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Tips for creating a resume that POPS (especially for recent graduates)

Posted by Joanne on June 28, 2012 Comments Off

I’ve been recruiting quite a bit lately for entry level professional positions. It is heartbreaking to see the resumes of recent university or college graduates vying for their first career job in the business world, especially when most have Mac-jobs for work experience and don’t have well-designed resumes. Perhaps I’m noticing recent grad resumes because my son just graduated from university. I want to call them up and give them pointers on redesigning their resumes. Of course, that is not realistic, so I’m sharing tips this way.  Read more at my guest blog post at EOList …

Socializing HR – Why HR needs to embrace social media and mobile technology

Posted by Joanne on April 18, 2012 Comments (2)

Sidneyeve Matrix, a Queen’s University professor, professional speaker, blogger, and social media expert, spoke at the HRPA Halton event on April 10, 2012 about “Socializing HR – Why HR should embrace social media and mobile technology.” Even her name sounds futuristic and socializing HR is the future – in fact it is already here.

I first heard about Sidneyeve through my son who took one of her courses at Queen’s University. He suggested that I follow her on Twitter (@sidneyeve) because I would probably find her tweets interesting. Later, when I attended an orientation session at the same university with my daughter, I heard Sidneyeve speak. I actually got choked up thinking – “Wow. I want to go to Queen’s if all the professors are like Ms. Matrix.” As an executive board member of HRPA Halton, I currently fufill the role of Director – Programing and Mentoring, so I was very happy when Sidneyeve Matrix accepted an invitation to speak at our HRPA Halton Chapter event on April 10, 2012. 

Sidneyeve’s presentation was a fast paced tour of trends from companies and organizations successfully socializing recruitment programs, expanding workplace training online, and incentivizing and recognizing staff performance on social channels. It was packed full of examples and was W-O-W.  What made the presentation impactful to me, was that her L-O-V-E of her GenY students and all they have to offer, came shining through.

It was great to look at HR from a social media perspective and to learn more about trends and the needs and expectations of GenY.  She noted that the impact of social media will be felt most by companies in the future with:

  1. employer branding
  2. collaboration & communication
  3. talent recruiting
  4. assessing candidates before hiring
  5. professional development of employees
  6. employee engagement.

She highlighted that if organizations want to attract and retain GenY workers, they need to adapt and build initiatives that respond to GenY preferences, needs, and expectations which she summarized as:

  1. instantaneity -60% of GenY want realtime response 
  2. mobility - mobile technology is a life line, the way GenY connect with the world; 70% of students believe being in an office regularly is unnecessary.
  3. frictionless sharing - (Love this term – frictionless sharing) GenY like to share easily and often (photosharing, RSS Feeds, Twitter, Facebook)
  4. personalization - GenY are creative and embrace technology that allows personalization (Pinterest, infographic resumes, web resumes, blogs)
  5. social recognition – GenY respond to meaningful, frequent, and social recognition. Catch them doing some good and tell them.  (Twitter, visability and a chance to stand out)

Are you interested in learning more about these concepts and Sidneyeve’s presentation?  I used Storify to capture my tweets and those of my colleagues, during the presentation, and added my thoughts preceding each tweet (italicized).  Please please share your thoughts on Socializing HR in the comments section of this blog.

Other related blog posts:

Facebook Follies – The great big experience of living out loud

Building a recognition culture that engages the hearts and minds of employees

Generational Communication Preferences – GenY and Boomers

Generational Networking Preferences

Facebook Follies – the great big experiment of living out loud

Posted by Joanne on December 1, 2011 Comments (2)

I watched The Doc Zone a few weeks ago. The topic was “Facebook Follies.” It highlighted the good and not so good about social media, specifically Facebook which appeared on the scene in 2004. I had coffee with a colleague and we talked about recruiting and how different it is for Gen Y, who are growing up with social media with so much of their young lives forever captured in pictures, videos, and comments on-line, compared to how we grew up.  (A teen who started using FB in 2004 is just about ready to start their career.)  

No young person thinks about actions of the moment and how that might impact the future. This is true of most young people, from any generation. They don’t think about the future when they are enjoying the present. But the difference today is that something they did in their youth can come back to haunt them now or later when they want to be a lawyer, politician, charity worker, teacher, police officer, and even a spouse or parent. Most young people are not thinking about how those old FB pictures and Twitter comments might impact future opportunities. Unfortunately, they live on forever on-line.

Sure we oldies (Boomers and GenX) who are doing most of the hiring at this point in time, did things when we were younger too. But we didn’t have mobile phones and social media making it easy for youthful escapades to be immortalized forever on Facebook. If we were lucky, like I was, we had our mother telling us to “Learn from your mistake, hold your head up high, and carry on.” So we have the moment etched in our mind somewhere, not like today when it is out there for the whole world to see, especially if it’s in the hands of “friends” who think it’s something the whole world should see. (No such thing as privacy or control on the Internet). Of course, moms will still say “Learn from your mistake ….” but it sure must be a lot harder to “hold your head up high, and carry on” with the whole world watching.

It seems unfair that those doing the hiring have the knack of forgetting. Somehow we don’t remember some of the silly events of our own youth. We were allowed to make our mistakes in our small circle of friends and family. We don’t have the “social memory” of on-line media to remind us of our youthful mistakes. (Not that mistakes are reserved for the young – i.e. Mr. Weiner). In a recent poll 4 in 10 students worry that FB might hurt their chances in the job market. Will the percentage increase as more and more students venture out for their first jobs and/or career advancements?  I wonder when GenY get to positions where they will be making hiring decisions will they be more understanding?

I enjoy reading David Hall’s blogs on social media and there are two that stand out. One on reputation management, “92% of employers say they will “creep” potential employees’ profiles: Like, manage your reputation already, OMG! :P ” (including a great video by Lee LeFever of Common Craft Protecting Reputations Online in Plain English) and the other “Are you bad at technology well then you are bad at life, there I said it” I especially enjoyed the comments on the latter blog. Jeremy McQuigge commented that looking at technology in our lives from a generational standpoint “… is interesting because Generation Y/Z have grown-up with access to some of the most advanced pieces of technology of our society, yet struggle to use it in productive / meaningful ways. Technology without instruction is nothing more than say… a fancy paperweight.”

“A fancy paperweight” to which I might add that can come back to bean you in the head and knock you out of the running for an opportunity in the future that just might be your heart’s desire. I have Gen Y children; I have had the pleasure of teaching Gen Y students, and I coach and mentor some very focussed and dedicated Gen Y individuals starting out in their HR careers.  They are going to do just fine. The generation growing up and in their formative years when FB first arrived on the scene are like guinea pigs at the start of the great big social experiment of living out loud on-line. And anyone doing the hiring today should remember that.

Best regards, Joanne Royce   
Royce & Associates
A Human Resources and Training Solutions Company
Creating Happy, Healthy, and Productive Workplaces

Related Blogs:  More mom’s flocking to Facebook – A lesson for business

What not to do when recruiting talent

Posted by Joanne on October 6, 2011 Comments Off

Last week’s blog post was about “What not to do when looking for a job.”  But on the other side of the coin, many candidates have told me stories about bad recruiting practices. They also tell their friends and families and they tell others, ultimately damaging the corporate brand. If you are looking to be an employer of choice, then make sure your recruiters and hiring managers are enhancing the company image rather than tearing it down.

What not to do when recruiting talent

Do Not …

1. Tell a candidate that you will call them on a specific day and then not call them.

2. Reject all candidates because your expectations are unreasonable or the candidate is not a clone of you.

3. Make judgements and assumptions because a candidate went to a specific university or looks like a person from the past that did or didn’t work out.

4. Keep a candidate waiting in the reception area when you’ve set a time for an interview or waiting for an offer once you’ve made your hiring decision.

5. Make the candidate travel back and forth for multiple individual interviews instead of a panel interview or SKYPE interviews especially when the candidate has a distance to travel.

6. Bully or lecture a candidate by criticizing his/her resume, answers and appearance, or talk about all your achievements instead of letting the candidate reveal his/her achievements, strengths, and interests.

7. Sugar coat and “oversell” the job or exaggerate the culture of the organization.

8. Tweet that you are about to extend a job offer to “Name the candidate.”

9. Ask a candidate, “Why are you stuttering?”

10. Look at only the skills and knowledge, and forget to screen the candidate on fit with the team and culture so they are set up for failure from the start.

While reading through the list, did anything shock you! Unfortunately, there are bad practices and downright rudeness evident in some recruiting practices today. If you are wanting to be an employer of choice make sure you have best practice recruiting in place.

Call us if you to need to train and develop your recruiting and management team so they can Hire the Best and build company brand and a great place to work at the same time.  And if you have any good or bad recruiter stories, please share them.

Best regards, Joanne Royce

P.S. The person who asked a candidate the question in #9, also needs AODA training!

What not to do when looking for a job

Posted by Joanne on September 29, 2011 Comments (1)

Over the years, I’ve helped talented people find new jobs and clients hire the best talent for their organizations.  I’ve coached clients on job search techniques and managers on how to hire the best. Here are a few tips on …

what not to do when looking for a job


1. Drunk man Send a cover letter or email message with Twitter text. OMG, it will put u @ the #bottom of the candidate list.

2.  Talk as if you are bored or have no energy when you get a phone call from the recruiter.

3.  Forget what company and position you applied for. 

4.  Answer a cell phone call from a recruiter after work hours when you are out drinking. 

5.  Tweet about how much you had to drink the night before and that everyone else is F*@Ked UP.

6.  Pass up an offer from someone willing to review your resume for free or connect you with their contacts, and then complain you can’t find a job.

7.  Accept time and expertise from someone willing to coach you but then keep doing the same things you’ve always done.

8.  Argue that having to cut and paste your cover letter and resume into an email or applicant tracking system doesn’t allow you to be creative.

9.  Talk too much during the interview but somehow not answer the questions asked. 

10.  Ignore what’s important in the job, the workplace, and to the person hiring (who may be a different generation with different expectations).

If you have any other tips for “what not to do when looking for a job,” please share them.

Next week stay tuned for what not to do when trying to hire talent

Best regards, Joanne Royce

When references are BAD

Posted by Joanne on September 23, 2011 Comments Off

Conducting reference checks is a very important part of the recruiting process. But it is also crucial for the candidate to ensure the best references are selected. When references are BAD, it is BAD for the candidate. And yes, bad references do occur and it is astounding when that happens. Consider the following scenario:

Jim Smith was outstanding at all his interviews. He came prepared with a professional error-free resume. He was knowledgeable, shared his experience, and had great interpersonal skills. He had a portfolio with samples of work and achievements accomplished during part-time and summer jobs, volunteer positions, and university. He answered behavioural based questions with specific well thought answers. Jim appeared to be a “star” and everyone on the interview team, including the hiring manager and human resources manager were excited to extend an offer. But wait …. references needed to be checked.

The candidate provided four references. Three out of the four references raved about Jim, giving specific examples about his accomplishments, but the fourth reference tore him to bits. He didn’t have one nice thing to say about Jim. The HR Manager was astounded and blurted out, “I can’t believe Jim used your name as a reference.”

What should the HR Manager do?

Are references confidential?  If they are does confidentiality mean the HR Manager can’t tell the candidate to take the bad reference off the list? Does that breach confidentiality? Is there a privacy issue here?

I asked several of my HR and legal colleagues what they would do about bad references and here are some comments:

1. If the bad reference was “over the top” and the other three were great, I would think that was something very strange about the bad reference. I wouldn’t think it was a reliable description of the candidate.

2. I wouldn’t tell the candidate that they received a bad reference and I wouldn’t extend an offer. One bad reference spoils the batch.

3. I would proceed with the offer. Three awesome references negate a sour grapes sounding bad reference.

4. I would tell the candidate directly that “Mr. Reference gave you a bad reference.” and then ask the candidate to explain why.

5. While I do not profess to be an expert in privacy laws, I have been told by those who specialize in the area that references can be considered personal information, and therefore under certain privacy legislation, the subject of the references (the candidate) has a right to know the content. Even if they do not have a legal right to see or hear them, unless there are other factors in play, references are not “confidential” in the sense that they cannot be shared with the subject.  (See a different opinion in 7, 8, and 9).

6. I know of many HR practitioners that will ask a candidate specifically about negative references, to give them the opportunity to explain.

7. As a general practice, a company should obtain the consent of job candidate before contacting any references. That is as far as the obligation to obtain consent goes. There is always a risk that the comments made by a reference may be negative. Most companies hope that the person giving the reference will be honest. That will only happen if the information provided by the person giving the reference is maintained in confidence.

8. If a company intended on disclosing the details of the reference to the candidate, then the person giving the reference should have been warned about that prior to providing a reference (ie. “that the information you disclose during our phone call today may be provided to the candidate”). If information from the reference is disclosed, that does not necessarily mean there has been a breach of privacy or confidentiality unless specific assurances were made to the person giving the reference. However, that type of practice may undermine the reference process.

9. There have been a number of lawsuits that involve negative references. The company that disclosed the information may end up involved in that lawsuit as a witness or even named as a party depending on the situation. While any potential risk of the company having a decision against it may be minimal, it would still be a hassle to be involved in a lawsuit.

So there you have it. Here is the approach I take:

  • References are confidential and won’t be disclosed to the candidate.
  • References are not kept in an employee’s file, which infers that the contents are confidential and not to be viewed or disclosed to the employee.
  • Ask the candidate additional behavioural based interview questions framed specifically to get to the root cause of the bad reference.
  • Ask for and conduct additional references.
  • Assessments might be considered to provide more information.
  • Discuss references with the hiring manager so warning signs can be caught early.
  • Take a balanced approach and ask the hiring manager to base the final decision on the additional answers, all the references, the ratings made from structured interviews, and the comments and assessments from the interview team. 

Thank you to my colleagues who took the time to share their thoughts! What would you do in a similar situation? 

Best regards, Joanne  

P.S. Are you looking to be hired? Before adding a reference name to a list, contact the reference directly and ask “What will you say about me?” It doesn’t hurt to ask, and hopefully the reference will be honest enough to say, “I can’t be a reference” or use the standard “Company policy prohibits me from providing a reference.” instead of giving a BAD reference.

Photo credit: SXC – Derek Kimball

Do you discriminate based upon silly grounds? Part 2

Posted by Joanne on August 4, 2011 Comments (5)

Last week in Part 1, we went over three recruiting scenarios to determine if discrimination occured, we looked at definitions and legislation related to discrimination, and we reviewed a concise statement by Stuart Rudner, an employment lawyer with Miller Thomson LLP. It is clear that not all discriminatory practices are unlawful. Only scenario #3 -  Where are you from with a last name like that? – would be considered discriminatory based on the protected grounds of ethnic origin, whether intentional or not. Scenario #1 – I only want to interview candidates who graduated from my alma mater, ABC University. – and Scenario #2 – What horoscope sign are you? – are not considered unlawful because they are not discriminatory based upon protected grounds. But they are discriminatory based upon “silly grounds” and are definitely not sound human resources practices.  This is why:

Selection decisions should reflect job requirements.
If the manager is hiring from a specific university, it is acceptable if that is the only university offering a program specific to the job requirements. If it isn’t then it is discrimination based upon “silly grounds” and should be avoided.

Selection decisions should be free from personal prejudices.
If the manager’s preference to hire from a specific university is based on the fact that he graduated from the same university or to make hiring decisions solely on horoscope signs, then he is allowing his own personal prejudice about a specific group of people distort the selection process. This is even worse when coupled with an extreme avoidance of hiring candidates from a rival university or specific horoscope sign!

Selection decisions should encourage diversity.
If the manager continually hires from the same university or same horoscope sign, he may end up building a group with a similar mindset which will become a barrier to creativity and problem solving. Hiring from a diverse source of candidates will encourage a competitive advantage for the organization.

Selection decisions should be equitable and fair.
Using criteria that favours one group over another with no consideration to job requirements will be perceived by others as being inequitable and unfair, as well as unethical. This perception can seep into how others perceive the hiring manager in other aspects of his responsibilities and will undermine his ability to build trust.

Selection decisions should build the organization’s reputation and brand.
If decisions are not made based on objective job requirements, the company is opening itself up to complaints of discrimination. Any complaint about discrimination, whether under protected grounds or not, can negatively impact the reputation and brand of the organization (and personal brand of the hiring manager).

There is a risk associated with discrimination based upon protected grounds, but as the above highlights, there is also a risk associated with discrimination on “silly grounds” as well.

Do you have a story about discrimination based upon “silly grounds?” If you do, please share it by commenting below. (You can comment anonymously)!

Best regards, Joanne Royce

Photo Credit:  Svilen Milev via SXC

Do you discriminate based upon silly grounds? Part 1

Posted by Joanne on July 28, 2011 Comments Off

If you do, it is certainly not good human resources practices. Let’s consider a few real life scenarios:

1.  A manager hiring for several different positions tells HR: “I only want to interview candidates who graduated from my alma mater – ABC University.” 

2.  A small business owner hires people with specific horoscope signs that are compatible to his, so he screens candidates by asking: “What horoscope sign are you?”

3.  The General Manager asks a candidate: “Where are you from with a last name like that?”

Are these statements discriminatory? Let’s look at some definitions and legislation.

Webster’s Dictionary

Discrimination is “a showing of partiality or prejudice in treatment; specific actions or policies directed against the welfare of minority groups.”

The Charter of Rights

Every individual is equal before the law and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.

But the Charter relates to laws and government actions and it generally does not apply to private business. If a private business is discriminating against you, provincial human rights laws will be more likely to apply than the Charter.

The Ontario Human Rights Code

The code states:  Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.  (These are considered protected grounds).

Discrimination based upon protected grounds or silly grounds.

Scenario 1:   In the case of the university example, unless there is more to it, then education is not a protected ground. This would differ if, for example, the university the employer hires from is Catholic, or women only, or something similar.   As a colleague of mine once stated, “an employer is free to discriminate based upon “silly grounds” like shirt colour.”  Or in this case, hiring only from a specific university with no legitimate job related reasons.  

Scenario 2:  The small business owner is free to discriminate based upon “silly grounds” like horoscope signs, however, if the candidate reveals his birth year, he is opening himself up to complaints of discrimination under the protected grounds of “age.”

Scenario 3:  Finally, the statement about last name should never be asked because, whether intentional or not, it could be seen as seeking to discover country of origin or ethnicity, which could lead to charges of discrimination based upon the protected grounds of “ethnic origin.”

Stuart Rudner, an employment lawyer with Miller Thomson LLP states it best when he says that:

“People are often surprised that discriminating, per se, is not unlawful. It only becomes unlawful if it is based upon a protected ground, as set out in applicable human rights legislation. For example, it would clearly be a violation to post a job ad stating “no women or Jews.” However, in and of itself, deciding to dismiss anyone who wears a red tie would not be a violation of the legislation. Our courts have made it clear that not every distinction is an unlawful act of discrimination. Of course, it would hardly be a sound human resources practice. ”

So discrimination based upon “silly grounds” is not unlawful, but it is certainly not human resources best practice. Are there risks involved? Stay tuned for next week’s blog – Part 2 - to continue the discussion.

Best regards, Joanne Royce

Photo credit:  Svilen Milev via  SXC

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 Joanne Royce

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