Thursday, November 27, 2008

When recruiting is in the crappers...

The reality of HR is that you sometimes (oh okay, most of the time) have to deal with things that you don't want to. You may even have to do things contrary to what your natural instincts tell you to do.

Our family recently acquired a gecko. This is not what I would have picked as my ideal pet, but I've accepted it as a member of the household.

My natural instinct towards lizards and such is to interact with them as little as possible. So when recently I found myself bathing and massaging the gecko's stomach to help it deal with its constipation I thought, WTF?

This is so not how I wanted to be handling the situation.

If it wasn't for the fear of the gecko growing to unusual proportions in my septic tank and the psychological damage it would do to my kids – my instinct would be to flush the thing.

And yet, there I was. Cooing and encouraging a gecko to take a crap.

I've just gone through something similar at work.

If a candidate that you've made a job offer to responds that he needs to think about it overnight to consider it, I understand.

If this same candidate adds in that he had received another job offer the day before and he needs to consider which one is the job he wants, I still understand.

However, when he doesn't stop there, but asks whether we would consider increasing our salary offer by $8k ….for a call center agent…my instinct says, this guy is playing a game and I really don't feel like playing this game. I am not a car dealership. I don't make a habit out of low-balling offers - I think it's a better practice to be as upfront as possible. Unfortunately, the candidate isn't use to that.

I know it's normal.

I know people do it all the time, but I just don't feel like playing.

In reality, I wanted to say – stop wasting my time. I specifically asked you what your salary expectations were in the pres-screen interview to avoid this type of situation. And yet, here you are…asking for something that is beyond not only what you indicated, but also what I indicated you could reasonably expect from us.

And yet, what I did was explain that while there may be some room for discussion, however his request was out of our range for this position and then I tell him that I look forward to hearing from him the next day.

I wonder if I will be as pleased with his acceptance (should it come) as I was at discovering that my gecko made potty.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Naw, I'm still around.

Actually, I'm more of an employee pension session survivor. I had the pleasure of sitting in on four employee sessions presented by our provider. It was informative, but only the once. After that they all just blurred into one long Excel bar graph.

It was very difficult to not stand up and yell, "Your funds are in the red this year. This should not be a surprise. You were never retiring at 50 - let's just keep moving along people."

Now before anyone should accuse me of advocating complacency and ignorance, let me add that this was the session-overload speaking. I believe in informing our employees and encouraging them to be accountable for their financial decisions.

If I could convince even some of them that it is THEIR responsibility and not the company's to make sure they can afford housing and food in retirement - I would consider it a small victory.

Amazingly enough in the financial world we live in, with issues found across the globe, there are still many people who feel this is personal somehow and look toward the employer to justify why things are going so poorly. As if this is entirely the company's fault.

They think, "You convinced me to join the pension plan cult-thing - so fix it."

The absolute best thing about the pension session is that many people feel that they do not have the time to go. They are very busy and cannot afford to spare an hour to listen to a gloom and doom report. And yet...they are the first to come looking for answers when they receive their statement - what does this mean? what should I do? is this really bad?

Man, if you can invest 3% of your earnings into your future, why not an hour of time?

Maybe in this instance knowledge isn't power, the session wasn't going to suddenly provide you with financial prowess or an economic epiphany, but it can do wonders to answer a few questions and provide you with some perspective.

And these days, perspective is in high demand.

Just my $0.02, which is now currently worth less.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trivial Pursuit

I'm all about giving advice, even when it may not be wanted. Just ask my husband.

In this case, I'm basing my suggestions on what I see from my side of the desk or in this case, the other side of the phone. You see, I'm going through my latest round of pre-screening interviews and I'm being amazed all over again.

Sometimes, a person's purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others (this thought was shamelessly taken from one of those De-motivation posters).

Read ahead and allow yourself to be enlightened by the mistakes of others.

The basics:

If you apply to a job, it is a good idea to actually remember that you have applied to our company, and to know what the job is about. If I have to spend more than 30 seconds repeating the company name to you so that it rings a bell – we are done. I don't mind refreshing someone on the posted position, but not starting from square one.

The actual call:

If you get an unexpected call from me – I am completely aware that I might be getting you at a bad time. I will ask you this and give you the opportunity to either call me back, put me on hold and pull yourself together, or spit the food out of your mouth, turn down the radio/ TV, and focus. IF you choose to just plow through – you do so at your own peril.

And if I'm interviewing you for a call centre agent job…you might want to keep that in mind. I will be evaluating you as much, if not more, on how you speak, your tone, and your friendliness than your actual answers. Does this seem unreasonable? Of course not! You are potentially going to represent our company - I need to know what that will sound like.

If you leave a cell phone number, and many of you do, be prepared to take the call or call back. And as a head's up, insisting on continuing to call while sitting at the table with your friends in a restaurant is not going to help you and it just frustrates me to have to repeat myself.


Here's an idea. If you live with someone else, be it family or a roommate and this person is capable of and likely to answer the phone at some point – give them a head's up that you've applied for jobs and that a potential employer may be calling. I've dealt with family members that do not want to take messages and/or have absolutely no idea when I can contact you.

Do not let this happen to you: On a recent call, the roommate/ family member that I woke up (at 11:00am), fell back asleep while on the phone after my asking to speak to the candidate and him saying, "yeah…just a sec".

I know it's not your fault, but it just doesn't motivate me to keep going with the process.

Another consideration – your answering machine message.

Again, if you are applying to jobs, you might want to consider something a little more grown-up. The gum-smacking, blasé, "I'm-too-cool-to-come-to-the-phone-right-now" may not accurately reflect your working voice, but it's my first impression of you.

The phone number you provide:

Think long and hard about this. Do you want me to call you at your current job? Is that really appropriate? Especially when you are a receptionist and putting me on hold every two minutes.

Are you providing me with someone else's number – like your mom's cell phone number? I think it's great that you have a strong enough relationship with your mother and you are confident that she will pass along your messages; however, I'm not sure how thrilled she is with this arrangement. (She certainly didn't sound like she was).

I know, I know…so many considerations and many of them seem trivial. But take it from me, anything that will make you stand out from the crowd as an organized, motivated, interested, and professional candidate is not trivial.

It's so the opposite of trivial.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


I'm working on a few threads for the blog, but haven't quite finished them.

Please be patient.
You know they will be earth-shattering.


Update on my "honest" candidate:

She remained honest throughout the process, which was good. I know that the supervisor was impressed with her customer service attitude, but I'm still not 100% won over. I have a concern that this type of honesty comes with a price.

Telling us that she has a strong personality and doesn't do well with face-to-face customer service, since clients tend to misread her body language shows some self-awareness, but it's also a big ole red flag. While she may give 300%, as she claims, and will be a team player. What happens when she runs up against her first obstacle or has a bad day?

Despite this, it was a good discussion. No waste of time there. Score one for me.

Unfortunately my spidey-senses were batting 0.500 that day. I participated in the most painful and ridiculous interview of my life. Or, as Homer would add, the most painful and ridiculous interview of my life SO FAR.

This candidate was prepared with a cheat sheet of who we were, but that's the only positive thing I could say for him. He did not interview well, he talked WAY, WAY too much, and at one point I thought he was going to cry. This would have only be appropriate if I had said something to cause this, but it was during his recounting his most heart-warming customer service moment (which is not what we had asked).

I have no patience for this kind of thing.

He also did irritating things like refering to the supervisor by Mrs. Smith throughout the entire interview. As in, "well, Mrs Smith, as you know customer service is a priority..." or "I assure you Mrs Smith, that my dedication would be..."

Despite being seated beside the supervisor, he never once addressed me by my name, which leads me to believe that he must of forgotten it.

This pisses me off because I generally get a good read in phone screens and this guy squeeked by.

Oh well, even Peter Parker had his off days.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

can I be honest?

I had the most refreshingly honest pre-screen interview today.

In almost any other siutation I would have completely red flagged this individual, but there was almost something appealing about how honest this candidate was.

She admitted that she was having a hard time working with her boss - she said it wasn't a good fit. She pointed out that she has a strong personality and not everyone takes to her. She figures that while she likes and is good at customer service, face-to-face just isn't working for her. She thinks that phone work (the job posted) would work better for her.

She was personable, friendly, very self-aware and completely unapologetic about it.

I had a really hard time putting her in the "No" pile. So I'm bringing her in for an interview.

Perhaps it's a waste of time.

But if I'm being honest - I think there something there. And considering the shortage of honesty in the workplace, that's worth something.

Side note - I had a long drive home...I was at disk 27 of 33 for The Outlander series and I had to return the loan to the library. I wasn't able to renew it because someone else out there has been sucked in to my world of escapism. I'm now on a waiting list so that I can listen to the last 5 disks. Sigh.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What goes in and what comes out of your mouth

Just like those bus stop ads – I'm proving that word of mouth marketing works. I read in one blog about Jamie Oliver's campaign and more specifically, his Manifesto on food and eating.

I completely applaud anyone who makes an attempt to resolve a problem by getting to the source of the problem and not just trying to patch it. I also like anyone who believes in accountability for your own actions.

Having said that, I realize his Manifesto was being proposed for government officials and as such, it need to have a little substance and weight (no pun intended) behind it. For the average person though, this Manifesto could have been a lot shorter.

Please allow me to propose my version of a manifesto that will help with the food/eating/weight issues*.

Stop eating crap
Stop eating super-sized portions of anything
Stop being lazy and actually make your meals
Move your ass, and more than just once in awhile
Rewarding yourself with a treat for an achievement IS a good motivator; however, the act of breathing is NOT an achievement
You are responsible for what you put into your body, not the evil food chains of the world

That's it.

No fuss, no muss, ready in less than 15 minutes and low in trans fats.
Just meat and potatoes, with a side salad.

*With only some minor tweaking, this manifesto is also applicable to career development.