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”.

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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

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”.

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!


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”.

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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”.

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job interview

Job interview? Don’t be late, but don’t be too early either

When to arrive for a job interview

This week’s topic is a job interview no brainer to many, but I feel it is important. Based on a long history of conducting interviews, this is a topic that needs to be explained. Show up too early or too late to a job interview and it will be over before it started. Just like Goldilocks and the three bears, our arrival time needs to be “jussstttt righhhhtt”.

There are plenty of blogs titled “When to show up for an interview”. What is missing is the “WHY” it is important to show up at a specific time. By providing this background, I hope candidates will understand why timing is so important and can start the interview off on the right foot.

Confirm the location the day before

I do agree with the advice of visiting the place where the interview is going to take place the day before. This ensures you know exactly where you need to be. In a day with Google Maps on phones, there is no reason folks should be using the excuse, “Sorry I am late, I couldn’t find your office”. Inexcusable. 

Sorry I am late, I got lost

If we are late and use the excuse “I got lost and could not find the place”, the interview is over. If you are lost or running late, it’s easy to salvage the interview. Text me, phone me, email me or send me a homing pigeon. Just give me a heads up 15 minutes prior and not when the interview is going to start. With all the various forms of technology out there, a heads up is the courteous thing to do. This way I can give the folks who will be conducting the interview a heads up. Hiring managers don’t like to be kept waiting and no one wants anyone wondering “Where the hell is the candidate?”

My advice is to show up 10 minutes early in the lobby of the desired company and let the interviewers know you made the appointment. I think that more than 15 minutes is a too early. Conversely, 5 minutes is a little too late. As a candidate, waiting too long or feeling rushed in the lobby will only add to your anxiety factor and we want to start the interview relaxed. Ten minutes will give us time to use the restroom or check out any company literature in the lobby.

Don’t stress the interviewer before the meeting starts

This will sound very selfish, but interviewers have schedules to keep. I realize that interviewers run late ALL THE TIME. This blog is about landing a job, not about the candidate experience. Managers want the assurance that their schedules are on time because running late affects the next meeting. If the manager has a hard stop, a late starting interview late gives us LESS time to prove we are the worthy candidate. As a recruiter, I rest easy when I know the candidate arrived 10 minutes early. I don’t have to worry about you not showing up, or worse, showing up late. Showing up late is a lack of courtesy and can potentially put an entire day behind. As a candidate, we want to make the best impression that we can.

I am not asking you to suck up, or act submissive to the hiring manager. I don’t want you to think that the hiring company has all the power. Most recruiters want to make as good an impression on the candidate as the candidate wants to make with the recruiter. It’s a two-way street. Believe it or not, good recruiters and good managers worry about the candidate experience. I just want candidates to take as many liabilities off the table as possible. The ability to show up on time is critical. It is a predictor of showing up on time for work, meetings, and functions with clients.

Don’t be too early

Over the years, I have had seen many candidates show up 30 minutes early. This is too early. As a host, I feel like I need to rush what I am doing so the candidate doesn’t have to wait so long. The reception person feels badly that the candidate has to wait this long. If we do arrive 30 minutes early, stop at a coffee shop and show up 10 minutes before.

Requisite dating example

Let’s say I have a first date with a woman I am sincerely interested in and she is sincerely interested in me. (Hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut!)  If I commit that I will come by her place to pick her up at 8:00 PM, I shouldn’t ring the doorbell at 7:30. I shouldn’t even ring the bell at 7:45. Hair is going to be in disarray, multiple outfits are going to be laid out over the bed, 6 pairs of shoes are going to be in front of the full length mirror and general panic will ensue. At least that is what would happen if she showed up at on my door step 30 minutes early. I will feel like I need to rush while she is awkwardly waiting in the living room.

For both of us, each minute passing is the proverbial “dog minute”. Each minute feels like 7. I am sure that by 8:00, I will be frazzled and not happy with my outfit. She will feel like she should have waited in the car around the corner. 

Job Interview

This guy wasn’t supposed to be here for another 15 minutes!

Keep em’ updated

If I am picking her up, the courteous thing to do would be to text her at 7:50 and let her know I am about 10 minutes away. She doesn’t have to worry if I am going to stand her up, and knows I am the punctual type.

If I show up late with no notice, every minute after 8:05 feels like an eternity. We could have taken this concern off the table, instead, we just started the first date off with anxiety. If I want to send the message that I really don’t give a shit, I just need to show up 20 minutes late and not give her courtesy text.

Not just your reputation is at stake

If I am going to be late, I send a text. I think most people are very forgiving when they receive a heads up.

Remember, the recruiter is putting their reputation on the line when they ask you to interview with the hiring manager or the VP. They want to know that they can count on your to show up on time, well dressed and with minty fresh breath.

Next time you have an interview, treat the event as if it is a first date with someone you are interested in having a LTR with. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

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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requesting company resources

You and your career do not want to look like this guy when requesting company resources

Are you asking for enough when requesting company resources?

Today’s post is a phenomenon I have observed over the years that I haven’t seen mentioned in other blogs. Employees are short-changing themselves when requesting company resources. This is the wrong attitude and it sets us up for failure. Typically, this type of request is coming from someone early in their career or folks who haven’t made it to senior management. Folks in senior management were promoted because they mastered the art of requesting resources. They ask for the right amount in their initial request AND have a clear plan of how these company resources are going to be used.  

Let’s say you are working on a project that needs $10,000.00, 5000 widgets, or 80 hours of consulting time.

What I have seen time and time again is that folks ask for $5,000.00, 3000 widgets or 60 hours. In all 3 cases, the initial ask is less than what is estimated to complete the goal and there is little data to back up HOW the resources are going to be used.

Reasons we ask for less

  1. The wrong assumption that the company can NOT afford to spare the resources needed
  2. Fear that asking for the full amount will make us look weak, less skilled, or that we are not “crunching the numbers” well enough
  3. We think that $10,000 is too much money because as individuals, $10 grand is a whole lot of Benjamin’s. We treat the request as if this is coming out of our managers personal bank account.

The baseline of assumptions

If a project requires 5000 widgets to complete, and we only ask for 3000 widgets, we are setting ourselves up for failure before we start. If we don’t start with the necessary company resources, we aren’t going to cross the finish line. Unless the person who is going to approve of the resources has prior experience with our project, that person doesn’t know what the project really requires. With this approval, they are expecting the project to be completed on time and to perform flawlessly.

Some of the readers are thinking, “If I ask for the 5000 widgets I will only receive 4000. My manager always undercuts me”.

HRNastyness:

When you ask for the full 5000 widgets, you have set yourself up for success. Because we asked for what is needed to succeed, success or failure of the project will not be hinging on our initial request for resources. 

If we are granted the cut-rate of 4000 widgets scale the project back and start with a proof of concept. Prove that your idea works on a smaller scale. As the project proves successful with enough ROI, we should be granted more widgets. The key word is “ENOUGH” ROI.   

“I told you so biatches.”

If we know a project requires 80 hours worth of work and we only budget and request 60, we are essentially hiding the truth from the company. We should not assume the company is going to make the wrong decision and only grant us 60 of the 80 hours requested. Employees should avoid going into a pitch for company resources with this mentality. We need to give full disclosure to the company on resources needed. If all the employees short-changed their requests to the finance department, then their projections on the budget will be way off. And when we find out we really needed 5000 widgets. . .  I don’t endorse this but you will have the option to say “I told you so”. 

This is what your parents envision when you ask them for $300.00

Requisite dating example:

Let’s say we are going to take a date to the prom in 2 months. The budget required is $150.00 for dinner, $100.00 for a tux, and $100.00 for a limo. The total budget is $350.00 for the night before tips and miscellaneous expenses like a corsage.

If we go to our parents and say “I need 350.00 for a date”, our parents have no perspective on why any date would cost $350.00. We receive a curt “No”. We retreat to our rooms feeling like our parents hate us and our lives are going to end.

In an effort to counter the above scenario, the classic move is to make an initial ask of my parents for $200.00. The reasoning is that $350.00 sounds like too much money for a single date. Two hundred dollars still sounds like too much for a single date, but it sounds better than the 3 Benjamins and a Ulysses S Grant. 

One month later, I realize time is running out and I need another couple hundies. But in the fear of facing my parents, I only ask for $100.00.  My parents ask me to budget better next time and, frustrated with my lack of accounting skills, fork over the $100.00.  Emotionally relieved I breath a sigh of relief.  I got half my goal but this still leaves me $50.00 short.

I created my own panic situation

One week before prom, I am in a panic. I know I am at least $50.00 short and haven’t thought about tips or a corsage. Facing the music, I go to the parents one more time and ask them for the last $50.00. I get a long-winded lecture. My father gives my mother the evil eye, telling her what a dumb son she raised. After a dinner eaten in awkward silence and no one enjoying dessert, I head to my room. Later that evening, mom comes up with her purse and pulls a hundy from her wallet. She winks and whispers “Don’t tell your father, here is another $100.00 so you don’t come to us again. This is saving ME a lecture. Have a good time.”

Moral of the story:

A $350.00 budget request is no more unreasonable than a $200.00 request for a single date. Backing up the request with business logic and costs will makes more sense. “It’s Prom night and this date comes with additional expenses.”

Breaking down the initial request and explaining how the funds will be used will go far.

“Mom and dad, I am going to go to Prom this fall and am going to need some help with expenses. I am looking at $150.00 for dinner, $100.00 for a tux, and $100.00 for a limo. Total is $350.00.”  The request has perspective. This isn’t just a date, this is the Prom. The $350.00 is going to be used for very specific expenses.   

If your project requires a $10K budget, we shouldn’t ask for the company resources like a pimply faced high school student. Breaking down the request into bite sized and understandable parts will go far. Putting the request into perspective and showing a business need will go a lot farther than just saying “Can I have 5000 widgets, I am going to try and move the needle on X”

The quickest way for an employee to tarnish their reputation is by repeatedly

not asking for enough resources

The Full Monty:

Next time you need resources, ask for the Full Monty. Don’t ask for a percentage. Look ‘em straight in the eye, don’t make excuses and recognize this is a business. Make the request like a senior business person in business terms. 

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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Onboarding

Onboarding, Welcome to the Team

New Hire Onboarding

This past week I went through the onboarding process with a new employee. I got to know this individual well throughout the hiring process and really enjoyed getting to know him so I wasn’t just professionally vested, I was personally vested.

On his first day and throughout the first week, I found myself going through the normal list of onboarding paperwork including confidentiality agreements, I-9’s etc.

My reputation is on the line

Because I posted the job description, recruited him, and presented him to the hiring manager, I know my reputation is at stake. If the candidate works out great, it would be normal for the hiring manager to take the credit for hiring such a great candidate. If the new hire doesn’t work out, the first question that will be asked is “Where did this guy come from? Who referred him?” and all eyes will be directed at me. It isn’t a knock on the hiring manager, it is just the way it is with all new hires while the verdict is still out. Welcome to the world of HR and recruiting.

So, it is in my best interest to not only make sure I find the best candidate I can, but to make sure he is successful once his butt is in the seat. Where most recruiters just wipe their hands clean of the new hire, I know my job is only beginning.

I thought it would be a good exercise to share what I do and say when onboarding a new hire to ensure that they are successful. My hope is that this would help other HR pro’s, and managers that are welcoming new hires or anyone starting new job.

Meet the team face to face

Whenever we have a new hire come in, we put a box of donuts on their desk and invite the wolves. We ask the new hire to send out the following email to the department or the entire company depending on the numbers. I have blogged about this in the past here. 

Hey, my name is Johnny New Hire and today is my first day. I am a developer here at Acme Publishing and sitting on the 2nd floor near the water cooler. I am really excited to be here. A little bit about me: I came from XYZ were I was a developer for 3 years and I am a Seahawks fan with season tickets. I have a box of Top Pot Donuts at my desk so swing by and introduce yourself and enjoy a donut. PS, I believe that the Samoa’s are the number 1 Girl Scout cookie.

This gets co-workers out of their chairs and walking over to the new hire for face to face introductions. I feel this is more effective than the sterile email that HR or the hiring manager sends out. A few conversational talking points never hurt (Seahawks fan and Girl Scout cookies). 

Carry a pad of paper and pen everywhere for the first 2 weeks

I know this is the age of EverNote, MSFT OneNote, Zoho, (you pick your flavor) and most of us are taking notes on our phones. In our first couple of weeks with a new job, we are going to be learning a lot. We need to write stuff down. This isn’t just for ourselves as the new hire. We want to make our bosses confident that we are paying attention to the training. If we take notes on our phone, our trainers don’t know if we are sexting, on FB, or earning our paychecks. Emotionally, trainers and managers are put at ease when they see a new hire taking notes, because trust me, 8 out of 10 new hires do not. For what it’s worth, I still carry a pad of paper and pen everywhere I go so I can try to instill confidence.  

Dress a half step the first two weeks

I work in tech and it isn’t uncommon to see flip-flops, shorts and t-shirts in the winter. Regardless of the position, I encourage new hires to dress business casual the first couple of weeks to establish a reputation for putting their best foot forward. This let’s your manager know that you CAN represent the company at business events. Within a few days, your co-workers will chide you into dressing down. It is always better to create a good impression and then relax the company rules vs. making them wonder if you can meet them. 

Set up a regular meeting with your manager

Take the initiative to set up a regular check-in meeting with your manager. The purpose of this meeting is to reassure your manager that you are on top of your work and taking your career seriously.

In the first meeting, we want to convey the following:

  • “I am very happy with this new opportunity. Thank you for hiring me!”
    • We need to reassure our manager that we made the right decision. Don’t assume they know this!
  • “Johnny has been a big help in getting me on boarded. Everyone here is so nice.”
    • Team players give credit to others. Let your manager know you understand what a team is.
  • “My goal for the first couple of weeks are:”
    • “Learn the job”
    • “Get to know the departments”
    • “Read up on a specific product”
      • We want to go to our manager with a list of bullets outlining what we expect to accomplish the first week. If they haven’t given you a training program, use the above and let them make the corrections. Don’t take offense if they correct your list. New hires WANT our managers to make corrections because then we can be assured that we are working on the right objectives.

Follow up meeting

  • “I am STILL very happy with this new opportunity. Thank you for hiring me! I feel like I have an opportunity for a long-term career.”  Show Job Excitement
  • “Johnny has been big help in getting me on boarded. Everyone here is so nice.”
    • Yes, spread some more love. It doesn’t have to be Johnny, just keep being a positive team player.
  • “Last week, I said my goal was to do X, Y, and Z. I did accomplish X, Y and Z and this next week I am going to do A, B and C.”

Future follow-up meetings consist of: rinse, lather and repeat.

Create a support network

We picked up a $10.00 SBUX gift card for the new hire and asked him to find Johnny Badass (I told him who to meet with).  I suggested he take him out to coffee at least 2 times over the next couple of weeks. The conversations should include and morph from:

  • I am really excited to be here.
  • As the new guy I was hoping you might be able to provide some advice for me.
  • It is understood that you are the most knowledgeable /  successful / respected in the department.
  • What 3 pieces of advice would you have for me to get along with my manager?
  • If you had 3 pieces of advice for me to navigate the company culture what would they be?

I will check in with the new hire over the next couple of months. My reputation is still on the line so we will make adjustments. This will incorporate other Nasty moves along the way. At a basic level, this is how I cover my onboarding bases.

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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