New manager training

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

Manager training

We have all been told to inspire, coach and motivate. But how does that translate to management behavior?

New manager training

Disclaimer: The following is not a preferred new manager training course. A new manager training would actually have a start and continue throughout the entire career. Even CEO’s receive management training. Most new manager training consists of their manager pointing to the team and providing the following encouragement: “There’s your team, don’t fuck it up”. The below is what I shared with a newly promoted manager over coffee. I was looking for the most bang for the buck I could provide while catching up over coffee. (We don’t work for the same company)  

I was just talking with a newly promoted manager who came to me because he didn’t know what the new role entailed. He didn’t receive any new manager training. There were no expectations set. So, in line with my Nasty style, I suggested we take responsibility of our destiny.

6 steps to success

  1. Create a job description by combining similar job descriptions from Monster or Indeed which they believe matches their managers expectations.
  2. Approach the manager and explain, “If I look good, you as MY manager – look good. I want to make you look good. This is what I think you want out of me, but I want to make sure we are both on the same page so I am set up for success. I don’t want to focus on the wrong projects for the next 3 months and fail because I didn’t know what I should work on”
  3. Get agreement on the job description and the priorities.
  4. Set up a weekly check in where we explain’s what we are going to do next week and what we did last week against prior predictions.
  5. Rinse, lather, repeat 
  6. Check in with HRNasty on a quarterly basis

Only a starting point

Obviously, there is a LOT more to being a manager. I think this is a s good a starting point as any. Let’s face it. The absence of new manager training program is pretty common. The initiative shown in the 6 steps isn’t a bitch move. This is a pro-active move and a move any manager can appreciate of their newly promoted protegé.

But my 6 steps to success got me thinking. All I provided was what our newly promoted manager could do to protect HIS career. And frankly, this is advice I give to individual contributors. It didn’t help him become a better manager of the team. Of course we talked about soliciting advice and making it easy on his manager to manage him, but how much guidance can a guy provide in 1 hour over coffee? The above was strictly bang for the buck.

Student of the game

I work with an up-and-comer HR colleague who is a real student of the game. She just returned from an employee engagement presentation where the Gallup Q12 Index was discussed. Yes, she puts in the work! In our debrief of the session, I specifically asked her about the “Do you have a best friend at work?” question and explained it’s intent. (Which I will dive into below)

I like the Gallup Q12 Index because it is a measure of how engaged employees are. Best Place to Work surveys have VERY similar questions. Engaged employees are usually more productive and easier to manage. It is proven these employees add to the company’s bottom line. Engaged employees are also much less of a pain in the ass to the HR team and you know the elliptical path of the sun and the moon revolves around me! Managers who are NOT engaging their teams are usually losing employees. The employees they do hang onto are usually less productive. Below is the list of the Gallup Q12 Index. A manager with a team that answers in the positive to the below questions is on the right path to enlightenment. 

The Twelve Questions

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?
  13. But at the end of the day, if a manager can strive to have their employees answering positively to these 12 questions, I would say “Winner!”  If I only had 1 hour and 30 minutes to train a new manager, I would go over 6 bullet points above and the Gallup Q12 Index.


Minimal collateral damage

The questions are not rocket science and a manager can have direct impact on how they are answered. If a new manager is striving for positives on these questions, we can be assured that there will be minimal collateral damage. In the least, the newly promoted manager has a guide on what to ask for further mentorship. My personal advice is not to attack all questions at once. Prioritize and pick one or two questions and make an effort to move your team’s responses on just a couple specific questions. Build off of these over time a few questions at a time. 

Of course, every company culture, ever team, every manager and their direct report are a little different. With this in mind, we can modify any of the parameters to our personal situations.

  1. “In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?” (Can be shorter or longer.)  
  2. “In the last seven days, have your received recognition or praise for doing good work?”  (Not everyone gets a trophy folks! 1 compliment a quarter is more than plenty)
  3. “In the las six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?” (Depending on your company, this could be shorter or longer.)
  4. I was kidding on item number 3!!

“Best friend at work” question demystified 

When testing the wording, Gallup found this was the best way to discriminate between groups in which friendships are sufficiently supportive and those that have only surface relationships that are unable to withstand adversity.

I personally stuck through a start-up after being laid off a number of times including a lay off on my birthday because I was so tight with the team. (The CEO hired me back on my birthday as well) Ten years later, we still hang out on a regular basis. Just this morning, the CEO from that company reached out with a recruiting question. I keep in constant touch with the HR team from that company. A few weeks ago, I introduced one of the team members from that company to a Chief Human Resource Officer I know. That HR peer just accepted a position with the CHRO.

Can your entire team answer “Yes” to the questions?

The point is that we were “next level” engaged at that company. It’s easy to do a good job when deals are being signed and the money is flowing. Will your employees continue to work when times are tough? When you have great relationships at work, your employees will last longer. I can honestly say we answered “yes” to all 12 of the questions. 

Here is how I usually explain the “Best Friend” question. We may have a significant other at home. Sharing our work trials, and celebrations with someone who isn’t familiar with our work isn’t as fulfilling. When I shared my hard times with my prior CEO and he understood and could help. When we celebrated a win, he knew the effort needed to score that win. Working in HR, I just do not share my work with folks outside of the company. Even within the company the pool is very limited. A best friend at work makes a big difference. I will sacrifice for a tribe of best friends. I won’t abandon them.

New Manager? Manager who hasn’t received training?

Are you a new manager and haven’t received any new manager training? Check out the first 6 bullets and the Gallup Q12 Index. It’s not a guarantee of success, but it will increase your odds and give you a starting point to ask further questions.

Corporate life is a game, you don’t have to sell your soul to the man to win it!


PS. Next week, we look at the Gallup Q12 Index from the individual contributors view-point and use it as a tool to win the game of corporate life. 

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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Dream Job

Are you willing to “do”

Find your dream job

Todays post is a success story of a candidate going from frustration to dream job. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of this guy. He worked his ass off and he deserves every bit of his success. He went from frustrated fishing guide to Exec Director in his field of study.  #DreamJob 

Several years ago, I was drifting down a river in Southwest Montana, fly fishing with a couple of good friends. This wasn’t a working trip. We all have different backgrounds and all of us work in very industries, but eventually talk of work comes up.

The three players:

  • Angler 1: Played college football and is the founder of his own very successful business. He’s a Ballah’.
  • Angler 2:Fishing guide: Early 30’s, Masters degree working as the head guide at one of the most successful fishing lodges in Southwest Montana.
  • Angler 3: HR Flunky


Dream Job

Which position would you like to be in for 8 hours a day 6 days a week? Angler #2 in the “middle of the boat”

Angler 2 was our guide for the day, consequently in the middle of the boat. The middle of the boat means you are the person rowing the two anglers down the river, AKA, you are doing most of the work. (OK, you are doing all of the work. Rowing, untangling knots, making lunch and cleaning the boat at the end of the day.) Depending on the people in the front and the back of the boat, you can be the bitch or the best friend. In our case, we consider Angler 2 to be a mentor and best friend. The days are filled with cigar smoking, shit talking, and more shit talking. We have all known each other a long time. We have had enough adventures together you could call us all Brothers. I know these guys would give me the shirts off their backs and they have.

The conversation

Angler 2 (fishing guide): “I am never going to get out of the middle of the boat.”

Myself and Angler 1 were both thinking: WTF is he talking about. He is living the dream. He lives in the best trout fishing country in the United States and is a Pro for a number of great fishing brands. This is the guy that makes paying yuppies like us anglers. Without him, we are nothing but 13 year old’s fumbling around trying to unfasten bra hooks. In other words, without him, catching fish probably isn’t on the agenda. If it happens, it will be because of dumb luck and a lot of alcohol.

I got no skills

Growing up, I dreamt about being in the middle of the boat, but didn’t have the skills, the strength to row two anglers or the local knowledge. Zero out of three does not get you to the middle of the boat.

But I get it. Angler 2 went to school and post grad so he could do civic work like his parents. Solid American stock this guy. He supported his wife while she was getting her Masters. He wanted someone else to untangle his knots and clean up the gear at the end of a hot day on the water.

The motivational speech

HR Flunky: In my most motivational voice, “WTF are you talking about dumbass? You have a Master’s degree, you can get out of the middle of the boat.”

Angler 1. “Yeah dude, you are living the dream. We both wanna be you!” (Seriously)

Angler 2. “I probably could have gotten a job if I found one right after I graduated, but I have been guiding for so long now, employers are going to look at my resume and wonder why I didn’t start earlier.”

HR Flunky: “Dude, you can get a job. You are a good-looking guy (under that baseball hat and scruffy beard at least) You are articulate, and you have the post grad degree.”

Angler 2: “It’s too late, I missed my window.”

Angler 2 is one of the most positive guys I know. Now he sounded like the hunting dog he grew up with since childhood just died. I was beginning to understand his frustration. He didn’t want to be doing this when he was 50, he wanted a retirement plan. He wanted to do his civic duty.

HR Flunky: “Dude, I know you can find a job. I will help you. I KNOW you can get a job.”

Angler 2: “I know I can get a job, but I want to use my Masters in my field of study. I don’t think that is possible anymore.”

Angler 2 wasn’t convinced but over the next couple of days, we continued to talk about the next steps in his journey. Some of his hesitations:

  • No relevant experience
  • Not sure I can afford to take a cut in pay. I am going to have to start with recent grads and as the head guide, that would be a significant cut in pay.
  • I have been fishing for years since my graduation. Employers will want to hire fresh graduates.

HR Flunky’s hesitations

  • Does this guy have a suit he can wear to an interview? I have only seen him in fly-fishing clothes and waders, and this stuff isn’t meant to be pressed.
  • Will this guy shave his curly-haired beard or even trim it up some?
  • Here is a video of our civic-minded leader from back in the day. He starts casting at 1:30 and rocks the beard at 2:00.

Obviously my concerns are easily solve-able, but that is what was running through my mind.

HR Flunky’s pitch

“Dude, let’s get on the phone when I get back home. I have an hour-long commute and we can go over resume’s, job search strategy and interview questions and answers. We are not going to go with your perceived weakness of being in this boat for too many years. We are going to go with your strengths.

“Dude, you have what no one is able to train. You have social skills at the highest levels. The sports in your boat are all CEO’s and rich successful dudes. At $650.00 a day, they are the only guys who can afford you.” (I was coasting on Angler 1’s coat tails)

You got skillz!

“All day long, you are directing C levels, execs and guys who run their own businesses and industries. I have seen these guys roll into Montana with their 125K plus SUV’s and sports cars. You taught me what Long Moneyis. You instruct these CEO’s, you joke with them and you are stern with them. Your voice literally changes when you are in the middle of the boat. You are their friend, their mentor and coach. As a guide, you not only help them fish, you help them decompress and deal with their professional AND family lives. You can’t train that skill. We can train the civic duties. You can NOT fricken’ train what you have!”

And here is what was holding him back. 

Angler 3: “But who is going to hire that? That isn’t a job.”

It’s not a job, it is THE interview

HR Flunky: “That isn’t a job, it is an interview and it the networking. You have these C levels trapped in your boat for 8 hours a day. You have been doing this full-time for years and have an extensive network of C levels. Hell, a C level bought you this $8,000.00 boat as a fricken’ tip! Do you know how many people would LOVE to be trapped in a boat for 8 hours with these CEO’s but wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation for more than 20 minutes? That skill will sell itself.”

To put this into perspective, how many of us are hesitant to be trapped in an elevator with our VP or CEO for just a couple of floors. How many of us would TELL our CEO what to do, joke with them or get stern with them. Not many folks under the age of 30 could do that and even fewer would. I am talking 8 HOURS STRAIGHT bitches! 

Putting in the work

Over the next few months, Angler 2 did the work. We got on the phone, he sent me versions of his resume and we practiced our pitch. He worked on his blog to show off his passion for the state of Montana and his writing style. 

The truth of the matter is that after Angler 2 completed his post grad, he continued to guide because he was making great money. He was supporting his wife while she was going to school working on her Masters. He wasn’t guiding just because it was fun, he was guiding because he was taking care of his family and his responsibility. That is the story we told.  

The first real job

Soon there after, Angler landed his first corporate job doing civic duty for the State of Montana in his field. He took a cut in pay but he continued to guide on the weekends and was able to make up the difference. He knew that it would be a temporary setback and frankly, he knew when he was making great money, he would continue to guide. Catching fish for him is too easy. Watching his clients have fun and success on the river gets him high. He had attained enlightenment. We call him a Jedi.

Middle of the boat

When he landed that job, he called me up and I couldn’t have been happier for him. On that call, he told me I am coming out to Montana and he was taking me fishing. “You are never paying for fishing in this town again.” I didn’t do it for the fishing, but I have to say that fishing with Angler 1 and 2 over the years have been a lot of fun and very meaningful. The three of us make it a point to fish on my birthday every year and I couldn’t ask for a better gesture. He is in the middle of the boat with us, but it is completely his choice. He is now able to fish internationally in far away destinations and he is an angler and not a guide.

Continuous learner

Over the years, he has asked me for a list of books he should be reading which resulted in this blog post.  

Angler 2 didn’t stop there. He asked me what classes he should be taking. Angler 2 flew to New York to take a Facilitative Leadership course which he swears by. This leader is also sending his team to these sessions. Yes, he is running a team at work.  

The point is, he took the initiative, he had the curiosity and he did the fricken’ work.

Men want to be him, companies want him with them

Twice, he has been offered high level jobs with well-known brands in the fly-fishing industry. Both times he was able to turn the offers down. 

About a month ago, he was juggling 2 offers. The first offer was for one of the top positions with one of the biggest names in Fly Fishing. The other with the State of Montana doing what he loves to do. To find out which job he took, click on this press release.  

Yeah, he cleans up well. Not just the quiet confident dude, he also has a great presentation layer. And yes, he still guides on the weekends for fun.

Just do the work

The moral of this story is that we all get down on our careers. We have all been at a point where we thought it was over. But it doesn’t have to be. With work, initiative and a positive attitude / positive spin, it can happen. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what your situation, things can improve. It’s our choice. A guy that I am proud to call a friend made the choice.

Corporate life is a game. Win it!



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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HRNasty’s business podcasts for the corporate lifestyle

Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Networking

business podcasts

Commutes are a great time to listen to business podcasts

Business Podcasts

I receive requests for a list of recommended business books on a regular basis. If my parents knew that folks were coming to ME for a reading list they would be rolling over in their graves. Growing up, they were big on the classics and I was more into Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Anarchists Cookbook. There are PLENTY of great lists out there put out by a lot of smart people so I tried to take a different spin on it.

Not your traditional list

It isn’t your traditional list of MBA reading material. The attitude that I used in putting together this list is that it would provide insight into what other execs are reading. It would also provide some background on the terms that executives use like “10,000 hours”, “bottom 10%” and “KPI’s”. I also included some personal favorites that showcase dedication to a craft and next level commitment. HRNasty’s list of reading material is here.

Late entry

One book I would add to this list is FYI, For Your Improvement by Lominger. I seem to be talking about this book a lot lately and everyone that has picked it up after our conversations has appreciated it immediately. It is expensive, but really worth it. It is so expensive, I recommend folks buy an earlier used edition which is what I have been working from for the past 10 years. My birthday was a few weeks ago and a longtime friend and colleague just gifted me the most recent edition. I couldn’t believe it! I want to just carry it around and perpetrate that I am a ballah’ and a shot callah’ / HR nerd just to show off. This book is my new pair or Louboutin’s. Thank you, Lotus!

FYI lists out specific business skill sets and what they look like when they are demonstrated effectively AND in effectively. It is a great resource if you want to improve or help someone improve business skill sets like professional courage, active listening, communication, etc. Highly recommended. 

Magazine recommendation

Lastly, I would add a subscription to the Harvard Business Review. It is common knowledge that a lot of folks subscribe to this magazine so they can look smart and name drop the rag. But I read this before I read 4WD and Flyfishing Magazine every month. It is that good. This magazine not only contains business articles but case studies as well. HBR informs me on what I should be paying attention to. I blogged about the HR issue of the Harvard Business Review HR issue here. 

In the new age of the interwebs, I am updating the book list with a few business podcasts that I am addicted to. I have an hour commute into work every day so this is the perfect time to for me to keep up to date, learn about entrepreneurs and expand my knowledge. I may sound like my parents recommending the classics, but I wish I listened to them earlier in my career. Hopefully, I can inspire the reader to “THINK” about expanding the knowledge base. I have listed a few of my favorites but I would love to hear what others are listening to.

How I Built This

How I built This is hosted by Guy Raz and an NPR based podcast. Each episode is about 35 minutes and each episode, Guy interviews a successful entrepreneur. I have listened to every episode and even enjoyed listening to the sessions of entrepreneurs I wasn’t familiar with. Recent episodes include interviews with folks like Richard Branson and Mark Cuban. But they also include episodes with the founders of and Toms shoes.

I have shared the Rent the Runway episode a half a dozen times because of all the learnings on tenacity. The trend that I have noticed is that all of these entrepreneur’s sound like really nice people. For the most part, they are humble, have a positive outlook on life and entertaining. Guy asks a consistent question to each of the guests. How much of your success was intellect, hard work or luck. I won’t spoil the fun.

20 minute VC

The 20 Minute VC is a business podcast which discusses the VC world. The host, Harry Stebbings interviews well-known VC’s. At prior roles, I held the role of head of HR for a company that did a lot of M&A work. More recently I held a COO role where we raised a number of rounds of capital, and conducted M&A work. I just find these sessions really interesting. Harry has an English accent and is energetic so it doesn’t sound stuffy or stiff upper lip. Harry also edits the interviews with these VC’s so you hear what I would imagine is an hour long interview condensed to 20 – 25 minutes.

There is very little pause between the question and answer. Harry has edited it out. Think speed listening instead of speed reading. Even if you are NOT involved in M&A this is a good one. VC’s consistently share the WHO, WHAT and WHY they invest in.

Joe Rogan Experience

Joe Rogan is probably more famous for being the host of the reality television show Fear Factor and most recently a commentator for the UFC. Don’t let that turn you off. This guy goes DEEP and WIDE. When I talk about the Joe Rogan Experience with my colleagues, they say they don’t listen to him, but their kids do. Each podcast is close to 3 hours and I just listen to them in chunks. He interviews a wide range of individuals from conspiracy theorists, to theoretical physicists, to ex CIA cover agents to coffee experts. Even when I don’t think the podcast is going to be interesting based on the preview, I always find myself listening to the entire episode. The guy is VERY smart and very articulate. He just interviewed the GOOG engineer Jame Damore. Yes, I am a big fan.

Hardcore History with Dan Carlin 

Dan goes DEEP into a series of events in history and his podcasts are really well done. It may not sound like your traditional business podcast but what we learn from the past we can apply to the future. Dan is articulate. He knows how to speak with credibility.

I just listened to the series Khan of Khans. This series is in 5 parts and part one is 2 hours long.

We all learned about Ghengis Khan in school and we all saw the a movie about Kubala Khan at some point in time. Dan goes deep and behind the scenes so you understand not just the story but the WHY. He explains the mentality and the beliefs of the people at that time which puts the history into perspective. This is the one of the few podcasts I pay for. Each session is about 1.99 and well worth it! I am not a history buff and my past doesn’t show me paying for history lessons. Money well spent!

Dirt Bag Diaries

The Dirt Bag Diaries isn’t a podcast which focuses on entrepreneur’s per se. This is more of a story telling podcast, but I really the enjoy the format AND what they are doing here. O know many of these stories could be shared with corporate America during a motivational speaking event. For those of you who are wondering what “dirtbag” means, let me explain.

A “Dirtbag” in the outdoor lifestyle is a person who dedicates her or his entire existence to the pursuit of climbing. They are barely making ends meet. A dirtbag will get their food out of a dumpster, get his clothes from a thrift store, and live in a tent or vehicle to save money. They don’t have a job because they would rather climb. The vehicle of choice is a Subaru Outback, never new, but a later vintage. Big enough to sleep in full-time and easy on the gas as dirtbags travel to cool destinations. Often found living near major climbing destinations the dirtbag is a rebel with a cause who finds happiness in nature.

There are a number of dirtbags that have left successful corporate jobs and exchanged the cubicle walls for the mountain cliff face.

Flyfishing dirtbag

Every outdoor sport has their version of a dirtbag. I love the outdoors and my outdoor passion is steelhead fly fishing. A few years ago, I took a year off from work with a dream of being a fly-fishing dirtbag but couldn’t quite pull it off. I found I needed a regular hot shower, hair conditioner and didn’t want to eat rehydrated food, let alone eat out of a dumpster.

I missed my Origin face moisturizer and Clinique face scrub. #FirstWorldProblems to be sure, but doesn’t mean I don’t have a passion for the lifestyle. 

The Dirtbag Diaries has a format where listeners submit their personal stories and share adventures. The host tells their story through narration and mixes in soundbites from an interview with the “dirtbag”. Usually the stories involve an adventure that inspired personal growth, or overcoming a challenge. This podcast has a bit of an outdoorsie, hippie vibe. It sounds professionally done and holds big name sponsorship. I can relate to most of the stories because the fly fishing lifestyle has similar challenges and offers a journey of personal growth.

It’s a new era

It’s not just books anymore peoples! It’s a new age and Barnes and Noble is no longah! Learning about new business podcasts and news sources is a great topic when networking. 

What business podcasts are you listening to? Anyone listening to a podcast that interviews restaurant chefs? Please leave your recommendation’s below!

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!

Corporate Team Building

Corporate Team Building that REALLY is safe. Everyone holding red hot metal ready to be made into a knife.

Corporate Team Building

We have all been to corporate team building events. Trust falls, Kum Bah Yah and sharing personal stories. Yuck! Bah Humbug and bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about team building activities and work on employee engagement like a mother f@#$%er everyday within our company. I blogged about employee engagement and how an office space can help build a team here.

When it comes to corporate team building I have planned and participated in many. From entire companies attending professional baseball games in nose bleed seats to overnight camping trips to boat cruises. Whiffle ball in bumper cars and Go Cart racing come up time and time again. The real challenge is to come up with something unique and fun. 

Building support and camaraderie

At a prior company, any time someone was having a tough day, I would treat the team to a Dove Bar break. This wasn’t necessarily corporate team building as much as it was team supporting. Five colleagues taking a walk around campus eating Dove bars to provide a distraction and a “reset”. It was a way the entire team could support an individual. When we finished up a larger project we would share a couple of desserts at a local high-end restaurant with an emphasis on “shared plates”. There is something about doing the same, small thing with the same team that builds camaraderie and cohesiveness. We all had shared these unique experiences together and we were the only ones participating.

Some of the most memorable events were an off-site with the team on the cheap $$ CHEAP which I blogged about here. Another memorable team building event was an overnight white water rafting with a prior HR team. We all paddled our asses off together to keep the boat in the right direction and then relived the story around a camp fire with s’mores that night. We bonded at a richer level.     

Team Building Parameters

Corporate team building events usually have a couple of conditions which can make them tricky. The team building events need to be something all genders, all age groups and all levels of skepticism can appreciate. Of course, the team building event needs to fit a specific budget and transportation needs to be taken into consideration. Most of all, you want the event to be memorable and unique. One thing most team building events miss is adding a dimension of providing a personal challenge. (Nothing a couple signed waivers won’t take care of.) That is why I liked the river rafting. It was something not many of us had done and most of us were scared to do.

The other memorable team building event I participated in was getting mani’s and pedi’s with a prior HR team. I am not going to say it was my favorite, but I did have fun because of the team I was with. It was new for me and I am pretty sure the team bonded at my expense. When you work with a high maintenance, all-woman HR team think twice before you say “Hey ladies, lets figure out a team building event you would like and I will make it happen”. Afterwards we bonded over chocolate truffles. I am glad I put a time limit on it because we would have probably ended up at a Target White Sale pushing a red shopping cart comparing shams and thread count.   

Mother of All Team Building Events     

This past week, I participated in the Mother of All Corporate Team Building events. This event fit all the parameters: Affordable, challenging and unique. This was a completely new experience for everyone and pushed us mentally and physically. But on top of all that, we walked away from this event with great memories, stronger connections and a souvenir. A physical reminder of the event and proof that we experienced something completely new.

Last week I went to Lawless Forge to forge a knife from a hunk of metal with a couple of great friends and we all had a blast. Even as friends, we bonded over this experience. Before any skeptics wonder about female participation, the group just before us consisted of 7 women . In addition to knives You can forge a bottle opener, hair pins, flower vases, wine bottle holders and numerous other goodies which insinuates less Game of Thrones. Max Levi, the owner says if someone gets tired, he has smaller / lighter hammers. And if you are skeptical about female participation, does that make you a sexist?

Lawless Forge: A unique experience

Lawless Forge is a blacksmith shop focused on corporate team building / bonding. Having chosen to locate his business in the industrial neighborhood of Seattle. Max Levi (owner and operator) has really come up with something exciting and unique. I have never been to a forge and didn’t know what to expect. It was in a VERY industrial part of the city. The part of town that gets noisy with trains passing by and highways overhead—all adding to the gritty feel of the experience. Max’s place is super clean and tidy and shows an eye for design. If yuppies and hipsters are going to get dirty in style, they want to do. I went with a bunch of successful CEO buddies who can literally buy anything they want. These are the kinds of guys who are very hard to shop for because they have multiples of everything. (I am just trying to score a few singles) I don’t say this to brag, but to emphasize the point that this was a brand-new experience to them and I was excited to be able to connect them to something new. 

Team Building

Max Levine of Lawless Forge. Mentor, instructor and guide

Confidence builder

Max worked in two of the largest tech companies in the world so he gets corporate life. He is a good looking guy who’s passion for his craft is infectious. You can tell from the work space that he is a purposeful individual. He has antique anvil stations set up from different era’s and different countries. This gives the space a very hipster and industrial look. Think Game of Thrones meets AIA. These qualities make a great recipe for the role he plays as host, instructor, and mentor through the 4-hour session. Think of him as a golf caddie or a fishing guide. He is there to motivate and inspire. I doubted myself before I arrived but as soon as the session started, all fears faded away. He instilled confidence.  

Worried about injuries

For those HR folks that are thinking about the dangers, liability, injuries, and employees out of control, don’t. Max runs a safe place. He discussed safety prior and throughout the afternoon. A HRNasty favorite, he had us sign easy to read waivers. If you are still worried about your employees, maybe you have the wrong employees. DOHHHH!!!!!  

Lawless Forge

Gloves? Check. Apron? check. Eye protection? Check Red hot metal? Check. Is it safe? Absolutely

Prior to the event, Lawless Forge sent out a set of notes explaining what we should expect and what to wear. Max provided eye protection, gloves, aprons and had extra jeans and shirts for those that didn’t read the pre-work. (Wrong employees)

The session started with each of us receiving half a horseshoe. Over the course of 4 hours, we heated that metal up to cherry red, pounded, hammered, grinded and sanded. Max walked us through each step prior with a verbal explanation, a chalk board demo and then he demo’d the procedure. In corporate speak, we heard each step three times, three different ways before we handled the hot metal.

Lawless Forge

Sharing experiences and learning about each other. AKA Team Building

Not just all hard work  

Graciously, Lawless Forge provided snacks and beers as well. Half way through the process we took a break with cold beer and cigars. I could picture other groups having lunch at this time, but for our group, it was the perfect way to take a break. We all come from progressive / tech companies so beers were welcome. Max having worked with Fortune 100 companies understands corporate guidelines and customizes the session to the group. 

4 hours later, we all had knives of our own design, pounded from raw steel. Sweaty and tired, but feeling accomplished, we compared blades like prison Shot Callers admiring shiv’s. We couldn’t wait for the next riot.

Team Building

Shiv’s of various design ready for handles.

Feeling accomplished

From an HR perspective that  last comparison probably isn’t very funny, but the experience puts you into a very different mindset. We all felt very accomplished. With our 4 inch blades in hand, we were ready to go into battle with John Snow and The Knights Watch. We probably looked more like the Monty Pythons Knights of Ni but you get the idea. We were jacked. I know this is an experience we will talk about. One of the CEO’s has already planned an event with his group that would include women. 

If you are in charge of putting together a corporate event, check out Lawless Forge. He handles groups from 1 to 20 and I am confident that unless you have a bunch of Vikings in your department, this will be a new experience. 

Max, thank you for a great afternoon Brother.

Corporate Life is a Game, Win it!

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!

HWE, Hostile Work Environment

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

Hostile Work Environment

It’s not what we say, but how we say it that will avoid a Hostile Work Environment

Politics in the workplace, the new Hostile Work Environment

Today I am making some predictions as it relates to the Hostile Work Environment. If you have been pissed off about topics in the past, stop reading and check out one of my favorite podcasts “How I Built This”, with Guy Raz. Guy interviews entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to learn about their journey. His podcast is filled with great stuff. The common theme that I have noticed in all the podcast are these entrepreneurs sound like great people with positive attitudes. Hmmmm. . . .    

I have blogged about Resume Racism and why candidates get flushed out of the interview process based on ethnicity. That post received the most hate mail and commentary of any posts. I have blogged about tattoos and the unspoken opinions that managers can hold in some corporate cultures. Again, more hate mail. Today is more of the same, so I know what to expect. Bring it.  

HRNasty Disclaimer

Today I take it a step further. Understand that just because I am writing on a topic, it doesn’t mean I think it is OK or fair. My goal is to provide insight so employees know about the unspoken mentalities they work with. More importantly I provide solutions so employees can overcome these career blockers. I am not commenting on these topics because I am a fan. I am commenting as an analyst.

Within this site, I recommend you stay away from visible tattoo in the work place. I don’t make this recommendation because I don’t care for tattoos. I recommend you stay away from tattoos because I know how many executives and decision makers frown on tattoos. The dangerous aspect is that decisions makers know they shouldn’t express their prejudice out loud. Consequently, you will never hear it. You will be judged for your tattoo, but you won’t know it.   

Let the games begin! 

I believe that differences in political beliefs will be the newest source of the Hostile Work Environments. At the rate the country is going, I see it happening in the near future. I started this particular blog post before the election because I saw a lot of  passionate conversation ignited in the workplace. I mothballed the post, but with recent world events, I am seeing the passion re ignite and thought I would wave the flag.   

HWE? “HRN, WTF is that? You always talk about the CLM (Career Limiting Move), but this is a new one!”  HWE stands for Hostile Work Environment and is a real, legal term. I predict that employees have the potential to feel uncomfortable in the work place because their manager or someone up the reporting chain holds differing political beliefs. Opposing opinions in the workplace is nothing new, but the ferocity of political opinions has escalated in the last few months. I predict that in some instances managers will talk so strongly about their political beliefs that employees will feel threatened or intimidated. I can see a situation where an employee expresses a strong, emotional political opinion which differs from their manager (or someone in their chain of command) and that employee’s career suddenly stalls. (Read that last sentence again.) I want to provide a way to avoid the CLM’s. I want to avoid managers unknowingly creating a Hostile Work Environment.      

Definition of HWE, Hostile Work Environment

The Hostile Work Environments happens when an employee experiences:

  1. Offensive conduct which becomes a condition of continued employment. 
    • If you do / don’t do “X”, you won’t be employed. (If you want to continue to work here, you will go out with me)
  2. Conduct which is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive. The environment is difficult, offensive or uncomfortable for a person to work in. (A manager has a habit of sharing inappropriate jokes, language or opinions in the workplace)

This type of unwelcome conduct is usually directed at race, gender, age, or religion. I predict that at the rate the country is going, the category of “political beliefs” will soon be joining the list.

If a manager continued to voice the following:

I can’t believe someone would vote for that dumbass. Anyone that votes for that candidate is a complete idiot and doesn’t deserve to be an citizen.  (notice the lack of named country or political party)

The idea of identifying and recognizing the Hostile Work Environment was put into place to address MadMen – esque days where women, minorities and other protected classes were treated “differently” in the workplace. In modern times, our intention is to treat people of different ethic backgrounds, religion, gender etc. in an equal manner. Shouldn’t we treat folks with different political views the same? Isn’t that what America is all about?  

We don’t know how our managers REALLY think

I open the kimono with this blog to provide transparency on the unwritten rules so employees have a glimpse into the mindset of managers and HR. If you think that you are not being judged because of tattoos in the work place think again. If you think that resumes with ethic names are called as often as mainstream names that are easy to pronounce, think again. And if we think that managers won’t hold it against you because of your political beliefs, think again. I am not saying ALL managers hold these beliefs, I just want you to know that this is a passionate topic and we should be mindful.

First workplace rule of 2017: Don’t argue politics in the workplace. 

The second rule of the workplace in 2017: You do not argue politics in the workplace!

Remember, one persons passion is another persons argument. 

Most HR people will not admit to the following. In many traditional companies, employees with visible tattoos will have stalled career paths because of the ink. We also know that when a hiring manager has two resumes in front of them and one resume has a name that is easily pronounceable and the other is different, we can predict who will receive the first call. (notice I didn’t mention the ethnicity of the hiring manager)

Extremes exist

The above are extreme cases, but any mild flavor of these examples can be a career breaker. What’s worse is that the employee has no idea why their career stalled. In some instances, the career didn’t even take off. For the record, if this mentality were to take place at a company where I was in charge of HR, I would speak up to leadership. I have spoken to leadership.

I think that the same potential if we have a manager who passionately thinks one way about today’s politics and their employee is passionately holding a different opinion.

Nation divided


The internet is providing our news and updates in a very different way. Sound bytes are changing how we form our opinions.

The nation has been divided in the past on politics, civil rights, wars and other serious topics in the past. I realize that as a country will get through this.

I am not saying it is right, I am saying it can boil down to emotions and human nature.

At an individual level, I just want to raise a flag and give folks insight. For those that think I am on crack, many employees who are in same-sex relationships still feel a need to hide their true self.  

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

I believe we can avoid tough situations around politics and still express our beliefs

Effective Communication Style

If you are passionately vocal about anything, the only people who appreciate hearing your opinions are those who are as passionate or MORE passionate than you. It is usually the folks who are the most passionate on a topic that make it offensive for others.

Gaining support on our ideas doesn’t start by putting others down.

Emotional shouting and raising of our voices will not convince others to listen. It will turn folks off.

When we are TOO passionate about a topic, even folks that are interested in that topic will be turned off. Expressing our passion can take several forms and any one of the below can turn someone off:

  • Talking too fast (When we are excited about a topic, we talk so fast others are not able to keep up, especially listeners who are not as familiar on the topic)
  • Talking too loudly (It is easy to increase the volume to be heard when we become passionate.) I have found that when I really care about something, if I talk softer, folks lean in to listen.
  • Profanity: Profanity to emphasize a point can dilute the message and the listener focuses on the inappropriate use of profanity vs. the message.
  • Pointing figures and the use of the word “You”. (“You don’t understand!” Sounds like an accusation)

If we can turn down the passion and remain calm while delivering our message, we avoid coming across as offensive and increase our chances of an effective delivery.

For Managers

There will be people on our teams that hold differing opinions than our own and we need to respect this. Holding a different opinion on a work process or business idea is different from rousing opinions on politics or religion. There is a time and a place for everything. Work isn’t the place for getting high and mighty on politics. Hostile Work Environment lawsuits happen.      

For Employees

If you have an opinion on politics, I would hold them back in the work place. I am not saying it is right, or fair. We know prejudice in the workplace happens. Candidates with easy to pronounce names are called more often than those with names we are not familiar with. Employees with tattoos can be stigmatized in some industries. (In some industries, you won’t have credibility if you are tattoo-less).

If you are going to share your opinion, share the opinion in a calm and diplomatic manner. You never know when a coworker without restraint is one step away from letting you know what they really think. And you never know when a manager or executive is biting their lip and making a judgement.  

Corporate life is a game, win it!

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!

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. 


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. 


How do you handle stress?


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


How do you handle stress?


I don’t handle stress well.


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


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!

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 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


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


“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


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


“3.0 in my marketing concentration”


“What was your overall GPA?


“2.75 GPA”


“Did you work during school?”


“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


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


“3.0 in my marketing concentration, 2.75 overall”


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


“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.” 


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


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.


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


“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.”


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!

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) share in your social network and leave your comments below. Thank you!

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

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 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.


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.


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,


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 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

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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