Appreciate Today

Can you believe it is the middle of October? Where has time gone? I feel like I was just at HR Florida, but that was almost two months ago. But a lot has happened in two months. I’ve had a lot of blog ideas run through my head in two months. But life has found a way to keep me from having time to write; which is sad because I love to write. But as I wrap up my weekend, I decided to spend an hour writing instead of watching television. Please know, this is a longer blog than normal and it is rather emotional, but if you can stick through it, know that it would mean a great deal to me.

WARNING: SAD POST AHEAD

Just over a month ago, the world lost an incredible person. I know, the world loses incredible people every day. But on September 12, 2019, in a little town in Wisconsin, my friend, mentor, and role model, lost her life to stage four stomach cancer. I haven’t been able to talk about it or write about up until now; and I’m still not sure I can, but I’m going to try, for Callie. Just like the rest of us that knew Callie, we were all devastated to find out about her diagnosis back in July. But we were all confident that she’d be able to fight it and would come out on top. Sadly, just a couple short months later, she lost her battle.

A lot of people didn’t know this, but I thought the world of Callie. She and I had only known each other for about a year and a half, but I feel like I knew her for a lifetime. She and I met through the SHRM Young Professional Advisory Council (YPAC.) It was a dream of mine since I found out about the YPAC to be able to serve on it. My first year was also Callie’s first year leading the group. I knew right away that she was someone I wanted to be friends with. In fact, not only did I want to be her friend, I wanted to be just like her. I admired everything about Callie; her drive, determination, and authenticity. I even told her at SHRM18, that I wanted to be her when I grew up. She was in a career at age 30 that I had dreamed about but thought I was too young to be in. When I asked her how she did it, she said she just jumped. I’ve been trying to live in that mentality ever since.

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#SHRM19 with Callie and YPAC Members 

Then during our second year on the YPAC, Callie devoted time out of her busy schedule to have one-on-one calls with the YPAC members to talk about anything and everything. It didn’t have to be about the YPAC; it could be about work, home, animals, school, anything! She was always so selfless.  Callie made time for us and I don’t know about the

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Callie & I at #SHRM19

rest of the group, but I appreciated her so much for that. In fact, there’s a lot that I appreciated Callie for. Callie believed in me. She saw something in me and gave me so many opportunities to grow and shine. She recommended me to be a SHRM blogger, she gave me an opportunity to lead a networking session for students at SHRM National. She chose me to be the step challenge team captain too. At the end of last year, I told Callie I still wanted to continue with the YPAC even though I had a lot on my plate. However I wasn’t sure I could take on any leadership responsibilities, mostly because I didn’t want to let her down if I couldn’t fulfill my duties. But as the year went on, I found myself raising my hand on initiatives if she asked because I wanted to help her. I felt it was the least I could do for her with everything she did for me. I loved her dearly and I miss her like crazy. But one thing that is driving me crazy, I don’t remember if I told her how much I appreciated her.

When Callie’s family announced when her Celebration of Life would be, I knew in my heart that I needed to be there. It might sound crazy; traveling from Florida to Wisconsin to attend, but it was where I needed to be. I had someone looking out for me though,

Me and Mary Williams 

because typically I would never have enough extra money laying around to make that type of last-minute trip happen. But because of some planning for other expenses that I found out I didn’t actually need, I was able to allocate those funds to my trip. I was able to afford a flight into Milwaukee, about an hour and a half away from the services. Hotels in Milwaukee were also reasonable; but to add a rental car on top of that, I just couldn’t do it. But through the power of networking and blogging, I found out a great friend, Mary Williams, would be driving through Milwaukee to get to the services and she was kind enough to pick me up. I was able to make it after all. Thank you, Mary. ❤

At the services, I visited with Andrew, a fellow YPAC member. He and I had a conversation about how short life is and how we just don’t show our appreciation to people the way that we should. We realize that we take time for granted and think that we can just say thank you tomorrow. But what if someone doesn’t have a tomorrow? We have absolutely no way of knowing when a person’s life is going to come to an end. And I hate to sound so cryptic, it’s definitely not something I like to think about. But it is true. We need to stop taking life and time for granted, and we need to make sure that the people that we care about know that we care and that we appreciate them.

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So, as I wrap this up, I want to challenge each and every one of you to pick a day of the week (i.e. Wednesday.) Each Wednesday, I want you to reach out to someone in your life that you appreciate and tell them! It doesn’t need to be for the whole world to see; just send them a text, pick up the phone and call them, or send them a written note. If you want to do it more often, great! My goal has been to reach out to someone daily. It has been incredible. And do you want to know the most unbelievable part about it? Almost every time I have reached out to someone, they have thanked me because they really needed to hear that on that particular day. I didn’t know that before I reached out, but knowing that I could make even a small difference in their life, even if just for a moment, it made my heart happy.

So, make your heart happy, along with someone else’s! Call, text, write to your friends, family, colleagues, mentors, role models, etc. and let them know today and as often as you can that they are appreciated and that you care. It will only take a few minutes out of your day, but it could brighten someone else’s entire day. And never again will you have to worry that you didn’t get a chance to tell them what they meant to you before it was too late.

Callie, I miss you and I appreciate you. I’m glad you aren’t suffering anymore. #CallieStrong

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#HRFL19 What a Fun Time

Between getting back to work and hurricane Dorian I have been sitting on this blog post I started writing hours after the #HRFL19 conference was over.  I had such a great time at the conference! I got to hang out with my out of state HR buddies Jon Thurmond, Wendy Dailey, Jazmine Wilkes, and Anne Tomkinson, had a fair share of Disney meals, walked my first 5k since 2012, I caught up with my favorite Florida HR peers, which include my GOSHRM family.  I think I went to more sessions this year than the last but I cut back time in the Expo Hall (can you tell I’m an introvert?). As usual, there is so much to do and see so it was impossible to do it all.

As we mentioned in a previous post, Amanda and I were chosen to be part of the #HRFL19 Social Media Team, which meant we had to not only help promote the event but we also were active using our social media during the event.  I was on my phone a lot during the conference and got to engage with other attendees via my social media platforms (mostly Twitter). Another fun thing I participated in while on the social media team was a recording of the HR Social Hour Half Hour podcast with Jon and Wendy for my 3rd time.  It felt great to come back and have a great conversation with them, Amanda, and Jazmine.

My favorite sessions were Jason Treu’s Secrets to Maximizing Employee and Team Performance; Derreck Kayongo’s General Session; Anne Tomkinson’s Improving Employee Engagement and Retention Through Your Managers; and Frances Rios’s Defrost: Warm up your Organizational Thermostat and heat Up profits.  I was super excited about meeting Jason Treu in person and thought it was so nice of him to find us in the overflow room and spoke to us in person as we did an interactive activity.

If you ask me what was my favorite thing in all the HR Florida Conference I do have to say it was the VIP experience.  When you upgrade to VIP there are so many perks that come with it like extra drink tickets that can be used for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, which was REALLY nice when a bottle of water costs a fortune inside the hotel.  You also get access to pre-conference sessions.  Also, you get really good and exclusive seating in all the keynote sessions, and by really good I mean front and center. VIP’s get a very nice lounge that included refreshments; it was a nice place to hide from the crowds from time to time without having to walk out of the conference center.  Now, if you know me at all you know that anything food-related will make me excited. The VIP lunch was so delicious, instead of the predictable boxed lunches, VIPs enjoyed hot food. Monday lunch included salad, potatoes green beans and chicken with an assortment of desserts to choose from.

Tuesday lunch was even better since HR Florida decided to celebrate “Taco Tuesday” with build your own tacos!

I definitely am considering doing VIP next year! HR Florida knows how to throw a good conference. Even without being VIP or part of the Social Media Team I know I would’ve had a marvelous time learning and catching up with my HR friends.  It goes without saying that I will be back for #HRFL20. Hope to see you there as well!

Here’s Several Pictures with some of my favorite people at the HR Florida Conference!

Preparing for #HRFL19

I seriously can’t believe how fast August flew by! We are seriously just less than a handful of days left until #HRFL19! My goal leading up to the conference was to provide daily tips, tricks, and info regarding the conference via Social media. I started off pretty strong, but as time went on and other responsibilities became more adamant, I found I wasn’t able to post as much as I wanted. However, I wanted to take an opportunity to throw one more quick blog out there about preparing and packing for #HRFL19!

So, as you are throwing your suitcase together today or tomorrow, please consider using these tips below so you will be ready for a great conference experience.

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Things to Bring

  1. Comfortable Shoes – It might not be as big of a venue as SHRM, but it’s still a lot of walking! Wear comfortable shoes so you have a comfortable experience.
  2. Portable Phone Charger – It’s great to be social during conferences! Post about the sessions you are attending because it’s a great way to look back later and remind yourself about the key takeaways. But being social means draining your phone battery, so take a backup!
  3. Lightweight jacket or sweater – I know it’s Florida in August, but with 2,000 conference attendees, the hotel will keep the A/C cranked down low! The rooms may be chilly, so bring something to cover up with just in case!
  4. Email Confirmation/Barcode – If you want to have a seamless registration experience, bring your email confirmation/barcode sent from Tina Kuga Gaarrell with the subject line: “2019 HR Florida State Conference & Expo – Know Before You Go!” so there are no questions that you are meant to be there! If you didn’t get it and you are registered for the conference, check your spam!
  5. Business Cards – You never know who you will meet at HR Florida, so make sure to bring those business cards to connect with new people! You may also need them for exhibitor prizes!

 

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Tips

  1. Download the App – Whether you are using an Android or Apple, you can download the HRFL2019 app! The app has session info, where to find exhibitors, maps of the conference space, activities and event schedule, social media platforms, a chat feature, and more! Want to utilize the chat and ask question areas? Log in using your registration email as your user name is your and the password: hrfl.
  2. Upgrade to the VIP All Access Pass – New this year is the VIP All Access Pass. If you hate standing in line, love being pampered, drinking (free) coffee, want a hot buffet lunch, and/or want reserved seating or general sessions, consider upgrading to the VIP All Access Pass! VIP is only $199 more and it includes all of the perks listed above! I don’t know about you, but the hot buffet lunch and free coffee makes it totally worth it to me! 😉
  3. Participate in Evening Fun! HR Florida knows how to host a great conference! Not only are there great speakers, sessions and exhibitors, but they know how to throw a good party! Check out the Annual 5K on Sunday, the Lip Sync Battle on Monday, the comedians on Tuesday, and the Glow party following the comedians! It’s going to be SHRMAPALOOZA!

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Extras

  1. Thank Volunteers and Conference Team Members– The conference team members have spent the past year working to make sure #HRFL19 is a success! They’ve listened to your comments and concerns from #HRFL18, and they’ve made some adjustments. They are all volunteers that are giving their time and energy to giving us a great time, so make sure to thank them!                                                        Additionally, thank the volunteers! They’ll be all around during the conference in volunteer shirts directing us to the right places, checking us in for lunch, introducing speakers, greeting us into general sessions, stuffing our bags, and so much more! They are giving up their precious conference time to help make your experience a little bit better, so make sure to say thanks to them too!
  2. Follow the Social Media Team – The social media team consists of 5 very awesome HR peeps (Lorena Pabon, Wendy Dailey, Jon Thurmond, Jazmine Wilkes, and me) that are heavily active on social media, blogs, and podcasts! Want to know what’s going on during the conference? Follow all of them to stay up to date! Or… #NotAtHRFL19? It’s a great way to see all of the fun! Click here to find out how to follow of us!
  3. Support the SHRM Foundation – The local SHRM chapters throughout the state of Florida have donated a raffle item for the conference. There will be a table in the expo hall where you can buy raffle tickets to try and win these items! Sometimes they even have silent auction items. Stop by this table, buy your raffle tickets, support a great cause, and hope to win! Drawings will occur on Tuesday from 3:45 PM – 4:30 PM in the Expo Hall!

 

I know this is a lot of info to take in right before the start of an awesome conference, but make sure you check it all out! This is my 5th year in attendance and I feel like I learn something new each year. Make sure to follow me on social media by following TheHRPanda no matter what platform you use. Connect with me, connect with your fellow HR pros, and have a great conference! I look forward to seeing you all there!

LinkedIn Twitter Instagram Blog

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The Countdown to #HRFL19 is On!

Lorena and Amanda have been asked to join the 2019 HR Florida Conference and Expo Social Media Team this year alongside HR colleagues and friends, Wendy Dailey, Jon Thurmond, and Jazmine Wilkes! We are both honored to be a part of this incredible journey and we want to share with all of you everything that the HR Florida conference has to offer and why YOU should attend!

First the basics:

What: The 2019 HR Florida Conference and Expo

When: August 25 – 28, 2019

WhereGaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

Who: HR Professionals from Florida and beyond

Why: The HR Florida conference offers a unique experience that allows HR Professionals from the state of Florida and beyond an opportunity to create connections, learn innovative HR techniques that can change how you work, and celebrate with friends and colleagues!

Now… a word from your favorite “The Future of HR” blog writers…

Amanda

I’ve got to be completely honest with you all, I’m not sure where July came from! These last few weeks have been so hectic; between packing, moving, unpacking and traveling to Las Vegas for #SHRM19. It was a blur, that’s for sure! And while I would love to sit here and reflect on everything that has happened, I am finding myself excited for the next thing coming soon! As I write this, we are only 53 days away from the largest HR conference in the state of Florida, #HRFL19! And I am so excited to be a part of the Social Media Team with my friends! I love seeing Jon and Wendy at the SHRM conference every year, and to find out I get to see them two times in 2019 was fantastic. I of course am excited to see Jazmine again, since it’s been a little over a year! We all keep up on social media though. 😊 Hence, why we are on the Social Media Team. 😉

Anyway, I admit, I haven’t done as much promoting as I would have liked, but I had a lot of responsibilities for the SHRM conference, so I haven’t had much free time. However, now that we’re less than two months away, I can’t wait to share with all of you the things I am most looking forward to. SO! Make sure you are following me on Twitter and LinkedIn because I’m going to be highlighting one thing per day until the day leading up to the conference of things that I am looking forward to; whether it’s a session, a speaker, an event, a person, etc., I am committing myself to that! In the meantime, sign up for the conference! You wouldn’t want to experience the FOMO that comes from not being there. #NotAtHRFL19 ☹ #HRFL19 😊

 

Lorena

Hey everyone !  I’m so excited to be part of the HR Florida Conference Social Media Team.  Let me start by telling you that HR Florida is a blast.  I personally love local conferences more than national ones because they are easier to navigate and everything is so close.  This is the second year the conference is being hosted at the Gaylord Palms and let me tell you, you are in for a treat.  I am especially looking forward to working with my friends Wendy, Jon, Amanda, and Jazmine.  I will be tweeting about the sessions I will be going to and the activities going, on so be sure to follow me at @lpabonhr and don’t forget to follow #HRFL19, but before we get there I want to help you get ready for such an exciting event!

  • First of all, USE COMFORTABLE SHOES! I cannot say this enough, your feet will hurt if you don’t and that can definitely ruin the experience.
  • Plan day and night outfits, once the sessions are over we still have entertainment for the night and definitely do not want to miss out.
  • Unless you registered for VIP upgrade, lunch will be in boxes; if you are not into that make sure you bring snacks.
  • Very important, if you do not have a twitter account, create one. Trust me on this, part of the conference fun is tweeting and reading people’s tweets.  Also if you follow #HRFL19 or anyone on the social media team for that matter, you will be in the loop on what is going on.
  • Take time to visit the EXPO Hall, even if you aren’t looking for anything new this time around or if you aren’t the decision maker in your organization. The EXPO Hall always has fun stuff happening, plus it is a good place to catch up with attendees and network!
  • Even if you live in Orlando I highly recommend you stay at the hotel (Gaylord is full but there is an overflow hotel that offers shuttles to and from Gaylord Palms). Sessions start really early and evening activities can last till really late.
  • This last one is for all my introverts out there (aka: me). You are going to be around people for a few days so be sure you have charged yourself up for this event, don’t get me wrong it is a good time but in order to enjoy and survive it you have to be in a certain mindset.

I’m sure there’s a bunch of other things I forgot to tell you, but again follow me on twitter
@lpabonhr and I will be sure to get the information you need out there.

 

SEE YOU ALL AT #HRFL19!!!

-Amanda & Lorena

I’m so busy!!! Update post

Hey everyone!
I have been a bit MIA these past few weeks.  I haven’t participated in Twitter chats in quite a while which makes me sad.  There is a lot going on right now which is great news though since I love being busy.  I really didn’t think about what to write this week so bear with me as I put my thoughts into words.
The reason I have been so busy lately is work, we have added a new provider to our practice, which means we needed to hire Medical Assistants and Front Desk Receptionists for her team.  That means I have been to a lot of career fairs, advisory boards, meetings with local schools, and A LOT of interviewing.  I do love this part of my job because it allows me to be out of the office and change scenery but when you have multiple events one after the other it gets exhausting especially since I am a Department of One, when I got back from those events my inbox was filled and I had to play catch up on the projects I was already working on.  In the middle of all of this, I had planned a trip and was taking 2 days off and it wasn’t a lot of time off, but since hiring consumed so much of my time I really was in a time crunch.  I wanted to cross all my t’s and dot all my i’s before I left.  So I decided it was time to delegate some tasks, as HR there isn’t a lot I can’t delegate without breaking confidentiality but there were a few things I was able to do:
1.    Asked supervisors to do their write-ups according to the organization’s standards and not send me an email with the issues for me to write them up for them.  That way I could just revise quickly and sign for approval.
2.    Additionally, I requested them to have easier conversations on their own w/o me as a witness.  (Sensitive subjects were still being handled with me).
3.    Initiated an employee referral program.  Employees recommended people they knew who had the skills and qualifications for the job, which saved me some time with candidate searching online.
4.    Finally, created a “celebration committee” for birthday, anniversary, and holiday celebration planning.  (This was actually a huge hit and employees were much more engaged than I ever imagined).
I still had a lot to do but these things definitely helped lighten my load.  The best thing about delegating was being able to leave for my trip without the stress of going back to candidate searching and coming back to a lot of unfinished work!
    As I mentioned I took 2 days off from work and went to Puerto Rico.  I hadn’t been to Puerto Rico in 3 years so I hadn’t seen anything after hurricane Maria.  The trip was for mother’s day weekend.  I went to visit my grandmothers with my parents and sister and it was fun and emotional all at once.  It was nice to be around family, see a few of my friends, and visit my favorite hangout places and of course my alma mater, but the impact this hurricane had on the island has been humongous.  It has been over a year and a half since this tragic event happened and you can still see the damage, I can’t even imagine what everyone went through and I can see why everyone was so desperate to leave afterward.
(Cute picture of me in University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras)
    Speaking of trips… I am headed to Las Vegas in a few weeks for #SHRM19! I am super excited about this trip since I have never been to Las Vegas. I know I will have lots of fun and learn a lot.  I have met so many people in the last two SHRM national conferences and I am excited to see some of them again this summer as well as meeting new faces!
So that’s about it for the updates.  Thanks for reading!

Health & Wellness Fairs 101

When I started my new role a couple months ago, one of the things that my manager told Image result for health fairme I’d be responsible for was coordinating a Health & Wellness Fair, happening in June. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I had no idea where to start. I received a lot of great advice from my connections and started to run with it. Even though the event hasn’t happened yet, I still wanted to write about my coordinating experience while providing advice on how to coordinate your own Health & Wellness Fair.

Get advice: One of the first things that my connections told me was to utilize my insurance broker because they would be able to help secure vendors and maybe participate themselves. However, I wanted to try a different direction. It’s a great piece of advice though, so don’t knock it just because I did.

Know what you have to work with:  Image result for not enough room funnyFind out what your budget is for your event. It sucks to start talking to possible vendors, get excited about what they have to offer, and then realize you have no budget. Get an understanding of the space you have available too. You wouldn’t want to overbook vendors because you don’t have enough space.

Brainstorm vendors: Once you know your budget and your space and what you want to accomplish at your fair, determine the types of vendors you want to participate. At first we thought we wanted people that could check blood pressures, do biometric screenings, give flu shots, etc. But I quickly learned, a lot of vendors charge for these things (and it’s not the right time of year for flu shots.) So, I began thinking outside of the box.

Utilize Connections: Once I started doing that, I utilized my connections to find the right people. I figured I would reach out to an HR rep at a local hospital that has sponsored our local SHRM chapter meetings before. She connected me with someone in my area that handles these types of events, and that person connected me with five other people from different healthcare related divisons. I also reached out to the health department that had sponsored our meetings in the past and confirmed them as well.

Additionally, a friend of mine knew that I was preparing to do this health fair and he met someone while networking that does this for a living, so he connected me with her. Unfortunately, we have a $0 budget and her services cost money. However, she connected me with someone she knew that had put on successful health fairs for the county that she works for. She connected me with another five vendors and gave me some additional out of the box ideas for vendors that she’s worked with.

I also reached out to my own chiropractor, dentist, eye clinic, and a retirement planning colleague. If you haven’t yet, start building your network! It will come in handy, I promise!!

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Reach Goals: My goal for this event was 15 vendors. We’re still about three weeks away from the event, but as of today, I have 16 confirmed vendors. Some of the services that will be available for our employees include chair massages, a blood drive, tongue and pulse consultations, joint screenings, plus they will be able to learn about many local organizations that can help them with health issues, continuing education, retirement planning, airport parking, and so much more. I even heard that some vendors will be bringing some swag and prizes, which I know will excite the employees!

The Day of: Once I am feeling confident that I have confirmed all of the vendors that will attend, I will create a vendor bingo card. All of the employees will get one and will be asked to have the vendors sign off that they attended their table. At the end of the day, I’ll have a drawing with a cool prize for the winner. Gotta have motivation for them to visit all of the tables!

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I know this is the first time I am experiencing this and there is probably a lot more that I could have done, however as a smallish company with only about 70 employees in the office, I think they should have a good experience.

If you have held a health & wellness before, I would love to learn more about your coordination efforts. This is a learning experience and I plan to take what I’ve learned this year to make next year’s health & wellness fair even better!

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Unpopular Opinion: Resumes

So my post today is about how we, HR Practitioners and recruiters go about filtering resumes. I know my opinion is not very popular but bear with me here. According to various articles, hiring managers/recruiters/hr practitioners/whatever you want to call them take up to 6 seconds to decide if the candidate is qualified for a job. I find this to be absolutely ridiculous! Yes, there are certain resumes out there that you just know, but are we being too quick about scanning our candidate’s resume? Recently, I was participating in a thread that talked about how people name their resume files and a #HRPro said that they disqualify a candidates based on the name on their resume file, if it is too generic it must mean that the candidate really isn’t motivated or passionate about the job they’re applying for. That doesn’t even make sense to me, basically, this candidate’s resume wasn’t even looked at because their file name was FirstNameLastNameResume, who cares if they actually have the skills needed to perform this job am I right? No actually, you’re most definitely wrong. A file name is simply that, a name you put on a file and unless the file has the name of another organization or it is distasteful it really doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is what is inside that file.

There are a few things I want to unpack with my post. Firstly, we need to acknowledge that different jobs require different skills and although many jobs require good or even excellent written communication skills there are other jobs where that is completely irrelevant. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be disqualifying candidates because of how they spell things, but if someone has a strong customer service background, has excellent references, passed the skills assessment required for the job, should we be disqualifying them because they misspelled a word or because their resume is more than 2 pages? Think about it, they have the skills, they proved that by passing the pre-employment assessment, they are employable, which leads me to my second point…

…Is there really a skilled workers shortage? Don’t get me wrong, I know we have a very low unemployment rate which is great but there is still a 3-4% unemployment rate nationally. Could it be because these people don’t know how to write a resume? I know it is a candidate’s responsibility to create, build, and find resources to correct their resume, but what if we as employers help them a bit, and I don’t mean fix the resume for them, but actually pay more attention to those resumes. I work in a medical office and I am constantly looking for medical assistants or paramedical aestheticians who have worked with botox, fillers, hair restoration, etc. So it is natural for supervisors to send me resumes from people who have worked in dermatology offices, beauty salons, spas, and anything that has to do with hair or skin care, but a few weeks ago one of the supervisors put a resume in the “not qualified pile” (they literally looked at the resume for a few seconds) and when I went to grab it I saw that the candidate worked at an ophthalmologist’s office in which they had to administer fillers and botox injections! The only reason I saw this is because I actually was looking at the resume, not just scanning it. The best part of this story, we actually hired her and she is better at injecting botox than most of the other medical assistants and aestheticians in our team.  And to think we almost missed her because she was working in an ophthalmologist office.

Finally, let’s stop relying on our Applicant Tracking Systems so much! I mean they’re great! I can organize candidates and see what stage of the hiring process their in, but let’s be real, while Applicant Tracking Systems are great at certain functionalities there’s other stuff that can be improved and instead of waiting for someone to improve the system for us why don’t we proactively try to help our candidates get through the ATS. I do not think it is fair that if there aren’t certain keywords in a resume, the resume gets lost in translation and the candidate risks that their resume will never be seen. I love technology, but sometimes it makes us lazy, myself included. Which is why I actually go one by one and check the resumes submitted in my ATS and I have found some of the best candidates by doing just that. Let’s help people find their dream jobs, let’s not make it so hard on them.

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Never Stop Learning

For those of you that know me or have read my previous blogs, you know that a lot of my writing inspiration comes from real life experience. Which is good news for you because as we grow, we’re always learning new things and going through life lessons every step along the way. Which means I still have a lot to learn, which I’ll in turn pass along to you through writing.

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As a lot of you also know, I am heavily involved with A LOT. I’m on the board of directors for the Greater Orlando SHRM, I am on the SHRM Young Professionals Advisory Council, I blog for this blog and for SHRM, and I say yes to almost anything else that comes up (#SHRM19 blogging, #HRFL19 social media team, DisruptHR talker, etc.) It’s not that I say yes because I feel like I have to be involved in everything, but I really enjoy what I do. But eventually, being busy all the time catches up to you.

After my diabetes diagnosis last year, I decided it was time to cut back. At the time, I had just joined the HR Florida conference committee, so I decided to remove myself from that as a start. However, I had already committed myself to another year with GOSHRM and the SHRM YPAC. Because I felt like I could continue to manage those commitments with everything else, I decided to give both at least one more year. I kept saying to myself, just wait until 2020; 2020 will be your year to just take a break from it all.

So with that said, I recently had a chat with a colleague about my future in our local SHRM organization. I let him know that after this year, I was going to take a much needed break from the board. Though he was sad to hear it, he wasn’t shocked; he knows how much I’m involved with. He and I chatted about how it takes some people a long time to realize the importance of taking time for themselves and it really got me thinking.

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I think a lot of people in my generation feel the need to work constantly; to impress whoever they are trying to impress. I used to think that we felt the need to always be connected because we feel like it is the expectations of our leaders, but I think that we are the ones that show our leaders that we can be available all of the time, so they just end up expecting it. We answer their emails in the evening, on weekends, and when we’re on PTO. We do work when we should be relaxing and doing something fun. On top of that, we take on extra commitments because we think it’ll help us move up in the world quicker. That’s not an admission of why I do it though. I started getting involved with extracurriculars because I had just moved to Florida and I didn’t know anyone. I wanted to grow a network of professionals in my desired industry in my local community. Getting involved is a great way to start, so that’s what I did. Then I realized how much I loved what I was doing. I was helping young HR professionals get ahead. So I continued to get involved in more so I could continue to grow my network; and I started meeting people in my state, then around the country, and I have even met some international friends. It wasn’t that I continued to stay involved because it was getting me ahead in life (even though it really was), I was staying involved because of the connections I was making.

I’m just going to take a quick break here by saying this isn’t where I envisioned this blog going, but sometimes when you get on a kick you just go with it.

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But anyway, what I really wanted to say was… take time in life to get to know yourself, like your true self. Listen to your mind and don’t ignore anything that your body and mind tell you. No one knows you better than yourself, so when it’s time for you to slow down, you will know it; you will feel it. Don’t wait until someone tells you to stop because either you get a negative health diagnosis or because your kids are telling you they don’t ever see you because you’re spending too much time doing other things. Do what you do (or stop doing what you do) for yourself and no one else. It’ll help you feel like you’re making the right decision because you’ll know that you decided to do or not do something for you.

I hope my rant makes sense, especially since I went off in a couple different directions… but the reason I kept it as is, is because it’s all applicable and relatable. And even though I write because I want to teach and share experiences with others, I also write for me. I want to be able to look back in a year from now, or maybe ten years from now, or whenever I need to be reminded of life’s little lessons, and I want to know that everything I’ve done has led me to where I am at that very moment and life is good because it is all about learning and teaching. Life is good, ya’ll. And that’s all that matters.

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How do I do it?

If you follow me on social media, specifically Twitter you will see that from time to time I will tweet about random things that happened in my workplace. Hilarious resumes, random things people say that I overhear, and general role your eyes moments. Obviously, I only share things that can be shared, because as an HR professional I have learned that there’s a bunch of things that just have to be kept confidential. Now, those things that are appropriate to share in social media I also share with my cousins in our “group chat” and every single time they read my hilarious and crazy stories at least one of them will ask how do I do it and usually follow up that rhetorical question with: only a special kind of person has the patience to deal with so much human interaction.
Although they aren’t seeking a real answer from me when they ask that question, it got me to some thinking. How do I do it? Why is it that I enjoy doing what I do even when I have to deal with a lot of crazy or annoying situations? I fell in love with HR in an unconventional way I guess.
As I have mentioned in past posts, when I graduated high school I was looking to end up in hospitality, but since no university in Puerto Rico had a strong hospitality program I opted to do a bachelor’s in business and decide to focus on Operations Management. I took the introductory class, and was bored out of my mind! I don’t think the subject matter was the problem, I honestly think the professor just wasn’t good at his job. He had you read 3-5 chapters before every class for us to be ready to discuss in class. Once class came he would write a few key words on the board, literally read the definition of the words from the textbook (which we already read), and then call it a day. A class that was supposed to be 80 minutes long barely lasted 30 minutes and we wouldn’t discuss anything. Exam day would come and as long as you memorized the textbook you were pretty much guaranteed a good grade, but I never felt like I learned anything.

That same semester I was taking an obligatory introductory to human resources course. I wasn’t too excited about it because it was a Mondays and Fridays and I hated taking Friday classes, but a friend of mine had recommended a specific professor and she only had that one session. This class was completely different for me, we were still expected to read the textbook but the professor had a completely different approach to teaching. She would start of class discussing any questions we might have from reading the textbook and once that was over she had cases that related to the different topics discussed in the chapter and she would be creative on the way she approached those cases. The class was a blast, suddenly I was excited to go to school on a Friday and I was so engaged that I would stay after class and talk to my professor about her career and the challenges that came with it. By the end of the semester, I had applied to change my major.

Once I continued to take HR classes I learned everything it entailed legal, benefits, payroll, employee relations, training, talent acquisition, corporate branding, and the list goes on. I was in love with all of it, but I needed to put what I learned into practice to see if I really enjoyed working in HR as much as I liked studying the theory behind it. So, I decided to apply to an internship at Walmart’s corporate office in Puerto Rico; the internship would focus on compensation and benefits, but also allow me to shadow other HR specialties. I came during a time where they were transitioning annual enrollment from paper to online enrollment. During this internship I was activating employee discount cards, explaining the online enrollment process to members of management, answering employee inquiries, auditing the enrollment process once everyone had chosen their benefits, and planning health fairs. I later got to shadow the recruitment manager and got to see her perform employee evaluations, I assisted in running payroll, helped the learning and development team plan their onboarding and training presentations, and was able to visit stores and talk to the store associates about different employee relations issues. After that internship, I knew no questions asked, human resources was the perfect career for me.

To be honest, I don’t think I will have an answer to my cousins’ question, I don’t know “how I do it”. All I know is that I love doing what I do and even when I get annoyed or irritated I know that working for my organization and its employees is something I truly enjoy to do.

I Love Talking to People!!

Can you believe it’s been a month since I started my new job! Seems like much longer, haha! I know people have a lot of different opinions when it comes to starting a new HR job and what you should do first. I don’t think that any one opinion is correct, because I think a lot of it has to do with what is important to the organization and what needs to happen quickly. For instance, in my role, they needed me to come in and do payroll right off the bat. I have also created and conducted a new hire orientation (something they’ve never really done before), reviewed the handbook that an attorney has been working on for several months, and successfully survived my first workers comp audit. I’ve been keeping pretty busy doing a lot of things that are normal in any HR role. But earlier this week, I got to do something that makes me remember why I got into HR. I got to talk to the people!

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Yes, I know talking to the people is part of the HR role too and we talk to people everyday. But I had an opportunity to sit down with a group of randomly selected individuals (selected by me) and just listened to what they had to say about their satisfaction working for our organization. I knew that there are concerns around the office and that the morale is low. But I wanted to find out why, I wanted to hear it directly from the employees’ mouths. Before I went into the meeting, I reviewed the results of an Employee Engagement survey that everyone took back in January. It helped me create the questions that I would ask if there became a lull in the conversation. I also came up with a few stats in case I wanted to reference them. Then I went in and introduced myself, asked everyone else to introduce themselves (because I only knew a couple of them,) and gave them a short intro to why we were there. Soon after, the discussion began.

Image result for cat blown awayAnd I just have to say, I was blown away by the feedback I received. I had scheduled one hour to have this discussion, and after the hour was up, I allowed people to leave if they wanted. However I said I would stay as long as they wanted to and would keep listening. No one left and we ended up talking (and laughing) for a total of 90 minutes. The best part was how happy they were to have someone (that seemed genuine) to listen to them. To me, it felt like they were finally glad to have someone on board that cared about their feelings.

So as all of you know, I love it when I can turn my blog into a learning experience too. So, if you are in an organization where it feels like the morale is low, create a focus group of random individuals from each department so you can get an equal feel from the whole organization. For my focus group, I wanted to include one person from every department and it ended up being 16 people; so I split the group in two so everyone wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed. I also tried to make sure there was an even mix of male/females and a variety of levels of seniority. I am meeting with the second group tomorrow. I am hoping that I receive similar feedback from the second group and that they are able to be as open and honest with me as the first group.

Looking to create your own focus group? Here are a few additional tips that may help you out.

  1. Image result for cats eating cookieProvide Food: Depending on the time of day of your meeting, provide your focus group with food. You may want to avoid lunch time where you’d have to provide a full meal, if it’s not in your budget. But try the morning, with something simple like muffins, donuts, fruits, etc. Or if you prefer the afternoon, get a tray of cookies and some chips. People love free food, no matter what it is.
  2. Provide a Safe Space: Find a room that is away from others in the office so they can’t be heard or seen. Explain that they are in a safe space and can be as honest as they want. Tell them you will listen to everything they have to say, positive and negative. And let them know that you can’t make changes overnight, nor can you grant every wish. But make it your goal to be their advocate and do everything in your power to make their work experience a little bit better.
  3. Follow Through and Follow Up: Take lots of notes during your meeting. Afterwards, arrange them in a way that it’s easy to follow. Come up with some solutions and talk to the decision makers to make your solutions a reality. After you’ve had an opportunity to make some quick wins and come up with longer termed solutions, follow up with your focus group (no more than 2-3 months), and give them some updates. Also, if there was anything discussed that you can’t change immediately or at all, make sure you explain why. Finally, if you have the ability to, include them in rolling out your solutions. Talk about a morale boost when your employees are included!

 

If you decide you’d like to conduct a focus group after reading this and have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out! I love helping people out when it comes to the thing I love most about Human Resources, the employees! Even though it’s only been a month since I’ve started this new role, I have a feeling I am going to live long and prosper here. 😊 Have a great weekend everyone!

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