Happy Everything!

Folks, depending on your religious affiliation, Easter is representative of a multitude of different symbols and celebrations. For the religious celebrating the Easter season, this is a season marked with spiritual renewal. For those individuals who do not affiliate with a religious tradition, or are religious but do not celebrate Easter due to the season not being part of their religious traditions, Easter represents a time of renewal and pause from the chaos of professional life. In both cases, there is a shared unity in celebration: pause, and renewal. Whatever your inclination, Easter is a time of pause. It's a time of reflection in ourselves and in our surroundings. 

Take the time this Easter to relax and spend time with your loved ones. Let us celebrate the brief pause in our daily lives to appreciate what is outside of the normal office life. You'll be surprised how much more productive you will be once you return back to the grind!

Happy holidays to everyone!

Talking Points: Have You Read Your Employment Offer?

You've been through the entire interview with ABC company. The hiring manager, sitting across from you, utters these words: Do you have any additional questions? You've exhausted virtually every conceivable question to ask. You respond, "No, I'm fine at this point." The interview ends. 

Since the end of the interview, you've spent an enormous sum of time waiting for a response. You've regularly followed up with the team at ABC company to let them know you're ready to do everything necessary to expedite the process. Then, in the midst of your agony - the anxiety of waiting for a job offer or rejection - you get the good news you've been waiting for. Company ABC has offered you a full time, permanent role within their organization. It's a sweet deal. You relish this opportunity - and you are instinctively ready to accept this offer. Realistically, you've been prudent in your deliberation to join ABC company and you've deduced that the company culture is rock solid, the people are amazing, the work seems interesting, and your manager is going to help you grow in your career.

Having said all of that, might I suggest you take a quick moment to review the offer before accepting it so quickly? It may sound like a dimwitted maneuver, especially since you've been anxious to receive this offer for quite some time and have already convinced yourself you want to join ABC company. But the truth is, at this point ABC company is ready to onboard you - now it's more about how prepared you are to review the terms of their proposed contract and negotiate better terms in good faith to both yourself and ABC Company. Here are some points you ought to consider prior to accepting this new employment offer:

  1. Is there anything about the offer you do not understand? I'm almost certain that there are terms within the contract that need to be better elucidated before your signature meets the dotted line. Go ahead and ask for clarity on items within the contract - do your due diligence!
  2. How appropriate is the timing of your new job? While it is my hope that you've done your due diligence to decide whether taking this new job is the right career decision for you and your family, not everyone is this prudent. Ask yourself, "Am I prepared to leave behind my past employer and will I be preparing myself for greater success by joining ABC company?" It isn't always going to leave a positive taste in the mouths of those at YOUR particular ABC company, but it's a practice that can prepare you for long term success by ensuring you do not make a mistake in your deliberations.
  3. How prepared are you for the commute to the new job, and does it interrupt the flow of your immediate family's life? Again, your prudence and due diligence should have already nipped this in the bud; however, this may be the first time you've actually considered this facet of joining ABC company. If you choose to accept this job, then you cannot make yourself an exception to the traditions of the company. In other words, you'll need to find a way to come in on time, every day, regardless how far you have to travel. Be sure this is realistic for you.
  4. Is there a real roadmap to your own personal success at ABC company? This is rather self-explanatory, but equally important for you to deduce. Are you looking for a job, or a career? If you've answered 'career', then you must ask whether joining ABC company will benefit your overall career trajectory.
  5. Are you satisfied with the offer? Would you like to add additional details to the offer, or amend details already made in the offer? If you are not entirely satisfied with the offer, then surely now is the time to address these concerns. Be sure to have your voice heard and negotiate in good faith a contract that satisfies both yourself and the interests of ABC Company. You won't necessarily get everything you're asking for - but you will allow yourself the chance to add details to the agreement. For you to not take advantage of the chance to negotiate further terms could lead to missed opportunities for yourself and for ABC company.

The wonderful thing about working with competent recruitment consultants is that many of these potential hurdles would have already been skillfully tackled between yourself and your consultant. My client-candidates for hire always know that by working with me, mostly every pertinent detail to an offer of employment would have previously been negotiated. The simple reason this is so is because I make an effort to get direction from you as to how we construct a final employment contract on your behalf. Feel free to reach out to me today to learn more about how I can help you navigate these murky waters.

Talking Points - Layoff Etiquette 101

If you run a business or are a manager with people reporting to you, or some variation of the two, you know it's fairly difficult to identify new talent to join your team. That process is time-consuming and can often be riddled with opportunity for mistakes - much in the way a war zone can be riddled with land mines. The reality that confronts virtually all hiring managers is that they often make instinctual decisions when making hiring decisions. Sometimes, their instincts can fail them.

In the event that your instincts fail you as a hiring manager and you need to let go of one or more of your staff, there are best practices that you ought to follow in order that you protect the integrity of the company while simultaneously do as much as possible to minimize the sour taste that could be left in the mouths of all those involved in what is often a harder process than actually finding the talent in the first place.

Although this is certainly not an extensive list of do's/don't for firing someone, below are simple best practices you ought to live by:

  1. Be humble and accept responsibility for what's about to transpire. It's important to develop a little bit of humility because some of the onus of this layoff does rest on the employer/manager. Did you do enough to train the employee? Were you attentive to the initial warning signs that demonstrated the candidate's potential inability to fit in with your culture? Did you develop a strong enough rapport with your team member that they can confide in you more personal information that may be contributing to their lack of production? Ultimately, some of this layoff does rest on you as a manager. Much, though, is likely attributed to the ineffectiveness of said candidate to conform with the team and produce at the same pace you expect. In short, however, learn from this and better your management style as a result.
  2. Do not arbitrarily fire someone - this should come as no surprise to the employee in question. Often times, if the point above has been exhausted, it has only been exhausted by virtue of your regular meetings with the candidate and an overall bigger review process being put in place. Give these candidates an indication that their job performance has not been meeting corporate standards - and give them an opportunity to better themselves professionally. Lend them an open ear if need be and do everything possible to give them a chance to improve upon their follies.
  3. Take legal measures to protect yourself regardless how tacky it may appear. Be sure to include clauses in the employment contracts that give ownership of company data, particularly that data which is pertinent to the employee in question. Also, you must always record your "warning conversations" so that you have raw facts to present in the event of a firing taking place.
  4. Be as humane as possible - you're literally about to turn this individual's world upside down by laying them off. You need to demonstrate extraordinary empathy - in fact, to the extent that you can you should help them find new jobs. If it's at all possible and you're still on reasonably good terms with one another, then keep in touch with this candidate. It's possible - however uncommon it may be - that this candidate may not be a solid fit today, but could be an outstanding fit tomorrow. Don't burn your bridges!
  5. Empathy is good - but do NOT sugarcoat or mislead. Compassion, as stated above, is a wonderful thing to incorporate. However, you're doing this candidate a disservice by not identifying key reasons for the layoff. If you've accomplished step two successfully, you've already been collecting key performance metrics that lend to your rationale for their firing. Stick to the raw facts, and don't create a phony "cover-story" that is dismissive of their performance. Of course, as you showcase the facts surrounding the candidate's firing, you must treat this employee with dignity and empathy.
  6. Lay off the candidate in a private setting and don't do it alone. You should be in a neutral environment free from the eyes of this employees soon to be former colleagues. Have a door present. A conference room can work well, or your office. It's important, however, to have an additional set of eyes and ears present since this protects your company. Also, you never know how this individual may react to their layoff; therefore, having that additional body protects you as well.
  7. Lay out all of their options including, but not limited to, details of their insurance benefits, final paycheck, and unemployment options. This is another way for you to demonstrate empathy and treat this individual with dignity and respect.
  8. A good best practice is never to fire someone late in the day. This is moreso a helpful tip to employers. At the end of the day, business must continue regardless whether this individual remains with you or is laid off. If that is the case, get this done as soon as possible so that it doesn't weigh you down throughout the day. Believe me, you'll get nothing done if you delay this.
  9. Finally, don't fire someone just before the weekend. When this candidate goes home on a Friday, their entire weekend - typically a time of relaxation - will be used as a time of mourning and potential overreaction to the situation. Firing someone earlier in the week gives them time to mourn, and also gives them two additional days to be action oriented in the market and begin sourcing new opportunities. For someone who is laid off, these additional days can function as a catalyst and inspire them to success in their job hunt.

Talking Points: Resume Gaps

I'm not particularly fond of gaps in a resume. That's not because they're a bad thing. Life happens, so it's inevitable that gaps can exist in a resume. I'm not fond of gaps because, more often than not, my candidates don't know how to properly explain the gaps. It's a tough conversation to have with people since most of us are self-conscious about professional gaps in their resume.

Most people have a misconception about how others view gaps in a resume. Often times, the general consensus is that it reflects poorly on your application. The reality, however, is that hiring managers - and most competent recruitment consultants - are sympathetic and simply want to understand what happened that lead to your resume gaps. Therefore, as is often the case, honesty seems to be the best policy. With a caveat, of course.

Suppose the last role you had resulted in a firing. Well, this isn't necessarily a detriment to your application. It is imperative, however, that you do not reflect poorly on your prior employer. It's much more important to take note of why you were laid off and, if need be, elaborate on how that incident helped to more deeply 'form' your professional life. Employers are not interested in negativity. Always be positive.

Perhaps it wasn't a layoff; rather, it was your personal decision to leave the employ of XYZ company. Do not insinuate that you hated working for this company. The best way to tell this story, rather than saying how much you hated said the company, is to explain how you learned more about yourself and have consciously decided to seek employment more aligned with your skill set. A practical example is if you're a salesperson who realized they are slightly more introverted than the role requires - thus, you prefer to be more company facing than client facing. Rather than tell the new employer how much you hate sales, explain to the new employer that your objective is to look for employment that allows you to more carefully focus on company-related tasks rather than client facing work.

An important factor, in the midst of explaining your rationale for departing XYZ employer from your past, is to discuss what you have been doing during the gap to better yourself professionally or personally. If you've taken courses or obtained a certificate or consulted (freelance or pro-bono), talk explicitly about it. Emphasize what it has done to help you grow professionally.

The key to discussing gaps in your resume is that you must be honest and positive about your experiences. Gaps exist because either we are particular about the roles we are seeking for ourselves, or because there hasn't been a fit as of yet between your skill set and what the employer is looking for. Always be positive and demonstrate how this new environment is far more conducive to your success as a professional than prior roles.

Gaps are not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Therefore, it's imperative you relax - and be confident in yourself.