Monday, September 3, 2012

Are You Smart Enough Not to be Stupid?

Seriously, ponder this question, just don't think it may sound silly.

I spent enough hours with a company to equal a full day's work. They touted a company culture of promoting from within and being listed as one of the Best Companies to Work for. I don't know who comes up with these awards, what criteria is used or who even cares, but here's what I learned after meeting with seven mid-level managers.
  1. Two of the seven openly admitted to have been given responsibilities they have no background or skill sets to perform – at all.
  2. A different pair of managers conveyed through the conversation, they hated their jobs. Even for an outsider meeting with them, they made me uncomfortable.
  3. Five of the managers had the same job title and I can only presume the same responsibilities.
  4. The company has a horizontal structure, when most successful companies today have gone vertical. This causes job position redundancies.
  5. They shared how the company was reducing workforce and had a travel freeze to contain costs.
  6. None of these managers were empowered decision makers, compounding all the previous points.
  7. The managers were all women. Before you judge me as a sexist, I mention it only as a statistic. It seemed an odd ratio: 0 men to 7 women. Those who read my blog and/or know me, know I believe a successful structure/organization requires diversity of all types.
Are you smart enough not to be stupid? By these managers own revelation, the company is in trouble, despite being a "Best Company to work for". Their culture and structure doesn't work. I believe the company is clueless to the reality of their own workforce culture, an antiquated organizational structure and resting on their awards and derived maxims, i.e. we only promote from within the company. Pride in any part of human culture is fatal. Replace pride with stupidity and the result is the same.

Author's note: This is a very large national company, with offices in every major and medium-size U.S. city.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What is your greatest strength?

You have all heard this question. If not, you have never looked for a job. This blog post is to update the question.

The strength question had a partner, "What is your weakness?" Regardless how you answer either question the response can be reversed. Say your greatest strength is team building. Does this mean your weakness in working independently. Most people will steer their answer based on the job description, or worse when answering their weakness, will attempt to make a negative a positive, i.e. "I'm a workaholic."

What about updating the question to, "What are your qualities?" Qualities are character traits that can define your work habits or your personality, which are both regarded important to fitting in the company's culture.

If your résumé clearly demonstrates you credentials, as it should, the interview process is to confirm and dig deeper into the position's specific skill sets. Depending on the interview process, at some point the interview will eventually be about "fit".

This post will not list qualities or provide a cheat sheet to answer the question. It's time for you to think about what qualities you can bring to the company. Remember, it's not about you. You can also apply this new thought to your current job for potential advancement, enhancement or just to save it.

Hiring managers, strongly consider this approach. You will discover more than just the best and worst of a person's traits (if the response is even reliable). You will discover multiple applicable "qualities" with potential and existing associates.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

SND:Social Network Discrimination

I must comment on this article: Using Facebook as a Resume.

Is there no longer any separation between your personal life and business? There is already a study showing Facebook as a major contributor to divorce. Why, tell me, do I want a company, where I want to work, read posts to my High School or College friends, my family and people I call friends. Giving a company my Facebook password, are you crazy? It's a "Social Network".

Sorry, my life is not an open book. Work performance and accomplishments should rule in the business setting.

This is just another form of employment discrimination. We'll call it SND for Social Network Discrimination.

Here is a great article about this subject from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Hold That Password.

Monday, March 5, 2012


When will companies get it? Once again, I'm talking about candidate respect in the job search process. A friend of mine had three interviews within two weeks. After a month has passed, since the last interview, he has heard nothing from any area of the company and no response to his several initiated contacts.

What's this all about? Please someone tell me. I'm sure it's the same companies that wonder why they have poor associate morale and retention. If the U.S. economy ever improves, watch out for the mass exodus from these companies.

This is a blog posting of complete frustration. HR need to translate to "Human Respect."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Interviewing vs. Consulting

Every interview I have experienced, seems more like free consulting than a job interview. Granted I appreciate the non-traditional questions, i.e. what are your strengths and weaknesses, but the questions seem to be solving their problems rather than conveying my long term skill sets.

What if candidates could charge for their time and expenses, if they are not offered the job? Do you think this would change the interview landscape? Think of it as "spec" work. No one likes, or should, do work for free. If you build it, it has value. If you educate on problem solving, it's the same thing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Golden Rule

Does anyone remember The Golden Rule? I think you have to be over 50, as I learned it in elementary school. Now our schools are not allowed to teach morality in the public system.

It's a very simple rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. It is universal across all cultures and religions. Wikipedia explains it well in their article and references every culture, since the beginning of civilization. It is in the Bible several times, old and new testaments.

The concept appears to be lost in the 21st Century. Just contact customer service in any industry, whether it's a bank, ISP, retail store, manufacturer, etc. and you will not experience the Golden Rule. 

Example One:
I contacted Comcast three times, via email, over the holidays, because my cable internet dropped to pre dial-up speeds. I used email, because I wanted a written record of their responses. (Yes, it took minutes to upload an email, but I was stubborn).  Although the written responses were polite, they never addressed my issue and were clearly  "cut-and-paste" stock answers from some type of company approved response list. Each response took 24 hours. None of the disconnected paragraphs addressed my issue or even came close to a resolution. They also appeared to be written by someone possessing ESL (English as a Second Language). I finally capitulated and called them.

Example Two:
A recruiter called me regarding a company's contract position. I suspect I would not have received the call, unless they felt my qualifications matched their need. I returned the call several times. Each time a different person answered the phone and stated, the recruiter had just step out. They forwarded me to a general voicemail system that didn't even identify the mailbox recipient. You would think I was an ex-wife calling, with this treatment, rather than a qualified candidate.  Also, the company initiated the contact.

If you believe in the Golden Rule, remember it is reciprocal.

Given this is the start of a new year, I appeal to everyone to reinstate this simple life maxim. I believe, the company that adapts the Golden Rule first . . . .wins!