LinkedIn Connections

LinkedIn isn’t just about the numbers

Linkedin connections question

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

His initial question is below (with permission):

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

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

Advice to the intern

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

LinkedIn profile, have or have not 

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

LinkedIn connections as a ratio of years worked

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

Quantity vs. Quality

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

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

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

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

My question to the intern:

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

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

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

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

Requisite dating analogy:

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

See you at the after party,

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

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5 year plan

Have you thought about your 5 year plan?

What is your 5 year plan? 

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

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

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

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

Requisite dating analogy:

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

First date questions:

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

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

Second date questions:

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

If the answer to question number 4 is:

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

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

Bad answer

If I hear:

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


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

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

Back at our interview

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

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

Mr. Potential New Hire is now Mr. Declined.

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

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

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

The “Why” lends credibility

But, if I hear:

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

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

What I usually hear:

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

10% of candidates provide the following:

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

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

What I really thought:

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

My response:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


See you at the after party,


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

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What friendship is

Posted: by HRNasty in Personal



What friendship is

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Clinic on Montana waters

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

AnnaL: For sharing your Beyonce concert stories with us during your visits to the hospital. You treated us as friends and not as patients. You made us laugh and shared your personal stories and in the end you took our minds off of the present situation. We both really enjoyed it when you visited us. You were comfortable with your self, the situation and didn’t treat us differently. Thank you! 

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

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


Homemade pasta

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chef, Angler and treasured friend

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

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

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

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


First dozen eggs (pix not doing artwork justice)

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


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

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

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

Thank you,


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

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In memory of Mrs. HRNasty 1967 – 2016

Posted: by HRNasty in What HR Really Thinks

phyllodes tumor

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

Phyllodes Tumor

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

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

Phyllodes Tumor

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

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

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

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

Phyllodes Tumor

Proofreader and best friend with Adipose “Adi” Finn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adi licking on a "non Orange" Popsicle.

Adi licking on a “non Orange” Popsicle.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Phyllodes Tumor

Mrs. HRNasty with some Rock Creek goodies  

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

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

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


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

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Internship Interview

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

Beat the internship interview

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

Hi HRNasty,

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

Thank you,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internship interview secret

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

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

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

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

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

Like a Boss!


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

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internship application

Sophomores and juniors can easily compete with graduating seniors for internships

Internship application

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

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

Hi HRNasty,

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

Thank you,


The assumptions

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

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

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

The playing field is equal

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

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

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

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

All interns are created equal

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

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

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

The value of a graduating senior can be overcome

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

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

Expected graduation dates

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

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

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

Like a Boss!

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

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

Career epiphany

Playing well with others is critical to landing new opportunity

Career epiphany

If you have a career epiphany, you want to share it and that is exactly what happened. A reader of this blog  just let me know about her career epiphany (while reading this blog) and I had to share it with the group.

Career: an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.

Epiphany: a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being

Climbing the career ladder is more than just doing great work. Subscribers to the blog are familiar with my sermons and stump speeches where I preach that we always need to up our game on a consistent basis. The higher we climb, the more we step up. Most of us feel we are working hard, most of us feel we are doing a great job. Unfortunately, it takes more than this to land more money, more opportunity and bigger challenges. To name a few things we need to do in addition to getting the job done, we need to:

  • Get along with EVERYONE, regardless of how big an ass they are (leaders get along)
  • Build teams and be the leader without the title of manager or director
  • Show company pride
  • Add to the culture of the company

Below is the readers career epiphany and again, it is such a great “ah – ha” moment as it relates to climbing the career ladder, I needed to share with the group. I immediately reached out to the reader and asked if I could share here email and she quickly responded with the go ahead. Thank you Viola! (and yes, she qualifies as a hard worker)

Dear HRNasty:

My name is Viola and I just stumbled onto your blog today. I am an aspiring career ladder climber but I have been losing hope as my efforts have not been paying off.

Let me start by saying that i am a very hard worker. I know you say everyone says that but I really am. Last year I was doing a master’s degree full time, running a business, teaching a class at the local university, and working as a teaching assistant. That’s 4 jobs! And i had two children under 4! So I know i’m a hard worker.

I have been teaching a class at my local university since 2013. I got this gig by sheer luck. I live in a very desirable community and there are constantly people moving here because everyone wants to live here. Working at the local university is like owning a golden goose. As time has gone on I have increasingly felt the desire to land a full time, regular position at this university. I am willing to take anything that isn’t at the secretarial level to get in (which would be inappropriate given my level of professional experience). I have networked and even had a meeting with the Director of HR and the Campus Administrator. But nothing has come of any of these efforts. There was recently a full time coordinator job that i applied for and I was sure that i would get an interview. I have a professional degree, and other degrees, and specialized knowledge in an area that was required for the position. I didn’t even get an interview. It has been depressing, more so as time goes on.

But today as I was reading your Job Interview mistake article I had a career epiphany. It IS partly my fault that I am not seeing doors opened to me. Although I have done well at networking, I have not put any efforts into engaging in the university community. I only show up, teach a class, and leave. Although I work very hard to deliver a great course, I don’t do anything beyond that. And, now that i think of it, the Director of HR told me to start doing some of these extra things! Why didn’t I listen to her? I haven’t gone to a single BBQ, I haven’t even attended a single department meeting.

Thank you, thank you SO much for somehow pointing this out to me. Just performing in my one limited role is not enough to consider myself a true keener. I have to do more.

I really appreciate your blog, even though it is a little nasty at times.





Thank you again for sharing our story and your career epiphany. You are absolutely right, great work isn’t the only thing that is needed. The people that are granting the promotions like the company they work for and the people they work with. They want to work with, and promote like minded individuals. We can talk about how we like our peers all day long, but if we are not showing up at the company functions or networking, we will leave a different impression.

It is ALWAYS great to hear from folks who have gotten a little something from the blog and it is even better when we can share the learning with the group. I’d love to send you a HRNasty swag pack, please just tell me your t shirt size and a place to send it. 

Like a Boss!

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

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

Career Goal

Just talking about you career goal with your manager isn’t enough. The “What” and the “Why” is critical and often missing from this conversation.

Your career goal and manager support

Last week, we discussed why it is so important to share our career goal to gain our managers support. Without this insight, managers have no idea how to help us attain the next level. Just stating the career goal (“I want to be a manager”) itself isn’t enough. This is a very small part of the conversation and just a starting point. We need to do a lot more than just state our career goal if we want to get anywhere whether that is life, relationships or our careers.

If you are waiting for the next job opening to be announced so that you can start moving your career forward, you will be too late and miss the bus. We need to lay the foundation and work on our career goal before the job opening is announced. 

We may not have a current career goal and this can be OK in certain situations (which we will discuss below). Just remember, there are plenty of folks who DO know what they want from their career and more importantly have signaled this intent to their manager. Even if they are less qualified than we suspect, these are usually the folks that will land the promotions that we may be coveting. (See last weeks post here for the explanation why)

Whether you know what you want out of your career or not, there are universal moves you can make to set yourself up for future success. Obviously, it is best if you have an idea of what you want to do, and if so, we need to let our managers know ASAP. In addition, we need to explain what we have done to help us attain this goal and what plans are in place for the future to set ourselves up for success.

If you do not know what you want to do just yet, we want to prove and market a few basic skill sets that are applicable to all next level positions:

  • Thought leadership
  • Public speaking
  • Leadership without a leadership title
  • Positive attitude
  • Presentation layer (dress and act for the position you want, not the one you are currently working)

Beyond the technical expertise of the position, there are obviously more skills needed than the above 4, but at a high level, all leaders share the above 4 and the above would be considered a bare minimum for any promotion, transfer or new project.

Lets go back to our customer service rep that wants to take his or her career to the next level. There are a number of ways to demonstrate the above. Tell your manager you are going to do the following in an effort to demonstrate the skills needed to make it to the next level.

  • Put together a top 10 list of customer questions and answers for new hires so they have an idea of what to expect from the department, company, customers, etc. (Thought leadership)
  • Explain that you will be happy to go over this list with any batch of new hires that is brought into the customer service group. (Public Speaking, leadership without title and positive attitude)
  • Explain that your plan would be to keep this list updated and provide answers as new issues come up.
  • You want to build a reputation for being the Subject Matter Expert and if other topics come up, you would like to volunteer.

Disclaimer: Depending on your position and company culture, you may not be able to spend time on this project because there are other priorities. Because of workplace laws, some managers may feel they have to pay you for your work and discourage you from the extra effort. My suggestion is to just do this on your own time and present a simple high level vision to your manager as a showcase. They may be able to advise you of a more powerful way of showcasing your skill set. Try to put this into presentation form for more impact. Talking through your idea won’t have the same punch as a few Power Point slides.

It is much easier to promote someone who is doing more than the job than to promote someone who is doing the current job well

Other ideas that I am literally pulling out of my ass, on the fly:

  • Demonstration / FAQ for a lunch and learn to explain functions of your department, new initiative, technology, or process to others that are not as familiar with what your group is working on. Including and organizing others on your team will demonstrate leadership without a title.
  • Many departments are collecting data and metrics. For many companies, the focus is on collection vs. analysis. Come up with a way to parse this data at a very simple level to show trends, or demonstrate a hypothesis and you can make a mark for yourself.
  • Next time there is a new hire, take the newb to lunch and be the informal mentor, confidant, and buddy. Show them the in’s and out’s of the department, explain the culture and generally treat them like your little brother or sister if they were to join the company.

Here is why the above ideas can be so powerful.

Many managers would LOVE to have someone in the department be responsible for any 1 of 100 tasks that are not being tracked or initiated. But without anyone showing interest in any specific topic, most managers don’t want to suggest responsibility to anyone on their team. Most managers don’t want to be the asshole manager that piles more work on an employee because the usual response is an exasperated sigh of “more work for the same amount of money?” Most managers want to give more responsibility to employees and most employees want more responsibility (as long as it is a project of personal interest). But without direction from the employee, it is just human nature to just take the easy route and “not” give out any projects. This avoids the negative body language like the rolling eyes and deeps sighs of frustration because there is no personal connection to the assigned task. Think about that one for a minute.  

The lunch and learn will demonstrate public speaking, presentation skills, thought leadership, and even the ability to conduct research. You may think that these skill should be obvious to your manager but they are not. Demonstrating skill sets and establishing a reputation will make you a stand out. When the VP asks your manager for someone to work on a project, yours will be the first to be thought of because you demonstrated the ability in the past.

The easy lever with metrics is that because data analysis is in it’s infancy as a discipline, just tracking the data in an excel spreadsheet and turning the data into a pie chart or bar graph can be enough to bring notice to your corporate existence. You don’t need a PhD to show initiative. You don’t need a big presentation; just a few small theories with suggestions on how to leverage the data can establish your niche. Just Google “Basic metrics for “Your” industry” and it is off to the races.

Taking a newb under your wing is managing without the title. Keep the gossip out of the equation and you will be demonstrating leadership and thought leadership. 

The above are just a few ideas that could rejuvenate your career. The point is that we need to:

  • Explain our career goals to our managers or they won’t know how to help us.
  • Explain the steps we HAVE made to meet our goals and the steps we think we should make to meet our goals. Otherwise our goals come across as just talk.
  • Explain to your manager that you want to build a reputation for your “thing” and anytime similar opportunities come up in the future, you want to be the chosen one.

Even if we don’t have specific goals, continue to be pro-active and show that you are a team player BEYOND the job description signed up for. Going beyond your current job description generally means we are performing at the “next level’s” job description. We are demonstrating that we are ready for the next role because we ARE performing portions of the role. 

It is much easier to promote someone who is doing more than the job than to promote someone who is doing the current job well. Folks doing a great job will only go so far. You will go much further with your career goal if you are doing a great job beyond the job description AND updating your manager with your career aspirations. 

Like a Boss!

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

Boss: During a critical moment, a person, animal or thing seizes the opportunity, takes charge and wins or overcomes an obstacle that seems nearly impossible to accomplish.

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career goals

Managers are not mind readers. We need to articulate our career goals

Articulate your career goals to land a job promotion

Everyone has career goals and wants to take his or her career to the next level. For some the next level may be a promotion and for others, the career goal may be a position in another department or discipline. “Career goals” means different things for different people, but regardless of our career goals, the way we go about achieving our “next level” is the same. Today’s blog post paves the way.

Hard truth:

In most manager’s minds, the majority of employees are hoping and praying for a promotion vs. doing anything about it.

This week we discuss why it is so important to articulate our career goals. Next week, we discuss the specific steps you can take to pro-actively move your career in a forward direction regardless of your direction (or lack of).

One of the questions that all senior executives ask of candidates and employee is “What do you want to do with your career?” or some variation of “What is your five year plan?” This is a common networking question and a guaranteed interview question so we should always have a prepared answer. A candidate that is not able to answer this question makes it tough on the hiring manager to extend an offer because managers don’t want to hire anyone that A.) Doesn’t have any ambition or B.) Hasn’t thought about what they want to do with their life. An employee who isn’t able to answer this question is very difficult to promote because the manager doesn’t know what position to promote the employee into. The LAST thing your manager wants to do is assume an incorrect path with your career goals. (You would be surprised how many employees do not want to be a manager, so don’t assume this is the norm).  

Requisite dating life example:

When we go on a first date with Ms. Right and ask her: “What do you want to do this evening?” the last thing we want to hear is “I don’t know, what every you want to do is cool.”  As flexible as Ms. Right sounds, this response makes it very difficult to set up an evening for success. Now, if Ms. Right responds with:

  • “I think it would be great if the two of us could check out the new restaurant X”
  • “I’d love to see the new Y movie with you”
  • “I want to take a drive and see the tulip festival. The drive will give us time to get to know each other”

The date becomes much easier to set up for success. Even if you do not like food X or movie Y, for Ms. Right, we suck it up. For Ms. Right, we would probably go see Fried Green Tomatoes, 50 Shades of Grey, and yes walk through muddy fields of tulips. The point is that relationships take work from both sides, Mr. Right (your manager) is not a mind reader and “I don’t know, What ever you want to do” is very difficult to work with. Could Mr. Right (your manager) make a suggestion and plan the evening? Absolutely, but at the end of the day, we are individually responsible for our dates and our careers. We need to be pro active and set ourselves up for success. The date and your career is about your happiness and we need to take some initiative.

Back to the executive asking about our 5- year plan. In this competitive market, just having a career goal isn’t enough. If we really want the executive to take us seriously, we need to provide a few more details. 1.) Why this goal means something to us and 2.) What we have been doing to attain this goal. Anyone can have a career goal but few actually make moves. Managers notice two things, initiative and complacency.  

If I survey 20 employees with the question: “What are your career goals?”

  • 15 will say “I am still trying to figure that out” or worse, “I don’t know”.
  • 4 will say, “I want to be a manager” (very generic and without context this answer is meaningless)
  • 1 will have a specific goal

The response “I am still trying to figure it out” is the equivalent of Ms. Right’s response, “I don’t know”. This lack of direction makes it very hard to provide guidance or help towards the next level.

“I want to be a manager” is as generic response as they come and the number 1 answer I hear when it comes to carer goals.  This can be a legitimate answer, but because everyone wants to be a manager and most are doing nothing to about it, your response loses meaning and puts us into the same category as all of the other chaff in the department. This can be a great answer if we provide the”WHY” we want to be a manager and “WHAT” we have done to move us closer to the goal. Without this context, this answer sounds like everyone else in the department and we need to differentiate ourselves. 

If I am lucky, our Go-Getter will explain what they want to do, what steps they need to take to hit the goal, AND what steps they have already taken towards the path of enlightenment.

And here is where the blog post begins.

The first step when it comes to career goals is to figure out WHAT we want to do. Without that answer, it becomes very difficult to make introductions to the specific people that can help and very difficult to give an employee related projects which can prove we are ready for the “next level”.

Let’s say you are a bank teller and you want to be a manager of the bank tellers at the local branch or the Director of bank tellers for the local area.

When I ask, “Why do you want to be a manager of X department?” what I usually hear is: “I have been in the department the longest, I know about all of our work flows and have great relationships with our customers”.

We have two things going against ourselves at this point. We had to prodded for the reasons we want to be a manager AND none of the above are good enough reasons for promotion. Everyone in the department can say they understand the process and have great relationships with the customer.

Once we figure out our destination, we need to go an extra step

In addition to explaining what we want to do, we need to explain WHY we want to get to that next level and HOW we are planning on getting there.

A wet dream of an answer and what I hear from 1 out of 100:

“I want to be a manager in customer service for two reasons. I am really passionate about our customers being treated right, and I have seen how I managers can effect results at scale vs. what I am doing at a one-on-one level here at Acme Publishing. I have talked with a couple of Directors in similar positions and admire what they do. I am currently in the customer service department and am trying to show leadership by:åe department to improve efficiency

  • Putting up great call center stats
  • Putting together specific workflows for the entire department to improve efficiency
  • Created an FAQ which answer the top 10 questions that come in so new employees can have a guideline for the most common questions.
  • Mentoring new hires

Do you have any advice for me? Am I missing anything? Could I set myself up more efficiently?

Now we are cooking with gas. I can work with this at all kinds of levels:

The above answer gives me confidence that the manager title is what our Go-Getter is looking for. This is not a flight of fancy or the career goal of the month.

I know that this hopeful is taking the initiative and I personally WANT to help someone that helps himself or herself vs. someone that wants me to do the work for them. 

This hopeful has proven they are walking the walk and not just talking the talk. There are two things all managers here from their employees: “I want to be a manager” and “I can do that job”. Trust me, this is not enough.

Next week, we continue the discussion and explain the specific steps you can take to pro actively move your career in a forward direction. Even if we don’t know what we want to do, there are specific steps we will discuss that can set you up for success. 

Like a Boss!

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

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

Reasonable accommodation in the workplace

Posted: by HRNasty in Manage your Manager, What HR Really Thinks


HRNasty’s actual set up and a reasonable accommodation, albiet a bit ghetto

Reasonable Accommodation

Last week the topic of reasonable accommodation came up via HR expert, colleague, and career advocate @bgwalton7  who DM’ed the following:

Pic 1

@bgwalton is a thought leader and definitely someone you should follow if you are trending on leadership, career trajectory or HR and I immediately realized the topic of reasonable accommodations would make a great blog topic. When she talks, I listen.

Over Twitter I asked a few clarifying questions because I wasn’t sure about the specific requests that staff might make. To which she clarified:

reasonable accommodation

reasonable accommodation clarification

I had focused the most recent blogs on relatively larger topics like career progression and promotions. It is these personal requests that are the hardest to make. The requests for the private office, lighting, ergonomic and reasonable accommodations like a VariDesk can be so visible that we feel guilty about these requests. Asking for a raise in salary is a private affair and the outcome confidential so no one knows a request is being made. If a new ergonomic “anything” shows up at your desk, co-workers will notice, and the public barrage of questions will follow. Although we shouldn’t feel guilty, it is easy to feel like we received something others are not.

So, with a lot of input from @bgwalton7, I am going to address a couple of points:

  • How do managers really feel when employees ask for these accommodations?
  • The request for an accommodation when you have a doctor’s note or disability
  • The request for an accommodation when we do not have a doctor’s note.

Thing 1: How do managers feel? How you ask is more important than what you ask for.

Ask with confidence and keep your excuses to a minimum. If you need something, you need it. It is OK to ask, my advice is to ask in a way that is productive vs. not whiney or filled with excuses. EG: If your significant other needs 300.00 to get the brakes fixed on the car, it is much better to hear “Can I take $300.00 from the checking account for my car? I need to get my brakes fixed”. Makes total sense, and the ask is straight forward. The ugly flip-side is: “Hey, remember how I helped you out last week when we needed to visit your mom and help her move her TV? You know my car is 5 years old and the brakes aren’t safe, we have the kid in the back seat all the time and with the brakes squeaking. Blah blah blah.” How do managers really feel? “SHUT UP ALREADY and JUST GET ON WITH THE QUESTION. YOU LOST ME AT Hey Remember”. We don’t have to ask with attitude like we are owed anything. We just don’t need excuses. Your request is just another business request and your comfort is a business investment in productivity.

Reasonable accommodation requests should not be denied or even questioned. Reasonable will depend on the company you are working, profitability and culture, but reasonable will also depend on how you ask. If you ask in such a way that it your request sounds like a big deal, favor or an exception, it will become perceived as such. If we ask in a matter of fact way, with a straight face, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. If we ask for anything large or small with a bunch of excuses, we are putting the manager in the wrong frame of mind before an answer has been considered.

I know what I am talking about because I am an ergonomic nightmare. I am short, have bad shoulders from flyfishing, bad eyes from tying small flies for flyfishing, and a messed up back from living a sedentary life of Cheetos and Snickers. This is why I am blogging and not working a YouTube channel. I have a face and body for radio because I am a visual and crooked mess.

Whenever I come into a new office, I make a number of requests / adjustments and they have all been reasonable accommodations. Most desks heights are between 28 – 30 inches and designed for folks in the 5 foot 9 to 6 foot range. I come in a just under 5 foot 9 inches short, and so the adjustments start from here.

Our neck works best when my eyes are looking down at the top of the screen. With a large monitor and my laptop screen, I need two different height platforms for the monitors.

My wrist needs to be level with the keyboard and my forearms need to be level to the ground which means I am using a height and angle adjustable keyboard tray that extends away from the desk. In addition to this, I work best with an ergonomic keyboard which does not have the 9-key. This keeps my elbows from reaching out for the mouse.

My thighs need to be level with the floor or I have undue pressure on my back and even with the chair at it’s lowest setting, I need a foot rest. You have heard of alligator arms, I have alligator legs.

I remove the arms from my chairs because even the height adjustable arms lift my elbows up and lift my shoulders towards my ears. I always have the “I don’t know shrug” going on and it doesn’t do for executive credibility. A set of Allen wrenches and a Phillips screwdriver will remedy the armrests which can always be screwed back on.

High maintenance? Yes, but spend 9-10 hours a day at the desk and then go home and work for another couple of hours and your body will let you know you are doing some damage. If we lay in bed for 2 minutes a bit uncomfortable we make an adjustment. Just Google “standard desk height” and you will see what I am talking about. I don’t know this guy but my quick Google search verified the above here.

Lets start with the easy stuff. If you need more lighting, you ask for it. A $30.00 to $50.00 dollar lamp is a no brainer. Most lamps will be on the low end of this price range and this makes it unreasonable to deny this sort of request.

If you want mood lighting, or something in fashion setting chrome, you are on your own, but if you get push back for additional desk lighting because it is legitimately dark for you, you are working in the wrong place or for the wrong manager. Get out.

@bgwalton asked about requests for VariDesks and I know these are very popular. I personally haven’t used them, but the last company I worked with bought so many of these, I suggested we buy them in bulk and try and get a discount. As I remember, these ran between $400.00 – $700.00 depending on the model.

If you have a note from the doctor explaining you would work more effectively with an reasonable accommodation, then we just moved into ADA (Americans with Disabilities) territory. Employees with a note from the doctor or that have a disability have rights, and there are laws in place that will protect the employee and ensures the employer makes a reasonable accommodation. @bgwalton7 provided me a simple to read link on the guidelines of the ADA here and it will go into more detail here. At a very high level:

  • Company needs to have more than 15 employees
  • The term “reasonable accommodation” will be determined by the company. “Reasonable” at Google will be very different than “reasonable” at a non-profit which may not have the same resources as a larger company.
  • A doctor’s note isn’t required. The verbal mention of a medical condition can be enough to become a request for a “reasonable” accommodation.

If you are a person in leadership, HR, management or a lead, I HIGHLY recommend you take a few minutes and review these guidelines. You probably have employees that are asking you for an accommodation which would fall under ADA guidelines which are not recognized as such. The laws are pretty loose in favor of the employee (as they should be) and some requests may not even be recognizable. See page 7 – 13 here. Seriously, even if you don’t read the rest of this post, read this document.

My advice is that if you need an accommodation, just ask. Ergonomics and their importance are a much more accepted talking point vs. 20 years ago. Companies understand that a 400.00 ergonomic work-station is much cheaper than having an employee out of the office for physical therapy, carpel tunnel or pinched nerve. If it is determined you need physical therapy because of bad ergonomics, the company suffers at multiple levels:

  • The company’s insurance usage went up which can effect rates
  • Employee is out of the office at therapy with lost productivity
  • When the employee is in the office, they are not working as effectively as when they are healthy
  • When the employee does come come back to the office, the doctor is requesting the accommodation to be made and the above could have been avoided.

These requests come up on the managers and HR’s radar not because of the request for an accommodation but because of the way the request are made. A whiny request with no confidence is frustrating. It is an indication the customers and vendors are treated the same way. A confident request isn’t given as much thought and here is why: If you are making $40K a year, we have another 20% for benefits, a computer and screen, desk and chair. This can easily be a $55K expense. 400.00 amortized /depreciated over 12 – 24 months comes out isn’t that much.

Managers are worried that if we get some special accouterment for one employee, all employees will ask for it. If accommodations are made based on medical situations, we shouldn’t have a blitz of employees.

Like a Boss!

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