manage the job interview

Take control of your job interview and your career. Avoid a car crash / multiple car pile up

Manage your interview part 2

As a candidate, you need to manage your interview. Last weeks post was on the topic of overcoming a recruiter that didn’t make use of follow-up questions. Many candidates have a solid skill set that fits the job description. Unfortunately, if the candidate doesn’t know how to control the person conducting the interview, they may not move them forward. The recruiter needs to leave the interview with proof points that you can do the job. Candidates are passed over on a regular basis because the interviewer asks a question and not knowing the meaning behind the question the candidate provides the wrong answer. The interviewer doesn’t follow-up with additional clarifying questions and assumes the worst. I received a number of great questions via email regarding last week’s post and thought a second post with an additional example would be helpful.

The goal of last weeks post was to point out that a number of great candidates are declined because the person conducting the interview isn’t asking follow-up questions. The question isn’t asked a second time in a different manner in an attempt to bring clarity to the candidate. We don’t want the interviewer to stand in the way of a great opportunity so we need to take control of the interview. We don’t want to leave the results of the interview in the hands of the interviewer. 

The FAIL

A typical example of a great candidate failing an interview answer is below. Based on the candidates answer, this candidate would probably be passed over. This phenomena isn’t limited to this particular question. It can happen with any interview question. 

Interviewer:

How do you handle stress?

Candidate:

Handling stress isn’t a strength for me.

At this point the interviewer is thinking: “Well this candidate isn’t going to work out. We have a stressful job. Why does the dumb ass recruiter keep sending me these candidates who are not qualified?”    

This short exchange is a typical conversation during an interview and frankly, the candidate let it happen. The candidate shot their self in the head. As candidates, we need to manage the job interview.

Hypersensitive manager

Because the last person in the position didn’t handle stress well, the hiring manager wants to make sure that the next person in the position does handle stress well. The hiring manager is focused on this qualification and hyper sensitive to it. As soon as they hear an inkling that there is a deficit in this particular skill, the interview is over.

Boyfriend  / Girlfriend example

Lets say we have a couple that has been dating. They have gotten serious but there is one problem. The girl REALLY likes to watch football and the guy just isn’t into sports. The girl wants to watch football on Sundays in her jersey and wants to spend a lot of money on season tickets. There are football pools at work and Fantasy Football leagues with friends. Finally the dude says “enough”. Your football is more important than I am. Your football BFF’s spend more time with you than I do.” He walks. You can bet your ass that the NEXT boyfriend is going to check the “I really enjoy football” box. ” Her dream guy will have Seattle Seahawk sheets and pillow cases, tailgate in season and have a life-size poster of a player in their room. This candidate won’t just say “I like football”. You are going to get the idea pretty quickly that this guy REALLY likes football. 

The behavior to surround ourselves with folks who will help us become successful is just human nature. This is why we need to be pro active with our interview answers.  

An effective recruiter has a different conversation

Interviewer:

How do you handle stress?

Candidate:

I don’t handle stress well.

Interviewer:

Can you give me an example of when you were stressed?

Candidate:

I am stressed now. I just graduated and am looking for a job. My mom has cancer and I am still trying to work 30 hours a week. It’s just stressful now. My mom will be OK in the end, but I just don’t like to see her go through the treatments. I used to go to the gym 4 days a week and now I just go on Tues, Thurs to relieve stress. Under the circumstances, I am stressed but in the grand scheme of things, I know that I am doing as much as I can and there are some things out of my control.

This interviewer uncovered someone who is having a tough time and is in a stressful situation. The interviewer also used Behavioral Interviewing techniques to dig deeper. In this case, the interviewer found an example of prior success with a potentially strong candidate who is taking extra measure to handle stress. This answer paints the candidate in a very different light versus the first conversation.

The above is an actual conversation from an actual interview. That candidate was hired and because they knew how to deal with stress. They proved to the hiring manager’s that stress is relative and they took steps to handle stress.  

Why is this interview question being asked?

As candidates, it can be easy to feel like we need to be respectful of the interviewer’s time and provide short concise answers. This type of answer tends to lack emotion. Short answers that are straight to the point usually do not build any repport. As candidates, we need to anticipate that if someone asks about the following, it is important. Ask yourself  the following about all interview questions:

Why are they asking this question? They wouldn’t ask the question if it wasn’t important? What do I need to show them as it relates to this question? 

If you are asked about your Excel or Microsoft Office skills, we need to elaborate on what we know. Just saying “Yes, I know Excel” or even “On a scale of 1-10, I am a 10” isn’t enough. Your “10” may not be another person’s 10. You may be an expert at graphs and sorts, but the hiring manager may need formulas and pivot tables. If you are asking “A pivot what?”, we are not a 10. The way we answer this question is by being more specific. “On a scale of 1-10, I consider myself a 9. I am good at graphs, pivot tables, and joins. I feel good about my Excel game”  

Corporate Life is a Game, Win It!

HRNasty
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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Job recruiter

Absolutely do NOT leave your career in the hands of someone else. Take control of your job interview

Job recruiter

If you have been interviewed by a job recruiter that didn’t know anything about your job or a hiring manager that was new to interviewing, this post is for you.

After reading this post, you won’t have to worry about being cheated out of your job offer by a bad recruiter. Based on the stories I hear from my clients, crappy job recruiters come in all shapes and sizes. Below I list a few examples of what I have heard:

  • My job recruiter didn’t know anything about the role, they were obviously not a tech recruiter.
  • The job recruiter was obviously new to recruiting; they didn’t understand their role.
  • When I was interviewed, the job recruiter came unprepared. They didn’t know anything about me and they admitted to printing off the resume on the way to the interview.

Hear me ROAR

Readers of HRNasty know that I preach one thing and one thing only!

Take control of your career! Don’t leave it in the hands of monkeys, or bad managers. Don’t let one asshole employee frustrate you and quit. Be pro active with your career. Corporate life is a game, WIN IT!

OK, so that is half a dozen rants, but you get the idea. Take control of your career biatches! (You don’t want to hang out with me today, I am on fire!)

Yes, we absolutely can take control of our careers. Type a career topic of choice into the search field on the left hand pane and prior posts will prove you can “Win the game of Corporate Life”. How do you take control of the job interview? Read on my young Jedi.

What does it take to land a job offer?

There are a number of factors that stand between the candidate and a job offer. I explain to the folks I work with I can get them into the top 2-3 candidates and then after that, it takes a little bit of luck. But get into the top 2-3 a couple of times and you will learn how to create luck. To land a job, it takes:

  • Qualifications / experience (resume qualifications should match the job description)
  • Presentation layer (this can include your cover letter, resume and how you dress)
  • Your preparation for the job interviews (research on the company and hiring manager)
  • Practice, Practice, Practice (Did you practice your interview answers out loud or just think about in your mind and wing it)

If you did all the above with the dedication of an athlete training for first place (there is no second place when it comes to landing a job) there is one thing that can still stand in your way.

If you are interviewed by a job recruiter who knows nothing about your job, or a manager who is inexperienced with interviewing, you are set up to be screwed.

Large companies have formal training plans for interviewing and recruiting. In larger companies you won’t be allowed to interview unless you have been through the company interview training. Smaller to medium-sized companies do not have the resources for proper training. Which leaves the candidate at a definite dis advantage.

Below is an examples of how an inexperienced, untrained hiring manager can scrap your candidacy for the job offer.

Inexperienced Interviewer

Interviewer:

“I notice on your resume that you went to XYZ University. What was your GPA?”

Candidate:

“3.0 in my marketing concentration”

Interviewer doesn’t say this, but is thinking: “That isn’t such a tough school, a 3.0 isn’t very good and that is in his concentration. The overall GPA is probably only a 2.75. This candidate won’t be able to hack our training program. Lets get this interview over with, this candidates is done.”

Interviewer that is having a bad day just gets lazy

Interviewer:

“I notice on your resume that you went to XYZ University. What was your GPA?”

Candidate:

“3.0 in my marketing concentration”

Interviewer:

“What was your overall GPA?

Candidate:

“2.75 GPA”

Interviewer:

“Did you work during school?”

Candidate:

“Yes, I worked during school. I worked in the school cafeteria washing dishes.”

Interviewer doesn’t say this but is thinking:

“That isn’t such a tough school, a 3.0 isn’t very good and that is in his concentration. The overall GPA is probably only a 2.75. This candidate won’t be able to hack our training program. Lets get this interview over with, this candidates is done.”

The candidate doesn’t realize that working a specific number of hours can be important to the question. To the candidate, this question is unrelated to the GPA question and doesn’t recognize the need to explain they worked 25 hours a week.

A trained job interviewer

Interviewer:

“I notice on your resume that you went to XYZ University. What was your GPA?”

Candidate:

“3.0 in my marketing concentration, 2.75 overall”

Interviewer:

“Just out of curiosity, did you work or play sports during school?”

Candidate:

“Yes, as a matter of fact I did. I am proud of myself because I am the first person in my family to go to school and I put myself through. I worked 25 hours a week during the school year and worked two jobs during the summer. During the summer I worked about 50 hours a week.” 

Interviewer:

“Wow, you took on a heavy load. What kind of jobs did you hold during school?”

Candidate:

During the school year I worked in a warehouse moving boxes for a large retail company. It was tough work, but the pay was good for an hourly job and helped me pay for school. During the summer, I worked the same job and that is why I worked 50 hours. I could work over time and it really helped me save money.

Interviewer:

“That seems like a lot. How did you manage to go to school full-time and work all those hours?”

Candidate:

“I played varsity basketball and we practiced a lot. I maintained a high GPA in high school. In college, to relieve stress I joined an intramural league that had games on Saturday mornings. I really looked forward to these games to relieve stress. It was only a 3-hour commitment a week so it was pretty manageable.”

MoneyBall

The third interviewer took the time to dig and to find out the story behind the answer. In digging, found out that this was a candidate with a great work ethic. Yes the GPA was only a 3.0, but this while working through school and coming from a family where education may not have been a priority or an option. I would much rather have this candidate over the candidate who earned a 4.0 GPA, didn’t hold a job because mommy and daddy paid the entire 4 years of tuition and studying came easy. 

The great interviewer will take the time to dig. This interviewer will be able to present candidates that other companies are passing on. Think about the movie MoneyBall with Brad Pitt. These guys found players that other teams passed on. Personally, I pride myself on finding candidates that needed uncovering. I pride myself on finding candidates where the hiring manager is thinking “What is HRNasty seeing that I am not seeing? I don’t want to interview this guy.” If they are thinking this then other hiring managers probably passed on them as well and we can uncover a hidden gem. This candidate will be loyal to us for giving them a break where other companies did not.

It’s not intentional

The interviewer that doesn’t dig for additional information probably does not know to dig or how to dig. If they haven’t been trained, they don’t know what they don’t know. If an interviewer talks with a candidate and hears about a 3.0 GPA, they will come to me and say “I want to decline this candidate, they only have a 3.0 GPA.”.  I of course try to defend the candidate and explain the work ethic, earning their way through school, and the physical labor. Unfortunately, at this point, the interviewer has made up their mind and we lost momentum. They have been thinking about declining this candidate and it will be tough to change their mind. The train has left the station.

The way we overcome this is by being pro-active and take control of our career. Assume that there will be no follow-up questions and assume that every question is the equivalent of a “What is your weakness?” questions. Make it easy for the interviewer to understand you are qualified and make it easy for the interviewer to defend your candidacy.

Make the job interviewers life easy

Give the answer that the job recruiter isn’t going to dig for

“I earned a 3.0 GPA in school and I am really proud of this. During school worked 20 hours a week moving heavy boxes in school and closer to 50 hours a week during the summer so I could earn over time pay. Within my family, I am the first child of 3 to go to school. I wasn’t discouraged from going to school, but my family couldn’t afford to support me. If I wanted to go to school I would have to pay for it myself. My first couple of quarters in school were tough and my GPA was pretty low. But I figured out how to study.  By my senior year, I was earning close to a 3.8. My overall GPA was a 3.0 and it is something I am proud of.”

In this answer, we owned our potential weakness. We didn’t bash spoiled rich kids who didn’t have to work, and we talked about our work ethic. We tell enough of a story that the listener is going to want to hear more.

Don’t let an inexperienced job recruiter or a recruiter who doesn’t know about your job get in between you and the opportunity. Take control of your destiny and give the interviewer something they can share with the hiring manager. 

Next week, part two of this series where we give a few more examples of taking control of the job interview and the job recruiter.

Corporate Life is a game, Win It!

HRNasty
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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Job offer

The big piece most candidates are missing in the search of the job offer

Real goal of job interviews

Last week we talked about why most candidates miss out on the job offer. That post explained the REAL goal of the cover letter, resume and networking. Most candidates assume the goal of these steps is to land a job offer. Candidates are thinking about being in the job before they landed the job. Unfortunately, we couldn’t be more wrong. In that post, I reverse engineer the interview process so you can back into a job offer. The goal of that post is to inspire candidates to think differently about the job search process. This post is for you if you:

  • Have sent in cover letters / resumes and haven’t heard anything back.
  • Are making it to the same stage of the interview process and then being declined the job offer.

This week, we continue the process and reconsider what we are really trying to do at each step of the various job interviews. Think about each interview and NOT working in the position. 

If you are looking for a relationship with Mr or Ms. Right, we need to focus on the first date and not be thinking about marriage and kids. That is usually a turn off. 

Phone interview

Contrary to popular belief, the goal of the phone interview is not to land a job. This is a subtle distinction on paper, but a huge difference when in any interview. My personal theory: When a candidate finally hears back from a company after sending in dozens of resumes, candidates feel they have a shot. At this point they don’t want to blow the opportunity.

Candidates become anxious and provide too much information during the phone interview. The ONLY goal at this step is to qualify for the job so we are asked to come in for an in-person interview. 

Common mistake

The common mistake is that many candidates don’t pay attention to the time constraints of a phone interview. This personal theory is based on the answers I hear during. Candidates usually do themselves in by:

  • Trying to provide too much information or too much detail. This can be technical information related to the job and too many industry acronyms.
  • Take too long to answer the question. Unprepared candidates are not able to articulate their answers.  
  • Run on answers, AKA diarrhea of the mouth.

Not a 1 hour session

The phone interview is usually a 30-minute exploratory session. The recruiter’s goal is to determine if the candidate should be brought in for the in-person interview. The recruiter and the hiring are not trying to determine if you should receive a job offer at this stage. This is just a QUALIFYING interview.

The recruiter received 50 resumes. This stack of candidates is whittled down to 4-5 candidates to call for phone interview. The recruiters ONLY goal is to figure out which 2-3 candidates are interesting enough to bring in for the in-person interview.

TMI, too much information

To make sure nothing is left out; most candidates provide too much detail during this interview. Most candidates are declined because they five more information than needed. WAYYYY more. The recruiter has a list of standard questions they NEED to have answered. Candidates should focus on providing answers that address the specific question. 

The in-person interview can be fluid and conversational. The phone interview is targeted. At this stage, the recruiter has a very specific set of questions they are trying to find answers for.

Recruiter doesn’t know your industry

The recruiter doesn’t always have specific knowledge as it relates to the position. The recruiter is just trying determine if you are a fit for the company, hiring manager / department and the position. Typical questions include:

  • What are you looking or financially? (Are your salary expectations in line with the company’s budget?)
  • What do you know about the company (Did you do any research and at least show some interest?)
  • Why are you leaving your last job (We want to make sure you won’t leave us for the same reasons)
  • Are you a company culture fit? (Will you get along with the team)
  • Why are you interested in “Acme Publishing”? (Is this just a J.O.B., or is there something here at Acme Publishing that interested you personally?)
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?

Generic interview questions

The above interview questions are generic in nature. These questions are relevant for any industry and any position. Trying to force details of accomplishments into the above questions is not the focus because these questions are NOT asking for accomplishments. This is why it can be OK if the recruiter doesn’t have industry knowledge.

When to provide detail

When asked a “Tell me a time when you. . . .” question, candidates SHOULD provide some detail. Just remember, time is a-tickin’. Don’t be surprised if the recruiter doesn’t have any experience in your field. If this is the case, avoid going into technical details related to your experience or using acronyms. Recruiters will be lost, or worst, bored with the answers. They will not know to be impressed by your heroic accomplishments. Save the technical details for the hiring manager.

Practice your answers

We absolutely know what questions will be asked during the phone interview. Be prepared and have practiced your answers. Trying to articulate a solid idea for the first time during the interview will spell DOOM. Candidates should:

  • Be able to answer the salary question without beating around the bush.
  • Rattle off details about the company and prove they did their research.
  • Prove a sincere interest in the job and the company. Hint, we are not applying because the job has an easy commute.

Concentrate on getting the in person interview by providing efficient and conversational answers to the questions we know to expect. Practice makes perfect.

First in-person interview

Congrats! You made it past the gate-keeper. The first in-person interview is usually with someone from the hiring department. The goal is to inspire the first interviewer to green light you and push you through an interview loop. This will be with the rest of the team and the VP.

Do not expect to be hired after a single in-person interview. Hiring companies want to also put you in front of team members so that they can generate consensus within the department. This is a first date so manners are important.

Behavioral Interviewing

Being able to demonstrate behavioral interviewing style answers will be key. You must build cred with the hiring manager. Providing your answers in the right format will help this. The manager must confident you will be successful when interviewing with the VP. This takes commitment on their part because they are putting their reputation on the line.

As with all interviews, we want to build chemistry. Thinking about this interview as if we are having coffee with a friend or a first date can change the tone of the interview. We don’t want an interview to be stiff where the interviewer asks a question and we provide short, one word or single sentence answer. We wouldn’t talk with our friends like this. For best results, assume the hiring manager and the team will be our friends.

The goal of the hiring manager interview is two-fold:

    • Impress the hiring manager with your technical expertise.
    • Give the hiring manager confidence they can put you in front of their boss / VP. The VP will be “approving “ you as a hire, so the hiring manager is putting their reputation on the line. As it relates to the VP, can you carry on a conversation? Will you or will you NOT embarrass the hiring manager? Are your answers consistent with what you said in prior interviews. 

Next week we discuss the team interview and the interview with the VP / Head of the department. Remember, if you are interviewing, don’t think about scoring a touch down until you have caught the ball. Don’t think about being in the job or the job offer. Think about the nailing the individual interview. 

See you at the after party

HRNasty
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 interview

Just like the job interview, the goal is to focus on each individual game and not be distracted by the final game

The goal of the job interview, resume and networking

Believe it or not, the goal of a job resume and job interview is not to land a job. For those of you wondering “WTF you talking about HRNasty? What have you been blogging about all these years?” I know and I apologize. I have posted about how to write a resume, cover letter and how to interview. But I haven’t ever been specific in actual goals of the cover letter or the interview.

The goal of the job resume is NOT to land a job offer. Landing a job offer is a series of steps and we need to make sure we get through each step before we think about the job offer.

The goal of the job interview is to make it to the next interview.  This is a different mindset than thinking about landing a job offer

Sales (Professional analogy)

Professional sales people don’t try to close a sale on the first meeting. Their goal is to build a relationship and land the NEXT meeting. The closing of a sale is a long process with multiple meetings. This happens over a long period of time. Job interviews are no different.

Final Four (Sports analogy)

Just like competing in the Final 4 basketball tournament, the goal of each game is to win the current game. This is the only way we can move to the next round. Teams don’t focus on winning the final game, we focus on the current game and making it to the next round.

LTR (NSFW analogy)

If we are interested in a long-term relationship with Mrs. Right, the goal of the first date isn’t to get into her pants. The goal is to land the second date. The only other comparison I can make is the teenager wearing a condom on his first date thinking he is going to get laid. The first date is just an at bat and we need to round the bases to get to home plate.

This week I will focus on what candidates should think about when it comes to networking and job resume’s. Next week we will focus on the various interviews and the goal at each step to land the job offer.

Step one, Networking

Based on all the networking meetings I have taken, I believe that a lot of candidates believe it is possible to receive a job offer after a single introductory meeting. I have blogged about networking here so I will just provide the Cliff notes. We are not going to receive a job offer after meeting someone for the first time. Our goal when networking should be to figure out how we can help our counterpart so it isn’t just about us. When appropriate I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask for an introduction to someone who might be able to provide us advice, information or guidance on how we can achieve our goal (what ever that might be). If I could leave a few bits of advice to job searchers:

No No’s when networking

The person we are networking with understands why we are looking for a job. If they have a job in mind, they will offer an introduction. With this in mind, asking “Can you give me a job?” becomes inappropriate. Pulling out a resume with the intent of explaining our background makes the conversation about us. Resist the advice to bring your resume and just get to know your counterpart. Pick their brain for advice and knowledge. We can always email our resume in our follow-up thank you email. Yes, that was a subtle hint.

Cover Letters

There is a myth that cover-letters are not read so most candidates don’t write them. I have ranted incessantly about cover letters, why they don’t work, how they can work and provided effective templates in prior posts. Yes, absolutely write them. They work and they are read.

The goal of the cover letter is to inspire the reader to look at the resume. A cover letter isn’t going to land us an offer. We don’t want to talk about how we are a hard worker or a quick learner. Those are opinions and not quantifiable. We may THINK we are a hard worker but if that manager has employees working 50, 60 or 70 hours a week, hard work just got re-defined. Instead focus on providing quantifiable data that is directly relevant to the job description. This will inspire the reader to look at your resume with interest and excitement vs. “just taking a courteous look”.

We want to keep the cover letter short, easy to read and keep humble opinions to a minimum. I have a template and the business logic behind the formula here.

Spellcheck

99% of the cover letter’s goal is to pique enough interest such that the reader is interested in your resume. The other 1% is to show you understand how to format a business letter and know where the Spellcheck button is.

Because I get so few of them, a cover letter WILL get me excited. When I see a full-page written in size 10 font, I get turned off. Just give me enough information to make me excited to turn the page.

Resume’s

2 goals of the resume

Goal 1

Is to peak enough interest is us as a candidate to generate a phone call. We are NOT going to receive a job offer after a hiring manager reads our resume. We will hopefully receive a phone call where the hiring manager can go into more detail about the accomplishments listed on the resume. So the more accomplishments we can list that directly answer the job description the better. Using the same vernacular that the job description uses will only help. If the job description asks for customer service accomplishments, and we were in a customer success unit, we should list customer service accomplishments.

Goal 2

Recruiters and hiring managers have a lot of resumes to review. Remember, the recruiter could be looking to fill 10 – 20 other positions. Because this becomes a numbers game, most resumes are skimmed within 5 seconds. Resumes are not read line by line. If we know we are only going to receive less than 5 seconds, we want to try to increase the eyeball time on the resume. We want to draw the reader to relevant information that directly connects you to the job description. Increasing eye-ball time from five seconds to 10 seconds is an eternity.

Bullets and bolding

Accomplishments will be much easier to read when formatted with bullets. Paragraphs of accomplishments are harder on the eyes. If the resume is looking for high volume customer service experience than use the words customer service and bold the key words in the accomplishment. This will be easier to recognize than a format where sentence after sentence is listed in paragraph form.

Top ½ of the first page of the resume

This is the very first thing a reader will see when they pull up the document on their computer screen. The bottom half of the page will be cut off from view unless the reader scrolls. The goal of this section is to give the reader as much relevant information as possible that relates directly to the job description and nothing else. We want to associate you as a close fit for the job.

Non relevant information

The home address has nothing to do with the job description and companies are not going to send us anything in the mail. We want to use the space taken up by the address to show our relevant skills. We want to inspire the reader to look at the rest of the document if we want the job interview. 

Personal interests

Listing personal interests at the end of the resume can separate you from the rest of the pack. As a reader who is looking at many resumes most of the candidates have a similar background and experience. It is only human nature to form a mental picture of the candidate as I review the document. Adding personal interests can humanize an otherwise technically written resume.

“Passionate Seahawks fan, just ran a half marathon and training for a full marathon”

Hopefully this explains the real goal of the various steps as we strive to go through the job interview process. Next week we cover the goal of the phone interview, in person interviews with the team the hiring manager, and the VP. 

See you at the after party,

 

HRNasty
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 interview etiquette

Don’t stay seated when you shake hands. Stand up and show job interview etiquette

Job Interview etiquette during your first interview

Is there such a thing as job interview etiquette?  Yes there is. Not just “Yes there is”.  “Hell Yes there is!” Our company recently opened 4 entry-level positions and I have been surprised with the lack of job interview etiquette. When I say “job interview etiquette”, I don’t mean some new form of etiquette. I mean common courtesy demonstrated between two people meeting for the first time – in any context. I wanted to hand out parting gifts of Emily Post’s Book of Manners to many of the candidates. Maybe at our next college recruiting fair this could be the new swag we hand out at our recruiting booth.

It was the beginning of the end for my faith in the future of humanity. I listed a few examples of what was missing from the interviews this past week.

Obvious misses in job interview etiquette

No cover letter included with the application. Just a resume and resume with typo’s in the opening line. There were a few emails that just read “Resume attached”. Others said “Hey, I think I am a good fit for your position, call me”. Many of the resumes did not make it clear who the candidate was or what they are looking for. See this post on Objective Statements, to learn how to convey that you are a qualified candidate within the first 1 second. See why a cover letter works here. During one of the interviews the phone rang.  

Cater to your customer

For those of you who think I am old school, I probably am. But as someone who brings in candidates, MY internal customers have shaped me. My customers are hiring managers, and VP’s who have the final say on hiring decisions. I need to cater to my customer and so should applicants. A recent graduate with 1 year of experience is not making the hiring decision. They may influence the decision but the ultimate decision will probably come from the head of the department. This is someone with many more years of experience and hence grew up with a specific set of old school values. These values include a strong handshake and dismissing phones during interviews. This is why I don’t want to pass along candidates who lack common courtesy. I don’t want MY customers (the hiring manager and other interviewers) experiencing:

  • Lack of an introductory letter, AKA cover letter
  • The absence of a hand shake at the beginning and end of a meeting, AKA interview
  • Phone going off during the meeting, AKA interview
  • Lack of a thank you letter which is commonplace in a business setting

My job doesn’t deal with customers!

Some readers are thinking “I am not in sales you Asshole, my role doesn’t have customers!” To which I reply with an index finger rocking side to side.  “O contraire mon ami”. It’s not just sales folks that need to display job interview etiquette. If we don’t extend these social graces within the first interview, I don’t have confidence these courtesies will be extended in follow-up interviews. The position you are interviewing for may not have traditional paying customers, but all positions have internal customers within the company. This means that as the recruiter who put my reputation on the line for you, I am going to hear about shortcomings, including job interview etiquette. 

Business reasons for job interview etiquette during an interview

It’s the right thing to do. If you go on a first date, do you answer your phone? At the initial greeting with our first date, do we extend our hand or lean in for a hug or do we just ask “What’s up?”

A lack of common courtesy is just a show of laziness. Not saying thank you to someone who took time of their day to talk is a dis’. Most employees work with internal customers and vendors and we want to demonstrate we can be respectful to these groups as well.

All interviewers expect a minimum amount of courtesy

The above-mentioned interview etiquette is SOOOooooo commonly accepted that everyone who conducts an interview notices a lack of manners. The person conducting the interview may have had ZERO interview training, but they know to expect a firm hand shake. They know that showing up late is a deal breaker. All interviewers know they will have a hard time making excuses for this lack of courtesy if they have to go to bat for the candidate. Ask any of your friends:

Why you didn’t get the job

“I am not sure why I didn’t get that job. I know I was perfectly qualified and the hiring manager seemed to like me. Yeah, my phone went off during the interview, but they didn’t seem to mind and I figured I was so well qualified, I didn’t need a thank you letter.”

The above sounds innocent enough, but admit it. Your friends would shake their heads in dis belief and you would hear “dumbass” muttered under your breath if they heard the above. 

Back to the swag idea for college recruiting fairs. I talked myself out of it. I am happy to teach the technical aspects of the job but how to be a decent human being, not so much. Conscientiousness isn’t something I want to tackle.

See you at the after party

HRNasty
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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Exiting employee vs HR department

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

exiting employee

Treat exiting employees with respect. It is a reflection on the company as much as it is the HR person conducting the exit process

How HR should treat an exiting employee

Exiting employees and how companies treat them is a phenomenon we have all witnessed in the workplace. We have all seen the HR department turn teenager petty when an employee leaves a company for a new opportunity. The HR department is the group that can set the tone both positively or negatively for both the employee AND the company’s reputation with an exiting employee. I believe we can turn any message into a neutral to positive one without looking petty. Bashing an exiting employee is not the way to encourage the employee to change their mind.  

I have a friend that is in the midst of leaving her current job for a new gig. She is VERY gracious and when I say she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, I mean it. She is always smiling, always has something nice to say, and makes everyone around her feel welcome. FULL STOP. This makes sense as she makes her living being as a gracious host. She is in a high-profile job that connects her with anything and everything related to fashion, restaurants, entertainment, and retail in the Pacific Northwest. You don’t land or keep this job by acting like a biatch. She isn’t a person that is going to take revenge but she holds a position that businesses should not piss off.  

HR’s actions are a reflection of the HR practitioner, not the exiting employee               

It scares me for the HR community when I hear she is treated like doo-doo as she moves on to her new gig. We wonder why HR has a bad rap? Short sightedness people, short sight-ed-ness. I am here for the long game and invite other HR Pro/Am’s to play the full 18 holes, and not just the front 9. Win the battle not the war. HR reputations are not shared to our faces but AFTER we leave the room.

Unless the employee works in the HR department, in most cases, HR didn’t have a direct effect on that employee leaving. HR shouldn’t take an employees exit as a personal insult. Even if the exiting employee lacks graciousness, HR should take the high road. The company will see the public side of how HR messages and conducts business. It will hear about how we conduct ourselves behind close doors because the exiting employee is also behind that closed-door.

Employees are going to move on, it’s inevitable  

Here’s the dillio. As employers;

  • We are not going to retain everyone and we should accept that.
  • Companies shouldn’t want to hang onto everyone forever and HR shouldn’t take it personally when employees leave.
  • We shouldn’t be jelly, we shouldn’t be pissy, and we shouldn’t be childish. We want our employees to grow and experience new experiences.

I am not saying I am a fan of the 18-month average tenure in tech as it is here in Seattle. We should accept that employees grow and change both personally and professionally. We should be OK and self reflective when employees leave for ANY reason.

It’s not the policy, it’s how we message the policy

The company my friend is leaving does not pay out for unused PTO. She has 2 weeks of unused PTO and they are not going to pay her for that. It is company policy and I get that. Working in tech, where so many technologists do not take vacation, I like the policy. Not paying out for PTO is a forcing function and works in a couple of ways.

  1. It strongly encourages the employee to take vacation. Use it or lose it, and this is a good thing. The company wants its employees to take breaks and ensure they have the opportunity to spend quality time outside of work.
  2. The employee doesn’t have an opportunity to save up PTO with the mindset they are going to be fired or laid off. We don’t want employees taking this sort of defensive posture. This is a mindset that either has given up or assumes the company (or individual employee) is going to fail. “I better put some PTO in the bank so I can walk out of here with a couple of weeks of pay.” Uhh, no, that is not what PTO is designed for.

The rub is that this employee does have a couple of weeks of PTO and politely asked for it when she turned in her two weeks. What she got was a scathing reminder that there is a policy in force and PTO is not paid out.

It’s not what we say, it’s how we say it.

I agree with the response, but I don’t agree with the way the response was delivered. They could have apologized for the situation, explained why they have the policy in place and maybe split the difference with her. My advice was to take the next two weeks off. Unfortunately for ME, the company had a big release of their product coming up and she wanted to ensure her customers were going to get the features they wanted. She decided to stick it out.

Reasons exiting employees leave an employer

If our company doesn’t have the growth for an employee and the employee leaves for a larger position in a different company, I should celebrate that. More than likely, the exiting employee was not able to land the more senior position without the experience gained at our company. I should be proud that our company helped them on their journey. 

Employees don’t leave a company; they leave a manager

It’s the employers responsibility to create a great opportunity

By the same token it’s the employees responsibility to take advantage of that opportunity. If an employee leaves for a better manager, employers should take a hard look at their managers. If an employee is poached by another company, that is a reflection on the company left behind as much as it is a reflection on the employee. I understand breakups are going to happen. If there is a trend and folks are exiting a single department / manager or we keep hearing about a lack of benefits, we shouldn’t make excuses. If any of us were offered more money, talked to a more inspiring manager, had a shorter commute, we would all consider the new opportunity and shouldn’t be chastised for exploring opportunities.

Business reasons for treating exiting employees with respect

Of course the employer should be gracious. Yes, an employee may be abandoning us, but I have experienced plenty of employees that have left and returned to us when the exiting employee discovered the grass wasn’t greener. Short sighted HR departments don’t usually reap the benefits of a referral from an exiting employee. I have had the fortune to work with employees who have been laid off and returned to reunion parties. I believe this happened because regardless of whether the decision to leave the company was the voluntary or involuntary we treated the employee with respect.

Requisite dating example

When a couple breaks up, there are good break ups, there are bad break ups and there are ugly break ups. Regardless of the break up, no one wants to be remembered for having a fight in Walmart or watching our personal belongings thrown out the 2nd story window with neighbors watching. When we see the word “ASSHOLE” scratched in a car, as much as I am confident the owner of the car probably was an asshole, I also think that the owner of the car is better without the artist. If we are with someone who is going to key a car, there is a problem. If a company is trying to ruin our reputation when we leave them, we are working probably with the wrong company.

HR shouldn’t be the petty ones berating an employee for simply asking for PTO. I am personally encouraging this employee to leave her company and their short-sighted HR department. I think she is better without them. We should never be stressed out trying to balance the care of her clients and the daily dysfunctional treatment by the HR department.

Bridge was burned

Bridges are built to connect people and walls are built to separate people. I am NOT saying that the company should have a party every time an employee leaves the company. But the behavior demonstrated by HR was the building of a wall. A lack of manners and professionalism is a reflection on the person conducting the exit process. It will be a reflection of the company when the exiting employee shares their story. An ex Significant Other keying a car is a problem. HR causing drama with the exiting employee is also a problem.

See you at the after party,

HRNasty
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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ps. My friend listed above left the company because promises around pay were not being delivered. Graciously, she did stay for the entire two weeks to ensure her clients were taken care of. She didn’t receive any payout for PTO. 


promotion to director

Which manager will land the promotion to Director?

Promotion to Director

What makes a promotion to Director harder than a promotion to Manager? The easy part of becoming promoted from individual contributor to Manager is gaining subject matter expertise. Unfortunately, “more” of what landed us our promotion to Manager isn’t usually enough to land the promotion to Director. The stakes increase with every promotion. The misunderstand differences in leadership and credibility requirements at each level is a barrier to entry.  The last few weeks posts discussed: 

  • Politics that need to be overcome when being considered for a promotion
  • What Managers and VP’s look for when promoting an Individual Contributor to Manager

To review, last weeks post laid out a typical organization’s structure:

  • Individual contributor
  • Group Manager (with 3-7 Individual contributors as direct reports)
  • Director (with 3-4 Managers as direct reports)
  • VP (with 3-4 Directors as direct reports)
  • C level (with 2-3+ VP’s as direct reports)

*actual numbers will vary between companies

Skip level boss must know who we are

One qualification holding back many promotions is lack of visibility. It is common for a Manager to have credibility within their immediate circle of peers and their Director. If we lack credibility beyond this circle, promotions won’t happen.

We need to make sure the peers of our boss, and our skip level boss have visibility into our accomplishments. These are the decision makers on most promotions and their endorsement is critical. If you want to go from Manager to Director, we need to have credibility with not just our Director and their peers, but our VP as well. If we want to move from Director to VP, the peers of our VP, and the CEO need to have visibility into our accomplishments. 

Every manager will have a different list of requirements for promotion. Below are a few talking points to drive the promotion conversation with your immediate manager so you know what they are looking for. 

What qualifications are required for a promotion to Director?

Communication skills 

To make the jump from IC to Manager, we demonstrated excellent communication skills with our peers and our manager. At this level, communication was limited to a small circle. 

At the Director level, communication will extend outside of the department. This means the Director must be able to effectively communicate with other disciplines. Outside of the company, a Director will effectively communicate with partners and vendors who are similarly titled. As a Director, you will be exposed to VP’s both internally and externally. The ability to effectively sell ideas to this senior level is critical.  

Strategic Thinking

When we were an IC, subject matter expertise was applied at the day-to-day level. Managers are working with teams who focus on the tactical vs. the strategic.

As we move up the ladder, thinking becomes more strategic. Directors are talking outside the department and outside the company. At this level, we have the opportunity to see what is needed or what can be leveraged longer term. Are other departments working on a product or technology that can be leveraged? Do potential partners or customers have needs that the company can fulfill by leveraging groups across the enterprise? Managers don’t usually have this insight because they are working with smaller internal teams. If we are going to take on a Director role, we need to have the ability to think strategically. I blogged about how Managers and Directors think differently here, and more specifically how Managers and VP’s interview differently here

Recognize new opportunities

The ability to recognize opportunity doesn’t mean much if we are unable to sell other departments on the idea. We need to inspire disparate teams to execution. We gotta’ have all the tools.

In my opinion, one of the big differences is that Directors are integrating teams and / or projects. They can lead multiple teams with more than one Manager from multiple disciplines. Promotions come to those who have proven they can manage projects with multiple teams. 

Exhibit grit on the job

Climbing the career ladder takes grit. Tenacity, ferocity, perseverance. Call it what you will, it takes guts and determination. When we gain more experience, and have more exposure, we think at a bigger scale. Bigger ideas require more resources. Anyone can come up with an idea, but we need to convince others that our ideas our valid and then we need to inspire teams to execute. Managers and Directors are in no-mans-land when it comes to title credibility. Employees will listen to a VP because of title alone. But for Managers and Directors, we need to legitimately convince and sell. The ability to articulate a vision and sell a plan is critical when promoting someone to Director.

Managers and Directors experience “No, that can’t be done”, or “That won’t work” when selling their ideas. Directors do not get discouraged. Directors persevere and do not give up. They keep trying to sell their ideas. Directors are open-minded and see possibility when presented with new ideas. Directors have made the leap from tactical thinking to strategic thinking. They are looking at a much bigger picture than the day-to-day and see the big picture. Directors demonstrated perseverance and grit as a Manager.    

Rock star individual contributors with no visibility will rarely rise beyond manager. I am NOT saying we need to kiss up and play politics. I am saying we shouldn’t be bashful. A promotion to Director will not fall into our laps. 

Below are methods to gain visibility beyond your peers.

Complete projects and share

If you complete a project, communicate your results to the larger group. Emphasize how your project moves your department forward. If you can present your results in person, even better. Too many times, employees finish a project and don’t communicate the results. They feel it is bragging. Don’t assume your manager is sharing this information with their peers or their VP. If other managers don’t know that you can complete a project, we shouldn’t expect them to endorse us for a promotion to Director.  

Ask for advice from your bosses colleagues 

Your peers and your immediate manager have a good idea of what you are accomplishing. Remember, your peers are NOT going to be the decision makers on your promotion to Director. It will be your boss and their peers. Meeting with these peers once a quarter and asking them for career advice is invaluable. This move puts you on their radar and gives them insight into what you are working on. Update them on how their advice helped you. Developing a relationship with these decision makers is not just good business, it will give you insight into what the rest of the “next level” looks like. We are not necessarily looking for a mentor, (it never hurts) but you will know what you need to sound like, look like and think like.  

We need to know what is important to management before they consider us for promotion.  As I mentioned last week, ask your manager how you rank on the above qualities and then ask how you rank against the directors across the company.

See you at the after party

HRNasty
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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Promotion at work

Be the Next Big Thing in the eyes of your manager and VP

Promotion at work from Individual Contributor to Manager

Last week we covered the mysteries surrounding a promotion at work and why climbing the career ladder can be so elusive. We shed light on the qualifiers that most of us do NOT think about when it comes to promotions:

  • What is really being discussed behind the scenes when a promotion is being considered?
  • Is your manager really sharing all the feedback you are working towards a promotion at work?
  • What politics are at play when your promotion is being considered?

After guiding 100’s of employees to multiple promotions and new opportunities, I know with 100% certainty that we can take control of our careers. In all cases:

  • I only suggested strategies and talking points for the employees to have with their managers and they executed.
  • I brought up points most of hadn’t considered, yet made obvious sense after hearing them for the first time.  

This week I outline what it takes to be promoted from an individual contributor to a manager. Next week we outline the qualifications for a job promotion at work from manager to director. Each of these jumps requires a different set of skill sets, mentality and conversation with your manager. If you haven’t already, I recommend you read the first post in the series, on overcoming the politics of being promoted that most managers and HR will not share.

Checklist for promotions

I want to provide you with a check list so that you understand the differences needed for each specific job promotion. The below are talking points so that you can have a candid conversation with your manager. With this new mindset you can manage your manager, manage your career, and land the next opportunity. We are going to make it easy for your manager to promote you. 

As you read the job promotion at work guidelines, keep in mind your manager will be putting their reputation on the line. Your manager MUST be able to defend your promotion at work to their boss. More importantly, your manager needs to defend your promotion to their peers who are managers. 

Has your manager promoted others in the past?

Great managers know how to promote others. They are egoless in this category and want to see others succeed. There is a reason the same college teams go to the National Championships year after year. Why do some coaches and quarterbacks make it to the Super Bowl year after year and others do not. If you want to be a winner, play for a winning coach / manager. If your manager doesn’t have a track record of promoting others, don’t worry. The talking points below will help you arm them with everything needed.  

Talk with your manager on a monthly basis

I could not stress this one enough. If we think that showing up to work and doing a great job is enough to be promoted, we couldn’t be more wrong.

If we are not talking with our manager on a monthly basis, assume they do not know your long-term goals or the progress against those goals.

Managers won’t promote us just because of hard work. They need to know we want to be a manager and they want to see consistent effort towards that goal. A regular meeting with our manager ensures that specific requirements for the next opportunity are being met. One manager may want public speaking skills. The next manager may want subject matter expertise and others want the ability to influence outside of the group. Until we know what our managers want and can articulate our results, a promotion isn’t going to happen. Meet your manager with the list of qualifiers below and start a dialogue with the following:

“The below is what I think I need to demonstrate to qualify for a promotion. Can you tell me where you think I am against these qualifiers? Am I missing anything to be eligible for the next opportunity?” (we need to name the specific opportunity)

Job promotion at work from individual contributor to group manager

The typical org structure in most departments consists of the following 

  • Individual contributor
  • Group Manager (with 5-7 Individual contributors as direct reports)
  • Director (with 3-4 Managers as direct reports)
  • VP (with 3-4 Directors as direct reports)
  • C level (with 2-3 VP’s as direct reports)

*actual numbers will vary between companies

As an individual contributor, we are working with a group of individual contributors and reporting to a manager. If we are looking for a promotion, we need to check in with our managers and find out what is holding us back. In the very least, we need to demonstrate the following:

Subject Matter Expertise and reputation for helping others solve problems

If you have subject matter expertise, make sure you let ALL the managers in your department know that you want (are not just willing) to help colleagues learn more and tackle tough problems. This Nasty move will provide other managers visibility to your expertise and mentorship. We don’t need managers looking at their teams and thinking “My Suzy should have been promoted before this bozo. She helps others more than this dumbass”. You want to be recognized as an employee who is as strong as any other individual contributor in the entire department.

We need to be seen as a subject matter expert within our group of peers. It surprises me how often someone asks “Why did Johnny get promoted? I have been here longer and know more than him”. Gaining recognition as a subject matter expert will work to your favor, but means nothing if we are not recognized as someone who will help others with that subject matter expertise. Be recognized as someone who is easily approachable and coaches to results.

Company / culture champion

Managers are representatives of the company and have influence over others. We are not going to land a promotion at work if we are shitting on the company or skipping company functions. I am not looking for Pollyanna, but we should not shit talk. Read why attendance to the company functions is important here. 

When our managers make an announcement, avoid challenging them in front of the team. Instead, talk with your manager in private, behind closed doors. Be the counselor vs. the accuser. The rest of the group should look to us as a leader both technically and culturally. In some companies, the cultural aspect can be just as important as the technical proficiency.

Leadership: Can you lead others without the manager title?

It is common for individual contributors to think that they can’t or should not help or lead others until they get the promotion in title. The thought process is that no one will listen to them until they have the title. This mentality is a career killer. The folks that will be promoted are the folks that ARE influencing and leading others despite a lack of title. Think of the most inspirational or most valuable player award. These players are usually not the captain or quarterback of the team.  

Credibility

Do I need to say anything more? If you are asking for an example of credibility, just close this window and open up your video game or skip to your favorite porn site. For the record, tenure doesn’t buy credibility. Do what you say, smile and don’t give excuses bitches. BOOM!

Communication skills: email, verbal, ability to take direction and listen to feedback

We probably wouldn’t have been hired if we were not able to demonstrate written and verbal communication skills via the interview process. Where most folks fall on their faces is when they are given feedback or questioned about a mistake. The ability to handle these delicate situations in a diplomatic and positive manner will make or break candidates that are otherwise qualified. It’s OK to push back, but we don’t want to do it defensively or sound like we are making excuses. True leaders want to move forward, not dwell in the past. Excuses focus on the past. The best candidates apologize, take responsibility and move forward. Focus on how to fix the current situation, put new process in place to avoid similar situations in the future. A lot of 10 year veterans don’t ever learn this one and wonder why they are never promoted.

In conclusion, to land a promotion at work from individual contributor to manager:

Sit down with your manager and ask them: “Will you rate you on the above qualities?” After you get that answer, ask your manager:

“Will you rate me on these qualities against other managers. On a scale of 1-10 where do I fall?”  

These are two VERY different questions and the answers to the second question is the answer that counts. You want to be as good as or better than the other managers.

After we receive that feedback, ask about what other qualities we should be working on and you will be on the right path.  Next week, moving from Director to VP.

HRNasty
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 promotion

What we call potential and our managers call potential are two different things. Confirm what potential looks like!

Why the Job Promotion is a mystery

Landing a job promotion isn’t easy. This isn’t surprising because most of us don’t know or understand what we need to demonstrate to our managers. 

When was the last time your manager coached you on exactly what it takes to land your next job promotion?

Today we clear up the mystery. Unless we have a mentor or a pro active manager, we are not given specific advice as to HOW we land the next a job promotion. Most managers will let us know when we are doing well, that’s easy. Some managers will give us feedback to improve when needed. This takes courage and not all managers have it. Very few managers provide a direct path to a promotion. Probably because their own path to promotion wasn’t demonstrated to them. They are not holding back, they just don’t realize how much it can help or don’t have the time. 

In an ass backwards way, we are usually told about a promotion after the decision has been made. The explanation was simply “We promoted you because of your hard work and results”. Specific examples beyond “hard work” or realistic advice on what it takes to land the next promotion is usually not mentioned.

This becomes more confusing because the requirements for a job promotion changes as we climb the ladder. What got us to manager won’t get us to director. What got us here won’t get us there. 

Advice for the Job Promotion

Over the next few weeks, I will de-mystify the path to promotions at different levels. What does it take to go from:

  • Individual contributor to Manager
  • Manager / Sr. Manager to Director / Sr. Director
  • Director to VP

If you are looking for your first promotion or trying to figure out why you rose so quickly through the ranks and then plateaued, the next few posts are for you.

Career path advice, the good and the ugly

Long hours and hard work isn’t always enough for a promotion. My goal is to focus on the specific behaviors and results that will land us a job promotion and why. Where should you concentrate your hard work and those long hours? As mentioned above, career advice falls into two categories: (the bullets are just examples, your managers qualification requirements can differ)

Worthless Career Advice

  • “You are being promoted because you did really well on your last couple of projects and put up good results.”

Vs.

Valuable Career Advice

  • I can promote you when you are:
    • Recognized as a Subject Matter Expertise
    • Perceived as a leader among your peers
    • Respected by the other managers in the department,

“I know you’re a SME. You have demonstrated leadership amongst your peers by leading the team on the last integration project working with various departments. Let’s work on getting you visibility with the management team!”

We don’t know what we don’t know

I’d rather hear the second set of commentary. Without any coaching, we could easily check the “Subject Matter Expertise” and the “Perceived leader amongst peers” boxes. But with only 2 of the three boxes checked, our careers would still remain stagnant. We THINK we are doing well because no one is providing feedback to the contrary. Because no one mentioned “respect of the other managers”, we have no reason to think it is important.

The feedback makes complete sense when we hear it, but until we hear, “respect from other managers”, we keep swinging and missing. We continue to focus our efforts on what earned us the positive feedback; SME and Leader amongst peers. If our manager doesn’t have the courage to give us feedback on what we need to work on, this leaves us in the dark. We keep asking ourselves, “WhereTF is my promotion? Why am I not being considered?”

It’s difficult to become promoted when we don’t know what it takes or what our managers are looking for

In this example, most of us are only thinking about making an impression with our current manager. Pro-actively gaining respect of other managers in the department isn’t something most of us think about. If your manager doesn’t have the professional savvy or intestinal fortitude to give you honest feedback, we will never know. 

Concentrate on what will get your hired

We can narrow our efforts and save everyone a lot of time and heartache with the second explanation. Over the next few posts, I will provide the HRNasty guideline to promotions.

I will outline a few standard qualifiers to earn a job promotion. These are not hard and fast rules. These are guidelines which could vary from company to company and can change depending on company size and culture. Don’t worry about differences between companies. These posts will:

  • Give you a solid foundation for what managers and HR is looking for
  • Provide a framework so you can drive a conversation with your manager on what it takes to land the next job promotion. If you are not talking with your manager on a regular basis, (at least monthly) don’t expect to be promoted.

Job promotion politics and the dirty secrets

Before we go into what it takes to land a job promotion, I want to share a few of the dirty secrets that get in the way of most job promotions. There are two sets of questions going through most managers mind when direct reports ask for a promotion. The manager will usually think about the first question, but in most cases, you won’t hear about their concern. Rarely will they admit to the second set of questions. 

What managers think about but don’t mention out loud?

  • What will the other individual contributors on the team think about you receiving this promotion?
  • Will team members disagree? Do I need to defend this promotion to the other managers in the department?

Second set of questions:

  • Will other managers feel that someone on their team is more deserving of the same promotion?
  • How much shit will I have to deal with from the other managers that might want to grant a similar job promotion? How easy will it be to defend my guy / gal? 

Although it may not sound fair, there are politics at play. Remember, other managers have asked if they could promote folks from their team and were declined for one reason or another. 

Put yourself in your managers shoes

Do you want your peers and other managers thinking “Why did YOU get promoted?” We want your peers to say “It’s about time you were promoted”. You don’t want our peers asking “Why him / her?” The best outcome is they are saying “It’s about time, you deserve this job promotion”. Credibility will put us in the second category.

Your manager will be putting their reputation on the line and needs to be able to defend your promotion to their peers. The easier it is to defend your promotion, the sooner you will be promoted.

In the next post we discuss what qualities leadership looks for to be promoted from Individual Contributor to Manager and Manager to Director.

See you at the after party,

HRNasty
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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Career advice and wisdom

Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Manage your Manager

Career Advice

The last few weeks has seen a steady stream of folks outside the HRNasty office. The end results share a similar resource and I thought that sharing this resource might benefit others. Here is what happens.

The confessor comes by and shares their dilemma. They then ask, “HRNasty, What should I do?”, to which I reply “Young Jedi, What do you want to do? What is your gut suggesting?” Employees who come with a situation already have an idea of what they want to do. Most are looking for validation on what they know is right. Occasionally, they are hoping I agree with what they know is wrong. I find that most people know what they need to do.

Inspirational quotes for HR

I hear their plan of action, and in most cases I just make a simple suggestion and then send them on their way. Yes, there is usually a dating analogy because who can’t relate to the search for a short-term, long-term or one night stand relationship?  The next day, after they have had time to reflect, I send the confessor a short note to check in. This note contains a quote that is relevant to their situation. It may sound credible when HRNasty makes a suggestion, but a quote with a fancy font, a small graphic and a splash of color adds a ton of credibility. The below are a couple of sample graphics I used in a prior post and post conversation emails.   

Career Advice

HR advice: See the glass half full

 

Career advice

HRNasty advice: See the glass half full bitch

 

Depending on the personality, I would send one of the above.  🙂

So, I thought I would share a few others fancy graphics and explain how they are relevant to me. They help me in my day-to-day and hopefully they will help you.

I have an HR Pinterest page, where I curate HR quotes. I also have a gallery of samples for what to wear to wear for different business occasions. Examples of categories: Interview at a tech company, his business casual, her power exec wardrobe, etc. Check it out and follow.

Easy career advice

Don’t try to train people skills

When it comes to job interviews, the above listed characteristics are qualities which leave a HUGE impression. These qualities require no prior job experience to demonstrate. A candidate with style and grace will never go out of style and always make a great impression. Because so many candidates lack in this area the bar is low and the impact is high. 

Over and over a manager will say, “I know this candidate is a bit of an ass, but I really want to hire them because they are so technically proficient in the discipline”. To which I respond,

We can teach technical proficiency, but it’s tough to teach work ethic or passion.  You either come to us with that or you don’t. In this case, they didn’t.

The 10 characteristics that require zero talent will usually win out over someone who is a technical assassin but lacking in social grace. 

Leadership wisdom

I aspire to this

Peter Drucker is an Industrial / Organizational guru and if you haven’t read any of his stuff, you should. For a Cliff notes version, he has solid business observations here, all just one or two sentences long.   

I really like the above quote. When I am done with my career, I want folks to say that HRNasty inspired and enabled people to raise their game. I want to be known as a multiplier of talent that catapulted individuals and teams become more effective. The first half of this quote stereotypes why a lot of folks do not like managers. The second half of this quote is the reason people want to get into management. I love the balance of this.

Career Motivation

career advice

It’s not me, it’s you

I absolutely love this quote. Readers of this blog know I like to say, “If we put a man on the moon in the 60’s, we can do anything, nothing is impossible”. And I absolutely believe it. The task may take more resources, time or people than we have, but it CAN BE DONE. We just need to figure out what it takes and work backwards into a solution. We usually start with small proof points and work our way up. 

I like this quote because it makes me feel better about my personal reaction. When I throw out an idea and hear “No” or “Impossible” that is a reflection of the nay sayer, not my idea.  

Inspirational quote

I think I send this quote out the most. Usually someone has come to be about a situation with a co-worker, a manager, a friend or a significant other. They know they need to speak up and they know that until they do, they don’t sleep at night and want to quit their job. The most common circumstance is when an employee doesn’t understand where their manager is coming from. The employees wrongly thinks that asking the manager about the misunderstanding is a career limiting move. Consequently, they don’t ask, they don’t understand and end up stressed out and miserable. It’s not what we ask, it is HOW we ask. 

It’s not just the manager

Too many employees quit a company because they feel they are not getting along with their manager. My advice is always the same. If we don’t speak with the manager and quit, we will re-create the same situation with the next manager at the next company. This stress isn’t a function of the manager, it is a function of how me are managing the relationship. We need to value our career enough to speak up.

The topic of speaking up is probably a blog post in itself but I will resist. I REALLY like the above quotes and hopefully it helps others.

There are plenty more on my Pinterest page.  Check it out here.

HRNasty
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!