 10:00 AM and 2 hours later, a hospital bed, wheel chair and other equipment was set up in the house. She was comfortable and relatively mobile in the house. When the sun was out, we could hang out on our deck, and share a Popsicle. It sounds small but this was one of the few things she was interested in eating at the hospital. A complete loss of appetite resulted in a feeding tube going into her stomach and Orange Popsicles became a “thing” we could look forward to. Because three flavors come in a box, our dog Adi got a lot of grape and cherry popsicles.

Adi licking on a "non Orange" Popsicle.

Adi licking on a “non Orange” Popsicle.

In a past post, I blogged about how I was one of the most stoic individuals you could meet. That post is here and titled “Hugs in the workplace”.  In this post, I also explain how Mrs. HRNasty, being adopted by a Greek family is as outgoing and demonstrative as they come. Our initial cultural differences had many of our friends questioning our relationship and thought we were doomed as a couple. Over time, Mrs. HRNasty demonstrated to me how to show love, express emotion and why it is so important. The hot NFL cheerleader I referenced in that blog is still one of the most attractive people I know both inside and out. She visited us on a regular basis at the hospital, called us every day and we laughed about that very first hug. Because of Mrs. HRN, I am happy to say that I am much more comfortable when it comes to hugs and PDA. Years later, I still wish my guy friends could see the greeting I receive from the ex-cheerleader.

We knew the last couple of weeks wasn’t going to be easy so we took it day by day, worked harder as a team and grew even closer.

Mrs. Nasty’s company and co-workers have been next level brilliant. Hospital visits, meals, support and friendship. A special shout out to Michel J. for organizing so much, Stephanie F and Jana for making sure I continue to have company. Thank you.

I am not sure what else to say. Please know we are not bitter. We are appreciative of the additional time the doctors and surgeons gave us together. We became stronger as a couple every year for the past 20 years and the strongest this past year. We feel very fortunate and proud of what we have done with our lives together, our careers, and most importantly the friendships developed. I didn’t like the situation, and it broke my heart to see her work so hard and endure, but I am nothing but proud and I want as many people to hear her story as I can possibly reach. Even today, I received a card with a VISA gift certificate to help with bills from a company she worked with 15 years ago. Thank you Tony T and the crew at HomeSight. I consider the gesture to be a testament to the relationships that she built.    

There are so many people that helped out so much. Kathy McC, Jamien McC and Jennifer McC, thank you for your company and everyday conversations, which were a great escape from our reality. Dr. Janie G, your wisdom, visits at the hospital and our home really made her feel like a special patient. Dr. Wesley C, we wouldn’t have made it without an inside guy and someone I consider a personal friend and amazing doc. Dr. Misha H, your transparency, honesty and overall attitude were perfect for us as a couple. To the nurses and techs of Level 16, you really made us feel like family. Michel J, organizing Jane’s co-worker visits and meals was huge emotional uplift and I saw how proud she was about her career, relationship with colleagues and what she accomplished. CourtneyH and Bryson thank you for taking care of our Adipose “Adi” Finn. KeithS, JeffM, CSP, YorkB and MattW, you guys always know how to make a guy feel comfortable and give confidence when he is facing his toughest life moments.

Nurse Jill B, you have been amazing for the both of us. I felt SO much better about Jane’s comfort in her last few hours and her journey moving forward because of your unconditional love, advice and support. I will never forget seeing her smile and saying “Thank you” to yourself and Megan B for providing company and comfort in the last hours.


Phyllodes Tumor

Mrs. HRNasty with some Rock Creek goodies  

 Thank you to our great friend and a fellow angler Eric Donnelly Chef, Owner and James Beard nominee at Rock Creek Seattle who will be taking care of the food. This was her favorite restaurant and a place we shared some special times this past year. Thank you Brother.

If you have gotten something out of this blog over the years, please send some positive vibes our way on Saturday when we celebrate her life . 

Mrs. HRNasty, I miss your energy and your infectious smile,


HRNasty and Adipose “Adi” Finn
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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Internship Interview

What does this sophomore know about the Internship interview that graduating seniors do not

Beat the internship interview

Last week we discussed the Nasty logic on how to land a internship for undergraduates. A sophomore wrote in the below email and I had so much detail, I had to break the post up into two parts. Last weeks post is here, and with her permission, I am posting her email below:

Hi HRNasty,

I realize this is an old post but I’m hitting a wall when it comes to changing my resume for different jobs. I get your point but I’m a junior undergraduate student studying economics with only a few years of work experience and very little mentionable classwork (unfortunately I completed my GEs first so my more complex econ classes will all be in my last year). How can I dramatically change my resume for each job when I have such limited material? The most I could think of is adjusting descriptions to match the job posting, but as you mentioned previously, that isn’t much. Even my career adviser told me to use one resume when I tried to have two different resumes when I was applying to an accounting internship and a consulting internship. Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you,


To be hired, we need to land the first phone interview. Once we get the recruiter on the phone we have a shot of convincing them that we are worthy of being hired despite a less than desirable graduation date.

Per last weeks post, as it relates to internship experience, all candidates are created equal. Whether you have had 1 internship or 3, are a freshman or a senior, most companies look at everyone as an equal. Internships will come into perspective when applying for a full time position post graduation. Candidates will have interview experience and the internships show initiative. The more you have, the more initiative.

Yes, first and foremost, hiring managers would prefer to hire graduating seniors. At the end of the day, they really just want someone who can do the job and help them out in the up coming summer. On the other hand, HR is looking at converting interns to FTE’s. Conversion isn’t as important to managers. The priorities are different. Two years of college or 4 doesn’t matter. If we can “sound” like we can take instruction and play well with others, we have a great shot.

Most intern candidates come to the table with two similar qualities and it is very easy to stand out in this crowd.

  1. Resumes which list very basic accomplishments and lack detail.
  2. Are very reserved during the interview.

These two are intertwined and feed off each other to create an impression that won’t sell. Examples of typical accomplishments listed on an intern candidate’s resume:

  • Ran the cash register
  • Responsible for making sure the kitchen was clean
  • As a nanny, took care of 2 children for a dentist

One way to stand out is to list detail and specifically numbers. In the below bullets, we are saying the same thing as the above, but showing more “scale” and thus, adding credibility

  • Responsible for running the cash register and closing out the till every night. For the entire 3 month job, my balance was only off by $.75 cents and I am proud to say I set a record for “best accuracy”.
  • Responsible for cleaning a 1000 sq. foot kitchen every night. This consisted of scrubbing down the exhaust hoods, changing the oil in the fryers, mopping the floors and hosing down the rubber mats.
  • As a nanny, was responsible for 2 children ages 5 and 14. My duties included but were not limited to preparing meals, driving the clients to extra curricular activities and monitoring the 5 year olds diabetes.

There is one other thing that holds most candidates back in the internship interview.  Candidates are nervous and don’t show much personality. I suspect that this is due to a lot of factors. My theory is that most interns do not know what to expect in an interview and consequently, are not comfortable interviewing with larger companies.

It’s ok to f*#k-up an interview at McDonalds because Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts and Jack in the Box are right across the street. There are plenty of these jobs. Interview with enough of these fast food joints and we can quickly gain interview experience for this type of job. We will learn what to expect. Internships don’t grow on trees so it is much harder to gain interview experience at this level. Unfortunately, colleges are not taking the time to teach interviewing skills so don’t feel badly. This early in a candidates career, there is just not a lot of experience or exposure to the interview process.

Internship interview secret

The BEST way to approach an internship interview is to treat the interview like you are having coffee with your favorite uncle or aunt.

When we talk with our favorite uncle or aunt, there is a back and forth dialogue, we provide more detail than we might with a complete stranger in a business setting.

We look at the uncle or aunt as a wiser and smarter mentor, but it is also a casual atmosphere with some joking. This is the atmosphere we want during the interview. This subtle level of comfort that you create with the person interviewing you, will set you apart. Interns usually answer questions the same way they list their accomplishments on the resume. Short and to the point as bulleted above. If you can answer the interview questions with color and detail as shown above you will have a shot.

So, if you are in the internship application process for an accounting position, try to lean your experience to ANYTHING accounting. Mention the use of EXCEL, working a cash register, counting money at the end of the day. ANYTHING accounting will help. If you are going for a marketing position, add info about your personal social media accounts, with links to the profiles. Talk about research papers, or how you follow marketing blogs or reading marketing books in your cover letter. Even if you are a sophomore in school, you CAN tailor your resume to the position of interest.

Lastly, and this is not an intentional knock on career counselors. Career counselors are well intentioned.  Most of them have NOT recruited in the real world or run candidates through interview loops in the last few years. They just don’t have real world experience. Yes, they have seen 1000’s of resume’s.  Have they seen the resume’s go through the entire process or just the resumes that started the process? Don’t believe the hype, multiple resumes will help out!

Like a Boss!


Boss: During a critical moment, a person, animal or thing seizes the opportunity and takes charge and wins or overcomes an obstacle that seems nearly impossible to accomplish.
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired. A phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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internship application

Sophomores and juniors can easily compete with graduating seniors for internships

Internship application

The internship application process is an unknown for many students and I recently received a great question regarding the process. It is a question I am asked about on a fairly regular basis and on further reflection wanted to add a few more points.

I’d like to thank our reader Aubrey for bringing up the insightful question. After thinking about the question, I wanted to add more detail.  The original question and my reply is listed in it’s original format here and below.

Hi HRNasty,

I realize this is an old post but I’m hitting a wall when it comes to changing my resume for different jobs. I get your point but I’m a junior undergraduate student studying economics with only a few years of work experience and very little mentionable classwork (unfortunately I completed my GEs first so my more complex econ classes will all be in my last year). How can I dramatically change my resume for each job when I have such limited material? The most I could think of is adjusting descriptions to match the job posting, but as you mentioned previously, that isn’t much. Even my career adviser told me to use one resume when I tried to have two different resumes when I was applying to an accounting internship and a consulting internship. Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you,


The assumptions

I made a few assumptions based on prior experience when answering similar questions:

  1. The applicant is worried about a lack of experience as it relates to the competition.
  1. The accomplishments listed on the resume are relatively short. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bullets were a single line or less.
  1. This candidate is a sophomore and it is common to list the anticipated graduation date on the resume.

In no particular order, I am going to try and answer the questions and provide further thoughts. With so much information and nuance on this topic so I will break this up into two posts.

The playing field is equal

Thing 1. Remember that the folks you are competing with for these internships have the same amount of experience as you do. Whether someone is a sophomore, junior or senior, the hiring manager and the hiring team look at all interns as folks with “no experience”.

I realize this sounds unfair to the folks with a couple of internships on their resume but until a FTE, professional job is listed, it really isn’t experience. Even if a senior with internship experience is applying for the same position you are, the hiring company looks at you and the senior as equal candidates. It doesn’t make sense, but just trust me.

FWIW, when you are looking for a full time position AFTER graduation, having multiple internships WILL make a big difference. It will give you a leg up on those with only 1 internship or no internships. It isn’t the actual experience as much as the initiative and dedication that these summer positions represent.

Thing 2. Candidates with 1 or 2 years of real world experience are NOT applying for internships. These candidates have moved on and are looking for paid full time positions. A candidate who has held a full time position is not going to be applying for an internship and if they are, the hiring company will be suspicious. Going from a FTE to a summer intern is a pretty big step back unless there is a career change, the hiring company will assume the candidate wants FTE money and not call. Remember, your competition is very similar to you on paper. The playing field is as equal as it every will be in your career.

All interns are created equal

Because most interns look the same on paper, we want to make sure we do everything we can to distinguish ourself from the rest of the chaff. We do this two ways. We create a resume with a lot of detail and interview with personality. This sounds like common sense, but most interns lack resume detail and do not interview with enthusiasm or show any personality. Examples of this next week.

To land an interview with any company, there are a couple of things we can do. Try to find internships via friends, networks and family. This makes it easier to show off our personality and easier for the hiring manager to hear about your skills via the grapevine. It is MUCH easier to land a meeting via friends and family vs. a corporate goliath. Friends and family will make us feel more comfortable when it comes time to interview. This is the same advice I give to ANYONE looking for a job with 2 to 20 years of experience. 

One trick to make it easier for a recruiter or hiring manager to call us is to leave our expected college graduation date off the resume. Instead of stating “expected graduation date 2016”, just say “currently attending”.  In most cases, I recommend we leave high school graduation dates off resume as well. With the college experience listed, the high school tenure is assumed. The exception to this is if you can list highlights from your high school career. Highlights include accomplishments like a high GPA, captain, co-captain or if played varsity sports. Leadership positions held and languages spoken are also ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.

The value of a graduating senior can be overcome

From an HR perspective, I want to hire seniors. As heinous as this may sound, juniors and sophomores do not hold much interest to me. For most HR departments, the end goal of an internship is to convert the intern into a full time hire. This goal is different for the hiring managers. HR knows that very rarely is a student going to take an internship as a sophomore or junior and apply for a full-time position when they graduate 2 or 3 years later. Most interns apply for a full time position with the company they held their last internship with.

Hiring managers on the other hand don’t care as much because their needs are short term vs. long term. They just want help for the summer and whether they get a sophomore or a senior makes no difference to most. Hiring managers just need cheap labor for a few months. This sounds horrible but remember, to work on a substantial project, you will need to be trained up. If the internship is only 3 months and it takes you 30 to 45 days to train an intern up on a meaty project isn’t worth the investment. You can be trained in 1 to 2 days to accomplish the simple stuff. This saves time for $75K or $100K a year employees who can tackle the meat. You my undergraduate friend just found your niche for the summer.  

Expected graduation dates

Graduation dates on a resume tip hiring managers off on your long-term availability. The odds of converting a senior to a full time employee are much higher vs. converting a sophomore or junior intern a few  years later. As an employer, getting the company name out in the community via a hired intern is a good thing. In comparison, nothing establishes a hiring company’s reputation like converting an intern to an FTE.  To overcome this bias as an underclassman, leave the words “expected graduation date” off the resume.

It is easy to take advantage of the conflict between HR’s goals and the hiring managers goals when it comes to hiring interns. HR wants to convert interns to full time and hiring managers really just want short term help.

Next week we go into how to list specific accomplishments on your resume to separate you from the competition, whether or not you should listen to university career counselors, and how to interview. 

Like a Boss!

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

If you felt this post was valuable, subscribe to weekly updates here, (I promise, no spam) “like” us on Facebook, and leave your comments below. Thank you!