Tagged: Passion

Be an Employment Brand Junkie: My 2014 HCI Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference Take-Away

I love Southwest Airlines; therefore I have a Southwest Visa and avidly watch my points tally up. I have convinced myself my internal energy tank is low without Starbucks in the morning and I have to use my mobile application to pay or else it doesn’t feel right. I own more t-shirts than a sorority sister in her 6th year of undergrad because I elect to represent my teams in Homage gear. And when I receive a Nordstrom Note in the mail it’s as if I was just accepted to my dream college… Every time.

Your employment brand is directly connected to your consumer brand. However, instead of using this vision to sell more plane tickets, you’re using this vision to ensure you have talented folks flying the planes, serving the drinks, checking the bags, and changing travel plans for those who bought that plane ticket.

Employment Brand Quote

Recruiters have been “selling” companies to potential candidates for decades. Employment branding at its core is not new. Showing candidates why they should work at your company is not a new concept. But how you show candidates is changing. Estela Vasquez Perez mentioned three steps to having a successful employment brand:

(1)  Emotional – Connect with your people and potential people.

(2)  Rational – Connect corporate vision with your people and potential people.

(3)  Experiential – Deliver on the employment brand promise you made (nobody likes liars).

Who does this really well? Or at least is on the right track to do this very well? I saw multiple videos at the conference, showing off speaker companies and what it’s like to work there. One stood out and that was Hewlett-Packard. Yes, HP,  the company that has been knocked by many not only for the jet-lagged innovation to Apple in recent years but their revenue numbers have not shown promise either. However, with new CEO Meg Whitman they’ve reassessed their employment brand. HP pulls you in with understanding its history then rationalizes it by showing their inventions of then, now, and the future. And as for the experience part… Guess you’ll have to work there and see if it lives up to expectation.

The job search landscape is competitive. Technology is either crippling your company if you can’t catch-up or lifting your company if you embrace and deliver on it. There is going to be a shortage of talent. High-potentials are going to leave your company. Millennials are knocking on your door. If employment branding wasn’t important before, it certainly is now. It’s no secret these kids are showing up in droves. And guess what?… WE LOVE BRANDS.

We are brand junkies. Don Draper said these famous words on AMC’s Mad Men, “Advertising is happiness.” When you read, listen, or watch an ad, its purpose is to generate happiness leading to a transaction. When you think of a brand, what you remember is how that brand made you feel. I’m only going to say, “Yes,” over and over again to a brand that gets it.

You want the people who come to work for your company to be brand junkies. Make them happy. Get them hooked. Show people what it’s like to work at ___________. Next thing you know they’ll be waving your flag through the streets.

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4 Ways Talent Management Programs Can Learn From Millennials

If you take a holistic view of the workforce and use a little math, it can be determined that millennials are the closest in age to their childhood. Your 20-somethings within your organization are fresh off the “becoming an adult” train and who knows, maybe some of your 30-somethings are too. 

For as much as we millennials love the future and being on the cutting edge of technology, pop culture, and style (for those fashionistas out there) we also love looking back at ourselves, seeing how we grew up and remembering “that one night when…” As technology continues to shape how millennials operate in the workforce it’s also enabling a generation to say, “Remember when…” and track moments in time that would otherwise be overlooked.

Talent Management Programs continue to grow in popularity. When an organization is ready to develop their talent as well as focus on engagement and retention, a TM Program is usually looming overhead. Charts, graphs, feedback outside of the “annual review” from the supervisor, virtual high fives, those are… “Okay,” as Juan Pablo from The Bachelor would say. But if you look at how millennials are tracking their own lives… maybe there’s something to be learned.

1. TimehopThis is an app you connect to all of your social media outlets. Timehop aggregates posts, pictures, Tweets, places you’ve “Checked-In” and tells you what was going on in your life one year ago, two years ago, and three years ago today. Similar to SportsCenter saying “Today in sports history…” We can now say, “Today in my history…” Pretty cool, huh?

Timehop Example

2. SpotifyI now have every ‘NSYNC and Backstreet Boys album at my fingertips. Music gets old fast these days. If I have to hear “Blurred Lines” or “Cups” one more time I might give up on the radio. But, the #throwbacks – those stay forever. You want to listen to J. Lo or 2Pac? Maybe even LFO, Third Eye Blind, or Blink 182? Go right on ahead. 

Spotify Example

3. ‘Look Back’ Videos: For Facebook’s 10th anniversary Facebook users could create a ‘Look Back’ video. A ‘Look Back’ video selected unrelated posts and pictures from people’s profiles, put it to music, and told their 10-year (or less) story in a one-minute snip it. It is a potpourri of your life and brings back sentimental feelings connecting you to your family, friends, milestones in your life, but also the days you were just hanging out watching football with your dog.

Look Back Example

4. BuzzFeed Junkies: Who needs news? I could scroll through BuzzFeed all day to remind me of what I loved as a kid and a teen.

I know I’ve taken a risk posting these links as those with short attention spans have already clicked and are on to another window but for those who haven’t I will close the blog.

BuzzFeed Example

Why is this important in today’s workplace? Think about if you were able to track employees careers like they track their personal life. Wouldn’t it be cool to Timehop that one day you won your biggest account? When you hired your CEO as an intern and now he’s calling the shots? Why not add ways to ‘Look Back’ and show your history, where you came from and where you’re headed?

Incorporating a similar type of platform could remind valuable, top talent why they joined, stayed, and want to continue growing within your organization. 

The REAL Reasons You Should Hire College Athletes

There are two schools of thought when it comes to hiring athletes. One being they’re just “dumb jocks” and won’t bring value to your organization. Second being they’re an attractive hire because they’ve shown commitment to a cause.

Being a college athlete I have a slight bias and tend to agree with the latter. It is a benefit to the workplace to hire college athletes but not just any college athlete. I recently read a blog essentially classifying the “good” athlete hire versus the “bad.” Pointing to combinations of level of play from Division I-III or NAIA, grade point average, scholarship amount, and playing time.

These combinations only scratch the surface of evaluating a student-athlete. When you have a recent grad or current student in the interview process, you should be asking yourself, “What can this individual add to our company?” In my opinion outside of GPA, the division a player competed in, scholarship amount and playing time, don’t tell you if the candidate “can do this job” – it only tells you about the level of basketball player they were and if they might be able to beat you in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

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But not all college athletes are one in the same.

The Myths of Hiring College Athletes

  • They all have time management skills:  There’s a major difference between knowing how to allocate time to projects in the work environment and knowing that on MWF I have class from 9-11am and 1-2:30pm with practice from 4-6pm. Out of the 8 hours plus left in the day – I somehow have to find time for homework and to study! Trust me… College athletes DO have time (less than non-athletes, you’re right, but time nonetheless) – it’s just a matter of how they use it.
  • They’re all coachable: I can think of several individuals I have played with or against who were college athletes and never once did I think they were coachable. Watch an NBA playoff game this week. Coachability isn’t exactly a quality all athletes possess.
  • They know how to work with a team: One, let’s discuss all of the individual sports out there – golf, tennis, gymnastics. Yes, I know they can win team trophies too but they don’t need to communicate, “Hey! I’m going to rocket a pass to you under the basket and if you don’t look up I will peg you in the back of the head” in less than 2 seconds. Two, as with time management and being coachable, just because you’re on a team and listed on a roster does not mean you understand how to be a good teammate or how to work effectively in a group.

The above 3 items are typically knighted upon all college athletes who enter the workforce. But, as a hiring manager or recruiter – do not be fooled. They are not automatic traits. And if you’re an athlete – don’t fake these qualities, it will become apparent very quickly that you started all but 4 games in your career, received a full-ride scholarship, but can’t seem to figure out why you’re terrible at sales.

Mount Bball

You may now be asking yourself, “So what am I looking for? You’ve told me about several fallacies and yet, I’m left with no action.” Below are the REAL reasons you should hire college athletes.

What to Look For and Questions to Ask:

  • Mental Toughness: How were you tested physically as an athlete in college? When you were faced with adversity, how did you handle the situation? The day a teenager or early 20-something says to himself or herself, “Wow, I can’t believe I just did that. I didn’t think it was possible.” You’ve struck gold. Your coach should push you to levels you never thought you could reach and this quality will be one you will use over and over again in the workplace.
  • Self-Discipline: What did your off-season workouts look like? When you arrived back on campus in the fall, were you in shape? Did your coach instill a sense of accountability when it came to working out on your own? It’s a lot more difficult to stay on task and push yourself when no one is watching.
  • Sacrifice: This is how I define TEAM. You know when to put others before yourself. You do what’s right, because you don’t want to let your teammates down. When have you had to sacrifice for your team?
  • Leadership: Describe leadership stories. The title “captain” doesn’t grant you leadership skills. Why were you elected captain? If anything about being a senior or upperclassman is mentioned, that’s a turn-off. You earn the title of captain because you know how to motivate, you cultivate relationships, and not only do your teammates trust you but so does your coach. You can also gain leadership skills without being a captain. The question around leadership boils down to; did your teammates value your opinion? And, when things weren’t going well, did your team look to you?
  • Coachable: This is a very important trait but, as stated before, don’t assume just any athlete is coachable. Ask pointed questions – How did you react when your coach pointed out mistakes? When posed with opportunities to improve, did you take the initiative to get better?

Sweet 16

For the majority of college athletes who will not be playing professionally, as the famous NCAA advertisement states, it’s important to differentiate yourself beyond that line on your resume reading “Varsity Basketball 2007-2011.” Millennial athletes, did you gain any of the characteristics above? Be prepared to convey more than “common traits” several athletes before you have over-used. Tell them your stories. The resume lines on winning one regular season league championship, two league tournament championships, and two NCAA appearances with a Sweet 16 don’t hurt either. More stories.

Hiring managers, expect more from the athletes you’re interviewing. Get to the important traits and don’t take college athletes at face value.

I think most will find that the clear indicator of the value of a college athlete can be measured by the coach they played for. A coach who runs a program with the goal of not only winning championships but developing contributing members in the real world and teach their players mental toughness, self-discipline, sacrifice, leadership, and being coachable.

Thanks Coach.

Your Desk Needs a Makeover

I think I’m somewhat becoming claustrophobic these days and I believe there to be one culprit and one culprit only for this sudden spike in spatial awareness. My cube. My two beyond neutral beige toned walls, the color most likely selected as to not distract anyone and prevent anyone from thinking something innovative might be happening, have recently grown quite mundane. On these walls I have important work documents scattered around, pinned up behind my computer and around my desk so I can reference them easily.

Sounds pretty typical and to be honest, it really isn’t all that bad. I have a Mac desktop with a screen larger than my TV I had in college and by luck of the draw I get to sit by a window with a beautiful back drop of some Ohio forestry. I will say these two facets of what I walk into every day are nothing to criticize.

However, like in the AT&T commercial with the little kids… “We want more. We want more. Like if you really like it. You want more.” What I realized was that I need more of what I like around me. I like simple, clean cut, and I like people. A couple quotes on the wall, a few pictures with my family, and my favorite classic Michael Jordan photos should do it. I would even venture to cross my fingers, close my eyes, and wish I could sit at a table with no walls.

My Desktop with original wings poster. "No bird soars too high, If he soars with his own wings." - William Blake

My Desktop with original wings poster. “No bird soars too high, If he soars with his own wings.” – William Blake

Office design is a top trend noted in Sodexo’s annual Workplace Trends Report for 2013. The report reads, “Organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of the built environment in creating quality work environments and positive work experiences; each playing a crucial role in performance, engagement, and productivity.”

HR and Talent roles are people oriented and directly involved in performance management, employee engagement, and dare I say it… productivity. How is your company productive? The people are productive. Until a robot can operate a business with no human capital, your people create productivity.

Business leaders are rolling their eyes and saying, “ So now you’re telling me to spend money and rearrange the office? Paint some walls? Get a basketball video arcade game? Ha. Right. Make me money, don’t spend it.”

I can look at dollars and cents all day, but there is someone behind a desk, on a plane, working from home, or sitting in a coffee shop making those dollars and cents. Remember that. Can ROI be drawn directly to HR and Talent? Too many people have argued that before me and I’m too young to know or even comment.

But, what I do know is people make up your business. People drive your business. People make your business money. If office design can improve your people’s performance, engagement, and productivity, no wonder it’s a topic of conversation in the HR community for 2013.

Your workplace is where you spend about 10,400 hours per year of your life. Why not surround yourself with what you like at your desk? Some may think this is another narcissist ploy as a Millennial so engulfed in my interests that I bring what I like to decorate my workspace. But, to those who believe we’re all too self-assured and consumed with telling the world what we’re doing on social media, I say count how many articles are written on Personal Brand. It might take you 10,400 hours to do so.

HR professionals can improve workplace design by working with the appropriate parties. However, one individual, millennial or not, can’t build their office’s Rome in one day. But, you can get pretty darn close to building your own personal Rome in a day. Look at your desk. If the item is irrelevant, throw it away. If you need to reference it, make it a digital document you keep on your desktop.

What drives you to be better? What do you like?

Maybe that’s what you need to be looking at everyday. Just a thought.

The OTHER 3 Things to Remember During Finals Week

keep-calm-and-survive-finals

I remember being a college senior winding down my last first semester and ready for finals to be over and go on winter break, sound familiar? Senioritis kicked in early and I just wanted to sprint to the finish line. My brain could not tolerate any more information; even the lyrics to the new Katy Perry song were postponed until after finals. I’m not sure why I was excited for finals to be over though, because that meant I had 3 weeks ONLY focused on basketball. I can’t even call it basketball; it really was more of a track meet twice a day, everyday. I’m getting nauseous just writing about that time in my life it was so nerve-wracking.

Anyhow, it was about that time when I truly started thinking about what I wanted to do with my career. It was the first time when I thought my mom was brilliant for telling me, “Nicole, you should be a doctor.” Which was about 3.5 years too late to know she was brilliant.

I said to my mom when I was in high school, “That’s way too much school mom.”

She replied with, “You should be a nurse then Nicole, the medical field is a great area.”

I finally contended, “Mom, science just isn’t for me. I never liked it in grade school and I skated by on extra credit and charm when it came to biology, chemistry, and physics. The answer is no.”

Decision-making is inevitable

My initial reasoning for becoming a business major was to “keep my options open” aka a phrase that really meant I was too scared to close any doors and truly commit to a career path (which is entirely acceptable). But, after 3.5 years of business courses under my belt, I was still at a loss. I didn’t want to make a decision at 18 and little did I know it just meant I had to then make a decision at 22.

I do understand that even in the classic professions such as law and medicine it is still a requirement to pick a specialty or specific type of practice, however, the track is fairly straightforward. Winter break arrived and I now had this degree that, “I could do almost anything with” and it was a terrible feeling. I could do anything but what in the world was the actual something?

It’s that time of year when college seniors and those in grad school can’t wait to write that last essay or answer that last question. It’s stressful and exhausting. We’ve all been there. And the “fun” part is that once you finish those meaningless tests? There are bigger decisions waiting for you on the horizon, which also causes stress and exhaustion. Yikes.

Don’t confine your career to your degree

Starting my career as a recruiter the over-used phrase, “no one ever sets out to be a recruiter” resonates clearly. When I was 10 years old did I dream of recruiting? No, I dreamed of being recruited to play professional softball or something close to that.

But, as a recruiter I’ve learned that even with how specialized degrees are presently it’s not the end of your story. As a naïve, green recruiter I was surprised that an Art History major was a Senior Director of Marketing at a Top 25 Pharmaceutical company or that a Business Administration major would go on to get their doctorate in Physical Therapy right after undergrad.

Your degree doesn’t define you.

Constantly build your resume

In high school you built your resume to get accepted into college. In college you built your resume to get into grad school or snag that first job. Hate to break it to the young folks but resume building never ends. You’re always adding and subtracting.

There’s always a next, especially in this job market. I’m not saying that you’re always building your resume to leave your company. But, you are constantly building your resume because it puts you in control of your career path. With that control comes decision-making but, knowing you’re accountable for building your skills and knowledge base is a competitive edge needed in today’s job market.

Lifelong learners are not only the individuals who decide to add every acronym known to human kind at the end of their name with a degree or certification from A-Z. But, also those individuals who find it important to consistently build on their accomplishments. If you ever feel like you’ve arrived that’s where you’ll stay.

What’s your X Factor?

The X-Factor

Last night I sat on my couch with tears streaming down my face like Coldplay made so famous. I wasn’t watching The Notebook or some other sappy love story written by Nicholas Sparks. I was watching… The X Factor. Yes, a reality TV show and yes, a “me too” version of American Idol, which the creator of X Factor, Simon Cowell, made popular with his beyond brash comments offending everyone watching. Even with the, “Are you serious? Another talent show?” mentality that typically surrounds these shows – I found myself captivated.

I have a love for music and a collection that spans Taylor Swift to Meek Mill to The Temptations to ‘N Sync to Celine Dion. There’s something about The X Factor that draws me in – maybe because it covers all genres, singers ages 13-35+ and even groups can compete. I get caught up in their stories of struggle and triumph, pouring their souls onto that stage every week.

But let’s be honest, everyone has a story. Some more interesting than others I will say, but nonetheless it’s a story. I’m not so much enthralled in The X Factor because of their stories (even though I look like a distraught 16 year old over a break-up with my boyfriend I’ve been with for 2 months when I watch the show) but rather their true talent. You’ve all heard this before, he just has “it” or she has the “x factor.” There are some things that just can’t be explained.

Carly Rose Soneclar, the 13 year-old sensation on X Factor, is a phenom in the making. She’s unbelievable and has something most of us don’t. But, there’s got to be more to it. This talent show is just like the workforce; there is naturally high potential talent that will rise above the rest.

Let’s discuss some buzzwords shall we? Identify high-potentials, retain high-potentials, and promote high-potentials. Sounds wonderful and if your company is superb at doing this, please pat yourself on the back. However, when it comes to having “it” and “the x factor” I think there needs to be a new accountability put on the individual who is so blessed to have that thing that makes them so great.

Individuals that have “it” can stroll down the street and look like they’re gliding. When they’re walking down the street to everyone else it looks as if they’re skipping. We’ve all heard this – they’ve just got that extra umph that puts them head and shoulders above the rest. If you know someone that has the x factor or think that I’m talking to you when reading this blog – ask yourself what is your x factor?

We’ve all been told it’s intangible. It’s something you just can’t explain. They work hard, have charm, are charismatic, ridiculously motivated, have the Midas touch, and you know what? People just like them and that’s that. Onto to the next topic.

But, let’s slow down. Are you sure you can’t explain it? You’re sure you were just Lady GaGa Born This Way? I think not. There’s a reason why you have “it.” There’s a reason why your “x factor” stands out above the rest. Somewhere along the way there have been experiences or people who have brought it out of you and developed you. If you don’t think so? Touché. You’re with the majority who think it’s just something some people have.

But, if you can tell your parents, employer, coach, friends, mentor, brother, complete stranger and whoever else wants to listen – what your x factor is, you not only will know what drives you but so will everyone else. Don’t settle for just having “it.”

Talk about it. What’s your X Factor?

Committed Millennial. Oxymoron? I think not.

Commitment, what does it mean to you? It could be marrying the love of your life, helping those less fortunate than yourself, or making every one of your daughter’s gymnastics meets. I think commitment can be an ambiguous term but, broken commitments no matter how small will always lead to dissapointment if you don’t follow through.

In reading a blog by the Lead Change Group, Married to the job? – How Leaders show commitment in a fast changing world, it discusses how leaders convey commitment. A common stereotype of Millennials consists of their lack of company commitment. Let’s assume the stereotype is true. Loyalty? It’s extinct for us young kids, right? If you believe there to be an issue with the younger contingent and their commitment to your company, your leaders have to understand how to show their own commitment. In the article it mentions a young senior executive replacing a tenured executive who just retired. She explains to her “followers” that she only intends to stay for 2 years. If you’re a Millennial and you hear that your boss only plans on being there a couple of years? You’re probably not interested in hanging around too long either.

The issue here is not how the new senior executive addressed her tenure but rather it’s that she addressed it at all. The article goes on to explain how you convey your tenure by describing the job you came here to do and when those outcomes are supposed to be achieved. Which is all well and good, but if you’re a leader – the first time you introduce yourself should not involve discussing your end date. It would be like my coach recruiting me and telling me, “Well Nicole, your sophomore year I’m going to be moving to a Division I school to coach so you should probably look to transfer.”

Gain the trust of your followers before beating around the bush about your departure. Talk about how you’re going to help them and what value you’re bringing to the role. No matter the generation – we all want a leader we believe in. If you talk about all of the results your “supposed” to achieve in the role, then half way through aren’t reaching them? You might not even be there 2 years. Don’t set yourself up.

It is no longer seen as company commitment but, rather occupational commitment. We need to be passionate about our job before we can be passionate about the company. We’re committed to our careers and if that growth comes from the current employer? Great. If not, it’s not personal if we want to explore the next opportunity. To combat this, employers must understand that it all starts at the top. If your leaders aren’t living your brand, don’t be surprised if your group of 150 interns isn’t either.

Again, leaders change – they move up, they move on. But, when you’re a leader everyone is watching you. The guy who delivers your lunch to the conference room, the direct report who is begging you to come say hi to them, your executive assistant who makes you whole, the intern deciding whether or not this is the company they want to work for, and even the junior level marketer walking through the halls on their interview.

Whether or not you think Millennials have issues with commitment – evaluate your leadership. Commitment is a top down action, not bottom up. Think about it.