Effective Virtual Interviewing (Spectrum Edition)

Image via Charter

During the interview process, there are many ideal competencies and traits that Spectrum is looking for. Spectrum likes their employees to be great communicators, problem solvers, adaptable, detail-oriented among others, enthusiastic efficient and don’t forget – technologically savvy! These are what make a successful employee at Spectrum.

Spectrum’s Talent Acquisition Senior Recruiter of 15 years in the Greater NYC area speaks and shares his 9 tips in this article to job seekers.

When preparing for that interview, a hiring manager typically reaches out to Talent Acquisition and asks to schedule an interview. In most cases nowadays since 2020, that interview will most likely be virtual instead of being in person. This scenario is becoming increasingly more common. Nearly 75% of executives use real time video to interview their leading candidates and 50% of them leverage it to narrow down their applicants. The process enables employers to open up their talent pool to interview candidates who live all around the globe, and not just the ones who live down the street. It also cuts down on traveling expenses.

So with that virtual interview or video interview, well it’s a normal job interview that leverages video technology where a lot of conversations take place remotely. So rather than meeting face to face, the manager and the candidate are going to connect with each other online using video softwares. The tools typically required for these types of meetings involves a computer, a built-in external/internal video/camera and a microphone, a reliable internet connection (try not to do it wirelessly because most of the time that won’t work very well), and headphones if desired.

So generally a video interview follows the style of a traditional in-person interview. Here’s going to be a few key considerations to keep in mind:

  • For perspective employee, try to make that pitch by a video conferencing software such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout. It may be a bit daunting, especially if you are not accustomed to it.

I will give you 9 virtual interviewing tips to reduce the stress, aid in helping you stand out of the crowd, and in the end hopefully help you land a job – whether that is with Spectrum or with another company, these tips still work.

1. Test your technology. The minute you agree to a virtual interview, you need to ensure that you test your technology and ensure that you are set up for success. You want to also check your internet connectivity, you’re going to confirm that your camera and microphone is working. If the picture is blurry or you’re experiencing an echo, you might need to buy a different webcam, you might need to not use the computer’s built-in microphone – but use the speaker phone instead or a separate phone. So this is going to be hard to do 5 minutes before so you don’t want to wait until the day of the interview to figure it out. Most computers these days will allow you to use the audio and video connection. Some of them, will have a choice of using just one single device for this video and the audio. But when you have the option to use separate devices, that is the option you ought to take (one phone for the video portion and one phone for the audio portion – like a phone, laptop or tablet).

Of course in some instances, you are able to just only use that one single device but that’s only going to work if everybody is on the same network – for example, if you are doing internal interviews. But when everyone is on separate networks, the best practice is ensuring you don’t lose the connection altogether – if you prefer to use separate devices.

Here’s a note to keep in mind. On the day of your virtual interview, you will also want to test your internet connection again even though you tested it a few days before. Make sure you do it on the morning of.

Being technologically savvy is one of the 10 traits that employers are going to look for. If you come onto the virtual interview fumbling around with your audio or your lighting during the call, you’re giving the hiring manager a reason to question if you’re the right candidate for the job. Make sure you do not only test it beforehand, but on the day of, you’re going to test it again.

2. Be aware of the surroundings. You’re going to set the scene, minimize the amount of distractions while testing your technology, determines where the interview is going to take place. You want to find a room with optimal lighting, preferably near a window or a wall. Somehow, you’ll be able to guarantee that you are the focal point of the conversation. So the best practice in relation to lighting is to simply set up a bright light that is focused on your face. This should at least as bright as or be brighter than the background behind you. Therefore, this will help you and your personality stand out. It will minimize the background. Also, if you are using window lights as the light changes, because sometimes it gets very bright and sometimes it gets very dark – where in some cases it will cause your camera to start struggling and it will become a distraction to the interviewer instead of the help you thought it might be. Choose the lamp effectively.

Whether you sit on your living room couch or home office, be sure to tidy up your surroundings. It is hard to convince the employers that you are detail-oriented or you are organized, when they are looking behind you and they visibly see papers all over your desk. This might sound remedial, but trust me – as a recruiter, we see this all the time. You need to think, sit in front of your computer and look at yourself and behind you – what the hiring manager will be seeing in the background.

Once you have all of that settled, you are going to want to limit your distractions. This means turning off the TV, turning off the stereo, closing any nearby windows just so you can muffle traffic and neighborhood noise.

3. Sit down and be prepared to engage. Just because you’re in front of a computer, doesn’t mean you can search the web for answers in a middle of an interview OR avoid to start clicking around when a hiring manager asks you a question. So you want to appear focused and ready to answer the question without the help of the internet. No one wants to think that you are cheating on your answers. Trust me, it happens.

You want to do your research on the company ahead of time before you sit down. Print out a copy of your resume and have it near by so you don’t get the key talking points that you want to bring up. However, as with any interview, you’re going to come prepared with answers to any coming questions. This isn’t particularly an interviewing conference call, but there are some that you are going to know how to answer. For example, “why are you interested in the role?”, “what do you know about the company that you are interviewing with?”, “what do you consider your greatest weakness?”, “what do you consider your greatest professional achievement?”, “tell me about some of your challenges and how you dealt with them”, “what are you looking for in a new role and why are leaving your current role?”

The key here is, you want to avoid memorizing each response. That’s not engaging. You don’t want to over rehearse. Instead, write some high level thoughts down on a post-it and stick it to your computer. So being aware of how far your eyes are moving from the screen, because if your notes are far away, it will appear that you are searching for your answers and reading them instead of engaging in that dialogue.Note that you don’t want your notes resting on your lap or from a place where you want to look far away from the screen. In that case, it is going to come quite apparent that every time you are answering a question, you are looking away from your interviewer for an answer. Of course, that is not a good plan.

You want to come prepared and engaged. And how do you engage? You will do that by practicing our next tip below.

4. You have to come mentally thinking about this being a “dialog”, not something that is memorized. So you are going to have to practice. Practice on your dialog that you will have with your interviewer. Don’t focus on trying to memorize all of your anticipated responses. You’re not going to get all of your questions asked anyway. When you have an interview, you want to have a good conversation. Not rehearsing the points that you memorized, because you are going to sound like a robot throughout the interview, whether you are answering, asking or even giving your quick elevator pitch. It is easy to tell that you do not sound genuine.

It is a good practice to run through a practice with your friend. Pull your family members in and have that conversation. This is going to give you a chance to rehearse with different personalities since each person will be asking you a question or answering you a bit differently and it will throw you off so that you will be more ready when you begin to interview with your employer.

So while you are practicing your interview with your friends and family, it might seem a little awkward. But one of the keys that will benefit you from doing that though is you will have a safe atmosphere where it is okay to make mistakes. You can learn from them. You may not have answered the way you thought you should have or you didn’t come across the way you anticipated. That’s where you can hone in your interview skills so that you are better prepared for the real thing.

It is really important that when you are interviewing, you’ve got to keep it really simple. You don’t want to feel like you have to give a long-winded answer if a short answer will do. You won’t know that until you practice some of those answers. So being able to be clear and concise is the most important thing that you are going to need to do in a job interview. So a great answer will always tell your interviewer at least 3 things. Every one of those answers put it on the back of your mind. That answer ought to say what you did on the job. You don’t want to say how well you did what you did on the job. And the very important one you ought not to leave out, because most people do, is your answer ought to tell what was the impact of the action you had on the business or project. So what you did, how well you did it, and the impact it had.

When you prepare those types of answers and you are able to give them freely without memorizing them, or at least not sounding like you memorized them, now you are ready to have a dialogue with your interviewer – and not just a rehearsed, memorized set of answers.

Well that in fact, brings us to our next point. First impressions still count, even in a virtual environment. In with that in mind, there will be 2 tips that I’m going to mention.

5. Monitor your body language.  Obviously, you can’t firmly shake a hiring manager’s hand or easily exude enthusiasm through the video, but what you can do is monitor your body language. The main way to communicate confidence during these interviews; well, you’re going to sit up straight, you’re going to smile, you’re going to keep your camera at eye level. You want to avoid the tendency to look at yourself on the computer monitor while you talk. I would suggest you put your computer/laptop on a box so that your eyes are right on the center of the screen and you’re not looking down on yourself, or having to look far up because research shows that employers are more likely to remember what you say if you are maintaining eye contact. So you want to keep your focus on your camera when you’re talking – not looking at the hiring manager. The time when you look at the hiring manager is when he/she is talking.

This brings us to the 6th tip here. You gotta make those first impressions count.

6. Dress for success. So you might be sitting on your bed, but you shouldn’t look like you just rolled out of the bed. You want to dress like you’re going for an in-person interview. Just because a person can’t see what you are wearing from waist level, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to dress. For men, you’re going to wear a button up shirt and dress pants. For women, you might want to consider a dress, skirt and/or a blouse. Besides not knowing if for some reason you’re going to have to suddenly stand up in the middle of an interview, well professional clothing will show that you are serious about the job.

Well, there are personal benefits as well. Studies show that people feel the most authoritative, trustworthy and confident when they are wearing formal business attire. So when you feel good about yourself, it is easier to execute a lot of these tips especially our next one.

7. Connect on a Personal Level. You never know how many interviews a company may conduct for a position. You may be at a long list of people that the hiring manager or recruiter spoke to that day. That’s why it is important to make that small connection. So don’t be afraid to have a short aside about a common interest when you’re in an interview. The recruiter or hiring manager might enjoy the break from the routine questions that they have gone through that day.

You and I know that it is not easy to connect with everyone, but it is a crucial part of the interview. Don’t be afraid to share about yourself or connect about that one thing you discovered that you both like. Take a moment and touch on it, because you want the interviewer to be able to remember a story you told or a common interest that you both share. That is one of the best ways to prevent you from simply blending in with everyone else who came in and interviewed for the same spot.

Trust me, these little tips are what we as recruiters go through each and everyday. We trust that that investment in your time and you will be able to remember these. Use them on yourself and you will see the difference in your own interviewer.

Now, making that connection will really come from a predetermined mindset to employ this next to last tip.

8. Be Yourself. The hiring team is essentially looking for the interviewee to answer 2 major questions. The whole point of the interview: 1) Can you do the work that they need? But guess what, there’s another side. 2) Will you be able to fit into the company culture and department that the hiring manager has as well?

A key task for the recruiting and hiring team is in determining whether in fact, yes – you can do the work, but how will you fit in the team/company’s culture? This can be challenging during your virtual interview because there’s this physical disconnect. We don’t get to see your whole body and we don’t see how you reply to every question, or are your feet moving around a lot, or are you twirling your fingers. We don’t get to see a lot of those verbal or visual cues that helps to go along with your comfort level. So it’s more difficult for your interviewer to understand your enthusiasm or screen them, so make sure that you are more expressive when you are answering the questions.

If you want to use your hands, you may want to do that freely. Let your expressions be bold. If you are a more of a straightforward kind of person, be sure that you’re using those active listing techniques so that your dialogue is free and flowing between you and the interviewer.

Some people are great interviewers. They’re going to be able to tell your vibe. They’re going to be able to tell if you’re going to fit the company culture right off the bat. With that being said, you want to be able to walk away and give your interviewer a reason to push you to the second round of the interview, by shining a light on how you can help the organization grow.

This begins with not just with can you just do the work, but can you fit into the company culture. They are not looking for a robot. They are looking for you. So be sure that you are being yourself on these interviews.

This is going to lead us to our last point.

9. Don’t forget the Professional Graces. As soon as that interview is done, you’re going to do some immediate follow up within at least 24 hours of the interview. You’re going to send an individual Thank You Email to everyone you met. Sometimes they don’t provide you with that information so you should send that Thank You Note to your recruiter and they will forward it to the leadership team. But, make sure you’re taking that extra step.

Put it in a Word Document so you can upload it to your profile so the next recruiter can see that you’re communicative and that you possess those professional graces. It’s not only going to show that you valued your interviewer’s time, but it’s going to give you the opportunity to resell yourself and express your unique traits that you can bring to the role, or share any talking points that you forgot to address.

If there was something specific that you have bonded over during the interview, you want to mention it briefly and follow up in the Thank You Email so you can keep it on the top of your mind.

Or, if the interviewer brought up a particular business challenge, you’re going to use that to follow up; as a way to propose that potential solution – saying something to the affect of: “It was fantastic to have met you today and I remembered one of the challenges that the business had was ITEM A and here’s what I have done in the past that I can do to help.”

You want to keep the email concise of course. It is not a paragraph. You want to just leave a short note and leave a lasting impression, not one that will immediately end up in the circular file because it was too large or too long.

These are the key tips that we as recruiters have seen either in people that are not employed OR employed effectively. It helps them stand out and be remembered. They bring the right successful profile, but if they’re not able to get the hiring manager to remember it, then that becomes a challenge.

4 Holiday Out-of-Office Templates By Recruiter, Lee Ann Chan

Lee Ann Chan, the Americas Campus & Diversity Recruiting Program Manager at Agilent Technologies (the Santa Clara, California office), has reminded all of us that while we are away during the holidays to spend time with our family members and loved ones, it is crucial to maintain that relationship — whether you are going to be away for a few weeks or even a month.

Lee Ann Chan is a huge people-person and spent several years in Acquisitions before being inspired by her mentor to change career paths and be a Recruiter, which she absolutely loves! She finds that it is an amazing feeling to help job seekers find opportunities for smart people to do awesome things, and she is grateful that she can be a part of it.

Lee Ann brings in her 13+ years of combined experience working with professionals in both the private and public industries and have placed over 1,200 individuals in permanent opportunities across the United States. The roles Lee Ann have recruited for include: Finance, Analytics, Accounting, Engineering, Human Resources, R&D, Data Science, Legal, Supply Chain Management, Security, Procurement, Facilities Management, Clandestine Service, Product Management, and Life Sciences.

In addition, Lee Ann provides career coaching services to those who are job searching, soul searching, leading and managing, or trying to find new ways to advance within their careers. She supports her clients by helping them revamp their resume, interview style, and job search strategies; make seamless career transitions out of specific industries or professions; develop powerful relationships with recruiters, hiring managers, bosses, and co-workers; and elevate their personal brand in the workplace and market.

Lee Ann’s specialties include the following: Talent Acquisition | Diversity & Inclusion Strategies | Campus Recruiting | Technical Recruiting | University Relations | Career Consultant | Career Coaching | Resume and Cover Letter Reviews | LinkedIn Training | Networking | Public Speaking | Professional Development | Social Media | Personal Branding | Program & Event Management | Relationship Management | Metrics & Data | Sourcing | Interviewing

If you feel that you are seeking for these kinds of services, please feel free to connect with Lee Ann on LinkedIn and shoot her an InMail and connect.

Below are some really insightful out-of-office templates that Lee Ann has created for employees that I will share below for you guys, which are free to use depending on what is best suited for you and your company — “while we are all finishing up some tasks and preparing for the holidays.”

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

The Importance of Compensation Components

Image via Lynda

Compensation and benefits are one of the most important components in the workplace. The significance of this leads to better retention rates within the company. In a career standpoint, better pay and better benefits leads to job satisfaction.

However, many employers shy away from compensation and benefits and this topic should be discussed more comfortably and freely between the hiring manager and the employee. Smart employers know that keeping quality employees requires providing the right compensation and benefits package. Compensation includes wages, salaries, bonuses and commission structures. Employers shouldn’t ignore the benefits portion of employee compensation and benefits, because the benefits sweeten employment contracts with the priorities that most employees need.

Top talent may soon be looking elsewhere for opportunities if they do not feel like they are being adequately rewarded.

Christina Lee, SHRM’s researcher for total rewards strategies and project leader of the Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement (SHRM, 2016) Report

According to Small Business’ resources of Chron, the right compensation and benefits in the workplace results in:

  • Attracting Top Talent
  • Increased Employee Motivation
  • Boost in Employee Loyalty
  • Increased Productivity and Profitability
  • Job Satisfaction So People Stay

There are 4 elements of performance pay:

Image via SHRM
Image via SHRM

Below are some discussion points that global leaders from HR and Talent Acquisition have highlighted, that folks can gain insight from:

  1. Tuition reimbursement for employees and those who have children, plays a huge role in performance pay. Not all employers are willing to provide this benefit because not all have the budget or funding to do so, especially for non-profits. However, this is a huge asset and also a good way to support employee loyalty and retention because this can help their employees continue to further their education in obtaining the necessary knowledge/credentials that can help sharpen their skills while they are performing at their current job.
    Gym membership is also another link to performance pay because in NYC, everyone I am associated with – prioritizes gym and exercise usually before or after work. Finances can one of the main barriers to health for some employees so I think that this can be a barrier that can be removed by allocating employees with that membership as a benefit.
    • Tuition reimbursement is such a draw. I have found that it’s one of the benefits that people like having access to even if they do not ultimately use it.
    • Staying physically fit can fix a host of health issues and keep the cost of health insurance down so it could be a wash or even a cost savings.
  2. Tuition reimbursement is a valuable benefit for both the employee and the employer. The employee has an opportunity to advance and develop their skills while the employee gets the benefit of having a more skilled and potentially more productive employee. This benefit and companies who offer this benefit have shown to produce more highly skilled staff as well as savings on retention, recruitment and turnover. Both the smoking cessation and gym benefits has an impact on performance. Healthier employees are often more productive and statistically spend less time on sick leave. This is an obvious and direct benefit for the employee and an more indirect benefit for the employer.
    • Particularly about tuition, smoking cessation and gym benefits being a benefit to both the individual and the company: Too often they are viewed as a benefit to the employee, but reduced sick time and higher productivity definitely help the company. 
  3. Tuition Reimbursement for Children – Considering the cost of education in Switzerland and the impact on a family spending and quality of life,  then the fact for an organisation to cover fully or partly the school tuition fee for kids will be as a very competitive benefit.
    Quality of CoworkersNowadays more and more employees are seeking for great place to work. Therefore the ranking and selection from future employees to join and current ones to remain, will start  to look or connect with the quality of staff behaviour, skills as much as the  overall in-house work life style and atmosphere.  It is unconsciously the more empowering and rewarding benefit to have and clearly links to much better performance pay than children tuition refund. It is not always about money but rather about sustainable and positive mental health.
  4. The value of job titles should align with performance of expectations set by the company. Addressing job performance is a very common way that leaderships evaluate a candidate on whether they are the right fit for a change in job title or a promotional increase. Having the opportunity to be assigned new job titles is an experiential benefit in the sense that is is an example of recognition, but it also can be part of direct compensation if this job title comes with different pay. Different employees have different values at different times of their lives. If we have an employee who has a strong work value and looks at companies as who the most competitive is and offers the most opportunity for growth, then this employee may put a heavy focus on the value of the job titles when reviewing the benefits of working for one company over another.
    The quality of coworkers can very much so be related to performance pay. Your immediate coworkers may be the people you spend the majority of your work week with. You trust them to get their responsibilities done, to assist you when you need help, to give you feedback and to make the workplace enjoyable. We risk losing good top performers if they don’t feel that connection or value their coworkers. I include managers in this as well. I think a lot of us have heard the phrase “I didn’t quit the job, I quit the manager.” Hearing this from an employee who is leaving the company is very difficult. We have to look at both sides to wonder if the right leader is in place or if this was extenuating circumstances with just this employee. If we don’t have a strong enough leader in the role, we risk the culture being ruined and losing people to competitors who have a better system of finding and placing management. Employees who feel supported, comfortable in talking to their managers and coworkers and seeking help will perform much better without the added stress or insecurity of failing. I think this can be tied into the value of a job title as well. Employees may not only value their own title and the opportunity to grow in title, but they may value the title of their coworkers and managers too. If they feel that a title is too senior or superior related to the behaviors a coworker or manager is displaying, there could be some tension and frustration. I may even argue that the health of the team engagement has one of the biggest impacts on production and performance. We can get honest and true feedback when the the team quality is high. We have people who are qualified for their positions, mutual respect for each other’s job functions and responsibilities and feelings of genuine interest in succeeding. Without a high quality team we run the risk of passive aggressive interactions, office politics, distrust of management and feedback and defense mechanisms to protect our workloads and our emotional well-being.
  5. Tuition reimbursement and gym reimbursement are the ones that stand out to me.  These two are great ways to create an incentive for employees to be productive and also to create a comparative advantage if you are hiring employees with higher education or those with certain certificates to show and/or improve their skill set to keep the talent in house. I also believe that gym reimbursement would encourage a healthier workforce if it’s included as part of the wellness package offered by an organization. Providing gym reimbursement programs could help to link better pay for performance conversations and motivation. Ensuring employees are taking care of their physical health but it also is a great tool to support emotional wellness. If people look and feel good they will produce better results.
  6. Tuition reimbursement for employees is definitely a value added benefit from an organization perspective. This is a common benefit which we have seen in the larger organization, however the medium / small firms do not provide such offers to employees. This kind of benefit helps employees in developing their skills which will help the org to get higher productivity with better revenue / margin from these employees.
    Tuition fee reimbursement for children is most useful for employees in the mid-level of the organizational hierarchy where attrition is the strongest. It can be used as a strong motivation factor to retain talented employees as it also encourages employees to put their children to good schools, which they wouldn’t have been able to afford previously.
    Advancement opportunities motivates employees to choose and certify in the area of their interest. Through this, the organization can drive a culture of learning and innovation. It indirectly opens opportunities for internal job movements and job rotations. When employees are given this sort of flexibility, it reduces attrition in the long run.
  7. Having a smoking cessation program allows and encourages motivated employees to get healthier which decreases costs for the employer. Non-smokers may be more productive as they are less likely to take smoke breaks or to be out sick. However, since not everyone smokes, having this type of program only benefits those that currently smoke.
    Quality of coworkers – Almost everyone, regardless of their position, must work with coworkers at some point. Having a respectful and positive relationship with coworkers can make even a mediocre workplace so much better. Alternatively, you could have a great employer and workplace but having a negative coworker can outweigh those pros and can even affect other aspects of your life.
    • Comparing the two areas above, I think quality of coworkers is the better option for linking pay for performance as this is something that would likely affect more employees and would be a great attribute to attract and retain employees.
  8. As a recruiter, one of the most asked questions I receive from potential hires is the Value of Advancement Opportunities. Employees want to know that they have a future with the organization, and that their work will be considered, appreciated, and rewarded with the possibility of advancement. However, I have also noticed that many candidates are not really interested in probing further. They will ask if there is a career path or opportunity to grow, but it feels as if they are ticking the box, that they have asked the question and if they receive a strong sounding “Yes”,  they move on. They don’t probe further nor do they ask about what their individual career plan would look like, what their milestones would have to be.
    I have also held focus group discussions with current employees and have noticed that female employees feel that they don’t have the same opportunities (in our organization) for career advancement in comparison to our male colleagues (for a number of different reasons but especially because they don’t believe they get the right exposure to executive management). Therefore, career advancement opportunities may be a value that is limited to a specific number of employees and not an opportunity that all employees will feel that they have.
    On the other hand, Value of Job Title is a confirmed pay for performance benefit, because it comes at a specific time and possibly with added benefits and a higher direct pay (on all 4 elements of performance pay). Employee satisfaction would be higher, and organizations can ensure that they look at the performance of their female staff and reward it directly with a higher Job Title. Therefore, job titles are a better pay to performance value than a better advancement opportunity.
    • I work with some organizations where job title is not necessarily reflective of job duties and responsibilities, but because they want to keep the incumbent happy they inflate the job title. Many employees link their satisfaction to the job title, which directly affects productivity levels.
  9. Tuition reimbursement for employee plays a major role in performance pay and is a very valuable benefit for both parties. Having the support of your employer to further your education, whether it be additional degrees or a specialized certification, is an excellent benefit for the employee. It also shows the investment the employer is making in you as they want to assist in sharpening your skills and knowledge increasing your value as an asset to the company.
    Gym membership can be viewed as a positive impact for performance. Gym memberships can be costly and deter employees from joining and participating. Helping overcome that financial obstacle as well as instilling a healthy work environment can improve the mental sharpness of the organization increasing productivity.
  10. Advancement opportunities – Opportunities to advance within a company drives progress within employees. If they know there are opportunities for growth within the company they won’t settle for “good enough” instead they will drive to get better and better at what they do so they can advance within the company. 
    Quality of coworkers – When employees enjoy working with others within their company they are less likely to leave the company. This gives the company an advantage over others who may pay better but have less enjoyable work environments. Since turnover is such a high cost, hiring quality employees, even if it takes longer, is of great benefit to the company. 
    Both of these link to pay for performance in similar ways. Employees who are more satisfied with their work environment work harder and stay longer. However, I would argue that having quality coworkers would eventually prove more beneficial to the company over advancement opportunities. The reason for this is because most people under-perform and leave their companies due to the frustration of the overall company culture. Those who lead form the culture but the employees maintain it. Having a healthy group of workers who maintain a great work environment will lead to more success for the company overall and make it more attractive than other companies within similar spheres of work. Which means less turn-over, more quality hires, and quality work throughout the company. Providing greater service and producing greater results. All because people enjoy working where they are, the culture is one of working hard and producing quality results, and the workplace is attractive to other quality employees.   
  11. Onsite daycare – the cost of daycare can be very high in some areas. It can also be challenging for parents to find a facility in which they can trust the people to keep their children safe. Once a daycare is found, parents have to take the time to drop off their children before they go to work and leave work early enough to pick up their children at the end of the day. An onsite daycare cuts down the travel time in both directions, employees can easily pick up their children without losing additional work time and they don’t have any out of pocket costs.
    Advancement opportunities – this is particularly important for people early in their careers. Employees who have career goals typically want to work for a company where they can advance their skills and experience but stay at a company where that growth is rewarded with a promotion or new role. If they can’t get that in their current organization, they will take that knowledge and experience to another company which is a huge loss to their current employer.
    Both of these benefits really tie into the place where someone is in their life. Typically, someone in their 20s or early 30s is most concerned bout getting to a certain place in his/her career before they settle down and start a family. Someone with a family, may be more likely to have achieved a management level or higher role and is looking to maximize their time at work and with their families and may prefer the daycare benefit. The most important thing to consider is what’s important to YOUR group of employees. What is the current demographic and how do you align your benefits strategy to that? As the demographic changes, how do you adapt that to where your employees are in their lives at that point in time.
  12. A huge part of someone’s performance is tied to their mental health, and a huge part of mental health is physical health – gym membership. Gyms and trainers can be incredibly pricey, but if you offer your employees cheaper options, they’re more likely to exercise and, in turn, be even more productive at work. This is something most people would take advantage of in a company, so people would really appreciate this
    onsite daycare, even more so than a gym membership, would do a LOT of employees a lot of good. There are so many people that are kept from corporate jobs because they have children and can’t afford child care. If a company offers child care at their facility, employees can bring their children with them to work and ensure they are safe and taken care of all day, worry free. This will allow them to focus on their job rather than the financial burdens of child care. This is something people would easily accept a job for, all else being equal or even close. Though gym memberships would go a long way, on site child care would be the most powerful thing that a company could offer with regard to pay for performance over time.
  13. Tuition reimbursement for children and quality of coworkers are tied for me. It’s hard to say which of these two would hold more water in linking pay for performance. I think it depends on an individual’s value and may also be influenced by different generations. For example, quality of coworkers might appeal more to Millennial employees, while tuition reimbursement for children may be more of a benefit to Gen X.
  14. Tuition reimbursement for employees is an incentive to promote further education and training, which is why it links to pay for performance. It incorporates the will to improve and strive to become better.
    Advanced job title relates to pay for performance since the title indicates to third parties which responsibility an employee has, and since most people want to live up to expectations held about them, it motivates to fulfill said expectations. Since with an advanced title, usually the salary advances as well, the title can also be seen as blended benefit and not purely experiential one.
  15. Advancement opportunities and onsite daycare are the two components that I would like to pick.
    I believe advancement opportunities offer a more direct co-relation to greater performance as one can be clear that better and greater performance can lead towards career growth and there is scope for the individual to then earn more and as a result improve the overall quality of life.
    Onsite daycare on the other hand is a more here and now benefit, which might not be applicable to all employees and hence has a limited scope in influencing performance of all employees.
  16. Tuition Reimbursement for Employees – Providing this benefit allows employers to develop top performers by ensuring they meet education requirements necessary for a promotion. Hiring within and keeping the talent in-house versus heading to a competitor.
    Gym Membership – Physically active, healthy employees who feel good are more productive, call in sick less, and contribute to a healthier, more positive work environment. 
  17. Tuition Reimbursement for Children. This is a very interesting point on linking it back to performance pay. In Asia overall, education is critical. The view that the child has to surpass the education of their parents is evident. Therefore for an organization that can provide this children tuition reimbursement, will definitely be highly regarded by the local communities in Asia.
    Value of Job Title. Yes, believe it or not, Job Titles are more important that what the job actually entails in some Asian communities. Therefore there had been ways where more higher perceptions on Job Titles are implemented to unlock this, and had been doing well in inducing performance for some organizations including mine. For example, in my organization, we change the title of “Senior Assistant Brand Manager” into “Brand Lead”; no change in job scope. This has then create a huge shift in perception on the job and making the position more attractive. As millennials said “Job Titles are how we want the external society know us, it is important!”, quoted on one of the FGDs about career in my organization.
  18. Advancement opportunity is something that is equally important to the employee and the employer. An employee who is motivated to develop a successful career path within the organization will be committed to the organization and theoretically, perform at a high level and be super productive. An employer will benefit from the employee’s growth within the company, their institutional knowledge that they develop over time, as well as expanded skills and knowledge. Driving this advancement opportunity with performance pay is a clear method to providing this benefit.  
    Second, job title is important to an employee and fits hand in hand with advancement opportunity. There are companies that will promote an employee in title only, and not link performance pay to it, and others that do link it to a salary increase. Job titles are something employees are proud of and wear as a badge (whether the job title change comes with performance pay or not).  However, without real career  advancement tied to that change in title, including things such as additional responsibilities, direct reports, and future opportunities to strive for, the change in title is meaningless.  Therefore, I believe advancement opportunities can be better linked to performance pay.
  19. Value of job title. Employees value their job title when it is meaningful to the position held. Assigning the correct job title to a position is a basic essential task. A job position with the wrong title can lead employers to many problems like pay inequity, loss of morale, turnover, etc. Employees with the incorrect job title can often be frustrated, lower productivity, and lead them to leave for a “better” opportunity. From my personal experience I can share that my company did not have the title “executive assistant”, when I was hired as an Executive Assistant to the VP Operations and Technology I came onboard with 10 years’ experience as such. At that moment, the company decided to grant the job title of ‘Executive Assistant” to all the administrative personnel working for an executive or a director. Overnight, the administrative assistants were suddenly called “executive assistant”.  This change led the administrative assistants to think that they should be earning a much bigger salary than they were. In practice, they were not fulfilling the role of executive assistants, but administrative assistants. As they start to retire or get new career opportunities elsewhere, we have replaced those positions with true to market executive assistants that do fill the position expectations and are paid according to market. I think that there is no other benefit that can be offered that would better link pay to performance than this one. At the end of the day, the correct title will reflect in a more accurate salary benchmark.
    Value of advancement opportunity and tuition reimbursement. I chose to list these two together for a reason. In an era in which long tenured employees are vanishing from the workplace, people do not wait years to advance to the next position in the same company. This alone, creates a whole host of issues and there is a definite need for employers to find creative ways to entire them to stay. Usually employees stay around 2-5 years with a company and get their next opportunity in a different company. It is very important for a company to show to its employees both: a ladder and a way to prepare for their next career step wherever they go. This way of presenting career advancement would lead a company to attract employees that are eager to learn and advance and help them all at the same time (education and promotion).
  20. I think coworker quality is an undervalued component of the workplace. In trying to create a high-performance culture, which is something my organization is working towards, it is important to incentivize the behaviors you want to encourage. For example, in our production departments, we are beginning to incentivize speed and accuracy. We do this by measuring the output of each contributor and developing goals that are tied to incentives. As we set our expectations, a culture of workers who are fast, accurate, and have high attention to detail will begin to emerge because those who cannot meet those expectations will not succeed. Employees who do meet those expectations will begin to hold each other accountable and measure their output against others (as employees are already constantly looking at their own performance in contrast to others). Thus, working alongside others who understand and work toward the high-performance culture will create more job satisfaction and will increase the overall compensation.
    The value of tuition reimbursement could be a great component of pay for performance. Tuition reimbursement could be a benefit offered based on tenure, on sales goals, on overall performance evaluation ratings, or any number of other achievements or competencies. We live in a highly individualistic culture, so rewards based on an individual’s contributions against a benchmark instead of those rated against the performance of others could be a more successful pay for performance model than the standard production output incentives.
  21. Onsite daycare is a very valuable benefit. Especially being a mother myself, I truly believe this can have a great impact on employees. Having to travel across town to take your kids to daycare and try and make it back to work on time can get really stressful. Offering this benefit to your employees really shows an organization’s support for its employees which can then increase employee loyalty. 
    Tuition reimbursement for employees is also a very valuable benefit to offer to employees. I have noticed that not all employees take advantage of this, but I think just having it as a benefit says a lot about a company. My company offers this benefit and it has allowed me to take paid HR courses.
  22. Onsite Daycare – Access to childcare is a major factor for families when considering employment opportunities as well as pay. Having onsite daycare eliminates that worry and may even result in an individual either choosing one company over another OR accepting a lower salary because the convenience of the onsite daycare outweighs the discrepancy in pay. 
    Gym Membership – Gym memberships are definitely linked to performance pay as it is an extra expense a lot of people have every month. If this was something that was paid for by a company as an added benefit it is one less thing that the individual has to pay for and similar to my argument above it may result in someone choosing one company over another OR accepting a lower salary. 
    I think choosing which component is better linked to pay for performance depends on the target audience. For example, if a company was trying to recruit a lot of younger college graduates then the gym membership may be more valuable to them than onsite daycare. Personally, the onsite daycare is more appealing for me because I know the monetary value of daycare is much higher than a gym membership. 

How To Get Past The Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Image via TalSuite

I am sure many of you are aware of what an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is, since all job applications are required to be submitted online. Back then, job seekers had it way easier. They just had to rely on the newspaper and telephone, and they will be asked by the employer to come in for an interview. However, they have since, revolutionized the hiring process and the labor market in a blink of an eye.

Image via Jobscan
To find out more about how Applicant Tracking Systems have evolved, their article gives useful facts on their infographic.

An ATS is basically a robot that is programmed to pre-screen the applicant’s resume before the hiring team gets a chance to lay their eyes on them. Obviously, it is not as intelligent as humans are, since it is pre-programmed to do what it has to do.

The ATS is programmed to scan for specific keywords that the employer has entered into the system. Some resumes will only be selected to move on to the next step, based on the keywords that the employer has configured. Many employers use the ATS as a way to screen out candidates by asking knockout questions. This is a way to determine which candidates are able/willing or unable/unwilling to perform a job function. For instance, if an ATS is programmed to eliminate resumes that do not hold a Bachelor’s Degree, then those with an Associate’s Degree will definitely not be considered. Here are more examples of the types of knockout questions to look out for when applying on an online portal/job board.

The ATS has simplified the hiring process for employers, since 75% of recruiters and talent managers use some form of recruiting or applicant tracking software; according to Capterra.

On the other hand, causing it to be opposite for job seekers – the ATS makes their job search process more challenging and stressful as they have to pay close attention to every little detail. According to Mashable, nearly 80% described their job search as time-consuming and stressful, and many reported that they would be deterred from completing an application if they encountered tech hurdles (60%), couldn’t upload their resume (55%), couldn’t follow up on the application’s status (44%) or couldn’t complete the application on a mobile device (20%).

The nitty-gritty of getting past the ATS is to analyze and study the job description and keywords carefully as you tailor your resume to what they are looking for. Many job applicants tend to just submit their resume without tweaking their resume to the positions that they are applying for. Always make sure your resume matches the job description and that it has the exact keywords listed.

Note: The ATS is unable to distinguish the difference between the terms CPA and Certified Public Accountant, it is always more safe to list the whole word out instead of abbreviating or shortening it.

Note: Make sure your resume font and format is simple, organized and consistent. If a resume looks too fancy and abstract with colors, images, symbols and other unnecessary stuff, the ATS may count it as unqualified and will move on to the next resume. According to Forbes, studies have shown that up to 75% of qualified applicants are rejected by ATS programs because they can’t be read. You don’t want to be one of the 75%.


  • Keep your font simple. Use Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial or any font that looks “appropriate” and “legible”. Make sure the size font is between 10-12. No bigger, no smaller.
  • Use simple bullet points like the one I am using at the moment or even a dash (-) works as well. Just make sure it isn’t a special kind of symbol because that can program the ATS to view your resume as “unqualified” and you don’t want to jeopardize a qualified resume just because of an unrecognizable symbol.
  • Consistent formatting. This is important to ensure that your resume will pass an ATS, so that it would not confuse the system.
    • Margin Size: 1 inch
    • Left Alignment is the way to go because that is the standard way of reading. Don’t center it or align it to the right. Definitely, do not include text boxes. I’ve seen some job seekers do that. This will just confuse the ATS. If we all read from left to right, that is how the ATS will be programmed to read it as well.
    • Length: Keep it minimum at 1 page and maximum at 2 pages. Remember, make sure it has the included keywords and is visually appealing to the employer! You are not writing a Curriculum Vitae. Unless you are applying for a profession that you have had years of experience in and highlighting publications that are linked to the work you do, (i.e., college professor), there is no need to go past 2 pages with irrelevant experience. Know how to distinguish the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae.
    • Font: As mentioned in the first bullet point.
  • Your resume should aim towards the specific position. Like I have mentioned earlier, read and study the job descriptions. Always always always, keep a look out for specific keywords whether it is in the required qualifications or preferred qualifications that involves your education, competencies/skill sets, licenses, trainings and experience.
  • Do your research on the employer! Make sure you are always tweaking your resume based on their mission, goals and culture.
    • How can you be of value to them? How does your experience, education, skill sets match the employer’s needs of the role?
  • Make sure your section headers are simple: “Objective”/”Professional Summary”, “Skills”, “Certifications/Licenses”, “Work History”/”Experience”, “Education”


  • Unless you are a graphic designer, avoid including images, graphics, tables/charts, special fonts or unrecognizable symbols. The ATS is programmed to read simple and straightforward things.
  • As mentioned in the DO’s section, section headers are preferred to be simple rather than overdone. An ATS will not understand “Where I Attended School”. So leave it as “Education”.
  • Do not misuse keywords. Use them where you see fit.
  • So many job seekers that I have assisted often put on the bottom of their resume, “References Available Upon Request”. This consumes space and employers obviously know that if needed, they will contact you for it.
  • Select the right file type for your resume. To play it safe, upload your resume as a .doc, .docx or .pdf file. These are the most common and preferred formats. It just looks more appealing to employers as well.
    • Please avoid using specialty formats such as .dot, .dotx, .rtf, .txt, .htm, .docm, .dotm, .xml, .mht because not only are employers unable to access the file, but many ATS can’t read them.
  • Categorize your section headers carefully.
    • If the employer is seeking specific skills (pro tip: when they list the requirements/qualifications, pay attention to those on the top as those are what they looking for in a candidate the most) and you have that, you may want to shift your skills section to the top while leaving your experience and education to the bottom.
    • If the employer is seeking 5+ years in talent management and you’ve been a talent lead or in the HR team for over a decade, you may want to put your experience first and highlight those relevant skills as you go along.
  • Never list your job duties using other terms other than action verbs!
  • When listing out your experience, make sure you do not include the word “I”. It should always be in third person as if you are the narrator of your resume.

Still need more career and resume advice on how to tackle the ATS and ensure that you land your dream job/career? Check out TopResume’s useful article and their informative infographic about ATS.

Alignment of Core Values and Recommendations on Improving Behavioral Expectations Internally

Image via Nvolvegroup

What are the ideal core values that employers are looking for in candidates? Each employer has different behavioral expectations, however this has to align with what the candidate is looking for as well.

For instance, let’s look at the retail sector. For example, CVS Health vs. Nordstrom.

CVS Health is more than just retail, as it is truly focused on healthcare. CVS Health’s 5 core values are Innovation, Collaboration, Caring, Integrity, Accountability.

You want to work for a company that has and shares the same values that you have – so you want to research and make sure that company’s values match your values and style. Basically, you need to do your homework by thinking deeper on what that means. CVS Health can acquire and adopt new practices if you are looking for innovation.

Nordstrom is highly focused on their core values as well – Customer Obsessed, Owners At Heart, Curious and Ever Changing, Here To Win. If you are applying for a job, they usually list their core values on the bottom of the description.

We strive to know our customers better than anyone else. We listen, anticipate, build trust and move with speed to deliver on their needs.

We treat every interaction as an opportunity to make an impact and deliver excellence.

We approach problems with curiosity and create solutions. We unlock potential to be bold, think big and inspire innovation.

We’re committed to delivering results, both today and tomorrow. We win as a team by supporting and challenging one another to be better every day.

Nordstrom Careers

Now, when you are applying for a job – you do not just want to solely focus on submitting 50 resumes via Monster.com or Indeed.com without knowing the purpose of the company! This is one of the biggest mistakes a job applicant can make. If you think that relying on online applications with just your resume and cover letter is enough to land you an interview in 2020, you need to try harder. With the highest unemployment rate in history, there are more available job seekers than job openings. You are competing with many hungry job seekers. And talent acquisition is not going back to the way it was, pre-covid.

Keep in mind that when applying, most applications require you to complete a Virtual Job Tryout (It is typically valid for 3 months if you score well. If you don’t score well, you can reapply 6 months after your application date) – It feels like an assessment, but what it’s really like is that it’s a way to find out what it would feel for you to work there and see what you’ll most likely do and what you’ll least likely do.

For example, CVS Health implements Virtual Job Tryouts to deliver better quality candidates and fill roles quicker.

“What work style is most like you?” It’s just mostly looking for you to answer consistently and honestly. Don’t lie, keep your professional hat on so that the results can determine what you are able to do in your job. For example, you want to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think of what it would be if you were a family member shopping at your local retail store.

Once you have applied, please don’t forget to go on LinkedIn – begin to reach out and start building relationships with your potential hiring manager or colleagues in the recruitment/HR team. Let them know that you understand their needs, mission and goals and find ways to emphasize your value in relation to them.

The retail sector among many others, are one of the hardest hit right now – with some temporary or permanent closures of hundreds to thousands of stores, production coming to a halt, getting ready for a second or third stage of layoffs; in which all of these factors are causing bankruptcies, putting businesses in massive debts – resulting in thousands and millions unemployed as businesses are no longer in service.

However, research shows that the healthcare sector is high in demand and the demand will continue to surge in the next 5+ years. Healthcare is so crucial to the economy and the New York job market growth as well as many states.

Luckily, if you have worked in retail for many years – you are still in luck! CVS Health is still actively hiring. Sometimes when applying online, hiring managers receive a lot of applications and it will take them a long time to filter through the applicants’ applications. So a pro tip is when you are going to the store to do some shopping, you want to also let the manager know – by introducing yourself, give your elevator speech about how you have applied for a role with them. Keep in mind that you are sort of interviewing with that person already. You want to show them your first impression.

On the other hand, let’s look at Spectrum (Charter Communications). Spectrum offers four primary value propositions: accessibility, convenience, performance, and brand/status. Let’s say you are looking to apply for a Customer Service role there. Here are some tips, coming from Spectrum’s recruiter.

  • If you have 20+ years in customer service, customer account management, resolving customer concerns – you’ll do well on the interview.
  • But, there is a computerized assessment you would have to first pass to get the interview.  The test is designed to answer the question, “has this applicant the aptitude and / or experience to work in a call center?”
  • If you’ve worked in a call center (like 311, Geico, Telemarketing, Survey Center), for certain you’ll pass the assessment based on your experience alone – however if you’ve never worked in a call center but have the aptitude for it, you’ll still pass the assessment. If that really isn’t your thing, for sure you wouldn’t pass the assessment – then, the system will notify you your application will not be moved forward.
  • If all of those factors work for you, then, you should give it a try. Click here to apply.

But before you apply, I want you to make sure that the employers that you apply for, has core values that aligns with your values. You want to ask yourself, “What values do I look for in my future workplace?”

This is important to so many job seekers that I have assisted. Many candidates look for employers that not only care about their employees especially during this challenging time, however the employers must have missions and values that align with the candidate’s personal values as well. There are so many well rounded candidates out there that are looking to work on products that matter, especially when they are deciding where they want to head towards in their career path.

Transparency of core values are important, but not all employers express it in their job descriptions. Below are some of the company values that HR professionals and recruiters from different states/countries and sectors/industries, provided 1-2 of their multiple perspectives – in which they are looking to improving their behavioral expectations for their employees and organization in the long-term:

  • Me: “Stay committed to eliminating barriers that restrict the employment opportunities available to the disabled and minorities, by making sure that all individuals are supported and feel included regardless of age, race, gender, religion etc. – which ultimately leads to a bigger step in being a better employer.”
  • Manager from the Recruiting Operations team at a technology-based consulting company: “Improving behavioral expectations could revolve around a rewards based system for positive customer praise. This could be a public practice where an employee is acknowledged company wide for going above and beyond for customer, receiving the deserved approval. This illustrates the importance of the company’s values with recognized appreciation. For the specific role of Program Manager, a financial reward could be given acknowledging the positive impact their behaviors have had on the customer. This would promote the continued effort of the behavior producing favored results for all parties.”
  • Be transparent in compensation to gain employee trust.
    • Recruiter at an automotive insurance agency: “My recommendation is to really stay true to our min, mid, max points of roles and to share with the candidates a narrowed range that their compensation will increase before they interview. This gives them a chance to decide if the position aligns with what they are hoping to get out of it and also it doesn’t take away from their moment of celebration if they are shocked at the amount they are offered. I think the fear from our company is that we don’t want to create an environment of people pursuing roles solely for the pay and we want people to pursue their talents and interests. I happen to agree with this, but I think it’s also realistic to believe that we’re all here in someway for a paycheck and a candidate is agreeing, before seeing a salary range, to give 40+ hours a week to this team and their promise to ‘work with purpose and energy’ (our value) but we need to offer them the same respect of giving some indication of what we feel that is worth as far as a salary goes.”
  • Human Resources Recruiter/Employment Specialist at a College: “We currently have a bonus program in which employees who interact positively with our clients are eligible for a significant bonus. However, not all positions interact with clients, so a number of employees are automatically ineligible.  Instead, it may be beneficial to have some kind of reward or recognition program for colleagues who have a positive impact on their coworkers and/or who show respect to everyone that they interact with. This would reinforce the importance of those interpersonal skills. 
    To improve sustainability we could have a program where individuals who come up with a sustainability program or initiative to receive a portion of the money that was saved due to the implementation of their suggestion or some kind of recognition. We often talk about the importance of sustainability but demonstrating some real-life situations may help employees understand why it is important and increase their usage of the various strategies as well as our employee’s commitment to finding new ways for environmental and financial sustainability.”
  • Talent Acquisition Specialist at a management consulting firm: “To improve and sustain each employees behaviour with a clear focus on the three school pillars, an ongoing mentoring program among staff and faculty could be taking place so  each employee can learn from others on different behavioural situations that they’ve experienced in the past. Another one could be to extend a situational assessment test during the recruitment process of new staff or faculty  members. Therefore the test could more precisely and effectively identify staff behaviours when exposed in different situations.”
  • Talent Acquisition Service Manager in a globally operating technology company: “Area of improvement is to have a culture meeting that would allow employees from different areas of the organization experience more these values and shared with others outside of their own organization and that would help embed more these values within the employees so it becomes part of their DNA of service and mentality. Have these values as a permanent part of the employee’s performance metrics of each objective. Communication tends to focus on a specific strategy and can feel disassociated from the values which can tend to cause confusion if these are not constantly articulated by Leadership.”
  • Talent Acquisition Specialist at a mobile telecommunications operator company: “Firstly, many employees do not see a link between the values and their role, so a good way of communicating these values would be to include them in the individual employee’s Job Description. Each task Listed can have a box next to it which identifies the value (if applicable).
    Secondly, Employee Value Proposition campaigns should not be run once and forgotten, they need to happen annually to remind employees.”
  • Director of Talent Management at a software startup company: “Our company is still in its early stages and our core values were recently introduced. One way in which we could improve behavioral expectations is by incorporating our core values and expectations into our recruiting process. Our values should be represented within our job postings, discussed during the screen process and be a part of our actual interview questions so that we can establish how a person will fit into our culture. This would also ensure that employees know what’s expected of them on their first day. Another way we can incorporate these expectations is through our performance management processes including 30-60-90 day plans for new hires, performance reviews, performance plans, manager/employee 1:1s and promotions. The first step would be to include the expectations in our goal setting, 1:1 and performance reviews. Goal setting is a great way to tie individual goals to our values. The 1:1s are really a follow up on those goals as well as reinforcing the manager’s commitment and responsibility to the employee’s success. Finally, the performance reviews are a review of the goal attainment and a culmination of the continuous feedback via the 1:1s.”
  • Benefits Manager at a book publishing company: “More transparency at my company is overdue. This is a hugely missed opportunity for the incumbent talent to really feel valued and supported; and that their longevity and careers are equally important. We often find that people who sit in privilege or have been given the privileged of exposure to those making decisions are the ones who repeatedly get recognized or are invited to sit on different committees impacting change.  Something that is currently in the works is rebuilding the structural foundation of mapping out career opportunities and planning.  I think when we become more transparent than more employees will be able to assess what they are trying to aspire to attain and then curate a path to reach their goals. In addition we have to invest in the tools to take on more accountability of performance reviews and put more weight on their value – it’s unfair for an employee to put the time and effort into answering the questions if they are going to go unnoticed.”
  • Human Resources Manager at a real estate – bustling urban playhouse: “I think the organization does a good job with communicating the behavioral expectations. We have a monthly micro-bonus incentive in place that monetarily rewards employees who are mentioned by name in a 5-star online review. My suggestion would be to continue to reward and praise these behaviors, so our employees stay motivated and feel fulfilled. Another suggestion would be to be clearer in communicating our pay scales with regards to long-term growth in positions; this would help employees understand the timeline in which they are encouraged to achieve certain goals/metrics in order to advance within the organization.”
  • HR Professional in the Cannabis Industry: “My recommendations for improving compliance and consumer education are to introduce regular training outside of the new hire period and to make products available at a steeper discount for Retail Associates to try.
    Regular training outside of the new hire period would include an overview of state regulation and refreshers on existing products, their effects, and their recommended use. It would also occur as new products are released for sale. This training would occur in the form of a short seminar, which would include written materials, a presentation by a product expert, and a question and answer session.
    Most of our Retail Associates are product users and have requested to purchase discounted product to test it and report back on its effects. Our regulations stipulate that we cannot give product away for free for this purpose, but discounting is permissible.
    Customers continually ask employees how a product has worked for them, and empowering employees with both the high-level training as well as the hands-on experience will improve the customer education experience.”
  • Lead HR Consultant at a small HR consulting firm: “I felt as though these expected behaviors could have been better communicated throughout the entire recruitment process, starting at the job posting phase. In addition to better communicating our expected behaviors through the recruitment process, a more rigorous performance management system involving bi-monthly ‘check-ins’ would be beneficial. Typically, any given mandate does not last more than 90 days, so having more frequent touch points would be helpful in ensuring the quality of our final product is where we would like it to be.”
  • HR Specialist at a 5 star hotel: “Leading by example – management should clearly stick to the desired behaviors and especially stick to the “top 12″ ones. They should know them by heart so that they can cite the according behavior or standard in case of negligence demonstrated by an employee. This will make it easier for managers to be heard and have their criticism accepted, because they base their recommendation on organization wide common knowledge.  Incorporate the desired behaviors in all kinds of trainings: classroom trainings, mentorings and coachings as well as cross departmental trainings. Use a blend of theoretical reminders as well as practical exercises where the values are connected to resulting behaviors.”
  • Talent Acquisition Partner at a beauty and cosmetic company: “The first recommendation I have for my company when it comes to improving behavioral expectations is tied to the Covid-19 Pandemic: I think it’s important to harp on the fact that just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you need to work 12 hours a day. Though we will go back to the office at some point, WFH is going to be huge going forward. We care a lot about employee mental and overall health, and I fear we aren’t communicating enough that people need to take breaks throughout the day and stop working at a certain point. We say that behaviorally we want people to not overwork, but we need to communicate that more (over slack, emails, announcements, etc.).
    The second recommendation I have is to be clearer about Career Paths. Our Director of HR was just brought on about 4 months ago and I was only brought on 1 month ago, so this is something we know is really important for us to get done. Part of what I’m implementing is when a new opportunity opens up at the company, the Hiring Manager needs to provide me with a 3-5 year career path for this person. Once I have that, I can communicate it with potential candidates. That said, for anyone in the organization that communication isn’t there, and we really need to reinforce this fact that we want people to stay and grow with us.”
  • Director of HR: “One of two recommendations I would give to the company is around the issue of avenues of communication. We have a strong desire for people to speak and be heard but we primarily rely on the singular form of communication in person or through email. Although this is great I believe more communication avenues would bring about a greater sense of people’s value within the company. Some online company forums and anonymous drop boxes for suggestions and complaints would encourage people’s honesty and make people feel like the company desires to hear from them. 
    The second recommendation an administrative one. On some occasions, we have neglected to reward people for the actions because we simply didn’t have proper administration set in place. This leaves people feeling like they have been neglected within the company. There should be a better format for administering rewards to employees. All those who have achieved something deserving of recognition should be placed within a program that reminds management until they physically check it off as complete.  That way no one will feel neglected by the company but would always receive recognition for a job well done.”
  • Founder and Director of legal services: “At my company, we have 3 pillars that serve as our company values. First, we use technology and operational excellent to deliver a delightful customer experience. Second, we embrace and relish change, growth, and celebrate failures as opportunities to grow. Three, we share goals, support each other across organizational boundaries and we win and lose together. In order to fully embrace our three pillars, employees need to be open minded, accept radical change often and look at mistakes or failures as opportunities instead of as a shameful occurrence. For all of this to happen, communication and transparency are key. In order to improve expectations and measure performance, the use of periodic check ins, and conversations about performance are very important. In addition, I believe strongly in 360 degree feedback, although it requires a mature team, and a commitment to personal and professional development. My organization does not engage in 360s now, however, I think it would be a huge improvement if we did.”
  • Practice Lead on Compensation and Benefits at a multinational corporation that provides next-generation digital services and consulting: “I work for one of the leading service based organization where it is more valued and believe in company cultural Values in the form of “C-LIFE”. Each letter of the word representing a value and it stands for the following: C – Customer delight, L – Leadership by example, I – Integrity and Transparency, F – Fairness to all transactions and E – focus on Excellency. 
    > Compensation plays a critical role in attracting and retaining the right talent to meet organizational goals and also it is important to think about the employee as they are one of the important key stakeholders of the company who has major role to play and align to meet the organization goals Hence it is recommended to demonstrate individual with transparency and fairness in all the transaction with an effective compensation strategy and communication.
    > An effective compensation strategy and communication. should connect the individual performance and organizational outcomes. In order for a total rewards system to function efficiently and effectively, we need to ensure through effective communication on the process / Policy / Training on the company value system.”
  • Recruiting Manager at a College admissions service company: “My recommendations are focused on how we communicate the above behavior expectations/core values. I would first recommenced that we glorify the teacher as well as the student when highlighting student success stories because right now we make a big deal about the student who got into the Ivy league school or had the most score improvement but not the teacher that helped get them there. Additionally, I would recommend highlighting a student who succeeded under extraordinary circumstances (someone in a low income area, etc) event if that success looks a bit more average. We have a tendency to focus on the students who got into Ivy League schools but I think that our average student’s idea of success is simply getting into college or getting a merit based scholarship. We make an effort to help undeserved communities but we never highlight those student’s successes and I think that is more reflective of the average student than the highest achieving student who came to us with a 1400 already and we got them to a 1500 after their wealthy parents purchased the most expensive private tutoring packages.”
  • Talent Management Specialist of Organizational Development at a multinational corporation that provides next-generation digital services and consulting: “Behaviour expectations from employees are largely communicated through managers. Two improvements that can be done – (1) Introduce success stories of folks who have emulated these values and been successful in the organization – this can be communicated to the larger organization for others to learn (2) Introduce a positive reinforcement in terms of an additional incentive for achieving certain specific outcomes that drive those values.”
  • Human Resources Manager at a Staffing Agency that provides nurses for facilities and homes: “One recommendation for improving behavioral goals is by offering a monetary reward when a scheduler finds a replacement for nurses that call out.  Some schedulers just leave a position open due to someone calling out.  Others go the extra mile and call another nurse that can cover the shift.  If a scheduler goes the extra mile, we could give them an extra $50 because they are showing a commitment to the organization. 
    The second recommendation would be to have a quarterly bonus for the percentage of open cases they fill.  As with any job you can work fast or drag your feet.  If a scheduler stays busy they should be able to cover all our open cases.  By choosing to be prudent with their time they are making a decision that aligns with our core beliefs which is to help as many people as possible.”
  • Employee Experience & Organizational Development Specialist at a nursing home facility: “A recommendation that I would put forth as to how we could improve behavioral expectations is to create consistency throughout the organization. It appears that certain teams make up their own rule and expectations, which causes a bit of turmoil when other departments observe these actions/behaviors and try to do the same but can’t ‘get away with it’ because their leader adheres to the company’s standards.  I think this comes down to not all leaders feeling comfortable with having difficult conversations and holding their employees accountable. 
    I believe another area of opportunity is how we communicate these expectations.  We are a large organization – 1200 employees across three different campuses.  We have many front line workers who do not have computer access so simply sending out an email is not good enough.  In theory, leaders should be conveying information with their direct teams but I am doubtful that is actually happening.  I would suggest creating a standard of behavior and having a core team meet with every single team directly and sharing the same consistent message.  From there, I think leaders should be held accountable themselves to ensure this behavior standard is always being met.”
  • Area Manager in the Logistics Department at an e-commerce company: “What could be done better is the transparency to all members of management when seeking diversity within the management staff.  Internally they do make a focus on diversity and inclusion with multiple diversity groups within the organization, in which members of management have open round tables of discussions and panels to illuminate their experiences, as well give insight for entry-level associates feedback on how to help achieve their goals as well.  When hiring externally the recruiter and upper level management have clear data and make a conscious effort to have the population of the management team mirror the population of the employees as a whole.  Where there is a disconnect on the transparency is between the department managers when they are trying to identify all-star associates that they want to train and develop into assistants or entry level management.  If all members of management are aware of the current management profile and the goals of diversity and inclusion, they can evaluate the decisions of who they could possible identify as those future leaders.  This will also in turn help morale of the associates because they will not just see those leaders hired in externally that they can relate to, but know that with hard work they can advance and achieve it as well themselves.
    The other opportunity I see is the practice of hiring entry-level associates.  I do not have the access in data of cost/benefit analysis which I am sure has been performed for the practice of working with a sourcing agency when it comes to hiring in contrast to the internal recruitment department which handles management and higher technical positions within the company.  The sourcing agency I am sure yields a higher quantity of individuals especially to meet production demands at various peak seasons of the year, but due to attrition, cos to hire/train new associates, their productivity, capacity to advance into leadership roles, and whether or not these individuals are in as much alignment with the company values if it would be more efficient or not to invest more time and money into screening to yield better qualified associates that align with company values.  If we are then increasing the quality of the entry level associates that we bring in, then in turn if we as managers are doing our job of proving the coaching and training needed to develop those associates to set them up for success, we wouldn’t have to hire externally as much when it came to managerial roles.”
  • HR Associate for a Meat Manufacturing Company: “I think that we have pretty basic values, but we don’t do a very good job a explaining how and why they are so important to our employees. One way we could improve on this is to start an initiative where we post the values around the office and manufacturing facility with their definitions and ways that employees  help contribute to the values. Another way that we can improve behavioral expectations is to create a recognition program. We can create value cards where people can recognize something a coworker did that exemplified a company value. Drawing attention to good behavior will lead to more good behavior in line with company values.”

How Emily Chan Discovered That Human Resources Management & Entrepreneurship Was The One

Emily Chan has recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management and Entrepreneurship. Four years ago if you had told her this, she would’ve thought that you were crazy! Growing up, Emily had always wanted to be a doctor and her parents have always wanted her to be a doctor. It was the only career path she really knew that she was certain about so for the first two years of college, Emily was taking pre-medical classes like Chemistry, Biology, Physics, etc. and all of her extracurricular activities were focused around this field. Emily volunteered at Saint Peter’s University Hospital near her campus, she worked part time at an ophthalmology office, she performed research at a campus lab through the Aresty Research program, and she was involved with various on-campus medical organizations like the American Medical Student Association.

Despite immersing herself fully in this career path that she always thought she wanted, she was incredibly unhappy, stressed, and unfulfilled. Emily started questioning herself whether or not she was making the right decision and whether medicine was truly what she wanted to pursue for the rest of her life. These feelings intensified throughout sophomore year and it was a period of uncertainty and fear, but also growth.

Emily felt an overwhelming urge to explore other areas of study, but she had no clue where to start! There was so much pressure to find her “passion” and being that she has already spent two years taking classes that she no longer needed anymore, she felt even more pressured to quickly discover something that she liked. Therefore, she began reaching out to her advisor as well as her network of older friends and classmates to seek for advice. Talking through her strengths and weaknesses, as well as her likes and dislikes has really narrowed down the list for her. Emily came to the realization that she wanted to be in a position that is focused around people and that was how she landed her career in Human Resources Management!

Emily began enrolling in introductory HR classes and she received an internship outside of school to supplement her knowledge. She wanted to gain a 360 experience of in-class knowledge as well as real world experiences to see if HR was what she really wanted to pursue. Obviously, Emily ended up sticking with it and she can gladly say it was one of the best decisions that she has made in college!

Right out of graduation, Emily was offered a full-time opportunity with Microsoft as a Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations and she has recently launched a passion project called CEO Mindsets that is focused on providing digestible and actionable career advice. She can definitely say that she has come a long way since she first started college and she is really excited to see how her career will grow in the future! Connect with Emily on LinkedIn if you are seeking for career advice!

• What role has your education at Rutgers University and your colleagues/mentors/family/friends played in your career path?

Both my personal and professional network have been an immense help in getting me to where I am today. When I first started thinking about switching career paths, I didn’t even have a resume or know how to properly write one! I asked so many different people for help to write and review my resume and to this day, I still use all of the advice I received when I’m editing my own resume or reviewing other people’s resumes. Something I’ve realized is that most people are more than willing to help if you just ask. I’m so grateful for all the help and support I’ve received throughout these last couple of years from both my personal and professional network.

• How has your HR internships prepared you for your role as a Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations at Microsoft?

Through my various internship experiences, I’ve gotten a behind the scenes look at how different recruiting processes can be at different companies. Not one company is perfect, but each one has their strengths. I can take the strengths that I’ve picked up from each company and bring them all to my work as a Talent Sourcer at Microsoft. My various HR internships have also taught me to be confident in the workplace and understand that I can bring value to the table despite my young age. 

• What are you hoping to accomplish and contribute during your time at Microsoft?

During my time at Microsoft, I am hoping to add to the diversity at the company through recruiting. It already seems like a company that values diversity and I want to supplement that. Diversity is so important in and out of the workplace and I want to create an environment where people feel comfortable being their authentic selves. I also want to create a group at Microsoft that focuses on community service through crafting, which are two of my biggest passions. All throughout college, I was part of a school organization called Craft to Cure that creates functional crafts like hand warmers, dog toys, etc. to donate to local charities and it would be amazing to find a community passionate about crafting and community service at Microsoft!

• What are your long-term goals at the moment?

My first long term goal is to become a full-time entrepreneur. After my internships, I’ve realized that I really didn’t like being confined to a 9-5 job. I definitely learned a lot while working in corporate jobs and I really appreciate the network I’ve built as well as establishing a routine. However, the ultimate vision for me is to be my own boss. I enjoy the autonomy of it and I can really pursue anything I can dream of! One idea that has been in the back of my mind is opening my own coffee shop that features Asian flavors as a tribute to my culture. I really enjoy coffee and have an Instagram page dedicated to it – @ssmolbeans.

My second long term goal is to be more financially literate. Money has always been a sensitive topic for me. I’ve noticed that a lot of women shy away from this topic. My goal is to learn more about personal finance, how to invest, and how to build and maintain wealth. I recently started following personal finance Instagrammers and Youtubers and have learned so much so far, but I still have a long way to go! I’m excited to start on this journey of being more transparent about money and having a healthier relationship with money overall.

• Congratulations on launching your business venture, CEO Mindsets! Could you tell us more about what drove you and your friend to start this? What is the purpose/goal of this business?

One of my biggest inspirations to start CEO Mindsets is @girlmeetswealth on Instagram. This is a personal finance page run by someone I knew from high school and she posts tons of awesome tips that have helped me start my personal finance journey. I’ve always loved content creation and posting on my personal Instagram and after following @girlmeetswealth for a couple months, I was inspired to do something similar but for my area of expertise: job searching. I was also inspired by a post I saw on LinkedIn that listed some really great companies that were founded during a recession and I thought to myself, “Now is as good of a time as ever. If other people can do it, I can do it too.” So I told my friend how I wanted to do this and she wanted to join in and the rest is history!

The goal of CEO Mindsets is to provide digestible and actionable tips about careers, job searching, networking, professional development, etc. A lot of students don’t know where to start when it comes to any of this or feel extremely overwhelmed. I was definitely in a similar situation when I was in school and did a lot of soul searching to find what works for me. We want to help students and graduates bridge the gap between their passions and careers!

• You have experienced the same path as many other students, where you were certain that you would become who you thought you would be as an undergrad – however things took off in a different direction. What would you tell those group of individuals?

Take your time and don’t worry about having things figured out. Everyone moves at a different pace through life and there is no need to feel rushed because other people already know what they want to do. You have your story and they have theirs. Take it day by day and trust that everything will work out!

• You hold a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management and Entrepreneurship. This is an interesting combination. What led you to go towards these 2 fields of your studies?

I chose Human Resources Management because I wanted to be in a position that is focused around people. I love being able to help others and I find it very fulfilling. I chose Entrepreneurship because of an elective I took that was part of that curriculum called Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. This class changed my mindset so much. It taught me to go out of my comfort zone to become better. It taught me that it’s okay to not have everything figured out. It taught me to chase after the things I want. Human Resources Management can be a little outdated sometimes and I want to be able to apply a fresh and innovative entrepreneurial mindset to the industry.

• You were very active throughout your college career as a peer mentor and president for clubs/organizations. How did these extracurricular activities help you develop professionally and support your success?

These extracurricular activities taught me how to manage my time better. Having a full calendar can be really fun and rewarding, but also overwhelming at times. Because of all of my responsibilities, I had to learn how to use my time more efficiently and separate my time for work and fun. It’s really a balancing act but once you master it, you won’t be stressed about work when you’re relaxing and vice versa. This will be extremely useful in establishing a work life balance when I start working full time!

• Are there any advice you would like to share for students or final undergrads?

Two pieces of advice:

  1. Everything is a lesson. Try to learn as much as you can from every win and every loss.
  2. One of my favorite professors once told me this: In your life you will be faced with, on average, 10 opportunities that will change your life. It’s your job to recognize these opportunities and say yes to them.