Sunday


Social media will continue to be a key influence in the hiring decision, not only do companies use social media to vet candidates, they also use it to find and surface potential employees.
 consciously or unconsciously, We are ALL prejudice and we all carry our own bias, and that fact is not going to go away no matter how much we try to legislate it or “peer pressure” it away. It’s reality part of being human.  In my opinion, the best thing you can do about your social media content is “manage” it. Manage your profiles and conversations. Employ common sense. Know that people can view your Facebook, LinkedIn, and twitter conversations – no matter how many “privacy” buttons you have turned on. Keep that in mind when you want to post a Facebook rant about your employer or your drunken night at the local pub.  

This is an interesting article worth continued discussion.




Monday

Interview "What is your greatest Weakness"




At job interviews, particularly when young people are involved, the applicant is frequently asked: "What is your greatest weakness?"
This is a rude, intrusive question, and nobody should be required to answer it. It is a trick question designed to put the applicant at a disadvantage. It is just one step up from "When did you stop beating your wife? I mean, your partner. Let me rephrase that: When did you stop beating your significant other?"
image

Nishant Choski
From Queenan: "What's my greatest weakness?" is un-American to ask.
For starters, the presumption that people have weaknesses is un-American. It is defeatist and sad. The whole point of being American is to feel invincible, that one is incapable of being improved upon. Just ask Jamie Dimon. Or Barack Obama. This isn't Albania we're running here.
Imagine asking George Washington or Susan B. Anthony, "What is your greatest weakness?" What kind of an answer do you think you would get out of George Patton or Geronimo or Lady Gaga? It is a demeaning question that invites a response like "I am completely invulnerable except when exposed to large chunks of kryptonite" or "I sometimes slap peoples' faces when they ask me rude questions."
Friends familiar with the dark, insidious and cruel world of human resources assure me that such questions are ubiquitous, part of the interviewer's script. Another dandy is, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Who asks a person just starting out in life a question like that? Or, even worse, a person reaching the end of his career?
"Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" an Egyptian HR firm might have asked the young Moses shortly before he parted the Red Sea. "Wandering around the desert, I guess" would be the response. "And that's where I expect to be 40 years from now, too."
Or, as Jean Valjean of "Les Misérables" might put it: "Ten years from now? Probably getting ready to serve the last nine years of my sentence. I'm doing the big dix-neuf."
To put this in perspective, here are some other idiotic questions that pop up during interviews, with responses by famous historical or literary figures.
Describe a difficult situation at work and how you handled it.
"My boss had two sets of books, and the Feds wanted to see the real numbers. No way I was going behind Big Al's back. So I told 'em: I don't see nothing; I don't hear nothing; I don't know nothing." (Al Capone's CPA)
see the full article at  http://online.wsj.com/articlehttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324412604578513240943149304.html

Friday

No Photo of yourself on Linked-In could cost you…..



No Photo of yourself on Linked-In could cost you…..

If you’ve ever had to hire anyone, you’ve read a lot of resumes.  If you’ve ever read a lot of resumes, you come to see standard “red flags” that make you question a candidate’s trustworthiness, character, values and fit for your team. One of the most common red flags includes receiving a “functional” resume.  Functional resumes can cover up gaps in employment as well as a lack of recent experience and a lack of skills. As an example, the candidate may have succeeded in increasing sales 131% but a functional resume won’t tell you that the accomplishment happened 10 years ago and the candidate hasn’t had any significant successes since then.
Another red flag is when a candidate sends you a generic resume to a very specific job positing. This can indicate laziness on the candidate’s part to customize the resume to highlight their experience to your specific requirements... Either they are lazy or just plain don’t have the experience you need.
Once you’ve read your first fifty or so resumes, you start to develop your own set of criteria determining your own “red flags”.

Job candidates are not the only reason to post your photo on Linked-In. More and more, Hiring Mangers, headhunters, HR, vendors, industry professionals and others turn to Linked-In to find out more about a person; a potential candidate, a potential client or customer, vendor, or networker.
One of the biggest Linked-In mistakes a person can make, especially a job candidate, is leave their photo off of their Linked-In profile. It’s another one of those “red flags” not just in job search but also in business.
Humans are visually oriented.  A “picture speaks a thousand words” is a truism that speaks volumes on Social Networking sites. The lack of a photo on Linked-in also speaks a thousand words – as well as raises many more red flags that the person is probably trying to avoid, including the primarily question “why doesn’t this person want me to know what they look like?” “Why isn’t this person transparent?”

In an article by Molly Cain in Forbes last year, The 8 Things You Do Wrong On LinkedIn, failing to post a photo of you made the list.

“….. You don’t post a picture. No, it’s not a beauty contest (and actually, if you use a glamour shot-esque photo, you may get laughed off the interwebs). But a picture is definitely worth a thousand words. We’re not going to judge you; we just want transparency from you. If visuals weren’t important in the business world, you would get every job by simply going through a telephone interview (wouldn’t that be nice?). LinkedIn is very much the same way. Because it has the photo feature, you should be using it. We want to see who we’re working with, networking with and introducing ourselves to – we are visual creatures.”

I’ve heard all kinds of excuses as to “why” someone doesn’t post their photo, none hold water.
-          “Privacy”. Hogwash. A person wants privacy yet is free to post their life history on Linked-In or Facebook; from their career path to education to books they enjoy reading.
-          “I don’t want to be judged on my age, race, size, ______fill in the black” again, Hogwash. If someone wants to Judge you, they don’t need a photo to do that. Most profiles are all telling. And the first time you speak on the phone, will confirm most judgment questions. If you are going to be judged by these criteria, do you really want to work for or with someone like this anyway?
-          “I’m Fat, ugly, etc.”  Really? Who cares? Linked –In is not a dating pick up site. It’s about business.

So if you want more interviews, more business relationships, more networking, follow the simple suggestions outlined in the Forbes article….especially the very simple fix of adding your photo to your Linked In profile.  





We often forget to keep the mind in shape. This is a great article worth sharing for both Managers and Engineers....

Discover the value of your mind

By Harvey Mackay
         

This time of year, we often start contemplating New Year's resolutions. What's at the top of the list for many people? Exercising and getting your body in shape. A noble thought, to be sure, but I have an even better idea. How about exercising your mind so you can get the most out of it?
             
Resolve to try something new to keep your brain challenged. Just like doing the same physical exercises over and over again only works a specific part of the body, doing the same mental work repeatedly tends to narrow your focus and limit your potential.

Clearing the clutter and cobwebs out of your mind is not complicated, but it does require some practice for those who are constantly on overdrive. And you all know who you are!

One of my favorite books, "Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice" by Napoleon Hill and Dennis Kimbro, offers wonderfully well-defined advice about caring for your mind: "Assume for a moment that you have in your possession a million dollars in gold. Would you protect it? Would you safeguard this treasure? Would you respect its value? Of course you would. You might even hire bodyguards or install security devices to ensure its safety.          

"In comparison, your mind and self-image are worth far more than one million dollars. They're priceless! Your mind is the exclusive source of all you will create spiritually, financially, or materially in your life. Your level of joy, happiness, and peace of mind originates from one place - your mind. Now ask yourself, do you protect your mind as carefully as you protect your physical assets?"

Beyond the oft-repeated advice to read a novel, take a walk, learn a new language, and so on, there are plenty of other options that address long-term mind exercises.

A growing trend among business professionals is meditation. Meditation clears and relaxes your mind, which can have a significant impact on your physical health. And meditation doesn't require any special equipment or clothing, just an open mind and a quiet environment free of distractions. Get comfortable and clear your mind. Be conscious of only your breathing. Don't direct your thoughts in any particular direction; let them drift freely. How long you meditate is up to you.
            
This is a simplified description, and there are many different meditation practices. Check online for coaching in a technique that will help you.

Back at work, learning and remembering new information can grow more difficult with every passing year. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of the knowledge game:
  • Focus on concentrating. Distractions are the bane of any learning attempt. If you're attending a seminar or training session, sit near the instructor and maintain eye contact. Let your focused attention do the job.
  • Say it out loud. Read aloud the material you're trying to learn and repeat out loud the facts you want to retain. This way, both your eyes and your ears are delivering information to your brain.
  • Tame frustration. If you're getting frustrated over material you're trying to learn, remind yourself that getting emotional will only hamper your ability to retain information. Step back and take a break.
There was once a man who wanted to gain power over his mind. He heard that there was a monk in Tibet who could make this come true for him, and so the man traveled through the Himalayas. When the man finally met the monk, the monk replied casually, "Yes, my friend, attaining supernatural powers is simple. For this you merely need a mantra. Just say "Buddham Sharanam Gachchami, Dhammam Sharanam Gachchami, Sangham Sharanam Gachchami" three times - and whatever you do, do not think of monkeys."

This was going to be a cinch, the man thought. He wondered at the direction to not think of monkeys, asking himself, "why would I think of monkeys?"

Then he sat down to try this new practice. But as he chanted the first words of the mantra, the first thought that came to his mind was "monkeys!" He tried chanting louder and imposing a more powerful order to not think of monkeys. Still, all he could think of was monkeys. In fact, he found that monkeys now roamed about his consciousness everywhere.

The monk, seeing the struggle taking place, smiled and said, "Whenever you try to force your mind to go in one direction, you can be very sure it will always go the other way."  
 harveymackay.com

Thursday

To the Hiring Manager: Tips for Acing the Job Interview:

It's not always a candidate's fault when a job interview goes south.

Hiring managers can commit a litany of sins, such as interrupting interviews to answer phone calls, failing to take notes, acting bored or distracted, bad-mouthing their own companies, bullying applicants, or asking "gotcha" questions for no reason at all, say human-resources consultants. The cost of poor interviews ranges from bad hires to alienated job applicants. At worst, untrained hiring managers can open their employers to lawsuits by asking questions deemed illegal by federal nondiscrimination standards.


Don't Ask

Many common interview questions reveal little about a job candidate. Here are some questions managers shouldn't ask and the alternatives:

AVOID: "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

    Hiring managers ask this question to probe a candidate's career goals, but nobody really knows where they'll be in five years, said interview coach Pamela Skilling.

ASK INSTEAD: "How would this position fit into your long-term career plan?"

    This is more likely to get the candidate talking about her goals, and why the job would be a great next step.

AVOID: What kind of people do you have trouble working with?

    No one answers this question honestly. It also leads candidates to talk about "kinds of people" instead of their own interpersonal skills.

ASK INSTEAD: "Tell me about a time you had a conflict with someone at work."

    Real examples show more clearly how a candidate works with different personalities.

AVOID: "Tell me more about your current position."

    This is likely to yield a regurgitation of résumé bullet points.

ASK INSTEAD: "Walk me through a typical day in your current role"

    A candidate's day-to-day responsibilities can elicit telling details.

AVOID: "Do you have kids?"

    This is not only a weak question, but an illegal one.

ASK INSTEAD: "Would you be able to work the hours required for this position?"

    Keep questions focused on the candidate's ability to do the job.

Source: Skillful Communications
interviewing is a job skill in its own right.

Most managers "wing it," said Ms. Skillings, and incorrectly assume they can simply follow their instincts to the right hire. That can mean that one candidate gets a thorough interview, while another gets a shorter sit-down if the boss is in a bad mood or busy, she added.

Such inconsistency may lead to unintentionally biased hiring decisions, said Lauren Rivera, an assistant professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Her research has found that interviewers gravitate toward people like themselves, who share their educational backgrounds or interests. "That's a natural human thing, but firms need to counterbalance that" by requiring a set of prepared questions and a consistent means of scoring and evaluating each applicant, she says.

Researchers from Harvard Business School found that the worst interviewers—those who let their own insecurities or unconscious biases drive the process, for instance—can have a worse effect on hiring decisions than if a candidate were simply chosen at random.

After seeing too many candidates decline job offers, iD Tech Camps wanted its regional managers, who each hire more than 80 seasonal camp directors and staff annually, to probe more deeply into applicants' abilities and interest level.

Through role-playing exercises in which the "applicant" had a hidden agenda—viewing the job as backup in case plans to move to Paris fell through, for example—participants worked on "not letting candidates get away with vague, generic responses," said Joy Meserve, vice president of camp operations.

Now managers ask all candidates if they're interviewing at other companies and whether they would accept an offer if one is extended. "We want people to be absolutely committed," says Ms. Meserve.

Since the training, Jen Devine, a regional manager based in Weymouth, Mass., said she no longer assumes a candidate is the right fit just because of the relevant experience on their résumés, and she stops herself before giving candidates too many clues about what she wants to hear. For instance, when asking for an example of how a candidate once taught a skill to another person, she refrains from offering anecdotes from her own life.

Ms. Meserve said camp directors' and instructors' evaluations of their teams for this year were the strongest she has seen since the company's founding 13 years ago.

At Philips, managers can take "Interview Process" classes to practice coaxing useful answers from applicants. In the program starting up next month, the company's human-resources staff will help managers make interviews more pleasant and efficient on both sides of the table.

That means more pre-interview preparation, no trick questions, and reducing the number of times a candidate "goes through the wringer," said Russell Schramm, head of talent acquisition for Philips's North America operations.

"We've heard about candidates interviewing with 20 people over three days. That's absolutely absurd" from the applicant's point of view and unnecessary for making hiring decisions, said Mr. Schramm, who added that Philips found itself losing qualified candidates who got fed up with the company's hiring process.

Troubling patterns of employee turnover and workers' compensation claims led J.S. West human-resources manager Brandi Fuller to spend $12,000 on an interviewing coach.

During a training session for the company's 20 managers last month, the coach warned against questions relating to sensitive areas such as a candidate's age or personal circumstances, which are illegal to ask. Managers seemed surprised, a reaction that had Ms. Fuller "cringing...I thought we'd made all of that clear before."

Most interview coaches also target listening skills.

Bosses must do some talking to give job candidates a sense of the company's culture, says Manny Avramidis, head of global human resources at the American Management Association, a professional-development group. But beware managers who talk too much. The candidate should get 80% of the airtime, says Mr. Avramidis. Otherwise, "it's a commercial, not an interview."

The same qualities that make people good interviewers also help them shine in the other parts of their jobs—evaluating information in a thorough and impartial way, for example, and being a good listener.

But these skills don't always come naturally. "It may sound odd, but active listening takes practice," says Ms. Skillings of Skillful Communications.

Write to Lauren Weber at lauren.weber@wsj.com

Friday

Higher Education Required for Future Jobs

Higher Education Required for Future Jobs

 A new joint survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Achieve, a nonprofit dedicated to improving education standards, revealed that technical and educational requirements are increasing across job categories.

The results were based on the responses of 4,695 HR professionals in nine industries. It was released Oct. 3 during SHRM’s annual strategy conference; more than 500 HR executives attended the conference, which took place in Palm Springs, Calif.
Other findings included:
Compared with 10 years ago…
  • 51 percent said more jobs with specific technical requirements exist today; 26 percent said more STEM-related jobs;45 percent said increased employee diversity; and 46 percent said only a higher education level required for most jobs
  • 31 percent predicted fewer entry-level jobs
    Looking ahead three to five years…
  • HR professionals expect even jobs with specific technical requirements—60 percent; STEM-related jobs—31 percent; increased employee diversity —50 percent; and simply a higher education level required for most jobs —49 percent
  • 30 percent predicted even less entry-level jobs
HR professionals said they believed education and training are key in correcting the job skills mismatch. Training includes post-secondary certificate programs, highly job-specific training and employer-sponsored professional development. Education includes training as well as bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees and advanced degrees.
“This survey reinforces the importance of having strong K-12 and postsecondary education systems that provide all students with the knowledge and skills they need to access, and succeed in the careers of their choice,” said Sandy Boyd, Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Achieve. “It’s clear that the world has changed and employers are demanding more education and skills from employees than ever before. All students deserve a meaningful and rigorous academic experience that will prepare them for college, careers and life.”
Compared with 10 years ago, respondents said health (54 percent), manufacturing (52 percent), state/local government (48 percent), and the federal government (46 percent) are the industries most likely to report higher education requirements today.

http://www.recruiter.com/i/survey-higher-education-required-for-future-jobs/

 

Tuesday

5 Reasons Why Your Team May be Failing

Why do teams win? In sports or business teams win because they have structure, guidance and support. Winning teams have a coach who is there to lead, guide, and instruct them. Did these teams just magically appear? No! Each player is assessed for their talent, skills, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, coaches also look at how each player communicates with one another. They look for team work and chemistry.
This directly correlates with business as well. When building a team, it is important to remember all the factors that to go into team building. Not looking at all the components could cause the group to fail!
Getting everyone on the same page is key. There are certain things that every team needs such as time, tools and even a budget. The most important thing is support. Communicating with other managers and department heads from the beginning, allows everyone to know the expectations and the importance of the team’s goals.
So how can you build a team of winners? We have pinpointed 5 key roadblocks to avoid in order to build an effective and winning team.
1 – Failure to Establish Conditions for Team Effectiveness.One word…compatibility. More often than not, people look for one thing: skills. When building a team – skills and experience matter, but so do fit, chemistry and motives. To find compatibility, we highly recommend the use of assessments in order to understand the core behaviors and learning styles of each individual team member.
2 – Failure to Establish Goals.
Without establishing a clear concise goal, the team has nothing to work towards. When you get a group of people together who have different perspectives, they are more inclined to get off track. Setting goals allows individuals to focus on specific tasks which will drive performance. Make sure that the goals of the team are clearly communicated to everyone in the organization so everyone knows what the end result should be.
3 – Failure to Establish a Decision-Making Process. Create a process that will set the standards for making objective decisions. Every team needs a leader and the leader should be viewed as a facilitator. The job of the leader is to focus, motivate and make tough decisions when the team cannot agree on a decision. Remember, a decision is actually someone’s choice. Let the team know if they have the right to make decisions. If the team cannot come to a unanimous decision then the leader should step in. Set a process so the team has ‘x’ amount of time to come to a decision. If no decision is reached, then the leader will decide.
4 – Failure to Establish Expectations.From the beginning, the leader should lay out exactly what is expected of the team as a whole as well as each team member. Letting them know the rules and procedures will set the tone and structure that will allow everyone to contribute. A couple of examples would be to tell the team that you encourage collaboration and educated risk-taking or let everyone know that there may be some uncertainty and that testing different approaches and taking smart risks is necessary for achieving the best result. When the team hears this, they know they are expected to work together, take risks, and test different approaches for a better result.
5 – Failure to Understand Communication.  It is important to create an environment that allows team members to voice their opinions in an open and honest manner. To keep people motivated and on track you need to allow each team member to voice their own opinion. Let them know that they can discuss this in meetings or that there is an open door policy. Understanding how each team member communicates is crucial. That is why it is essential to assess team members. Being able to recognize individual behaviors and traits of each team member beforehand will better prepare the team leader. They will know how each person communicates, learns, solves problems and works with others. Knowing each person’s individual style will allow the leader to direct conversations with minimum conflict.
Building and managing a team is hard work. A key factor for an effective team is to make sure everyone in the organization understands the purpose of the team.  Without support from everyone, including the CEO, the team is bound to fail. To avoid failure remember to assess each individual, set goals, create a process for decision making, establish norms, and have open communication. Avoid these 5 team building blunders and you will have a winning team!

http://info.profilesinternational.com/profiles-employee-assessment-blog/bid/108769/5-Reasons-Why-Your-Team-May-be-Failing

Friday


Company Cultural Change with Results
by Jon R. Katzenbach, Ilona Steffen, and Caroline Kronley

Good article in the Harvard Business review  about a very relevant management topic:

In the early 2000s Aetna was struggling mightily on all fronts. While on the surface revenues remained strong, its rapport with customers and physicians was rapidly eroding, and its reputation was being bludgeoned by lawsuits and a national backlash against health maintenance organizations and managed care (which Aetna had championed). To boot, the company was losing roughly $1 million a day, thanks to cumbersome processes and enormous overhead, as well as unwise acquisitions.
Many of the problems Aetna faced were attributed to its culture—especially its reverence for the company’s 150-year history. Once openly known among workers as “Mother Aetna,” the culture encouraged employees to be steadfast to the point that they’d become risk-averse, tolerant of mediocrity, and suspicious of outsiders. The prevailing executive mind-set was “We take care of our people for life, as long as they show up every day and don’t cause trouble.” Employees were naturally wary of any potential threat to that bargain. When Aetna merged with U.S. Healthcare, a lower-cost health care provider, in 1996, a major culture clash ensued. But instead of adapting to U.S. Healthcare’s more-aggressive ways, the conservative Aetna culture only became more intransigent. Aetna’s leaders could make little headway against it, and one CEO was forced out after failing to change it.
What Aetna’s management didn’t recognize was that you can’t trade your company’s culture in as if it were a used car. For all its benefits and blemishes, it’s a legacy that remains uniquely yours. Unfortunately, it can feel like a millstone when a company is trying to push through a significant change—a merger, for instance, or a turnaround. Cultural inclinations are well entrenched, for good or bad. But it’s possible to draw on the positive aspects of culture, turning them to your advantage, and offset some of the negative aspects as you go. This approach makes change far easier to implement.
In late 2000, John W. Rowe, MD, became Aetna’s fourth CEO in five years. Employees skeptically prepared for yet another exhausting effort to transform the company into an efficient growth engine. This time, however, they were in for a surprise. Rowe didn’t walk in with a new strategy and try to force a cultural shift to achieve it. Instead, right from the start, he, along with Ron Williams (who joined Aetna in 2001 and became its president in 2002), took time to visit the troops, understand their perspective, and involve them in the planning. With other members of the senior team, they sought out employees at all levels—those who were well connected, sensitive to the company culture, and widely respected—to get their input on the strategy as well as their views on both the design and execution of intended process changes.
These conversations helped Rowe and his team identify Aetna’s biggest problem: A strategy that focused narrowly on managing medical expenses to reduce the cost of claims while alienating the patients and physicians that were key to Aetna’s long-term success. At the same time, they surfaced Aetna’s significant cultural strengths: a deep-seated concern about patients, providers, and employers; underlying pride in the history and purpose of the company; widespread respect for peers; and a large group of dedicated professionals.
These insights led Rowe to rethink his approach to the company’s turnaround. He declared that instead of just cutting costs, the organization would pursue a strategy he called “the New Aetna.” It would build a winning position in health insurance and a strong brand by attracting and serving both patients and health care providers well. That was an appealing proposition but would require significant restructuring; no one’s job was guaranteed. In other words, it was the kind of change that Mother Aetna traditionally resisted with every passive-aggressive move she could muster.
But this time, without ever describing their efforts as “cultural change,” top management began with a few interventions. These interventions led to small but significant behavioral changes that, in turn, revitalized Aetna’s culture while preserving and championing its strengths. For instance, the New Aetna was specifically designed to reinforce employees’ commitment to customers—reflected in the firm’s history of responding quickly to natural disasters. Rowe also made a point of reinforcing a longtime strength that had eroded—employees’ pride in the company. When, in an off-the-cuff response to a question at a town hall meeting, he highlighted pride as a reason employees should get behind change, he received a spontaneous standing ovation.
So while the plan for change challenged long-held assumptions (among other things, it would require the elimination of 5,000 jobs, with more cuts likely to come), it was embraced by employees. They had been heard and appreciated, and they came to accept the New Aetna.
Jon R. Katzenbach is a senior vice president in the New York office of Booz & Company and the leader of the Katzenbach Center, which focuses on the development and application of innovative ideas for organizational culture and change. He is the coauthor, with Douglas K. Smith, of The Wisdom of Teams (Harvard Business School Press, 1993). Ilona Steffen is a director in the Zurich office of Booz & Company, and Caroline Kronley is a former senior associate in its New York office.