Showing posts with label employeemanagementidaho. Show all posts
Showing posts with label employeemanagementidaho. Show all posts

Friday, October 31, 2014

Bachelor’s degree requirements: Big deal or big bust when recruiting candidates?

I am going to share a little secret with you. With five-and-a half years of higher education and two bachelor’s degrees I have only used a portion of what I learned in college in my career.

That’s not to say I haven’t used anything from college, in fact I have utilized what I learned in my human resources classes, legal courses, and marketing classes. You can thank Boise State University for my ability to write these articles as well (I was a terrible writer going into college). However, I certainly haven’t used anything from my statistics, calculus or computer information systems classes.

Obtaining my degrees wasn’t easy. In fact, it was one of the hardest things I had to do. As a young adult I was learning what the real world was like on my own, working full-time and going to school full-time.

No one paved my way or gave me handouts to help. I had to do everything on my own. I learned about what it takes to finance life goals when you do not have the financial resources to do so (i.e. student loans). If that wasn’t enough, I had to learn how to persevere when I tragically lost my brother my sophomore year and had my husband deployed to Iraq my senior year.

I almost gave up. Actually, I was probably a couple semesters away from Boise State giving up on me at one point. But I didn’t give up. You see that despite all the hard work, heartache and just wanting to take some steps back when I was being pushed forward, I knew that without at least a bachelor’s degree I would never be able to have the career I wanted or even be considered for jobs I wanted.

I was right. After college, any and every job I wanted in human resources required at least a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. It wasn’t until after college I realized how valuable those little pieces of paper with my name on them were. Not only were they my ticket into the stadium of career dreams, they were my ticket onto the playing field.

Now on the other side of the table, recruiting day in and day out through our firm – with jobs from entry level administrative assistants all the way up to executive directors – I am faced with determining what qualifications we will require as a foundation and a basis of knowledge to attract and retain top level talent. And guess what? We too require bachelor’s degrees, some courses in higher education, or at least equivalent experience for certain positions.

My take on recruiting and qualifications isn’t unique and has become more or less the norm for recruiting these days. The fact is, companies want to see a bachelor’s degree for most of the jobs that they will recruit for. As we discussed last week, nationally more and more companies are requiring bachelor’s degrees for entry level jobs.

But why? What’s the big deal about a $30,000 plus piece of paper? And more importantly why does it make or break your chances of getting a job? Well there are a lot of reasons, to be honest with you.

One of the very basic reasons that companies require some degree of higher education is to streamline qualification requirements – especially in the application process – and later on ensure that job descriptions can be streamlined. This is extremely important to ensure an employer has base level analysis and requirements for jobs, to try to ensure discriminatory recruiting, hiring and retention practices are in place. Companies need a way to compare candidate vs. candidate in a very basic and streamlined way – and degree requirements are an easy way to do that.

Employers also require education or degrees in higher education to try to ensure that candidates have a base level knowledge of what is needed to be successful in a job. Now, employers typically aren’t going to give you the equivalent of a degree-related SAT, but by knowing you obtained a degree
within a certain major (i.e. finance, marketing, communications, business, etc.) the employer is aware of the courses required to complete the degree program. Employers that specifically require degrees or coursework within a certain major have targeted the foundational areas of knowledge needed for the job.

However, on the other side of the spectrum, employers that are just seeking a bachelor’s degree without any specific major are probably doing a disservice to themselves and potential candidates.
Bachelor’s degrees don’t necessarily equal the most qualified candidates in this case.

Lastly, completing a degree program is a strong demonstration to employers of a candidate’s degree of dedication. Most bachelor’s degrees take an average of five years to obtain. This means that candidates have dedicated half a decade of their lives to obtaining that pricey of piece of paper, picking a major, completing course after course down the degree checklist, stressing over test after test during finals week, writing paper after paper, and participating in everyone’s favorite “team or project” group assignment. There’s also the issue financing: financial arrangements with the college or university each semester, possibly going into debt that will have to be paid off long after the diploma is framed and hung in an office.

When employers require a degree as a part of their recruiting and hiring process keep in mind they aren’t trying to hire the right degree. They are trying to hire the right person. Sometimes that right person has professional experience that is above and beyond what any degree program could have ever accomplished, and we do take that into consideration too.

Monica Bitrick is CEO of Bitrick Consulting Associates, a human resources company in Idaho Falls.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Limited education = Limited career opportunities

Remember your high school graduation? It was the day you could say so long to the days of required classes, schoolwork, and schedules and hello to an endless summer vacation of freedom. After high school we were free to make our own choices, choose or not choose college. We were sure to find a job where we made TONS of money without having to go to school. That’s how it happened for you right?

It’s nice to dream of what should’ve been, and not long ago this ideal wasn’t too far off track.
Decades ago, graduating high school was the transition into adulthood and was the standard to securing a solid future. Of course college was encouraged, but on a very general basis the same or similar opportunities were available to high school and college graduates alike.

Today is a different story.

First a disclaimer: a college degree isn’t necessarily a reason I will or won’t hire someone. I strongly feel that real world career experience can often times mean a candidate has the same, or even more experience over a candidate with a college degree. Bill Gates didn’t graduate from college, and I am pretty sure no one would require him to have a college degree to be considered for any position.

But Bill Gates is a career fairy tale come true and the exception to almost every rule.
Bachelor’s degrees have replaced the high school diploma as a minimum educational requirement for any decent paying job in today’s job market. Shockingly, it has become a standard at some companies as necessary for an entry level jobs.

According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com, three out of 10 companies are hiring more college-educated workers for jobs held in the past primarily by high school graduates.

It doesn’t seem right, but it is true and it’s only just begun. Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, recently said, “Employers are filling more entry level functions with educated labor. While some of this may be attributed to a competitive job market that lends itself to college grads taking lower skill jobs, it also speaks to companies raising performance expectations for roles within their firms to enhance overall productivity, product quality and sales."

As a college graduate, business owner and self-proclaimed management expert, this surprised me but made sense all the same. It makes sense that companies are trying to hire an educated workforce at rock bottom wages by giving them entry level positions.

What this actually means is that there is a hiring trend nationwide in which companies, big and small, are requiring an associate’s degree and above just to be a janitor and clean the toilets. Additionally, it means that bachelor’s degrees often aren’t the end of the road for people who want to move up the career ladder. Master’s degrees have become more prevalent as necessary for top level management and executive positions.

As a college graduate holding two bachelor’s degrees, I sympathize with anyone who asks why go to college for four or five years, racking up thousands of dollars in debt, just to earn the right to be considered for a receptionist’s position? You could have counted me in that group years ago, but as the markets change it’s looking more and more like there isn’t even a choice.

Employers are calling the shots, and for them it’s a buyer’s market. This doesn’t apply to employers trying to immediately fill highly specialized positions. But in a general sense employers have more opportunity than ever to take the time to recruit, attract, select and retain the employees that fit their perfect checklist.

So what is the big deal with college degrees anyway? Why do employers care that you have an overpriced piece of paper with your name on it? Next week and we will discuss why employers feel degree-holding candidates are a must in their businesses.
Monica Bitrick is CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group, an Idaho Falls human resources company.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Managers need to be friendly, not friends, with employees

I loved college for a number of reasons.  One of them was I had a laid back job at a major corporation with a supervisor who rivaled my best friends on campus. It was a great place to work, at least for a short period of time.

In fact, my supervisor was amazing for quite some time. During the day she would defend our division against the corporate “big wigs” who visited our office semi-annually from the East Coast (and who we felt knew nothing of what we did). After hours she was chummy with the team through various social engagements. It all was a workplace dream come true until personal conflict entered into the picture.

Slowly but surely, as our division developed personal issues between co-workers so entered the problems associated with “picking sides” by our supervisor. Friendships with subordinates became problematic because professional decisions were being made on an emotional and personal basis, favoritism started to blanket the office, morale went down and performance started showing it.
These performance and operations issues did not go unnoticed by the higher-ups, resulting in some “come to Jesus” meetings my supervisor’s reassignment to another position. It was a hard lesson to learn, I am sure, and had a major impact on the company.

Is it OK for managers to be friends with their employees?

Over the years I have worked with a lot of management. Some have understood the balance between personal and professional relationships. Others would rather play the nice guy and be buddies rather than bosses.

This is an issue with newly branded managers all the way up to experienced and “C” level executives, and there’s not any simple answer or scenario.

We spend a lot of time at work and with our co-workers.  So it is easy, and almost natural, for friendships with co-workers to develop. It also is important to remember employees and managers alike are still people. Emotions, beliefs, biases, opinions, etc., all enter into the workplace regardless of who we are or what position we hold.

That’s where the problem itself lies when bosses become buddies. Friendships have their ups, downs, bruises and bumps.  Wouldn’t friendships be even more complicated if one of the friends had the ability to hire, fire, promote or discipline the other friend?

The answer is pretty simple. Not only would this be complicated, but it would introduce complaints about favoritism, discriminatory employment practices and unrealistic expectations.

Any “negative” decision made, especially mainly on the management side, is going to have a heavy impact on the “friend” on the other side. More than likely the decision is going to be taken personally, esulting in an emotional response — sooner or later, inside or outside the workplace.

Think of your ultimate betrayal and that gives you a small sense of what this story could end. I’ve seen it happen, and folks it is not pretty.

I am not recommending that managers should not have any relationships with employees. What I am recommending is “friendly” leadership that doesn’t cross over the “friendship” boundary.

Finding this balance is tough, no doubt. We can always start by looking at what employees look for in great leaders. Employees follow leaders who demonstrate interest in them, care, concern, compassion, understanding and support, and the ability to lead by example.

The best foundation for any relationship in the workplace should be based on professionalism and business guidelines. While friendships between management and employees make for a fun and light workplace, they can lead to big problems. Overall, it’s just bad business.
Monica Bitrick is CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group, an Idaho Falls human resources company.

Friday, June 27, 2014

All-Star Workplaces Start With Cross-Training Employees

It may be overused, but one of my favorite sayings is still, “There’s no 'I' in team.”

This is true literally and figuratively. One person never makes a team. Professional sporting organizations have shown us that all-star athletes like LeBron James can help a team's success. But even "King James" can’t single-handedly carry an entire team to victory game in and game out.

I know the workplace is not a playing field or a sports arena, but professional sports organizations have embraced an important concept that can be almost foreign in some of the most successful businesses around the world: cross-training.

Cross-training is simply teaching or training employees the responsibilities or duties of another position to increase organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Cross-training is actually crucial to the success of a business.

Let’s say the Seattle Seahawks decide to solely train Russell Wilson as the only quarterback, that he is the only player who knows the plays and runs from where the quarterback stands. What happens if Wilson gets a season-ending injury the first game of the season? Without cross-training in place, the Seahawks would be facing a pretty rough season -- and some angry fans.

But with second- and third-string quarterbacks in place, as well as offensive players being cross-trained and well versed in the plays, formations, etc., the team can rest easy that they won't face a painful season of losses and booing.

Employers that choose not to cross-train operate at a huge risk. In today’s society we are all trying to do more with less. Cross-training is a concept that fully embraces the more-with-less concept. Cross-training employees not only allows for a back-up player in case a team member happens to get put on the disabled list or goes to a different team, it also helps build morale.

Employees feel valued when a company is willing to invest time and resources into helping them expand their skills and knowledge. Cross-training also encourages strong, teamwork-centered environments where employees actively support each other because they understand and relate to co-workers in other positions. The are extremely efficient if an employee resigns, goes on vacation or even is out for a day or two with the flu.

Cross-training ensures business continuity and success. While cross-training may take planning, time and resources, it is worth it.

You can let King James lead the team to a championship, but he decides to become a free agent the lack of cross-training could certainly hurt your business’ chances at reaching the playoffs next season.

Monica Bitrick is the CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group in Idaho Falls.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Employment terminations take careful time and planning

Remember Donald Trump on "The Apprentice" a few years ago? All I can say is that guy used to make employment terminations look good! Seemed so easy, so simple, and so right to the point as long as you were wearing a tailored suit and were seated in an immaculate looking conference room.

In reality, employment terminations don’t start and end within 30 seconds. Nor do they usually end with an empathetic employee that just “understands” the decision and is motivated to moving on to the next step.

Most terminations are far from simple and easy, but necessary in managing a business. I would love to say that every employee makes the right decisions, performs at optimal levels and excels with motivated excitement in the workplace, but that just isn’t true. Sometimes it becomes inevitable for an employment relationship to end, and often times it’s the employer who has to play the role of the bad guy in a workplace breakup.

Living and working within the great State of Idaho means employment is by law at-will. Legally this means an employer (or an employee, for that matter) can terminate employment with or without cause and with or without notice. Pretty open and flexible for both employees and employers, no?

This shouldn’t be construed that employers can let employees go whenever they want to and without careful planning, or that legal issues won’t arise from the way an employer manages a termination.

Every termination or potential terminations should be carefully considered and planned to ensure it is being managed properly. I know that's easy for me to say, being an expert on the subject, but in truth terminations don’t have to be so hard. They can be done in a fair, consistent, and diplomatic manner.

While every termination is different and surrounded by different circumstances and factors, here are some concrete tips that should be applied to every termination:
  • Termination meetings should ALWAYS be held in a private and confidential setting. The information relayed in a termination is on a need-to-know basis.
  • Termination meetings should be held early in the day if possible. Making an employee work through a full shift isn’t fair or considerate in most cases. Despite the circumstances, remember that your employees are people too and keep in mind how you would like to be treated if the tables were turned.
  • Stick to the facts. Start of by making sure you have facts, documentation, policies/procedures and evidence to support your decision. Hearsay won’t be helpful during the meeting or after they are gone, so make sure you have the right information going into the meeting. If the termination involves a specific incident or behavior, get the employee’s side of the story. This allows you to gather insight on items you may have been unaware of or not even considered. This has been a game changer for me in situations when employees had sometimes no other options or courses of action to take in certain situations.
  • Bring tissues – but make sure to check the emotions at the door. Emotions are high with employment terminations on both sides. Inserting emotion into an already difficult situation only complicates the meeting. Assert your position but try to be empathetic and make sure to steer clear from drawing in any emotions or personal feelings.
  • Mean what you say and say what you mean. Remember, the employee is more than likely going to be defensive, so choose your words carefully. They also may handpick statements made in the termination meeting for action against the company, so be mindful of the long-term impact of your words.
  • Ensure the decisions you have made regarding the termination will be uniformly considered/applied to similar situations in the future. Make sure you are compliant with your policies/procedures and that in similar situations in the future you are committed to taking similar actions. If you are making individual specific decisions based on common performance issues/behaviors, you could end up with future legal issues by playing the nice guy with an employee or two.
Document the termination meeting with all the relevant facts. Ensure the employee is able to read the termination notice and, if willing, sign the notice alongside the management member who handled the situation.

Break-ups are never easy – and workplace break-ups are no exception. Unlike the end of a personal relationship, the way a termination is managed can have a long-lasting impact on a company and may even be accompanied by unemployment claims or worse.

If you need help, there are helpful professionals (HR managers/professionals, consultants, even attorneys) with great insight to share. It’s worth the time and money you may have to spare to make the right decisions for you and the employee.
Monica Bitrick is a human relations consultant who lives and works in Idaho Falls.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Landing the Right Job Starts With Your FaceBook Profile

Social media has taken the world by storm. From keeping in touch with family and friends around the world, to event invitations and even how businesses market themselves and their products, social media without a doubt has impacted how businesses operate. It also affects how businesses recruit.

I will be the first to admit that as a business person I thrive on utilizing social media for my recruiting projects. I have 24/7 instant access to a marketing monster that literally markets and recruits for me -– all at the touch of a button. I can’t even imagine why I wouldn’t recruit without at least a small portion of my efforts filtered through social media.

On the flip side, social media is also helping not just my firm, but others to get an idea of the type of candidates that are applying for the jobs I am recruiting. Before you get upset and start screaming out that “social media spying” is an invasion of privacy, it really isn’t.

Recently, CareerBuilder conducted a survey of 2,300 hiring managers on their use of social media in the hiring process. According to the survey, 65 percent of the managers reported they wanted to see if candidates presented themselves professionally.

This alone is important to businesses, because employees represent their companies beyond the workplace. I’ll never forget applying for a job in college and the business owner openly asking me, “If I asked my colleagues about you would they say you were one of those wild and crazy girls drunk and dancing on the bar on the weekend?” This was well before the social media revolution took hold, but it still shows that businesses had a genuine interest in who candidates are as a part of the hiring process.

“Social spying” has been going on for a very long time, but it has expanded well beyond asking your professional pals about candidates and their weekend activities.

When someone sets up a profile on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc., there are options for how little or how much information the individual wants the general public to see. Some people are dead set on the general public not being able to see anything unless they can control it (through friend requests, account settings, etc). Then there are those individuals that feel social media is their stage and want to share everything with the world. Either way, that information is online 24/7, which in turn gives instant access to at least some information about you to potential employers.

If you don’t want a potential employer, or anyone else, to know things about you that you don’t want them to know, you really shouldn’t create a profile at all.

Once a resume has been submitted or application has been filled out, I guarantee a handful of hiring professionals are using their favorite search engine to see what results may come up based on a name search. Or they are plugging a candidate’s name into a search on their favorite social media site to get a “real-life” view that goes beyond a resume.

Hear me out when I say this isn’t really a bad thing. Based on the type of profile and content on the profile, your odds of landing an interview, even a job may actually increase based on your last status update or your favorite hobbies. A carefully crafted profile can help showcase personal and professional qualifications while giving a well-rounded view of a candidate. Social media gives businesses the opportunity to have a snapshot of the person behind the resume.

On the flip side, businesses could instantly throw your resume into the shred pile if your profile screams irresponsible party animal. Rule of thumb: If you don’t want to answer questions in a Monday interview about the weekend you just had, you might want to think twice about posting pictures or comments.

Keep in mind that employers are not solely basing their decisions on status updates and profile pictures, but they can have an impact on the decision if you end up as a lead candidate or on the "maybe" list.

If you are serious about seeking out better opportunities anytime in the near future, I suggest taking a serious look at what you are presenting to the world and making sure it is in line with what you would like hiring professionals such as myself to see.

Monica Bitrick is a human relations consultant who lives and works in Idaho Falls.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The slow, painful death of the employer benefits package

I was lucky in college -- extremely lucky, in fact -- when it came to my career. At age 19, I landed a job as a benefits specialist for Workscape, Inc., where I worked the entire time I went to school. I took my job seriously and worked hard. I knew a lot was expected of me working for a corporation that size so early in my career.

After completing my 90-day probationary period, I was handled an envelope titled “Benefits Package.” I had no idea what a benefits package was, nor did I care. I threw the package away within a few days of receiving it. There wasn’t anything I really needed, nor did I want to pay for anything that would have taken away from my “fun fund” for weekend parties and shopping trips.

My mother, who covered me under her benefits, felt differently. This became apparent after her open enrollment period opened the following fall. So I finally bit the bullet and enrolled in medical, dental, life insurance, and disability because my mom said I had to.

As I dove into my career in HR, I was quick to learn the value that a benefits package has in attracting good employees and retaining them. Working with companies like GM, IBM and Nokia, it became clear to me from the top down benefits were serious business with employees. Open enrollment period was always a hectic nightmare from August through December. The headaches during that time didn’t even begin to shine a light on the enrollment issues that happened in January and February with the transition from old benefits to new benefits, file transfers to carriers, and let’s not even talk about new id cards for group health benefits. After a year or two it became clear to me that benefits had a major impact on businesses. So I adopted the same thinking.

For decades, employer-provided benefits have been a key to securing and retaining qualified talent. As Baby Boomers leave the work force and Millenials step up, however, businesses are taking a hard look at their benefits packages and their value to employees.

While federal law does not require basic benefits offered to employees beyond workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and accurately paying/reporting wages and taxes for employees, most full-time employees expect to be offered some minimal benefits. In fact, businesses of any size need to consider what benefits they can offer to employees that provide value beyond a steady paycheck and fair salary.

Long gone are the days of basic and boxed benefit packages. Employees in today’s workforce are demanding benefits that add value to their lives in and out of the office. What employees value most differs from workplace to workplace, and from employee base to employee base.

Without employee input, it would unreasonable, unfair and not financially feasible to determine and pay for the benefits you feel your employees value most.

Have you ever conducted a benefits survey or asked your employees what benefits mean the most to them and why? You might be surprised to learn some of the least expensive “benefits” may be the most valued by your employee base.

For example, flexible and fair paid time off programs (including vacation, sick and holiday pay) are one the most highly demanded benefits by employees in companies of any size. Employees need time away from work and don’t want to suffer any economic hardship. Another highly popular benefit that companies can offer are product or services discounts such as company cell phone service discounts or discounted gym memberships. These often cost a company little to nothing but can be used by employees and their family members.

While there is no magical answer as to what benefits should or shouldn’t be offered, it is still clear that the right benefits still have an impact on today’s workforce. Companies should challenge themselves to seek out and offer benefits that are perceived as being valued by their employees if they wish to remain competitive in attracting and retaining a solid and loyal work force.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ditch the Flowers – Employee Recognition Deserves More Time and Thought

Once upon at time, before I quit my job and started my own business, I was just an average employee like the 90 percent of the world. I went to work, put in a hard day’s effort, came home to spend time with family and started the routine all over again the next day.

My last career transition took me from a Fortune 500 company to a small office of three. When it comes to employee recognition, ’ll never forget one day in particular at my last job. As I was pounding away at my computer, feverishly updating an employee handbook for a client, a flower delivery came to the office. The arrangement was simple yet elegant, with flowers that screamed springtime but not high price.

I worked with two men, so instantly I knew the flowers were likely not for them. My name was carefully printed on the card. A little surprised and perplexed, I took the flowers back to my desk. I wondered if my husband had called in a delivery to surprise me, but that didn’t seem to add up. So I opened the envelope and read the card. The card read “Happy Administrative Professionals Day! We appreciate all you do!” It was signed by both of my bosses.

While that seems like a very kind gesture, it sent a mixed message to me. At the time I received these flowers I was not a receptionist, administrative assistant or general office support person. In fact, I was managing and directing the entire human resources division of this company, overseeing HR management for over 50 clients and a few hundred employees.

As an employee I recognized the gesture was meant to make me feel appreciated, but in fact it almost did the opposite. It made me feel that my bosses viewed me as basic administrative support.

I can tell you that never happened again in our office. My bosses found other ways to recognize me and encourage me -- probably by trial and error, but at least based on some knowledge of what motivated me personally and professionally.

This is why it is so important to carefully craft how you do your employee recognition within a company. What you may feel are thoughtful efforts could actually be perceived by your employees as something completely different. The occasional company-paid lunch, company party or office potluck are great ways to break the monotony of the work day, but they should never be the only efforts you do to recognize your employees. Trust me when I say there are thousands of ways to recognize your employees and show them you appreciate, all of them cost efficient and effective.

How do you do to show your employees you care and how do you do it? For starters, put yourself in their shoes for a minute. Think about what would mean most to you as an employee if you were being recognized by your company. What could the company do to recognize you as an employee to make you feel valued? Maybe offer an extra paid time off day? Lunch time massages? Many massage clinics will offer free chair massages at your business just to help increase their business.

Think above and beyond bonus checks and potlucks and try to envision what would mean most to them. Remember as children, after working hard on a project or chore, getting recognition from your parents or teachers and how much it meant to you? Positive recognition and reinforcement is just as effective for adults as it is for children.

I am not suggesting that you have a smiley face sticker board for employees or a treasure chest. Everyone wants to feel like their work has a higher purpose.

From support jobs all the way up the ladder to management, finding ways to recognize and appreciate the employees for the work they do jobs makes a difference.

Taking extra time up just to change up the day-to-day can also make a difference when it comes to employee recognition. Encourage feedback for a specific idea or change from employees, and then
make a point of not only implementing the change but communicate to all employees the reason for the change and that it came from an employee's suggestion.

Making the workplace “fun” is also a way to recognize employees. Locally, one of our major employers in southeast Idaho held one of its annual conferences in Orlando, Fla., and rented out Disney World for the entire company. I know the rest of the world may not be able to manage such a fun effort, but think outside the box on this one. Maybe an afternoon of team-building through the summer, with outdoor activities like golf, zip lining or scavenger hunts around the office (if you have a large enough one) or town.

While there is no magical answer to how you should recognize your employees, your efforts should
reflect your company culture and employee base. Taking time to carefully craft your employee recognition efforts can have greater rewards than just boosted employee morale. You can have a dedicated, engaged and loyal workforce that makes a difference with your company for many years to come.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Get your foot in the door -- create a well-crafted resume

I have seen a lot of resumes throughout my career. Very few I would consider excellent, a majority could be classified as average, and some were just really bad!

That's easy for me to say, being on the other side of the hiring process, right? Maybe so, but the fact of the matter is creating a marketable resume doesn’t have to be difficult.

It is important to have a polished and professional resume in order to land an interview. The first (and possibly only) opportunity you may have to make an impression on a potential employer is your resume. So why would you not take the time and effort to carefully create the “image” of you that you want them to see on paper?

I know well-crafted resumes can take time and effort. There’s plenty to consider in creating resumes, from the format, to wording, different sections, content, font and length. I have been asked time after time what I think a resume should look like, and there’s really not any specific format I can give or blueprint for how exactly a resume should look. However, there are a few standard items I am always looking for with each resume I review.

I’ll be honest – visually appealing resumes make an impact. Think about it this way – what type of commercial has a bigger impact on you as a consumer – the 30-second local commercial promoting the sale of the century or a 30-second commercial during the SuperBowl. The answer should be the 30 second SuperBowl commercial. Granted, these commercials are created by marketing geniuses with marketing budget over what an average employee’s salary would be, but the fact of the matter is they are created to make an impact and do. Shouldn’t your resume be the same?

Aside from being visually appealing, format is always important. Streamlining your sections, subsections and bullet points, to name a few items, it makes a difference. Resumes that are inconsistent in formatting – dashes in some areas, plain text here and there, bolded text in some headings but not all, are easily put to the side and may never get a second look.

Keep in mind that over-formatting can have the same impact. So keep it simple.

Content is also crucial in a resume. I suggest having sections for a professional objective, education/training/certifications, professional experience, publications/presentations/speaking engagements, and extracurricular involvement/volunteer efforts/community service. You can always include a section with some of your highlighted skills, but if they are outlined in your professional experience, I wouldn’t double state your skills.

References aren’t crucial on a resume and can be sent as a separate attachment.

It’s important to carefully plan out what you want to say in each of these sections – and make it so the potential employer can easily review the information you are relaying. If you are too lengthy in your content – potential employers can get lost in the sea of information you are providing.

It’s also crucial to make sure you proofread. Well-crafted resumes loaded with typos will be lucky if they make it past a first review. Potential employers view this factor alone very seriously. If a candidate did not take the time to review and proofread his or her resume, then what should be expected when it comes to fulfilling job duties? Will there be time, care and attention put into work? Hard to answer yes looking at a resume from a candidate who hasn’t taken the time to sort out misspellings and grammatical errors.

While there is no magic formula for creating the perfect resume, it is important to create and maintain one that is polished and professional. It is likely to decide whether you get an interview, so take it seriously. If you need help getting a start, there are great resources available, literally at your fingertips.
Need some direction? My laptop is always open!

Monica Bitrick is an independent human resources consultant who lives and works in Idaho Falls.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Are resumes relevant anymore? The answer is yes

Over the past year I have done a lot of recruiting projects. From receptionists to executive director positions, I have spent hours sifting through resumes to help clients find the perfect person for the job.

Each of these recruiting projects required candidates to submit resumes, and one question I always get asked is “Are really relevant anymore?” The answer is, without a doubt, yes.

Don’t get me wrong – I think a strong and polished online presence is important. It is crucial to keep your social networking profiles up to date and professionally appropriate (if that term sets off questions and alarms in your mind, let’s talk). Yet an up to date and well crafted resume can be even more important.

Think about this: When was the last time you were asked to submit your Facebook profile or log-in information to be considered for a job? I am hoping the answer to that question is never. On the flip side, how many times have you been asked to submit a resume to be considered for a job? I am guessing 9 out of 10 times (LinkedIn now allows job applicants to submit their profile in lieu of a resume for selected employers posting jobs, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt if that has ever happened.)

It is realistic to think a potential employers may sneak a peak at your social networking profiles after reviewing your resume and developing a genuine interest in you as a candidate.

Still, the key to this is that it happens after your resume has been reviewed. Resumes are necessary to getting your foot in the door for a position or with a company. They are self-marketing pieces that should be designed to make you shine both personally and professionally.

Being on the hiring side of employment, I can tell you that taking time and careful planning in creating a marketable resume pays off. Think of your resume like you would a commercial. Those in positions of recruiting and hiring are used to seeing a lot of resumes for one job posting. While all job seekers hope potential employers would spend 30 minutes reviewing and considering their resumes, it’s more likely that a resume has about 30 seconds to make an impression.

Keep in mind most management people will complete a more thorough resume review after a position closes, but that initial 30 seconds has a major impact down the road.

Resumes are and will continue to be a powerful tool in recruiting and assessing candidates for a position. They also figure into consideration for promotions, awards and positions of community involvement.

They aren’t going away anytime soon, so make sure you have a well crafted resume that is up to date. Need some extra tips on how to create a rocking resume? Stay tuned for next week’s feature – I’ll share some of my resume building tips from the recruiting side.

Monica Bitrick is a human relations consultant who lives and works in Idaho Falls.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Recruiting is about marketing as much as anything

Recruiting is tough these days. Long gone are the days when you could put a classified ad in the newspaper and find the perfect candidate.

Successful recruiting in today’s market requires perfectly crafted campaigns that relate more to management than HR management. That seems a little far-fetched, I know, but businesses looking to find good candidates are having to get creative and strategic in how they market their recruiting efforts.  There’s a lot of work that goes into every aspect of recruiting, starting with a job posting.

Job postings serve two purposes:

1. To attract potential candidates for a position through a catchy yet condensed description of the position

2. Marketing the business. Contrary to what you might think, recruiting has everything to do with marketing your business.

Think of it this way – job postings are posted in print (newspapers and magazines), online (social media, company website, job boards), and can even be advertised through radio ads.  These are all traditional media outlets in which businesses are trying to capture public attention. This means that whether you like it or not, people are looking and listening to the message your company is creating through its recruiting effort. This is a big deal and should be taken very seriously.

Put yourself in the job seeker's shoes for a moment. What would the posting look like?  What would it say?  What would it not say? By putting yourself in a job seeker's shoes and trying to see things from his or her viewpoint, you are starting to identify with your target market.

This is important on top of identifying who your target market is. What qualifications and experience do they have, and what personal qualities? Creating and understanding your target market alongside a well-composed posting is key in recruiting, not only from a public viewpoint but also to attract successful candidates.

Understanding and identifying your target market helps you to better create strategies for where to post and how often. Also, it allows you to look at resources or ways to further market your position through networking opportunities and groups, to get that direct approach with a captive audience, small or large.

Like a true marketing campaign, marketable recruiting requires ongoing efforts and strategies for potential candidates to maintain interest in your business. This requires time and planning between HR management and marketing professionals. If your effort is strategically planned and executed, it will result in successful recruiting efforts and retention of employees. That in turn will result in a return on investment for the time and resources spent creating marketable recruiting strategies. 
Monica Bitrick is a human resources consultant who lives and works in the greater Idaho Falls area.